From the Archives: AnimEigo Interview

From the Archives header
From the Archives header

From the Archives is a deep dive into MAHQ’s history that revisits some old content that still has historical value.

It was recently in the news that AnimEigo had been sold to MediaOCD, a video production company that works on anime titles for companies like Discotek. In light of that news, I decided to dig into MAHQ archives for this interview with AnimEigo founder and CEO Robert Woodhead, originally posted on June 17, 2002.

Most anime fans probably know AnimEigo as the smaller company that releases classic titles such as Urusei Yatsura and more recently Super Dimension Fortress Macross and Kimagure Orange Road. Recently I had a chance to conduct an email interview with CEO Robert Woodhead.

Chris: When you started AnimEigo as a side project in 1989, what sort of business did you expect to do?

Robert: None or very little.

Chris: Did you ever imagine that an ‘anime industry’ would begin in the U.S., let alone flourish as it has?

Robert: Nope.

Chris: What was it like living in Japan for six years?

Robert: Expensive.

Chris: Did living in Japan help you get an insider’s view at the anime industry or develop contacts within studios?

Robert: Well, it certainly was easier to hop on a train than hop on a plane, so yes, that helped a lot.

Chris: Your company is known for releasing product when you’re satisfied with it instead of working on a deadline with any specific date. What release has given you the most amount of trouble so far?

Robert: Well, given the uproar, the Kimagure Orange Road DVD box set. In terms of pre-production problems, Macross.

Chris: When you announced that AnimEigo would be moving to DVD only, you faced criticism from fans. What do you think of DVD technology and its supplanting of subtitled VHS anime?

Robert: It’s much harder for us as producers, but the product quality is much better than VHS and LD.

Chris: Like many other fans, I was surprised by your 1999 announcement of the acquisition of the license for Super Dimension Fortress Macross. Briefly, how did you decide to pursue the license, and how was it working with Harmony Gold on the project?

Robert: It was suggested by a fan, I replied that “yeah, right, no way we could get the license,” then thought, what the heck, it’s just a phone call, and called HG. The reply was “We were just about to call you!” HG was 100% supportive and helpful and we couldn’t have done the project to the quality level we were able to without them going above and beyond the call of duty.

Chris: You had mentioned in the past the difficulty surrounding the license of the Macross: Do You Remember Love? movie. With the success of the Macross pre-order, are you more inclined to pursue the license for the movie?

Robert: We’d do it in a minute if the license situation clears up.

Chris: Later this year, the new Macross Zero OVA will be released in Japan. Has there been any discussion of acquiring a license to this new series or other unreleased product like Macross 7?

Robert: No comment.

Chris: Do you think that anime fans are especially picky about how they want their product, or is this something that can be found with the fans of any genre?

Robert: All fans are, by definition, fanatics. That’s where the word comes from.

Chris: You’ve just released Kimagure Orange Road on DVD and are working on You’re Under Arrest now. What’s the next project for AnimEigo after YUA is released?

Robert: Some more UY for sure, plus releasing the back catalog, plus some other things I can’t talk about.

Chris: On a non-anime note, what drove you to create the Self Promotion and Book Monitor websites?

Robert: Selfpromotion.com got started because I got annoyed at getting “we can submit your site to 1,000,000 search engines” spam. Book Monitor (now defunct, alas) because I wanted a heads up about new books coming out I might want to buy. Just itches that got scratched.


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