For tonight's post I wanted to give a little retrospective on a long gone Anime distributor who first emerged in the 1990's. Around the time that Carl Macek and Streamline Pictures were putting out dubbed-only titles, companies such as ADV, AnimeEgo, Pioneer, and Central Park Media all put out subtitled tapes. Macek's dubs were excoriated by many fans, but love or hate them, they outsold the competition, and so these aforementioned companies had to get on the ball as well. New York based Central Park Media was one of them.
That said, Central Park Media was a company that many hardcore Anime fans hated immensely for various reasons. Their releases were mostly quick and dirty, and there were some very bizarre, and in some cases downright bad titles from them. Their DVDs were often cheap, for better or worse, and often lacking in quality. That said, the company did bring out some noteworthy titles, such as GRAVE OF THE FIREFLIES, RECORD OF LODOSS WAR, and of course THE SLAYERS. In the latter years, they also took risks and brought out niche titles such as THE WORLD OF NARUE and NOW AND THEN, HERE AND THERE.
A lot of Anime fans absolutely abhor Central Park Media's dubs, with many declaring them as some of the worst ever made, partially because a good bulk of them were, in fact, dubbed by quick and dirty studios such as Audioworks, particularly for stinkers like M.D. GEIST and GARZEY'S WING, both of which were (rightfully) poorly received. They also distributed a lot of titles dubbed by Manga UK, whose dubs at the time were absolutely laughable and bizarre. Other studios such as Matlin Recording (MAZE, noteworthy for miscasting gravel-voiced actor Greg Wolfe as a younger character), Skypilot (who turned out a mediocre dub with GRAVE OF THE FIREFLIES), and Matlin were not much better.
That said, not all of Central Park Media's dubs were downright bad, and if some people despise them still, well, to each their own. But for me, the title that was my gateway drug to Anime, the OVA for RECORD OF LODOSS WAR was the first title I ever purchased from them. The dubbed version, all six tapes. I quickly became intrigued and I fell in love with the show. Luckily, too, the dub, despite being made in the period of shaky dubs, was also a lot better executed than the likes of M.D. GEIST, BIRDY THE MIGHTY, and GARZEY'S WING. It helped that one of the lead characters was voiced by Lisa Ortiz. National Sound, who dubbed the project and also IRIA: ZEIREM THE ANIMATION, were one of the few studios CPM hired that actually gave a damn about what they did. The creative staff, the late Mike Alben, Bill TImoney, and Dave Siegel knew what they were doing, which is why both dubs turned out decently. Of course there are some fans who still despise these two dubs, but luckily there are fans of both.
Another noteworthy studio CPM used, and their prinary one, was TAJ Productions, the folks who dubbed POKEMON. Here, a lot of the talent pool established from this era, Veronica Taylor, Rachel Lillis, Cripsin Freeman, and Eric Stuart, all got to lend their voices to memorable dubs such as THE SLAYERS (arguably their biggest hit), and much later on, the surprisingly dark NOW AND THEN, HERE AND THERE. Both were great quality. That said, TAJ did misfire with REVOLUTIONARY GIRL UTENA (for at least the first thirteen episodes -- the subsequent 26 and the movie were much better done), but they're arguably remembered for SLAYERS.
Mercury Productions also turned in good work with SHAMANIC PRINCESS, NIGHT ON THE GALACTIC RAILROAD and ANIMATION RUNNER KUROMI, and Tom Wayland turned in better than satisfactory results with THE WORLD OF NARUE, ALIEN NINE, and ANIMATION RUNNER KUROMI 2, all quality dubs. Irvington-based Headline Sound got its start with Central Park Media as well, although there first project, a sequel to the aforementioned LODOSS OVA, CHRONICLES OF THE HEROIC KNIGHT, was mostly trashed across the net despite sharing many of the same cast members as the OVA (Lisa Ortiz, Crispin Freeman, and Angora Deb as well as most of the returnees did solid work, but there were casting inconsistencies and vocal dropouts as well, causing it to be a mixed bag). The studio would eventually get the hang of dubbing with efforts such as HIS AND HER CIRCUMSTANCES, COMIC PARTY, and THE THIRD (all done through The Right Stuf), but their first efforts were learning experiences.
Interestingly, Central Park Media sometimes commissioned dubs from Canada's Ocean Studio (PROJECT A-KO), Animaze (BLACK JACK), and Bang Zoom Entertainment (NIGHTWALKER). But these were few and far between.
Just when it seemed as though CPM finally got the hang of doing good dubs, the company closed down in 2005, which is unfortunate, because while they didn't always create good dubs, when they did they were good. Despite the vitrol slung at CPM, I still hold the dubs of LODOSS OVA, SLAYERS, NOW AND THEN HERE AND THERE, NARUE, NIGHT ON GALACTIC RAILROAD, as well as ANIMATION RUNNER KUROMI 1 & 2 close to my heart, because they were among the company's better executed dubs. I still need to check out SHAMANIC PRINCESS, as I did hear good things about that dub as well. I'm not a fan of ALIEN NINE the Anime, although the dub was good on that. If anyone else can mention any other good dubs from CPM, I'd be glad to know because I was never one of their detractors. ... See MoreSee Less
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