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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Fukkatsu! The Renaissance of Twelve Older Anime That Deserve License Rescues Part 2

First off, a great big thanks to everyone who read Part 1 of this license rescue list. Within 24 hours of it being posted it became the fourth-most-read post on this entire blog, easily beating the record previously held by the Violence Jack: Evil Town review. Coming off of a fun AnimeNEXT it was definitely a cool thing to see happen. Anyway, let's get right into Part 2 of this renaissance!

The things Carl Macek & Harmony Gold did with anime back in the late-80s & early-90s can never be understated, but at the same time Macross isn't the only title that they have made tricky to get uncut. Windaria is generally considered one of the true classics of the 80s, though it is a little under-appreciated for one main reason: Harmony Gold's release of the movie was so altered that we never got the actual movie the way it was meant to be seen. You see, Windaria is apparently a depressing movie... Not in a bad way, but rather the movie is meant to bring you down due to the story it tells, which involves two kingdoms battling each other in a highly-destructive war with a love story also being added in.

Harmony Gold, though, felt that Windaria was too sad, so they removed roughly seven minutes of violence & nudity and tried altering to plot as much as they could so that the story would be happier. From what I can tell, most fans feel that HG just couldn't make a sad story that much happier, and a sub-par dub certainly didn't help. But that's all we got over here, even in 2004 when ADV released the movie under the title Once Upon a Time. Windaria, in its original form, just might remain a fansub-exclusive thing, and even trying to do a dual-audio release would be tricky, simply because of the edits made for the dub. ADV's DVD release isn't exactly too expensive to buy, but its just not an ideal release, especially if you want the movie the way its meant to be seen.
[Buried Treasure article here... What, you think I wouldn't have at least one BT title in a license rescue list?]

Sometimes you just want a good-ol' giant robot anime, and the Getter Robo titles generally deliver on that. With Shin Getter Robo vs. Neo Getter Robo finally getting it's very first North American release, on both DVD & Blu-Ray, by Discotek either late this year or early next year I think it's time to finally bring up the two Getter anime we received in the past. First there's 1998's Shin [Change!!] Getter Robo: Sekai Saishu no Hi/The Last Day of the Earth, the post-apocalyptic story which ADV released over here as Getter Robo: Armageddon back in 2001 on both VHS & DVD. Though it's related to an audio drama that was only released in Japan, the anime is accessible-enough for anyone to get into and watch... And, come on, it's a Go Nagai title, so confusion is normally a prerequisite (Shin vs. Neo, though, is not confusing to watch in the slightest). The last time this anime got any sort of release was back in 2002 when ADV released a brick box set, and it's not expensive to buy now, but in Japan the most-recent release was just last year, where it received a Blu-Ray release under the Honneamise label and likely looks amazing.

The other title is New Getter Robo, which is from 2004 and tells a story that is more accurate to the craziness of the original manga and can be just as confusing as Armageddon at times. Geneon handled distribution duties for this title, releasing it in 2005 followed by a box set release in 2006, which now goes for over $150 online (i.e. the singles are cheaper). Just like Getter Robo Armageddon & Shin Getter vs. Neo Getter, though, New also received a recent BD release, so I say support Discotek's upcoming release of Shin Getter vs. Neo Getter, because you never know... They might go after these two titles if they see support for the Getter Team.

[3/2016 ADDENDUM: While New Getter Robo remains alone, Discotek Media has rescued Getter Robo Armageddon & will be putting it back out on DVD this Spring, with a BD release to come later.]

Are we talking about Super Techno Arts, again? Wow, for a company that released so little, there seems to be a fair amount I can talk about regarding them. Anyway, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure is one of the most creative things to come out of Japan, which makes it all the more sad that it's never done well over here. Hell, we only got the recent Rohan at the Louvre manga because it was to support a promotion, not because NMB, the publisher, was filled with JoJo fans (though I'm sure NMB does have some JoJo fans). I think the fact that STA was even able to fully release the entire 1993-1994/2000-2002 OVA series from 2003 to 2005 was a miracle in and of itself. Oh, you might be wondering what's with that year labeling I did... Well, from 1993-1994 a 7-episode OVA was made based on portions of JoJo Part 3's (a.k.a. Stardust Crusaders/Heritage for the Future) second half. Then, from 2000-2002, a 6-episode OVA was made that adapted portions of the first half. Honestly, I expect no less weirdness from a JoJo adaptation.

STA's release does everything chronologically, so the second OVA was released first, followed by the first OVA (Confused yet? Good!). Though the OVAs don't quite do justice to the story this part of JoJo tells, since so much of it skipped over, the first OVA series (i.e. the second half) is still highly-regarded by fans as a very good adaptation, while the second OVA series (i.e. the first half) isn't quite as well-liked. But buying this release isn't exactly easy, much like it was upon release, but now it's because Volume 4 commands prices of at least $100, even for a used copy! I'd love to see the JoJo OVA get a re-release, especially since I'd love to see the rescuer dare to keep the Japanese audio's original names, since STA's subs used the altered names Capcom used when they release the 2D fighting game back in the early 2000s (for example, Vanilla Ice is subbed as "Iced", even when you distinctly hear "Vanilla Ice" in Japanese). I guess there's only one thing left to say:

Now here's a first for this kind of list: A license rescue that involves titles that were originally released by two different companies! Who could possibly be responsible for this kind of madness? Why none other than Rumiko Takahashi. As much as people will always remember her for, better or worse, Ranma 1/2 & InuYasha, the fact remains that she has created all sorts of shorter works in her career. But I'm specifically talking about two specific titles... Well, technically it's five titles, but four of them go under one banner, so let's start with the single title. Readers of the this blog will know that I've already reviewed the One-Pound Gospel OVA from 1988, which was great fun to watch and is definitely the underdog of Takahashi's catalog. Back in 1998, Viz released the OVA on a subbed VHS while also doing the manga the first time; there was no dub VHS for this OVA. Buying it now is nothing expensive, but rather than re-release OPG on its own, I'd love for it to be re-released alongside its siblings: The Rumik World OVAs.

From 1985 to 1991, four OVAs were made based on short stories that Takahashi had written during the 80s, and these were collected under the "Rumik World" banner. There's 1985's Fire Tripper, which was essentially the prototype to InuYasha, 1986's Maris the Chojo, the story of a super-strong female space warrior, & 1987's The Laughing Target & 1991's Mermaid Forest, both reminders that Takahashi does indeed do the occasional horror story. Central Park Media released all four Rumik World OVAs during the 90s on VHS, both dubbed and subbed, as well as laserdisc, which are now rare-as-hell. I say that I'd love to see all five of these productions license rescued and re-released together mainly because they all share the same owner, Shogakukan, so it would be possible to license them all and release them together. You could probably even toss in the It's a Rumik World OVAs from 2010, which were new short productions for Ranma, InuYasha, & Urusei Yatsura to celebrate Shonen Sunday's 50th Anniversary, as well as an intro where all the leads interact with each other, and consider it the "Ultimate" Rumik World Collection. But since Shogakukan owns these titles, there might be some trouble unless Viz was to do this idea... And we all know how unlikely that is of happening.

[Buried Treasure Articles for One-Pound Gospel & The Laughing Target here!]

The early days of anime licensing & distribution in North America was filled with both companies aiming to deliver an uncut & accurate release, like U.S. Renditions, and companies that only thought, "Hey, animation! Kids will make their parents buy this stuff, right?" Celebrity Home Entertainment and Best Film & Video, who seemed to get most of CHE's catalog, were right in this mindset, but the fun thing about these companies was that it resulted in licenses that you thought never happened. For example, how many of you knew that the Space Warrior Baldios movie, which was meant to act as the finale to the canceled TV series, was actually dubbed and released in North America on VHS under the name Space Warriors (though it was apparently the 99 minute version, while a 117 minute version was released in Japan)? Or how about the fact that we got the 130 minute Cyborg 009 movie Chou Ginga Densetsu/Legend of the Super Galaxy from 1980 on VHS under it's actual name? Then there's the 1993 sci-fi drama MOTHER: Saigou no Shoujo Eve/Eve the Last Girl, which we got under the name E.Y.E.S. of Mars. And we even got the very first OVA ever made, Dallos, released over here on VHS via its 83-minute movie edit Dallos Special, though it was titled Battle for Space Station Dallos for North America. I list CHE & Best together mainly because many of these releases have early-90s VHS releases via CHE as well as mid-90s releases via Best, so I think when CHE folded Best simply picked up the ashes. Dubs, even if these are only good for making jokes at, always make something more accessible to anime fans, and these titles were only available dubbed.

But one might wonder, "Weren't these titles edited for content, making a dual-audio re-release impossible?" Well, if Discotek's upcoming release of the first Locke the Superman movie, another CHE/Best release, is any indication then that means these anime were likely only edited visually, i.e. nothing was actually "cut" and, therefore, the dubs have the same length of time as the original Japanese versions. Checking with listings on Amazon, where they vary in price from cheap to slightly expensive, this seems to be case; Space Warriors is 99 minutes, like the short-cut of the Baldois movie, Cyborg 009 is 130 minutes, Dallos is 83 minutes, and likely E.Y.E.S. of Mars is the same as the Japanese version as well. Hopefully Locke is only the beginning of the vault of the seemingly-random anime licenses of the early-90s being re-opened. Imagine if we got Dallos Special as a dual-audio release, with the original 4-episode version offered sub-only as a great extra... Or maybe Space Warrior Baldios' 99-minute version as a dual-audio release with the 117-minute version offered alongside it sub-only... Or a dual-audio release of Cyborg 009... Oh, why did I go there?!

[07/2013 UPDATE: Who's the licensor that always licenses this stuff? D-I-S-C-O-T-E-K Media! No, Discotek didn't license everything I had mentioned here, but they are giving Dallos a DVD release!]

[4/2018 UPDATE: Once again, Discotek comes in with the save from this shared spot. This time around, it's the Baldios movie, which will not only receive a HD remastering for a Blu-Ray release, but the Space Warriors dub will also be included, complete with Discotek making a specific cut just for that dub.]

Yeah, remember when we got the 2001-2002 anime reboot of Cyborg 009: The Cyborg Soldier on Toonami back in 2003-2004? Wasn't that anime awesome? Too bad it got moved half-way through into the Cartoon Network death-slot of roughly 5:00 AM Sunday morning, then got canceled before the last two episodes were aired, and then Sony gave us a half-hearted effort of releasing the show on DVD. In early 2004 Sony released two DVDs for the TV series as it was shown on TV, along with a two-disc volume that had those same eight episodes unedited & uncut... And dubtitled. After that we got nothing. It really angers me that Cyborg 009 never got a complete release over here on DVD, or TV for that matter, since it was a great show on its own merit, let alone be a reboot of an awesome series.

The biggest problem, too, is that Sony seems to have an infinite-length license for this show, as when Sony's Crackle streaming service started to really get into anime recently fans demanded Cyborg 009 be added, which the representative tried his hardest to do. Unfortunately, he indicated that there are rights issues, likely due to the use of the music group globe for the opening and first two ending themes, which means that even if Sony wanted to do a complete release for Cyborg 009 they probably couldn't. And if Sony seems to have the rights for the show indefinitely then they won't be licensing it out to anyone, either (look at Nodame Cantible for another example of "sitting on a license", though at least Nodame's dub returned to Crackle recently). Why must the classics be so inaccessible?

[01/2018 UPDATE: The classic is no longer inaccessible! At Otakon 2017, Discotek announced that it will be giving Cyborg 009: The Cyborg Soldier a complete, dual-audio home video release, both on DVD as well as SD-on-BD! It will take time, as the materials supplied to them by Sony are are apparent nuclear waste, but the end result will definitely be worth the wait.]
And that's the end of this renaissance of the license rescue list. Counting up from all three lists I've done, I've listed 56 older anime that deserve license rescues (12 anime per list x 3 lists = 56 anime, after all... My math is perfect!). That's a lot of anime, and it only shows how much history anime has here in North America. We've gotten so much of it that I could theoretically keep making lists like this for a long time, and I can assure you that, one day, the license rescue list will return again. But until then I always encourage you all to make up your own lists and let your voice be heard. Companies like Nozomi & Discotek love going back into the past, and every now and then a bigger company like Sentai or FUNimation will take a glance back and give something a new lease on life. Like I said at the end of the first list, "What's Old is New Again" is a phrase that will always ring true at some point in life, so never be afraid to look back and remind yourself of what's come and gone.


  1. Did you forget about the only US release we got of Macross: DYRL from CHE? You know the one, "Clash of the Bionoids". I am proud to own that movie and lucky to find it sealed when I did about a couple of years ago. The only downside is I couldn't go to Animazement this year to have Ichiro Itano sign that tape, because I doubt that man knows it ever made it to the states ages ago.

    1. I actually didn't know that Clash of the Bionoids was CHE; I thought it was always Harmony Gold. Anyway, I probably wouldn't have listed it anyway, since the whole "Macross" relation makes it impossible to bring over anyway. But it's just cool to see how much stuff came over from in the early-to-mid 90s.

  2. Jojo's Bizarre Adventure - I was first introduced to this franchise through the PS1 port of the Capcom video game and i thought it was a lot of fun. I recently got interested in the anime after informing someone at a forum who was unaware that it was licensed here and i became aware that Volume 4 was not available at Right Stuf like the other volumes so i went looking around at a few stores around the state and was lucky to find a new copy of it yesterday at a Saturday Matinee store for $20 and looking at info about how the show was released here, i guess i should be very lucky about this since this disc has the first 2 episodes of OVA 1 so once i have the cash, i'll be getting the rest of the OVAs. As for a re-release & re-translation, i wouldn't mind it at all but i doubt it will happen because of the whole Dio Brando/Islam controversy which is why i'm buying the singles.

    Getter Robo - Now these two i agree with, i've gotten into a lot of Go Nagai anime titles recently and each show for the most part have been excellent and i'll be looking forward to Discotek's release of Shin Vs. Neo so to prepare, i've been looking for both titles and unfortunately both New Getter Robo (Volume 4 in particular) & Getter Robo Armageddon are very hard to find so i would love to see these rescued which has me also hoping that Shin Vs. Neo sells well enough for Discotek to get both titles back in print here.

    1. Hey, if they got Mad Bull 34, its only a matter of time. And a matter of time before they get Goku Midnight Eye, because I know that will happen.

  3. FYI, the CHE releases were the shortened 'kidvid' releases of the Peregrine Films attempted syndication package. Best Films re-released both the edited versions and the original full-length versions. In addition there were two different VHS releases, a 'cheap mass market' 4 hour speed (EP) tape and the more expensive 2 hour speed (SP) tape designed for sale to video rental stores.
    Peregrine didn't do any work on these, having leased the rights from Toho, and Toho had 'international' dubs made for overseas release.

    Long story short, a company seeking to release the Best Films catalog would have to deal with Toho. A dual language release would likely mean contracts with the original domestic Japanese owner AND Toho.

    I, for one, would fully approve of Discotek picking up Dagger of Kamui and My Youth in Arcadia. I would also encourage them to contact Toho about getting the rights to the BEST LUPIN III DUB EVER Mystery of Mamo (the famous 'JAL' Toho international dub).

  4. Getter Robo is by Ken Ishikawa by the way, Nagai had very little to do with it apart from the planning stages. Also, as far as Ken Ishikawa anime go, check out Kyomu Senshi Miroku which recently got a (pretty awful but palatable) translation