Interview - Hanabee President, Eric Cherry

At last months SMASH Eric Cherry, the president of Hanabee - Australia's newest anime company and his trusty sidekick Zi Yi Xie held Hanabee's very first industry panel where they announced the release of Toradora, Dream Eater Merry and Red vs Blue season 10. Since then they have been bus working on future acquisitions and hinting at their next release. 

Today I had the chance to chat with Eric about his upcoming releases, his feeling for the Aussie anime industry and where he plans to take Hanabee.
RYAN: Today we I have the pleasure of speaking to Eric Cherry, president of Australia's newest anime distributor Hanabee. Thanks for speaking with us.

ERIC: Thanks Ryan. Pleasure!

First of all, can you tell us a little bit about your relationship with anime, your origin story as it were?

The early relationship with anime involved share houses, empty pizza boxes and a VHS copy of Akira playing on TV. Much later, about five years ago, I went to Tokyo and fell in love with pretty much everything, and have been aiming to become more and more involved in it ever since.

If you weren't working in the anime industry, what would you be doing?

I'd apply for a job at the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball organisation. I'm originally from Los Angeles, and kind of a baseball otaku

What was the motivation for you to create your own company? What was it about the state of the Australian anime industry that you thought could be done better?

Anime fans in Australia have very little choice, if they want to support the Australian anime industry. This was the status quo for quite some time, and from my perspective the whole thing looked pretty boring. There are hard-working volunteers, community groups, NFP organisations and small businesses out there in it because they love it, and we're interested in working with them to support their efforts. We can get away with this because we spend a lot of time on each project we take on, and this is possible because the company is smaller, cheaper to run and is 100% focused in this area.

So far you've announced future releases of Toradora, Dream Eater Merry and the phenomenally successful Red vs Blue. Can you give us any hints as to what else you're working on?

We've been dropping hints on our FB page and will be announcing some new acquisitions at Manifest this year (next week). Stop by!

Without announcing any confirmation, what is one title that you'd love to see in the Hanabee stable?

Akira. 

After departing Siren Visual you managed to bring the Red vs Blue franchise with you. Considering its success at Siren, how did you manage such a coup?

I personally had that agreement in place long before I departed, so it wasn't much of a coup.

Although Red vs Blue is not an anime title, it has a huge fan base among anime fans. Why do you think that is?

Video game fans aren't necessarily anime fans, but more often than not anime fans are indeed video game fans. Red Vs Blue is hilarious, so it doesn't seem to me like there's a giant leap between the two.

At SMASH you emphatically announced that Hanabee would NOT be licensing hentai titles. Why did you feel the need to make this point so clear?

I dealt with those questions a lot while working at Siren so I was simply trying to be funny, forgetting that I don't have to deal with those questions anymore. As Neil Hamburger says, they can't all be zingers.

And finally, what is your master vision for the Australian anime scene?

That's a hell of a question to end on Ryan. To be honest I don't really think of it in those terms. The anime scene involves a million or so different dynamics, and it's our job to listen and contribute as best we can, aiming to improve the process each day.

Thanks for taking the time to speak to us and we're looking forward to what's to come from Hanabee!

Thanks so much for the opportunity mate.

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