Manga Entertainment is a producer, licensor and distributor of Japanese animation in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, France, Australia and New Zealand. It is also a Dutch fansite about manga and anime. It also co-produces some anime series, including Ghost in the Shell, Street Fighter Alpha: The Animation, Highlander: The Search for Vengeance and Eon Kid, usually through financial contributions toward production costs. It was established in 1991 by Chris Blackwell by Island Records' Island World Communications subsidiary. It is currently a subsidiary of Starz Media, a subsidiary of venture capital firm Liberty Media. It has also played a part in dubbing anime, when it is not sub-licensing a production that has already been licensed by another company (e.g., Akira, licensed and redubbed by Geneon in 2001, Bounty Dog, and Lupin III: Bye Bye Liberty Crisis).
Despite their name, the company's principal business is the distribution of anime rather than manga, although they have published some manga in the United Kingdom under the Manga Books imprint such as Crying Freeman.
Manga Entertainment Australia
The first presence of Manga Entertainment in Australia and New Zealand was in 1991, when Manga Entertainment UK sub-licensed Akira to Ronin Films Pty Ltd. Akira was a commercial success in Australia when it was released in cinemas nationwide. Manga then transferred that license to 21st Century Pictures Pty Ltd in 1992 and then received a VHS release. In Mid-1993, Manga UK organized to have UK copies of their titles distributed by The Cartoon Gallery in Sydney, Australia, starting with the Fist of the North Star movie. At the time this practice was quite legal to do until the OFLC was established by the Australian Government in 1994. In August 1994, Siren Entertainment took over distribution of Manga's UK titles and were manufactured in Australia instead of being direct imports. Manga UK decided to give the distribution license to Siren Entertainment instead of Manga's then parent company Island Records's Australian distributor, Polygram as Siren understood Anime and knew how to market it.
Manga UK tried to get Urotsukidoji: Legend of the Overfiend released in the country for a cinema-wide release, but was refused classification by the OFLC, which in turn was banned outright in Australia. Siren re-submitted Urotsukidoji for classification, which was then classified R18+ without cuts. It received a cinema-wide release but then the Classification Review Board cut it before a VHS release date was announced. Manga then gave Siren Entertainment the distribution rights to most of their titles. Most of Manga's licenses were absorbed into Madman Entertainment in 1996 and some of the newer licenses went to Polygram Australia, then went to Madman. Siren was the distributor for Madman Entertainment until 2001, when Madman bought out Siren's distribution arm and renamed it The AV Channel. This was fully integrated into Madman in 2007. Manga was perhaps the most successful in Australia in the 1990s, Manga still being a respected and well-known brand today even though some of its more well known licenses have not made it to DVD in Australia.
Manga Entertainment UK
In January 2007, the company's United Kingdom division began releasing a fortnightly magazine aimed at promoting both the company itself through the use of some of its more revered titles. Issue one, for example, used Ghost in the Shell. The magazine ran for fifty issues originally. It is currently running to at least 101 issues.
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