An Ode to Central Park Media



This is delayed on my part… quite delayed, in fact, considering that Central Park Media was slated for liquidation waaay back in April. But in lusting after the remastered Revolutionary Girl Utena set, I began to feel sad and nostalgic over poor old CPM, another one of our more niche companies that has found itself the victim of the economic times in the domestic anime market.

CPM may seem like a strange distributor to mourn; after all, its probably best known for its slew of releases of bad OVA’s from the 80’s. That and its, uh, adult Asian movie releases.

However, this perception, while not entirely inaccurate, leaves out a lot – let’s remember that CPM brought us Grave of the Fireflies, Revolutionary Girl Utena, and the wonderfully impenetrable Cat Soup. They’re also the one’s responsible for the fact that nearly every anime fane knows about Slayers, as they released every iteration of it prior to the recent resurrection of the show. Also, although it really isn’t well-known these days, they also released Record of Lodoss War, a title that used to be one of those titles in the American anime fandom. And, even if it isn’t exactly an illustrious title, they did bring us La Blue Girl.

CPM was really willing to touch a whole lot of titles no one else was interested at all in. In addition to Revolutionary Girl Utena and Cat Soup, they also brought over Here is Greenwood, Now and Then, Here and There, Shadow Star Narutaru, Kakurenbo and… *snorts* The Ping Pong Club (ok, maybe someone would’ve picked up the other one, but that one is pretty puerile). These are, simply put, titles that none of the other licensing companies had any interest in, because they were seen as being simply too niche to make any profit.

Of course, the fact that they were so niche probably has a lot to do with the fact that CPM went bankrupt. That and, I’m sure, some poor business decisions in general along the way (is there really that much of a market for bad, pulpy Asian movies?).

When Geneon went bottoms up, I was pretty bummed… but I also figured a lot of their licenses would get rescued, and that a lot of the shows they may’ve licensed in the future would get snapped up by someone else. With Central Park Media, though, I feel as if there is a void left – really, who the hell else would’ve licensed something like Cat Soup? That thing was legitimately weird! (It was also probably a very cheap release, since there was nothing to subtitle! Or dub!)

I’d also like to toss in here that I LOVED Maze, and was happy they released it, and that I also loved the piles of ultra-cheesey shoujo that they released (Don’t Call Me Princess!, Over the Rainbow; Popcorn Romance… basically all that stuff I’d be mortified to be caught reading). And maybe I’ll also love them forever for Aquarium.

Oh, CPM…

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4 Responses to An Ode to Central Park Media

  1. digitalboy says:

    I imagine CPM was MUCH bigger in the 90s. There were less companies, and they were the only ones putting out anything good, or interesting. Some of their older shows are big parts of US fandom, even the shitty ones like MDGeist. I think of CPM fell apart, it’s because where is their modern killer-app show? Back at the start of US fandom, it didn’t matter if it was a niche title, anime fans were willing to grab up any and everything they could find. These days there’s too much choice, too many companies, too many products. This is the anime business’ real weakness – as Tokyopop put it elegantly, they were cannibalizing themselves.

    think about it – if you only have so many series to choose from, you will stick to the ones you like and continuously buy them. Otherwise, if you have too many options, you will end up buying something from a company instead of another thing from the same company! I am living proof of this – I have an assload of first volumes form different anime and manga because there were too many choices and I had too little money to stick with a series.

    Over-release has been the bane of the anime market, and CPM fell victim to the fact that as great as a niche title ought to be, people just won’t choose it these days among the plethora of other anime out there. ADV made the same mistake when they were licensing too many anime.

    There’s a gerat market for niche asian films out there, less of one for anime, because anime itself is a niche, and most of it is filled these days with people who don’t know the miniscule titles. That’s why when a company like Nozomi releases a show, they pick a niche one but they release them one at a time and put so much love into the product and have one with such a great fanbase that fans will absolutely buy it (see Aria or Marimite.)

    Yeah, it’s a shame that CPM went under, but for the most part, nothing will change for their releases – most of what people buy from them who are into weird niche anime has been out of production for a long time and is bought for under 10 bucks at used shops. Their legacy will live on in those with an interest, especially if they keep these things ripped to the internet. Now and Then has already been rescued by funimation I believe (since there’s been a new collection release), and MDGeist was saved by ADV. If Funi releases the Utena remaster some day, then CPM will pretty much be un-missed.

    • adaywithoutme says:

      Yeah, but even if people re-release stuff and other shows that are niche in appeal get licensed, that doesn’t really address the ways in which one gets attached in an emotional way. Which sounds dumb when you consider we’re talking about a corporation, but its probably no more silly than people getting attached to a car brand.

  2. Prede says:

    I know this is a bit old, but I feel i must comment.

    First off I must say that I LOVED “Maze”! That’s one of my all time favorite series. Great tastes! Central Park Media released a lot of niche titles that no one would dare touch,a nd you know what, they are some of my favorites. 90% of them will never get a re-released, and that’s very sad. Masterpeices/classics like “A Wind Named Amnesia”, “Dominion Tank Police”, “Narutaru” and the like will never see another release here. They licensed some of my all time favorite series like “Now and Then, Here and There”, “Grave of the Fireflies”, “Alien Nine”, “Animation Runner Kuromi”, “Cyber City”, “Nightwalker”, “Descendants of Darkness”…the list goes on. I really liked their tastes in shows. Although sadly it was the niche titles themselves that did them in. John O’Donnell once commented on how they released titles they thought were good, regardsless of sales potential (sometimes). Which is admirable, I mean they got a lot of amazing stuff out there becuase of that. But it’s not a way to run a buisness 😦 . It’s only shooting yourself in the foot. But that wasn’t their only problem. The Musicland bankrucpty crippled them, among many other things. They were also being screwed on all fronts, manga (biblos and Libre), anime, manwha etc.

    I do hope many more of their shows get saved, but I doubt it sadly. Anyway RIP CPM, you will be missed.

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