Tokyopop is inaugurating its 'Soundtrax' division with the release of the soundtracks for three popular anime properties: Trigun, Bubblegum Crisis, and Vampire Princess Miyu.  The soundtracks will feature English liner notes and will be released on August 23rd.  The srp for each soundtrack is $14.98, which means that these disks will be much more affordable than the import versions.  The popularity of anime has spurred the growth of a mini-industry involving the importation of Japanese (and sometimes bootleg Korean and Taiwanese) soundtrack CDs.  Now the market has reached the point that more companies are producing reasonably priced U.S. editions.  While some fans may still want to pay a premium to get the Japanese version before the American soundtrack appears, let's hope that these reasonably-priced domestic disks will drastically reduce the importation of bootlegs.  Retailers who deal in anime and manga, but have avoided anime soundtracks because of the cost of imports and the unfair competition of bootlegs, should seriously consider what could be a very profitable line extension.  Here's a closer look at Tokyopop's new offerings.


Trigun Official Soundtrack

Although you might expect an outer-space western like Trigun to have a C&W or honky-tonk score, Trigun's mixture of hip-hop beats and electronics emphasizes the futuristic nature of the series, which has scored some major U.S. exposure on the Cartoon Network


Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040 Official Soundtrack

This popular cyberpunk series, which comes with its own built-in rock star -- Priss--also features a superb digitally mixed techno-rock score fashioned by producer Kouichi Korenaga, who worked with leading members of the Tokyo electronic music avant-garde to give Bubblegum Crisis 2040 its own distinct cyberpunk sound.


Vampire Princess Miyu

This wonderfully gothic anime features haunting compositions by Kenji Kawai, who also created the evocative soundtrack for Ghost in the Shell.  Kawai takes many of his themes from Japanese folk music, which gives them a particularly haunting quality that complements Vampire Princess Miyu perfectly.


Anime soundtracks, anime art books (see 'Viz Translates Anime Art Books') and anime toys (which Diamond is importing and selling at very reasonable prices, see 'Diamond's Motherlode of March Imports') are all very viable line extensions that retailers who deal in anime and manga should seriously consider, especially in view of the more reasonable pricing of domestic editions.  Of course, don't forget the domestically produced anime toys from McFarlane Toys (see 'McFarlane Fields Diverse Lineup, Part 1'), Bandai (see 'Bandai To Produce Anime Sets For U.S. Market'), and Irwin Toy (see 'Irwin Shows Off horde of DBZ Toys').