The ICv2 Awards are the on-line continuation of a tradition that began in Internal Correspondence, the print predecessor of ICv2, over a decade ago. These awards are given as a way of reflecting on the events of the year and to draw some conclusions from them. The ICv2 Awards are based entirely on the business impact of events on retailers, as determined by the editorial staff of ICv2.
Anime Deal of the Year -- FUNimation 4Kids Distribution Agreement
4Kids Entertainment, like FUNimation Productions, is what Variety somewhat cavalierly refers to as 'a packager,' a company that adapts foreign-made animated or live action series for the American market. Typically these companies also license toys, games, and videos based on the series that they prepare for the North American market. 4Kids enjoyed a mammoth success with Pokemon and is currently trying to maneuver Yu-Gi-Oh into the same position. FUNimation has also had a major hit with Dragon Ball Z, but after licensing DBZ videos for a few years, it brought them in-house and now handles both production and distribution of DVDs for all its properties. Given the huge margins available from DVDs, which can be produced for a dollar or two and wholesaled for $15, bringing video production in-house makes a lot of sense. This is what 4Kids has done by creating 4Kids Entertainment Home Video, which will create Yu-Gi-Oh DVDs and videos. Since FUNimation's popular DBZ videos have already blazed a trail through the mass market, 4Kids has chosen to sign a distribution agreement with FUNimation, which will distribute 4Kids video product, including Yu-Gi-Oh (see '4Kids To Do Home Videos'). Given the popularity of both DBZ and Yu-Gi-Oh, this is an agreement that will have a major sales impact in the coming years.
Anime Phenomenon of the Year -- Increasing TV Exposure
After years of slight expansions and contractions in the number of anime series on American television, 2002 represented a key breakthrough. At the Cartoon Network, the core supplier of anime to the American public thanks to the staying power of DBZ (see 'Dragonball Z -- Still On Top'), expansion of anime offerings was apparent throughout the year. The daily afternoon Toonami Block was expanded back to 3 hours (see 'Toonami Block Expands To Three Hours') and the Adult Swim block to five nights a week (see 'Adult Swim Goes to Five Nights a Week'). The Cartoon Network also added the Hamtaro series to its morning lineup with great success (see 'Hamtaro Scores Big Ratings') and rebroadcast episodes of the popular series Yu-Gi-Oh and Pokemon that had already aired on the Cartoon Network's sister company, the WB network.
The Kids WB helped galvanize young viewers by airing the Yu-Gi-Oh anime series daily starting last April, a move that has had profound consequences in both the gaming and anime markets. The ABC Family Channel also got into the act with an ambitious program of anime that involved daily showings of the Beyblade and Medabots anime series (see 'Beyblade's Daily Run a Success') and then launched one of the most interesting anime series of the year, Tokyo Pig (see 'Anime With Echoes of Calvin & Hobbes Debuts').