One of the most successful series to have reached the coveted “so mainstream that people don’t really think of it as anime” level in the U.S. is the multimedia children-playing-card-games juggernaut “Yu-Gi-Oh.”
The series’ future on American TV might be in jeopardy, though, with a recent lawsuit filed by Japanese licensors TV Tokyo and Nihon Ad Systems against 4Kids Entertainment. The licensors allege that the company “owes … millions of dollars for making secret agreements with TV networks and home video distributors as making improper royalty deductions, including for the cost of the actual dubbing,” according to a report on the Hollywood Reporter website.
Those payments, according to the report, include millions of dollars of royalties allegedly paid by Funimation (producers and distributors of the series) and Majesco (which distributed several episodes via Nintendo Game Boy Advance cartridges) to 4Kids that were allegedly hidden from TV Tokyo and Nihon Ad Systems. 4Kids reportedly withdrew abruptly from a meeting to resolve the issue, prompting the lawsuit filing — and, of greater interest to “Yu-Gi-Oh” fans, the termination of 4Kids’ “Yu-Gi-Oh” license. In theory this might mean “Yu-Gi-Oh” could disappear from U.S. TV, although what actually happens depends on how events play out in court. (The video games, with rights owned by Konami, and manga, owned by Viz, would not be affected.)
One thing is for certain, though: 4Kids would be in trouble if it loses “Yu-Gi-Oh.” Hollywood Reporter noted that the franchise earned the company more than $152 million between 2001 and 2009.
A 4Kids filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission notes that while the company feels the license termination is invalid, it’s ready to do whatever it takes to stay in business, including filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
ANIME AROUND TOWN
» MangaBento: This group of anime- and manga-inspired artists meets from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday at the Academy Art Center, 1111 Victoria St., Room 200. Visit www.manga-bento.com.
KAWAII KON DEADLINE NEAR
Those putting off a decision on whether to attend Kawaii Kon this year might want to hurry up and make it: The preregistration period ends Saturday, which means it’s your last chance to save on three-day passes.
Passes for adults (ages 13 and up) are $42 until Saturday, while passes for ages 6 to 12 are $32. That’s an $8 savings over what it’ll cost when the convention opens. Two-day passes are $36 for adults and $26 for children.
Kawaii Kon is April 29 to May 1; visit www.kawaii-kon.org to register.
‘CEL SHADED’ COUNTDOWN
And now, an announcement that might surprise some of you and disappoint others: You are reading the first of the final four editions of “Cel Shaded” to appear in the pages of the Star-Advertiser.
That isn’t to say that I’m leaving the paper — I’ll still be blogging for our anime/manga blog, “Otaku Ohana,” as well as for the Honolulu Pulse video game blog “GameType.” Priorities have shifted in the print edition and times have changed, though, and it’s time for me to end the column to focus on those other projects.
My final column will run on April 28 — one day before Kawaii Kon begins. It’s a fitting end, considering “ Cel Shaded”arrived in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin on the heels of the first Kawaii Kon in 2005 and the two have been intertwined ever since. Until that end comes, though, let’s enjoy the time we have left together, shall we?