Life on the Fringe

O Free CD, Where Art Thou?

As most of our readers probably know, I am a dedicated bargain shopper. It's the only way I can live if I want to support my anime, manga, and video game consumption habits. I can resist picking up the newest release of a series knowing that one day, I'll get it and eight other DVDs just like it at a fraction of the price.

This may sound odd to some people out there. But when you figure I have 995 anime DVDs - all of them legitimate - and some 60 or so more on order, getting items at half the MSRP makes a big difference to me. While there is a practical side to saving money, part of me likes the challenge of shopping in the most intelligent way possible. It's a sort of game I play with retailers, and it's one I always strive to win.

Naturally, I was ecstatic when Geneon began flooding the North American music scene with extremely authentic, low-priced, and well-translated CDs from various anime series and J-Pop artists. If two years ago, someone told me that I'd be able to purchase a domestic edition of every major Evangelion soundtrack in the US, I would've hit them in the face and then... Okay, no, I'm not really violent like that, but I certainly wouldn't have believed that person.

Life on the Fringe image.

I type this as I listen to every major Evangelion OST concurrently, each one of them released this year. It's loud, and I'm beginning to doubt my religion as well as my worth as a human being. That's how I can tell it's Evangelion.

Anyway, that's just the tip of the iceberg. In the span of about one measly year, they've given us soundtracks for Love Hina, Abenobashi, FLCL, Hellsing, Last Exile, Fruits Basket, and a flood of other great releases. These are REAL soundtracks, too. I love TOKYOPOP for the great manga series they give me every day, but their soundtrack releases were (forgive me for saying so) crappy.

GTO needs a truly authentic soundtrack release, one with the original opening and ending themes. TOKYOPOP can throw that "School's In Session" song on there if they want, but it really doesn't compare to L'Arc~en~Ciel's "Driver's High." I'm not sure why they didn't just translate the Japanese OSTs and just put them out here, but it most likely had to do with the fear of lackluster sales and a perceived disinterest in anime music from the fan base.

After all, most diehard fans of anime music love it so much that they've either already imported it or they've found mp3s of it and have it all for free. How could releasing those CDs over here ever work?

I truly hope Geneon is having more success than TOKYOPOP did with its CDs, and I also hope that this brings a renewed sense of hope to TOKYOPOP, so that they might begin to produce Bubblegum Crisis 2040's excellent vocal CDs in addition to the funky techno-rock masterpiece of a BGM disc they already have.

Life on the Fringe image.

Geneon not only released great titles at affordable prices, however. They also ran a promotion designed to reward repeat customers who purchased specially marked CD packages released from January through August 2004. The offer ran through September 30th, 2004, and noted that 6 to 8 weeks would be needed for shipping.

Essentially, if a customer bought four of the CDs and mailed in the enclosed forms and a check for $2.99, he or she would get to choose a fifth CD from a list free. I sent off two separate groups of four UPCs and checks on April 25th. I eventually bought almost every single Geneon release for the rest of the year after that, but I only found enough before the September cutoff date to send off for one more free CD.

Recently I realized it's been a bit more than 8 weeks since the first batch was mailed off. During a Geneon panel at Anime Expo, I believe someone said that they'd ship the discs out in August, but I still haven't received mine. So what happened? The checks haven't cleared yet (which throws me off every time I balance my checkbook - luckily, that doesn't occur often), and I'm beginning to wonder if they ever will. There's been no status update at the official website - - and I'm getting a little worried.

I understand that this is a unique promotion for a company that's already trying to do something new, and I just hope that the response they received for this deal was so overwhelming they're just having trouble filling all the requests. Even a simple "we're not going to give you the CDs" would be preferable to this eerie silence.

Yet I'm sure all will be resolved soon. I sent off an email to Geneon on October 15th, and hopefully I'll hear from them soon. In the meantime, I was simply curious if I'm the only person still waiting for my CDs, or if there are others out there just as eager to get their hands on these wonderful products.

One way or the other, I'm still going to pick up these soundtracks like they're candy. After all, the RahXephon and Samurai Champloo OSTs are coming out in January! Free CDs or not, Geneon is doing a service to the anime fan community that I'll not soon forget. Show your love and support these releases! And maybe then they'll send me the free discs they owe me.

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