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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Twelve Anime I Would License (Or How to Kill an Anime Licensor in 12 Steps or Less) Part 2

Time for the second half of the twelve anime I would license if I had my own anime licensing company. Now, just to be honest, the whole "Company-Killing" stuff is mainly a tongue-in-cheek reference to the times people say that my tastes are really niche, but I've already stated in Part 1 that I simply like to root for the underdog. Still, Part 2 of this list will be a little different from Part 1, which featured titles that I had either seen all of or at least had fairly extensive knowledge of. Naturally, many anime licensors will license anime without seeing even a single episode. That's even more true nowadays with simulcasts being a big thing, since companies like FUNimation and Sentai Filmworks have to judge whether an anime is worth trying out based solely off of production materials and maybe a short animated clip at the most. With that in mind, Part 2 will be all titles that I have not seen one episode of, with the exception of one title (but even for that title I have only seen half of it). With that explained, let's finish this up...

Air Master
In 2005 Toei Animation's USA division tried their hand at releasing anime themselves, with Geneon handling the distribution. Their titles of choice were the 101-episode basketball classic Slam Dunk, the 27-episode action parody/homage Air Master, and the 3-episode game-based OVA Interlude. Unfortunately, every DVD Toei did was handled badly, as there were seemingly no chapter breaks, barely-functioning menus, and dubtitles in place of subtitles; not quite the horror that was Illumitoon's DVDs, but still bad. Though Interlude was released on a single DVD, Slam Dunk and Air Master never were fully released. While Slam Dunk is getting a proper manga release by Viz right now, it's length makes me want to go after Air Master first. The story of Maki, a former gymnast-turned-fighter, is both a parody & homage of shonen fighting titles. Maki is a girl, yet she's extremely tall and isn't much of a looker, the complete opposite of shonen leads usually, and one of her best friends has breasts that look more fitting on a character from Eiken, an obvious joke towards fanservice. But, at the same time, when the fights happen the animation is apparently handled so beautifully and the fights are apparently amazing to watch, though it's no surprise considering that Daisuke Nishio (a.k.a. DBZ's director) handled this show. Now you can watch all of Air Master subbed online through official streams that Toei made, which removes a lot of the subtitling work, though who knows if the subs are as bad as Fist of the North Star's (Discotek had to fix them up for the DVD boxsets). Also, there was a dub made for the show, but who knows if it went all the way to the end after the DVDs stopped coming out. Either way, I'd love to give Air Master a proper and complete release, and that includes the dub, no matter where it stops.

Yami to Boushi to Hon no Tabibito
Anime involving cute girls, commonly called "moe anime", is a big thing now and another thing that has a dedicated fanbase is yuri anime, i.e. "girls love". With that in mind, it's kind of surprising to see that 2003's adventure-game-based anime Yami to Boushi to Hon no Tabibito, which never translates well and is commonly shortened to "YamiBou", has never been licensed. It's apparently about a girl named Eve, who works in the Great Library, which is where all of the worlds in the universe are stored in books, and the many lives and adventures she has had in some of these worlds. I have commonly seen praise given to this show, and it seems like the kind of title that could become a cult-hit, at the very least. Though I have thought about checking the show out a couple of times, I would at least give this title a shot in terms of licensing and let the yuri fans, and possibly even the "moe" fans, have some fun with this title as a sub-only release.

[6/2013 UPDATE: Looks like Media Blasters decided to listen to those fans who still wanted this series, because they will be giving YamiBou it's very first North American release... Eventually.]

RAINBOW ~Nisha Rokubou no Shichinin~
Now here's a title that I admittedly have yet to see, though I definitely should. RAINBOW is the story of seven teenagers who have to survive the halls of a 1955 reformatory, which is known to be a dangerous and potentially deadly place. From what I could tell there's some action, there's a lot of violence (so much so that every episode begins with a warning from MADHOUSE that states that they had to keep the violence intact in order to keep the message untainted), and there's even some boxing in there... But apparently you can't really call this anime any of those. From the praise it gets RAINBOW seems to simply be one thing: A drama so intense and engaging that you will never forget once you've watched it. FUNimation simulcasted the show when it aired in 2010, and the simulcasts must have done well-enough for FUNimation to consider giving the show a home video release, since one of the online polls the company does did feature the question, "Would you buy RAINBOW on DVD/Blu-Ray?" Unfortunately, while I said "Yes", it seems that not enough people said the same to that question, because FUNimation will not be releasing the show on home video since it was too much of a risk apparently... At least with if it came with a dub, that is. If FUNimation was on the fence with this show to the point where they had to ask the fanbase, then there might be enough attraction in it to warrant a sub-only release. Really, shows like this seemingly only come by once in a blue moon and then are usually ignored, and it would be a shame to see this happen to RAINBOW.

Say what you want about the noitaminA block Japan has nowadays, but there is no doubt that the time slot has brought about many memorable and completely different anime throughout its history. One of which is the continuation of a portion of an anime that actually had a release in North America. In 2007 Geneon released all of Ayakashi ~Samurai Horror Tales~, which was a trio of multi-episode horror stories, two of which were based on old Japanese folktales. The last story, Bakeneko, was an original story, though, and is generally considered the best of the three from Ayakashi. It was such a popular story that a little over a year after Ayakashi finished airing, an anime called Mononoke (no relation to Studio Ghibli's Princess Mononoke) aired in the noitaminA block, just like Ayakashi did, and it was the continuing adventures of the unnamed Medicine Seller that was the main character of Bakeneko. In fact, the last three episodes of Mononoke were the Bakeneko story, more than likely a revised version. Though both Ayakashi and Mononoke were done by Toei Animation, the inclusion of the Bakeneko story would make a license rescue of Ayakashi slightly unnecessary, so I would probably only license Mononoke. If I had enough confidence in the title I would maybe give it a dub that would reunite the Ocean Group dub cast Bakeneko had... But who really remembers Ayakashi's dub, anyway?

[4/2014 UPDATE: It's been listed for release for a bit by this update, but Cinedigm "beat me to the punch" & will be releasing Mononoke on sub-only DVD in July 2014!]

Kamen no Maid Guy
As a heads up, this is the title that I saw half of, but due to it's lack of license I decided to include it here. 2008's Kamen no Maid Guy is the kind of anime that sells over here: It's utterly ridiculous, has tons of blatant fanservice, and has a little bit of everything for everywhere, including some action and even a one-sided yuri relationship. The story of Naeka Fumiwara's chance to inherit her grandfather's billions and the many people who try to kill her so that they can get the fortune is made all the more crazy with the use of Kogarashi, the "Maid Guy" of the title. Kogarashi is one of those truly manly guys who also gives it his all as a male maid, complete with special abilities like the "Maid Guy Eye", which allows him to keep a watch on Naeka, with the X-Ray vision it gives Kogarashi being something that leads to good laughs. Really, Kamen no Maid Guy is a funny-as-hell show and it's truly the kind of show that ADV/Sentai would pick up in a heartbeat... So why hasn't it been licensed? Well, as you can see on that DVD cover, Geneon released the anime in Japan, and the later Geneon/Universal union would create some troubles when it came to licensing Geneon Japan titles. It seems like those issues are starting to go away now, though, so if no company was to go after this anime then I certainly would, because if there is one thing I know would sell over here, it's a show like this. And, yes, I would full-heartedly dub this!

Much like Kamen no Maid Guy I am kind of amazed why this anime hasn't been licensed yet, but rather than because of content it's simply because of who made it: Gonzo. Bokurano is the anime adaptation of Mohiro Kitoh's manga about 15 children who come across a giant robot and are tricked into using it to battle other giant robots in order to protect the planet. Kitoh apparently has admitted that he took the basic idea of Eldoran anime Zettai Muteki Raijin-Oh (a very fun mech anime that is being released in North America super-slowly by Anime Midstream) and effectively asked the question, "What would REALLY happen if children were the saviors of the Earth?" The result is effectively similar to when Kitoh created Narutaru (a.k.a. "What if children actually had monsters as their own personal pets?")... Complete and utter mind-f***ing and a dark story that betrays the kiddy character designs, which is a big part of Kitoh's works. In another interesting twist, the director of the Bokurano anime, Hiroyuki Morita, admitted that he wasn't a fan of Kitoh's original manga and made sure to make the anime as different in style from the manga as he could. Still, it's kind of astounding that no one has picked up this Gonzo anime yet. I can understand Saki being too risky, as it's a mix of mahjong and yuri, but the Bokurano manga is actually being released by Viz right now. It might not be a big seller, but I'd definitely give the Bokurano anime a license and possibly even try to get some cross-promotion going on with Viz.

[4/2015 UPDATE: A very late update here, because Discotek has recently released Bokurano on DVD as of this update.]
And there you have it: Twelve anime I would license if I had my own anime licensing company. Since my tastes are apparently so niche I guess that this list is also a twelve-step program that will guarantee the death of pretty much any anime licensing company ever. But, hey, it's the end of the year so we might as well have some fun, right? If, hypothetically, my anime licensing company was to survive all of these licenses, though, then I wouldn't hesitate in trying to get some other titles out, like giving Dangaioh the proper DVD release it never got, releasing Dancougar with everything intact (not to mention releasing God Bless & Blazing Epilogue), and maybe even trying my own hand at fully releasing Saint Seiya TV, not to mention other recent anime like Kaiji or even Kanon 2002 (as much as Key fans hate that version, people will still buy it...). With 2012 coming up in only a few days, there hopefully will be more licenses announced and more surprises in store for the new year... Maybe some of the titles in this list could even be licensed (yeah, right). With that all said, I wish everyone a Happy New Year, and I'll be back in 2012.

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