Odds & Ends: go90 streams Transformers internationally; Your Name. hits home video charts; Viceland Canada in doubt

Transformers: Combiner Wars is a 2016 Machinima produced web series animated by Tatsunoko Productions in Japan. It’s also widely considered to be one of the worst pieces of animated Transformers fiction ever created. In the United States, the series was initially streamed exclusively through go90, a Verizon owned ad-supported streaming platform that only operates in the country. Internationally, Machinima temporarily made it available on their YouTube channel. Hasbro has since uploaded it to their YouTube channel.

Combiner Wars is just part one of what’s being described as the Transformers: Prime Wars Trilogy. The second season, Titans Return, launched on go90 last month. Just go90. Globally. But don’t go to go90.com, because you’ll just get a message saying the service isn’t available outside the US. In an unusual move, international audiences have been directed to a Transformers: Titans Return-themed Tumblr blog to watch the episodes. There you’ll find a go90 branded video player. Except looking into the page source reveals that it’s not actually go90’s video player. Or even Tumblr’s. It’s instead a skinned version of Yahoo’s. All of the videos are hosted on their servers and just embedded into the blog. In addition to go90, Verizon also owns Yahoo, which in turn owns Tumblr.

This may suggest that in a very roundabout way that Verizon is open to having some presence for go90 outside of the United States. However, it’s doubtful many will take up this convoluted “solution.” Machinima likely owns near global distribution rights for their Transformers productions, so it makes sense to do something like this, but in cases where the distributor might only cover the US and Canada? Dicey, at best. I bring this up as Aniplex of America has made go90 the exclusive streaming home for the dubbed versions of many of their anime properties.

Makoto Shinkai’s record-breaking Your Name. received its North American home video launch via Funimation on  November 7th following its spring theatrical run. Rare for an anime production, the film actually ranked in Neilsen’s Canadian Videoscan sales tracking chart for the period ending November 11th. The first of the two SKUs ranked as the ninth best selling release of that week, with the second coming in as the eleventh. Neilsen listed both as a Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack, but failed to mention which was the Limited Edition.

Your Name. fell out of the Top 25 the following week.

The Globe & Mail reported last month that Rogers Media is pulling out of the Canadian Viceland television channel. The rebrand of The Biography Channel launched February 29, 2016, as part of the first wave of the international Viceland format – an attempt to leverage Vice Media’s online reach and content into a linear television channel aimed at a younger audience. The Globe’s sources claim Rogers plans on ending funding for the Canadian channel in early 2018 after experiencing low viewership and unprofitability. In the CRTC’s financial data for the broadcast year ending August 31, 2016, Viceland reported a loss of $2.49 million as subscriptions fell to 1.51 million. Neither Rogers or Vice responded to The Globe’s story.

Rogers first announced a partnership with Vice back in 2014 as the two set out to collaborate on a $100 million joint venture to create Canadian content, with the eventual goal of launching a TV channel. In late 2015, that channel was revealed to be a part of the international Viceland format. Rogers later ran some of the more notable Canadian productions on City TV during the network’s less competitive hours. The partnership was spearheaded by former Rogers CEO Guy Laurence. He was replaced by Joe Natale in October 2016.

In June 2016, Vice announced a deal with Groupe V Media to launch a French Canadian version of Viceland. While initially penned for a 2017 launch, the channel has never been publicly mentioned since. Bell Media purchased the rights to run Vice News Tonight on Much and HBO Canada last September, though the series is entirely independent of the Viceland brand.

I’ve only ever covered Viceland because the British version decided to run some anime over the summer. While they’ve had success with that (the channel continues to air anime), I was sceptical of Viceland’s long-term viability. But even I thought the Canadian version would last longer than this. Heck, G4 Canada lived almost as long as a zombie with no first-run content.

We end off with another last-minute theatrical screening head’s up. Eleven Arts is bringing A Bridge for Rip Van Winkle to … Toronto’s Cineplex Yonge & Dundas location tomorrow (12/14/17) at 2:45 and 7PM.

In the age of social media, we have amassed a collection of names, both real and virtual, sprouting a new phenomenon where people are turning to social networking services (SNS) to connect with others, rather than attempting that connection in the real world. In Japan, where modesty is life’s constant variable, SNS allows users to project a different version of themselves – someone funnier, wittier and more explicit.

Director Iwai Shunji showcases SNS in A Bride for Rip Van Winkle, as he is fascinated by the way SNS embedded itself into modern society and fundamentally changed the way people communicate. Known for his fairytale-esk stories, like April Story and Hana and Alice, Iwai melds mystery and surrealism with new muse, Haru Kuroki, winner of the Silver Bear Award for Best Actress at the 64th Berlin International Film Festival.

I’d usually give a dedicated post to a theatrical release, but this isn’t manga/anime related and it’s only playing in one location.

  1. January 22nd, 2018

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