UK Anime Distributor Anime Limited Discussion Thread

bakura

Brigade Leader
@Hanners thank you for your post this kind of communication is exactly what I was hoping to achieve and believe you have done a great job at explaining the problems faced at AL. If I could give advice when there is a delay and people are emailed maybe things you have established in this post should be included as I believe when people are more aware of the complex workings of what goes on then people can be more understanding and excepting of situations. I think it's been clear that the theme throughout this has been communication and the more you can provide through social media, email, or even here the better. Hope to talk with you and other Al representative's more about anime in general and have fun.
 

Dai

Thousand Master
I wondered why my anime-senses were tingling, and now I know why! So, let's get into this...

First and foremost, I do owe a lot of you apologies for late notifications of delays, and to be quite honest at least some of that is on me. I'm well aware that being notified late or on release date isn't great or fair on you folks, and we try to avoid it wherever possible.

Now, this is where it gets trickier - manufacturing a product isn't just hitting "print", selecting how many copies you want and then waiting for them to be churned out, completed. Every product has a multitude of components (discs, booklets, slipcases, Amarays etc), all of which aren't necessarily coming from the same production plant. These components may arrive at different times, some may be delayed while others arrive early, etc etc. Ever built a custom PC and had everything turn up except the CPU fan? That can happen with a Collector's Edition too.

Then you have what goes on the disc - authoring or delivery of masters is reliant on third-parties and takes time, then there's QC which can cause further delays to ensure the product is to the absolute best standard possible. (As a personal example here, I was personally and solely responsible for the final delay to Cardcaptor Sakura because I wanted one last pass of subtitle QC, because as product manager on that title I knew nothing but the best possible experience would do).

All of this is taking place in what is currently an uncertain world - the UK is rife with strikes (which is not a criticism of any industrial action by the way), paper stock is still frequently in short supply throughout the world, COVID-19 causes staff shortages at irregular intervals across industries (from manufacture to delivery), and other world events such as the war in Ukraine also have an impact (bear in mind at least some production facilities are based in Poland and elsewhere in Eastern Europe, with a fair number of staff of Ukranian origin).

What all of this amounts to is a complex process that we monitor and check in on daily for every product as closely as we can, but ultimately we are reliant on third-parties and sometimes that information can take a while to reach us, especially when you start to factor in absences due to some of the reasons outlined above.

This can leave us with a conundrum - do we announce a delay without a new date? Do we just announce an arbitrary date when we don't have information to-hand as to its accuracy? Or do we wait until we have up-to-date information that allows us to make an informed decision as to delivery dates? It's a balancing act, and I'll be the first to admit we haven't always gotten it right.


Anyway, I realise this probably sounds like excuses and hand-wringing, but the important point I want to come to is that we absolutely hear the concerns and frustrations, and want to rectify them - we were in a good place where things were running smoothly in terms of delays (and more importantly the general lack of them), and I can only acknowledge that this year in particular has seen a spike in those delays. We're not blind to this fact - it's something that we're all aware of and are working to minimize (because honestly, no matter how hard you try they'll never be eradicated entirely), and we're always looking to set dates that are both achievable and reasonable, but there's more work to be done there and we hope you'll be patient while we work to rediscover that balance after the supply chain challenges of the past couple of years have changed the landscape around us.

As a final thought, I do also want to say that we do appreciate negative feedback just as much - perhaps more! - than positive feedback. If it's constructive, genuine and reasonable then it's something that we can take away, discuss and - if it's fixable - work on. So, please don't be hesitant to say "This is a thing/situation I don't like and here's why", what we don't want to hear is just blanket generalised "they suck" criticism or abuse. As long as you remember that our staff here are all human (yes, even me, I can confirm), and all anime fans like you, you won't go far wrong.

I love you folks, I still consider myself one of you, and I'm not the only one here with that mindset, so if you want me to start hating you all you're gonna have to work harder. 😉

I'll try and be around a bit more for questions/feedback from now on as I know we've all been caught up in a lot of cool things (what about the new One Piece film, eh?) and not particularly active here of late, but I won't get mad if I get an @ notification here and there (as people on the Discord already know!) Apologies for the long ramble, but this is an important issue that I know has been bubbling for a little while of late.
Thanks for the detailed response. As you say, supply chain uncertainty is at an all-time high. For that reason, maybe adopting more of a RAG Rating approach to communicating potential delays would be the way to go. For example, a week before the scheduled release date, if some component is running late but it's still possible to ship on time if it arrives soon, that could trigger an amber warning to customers that the item may not ship on time and explaining what's holding it back. I understand that from a brand management perspective that saying a product is either definitely ready or definitely delayed until X date projects a greater air of confidence, but I think the customers of a boutique brand are more receptive to seeing the gears spinning behind the curtain and would appreciate the transparency.
 

Hanners

Anime Limited Representative
Industry Representative
It might not be quite this simple, but can people who preorder from AL directly not just be sent an email on the Friday afternoon before a Monday release if stock is not on-hand at the fulfilment house?

I understand that other retailers will want new dates to update their listings so that should probably come later, but I struggle to think that you won’t be aware the Friday before release if assembled stock is on-hand.
Absolutely, this should be the bare minimum, and I'm sorry that hasn't always happened in some cases. Personally, I'm of a mind that these delays should be communicated at least a week prior to the stated release date, and that's the kind of minimum I want to work towards (barring last-minute delays of delivery of stock to the UK, which are always their own unique brand of issue).

I think Dai is pretty much on the right track that ultimately it's all about processes and having a system in place to ensure the right communications happen at the right time, and that's something for us to work on and improve internally to make these external communications better.
 

Hanners

Anime Limited Representative
Industry Representative
@HannersIf I could give advice when there is a delay and people are emailed maybe things you have established in this post should be included as I believe when people are more aware of the complex workings of what goes on then people can be more understanding and excepting of situations.
This is always a delicate balance, and my policy when we handle delay e-mails is to give details where we can and when it's pertinent (for Violet Evergarden the movie, it was a very specific paper stock shortage for example), but at the same time we don't want to give the impression that we're passing the buck or pointing fingers of blame - all of our manufacturing partners are great and filled with smart and passionate people who love our products as much as we do, so I really want to give the impression that we're being let down by external parties, as the true is very different and more complex with all of the moving parts and modern-day issues I mentioned.

Broadly speaking though yes, we'll always try to explain as best we can what's happening when a release date changes, and why.
 

Girls with Guns

Mad Scientist
@Hanners Are you able to expound any on the issues with the Blood-C Ultimate set and what happened with the planned rigid box for it, which I assumed was one of the main reasons the release was delayed so long? I'm sure it was most likely another shortage that resulted in the decision to go with a thin cardboard slip instead, but I was just curious about any details on the events that caused that change. I'm still very happy with my copy of the release, it's just a shame that after such a long wait for this one, we didn't quite get what we were expecting. Thanks!
 

Takei Daloui

Adventurer
As annoying as delays can be, I don't mind when things are delayed. I've paid at the time so I'm not worried about it now clashing with a time where I can't pay for stuff. But it would be better to hear that news slightly earlier. If a week prior an email is sent out saying this won't make it, or a few days at least, it's what it it. It's annoying but we get that update. But since a few have come right before it releases, those are more frustrating than they need to be purely because if they were to miss that date people would surely have known and could have communicated that prior to that.
So to summarise, getting that update a bit earlier so there's a bit more transparency on the fact there is going to be a delay would be nice.
 

bigzgod

Kiznaiver
Absolutely, this should be the bare minimum, and I'm sorry that hasn't always happened in some cases. Personally, I'm of a mind that these delays should be communicated at least a week prior to the stated release date, and that's the kind of minimum I want to work towards (barring last-minute delays of delivery of stock to the UK, which are always their own unique brand of issue).
I agree that a week is ideal. While a delay is always disappointing to hear, putting it off till the very last second is even crueler to the fans, since it gets their hopes up only to dash it at the last second.
 

bakura

Brigade Leader
This is always a delicate balance, and my policy when we handle delay e-mails is to give details where we can and when it's pertinent (for Violet Evergarden the movie, it was a very specific paper stock shortage for example), but at the same time we don't want to give the impression that we're passing the buck or pointing fingers of blame - all of our manufacturing partners are great and filled with smart and passionate people who love our products as much as we do, so I really want to give the impression that we're being let down by external parties, as the true is very different and more complex with all of the moving parts and modern-day issues I mentioned.

Broadly speaking though yes, we'll always try to explain as best we can what's happening when a release date changes, and why.
I appreciate the delicate balance when it come's to information and what you try to provide and i agree with @Dai on the idea of a RAG rating approach.

As your first post said you guy's are human too so to bring in more fun topic's (and this goes to @anime_andrew and @demiopedia ) what's been your favourite anime release from AL this year.
 

Hanners

Anime Limited Representative
Industry Representative
@Hanners Are you able to expound any on the issues with the Blood-C Ultimate set and what happened with the planned rigid box for it, which I assumed was one of the main reasons the release was delayed so long? I'm sure it was most likely another shortage that resulted in the decision to go with a thin cardboard slip instead, but I was just curious about any details on the events that caused that change. I'm still very happy with my copy of the release, it's just a shame that after such a long wait for this one, we didn't quite get what we were expecting. Thanks!
So, our Blood-C Ultimate is an interesting case of us doing something outside of the norm - we haven't tried doing a limited run Ultimate Edition like this one, where we printed less units than we typically do for such a release.

What we've found as a result of this is that to keep the price of the product reasonable, it does pose some questions in terms of the build of the product, which ultimately manifested in the slipcase that you'll see in the final finished edition on this occasion.

We hear and totally appreciate people's feedback on this one on two fronts - both in terms of the rigidity of the slipcase versus what you'd expect from an Ultimate Edition product, and also our communication of product specs where we need to be much clearer in our language. This is a perfect example of where frank but constructive feedback has been helpful to us!
 

Hanners

Anime Limited Representative
Industry Representative
As your first post said you guy's are human too so to bring in more fun topic's (and this goes to @anime_andrew and @demiopedia ) what's been your favourite anime release from AL this year.
Mine is utterly personal, but Cardcaptor Sakura. In terms of the historical importance of the title, it's been the biggest product release I've been manager on since starting here - I started out having never seen the show and ended having watched the whole thing and loving every minute of it.

It took a long time, and a lot of hard from a whole multitude of people on the authoring side in particular, but we couldn't be prouder of the end results on-disc, it looks incredible and is to my mind exactly what I demanded we create when we acquired the license - the best edition of the series released anywhere in the English-speaking world.
 

WMD

Railgun
So, our Blood-C Ultimate is an interesting case of us doing something outside of the norm - we haven't tried doing a limited run Ultimate Edition like this one, where we printed less units than we typically do for such a release.

What we've found as a result of this is that to keep the price of the product reasonable, it does pose some questions in terms of the build of the product, which ultimately manifested in the slipcase that you'll see in the final finished edition on this occasion.

We hear and totally appreciate people's feedback on this one on two fronts - both in terms of the rigidity of the slipcase versus what you'd expect from an Ultimate Edition product, and also our communication of product specs where we need to be much clearer in our language. This is a perfect example of where frank but constructive feedback has been helpful to us!
Thanks for explaining. I have a couple of questions on this if that's ok:

1) Are you able to let us know what the final price of the product would have been if a rigid case had been used either/both of rrp/EB price?

2) How much of the book (number of pages) would have needed to be lost to keep the price point the same but have a rigid box?

From a personal stand point a nice rigid box with nice art is one of the key reasons to go for UE over a standard collectors edition. Escaflowne, TiR, FMP, Perfect Blue (along with some similar sized Spanish sets) are all on my shelves side on so they can be seen in all their majesty. I guess I'm hinting that depending on the numbers involved in the answers to my questions above my personal choice would typically be to make the book smaller to ensure the box is the best it can be.

(When I have more space and suitable place for it NGE will join them)
 

Hanners

Anime Limited Representative
Industry Representative
Thanks for explaining. I have a couple of questions on this if that's ok:

1) Are you able to let us know what the final price of the product would have been if a rigid case had been used either/both of rrp/EB price?

2) How much of the book (number of pages) would have needed to be lost to keep the price point the same but have a rigid box?

From a personal stand point a nice rigid box with nice art is one of the key reasons to go for UE over a standard collectors edition. Escaflowne, TiR, FMP, Perfect Blue (along with some similar sized Spanish sets) are all on my shelves side on so they can be seen in all their majesty. I guess I'm hinting that depending on the numbers involved in the answers to my questions above my personal choice would typically be to make the book smaller to ensure the box is the best it can be.

(When I have more space and suitable place for it NGE will join them)
The not particularly helpful answer (sorry!) is that it isn't that quite that simple, and especially for more ambitious products - it isn't really a series of sliders where you can drag one down and another up, as there are a lot of complexities to consider. Sometimes making a book smaller can actually make manufacturing more expensive, for example, for reasons beyond the scope of discussion here! Throw in other production costs like translation, authoring/masters etc and the solutions often aren't straightforward.

In the case of this product, the only other viable option would likely have been to stick solely with the Limited Edition SKU, with a much smaller book but more in our standard Collector's Edition mold.
 

Girls with Guns

Mad Scientist
1) Are you able to let us know what the final price of the product would have been if a rigid case had been used either/both of rrp/EB price?

From a personal stand point a nice rigid box with nice art is one of the key reasons to go for UE over a standard collectors edition.

Yes, I was actually a little surprised that an oversize CE was priced so low when it was first announced last year - I would have readily paid more to guarantee a chipboard storage box. Never heard of a UE without one. It almost made me wish I could trade it back in for the CE set, which did get a chipboard box with the same external artwork. At least the UE slip was side-load and not an o-card, but it's one of those type I really, really dislike - it has those dang ugly little tabs sticking out at the top and bottom because of the hinged-flap style spine, which are unsightly and easily get damaged, just like the ones StudioCanal uses for their Studio Ghibli sets. But, I do like the digibook, and personally would not want to sacrifice any of the pages in it just for a chipboard box. Ah well, I may eventually double-dip on the CE set for the chipboard when it goes on sale during one of AtA's free international shipping sales.
 

WMD

Railgun
The not particularly helpful answer (sorry!) is that it isn't that quite that simple, and especially for more ambitious products - it isn't really a series of sliders where you can drag one down and another up, as there are a lot of complexities to consider. Sometimes making a book smaller can actually make manufacturing more expensive, for example, for reasons beyond the scope of discussion here! Throw in other production costs like translation, authoring/masters etc and the solutions often aren't straightforward.

In the case of this product, the only other viable option would likely have been to stick solely with the Limited Edition SKU, with a much smaller book but more in our standard Collector's Edition mold.
Yeah I guess it tough so so many moving parts. Would be nice if there was a UE stats generator with slide bars and you could dial it up easy peasy.

Yes, I was actually a little surprised that an oversize CE was priced so low when it was first announced last year - I would have readily paid more to guarantee a chipboard storage box. Never heard of a UE without one. It almost made me wish I could trade it back in for the CE set, which did get a chipboard box with the same external artwork. At least the UE slip was side-load and not an o-card, but it's one of those type I really, really dislike - it has those dang ugly little tabs sticking out at the top and bottom because of the hinged-flap style spine, which are unsightly and easily get damaged, just like the ones StudioCanal uses for their Studio Ghibli sets. But, I do like the digibook, and personally would not want to sacrifice any of the pages in it just for a chipboard box. Ah well, I may eventually double-dip on the CE set for the chipboard when it goes on sale during one of AtA's free international shipping sales.
I didn't want to make itvsound like I was salty about the book. Its far beyond what I would have expected for a Blood-C UE and I'm very happy with the book. Just wanted to see what a hypothetical might have looked like with a rigid box.

Jeebus, the German Evangelion set sure made...choices.

The Spanish UE uses the same art for the disc cases!
 
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