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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

News Flash! Discotek Media's Licensing Storm of Awesomeness Continues!

Extra, extra, read all about it! Discotek Media might just be the best anime licensing company in North America right now!

Man, it's been a while since I did a "news story" on this blog, hasn't it? Well, that's usually because it takes a truly awesome news story to make me take the time to write up my own thoughts on it; usually, a forum post or a small tweet on Twitter is enough. But Discotek Media has just been on a roll for the past half-year, and what was announced today has finally made me decide to talk about why Discotek might just be the best thing in the North American anime industry right now.

Last time I talked about a license of theirs was back in July of last year when they announced their license of the original Lupin the 3rd TV series, coming out June 26, 2012... My birthday, no less! Anyway, since then Discotek Media has announced a smörgåsbord (yeah, we're going full-on Swedish!) of anime licenses, so let me list them off:
The Fantastic Adventures of Unico & Unico: To the Magic Island
Panda! Go, Panda! & Panda! Go, Panda!: Rainy Day Circus
Locke the Superman
Venus Wars
Space Adventure Cobra the Movie
Retro Game Master/Game Center CX
Casshan: Robot Hunter
Samurai Pizza Cats & Kyattou Ninden Teyandee
Shin Getter Robo vs. Neo Getter Robo

Some might remember that Unico, an Osamu Tezuka creation, was given an attempt of a license by New Galaxy Anime, who announced the movies back in 2007 but never actually released anything before quietly non-existing. The Panda! Go, Panda features, which were directed by Isao Takahata & written by Hayao Miyazaki before the two would found Studio Ghibli, were originally released by Geneon/Pioneer back in 2000 and then given a small re-release in 2004. Now these two licenses don't do much for me, but there are plenty of fans who have very fond memories of these titles and they fit in perfectly with Discotek's more children-oriented fare, like Taro the Dragon Boy, Sea Prince & the Fire Child, & Animal Treasure Island. Naturally, Discotek's releases will have dual-audio since they were dubbed back in the day.

But after those two Discotek has been on a roll for me, personally. Locke the Superman, which sometimes features the subtitle "Millenium of the Witch", was previously released dubbed (dubiously) by Best Video in North America & was the very first anime production based on the still-running series of manga by Yuki Hijiri about Locke, a seemingly ageless psychic who wanders the universe and gets into all sorts of adventures... He's essentially the man who probably helped inspire the likes of Vampire Hunter D and Eat-Man's Bolt Crank. I had actually planned on reviewing all four Locke anime, but that will be put on hold until Discotek's release of the movie, and hopefully it will do well enough to warrant the company picking up the other three Locke anime productions, of which only the second one has ever come over. Discotek's release of the movie will be dual-audio, so it should be fun to see just how bad that dub actually is.

Venus Wars was a movie directed by Yoshikazu Yasuhiko, which was based on the man's original manga. It tells the story of a war that's brewing on a terraformed Venus, and how a biker team and a reporter get caught in the middle. Central Park Media had previously released the movie on DVD, but Discotek's release will be based on the more-recent Japanese DVD release, which featured remastered anamorphic video, but will retain the dual-audio nature of CPM's release. Up next is the Space Adventure Cobra movie, which I actually had listed in my second license rescue list. Discotek confirmed that their release will be dual-audio, but the original UK release actually featured a different English dub that had a brand-new soundtrack made by the band Yello (a.k.a. the "Oh Yeah" guys from Ferris Bueller). Though it's unlikely that Discotek's release will have both dubs, they are at least trying to see if they can have both, and I commend them for at least trying.

Up next is what could likely be an excellent seller for Discotek, mainly because it's more mainstream than old-school anime. Readers of the video game news site Kotaku might remember Retro Game Master, which was about beating extremely hard retro games within a certain amount of time. Though many didn't like the new English narrator, the game action and enjoyable host, nicknamed "The Kacho", drew in a larger fanbase in North America and many were angry when Kotaku decided to not renew their license. Luckily, Discotek is stepping in and releasing all 12 episodes that Kotaku streamed, as well as offering the option to listen to the original Japanese audio with English subtitles. Discotek is hoping that RGM will do well enough to warrant releasing more of the show sub-only. I never saw the show when Kotaku streamed it, but I love retro gaming so I'll definitely be buying this.

The last three announcements happened literally within the last 24 hours, and they are all worth reading about. First, Discotek seems to have read my license rescue lists again, as they will be re-releasing the 1993 Casshern/Casshan OVA that Streamline originally dubbed back in the 90s and ADV released on DVD back in 2004. They're promising a dual-audio release, and I've always wanted to watch this, but the uncut DVD release by ADV has since gone through a big rise in price.

Up next is a big hit of nostalgia for others, but not for me (I didn't even know of this show until high school), as Discotek will be releasing Samurai Pizza Cats, the Saban-edited & dubbed version of Tatsunoko's 1990-1991 Kyattou Ninden Teyandee. SPC was known for it's crazy humor and supposedly the English script was literally made without any influence from the Japanese script because the writers never got the scripts. All 52 episodes of SPC, 12 of which were never aired in the United States due to their "controversial-at-the-time" content, will be released in an unknown amount of sets later this year. But that's not all, as Discotek will also be releasing Teyandee in North America for the first time ever in sub-only sets! Yes, not only will fans of SPC be able to finally own the show they love on DVD but they will also have the ability to see the original Japanese version of the show, ala Media Blasters' release of Voltron followed by the sub-only sets for GoLion & DaiRugger, including the two episodes that were never adapted, though that's because they were re-caps. I'm all for releasing anime in North America that has never been subbed in English in any way before, but I'm still not sure if I'll be getting either of these releases.

The last announcement, though, I'm all for. Today Discotek announced that they will be releasing the 2000 OVA Shin Getter Robo vs. Neo Getter Robo in North America for the first time ever! This was the very first Getter Robo anime I ever saw and still stays in my memories as a personal favorite because of its easy-entry for newcomers, quick story, memorable characters, and great action. Much like Locke, I had planned on reviewing Shin Getter vs. Neo Getter, but now I'll be holding off on Discotek's release. A DVD release will come first, but those with BD players may want to hold off until Discotek's (currently unscheduled) BD release of the OVA comes out, as I'm sure it looks gorgeous; in Japan it was released on BD under the Honneamise label, which is know for quality.

It's funny to think that, only a few years back in 2009, Discotek was just starting to come back to anime after taking a break due to lackluster sales during the bubble days. They came back with the Fist of the North Star anime movie and that must have done well, as must have the boxsets they did for the entire FotNS TV series, as Discotek is doing so much anime and touching the nostalgia of older fans while also getting the interest of younger fans that it's not hard to call them the best anime licensing company in North America right now. While FUNimation is still the big dog and doing what they know will or could sell & Sentai Filmworks is doing what works for them as second place, Discotek Media is marking their territory now more than ever, and I am eagerly awaiting their next license announcements, because I have good faith that I will be interested in them.

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