The State of UK Anime Websites

The UK Anime industry we are told is currently in a wonderful new era, expanding and growing like never before. Many series are very polished and certainly have a chance of main stream success. One such series is Eureka Seven. I have been watching it on funsub since it started and I really have been looking forward to a UK release. The US release is being handled by Bandai who have been bringing out some great value special editions featuring the DVD, Manga, Soundtrack and T-Shirt. I was hoping for a similar UK release. So I toddled off to Beez the UK distributer. I would say the site is awful, but there isn’t even one and hasn’t been one for over 12 months! How can Beez expect anyone in the UK to take them seriously when we can’t even find out basic information about their local presence.
Many of the other sites are barely better.

MVM handle high profile releases like Full Metal Alchemist and Trigun. Having tried their excellent Works taster packs you would have thought their website would scream fun and variety. However a grey and awful world presents itself. Whilst it isn’t hard to navigate, why would you want to? It looks worse than most fan sites and is horrendously unprofessional. Though whilst it doesn’t resort to frames, it does use image only links and some of the worst colour choice I’ve seen on a ‘professional’ site.

Manga UK seem to still be living in 1999 super frames land. I’m surprised they haven’t added midi to the site. I realise they haven’t been in the best of health lately and it is wrong to kick a guy when he is down. Seriously though, could you not buy an off the shelf site that would look and work better? Whilst it is nice that they are discounting VHS tapes, I hardly think it warrants primacy before all other options. Bottom aligned menus are just annoying as hell. Their Mini-sites are okay, but they don’t make up for the main site.

ADV inherited a site from their US parent that whilst not amazing, does the job and is what I would have expected from MVM, Manga and Beez. To be honest I was not that interested in their current releases, but at least their site enticed me in enough to look around and maybe consider titles I otherwise would have ignored.

Unfortunately the one UK company that has a major clue in terms of web design and standards compliance isn’t a dedicated Anime company. Optimum released the recent Appleseed film and the The Studio Ghibli Collection. The site is light elegant, accessible and modern. I love the design, I wish I could design that well, it is simply on another level compared to the others.

Unfortunately to see a full on Anime company that does have a clue and isn’t from the US or Japan you have to go to Australia and Madman Entertainment. Madman handle a huge amount of releases, that are usually split up between the various UK companies. They not only have a great main site, but they also produce some of the nicest Flash supporting sites I have seen in ages. We have fantastic designers in the UK some of the best in the world, why the hell aren’t the UK Anime industry using them?

– Rant over