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Thursday, November 3, 2011

I Have Now Reviewed All Ring ni Kakero video productions... But Could More Be On the Way?

With Manga DVD Ring ni Kakero reviewed I am now 100% done with reviewing Ring ni Kakero on this blog. I've reviewed all five anime productions (all four TV series & the Pilot), I've reviewed the sole video game based on the series, I've reviewed this not-quite-an-anime production, and I've ever given an overview of the beginning of the manga the anime skips over. Quite honestly, the only other Ring ni Kakero-related production there is is the Image Album that was made back in the early 80s. but it is literally just a vinyl record (& later CD) with a series of songs and that's where I draw the line at reviewing stuff on this blog. OK, there is Ring ni Kakero REAL, a Japanese reality show where hopeful boxers were apparently promised a contract if they won or something like that, but I don't have access to that show, and even if I did I wouldn't watch it. I could talk about Ring ni Kakero 2 as well, but I only have 8 volumes of the manga, so it's useless for me to talk about it. Still, next month will be Jump Festa 2012, which takes place from December 17-18. At the past two Jump Festa's new seasons of the Ring ni Kakero 1 anime series were announced, so there's a possibility that a new season could be announced this year as well.

There are some things going for it: Next year, 2012, will the 35th Anniversary of Ring ni Kakero's 1977 debut in Weekly Shonen Jump magazine, so it would only make sense to celebrate that with a new season of the anime. Also, the "Masami Kurumada Project" that was announced at Jump Festa last year seems to be more than just Sekai Taikai-hen and the upcoming Saint Seiya CG-movie, as Kurumada himself said on his personal blog that Saint Seiya Senki, the Musou/Dynasty Warriors-styled PS3 game, is also part of the Kurumada Project,  not to mention the Chinese-developed Saint Seiya Online PC game, the upcoming musical based on the first Saint Seiya movie, the new Seiya Pachinko machine, and the new Cloth Myth EX series of collectible figures. Yeah, Saint Seiya is 99% of this Kurumada Project, but it shows that Kurumada's creations are in overdrive right now, so having a new season of Ring ni Kakero 1, even if its only another six episodes, would be awesome.

What's going against it? Well, the past two seasons were also hinted at by Kurumada by him revealing lyric sheets for the new songs he was making for the series in general on his blog. Season 3's ending theme, "Asu he no Hishou", was revealed back in early 2009 and Season 4's ending theme, "Niji no Kanata", was revealed July of last year. This year, Kurumada has revealed no new RnK song on his blog. There's also the fact that Season 4 ended with no real hint that a new season could be made; Seasons 1-3 all ended with some hint of the next story arc, but Season 4 did nothing of the sort, though the manga did the same at this point. Finally, Jump Festa 2012 is already celebrating an anniversary next month, as this year is the 35th Anniversary of Kochikame, commonly called Japan's equivalent to The Simpsons, which debuted in Weekly Shonen Jump magazine back in 1976 and is still running to this day. With a big anniversary like that already going on, it might not be the best time to announce something for Ring ni Kakero's own 35th.

Still, I'm going to hope for the best; seeing a Ring ni Kakero 1: Girishia Jyuni Shin-hen/Twelve Gods of Greece Chapter announced would be awesome, as that story arc, which has Golden Japan Jr. teaming up with their world rivals to form the "World Jr. Union" to take on a group of 12 Greek junior boxers who are even more powerful than Team Greece, is a great story arc. Also, with 12 powerful boxers to assign voices to, there's potential for Toei to create an "all-star" line-up. For example, one of the 12 Gods is called Pegasus, and there's no man I can think of that should voice that character other than the original "Pegasus" himself, Tohru Furuya. Also, going off of the 2001-2002 "Ring ni Kakero 1" release of the original manga that I own, every story arc following the World Tournament could be adapted in 6 episodes much easier than it was in Sekai Taikai-hen, i.e. not as much would be cut out of each successive arc. That alone would probably make continuing the series more appealing to Toei, as that would mean that they would only have to create 18 more episodes, potentially across three more years, meaning that the anime series would finally cover up through the end in 2014.

There's also the small possibility that Toei might want to celebrate RnK's 35th Anniversary in a larger way and simply adapt the last three story arcs in one large anime season. Making a 24-26 episode TV series would allow for the pace to be adjusted a little and allow all three story arcs to flow slightly better. Also, going off of the original manga, while the Twelve Gods of Greece and final story arcs are important to the overall story, the Ashura Chapter, which happens between the two, just came off as an effectively-useless story arc that did nothing but make the manga go on longer. I wouldn't be surprised if the Ashura Chapter was literally an early case of Shueisha forcing a creator to stretch out his/her manga solely so that they could still make money off of it. Toei might not want to make a separate production and promotion for a story arc that I don't think is even brought up in Ring ni Kakero 2, so it would make more sense to simply make one last production so that they could focus on the important story arcs and then get through Ashura with little to no importance. Personally, I wouldn't mind seeing one larger season (call it "Kanketsu-hen/Final Chapter"), especially with a landmark anniversary coming up, but the chances of that happening are very small.

Like I showed, there are things going for and against the potential of another Ring ni Kakero 1 anime series to be announced at Jump Festa this year. Toei's main focus for Festa looks to be on One Piece and Toriko, but that doesn't mean that it's an impossible thing to happen. Kochikame's 35th Anniversary is something to celebrate, and I would love to see a new anime for it announced at Festa, but I hope that it doesn't overshadow the upcoming 35th Anniversary of its fellow Jump manga series, as both of those series were what started Shonen Jump's rise to fame & they would pave the way for later series to become mega-hits.

This box art is for the French DVD release of Season 1 that Déclic Images did. Oddly enough, though, I can't find any indication of this release ever coming out, as not even Amazon France has it for sale. Why do I bring this up? Well, it's simply because this box art will continually remind me of how much I would love to see the Ring ni Kakero 1 anime licensed and released in North America. With the reveal of the FUNimation/NicoNico joint-venture called Funico I do hope that this series gets a larger chance of being licensed. Hell, even Nozomi Entertainment got my hopes up slightly. Shawne Kleckner, head of Right Stuf and Nozomi, normally puts up little hints of licenses he's working on whenever new postings come up every week on both TRSI's Anime Today forums as well as the retail forum over at The Fandom Post. Well, the newest hint said this: "New and interesting, and not our norm". Nozomi usually licenses titles that have hardcore fanbases behind them and they usually are pretty different from other company's licenses. But even among those licenses, Ring ni Kakero 1 would definitely not be "Nozomi's norm". Does this hint give me more hope for Ring ni Kakero 1? Well, I have continually brought up Ring ni Kakero 1 every time a new license wishlist topic appears on the Anime Today forums, so this new hint gives me slightly higher hopes... But I'm not confident enough to bet money on it. In fact, I still think it's highly unlikely. But, hey, stranger things have happened in this industry.

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