Hiroi Sekai
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Viz Media's 'Neon Alley' Project

What is Neon Alley anyways? It's an exciting new project from Viz Media to bring a new medium in which people seeking anime can invest into. At the current moment, they are streaming 24/7 on PlayStation 3 for paid members, but through multiple websites they are taking suggestions to expand both the range of genres of series and platforms.

I caught wind of this through an email inquiry, which greatly detailed the ideas behind the project. Just a few messages later, I was able to get a few questions through to the VP of Viz Media for this article. I've attempted to compose questions that might assist with the understanding of the project's current standing as well as its future, so hopefully some of you will find interest in it after reading.

I have seen the currently listed schedule on the Neon Alley website. Are there currently any plans to expand into a wider genre of anime, or is it set to focus on mostly shonen series?

Shonen series have a long history of popularity in North America, and the goal of Neon Alley is to provide audiences with highest-quality anime entertainment regardless of the genre. Neon Alley is open to all studios, not just VIZ titles, so we plan to experiment with different genres in the future and open to suggestions/recommendations for new series with great stories and high quality animation.

From the initial email, I have heard this service will be available through PlayStation 3 consoles only. While I saw on your FAQ page that this is an exclusive at the moment, will there be plans to expand into other mediums?

We don't have anything to confirm at this time but we are reviewing all consumer feedback as we plan the next phase of the channel.

Looking at the YouTube page, I noticed that while Neon Alley is marketing itself as a medium for bringing dubbed series to the world, there were plans for subtitled releases (like Rinne no Lagrange/The Flower of Rinne). Are there plans of showing other series with the original Japanese audio? I have seen the short answer on the FAQ, but I am hoping this might be considered.

There are currently multiple outlets for watching anime with subtitles like VIZAnime.com & Hulu or through purchasing the DVD/Blu-ray of these series. Our goal was to build a destination for English dubbed anime content and place for casual/core fans to discover new titles.

What are your current methods of allowing fans to offer suggestions, and to what extent will they be considered?

Fans can get in touch with us via our Facebook page, Twitter, or through our website to leave feedback and suggestions.

What inspired you to start up this project, as Viz Media already has released said series on DVD before?

We created Neon Alley for fans new and old to explore and discover new anime titles next to their favourite series. Our top series have millions of viewers each week but there are not a lot of opportunities to highlight new series on traditional television or cable networks. With Neon Alley, fans will be able to watch their favourite series next to cutting edge series they didn't even know they were missing. Currently, there are not enough available broadcast outlets to support the amount of high quality anime coming over from Japan on an annual basis.

Viz Media certainly has an impressive lineup of licensed series, but in the future (or even currently) are there plans to collaborate with other companies to expand that range even further?

Definitely, we're currently working with Aniplex to bring Ao no Exorcist, FUNimation for One Piece and Taiseng for live-action martial arts. We hope to expand upon these relationships in the very near future as well as add new content partners.

As you can see, the project is relatively new but has a decently impressive lineup with plans to take things even further. For a limited time, there appears to be a one week trial for those interested in just testing the waters. Afterwards, the monthly service runs on your Playstation 3 for $6.99 a month. If you have the funding and the craving, I would recommend a combination of this program with a Crunchyroll account to get the best of both worlds. While we here at Hiroi Sekai prefer original Japanese audio to the English dubs, it's important for you to make your own decisions and preferences, so make your experience as expansive as possible! While we're at it, it's notable to mention that Crunchyroll is going to be on the PSN as well, so it's a great time to look into both.

Many thanks to Ms. Tracy Blackburn for mediating all of the messages and sending details, Mr. Brian Ige for providing the answers to my questions, and to anyone else involved with this project. Here's to its success to expand the anime community outside of Japan.

Finally, a little bit of news on what's to come here at Hiroi Sekai before the year is over! There are plans to have the return of 31 Days of Stargazing, which will introduce 31 new wintery Japanese songs throughout every day of December. Many thanks for reading!