ADV Films Acquires Three Anime Series

ADV Films has picked up the anime series Azumanga Daioh, Magical Shopping Street Abenobashi and Final Fantasy: Unlimited for stateside release. The distributor also announced that it will release the director’s cut of the final six episodes of the popular anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion.

Azumanga Daioh is a comedy series that premiered in early 2002 in Japan. Produced by Genco (Serial Experiments Lain) and JC Staff (Excel Saga), the show follows the adventures of a comical group of high school girls and their equally eccentric friends and teachers. The title is based on the manga by Kiyohiko Azuma. To reflect the concept of the manga, each episode of the series consists of several loosely related, character-driven segments, many of which adapt Azuma’s original strips.

ADV plans an Anime Network debut later this year, followed by a DVD-only release.

Magical Shopping Street Abenobashi was directed by Hiroyuki Yamaga (Neon Genesis Evangelion, Wings of Honneamise, Automatic Maiden) from a script by Satoru Akahori (Sorcerer Hunters, K.O. Beast). The series was produced by the Japanese animation powerhouses GAINAX and Madhouse.

The series follows friends Sasshi and Ayumi, who discover that their familiar neighborhood shopping district is actually a portal to a series of parallel existences. The two are mistakenly transported to an alternate Abenobashi shopping area, and the series chronicles their quest to return home, with each episode structured as a comedic parody of a specific anime or film genre.

ADV Films has not yet announced specific release dates for the title, but expects an Anime Network broadcast debut toward the end of 2003, with a DVD release in 2004.

Based on Square’s popular video game series and CG feature film, Final Fantasy: Unlimited tells the story of warrior Kaze, enigmatic Lisa and a pair of twin children, Ai and Yuh, whose search for their missing parents leads them to a mysterious world. There they encounter monsters, mystery, intrigue and a plot that twists and turns and doubles back on itself in true anime style.

Chief director for Final Fantasy: Unlimited is Mahiro Maeda, one of the most respected anime directors in Japan. Maeda was recently hand-picked to direct two of the animated shorts featured in The Animatrix, the upcoming anime project based on The Matrix film franchise.

The series is produced by Square, TV Tokyo (NOIR) and Dentsu (Princess Mononoke, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex), with animation produced by Gonzo Digimation, animators of Hellsing, Full Metal Panic! and others.

Final Fantasy: Unlimited is expected to air in late summer and be released on home video before the end of September 2003.

The director’s cut of the final six episodes of Neon Genesis Evangelion will include additional footage never before released in the U.S. ADV Films expects to package the release in two three-episode DVD volumes. Each volume will include both the extended director’s cut versions and the original versions of the episodes. A release date has not been announced.