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Monday, June 27, 2011

"Twelve More" Older Anime That Deserve License Rescues Part 2

Time to get back to talking about older anime that deserve license rescues. Part 1 was, inadvertently, filled with titles that had been featured on ANN's "Buried Treasure" series of articles, including one "Buried Garbage", but Part 2 is devoid of those kinds of titles... But they still deserve license rescues all the same, because they are definitely quality titles.

I've talked about the Saint Seiya movies not too long ago, and though the TV series is very well-known around the world I feel that it still deserves one more chance here in North America. The 114-episode TV series adaption of Masami Kurumada's most-well-known title aired from late 1986 to early 1989 in Japan and was quickly aired around the world in the 90s... Except North America, specifically the United States and Canada, where it didn't debut until 2003. The version we got, renamed Knights of the Zodiac (which, translated in different languages, was the name used around the world as well), was DiC's attempt at finally bringing over Saint Seiya. Unfortunately, DiC's handling of Saint Seiya went more in the style of what they did with Sailor Moon back in the 90s, and in 2003 it just wasn't going to cut it anymore. ADV tried to save what good name the series had by releasing it uncut and with a 100% accurate dub, which was better but still only above-average, but a major problem came about: DiC only licensed the first 60 episodes of the TV series. ADV had only sub-licensed the series from DiC, much like what had been a few years earlier with Sailor Moon, and that restricted them from doing anything beyond those episodes.

DiC's version of the show was canceled after about 32 episodes so there was no way they were going to license more of the show. Still, ADV admitted all the way up to early 2009, around the time the show was given a re-release and a few months before the company became nothing more than a holding company for some licenses, that they still wanted to not only release the rest of Saint Seiya on DVD but also, in Matt Greenfield's own words, "dub the rest". While you would normally get this talk from most companies, the fact that ADV went as far as distinctly saying that they would be fine with only getting the last 13 episodes of the story arc they weren't able to finish made it seem more honest than most company talk. In my own opinion, Toei probably didn't want to license a part of a show that ADV never had the license to themselves, which kept the second half in limbo. DiC would be bought up by Cookie Jar Entertainment in mid-2008, with the license transferring over. In July 2009, though, DiC's original license expired and Cookie Jar decided to not to renew, making Saint Seiya TV an open license once again. Now, a company can potentially license all 114 episodes and give the series the complete release it deserved back in the mid-2000s, but whether any company will do so is another matter entirely. Personally, I think giving it a release similar to what Discotek has been giving Fist of the North Star TV (four boxsets with later sets being sub-only) would be the most ideal as well as the only reasonable answer.

[03/2016 UPDATE: New Video Group (i.e. the guys who gave the original Digimon anime shows complete DVD releases) released the first 73 episodes of Saint Seiya (i.e. the Sanctuary Chapter) on DVD & have put those episodes on Hulu & CrunchyRoll fully subbed. Unfortunately, the ADV dub was not included & episodes 74-114 have yet to be licensed.]

Urusei Yatsura is the title that put Rumiko Takahashi on the map, and is still beloved by many to this day. The story of a boy who, through sheer misunderstanding, ends up engaged to the princess of an alien race is generally considered to be the original romantic comedy manga and the 195-episode anime adaptation that aired from late-1981 to early-1986 was released by the company that always plays by its own rules: AnimEigo. AnimEigo also released all of the OVAs and all of the movies... Except for one. The second UY movie, Beautiful Dreamer, was actually licensed and released in North America by Central Park Media (different licensors in Japan made this possible) and is probably more well-loved and remembered by anime fans here. Written and directed by the legendary Mamoru Oshii, Beautiful Dreamer was many fans' entrance into not only Urusei Yatsura but also anime itself for some. While I haven't seen it myself, the movie is apparently very well-animated and is easily engrossing and enjoyable to people unfamiliar with the series. AnimEigo even left a space open in their movie box for this very movie that was "available from 'that other company'".

Unfortunately, even AnimEigo knows that the title reached its final potential now, as their license of UY (TV series, movies, and OVAs) will be expiring this September and they are encouraging fans and last-minute buyers to get what they can before they are all gone. Beautiful Dreamer, though, is even worse off as CPM is already gone and the last release of this movie was back in 2004; this last release now goes for easily over $50 used. Though the TV series will absolutely never get picked up again, you never know if a company might ever want to at least license the movies, and then Beautiful Dreamer would not only become easily available again but would, for the first time ever, be released alongside its fellow movie brethren by a single company.

[8/2016 UPDATE: There's good reason why I chose to list only Beautiful Dreamer, & that was because it was the most likely to get rescued. Case in point: Discotek Media announced its license to this movie at Otakon, with a planned Blu-Ray release & the best audio quality for CPM's dub.]

Yeah, this exact title wouldn't be a smart choice to license rescue, but this is my blog so I might as well just bring up a personal wish of mine. Next Senki Ehrgeiz was one of my earliest reviews and is, as of this piece, the second-most-viewed post on this blog, so there are people who seem to be honestly interested in this title. One of the earliest examples of late-night TV anime, and even the first mech anime to be aired in this kind of time slot, Ehrgeiz admittedly isn't anything amazing... But I can't help but enjoy this show due to the enjoyable-to-watch characters, interestingly mixed soundtrack, and varied mech designs. It has a lot of unexplained backstory but the main story itself is told well and you get to understand the major characters fairly easily. I completely disagree with Justin Sevakis when it comes to this show, as he called it "nearly as bad" as AWOL... And that's just taking it too far, as AWOL is one of the absolute worst anime I have ever seen some portion of. Getting the VHS tapes released aren't hard, though some of them can go for higher prices now. I got them back in 2004, so I was lucky enough to get them all, including the only dubbed VHS, for fair prices.

In Japan Ehrgeiz is equally as obscure, since all it ever got was a complete release across six VHS tapes as well as a complete laserdisc release across 6 LDs. It never received a DVD release in Japan, and the closest it seemed to ever get any sort of DVD release was that it received a Steven Blum-narrated trailer on Eat-Man '98's DVD release back in 2000. d-rights' website lists it as one of their titles that are available for licensing, so you never know. I wouldn't count on it, but this was a personal choice, after all.

In one of ANNCast's most popular episodes Zac and Justin interviewed Chad Kime, who worked for Geneon before dentsu, who owned the company later on, pretty much closed them up for the most part in 2007. Though I disagree with his view that much of what Geneon licensed in those last couple of years were chosen simply because there was nothing else to license (which is complete bull, as there are plenty of titles from the 2000s that could have been licensed and still deserve licensing), at the same time Geneon's late-life lineup had some truly original choices, such as Zipang. Kaiji Kawaguchi's manga about a modern-day Japanese battleship named the Mirai and its crew being transported back in time to the Pacific War portion of World War II received a 26-episode anime adaption that aired from late-2004 to early-2005. Kawaguchi is almost like the Japanese mangaka equivalent of Tom Clancy, since he likes to do stories involving politics, realistic situations, and accurate weaponry. Zipang is definitely Kawaguchi's most-unrealistic title, but it still is known for telling a very tense and dramatic story of how the crew of the Mirai have to decide if and how to involve itself in WWII and whether these very choices might actually affect the time they come from, not to mention their own lives.

Part of what led to Geneon's demise was an inability to adapt to changing market conditions, though some of it was probably decided upon by dentsu. For example, a title like Zipang is absolutely niche and the general consensus would be that it receive a sub-only boxset release. Geneon, though, released it across seven dual-audio singles and even offered an artbox that came with a mousepad. Zipang was lucky, though, in that Geneon was able to get the last DVD out before dentsu stopped them from releasing any more DVDs.  Most of the DVDs can be gotten for cheap, but Volume 6 in particular now goes for near $100 over at Amazon, so getting all of the volumes might be tricky now. But, Geneon's unrealistic release method now makes Zipang a little more appealing for a license rescue, mostly because there is a dub that can be released alongside it. I've heard that it isn't exactly a great dub, but it's apparently okay enough to not turn people off from watching it. Zipang isn't exactly a giant name, but at the same time you can't just continue to release the same stuff we normally get. Sometimes it's good to try something different, and Zipang at least has an English dub that you don't have to pay for.

Space Adventure Cobra is a neat mix of space-action, James Bond-esque adventure, and comedy. Cobra himself has the skills that make him a wanted man but he's also hilarious man to watch when it comes to women. In 1982 a movie directed by Osamu Dezaki was released in theaters, and it was the very first anime adaptation of the manga that debuted in Weekly Shonen Jump magazine back in 1978. The movie was loved for its mix of action, adventure, comedy, and Dezaki's usual style and it was given a VHS release by Urban Vision back in 1998. UV did also release a subbed VHS, which like many others now goes for much higher than the dubbed VHS.

In 2007 the movie received a second wind when it got released on DVD in both Europe and Australia. North America, though, did not receive a release. Apparently Cobra is one of those super-popular titles in Japan, so licensing fees for the title in general can get pretty high, which definitely hurts its chances at getting released, but if Lupin can get a special released over here recently (I'm talking about Discotek's release of Episode 0: First Contact) then so can Cobra. Time to start contacting Discotek, again...

[08/2012 ADDENDUM: And Discotek has listened! In fact, as of this addendum, Cobra should be out on DVD already... Buy it!]

Ah, Digimon; the anime series that not only was able to take on Pokémon but also tell a much better story. I remember back about 10 years ago when I'd watch both Pokémon and Digimon on Saturday mornings, and the eventually I focused solely on Digimon. The big reason was that Digimon actually told a story that made you have to always tune in; you couldn't miss an episode since you'd miss a part of the story. Then there was the fact that Digimon also had ending, followed by a new story, followed by another new story, followed by another new story. In Japan this lasted from 1999-2004 and covered four series: Digimon Adventure, Digimon Adventure 02, Digimon Tamers, and Digimon Frontier... But here it was all just Digimon. And now that we're on the 10th Anniversary of Digimon Adventure 02's end and Digimon Tamers' debut I think it's about time that we finally get the original four Digimon series released on DVD properly.

Back when the show was airing there were some VHS tapes and a DVD or two, but they never went beyond a few episodes. I would love to own the shows that I watched on TV on DVD, and I'd also love to own the original Japanese versions as well. Saban originally had the license, which then went to Disney later on. Disney now obviously only has the license to Digimon: Data Squad, which means that the original four shows are open licensed. Someone should try to take advantage of this opportunity and take advantage of this 10th Anniversary while they still happen for each show! Getting the original Japanese versions would mainly be a bonus that would be up to whoever decides to take on the task, but if we got GoLion and DaiRugger after getting Voltron, then why not Digimon?

[08/2012 ADDENDUM: No, Discotek didn't rescue this, but New Group Video is teaming with Toei to give the dubbed Season 1 a complete DVD release later in 2012; support it & get the other seasons coming, too!]
And that's the end of this second list of older anime that deserve license rescues. Like I said, it's a fairly different list than how the first one went, but that does help show the variety of anime that are out there. And, like the first list, I would more than likely buy every one of them if they did get a re-release. Finding more of these might get tougher from here on out, but if I find another "twelve" then I'll be doing another list... But that might no be for a while. Simply have fun looking at these titles in this new list and hope for the best. If you have a title on your mind, then by all means bring it up and comment!

1 comment:

  1. I would support a DVD release of Saint Seiya in subs even if there were no English dub at all just because we finally need the series here. What would be awesome is if they also included dubs from other countries such as Spanish, Korean, French, and Indonesian. lol