Manga Entertainment

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Manga Entertainment Ltd.
IndustryEntertainment (anime)
FounderAndy Frain Edit this on Wikidata
HeadquartersLondon, England, United Kingdom
Key people
Jerome Mazandarani (General manager), Andy Frain (Former CEO, Founder)
ProductsAnime theatrical and direct marketing and production; see list of titles
OwnerSony (Aniplex and Sony Pictures Television joint ownership)
Manga Entertainment, LLC
L.A. Hero (1991-1993)
IndustryEntertainment (anime)
FounderAndy Frain Edit this on Wikidata
HeadquartersLos Angeles, California, United States
ProductsAnime theatrical and direct marketing and production; see list of titles
ParentLionsgate Home Entertainment

Manga Entertainment is a producer, licensee, and distributor of Japanese animation in the United Kingdom. It also co-produces several anime series, including Ghost in the Shell, Street Fighter Alpha: The Animation, Highlander: The Search for Vengeance and Eon Kid,[1] usually through financial contributions toward production costs.

Manga 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). It is also the designated home video distributor for the Pokémon franchise in the UK, including some of the movies apart from the ones distributed by Miramax (among them Pokémon: The First Movie).[2]

Despite its name, the company's principal business is the distribution of anime rather than manga, although they have published some manga, such as Crying Freeman,[3] in the United Kingdom under the Manga Books imprint.

Company history[edit]

Major history[edit]

Manga Entertainment's original logo and initial imprint

Manga Entertainment (formerly Island World Communications) was founded in 1991 as a subsidiary of Chris Blackwell's and John Heyman's Island World Group. IWC took over the company number for Golden Square Music, also founded by John Heyman, but has had no relationship to IWC or Manga.[4][5][6][7]

One of the company's early video releases was Katsuhiro Otomo's masterpiece Akira, (licensed from the ICA and released on the Island World label). Akira became a critical and commercial success, and this encouraged Frain to make his first trip to Tokyo to negotiate licensing deals directly with Japanese producers, distributors and publishers. The company's next anime titles, which included Fist of the North Star, Venus Wars, Project A-ko, and New Dominion Tank Police were all released on the new Manga Video label, and by the end of 1992 the label's identity was firmly established, with many of the UK's retailers including Virgin and HMV having created dedicated Manga Video sections. By this time the Island World Group had divided into John Heyman's World Films and Chris Blackwell's Island Pictures, and it was agreed that Island World Communications would be part of Blackwell's Island Group. Blackwell also agreed with Frain's idea that the company should now focus its business activities primarily on Japanese animation, and in March 1993 the company's name was consequently changed to Manga Entertainment Ltd.

Over the next few years, Frain licensed over 100 anime titles (mostly features and high quality OVAs) including Appleseed, Patlabor, Macross, Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie, Space Adventure Cobra: The Movie, Battle Angel Alita, A.D. Police Files, 3×3 Eyes, Angel Cop, Vampire Hunter D, Ninja Scroll, Crying Freeman, Golgo 13: The Professional, Wicked City, Cyber City Oedo 808, Goku Midnight Eye, Grave of the Fireflies, Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honnêamise, Roujin Z, The Castle of Cagliostro and the controversial Legend of the Overfiend. Initially rights were mostly acquired for Europe and Australasia with John O'Donnell's Central Park Media acquiring North American rights, and with CPM and Manga Entertainment sharing the cost of the English language dubs. Frain and Blackwell discussed a purchase of CPM with O'Donnell but when negotiations broke down, Frain successfully negotiated the acquisition of L.A. Hero, the US home video division of Japanese anime producer, Hero Communications. This provided the company with the catalogue to launch in the US in 1994. Marvin Gleicher, a former record company exec who worked for Blackwell was then hired as the CEO of the newly formed Manga Entertainment Inc., with the sales and marketing division in Chicago, and creative services in Los Angeles under former L.A. Hero boss Ken Iyadomi. In 1995, Iyadomi decided to return to work for Bandai and all the US company activities were consolidated in Chicago.

Throughout 1994 and 1995, Frain acquired more feature and OVA titles now with a global (excluding Asia) market in mind. He also purchased the UK division of Dark Horse Comics to start Manga Publishing and a small UK based CGI studio Manga Studios, and with his UK team, established sub-licensing deals in Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Netherlands, France, Italy, and Spain. Frain also embarked on the company's first co-productions; Buichi Terasawa's Cobra and Ghost in the Shell directed by Mamoru Oshii. At the end of 1995, Frain left Manga Entertainment but retained a minority interest in the company. Marvin Gleicher then took over from Frain as worldwide CEO and UK sales and marketing director Mike Preece was promoted to managing director and Laurence Guinness became vice president.

On May 13, 2004, IDT Entertainment announced they would purchase Manga Entertainment.[8] Afterwards, the purchase was complete and both Manga UK and Manga US became subsidiaries of IDT Entertainment. In 2005, Manga UK and Manga US began to operate independently from each other, but still remaining under the same ownership.

Liberty Media would then purchase IDT Entertainment in 2006[9] and would be renamed to Starz Media.

In 2011, Manga US ceased licensing new products after the release of Redline and went dormant.

On August 8, 2012, Liberty Media announced that it would spin-off Starz Media into a separate publicly traded company.[10] The spin-off of Starz Inc. was completed on January 15, 2013[11] which included all subsidiaries, including Manga.

In February 26, 2015, the UK branch would be bought from Starz Media alongside its parent Anchor Bay UK to managing director Colin Lomax.[12] Anchor Bay UK was renamed to Platform Entertainment and went on to have exclusive rights to the Manga Entertainment branding and catalog in the UK and Ireland.[13]

In June 2016, Lionsgate announced they would acquire Starz Inc.[14][15] which would eventually be completed in December 2016, placing Manga US under Lionsgate Home Entertainment. In the same month, Kaleidoscope Film Distribution announced they had purchased Platform Entertainment and confirmed that they would split Manga UK off to become separately operated.[16]

In 2017, Lionsgate Home Entertainment relaunched Manga US' website and Facebook and Twitter page, and confirmed a re-launch in the near future. Lionsgate currently licenses the Manga Entertainment brand-name from the now non-related UK branch.[citation needed]

Manga Entertainment UK[edit]

On November 2014, it was revealed that Manga Entertainment's Director of Marketing and Acquisitions Jerome Mazandarani, and product manager Andrew Hewson had left Manga Entertainment to form Animatsu Entertainment, an anime licensing company. The company was registered on September 11, 2014, with Mazandarani becoming COO and Hewson becoming marketing manager.[17] On January 13, 2015, Animatsu announced that it had reached a licensing deal with Sentai Filmworks to distribute title in the United Kingdom and Ireland, and had entered into a sales and marketing partnership with Manga Entertainment. With the partnership, Animatsu was responsible for licensing, marketing, and brand management, whilst Manga was responsible for distribution and sales.[18]

In September 2015, Mazandarani revealed that the partnership between Animatsu and Manga Entertainment was in the process of merging operations, with Animatsu becoming a "special division" that was responsible for "co-productions, global rights management and cooperative deals with anime producers".[19]

On June 17, 2016, it was announced that Animatsu Entertainment had acquired the global rights to the film In This Corner of the World, with Mazandarani credited as "Overseas Manager" for the film.[20] Animatsu later announced that it had reached a distribution deal with Shout! Factory to distribute the film in North America.[21]

As a result of Manga Entertainment and Animatsu merging operations, the Animatsu brand was phased out in favour of Manga Entertainment, with the final Animatsu release being Hello! KINMOZA, released on July 2, 2018.[22] Animatsu Entertainment was dissolved on December 31, 2019.[23]

On May 29, 2019, Funimation announced that they had acquired Manga UK, merging the Funimation UK into Manga UK.[24] Manga UK also announced that they were co-producing the anime television series Cannon Busters.[25]

On September 24, 2019, Sony Pictures Television and Aniplex announced that they were consolidating their international anime streaming businesses (SPT's Funimation in the US and Aniplex's Madman Anime Group and Wakanim) under a new joint venture, with Funimation as the leading company for the group and its general manager Colin Decker leading the joint venture. As a result, Manga UK's ownership was modified to be partially owned by Sony Music Japan and Sony Pictures Television.[24][26]

Manga Entertainment in Australia[edit]

Manga Entertainment expanded into Australia in 1993 via a license deal with Siren Entertainment. In late 1996, Manga Entertainment UK gave the sub-distribution license to the newly founded Madman Entertainment who in turn were distributed by Siren. This meant that both Siren and Madman has equal rights to Manga's properties.

In 1997, PolyGram Australia gained the rights to some of Manga's more recent additions to its catalogue. This included Lupin the Third properties, except The Castle of Cagliostro, and Violence Jack. Violence Jack: Evil Town was banned in Australia, even when PolyGram submitted the UK cut to the Australian Government for classification. The other two OVAs in the series submitted were the uncut dubbed versions that were released in the US by Critical Mass, however due to Evil Town's banning, PolyGram scrapped the release of Violence Jack in Australia. PolyGram already had the UK cut of Evil Town in circulation despite its banning.

In late 1996, Madman Entertainment was founded by former employees of Siren. They were given exclusive sub-license rights to Manga UK's catalogue, including Part 4 of Macross Plus, which was released in 1997. Despite this, Madman did not take on some titles, e.g. RG Veda and Shadow Skill, and let PolyGram Australia distribute them.

Siren decided to license Street Fighter II V from Manga USA in 1997 and released the series without input from Madman, as Madman also had an exclusive licensing deal with ADV Films, who had licensed Street Fighter II V in the UK and re-dubbed it. This property was taken over by Madman in 1999. In this same time period Manga Entertainment had licensed Voltron exclusively for the Australian market and was released by Siren instead of Polygram Australia.

In 1998, Madman Entertainment was given the rights to the entire Manga catalogue from Manga's UK and USA subsidiaries except Street Fighter II V, which was still licensed by Siren. Manga Entertainment has since had a special relationship with Madman Entertainment and Manga was credited by many as the major force behind turning anime into mainstream entertainment in Australia during the 1990s and early 2000s. Manga's latest DVD and Blu-ray masters are encoded and provided by Madman Entertainment because of Madman's extremely large and modern DVD and Blu-ray authoring division.

In 1999, Siren relinquished its licensing deal with Manga UK and its separate deal for Street Fighter II V from Manga USA as Madman had become big enough for Siren to make the same amount of profit distributing for them as it was when it was the sole distributor of Manga products in Australia.

In 2001, Siren Entertainment restructured itself and split the company into 2 separate entities: Siren Visual and The AV Channel. Madman's founders who were former employees of the company and owned shares of Siren decided to take The AV Channel and turn it into Madman's distribution arm which was absorbed into Madman in 2008.

Madman Entertainment in the mid-2000s decided to align itself with Manga USA, but since the dawn of Blu-ray and Manga USA turning into an online and television distributor of anime, Madman has re-aligned itself with Manga UK. Both companies funded and co-produced the PAL region dub of Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence and co-produce DVDs and Blu-rays. Madman provides Manga UK with PAL DVD and some Blu-ray masters due to Madman's larger and more sophisticated authoring division. Manga and Madman co-license properties such as the Rebuild of Evangelion movies, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood & the Ghost in the Shell franchise among others.

US broadcast on Xbox TV[edit]

It was announced in October 2011 that Microsoft formed partnerships with over 50 content providers worldwide, including Manga Entertainment. This feature was to be available at no extra cost to US subscribers after the new Xbox dashboard update due sometime in December 2011.


  1. ^ "Manga Entertainment Announces International Partnership for Iron Kid". Anime News Network. September 8, 2005. Retrieved November 5, 2007.
  2. ^ "Manga Entertainment Brings Pokémon to the UK on Blu-ray". Retrieved July 29, 2016.
  3. ^ Shirow, Masamune (1995) [1985]. Appleseed Volume One: The Promethean Challenge. trans. Studio Proteus (UK ed.). London: Manga Publishing. ISBN 1-900097-01-X.
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Answerman - What Ever Happened to Manga Entertainment?". Anime News Network. Retrieved 2019-06-28.
  6. ^ "Akira: The story behind the film". Empire Online. Retrieved 2019-06-28.
  7. ^ "Chapter 4: The Development of the Japanese Animation Audience in the UK and France by Helen McCarthy". Amazon Books Online. Retrieved 2019-06-29.
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ "New York Deadline" Liberty Media Says It Will Spin Off Starz, Retrieved on August 8, 2012
  11. ^ "Yahoo Finance" Liberty Media Spins-off Starz Zacks Equity Research, Retrieved on January 24, 2013
  12. ^ "Starz Sells Manga Entertainment". Anime News Network. February 26, 2015. Retrieved February 28, 2019.
  13. ^ "Colin Lomax, former Anchor Bay UK chief, dies aged 56". Screen. Retrieved 2018-02-10.
  14. ^ Lieberman, David (June 30, 2016). "Lionsgate Agrees To Buy Starz For $4.4 Billion In Cash And Stock". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved June 30, 2016.
  15. ^ Schwindt, Oriana (December 8, 2016). "Lionsgate, Starz Close $4.4 Billion Acquisition". Variety. Retrieved December 8, 2016.
  16. ^
  17. ^ Osmond, Andrew (November 13, 2014). "Jerome Mazandarani Leaves Manga Entertainment". Anime News Network. Retrieved February 18, 2020.
  18. ^ Osmond, Andrew (January 13, 2015). "Animatsu Announces First Titles and Marketing Partnership". Anime News Network. Retrieved February 18, 2020.
  19. ^ Sevakis, Justin (September 17, 2015). "What Ever Happened to Manga Entertainment? (PART TWO: UK Edition)". Anime News Network. Retrieved February 18, 2020.
  20. ^ Mayorga, Emilio (June 16, 2016). "Animatsu Picks Up Rights On 'Corner'". Variety. Retrieved February 18, 2020.
  21. ^ "Shout! Factory and Animatsu Entertainment Enter Film Distribution Deal" (Press release). Animatsu Entertainment. Anime News Network. February 4, 2017. Retrieved February 18, 2020.
  22. ^ "Manga UK Announces Their Summer 2018 Release Slate". Anime UK News. May 17, 2018. Retrieved February 18, 2020.
  23. ^ "ANIMATSU ENTERTAINMENT LIMITED". Companies House. Retrieved February 18, 2020.
  24. ^ a b Wright, Marshall (May 29, 2019). "FUNIMATION ACQUIRES UK ANIME DISTRIBUTOR MANGA ENTERTAINMENT LIMITED". Funimation. Retrieved May 29, 2019.
  25. ^ "Reemsborko to Handle Netflix Original Cannon Busters". Licensing Magazine. May 30, 2019. Retrieved August 15, 2019.
  26. ^ Spangler, Todd (September 24, 2019). "Sony Merges Anime Streaming Businesses Under Funimation-Led Joint Venture (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved September 24, 2019.

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