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Monday, January 10, 2011

Twelve Older Anime that Deserve License Rescues Part 2

Time for Part 2 of this list of twelve older anime that I personally feel deserve license rescues. Remember that this is my own personal list and I can only go off of titles that I have either watched myself or at least have some info on. To be fair, though, I will make a list of "honorable mentions" at the end that involve anime that I've seen mentioned before as titles that would be great to see license rescued. Anyway, here's another six titles:

Like I mentioned in Part 1, Tatsunoko revived a few of their old superheroes during the 90s and gave them OVAs. In 1993 Casshan/Casshern received a four-episode OVA that Harmony Gold licensed, edited into a movie-length feature, and released through its Streamline Pictures brand. After Streamline died ADV picked up the OVA and did two DVD releases for it: The first in mid-2003 was simply a DVD release of Streamline's "movie edit" and the second in late-2003 was an uncut, unedited "Special Edition" release of the original OVA. The first release has always been fairly accessible while the Special Edition generally was more expensive on the second-hand market, but since Tatsunoko vs. Capcom's release (yet again) both versions have now had their prices rocket up, making them harder to justify a purchase. Harmony Gold's website doesn't list this OVA on the company's catalog, so there's a chance that the license expired. If so, it would be awesome to see this version of Casshan/Casshern see a new release, maybe in a two-disc release that features both the Streamline edit and the original version. Here's hoping that Casshern SINS has done well for FUNimation, though I doubt FUNi would go after a title as old as this one.

[08/2012 ADDENDUM: A little belated, but Discotek picked this up.  They are truly on a roll!]

OK, this is is cheating somewhat, as neither of these titles need a license rescue... Bandai Entertainment obviously still has these two shows. Also, I'm considering this one listing in this list, even though it involves two anime. So sue me. But considering that these sets came out back in 2006 (which can seem like forever in this industry), it's kind of odd that Bandai hasn't given both G Gundam and Gundam Wing new re-releases. A number of the UC Gundam anime have gotten new re-releases within the past year, including the 0079 movie trilogy, and not only did the Zeta Gundam movies finally get released over here, but we're also getting dual-audio Anime Legends collections for the original Mobile Suit Gundam TV series as well as a release for Turn-A Gundam (no word on a dub for that one yet, though). Also, Bandai debuted another collection brand called "Super Legends" about a year ago when they re-released Escaflowne again. Unfortunately, since that release the Super Legends brand hasn't had another title added to it. Considering how Gundam Wing brought Gundam to the masses over here and G Gundam is very fondly remembered to this day, I definitely feel that these two shows should be next on the Super Legends train.  Escaflowne's kind of alone...

[4/2017 UPDATE: While I could have done this update as soon as Right Stuf & Sunrise joined forces to release Gundam in the best ways possible in North America, I decided to hold off until one of these two were confirmed. Well, now Right Stuf has confirmed that Gundam Wing will be given a new release sometime this year, & I'm sure G Gundam won't be too far behind.]

[1/2018 UPDATE: As I mentioned, G Gundam wouldn't be too far behind. At Otakon 2017, Right Stuf & Sunrise announced plans to release the first AU Gundam series on Blu-Ray & DVD in 2018, and there might even be plans for a special edition release, ala Gundam Wing's Ultra Edition.]

Eat-Man is, by far, one of my favorite manga of all time and both anime adaptations aren't anything to ignore, either. In fact, the two anime are probably the best examples of how two adaptations of the same title can be completely different. The first Eat-Man anime, generally nicknamed '97 to differentiate itself from the other one, debuted in January of 1997 and was one of the first "late-night anime" (a topic I already talked about when I reviewed Next Senki Ehrgeiz). The interesting thing about this title is that the manga only debuted a couple of months earlier. Even though Eat-Man itself is a series of stories where not all of them link together, Eat-Man '97 is barely accurate to its source material at all. Director Koichi Mashimo, the man behind the "Girls with Guns Trilogy" of Noir, Madlax, and El Cazador, simply took the idea behind main character Bolt Crank, a mercenary who can eat any inanimate object and then recreate it through his right hand, and told his own stories... His own weird-as-hell stories that leave you scratching your head more than anything, but I'll be damned if the show isn't mesmerizing in its style. Really, it's a hard show to explain so I'll just direct you to Justin Sevakis' Buried Treasure article on the show, as he explains it beautifully.

Eat-Man '98, on the other hand, is a more traditional anime adaptation. Apparently, '97 got a lot of complaints from fans of the manga, so Studio DEEN decided to go back to drawing table and in late 1998 a second season aired. This anime adapted four stories from the manga's first three or four volumes and had two original stories that creator Akihito Yoshitomi supposedly helped write himself. Overall, it's an excellent anime. The stories that were adapted were really good ones and the anime adapts them very well, while the two original stories aren't exactly as good but are still enjoyable. Still, Studio DEEN brought back Masashi Ebara to voice Bolt again, and it's really hard to imagine anyone else voicing Bolt, as Ebara does a perfect job voicing the character. released both seasons on VHS back in the late-90s, and when the company became Bandai Entertainment they were re-released on VHS, this time with '98's first two episodes getting a dub by Ocean. The dub is actually pretty good and I wouldn't have minded seeing more dubbed, as David Kaye's version of Bolt was different enough from Ebara's to be worth listening to. Unfortunately, '97 was never released on DVD and while '98 did receive a two-disc collection in 2000 no re-release ever came from it.

The most annoying thing is that Japan received its own DVD releases of both seasons in 2001, so there's a good chance that the Region 2 DVDs feature much better video and possibly even audio quality than what we got, especially for '97. Though you can get '98's DVD release for a good price used, though new it's upwards of $50, '97's VHS releases can vary in price from roughly $5 to almost $60, and that's only for the Bandai versions! '97 did receive a fansub a couple of years ago, with the incorrect justification being that it was the "unlicensed one", but if there's any anime that I would love to see licensed rescued nowadays it would be both Eat-Man anime. Hell, you probably can't even license just one, as d-rights lists them together as one entire show.

[9/2016 UPDATE: Out of nowhere, Discotek Media  (seemingly the patron saint of making me update lists like this) has rescued both Eat-Man anime series & will be releasing them on DVD December 2016 & January 2017, respectively, complete with '98's dub being included (though now as Episodes 3 & 4).]

The second-hand anime market can be absolutely lethal to your wallet, and one show that exemplifies it is Aura Battler Dunbine. ADV's twelve-volume release of the TV series went from July of 2003 to February of 2005, and as you go upwards in volume number the second-hand prices slowly raise... Until you get to the last two volumes, which both nowadays command prices of at least $150... Each!  Considering how both volumes contain about 4-5 episodes each, you'll have to pay roughly $30-$37.50 per episode. That is worse than Bandai Visual USA's prices! Hell, that's worse than what I payed for each volume of Ring ni Kakero 1: Shadow! In fact, I remember one day a couple of years ago Right Stuf somehow got about 5 copies of either Volume 11 or Volume 12 and were selling them for $19.99. The end result? Right Stuf sold out of it in about one hour.

The truth of the matter is that Dunbine was a failure of a release over here. Apparently ADV wasn't even going to dub the show until Carl Macek, who was working for the company at the time, said that a dub directed by him would help sales. Unfortunately, neither his name nor Yoshiyuki Tomino's name could help out sales, and later releases ended up coming with vouchers for free volumes of Dunbine! Sure, Geneon's release of Gun X Sword came with vouchers that gave you a discount for earlier volumes, but I don't think any other show ever had vouchers that were literally giving away volumes for free. Still, that never stopped people from asking ADV for a re-release. Dunbine collections were probably the most-wanted re-releases that people wanted ADV to do, and when ADV started going back into their catalog and re-releasing shows like Ushio & Tora, Princess Minerva, and others it got people's hopes up. Unfortunately, the last time anyone was able to ask ADV about a Dunbine re-release in person they gave a simple answer: "Ask Sunrise."

There are people out there, like myself, who would love to watch Dunbine but aren't willing to buy any of the DVDs as long as those last two DVDs are going for those prices. Yeah, they had a very limited print run, which is part of the reason why they command those prices, but at the same time those last two DVDs wouldn't be keeping those prices if there aren't people out there who are willing to potentially pay it. Out of all of Yoshiyuki Tomino's animes that have been released in North America, Dunbine is probably the least-accessible of them all when it comes down to price. I've heard that it's a pretty good show, and I wouldn't mind watching it one day, and I'm sure there are others who feel the same. Now if only a company would be willing to try it out again. I mean it's not like I'm asking for Garzey's Wing...

[4/2018 UPDATE: Daisuki did stream this series online for a bit of time, but that site has since died out. Luckily, Sentai Filmworks has grabbed that fallen baton from Daisuki, as that company will be giving Aura Battle Dunbine the re-release it has desperately needed for over a decade.]

See that cover above this line? Chances are you won't see it in person. City Hunter was a part of Japan's anime scene from 1987 to 1999, featuring 140 episodes spread out across four TV anime series as well as a series of movies, OVAs, and TV specials (the last special we never got). ADV started off by releasing everything except for the TV series on VHS and DVD, with dubs that altered names, and then in 2003 the company finished it all up by releasing all four seasons of the TV series across 6 sub-only collections. Again, low sales hurt yet another show; while you can get the two collections for Season 1 for fair enough prices as well as the second collection for Season 2, the first collection for Season 2 as well as the complete collections for Seasons 3 & 4 command much higher prices. Season 2 Collection 1 is only slightly higher ($60-$120 range), but Seasons 3 & 4 are much more expensive and rare. The Amazon Marketplace has Season 4 for $200 and absolutely no one is selling Season 3 there as of right now, but I have seen it listed before for a similar price. Sure, they're nowhere near as bad as Dunbine's last two volumes when it comes to content (13-episode collections vs. 4-5 episode singles), but they're still expensive as hell.

City Hunter itself is an enjoyable show, with a nice mix of comedy, serious action, and main character Ryo Saeba trying to hit on any girls who have plenty of sexiness, which leads to him being stopped by his female partner Kaori Makimura, usually via a giant hammer (i.e. this series helped popularize the idea of "hammerspace" in anime). Yeah, it can have an 80s vibe to it, but I'll say this: If Fist of the North Star TV can get a second-chance, why not City Hunter?

[6/2019 UPDATE: Sunrise premiered the new City Hunter anime movie, Shinjuku Private Eyes, at Anime Boston in 2019, and with it announced that Discotek Media would be handling the series. Discotek then confirmed the announcement, & clarified that it'd be releasing the City Hunter anime in full; all four TV series, plus every single movie, OVA, & TV special, including the newest one!]

All right, this listing is different from the others for two reasons: It was never fully released in North America (we did get all of Dancougar TV and City Hunter TV, so I'm going to count those as fully released to a point), and I don't have any real experience with this title, though I have thought about checking it out before (at least with Dunbine I have SRW for some experience). Anyway, I'm going to be fair and list it here rather than in the honorable mentions mainly because it seems to be fairly beloved among those who watched it.

When it comes to Synch-Point one title comes to mind: FLCL. In fact, FLCL was so popular that it pretty much was the only way the company lived as long as it did. Di Gi Charat, the Aquarian Age movie, Leave It to Piyoko!, and this very title did nothing to help them out, though Bandai found interest in Charat as they picked up the Nyo! anime series. But it seems like I'm Gonna Be An Angel!, Tenshi ni Narumon! in Japan, is Synch-Point's most-beloved release after FLCL when it comes to fans. The company released a couple of VHS tapes of the show in 2001, and then in 2002 released Volume 1 of the dual-audio DVD version. According to ANN, it wouldn't be until 2004 that another two volumes would be released, and even then they were spaced pretty far apart; it just seemed like S-P remembered every now and then that they had the show and released a DVD to compensate. Unfortunately, out of a total 26 episodes only 13 came out on DVD, but apparently the show was dubbed up episode 16, leaving three episodes to which the dub has never been heard. At least it's not as as bad as Geneon's Lupin III release, which apparently has about 40 episodes that were dubbed but never released, or even Mermaid Melody Pitchi Pitchi Pitch, which was licensed and dubbed fully by ADV but never released due to a restriction in the license which kept the company from releasing the anime unless it was given TV airtime.

Still, from what I've heard it's a quaint little show that's a lot of fun to watch and apparently gets surprisingly serious in the second half. And it's certainly an original entrant in this list, as a license rescue would result in us getting not just the second half of the show, but also a few more episodes of the dub that have never been available before.
And with that comes the end of my list of twelve (technically fourteen) older anime that I feel deserve license rescues. These anime are listed because if they were given license rescues I would buy every single one of them, even if I already had the previous release. These are all solidly enjoyable anime that have their fans and I think we've reached a time in this industry where anything can happen. Older anime have come to the point where they are now fresh and original once again when compared to what we get now, though I'm making no insult to what we get now. The saying "What's old is new again" has been proven true with a good number of licenses that we've seen within the past couple of years, and I think that saying should apply to these anime as well.

And now for some honorable mentions, listed as title, followed by the original licensor:
Get Ride! AM Driver (Illumitoon Entertainment; never released)
Final Fantasy: Legend of the Crystals (Urban Vision)
The Abashiri Family (ADV Films)
Godmars (The Right Stuf International) [8/2018 UPDATE: Discotek has since rescued the Godmars movie]
Hades Project Zeorymer (Central Park Media)
Saint Seiya (DiC, ADV Films) [4/2015 UPDATE: Cinedigm has since rescued & released the first 73 episodes of Saint Seiya]
Shadow Star Narutaru (Central Park Media)
Zipang (Geneon Entertainment)
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure (Super Techno Arts)
Gasaraki (ADV Films) [08/2012 UPDATE: Nozomi has since rescued & released Gasaraki]
One-Pound Gospel (Viz Media)
Blue Comet SPT Layzner (Bandai Entertainment; never released)
Sci-Fi HARRY (Super Techno Arts; never released)
Sailor Moon (DiC, ADV Films, Geneon Entertainment) [4/2015 UPDATE: Viz Media has since rescued & started releasing the original Sailor Moon]
Hajime no Ippo/Fighting Spirit (Geneon Entertainment)
Getter Robo Armageddon (ADV Films) [3/2016 UPDATE: Discotek Media has since rescued Getter Robo Armageddon]
New Getter Robo (Geneon Entertainment)
Black Magic M-66 (Central Park Media) [03/2013 UPDATE: Maiden Japan has since rescued M-66]
Robot Carnival (Super Techno Arts; never released) [4/2015 UPDATE: Discotek has since rescued Robot Carnival]
The Cockpit (Urban Vision)

Plus many, many others. It's never good to forget the past; looking back while moving forward can never hurt, it can only remind.


  1. These shows do need a serious re-release!

    Eat-Man '98: This one is great! I always gravitate towards quiet bad-asses!

    Aura Battler Dunbine: I saw a couple of episodes of this on old Fansub VHS cassettes! I would definitely pick up a complete set if they re-released it! I was completely burnt out on buying singles by the time this show was finishing up it's run!

    City Hunter: Definitely needs a re-release! They could release it with the pseudo squeal that was made in 2006! City Hunter is like an old friend! It doesn't change, and all you need is one quick episode to get your City Hunter fix! I hold Patlabor and Black Jack in the same regard!

    Gasaraki: This show needs a re-release purely based off the fact that ADV put so much work into it! It is one of ADV's best Dubs! It also had interviews and out-takes on the releases! Of course the fact that it has a good story, and a solid narrative also helps!

    Thanks for posting this list!

  2. Aura Battler Dunbine Complete ADV:

  3. Excellent post sir! I must agree with your picks. I really want to see Eat Man 97, and 98 would be an interesting watch as well. But then again I'd like to see all of this except Dunbine. Anyway...when I was reading this I couldn't help but notice it read like one of Justin Sevakis's reviews. It has that "knowledgable...but approachable" feel to it that i always enjoyed from his reviews. At any rate I really like your writing style, keep it up!

    btw one small correction. Black Magic M-66 was not released by Central Park Media, that's a Manga Ent title.