ANIMETV INITIAL VIEWERSHIP EXCEEDS EXPECTATIONS
The premiere episode of ANIMETV which went live on February 15 exceeded predictions for viewership. With approximately 50,000 viewers and counting (by around 5000 viewers per day), the video podcast show is attracting serious anime fans and converting casual ones from more than 70 countries around the world, and promises to continue to expand. “We expected the show to do well, but without advertising or PR, there was just no way to tell how many people would really come to watch the premiere episode. The release exceeded our expectations for the pilot episode by far,” stated helmer Eric P. Sherman. “There are people writing to us from all over the world including Japan and the UK, saying this is their new favorite show. And we haven’t even really gotten started yet!”
According to Mark Fujita, co-creator of AnimeTV, the show was created because the folks at Bang Zoom! Entertainment wanted to watch it! “We realized there were no real shows on TV that review anime. There are plenty of review shows for movies, and some good ones for games. But what about one specifically for anime? That would be something we would personally like to watch.”
“We talked to some folks at Cartoon Network about doing it as a TV show, ” says Sherman. “They told us ‘Why not just make it yourselves as a podcast show?’ So we did!”
As they began to develop the idea over the next year, the concept began to evolve. “For an extremely low budget venture, it was nothing short of a miracle that it actually got finished,” admits Producer Tony Oliver. According to Kristi Reed, another one of the show’s Producers, AnimeTV required a crew of 30 to pull off, including movie lights and a huge amount of rented equipment. “It was a five camera shoot, we needed a Director of Photography, a control room set up with video monitors, talk back capability, a floor director, seven lavalier microphones for the cast, two boom mic operators, and two sound mixers. We also had an art director and set designer, make up artists, and probably most importantly, craft services.” (which means snacks for the 30 hungry people!) When it came time for Post-Production, sorting through five cameras worth of video tapes, and beginning to tackle the animation sequences, graphics, and music became a full time job for an entire creative suite of people. Every step of the way, it became more obvious that the show’s complexity had been under-estimated.
“Even the Top Five Countdown was much more involved than originally anticipated. Coordinating the votes from fans around the world via email was one aspect. Then came the design of the graphics, the animation, sound effects, scoring, selecting clips from each show once the votes were tallied up, and finally coordinating the voice over recordings with the same voice talent who does Toonami’s promos.” It’s this kind of close attention to detail that makes AnimeTV so much fun to watch. “You can watch the show several times over, and still see little things that you missed the first time,” says anime fan and voice actress Stephanie Sheh. “I’m really glad that something like this is finally going to be out there.” The creative team is just ready for some sleep. “There have been many sleepless nights trying to get this show produced,” say Reed. “But would I do it all over again? In a heart beat.”
Sherman and Fujita describe the casting process of nothing short of “intense.” “We spent around eight months looking for the right people to make up the ‘ATV Crew’,” says Sherman. “We post notices everywhere we could. The key was to find intelligent, well-spoken, interesting young people, who were also die-hard anime fans.” Bang Zoom received thousands of submissions to audition for the show, but before any prospective cast members were allowed to come in for auditions, they each underwent an exhaustive application process. “We needed to weed out the wanna-be’s from the real anime fans,” says Sherman. “It didn’t matter how great they looked or how funny they were. If they didn’t know their anime backwards and forwards, they wouldn’t even be considered for a part on this show.” After several rounds of auditions the finalists were brought together in various groups and allowed to talk about anime with each other for two minute intervals. At the end of the final round, everyone was sent home. Eight people made it to that final round, but only six were needed. Unfortunately, all eight were amazing. Only six were needed, but it could not be denied that eight great people had been found. Fujita recalls, “We sat down with Johnny [Yong Bosch] and the other producers and finally it was decided that we’d go with these final eight – and have two of them sit out for each review.” Each member of the ATV Crew represents “one type of anime fan” according to Fujita. “I’m sure they will all get hate mail as well as a lot of fan mail,” says Tony Oliver. “Because they are very opinionated. But that’s what makes this show work. The cast is what makes it work. And once people get to know them, they are going to fall in love with them.”
Bang Zoom! is hoping that you’ll fall in love with AnimeTV, so that it stays online. “We’ve definitely put our collective hearts and souls into this show. And I think that comes across. The other day I got an email from a young woman in Sommerset, England. She just wanted to say thank you for producing this show. And you know what? That makes all those months with no sleep worth it.”
NEXT EPISODE INFO:
WHEN: THURSDAY, MARCH 1, 8:00 PM, PST
AnimeTV is a 15-minute program hosted by actor Johnny Yong Bosch (Trigun, Last Exile, Bleach), with segments on: anime reviews (done by actual, non-industry anime fans), fan cosplay, a top five anime countdown, interviews with voice actors, and other interactive segments. Anime is scored and reviewed by real fans from around the world who vote on their favorite anime. AnimeTV is a free video podcast or webcast airing new episodes every other Thursday night at 8:00 PM, PST. Previous episodes will not be archived which means that there is only a two week window to view each episode. Behind the Scenes clips will also be available for viewing on the website.
About Bang Zoom! Entertainment, Inc.
Bang Zoom! is committed to carrying out projects which contribute to the promotion of innovative cultural awareness internationally. They work creatively in the entertainment industry to develop and produce the highest quality of English language versions of Anime possible. More information can be found at their official website www.bangzoomentertainment.com.