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Monday, June 24, 2013

The Daisuki Deluge: Underlooked Anime That Deserve The Chance Part 3: Sunrise

So far in this look at "The Daisuki Deluge", we've checked out Toei Animation, who's offering a wide variety of titles, & TMS Entertainment, who's taking the other path & holding back on offering everything. Well, the third wheel of this coalition, the venerable Sunrise, is taking Toei's lead by (potentially) offering as much as possible. In fact, whereas Toei's biggest restriction seemed to be that nothing from before 1980 was offered, Sunrise is opening their entire catalog, outside of some of their most-recent titles. From Zambot 3 to VOTOMS to Metal Jack to Gundam AGE, this company is willing to offer so much that they may be offering more than Toei! So what could we see on Daisuki from these masters of mecha at one point or another?

They may be the masters of mecha, but Sunrise also delves into non-mecha titles fairly often, but even then science-fiction tends to be something they love to do. 1998's DT Eightron was an more obscure creation of theirs, lasting 26 episodes & telling the story of Shu & the Returners, a rebel force against the nation of Datania, who rely on child labor & are on the search for DT, a mysterious substance inside humans. In true late-90s anime fashion, the opening sequence tells basically nothing about the show itself, but the little I've heard about the show has been positive & with Tetsuro Amino (Macross 7, Shiki) helming it there should be, at the very least, an interesting story behind it. Besides, isn't the fun of a site with the potential of Daisuki within it's ability to give people new & unexpected experiences?

When Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ ended in 1987, Sunrise felt that mecha fans were probably getting tired of Gundam, so they decided to mix it up a little bit with their next title, 1987-1988's Kikou Senki/Metal Armor Dragonar. Sure, the basic story of three boys who wind up piloting top-secret mechs in the Earth Federation's battle against the dangerous Giganos Empire does sound very much like that of the original Gundam's, but Dragonar mixed up the execution by mixing together Zeta Gundam's serious-minded war story with Gundam ZZ's more light-hearted characters & hijinks, but without having either side be overwhelming. Though it was fairly successful for the time, main character Kaine Wakaba & love interest Linda Plato were Newtype Magazine's Favorite Male & Female for 1987, it wasn't able to make people forget about Gundam & Dragonar kind of got lost into the annals of time... Until Banpresto used it in Super Robot Wars A for the Game Boy Advance. The game, plus later inclusions in other entries, revived interest in the series & eventually it got a well-received DVD boxset release. Unfortunately, only five episodes (at most) have ever been fansubbed into English & one has to watch really rough bootleg subs to see it all. Those rough subs have only made this series more & more obscure & the chance for it to be on Daisuki with good subs is something this show desperately needs.

2002's Mobile Suit Gundam SEED was a gigantic hit, but one side-effect of that success was not a good one. Character designer Hisashi Hirai essentially got lazy & decided to re-use his designs in pretty much every single title he has worked on since, leaving fans to nickname him "Same Face" Hirai. It's kind of unfortunate, too, because before Gundam SEED, Hirai was showing off some variety in his design style, with a good example being 1995's Juu Senshi/Wild Knights Gulkeeva. Going off of the success of titles like Toei's Saint Seiya & Tatsunoko's Tenkuu Senki Shurato, not to mention Sunrise's own Yoroiden Samurai Troopers/Ronin Warriors, Gulkeeva was an "armored heroes" show, but with an interesting twist in that main character Toya Shinjou fought alongside beast warriors in their fight against the Darknoids, who come from another world. These best warriors, in turn, could transform into more "beast-like" forms that Toya could team up with in battle. Now, yes, the Hirai designs aren't exactly as varied as I kind of made them out to be, but it's still varied enough to not be the old "Same Face", not to mention Hirai actually had to design animal characters. Gulkeeva, like Dragonar, has only been available via bootleg subs, so having good subs would be great as well.

A quick note here: These next three entries are all "series based", so expect way more than three to be mentioned. So let's get started with Sunrise's teaming with Tomy, which brought to us the Eldoran Series, made up of 1991-1992's Matchless Raijin-Oh, 1992-1993's Genki Bakuhatsu/Energy Bomb Gambaruger, & 1993-1994's Nekketsu Saikyou/Matchless Passion Gosaurer. All three shows were definitely aimed at really young kids, but at the same time each entry offered something different. Raijin-Oh was focused on developing the many characters it utilized, Ganbaruger was about comedy, & Gosaurer was heavy on the story. Anime Midstream is still working on Raijin-Oh in their usual slow fashion (Volume 5 comes out June 30!), but it would still be cool to see it streaming for those who aren't sure about buying DVD singles in this age of boxsets. As for the other two entries, Gosaurer has my interest more than Gambaruger, & that's shown by the fansubbing efforts each has had, where Gosaurer had its first five episodes done while Gambaruger had a random episode seriously subbed years ago as a joke. To it's credit, though, that Gambaruger episode was pretty funny, featuring the crew fighting against a banana monster that turned anything into bananas. Plus, Anime Midstream has shown interest in doing the rest of the Eldoran Series sub-only after finishing up Raijin-Oh, so having subs already made for them would certainly help...

Naturally, if I'm going to bring up the Eldoran Series, then I have to include its older cousin, the Brave Series! Created as a collaboration between Sunrise & Takara, to continue off of where the Transformers Series ended, the Brave Series had a long, strong life to it, running nonstop from 1990 to 1998 & encompassing these entires: Brave Exkaiser/Exkizer, Brave of the Sun Fighbird, Brave of the Legend Da-Garn, Brave Express Mightgaine, Brave Police J-Decker, Goldran The Brave of Gold, Command of Braves Dagwon, & King of the Braves GaoGaiGar, not to mention late-97's Command of Braves Dagwon: Boy with Crystal Eyes (a two-episode OVA sequel) & 2000-2003's King of the Braves GaoGaiGar FINAL (the eight-episode OVA sequel). Starting from it's humble origins as nothing more than a simple Transformers imitation (Exkaiser), the Brave Series would try out many different ideas, such as having a linear story (Da-Garn), taking on somewhat darker & serious storylines (Mightgaine), outright parody (Goldran), transitioning into a tokusatsu style (Dagwon), & outright genre homage (GaoGaiGar). In terms of English translations, only GaoGaiGar has seen an official release (with the first half also having an absolutely exquisite dub), but FighbirdJ-Decker, & GaoGaiGar FINAL have also been completely fansubbed, & there's a varying number of episodes subbed for all of the other entries, except for the Dagwon OVA. The chances of the other entries being given official DVD releases is slim to none, so having them all be on Daisuki eventually would be a great way to see what else this series offered. Also, since Media Blasters is so hesitant on doing GaoGaiGar FINAL, Daisuki might be the only chance we have at getting that with an official translation...

I might as well save the most obvious for last, right? Yeah, Sunrise is the home of Gundam, & Daisuki can be that series' new streaming home. Now, I am ignoring entries like Gundam AGE (regardless of its quality) or MS igLoo (which is expensive to buy now), because these four entries have some faint history with North America. You see, years ago Bandai Entertainment made a promise: They promised that they would, eventually, get all of the entries that predated Gundam SEED out for North American release. It was slow, but Bandai tended to keep that promise with releases of the original Gundam, Zeta, Wing, G, 0080, 0083, F91, etc., & eventually Bandai announced that they would be doing Turn-A Gundam. Due to weakening sales for the brand the release was going to be sub-only, but in return Bandai actually got a brand-new interview with Syd Mead, the designer of the eponymous mech...

And then Bandai Entertainment was shut down, killing Turn-A's release as well as the potential of any other older Gundam series.

But with Daisuki, these shows have a chance at a possible life with official English subtitles. Sure, the fandom is split on Gundam ZZ, but it still remains a one-of-a-kind entry in the franchise with it's more comical & light-hearted style. On the other hand, Victory Gundam was creator Yoshiyuki Tomino at his most depressed & angry, resulting in one of the most violent entries in terms of kill count. After War Gundam X is the sole Alternate Universe/AU series to remain unreleased in North America, plus was the first canceled Gundam series since the original, & because of that remains one of the more underlooked & underappreciated, which is a shame because it was also one of the most original & interesting entries. Finally, Turn-A Gundam was Tomino's return to the franchise he created, & with it was a happier vision than Victory that even attempted to (vaguely) tie in every series that preceded it; whether or not it succeeds is up to the viewer. Even if these four aren't exactly the most celebrated entries in the franchise they deserve to be given their chance to shine.

[7/2013 ADDENDUM: I wasn't expecting to give this an update, but shortly after this post went up Daisuki announced that Gundam ZZ will in fact be available on the site in the near future!]
That brings an end to this look at what Sunrise could potentially offer for Daisuki. Honestly, there's so much this company can offer that mentioning any more would take too long; just go here & choose for yourself what you hope gets on the site. In terms of the line-up of companies involved with Daisuki, this marks the end of the actual animation studios involved, but we're only just past the half-way point in this multi-part look! Up next is Aniplex, who is no stranger to the modern anime fan... But hidden inside their vault is a few titles worthy of mention.


  1. There's one Sunrise production hardly anyone talks about, and was one of their earliest too that saw international distribution across the planet.

  2. Between Daisuki's survey, /m/ Subs using the Italian dub as a base, and Alpha Numbers potentially taking a stab at it themselves, all bases are potentially covered for Dragonar, so I wouldn't worry about it too much. ;-)

    Of course, I voted the heck out of the Eldoran Series and the Brave entries that weren't properly subbed yet (even Da Garn, since Kou hasn't gotten around to posting her last scripts yet).

    As for Gulkeeva, from what I hear, the story in the anime is sadly unfinished...

    - KudosForce

    1. Oh, and by the way, you've done a little goof-up; The image promo for Exkaiser isn't there, it's a duplicate of the one for the Dagwon OVA.

      - KudosForce