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Monday, December 26, 2011

Twelve Anime I Would License (Or How to Kill an Anime Licensor in 12 Steps or Less) Part 1

Like many anime fans, I am passionate about the medium as well as the business itself, especially when it comes to North America, which is where I live. I love seeing new license announcements, and I especially love seeing the "underdog", i.e. license announcements you would not expect. For example, though I felt that Shigurui might get licensed one day, I was in no way ever thinking that FUNimation would license it, let alone it being a good seller for the company. At the same time I would have never expected something like Lupin the 3rd's First Season to ever get licensed, yet Discotek will be releasing it this upcoming Spring. Naturally, seeing the more "mainstream" titles licensed can also get me interested or even excited, but let's be honest: Those titles are more than likely the ones that companies are more-willing to potentially fight over licensing. If I was to run my own anime licensing company, I would prefer to go for those titles that aren't looked at as often, much like how this blog is about anime that is obscure... And, admittedly, I would probably kill my company with the titles I would choose. But let's be honest: Anime licensing is not a one-man decision, as companies have entire divisions where multiple people gather together and pick titles that seem like they are worth licensing and releasing here in North America. With the year 2011 ending, let's have some fun and take a look at twelve anime that I would license if had my own anime licensing company. Admittedly, I will try to take this seriously and not just turn this into a "Most Wanted" list, so don't go expecting something like Legend of the Galactic Heroes... Though that getting licensed would most-definitely be awesomely amazing.

[2017 ADDENDUM: Yeah, Legend of the Galactic Heroes eventually got licensed... Good thing I didn't include it, right?]

Kochikame The Movie & Kochikame The Movie 2: UFO Shuurai!  Tornado Daisakusen!!
I recently reviewed the first Kochikame movie, which was a great mix of seriousness and comedy as well as being a great starting point for newcomers to the still-running manga about police officer Kankichi Ryotsu and his many misadventures. Though I haven't seen the second movie, it looks to have an interesting idea behind it, with Ryo-san and everyone encountering (maybe) aliens. Considering that Toho was the distributor for both of the movies, I think that they would make a great way to bring Kochikame to North America for this very first time. They would also be the only time the series would come over, as not even I would think about bringing over the TV series, which totaled close to 400 episodes when it ended in late-2004. Maybe if the movies were to do well enough I would think about doing a "Selections of Kochikame TV", just like how the Japanese DVDs are handled. The first movie was even officially subtitled in English, removing the translation costs for one of the movies, which is always welcome. Would I dub these movies? Probably not. Even though they add up to a total run time of about 200 minutes, dubbing isn't cheap, and these movies might still be too risky to dub in the end. See? I'm being conservative here. Anyway, I think Kochikame deserves at least one release in North America, and a double-pack of the two movies would be the best way to do so.

Tohai Densetsu Akagi: Yami ni Maiorita Tensai
Okay, here's where I start to push it. Akagi is simply an amazing show, featuring a lead character that is a hero in some ways but a devil in more ways, an intensity that is hard to match, and it is one of the few anime I don't hesitate to call a "masterpiece". It is a title that should have been released in North America by now, but there's one thing holding it back in terms of North American penetration: It's all about mahjong. Not solitaire mahjong, mind you, but actual Japanese "riichi" mahjong that involves betting actual money. It's a giant hurdle that a lot of people aren't exactly willing to even attempt to cross, which is a shame as the show does explain this variation of mahjong well-enough that newcomers can still understand what is going on for the most part. There is no way this title would get dubbed, and even in Japan it ended up getting released across two boxsets, which would be the same way I would release the show, if not a Media Blasters-esque 6-7 episode singles style... Hey, singles still have their purpose as they allow a company to make some money on a more niche title by giving it a smaller sales requirement. This is the kind of risk I would be willing to take, and more than likely it would end up really hurting a company, but that's the way Akagi himself likes it.

[3/2016 ADDENDUM: While Akagi has yet to be released on DVD, it is fully streaming over at CrunchyRoll]

Eat-Man & Eat-Man '98
Here we have a license rescue, which tend to be a bit safer than new licenses, mainly because the main work, such as subtitling, has already been done. Though they feature the same main character and the same basic premise, the two Eat-Man anime are so different in execution that you can't imagine two anime based on the same manga being any more different. Koichi Mashimo's 1997 adaptation simply took the main character Bolt Crank, who has the ability to eat any inanimate object and then reproduce it though his right hand, and put him in original stories that tended to confuse more than anything... But each of these stories are so downright absorbing and you can't help but keep watching, and that's why I love this anime. There is a good reason why Justin Sevakis prefers this adaptation, so much so that he wrote about in his Buried Treasure series of articles over at ANN. That being said, though, I still like Eat-Man '98 more. Toshifumi Kawase's anime adapts four very good stories from the original manga and even tells two original stories that may or may not have been created by original mangaka Akihito Yoshitomi. I love the manga, and it's because of that accuracy that I prefer '98 over the original. Still, d-rights lists both anime together, so more than likely you can't license one without licensing the other. In an interesting twist of fate, the other anime based on Yoshitomi manga have been licensed & released: Sentai Filmworks has released the Blue Drop anime, which is a prequel to Yoshitomi's manga of the same name, and Maiden Japan has released Ray the Animation, which is an adaptation of the manga of the same name. Now would be the best time to license rescue the Eat-Man anime, and if I had my own licensing company I would do so. Keep the two-episode English dub '98 received as an extra, but effectively make them sub-only boxsets.

[2/2017 ADDENDUM: I can't believe I updated the license rescue list but not this one! Anyway, at this point Discotek Media has given both Eat-Man anime series brand new DVD releases, with '98's two-episode dub also being included.]

Hades Project Zeorymer
Central Park Media had a number of interesting licenses throughout its history, and Zeorymer is one of those titles that I felt was never given a truly perfect release. In a time when DVDs tended to have 3-4 episodes on them, CPM gave the 4-episode OVA a release across 2 DVDs, meaning that each release had a paltry two episodes. Based on the adult manga by Morio Chimi (the hentai pen-name of Guyver-creator Yoshiki Takaya), Zeorymer is an interestingly bizarre mech anime, and the mech itself is so godly that it's only appeared in two Super Robot Wars games... And both times it is the most godly-overpowered unit. What's interesting is that in Japan the title had a bit of a renaissance in the last few years due to its SRW inclusions. Takaya finished up the manga a couple of years ago, after a long hiatus, and the OVA was even given a Blu-Ray release by Honnemaise, which I'm sure looks very crisp and clean. Considering that CPM even dubbed the OVA, giving this title a re-release, across both DVD and BD, would be a really great thing to do, especially at a cheaper price point.

King of Braves GaoGaiGar FINAL
Yeah, I'm going there. Media Blasters' release of GaoGaiGar TV was a miracle in-and-of-itself. The fact that an English dub was even made for it, even if it's only for the first 25 episodes, is even more of a miracle, let alone the fact that GaoGaiGar's dub is one of the absolute best dubs I have ever heard. Some could even argue that Media Blasters even releasing the second half of the TV series was a miracle, let alone John Sirabella even admitting that, after dropping the dub, they actually made their money back on the show... And this was admitted before the litebox re-releases were even scheduled! It's truly a shame that we still haven't gotten GaoGaiGar FINAL, which takes what made GaoGaiGar so great and truly turns everything up to 12. Hopefully Mazinkaiser SKL's seemingly-successful release, it did get a BD release just this month, will help prompt MB into finally licensing FINAL, but if they never do I would certainly license it. Admittedly, I'd give it a sub-only release since it would make no sense to have NYAV Post dub it without finishing up the TV series' dub. Also, in my own twist, I would try to offer both the original 8-episode OVA and the 2005 TV adaptation, subtitled Grand Glorious Gathering, in one boxset, thereby giving this title the most complete release it could get, and that would include the infamous "Disk Z" from the FINAL GGG boxset, which had a promotional video for "Project Z", a planned-but-never-made sequel to FINAL that would seemingly take this series to 13, such as having a lava-covered Genesic GaoGaiGar seemingly spring from out of Jupiter!

Ring ni Kakero 1 Seasons 1-4
You all knew that it would come to this sooner or later, so I might as well end Part 1 with this. If you want to know about Ring ni Kakero 1, then go ahead and check out my reviews of all four seasons of the anime, the Pilot Film, the Super Famicom video game based on the original manga, the 2003 "Manga DVD", and even my overview of the beginning of the manga that the anime skips over since it has little relevance to the overall story. When I was on the last ANNCast call-out show Justin Sevakis and Zac Bertschy were seemingly downright stupefied when I told them that Ring ni Kakero 1 was the one anime that I wanted to see licensed more than anything else, but I just love this series... And, no, this whole feature I'm doing isn't just so that I can talk about Ring ni Kakero 1 again since a Season 5 was not announced at Jump Festa this year. I honestly, legitimately, truthfully would license this anime and release it North America. Best case scenario, a.k.a the company-killing idea? Release all four seasons across four releases, one for each season, and have NVAY Post dub it, so that the studio can have more of that hot-blooded fun that they obviously had when dubbing GaoGaiGar. The realistic idea? Release it sub-only and have the first two seasons, which were both 12 episodes long, be split across two 6-episode singles. Seasons 3 & 4, which were both 6 episodes long, would always be single-disc releases containing each of their entire respective seasons. Also, I'd at least try to get the Pilot Film as well, since it would make a neat extra. Got to keep it realistic, after all.

Well, that's Part 1 of this list, and if my company isn't dead from this list of licenses yet then there's still Part 2!

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