Wednesday, May 6, 2009

A look back at an anime great. We will miss you, CPM!

Rumors of Central Park Media's demise have been floating around since 2006. After Musicland's bankruptcy, CPM restructured, moved offices and attempted to salvage their operations despite millions of dollars in losses from one of their largest accounts. The company focused mainly on repackaging older series and its yaoi manga line Be Beautiful to generate cash and keep the company afloat. However, CPM officially filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy late last month.

The news has prompted mixed reactions among fans. Some realize that a large piece of the history of anime and manga in the US has been lost; and that new fans may never get the opportunity to experience CPM's catalog of legendary and groundbreaking works. Other have taken a "good riddance" approach claiming that companies that can't adapt to the changing times deserve whatever happen to them. It seems that older anime fans are really going to miss CPM, while newer and younger fans don't really seem to care.

I can still remember way back to early days of anime. We didn't have DVDs. Nope, we got our releases on laserdisc. (I bet you youngins don't even know what that is.) For those not on the edge of the latest technology, VHS were common. But the subtitled edition always cost $5 more than dubbed version. I remember watching A Wind Named Amnesia for the first time and thinking "Holy Shit! This stuff is awesome!" And I remember getting in trouble with my parents when they caught me watching The Ping Pong Club. (Honestly, I thought from the title that the series was about ping pong. Who would have thought such an innocent title would hide cross-dressing boys and some pretty weird sexual innuendos... It was nothing but educational to a 16-year-old-girl.) That one got me grounded for a week and my parents a little suspicious about this whole "japanimation" thing.

I can go through CPM's entire catalog and almost every title triggers a memory that is bittersweet. (The Anime 18 titles are more bitter than sweet. Tentacle sex is something that I never understood the appeal of.) Sneaking off to an anime club showing instead of studying for a final. Chillin with my brother on the couch on a Saturday afternoon watching the latests VHS release of Record of Lodoss Wars. Still not being able to get through The Grave of the Fireflies without crying.

I will save my ranting and raving about the state of the anime industry and its so called "fans" for another post. But I will say that for all the "fans" refusing to give CPM its due for being a pioneer in the industry, all I can do is feel sorry for you. You have missed a very large chapter in the history and evolution of anime in the US. And if you think Bleach, Naruto and Haruhi are the epitome of anime greatness, I seriously hope something better happens to you.




Meg said...

I definitely agree. CPM was one of the companies that brought anime to the US. If it weren't for them, we wouldn't have seen the explosion of anime we currently have today. I am DEFINITELY going to miss Lodoss Wars. The only versions I have of it is VHS too. Argh.

aoi_aka said...

I wasn't "around" (Uncle George still had me in his clutches) when the revolution happened. And once I joined in with the rest of you, CPM was just another company licensing anime or releasing manga.

I think the "they get what they deserve" attitude is harsh and uncalled for. It's not a matter of just adapting to the times. I'm sure many little things happened to got them to this point. It is sad to see any company go because it means the loss of jobs for their employees and in the case of companies that license titles from Japan, we as fan lose as well.

Yeah, BB couldn't release any titles after the Biblos bankruptcy (see what I mean when I say "little things"?) and their hands were tied but they at least had a good reason. The first BB title I bought was Selfish Love and I always pick it up and read it. It's one of my earliest treasures and one I'm not willing to part with.

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