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Monday, November 14, 2011

Monster 9 files for bankruptcy

I logged in late this morning to find news all over twitter about the inevitable train wreck that was going on in seemingly slow motion to me.. Lost in Ube reported this morning that Monster 9 (Creators/Producers/Owners of Sasuke) filed for Bankruptcy on November 11th in Japan. Follow Ube's blog on articles as he finds them as he's a hell of a lot better in finding those things than I am by a long shot.

Several things to point out from the onset. Monster 9 is the owner, creator and producer of Sasuke. It belongs to them and Mr. Higuchi specifically. TBS is a co-producer and co-owner of the already-recorded broadcasts but they themselves get their cues from M9 which owns the franchise outright. Sasuke (especially future Sasuke) does not exist without M9. It's just that simple. There is no " get another TV station to produce Sasuke".. that's just not going to happen without the expressed written consent of M9. Given Higuchi's history.. I would be shocked if that ever changed. Besides.. there aren't anymore television stations willing to work with Higuchi these days.

Most of us watching from the sidelines unfortunately have been seeing this entire thing implode in slow motion for years.. Those of you who don't obsess like I do over the business minutia might have been alerted back in January, 2011 when the first set of major problems arose and the article announcing the cancellation of several key TBS shows were canceled (which included Sportsman #1) and the announcement of Sasuke 27 being the last show came to be. Then again.. I got hate mail for posting "rumor" that even though the count of how many Japanese websites posted that was well over 50 by this point and TBS has never denied it. The only thing G4 denied was that Sasuke 27 was not canceled. The question was ALWAYS about 28.. not 27. I know a lot of people were just not ready to hear those words.. The only thing that hasn't happened in that article is the date.. they said Sasuke was ending in March but it was aired in October ultimately due to postponement especially given the Earthquake/Tsunami that happened in March. So if Sasuke is done after this news (it's not confirmed yet) then the article was 100% true despite the harsh emails directed towards Andy, Ube and myself (the messengers).

Let's analyze this for a bit now. First and foremost we have to throw out the notion that we know what's going on with Japanese bankruptcy laws. Already in discussion on SMF.. we can't assume the rest of the world has reorganization clauses in bankruptcy as they do in the USA. Even if they do (I'm told there are) we have to wait to find out HOW they filed. Here in the USA we can figure out by which Chapter they are seeking and it determines their fate. Some go for full liquidation with an end to all operations while other chapters are reorganization with intent to pay off debt to creditors and come back. Knowing how they filed would help determine the intent to continue. To my knowledge we don't know yet.

EDIT from SMF (Infimum):

Reorganization has a different name in Japanese law, not differentiated merely by chapter numbers like in the US. If reorganization is what they did, it's customary to mention that in Japanese news articles. But that's not the case.

EDIT again from SMF (this time Ube):

As Infimum has pointed out, the articles all point to liquidation (hasan or 破産). Specifically 自己破産 which I believe is voluntary liquidation.

A fuller explanation that the show article is sourced from (that the above is C&Ped from): http://www.jurists.co.jp/en/topics/others_4007.html

The relevant section is IV.

Aside from their main office and the Shibuya theater, I don't think M9 has much in the way of physical assets. Also, intellectual property and bankruptcy doesn't seem to have a clear set of rules to follow so who knows what will happen in the future.

Outside of the filing date of Friday, November 11, 2011, the only thing we do know is that in fiscal year ending March, 2011 M9 and Digital 9 (which btw is the same company...) were at a combined loss of 35億6600万円 (3,566,000,000 Yen = $46,358,000 US Dollars using current currency exchanges) in debt. The debt is split between Monster 9 (18億600万円) and Digital 9 (17億6000万円). To give you an idea.. that's 3.5 BILLION Yen in Debt which equates to $46 MILLION Dollars in debt. That's.. obscenely high.. Something that Ube was kind enough to research for us.. as a stark contrast: Monster 9 was first created in 2005 and in 2008 it's profits reached 31.5 billion yen. So they lost more this year than they ever MADE in a high year.. that's.. insane..

Official ribbon cutting ceremony. All-Star Toshihiro Takeda 竹田敏浩, TV Host Sato Hiromichi 佐藤弘道, Monster 9 President and CEO - Ushio Higuchi 樋口 潮 (center) unidentified businessman (He might be the manager) and All-Star Kazuhiko Akiyama 秋山和彦 during the Grand Opening of Chitose's Muscle Park on July 18, 2010 ©Muscle Park Chitose

The writing on the wall has been going on for a while now. If you have been keeping up with the articles I've been writing since 2008.. you've seen a lot of ventures start and others just drop off the face of the earth. Just in the past couple of years we've seen Muscle Park Odaiba (Tokyo) close, Muscle Park Chitose (Hokkaido) open .. then close.. then change management altogether. We've seen Fanclubs in Japan start and end.. I didn't even get to write about the Fanclubs of Sasukefan and Ninjafan fail to start.. that was a blog I was hoping M9 would contribute but they never got back to me when I asked for specifics.. We've seen massive delays between Sasuke tournaments... we've seen Sasuke emphasis/priority change countries.. we've seen Muscle Musical shut down because of code violations.. We've seen shows completely disappear (Sportsman #1, Kunoichi) and that's not including the previous ones like Viking and Banzuke (and all the other Muscle Ranking spin offs that I lost track of) that predated this blog. We've also seen the international sales fiasco from different countries as G4 edited & ANW-tied programs have been omitted from programing sales in most countries. We've also seen Taiwan give up on the franchise after TBS spiked the prices for the latter seasons. And let's not forget the fiasco with Sasuke 26...


While not confirmed it is highly possible that Sasuke is over. With the admission of accounting fraud as well.. this case could go on for years barring M9 from producing anything until the terms of bankruptcy are reached. We don't even know if they intend to come back or not. We don't know how ANW4 will be impacted, or Sasuke Malaysia. There's still a lot of questions still to be answered.

Update from Ube: Update: Creditors have until December 16th to file and there will be a meeting on March 12th, 2012 at 1:30 PM. The lawyer who will act as the trustee is one Shuuji Kitagawa (北川秀二)

15 comments:

ad uk said...

I don't know if I should cry or swear but I will pray for a miracle ( and I'm a atheist )

Arsenette said...

/comfort Understood completely. Very very sad in a lot of ways. Sasuke is a unique show in the way it touched people's lives.. I think largely due to the "normal" people we followed year to year in this wonderful event. That and the way you yourself could think "hey.. I can do that too". I've never seen a show that had a wonderful mix of that. I will miss it if it is indeed gone. Still though.. M9's implosion was a lot more catastrophic than I originally thought.

Kamran said...

(Sigh) I thought Sasuke 27 Ratings of 12.6 would be enough to keep the show running for a few more tournements. But I guess Monster 9 are just in so much debt. If I win the lottery then I know where the money's going.

Matt said...

Yikes. Who knows what will happen at this point, but the probable outcomes are not positive. With Sasuke's recent poor ratings, I doubt anybody is chomping at the bit to buy the property and try to produce it themselves.

Rufus said...

Rican (et al.) thank you for doing the hard work of getting this info out to us. I'm not optimistic, but let's hope for the best out of all of this.

Arsenette said...

Since the posting I've been reminded that we don't know anything yet about Sasuke. Even the articles are starting to mention that and rumors are flying around about possible change of hands for the IP from M9 to TBS. So we can only hope that's true and good news. Only time will tell. You bet though if I find out anything definitive it will be posted on big time.

Chris said...

Makes me wonder if maybe the dude over on the G4 boards who posted about things having been put in place to ensure that Sasuke doesn't die with Monster9 might be right.

Arsenette said...

Honestly hope so! Has to have been pretty recent.. maybe in anticipation of the collapse. Either way if it is true then there's even more hope than a few days ago. Only time will tell. Keep fingers crossed!

Boiling Pot said...

A bloody shame this had to happen right after Sasuke went UP in the ratings... :(

Anyone know if there have been any instances in Japan where a TV/movie franchise got revived after its owner went "belly-up"?

Arsenette said...

Unsure but if the current rumors are true then there might be a new home for Sasuke. Once I get full confirmation I'll post.. usually I try not to post rumors even if they are pretty strong. Just hang in there and hopefully there will be an announcement soon.

lampini said...

if sasuke is going to have a new home I hope they don't tweak it and change from the way we know and love it

Arsenette said...

I'm asured that the same people that made the show we love are still associated and will continue to be so. Unsure about Higuchi but the main set of people are still there. At least that's what I'm told. Only time will tell.

Unknown said...

how strange... I remember watching one of the G4 shows and at the bottom of the screen it said that Sasuke was still going and that people were welcomed to try out. though it could be for the American Ninja Warrior, I'm keeping my fingers crossed and hope it's for Sasuke.

Unknown said...

Any peeps from G4? I doubt it, but don't know what they were thinking on for American Ninja Warrior before this.

Arsenette said...

Sorry my computer has been in the fritz the past week and handling some health issues.. didn't get notification anyone posted. Sorry!

No news yet. Just Friday was the initial deadline for creditors to announce their losses to the court.