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Monday, April 16, 2012

"12 More (+1)" Anime I Would License: Package Deals, Dead Ahead! Part 2

What timing I have here with Part 2, where I talk about Toei Animation's catalog... Because Discotek Media is continuing their licensing train of awesomeness by recently having licensed the 1998 movie Galaxy Express 999: Eternal Fantasy!  

But wait, there's more! Just announced tonight, Discotek will be releasing the first four Saint Seiya movies across two DVDs! And if you want my opinion on these movies, I've reviewed them all, and enjoyed all of them to an extent, some more than others. Anyway, it's hard to beat something like those licenses, but if I was able to license a package deal from Toei Animation, and I was able to pick the licenses, here's what I'd go after.

Kinnikuman II-Sei/Ultimate Muscle
Back about ten years ago, 4Kids aired their English adaptation of Toei's 51-episode Kinnikuman II-Sei/Nisei on FoxKids under the name Ultimate Muscle. It was wacky, silly, and had great fun in taking professional wrestling to an over-the-top style that fans of the sport like myself couldn't help but love. Combine that with the fact that 4Kids' version was actually one of their best works, right down to including so much innuendo that you almost can't believe it's a 4Kids dub, and I think that there might be enough nostalgia to make it worth releasing on DVD, likely on three sets, two for the first 51-episodes, followed by a set containing all 26 episodes that 4Kids commissioned Toei to make after getting great ratings in North Amerca. But with all of the edits, a proper dual-audio release is impossible, so I'd go the Voltron or Samurai Pizza Cats route and not only release Ultimate Muscle in dub-only sets but also releasing Kinnikuman II-Sei uncut in it's original Japanese, for the first time ever in North America, across likely the same number of sets. Even though 4Kids commissioned those 26 episodes, Toei did still have them dubbed in Japanese and aired as two separate 13-episode TV series in Japan, so it's possible.

Gaiking: Legend of Daiku-Maryu
The original Daiku Maryu Gaiking from the 70s is nostalgic in Japan, but is only known to fans of Super Robot Wars elsewhere, unless you remember Shogun Warriors. In 2005, Toei made a brand-new Gaiking, and super robot fans around the world loved it for it's memorable characters, awesomely remade lead robot, and iconic opening theme performed by PSYCHIC LOVER. Toei obviously saw this love, as they had it subbed in English and made available on streaming sites legally, and these subs are much better than the likes of Fist of the North Star TV, Galaxy Express 999 TV, & Captain Harlock TV, too, so that makes it all the easier, and cheaper, to get out. I'd try to get the 39-episode series out in two sets, though one set would be all the better, especially since super robots aren't exactly know for being giant sellers over here.

You thought Ultimate Muscle/Kinnikuman II-Sei was an ambitious idea? How about taking that idea, and multiplying it by four? Digimon is likewise now a nostalgic staple of FoxKids's Saturday morning block, and I'm kind of surprised that it hasn't been picked up for a complete DVD release in North America yet. I'd start off by releasing the Saban versions of the first four seasons in dub-only sets, followed by their original Japanese versions (Digimon Adventure, Digimon Adventue 02, Digimon Tamers, & Digimon Frontier) in sub-only sets. And, luckily, Toei already has official English streaming for Adventure 02 & Tamers, though they might be rough. I loved this series back in the late-90s/early-00s, and I would give this release the best quality possible. And then, maybe, I'd look into doing the movies, since Disney dubbed most of those later on, not to mention that the first three movies deserve a proper release after the hack-job that was Digimon the Movie.

[08/2012 UPDATE: New Video Group has beaten me to the punch with this idea, at least for Season 1. Now here's hoping they can get the original Japanese versions out, too, for hardcore fans.]

Now here's a series that some might be nostalgic for. Shinzo was the Saban-produced edited dub of Mushrambo, a 32-episode series about a human girl named Yakumo and her adventures with a group of being called Enterrans who aim to bring Earth back to peace and normality. Based loosely off of the Journey to the West story, Shinzo aired on ABC Family on the Jetix programming block, and though I never saw the series in full, what I did see was entertaining. I'm not sure how much of the dub was edited and changed from the original Japanese version, so I'm not sure if it would need the separate sets idea or if this could possibly be done dual-audio. It may not have the nostalgia of Digimon or Ultimate Muscle, but who knows... Any Shinzo fans out there?

Slam Dunk
Now here's a choice that's both safe yet risky. Slam Dunk was partially-released by Toei on DVD back when the company tried their hand at North American releases, but after four DVDs the release stopped, but that means that there is a dub that covers a portion of the anime. It also has a complete English subtitle translation due to the streams that are out there, though they are the early Toei stream-subs and are rough. But the biggest risk to it is simply fact that it's a sports anime... And a long sports anime at that. At 101 episodes, not to mention four movies & a TV special, Slam Dunk is a big commitment, but it is a quality production and it is one that seems to have a hardcore fanbase that continually wants it released properly on DVD. Decisions, decisions.

[4/2015 UPDATE: A good bit late, but after some delays, Slam Dunk will be seeing a re-release by Cinedigm later this year in the form a 13 episode DVD set... That's dub-only. So much for that hope.]

Pretty Cure
What happens when you take the magical girl genre, make them fight in hand-to-hand combat, and have the the fight scenes be done by the man behind DBZ's fight scenes? You get Futari wa PreCure, or simply Pretty Cure for short. It's a big-name franchise in Japan, with each year getting a new entry, though it apparently has become more of a traditional magical girl series throughout the years. Once again, there are already English subs for this show, but there's an interesting twist here. The stream-subs we get were done by a Hawaiian-based operation (they're better than Toei's early stream-subs, but still rough), but professional anime translator Sam Pinansky, who's a giant Pretty Cure fan and did the first fansubs for the original show, admitted on his most-recent appearance on ANNCast that he did brand-new official subs of Pretty Cure for Toei, but these subs were for European markets. If Pinansky did subs for the show then I'd want those, as they were likely very well done and well-worth putting on DVD. Also, there was an edited dub made for Canadian markets, so maybe I can do yet another dub & dub sets release...
And that ends Part 2 of this piece. As you can see, there's a theme throughout most of this list: Edited dubs made for television. In fact, Gaiking is the only sub-only release from this list I would do, and Slam Dunk is the only one I could positively do a dual-audio release of, even it's only dual-audio up to a certain point. Toei's long history gives them a lot to choose from, but these "six" series are the ones I'd go for via a package deal.

Remember that this list is all hypothetical, but at the same time if you agree with some of these choices then let your voice be heard! Tell companies what you want and maybe one day someone will listen. For example, back at Otakon last year I asked Discotek personally if they would ever do Saint Seiya. I got a non-answer at the time, but lo and behold the company is deciding to give the franchise a try now. You never now what a little speaking up can do, after all.

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