What is Nozomi?
Nozomi Entertainment, Right Stuf's production division, is dedicated to the highest quality releases. True to the Japanese word that inspired its name, Nozomi's focus is on "what fans want." By working on a limited number of anime titles each year, the Nozomi team ensures each release receives the care and attention it deserves. For those of you new to Nozomi Entertainment and the RightStuf.com store, we'd like to share a little bit about the history of our company and how its two divisions came to be.
Astro Boy Launches Right Stuf
Back in 1987, a Des Moines entrepreneur named Todd Ferson first had the idea to release a VHS version of a favorite series from his childhood: Astro Boy. He needed help doing the legwork, so he called up his friend, Shawne Kleckner. Together, they decided to use Todd's fledgling company, Right Stuf, to release the series.
After two years of hard work, Right Stuf finally had its very first release: It was a single VHS tape that contained two episodes of Astro Boy and retailed for $24.95. More volumes quickly followed, and to support their releases, Shawne and Todd created the Right Stuf mail-order catalog. That first "catalog" was more of a simple pamphlet and contained only four products, all Astro Boy tapes. This "catalog" would eventually add other industry products and evolve into today's massive RightStuf.com anime store.
Building on their successful release of one classic '60s show, Shawne and Todd continued to acquire and release nostalgia titles. In 1990, the company began distribution of Gigantor, and Tobor, the 8th Man followed swiftly on its heels in 1991. Behind the scenes, Shawne was handling almost every aspect of production himself under the title of "Executive Director." Todd would eventually leave the company for other projects.
DVDs Take Center Stage
In 1994, Right Stuf hired its first dedicated producer, Jeff Thompson, and launched its first ventures outside of "classic" anime with titles such as Toward the Terra, Legend of the Forest, and Godmars. Shawne and Jeff worked closely to acquire and release newer shows.
Then, in 1997, Right Stuf began releasing one of its most well-known and beloved titles, The Irresponsible Captain Tylor. It would also become the company's first foray into the realm of DVD in 2001. Following Tylor's successful DVD launch, other releases quickly followed, including Starship Girl Yamamoto Yohko, Assemble Insert, and Boogiepop Phantom.
Boogiepop Phantom marked a major turning point for the publishing division. It was the first DVD series to have an English 5.1 audio track, and it was also the very last to have a VHS version.
In a slight break from the usual, in the fall of 2001, the production staff was hard at work on something totally unrelated to anime: the 25th Anniversary edition of the 1979 board game "Divine Right." Shawne fondly remembered the game from his childhood, and he wanted to make it available again. The game proved just as popular as it had in the '70s, and the entire run sold out in only a year.
Right Stuf Makes History
In July 2002, Right Stuf made history when it released the first volume of His and Her Circumstances, which was among the most complicated DVDs in the world. In 2002, a normal DVD contained about 1,000 assets (menus, subtitles, audio tracks, video tracks, etc); the first volume of His and Her Circumstances contained 79,713. And while most DVDs at the time had somewhere between 5,000 and 30,000 lines of code, volume 1 had 347,006.
During that same year, Right Stuf's current producer, Kris Kleckner, took over the helm of the publishing division and created the "Ultra Edition" line for fans. These sets were specifically designed for collectors and piled high with all kinds of extras. Boogiepop Phantom was the first to be released in this line, followed in 2005 by sets for both the Tylor TV and OVA series, and later with multiple sets for Astro Boy and Kimba.
Right Stuf's next big hit came with the shonen-ai (boys' love ) series Gravitation. The popularity of Gravitation eventually spawned the creation of Right Stuf's first plush toys, and was the impetus for the company's first merchandising deal with Great Eastern Entertainment. Other deals quickly followed, including lines for both Gravitation and Ninja Nonsense.
In 2005, the all aspects of DVD production were moved in-house. Bringing so much of the process under direct control meant that work could be accomplished more quickly and more economically. The release of Boys Be..., in February 2006, was the very first release to be completed entirely internally.
Nozomi Entertainment Arrives
By 2007, there were so many anime titles being released by so many different vendors that the line between "Right Stuf the anime publisher" and "Right Stuf the store" had become blurred. Fans no longer knew which titles being sold through "Right Stuf" were actually produced by the company itself. As a result, the decision was made to rebrand the production division with its own identity: Nozomi Entertainment.
The very first title to be released under Nozomi was The Third: The Girl With the Blue Eye. It was also the company's first of several releases with Kadokawa Pictures. The two companies would work closely together over the next few years to also release Rental Magica and Junjo Romantica.
Along with the name change, the publishing division also became more focused on finding and releasing fan-favorite titles at the highest quality possible. At the time of this writing, Nozomi's releases have included some of anime's most loved series: Emma: A Victorian Romance, Lost Universe, El-Hazard: The Wanderers, ARIA, Maria Watches Over Us, Revolutionary Girl Utena, and Dirty Pair.