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.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Twelve Anime I Would License (Or How to Kill an Anime Licensor in 12 Steps or Less) Part 1

Like many anime fans, I am passionate about the medium as well as the business itself, especially when it comes to North America, which is where I live. I love seeing new license announcements, and I especially love seeing the "underdog", i.e. license announcements you would not expect. For example, though I felt that Shigurui might get licensed one day, I was in no way ever thinking that FUNimation would license it, let alone it being a good seller for the company. At the same time I would have never expected something like Lupin the 3rd's First Season to ever get licensed, yet Discotek will be releasing it this upcoming Spring. Naturally, seeing the more "mainstream" titles licensed can also get me interested or even excited, but let's be honest: Those titles are more than likely the ones that companies are more-willing to potentially fight over licensing. If I was to run my own anime licensing company, I would prefer to go for those titles that aren't looked at as often, much like how this blog is about anime that is obscure... And, admittedly, I would probably kill my company with the titles I would choose. But let's be honest: Anime licensing is not a one-man decision, as companies have entire divisions where multiple people gather together and pick titles that seem like they are worth licensing and releasing here in North America. With the year 2011 ending, let's have some fun and take a look at twelve anime that I would license if had my own anime licensing company. Admittedly, I will try to take this seriously and not just turn this into a "Most Wanted" list, so don't go expecting something like Legend of the Galactic Heroes... Though that getting licensed would most-definitely be awesomely amazing.

[2017 ADDENDUM: Yeah, Legend of the Galactic Heroes eventually got licensed... Good thing I didn't include it, right?]

Kochikame The Movie & Kochikame The Movie 2: UFO Shuurai!  Tornado Daisakusen!!
I recently reviewed the first Kochikame movie, which was a great mix of seriousness and comedy as well as being a great starting point for newcomers to the still-running manga about police officer Kankichi Ryotsu and his many misadventures. Though I haven't seen the second movie, it looks to have an interesting idea behind it, with Ryo-san and everyone encountering (maybe) aliens. Considering that Toho was the distributor for both of the movies, I think that they would make a great way to bring Kochikame to North America for this very first time. They would also be the only time the series would come over, as not even I would think about bringing over the TV series, which totaled close to 400 episodes when it ended in late-2004. Maybe if the movies were to do well enough I would think about doing a "Selections of Kochikame TV", just like how the Japanese DVDs are handled. The first movie was even officially subtitled in English, removing the translation costs for one of the movies, which is always welcome. Would I dub these movies? Probably not. Even though they add up to a total run time of about 200 minutes, dubbing isn't cheap, and these movies might still be too risky to dub in the end. See? I'm being conservative here. Anyway, I think Kochikame deserves at least one release in North America, and a double-pack of the two movies would be the best way to do so.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Nakoruru ~Ano Hito Kara no Okurimono~: SamSho by a Hentai Director & Yasuomi Umestu

When it comes to SNK's many, many franchises the largest and most well-known is easily the King of Fighters series, but right behind that is the Samurai Shodown series, known as Samurai Spirits in Japan. Even when the first game debuted back in 1993 it's focus on slow-paced, weapon-focused combat made it different and memorable to fans of fighting games. SamSho, as it's called by its fans, has many memorable characters but it's two most identifiable characters are easily the crazy-haired ronin Haohmaru and the cute miko Nakoruru. While Haohmaru is a loved character, Nakoruru has been given some titles all to herself, one of which was the 2002 PC & Dreamcast visual novel Nakoruru ~Ano Hito Kara no Okurimono~/~The Gift From That Person~. Along with the visual novel came an OVA production that I actually talked a little about back during my non-review of the Xevious movie, specifically how distributor Groove Corporation's supposed runaway CEO/producer/etc. screwed over the company's titles, including Nakoruru. Effectively, this is an unfinished OVA production that obviously ends on a cliffhanger, but aside from that was this OVA even worth it in the first place?

Nakoruru is returning home from a hard-fought battle in a foreign land. Since she's walking in a snowstorm I'm going to guess that she's returning from the battle with Zankuro Minazuki and Shiro Tokisada Amakusa from Samurai Shodown IV, which took place during the winter. She's badly injured and falls down before being rescued by her childhood friends Manari and Yantamuu, who bring her back to her home village of Kamui Kotan. While recovering from her injuries Nakoruru sees that there are changes happening in her village: Yantamuu wants Nakoruru to stop being a miko and to leave fighting up to him, which she's heavily considering, Manari reveals that she might have feelings for Yantamuu that go beyond friendship, and Nakoruru herself is seeing visions of a mysterious girl who wants Nakoruru to stop being so fragile and realize that violence is a necessary method to protect people. While Nakoruru is dealing with these situations, the neighboring village has been decimated by a plague and the only survivor is a mysteriously calm woman named Mizuki...

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Kochikame the Movie: Ryo-san, You're the Bomb!

As big as anime fandom can get here in North America, the fanbase still seems to generally ignore certain titles. These certain titles are the mega-hits that have become as big of a part of Japan's culture as titles like The Simpsons, M*A*S*H*, and even 60 Minutes are over here. Titles like Doraemon, Sazae-san, & Chibi Maruko-chan are rarely, if ever fansubbed, let alone streamed, and that's simply because these titles aren't exactly the kinds of anime that these people are all too excited to watch. Generally, these anime fans like stuff that isn't episodic and look to eventually have an ending that makes watching all of a show feel like a journey that has reached an end rather than simply feel like an accomplishment. This also applies to manga as well, which is why a title like Golgo 13, which debuted in 1968, is over 160 volumes long and still going, hasn't been scanlated and Viz's release of the manga was a 13-volume "Best of" release (the same can be said of food manga Oishinbo). This also mainly applies to Golgo's long-running compatriot, Kochikame.

Kochikame, which is the short for Kochira Katsushika-ku Kamearikouen-mae Hashutsujo/This is the Police Station in Front of Kameari Park in Katsushika Ward, debuted in the pages of Weekly Shonen Jump back in late-1976 and is still running in the magazine to this day. While Takao Saito has probably taken breaks from Golgo 13 during it's 43-year ongoing run, Osamu Akimoto is known for being one of the most punctual manga-ka in the industry, which probably helps explain why Kochikame is currently at 177 volumes in less time than Golgo, and that's not even including the many manga Akimoto has done on the side. People both young and old have been reading Kochikame for the past 35 years, taking delight at the misadventures of police officer Kankichi Ryotsu (Ryo-san to his readers) and his many, many get-rich-quick schemes that always fail, with the occasional police work actually being done. This open-ended plotline and enjoyable characters combined with the manga's habit of poking fun at the many fads and celebrities that Japan has had in the past 35 years is the reason why Kochikame has been often called "Japan's Equivalent of The Simpsons", even though Kochikame came first by around a decade.

In 1996, the 20th Anniversary of the manga's debut, Studio Gallop and Fuji TV debuted the TV anime adaptation of the manga, which was the very first long-term adaptation of the manga and lasted until late 2004, totaling 367 episodes; in 1985, Tatsunoko made a special that has since gone into obscurity due to it never getting a widespread physical release. Three years later, in 1999, Kochikame got its animated theatrical debut, simply titled Kochikame The Movie. When the DVD release came out the movie was given English subtitles as an attempt to reach out to foreign fans, but is this movie a good start for newcomers to the franchise? Hell, is it even a good movie at all?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Gundoh Musashi: The Anime Equivalent of The Room

During my college years I had to take two semesters of physics. For both semesters I had the same professor, and though he was a good teacher the thing I remember most about him was that the next class after taking an exam my physics professor would "torture" himself as payback for torturing his students with an exam. Granted, he knew what he was doing, but he still did some crazy things, like laying on a bed of nails, complete with having one of his students put a large cinder block on his chest, or even putting liquid nitrogen into his mouth before immediately spitting it out, and he would come out of it perfectly fine. Why do I bring this up? Well, after one year of doing this blog and reviewing 49 titles, I felt that review #50 should be something special... Something known to be absolutely horrible, yet never really given a review that covers the entire show with a complete lack of bias... Something that I had put on my future reviews list from the very beginning but was afraid to actually watch all of. And, trust me, it's tough not go into straight-up bashing when it comes to this show.

This is actually a letterboxed image from the DVD... 

This anime has many variations of its title: Gundoh/Way of the Gun Musashi (which is the name I use), Gun-doh Musashi, Musashi Gundoh, or, just simply, Musashi. This is truly one of those anime that come up once in a red moon (yes, a red moon), and shows anime fans just how bad something can be. M.D. Geist? That's simply the anime equivalent to the violent action movies Hollywood loved making back in the 80s. Apocalypse Zero? That's simply a homage/semi-parody of tokusatsu and shows just how violent having power suits can really be. Sure, people are quick to put titles like those on lists of absolute worst anime of all time, but more often than not that's simply because the people making those lists simply aren't into that kind of material, i.e. it's a matter of personal taste/subjectivity and not really an objective decision. Now, yes, reviews in an of themselves are subjective, and that's the point of reviews, but saying that stuff like Geist and Apocalypse Zero are the worst anime ever is really just parroting an exaggerated view. Now titles like Garzey's WingPanzer Dragoon, which feature problems that involve the actual production itself, are undeniably bad. Sure, some people might like them in a "So Bad it's Good" way, but that doesn't mean that titles like those are good by any means because their problems go into the actual production aspect and aren't simply a problem with the content. And Gundoh Musashi fits into the latter category... In fact, from a production standpoint it's probably the worst anime ever, and even though there are glimpses of a good show while you watch it, the negatives just overpower everything and make this an absolute joke to watch.

The Land of Obscusion Turns One Year Old Today!

Exactly one year ago, December 1, 2010, I did something that I had thought about doing for a while: Start up a blog. Though I had already done a mini-blog over at the AnimeonDVD forums over at, not to mention the multitude of videos I had done on YouTube (go back to my very first post to check that out), those two didn't exactly have a central focus based around anime. The AoD blog did involve anime but it wasn't a central focus, and the YouTube videos were more about game reviews, with anime being a secondary focus. I wanted to create something with the focus being on anime that seemed to be forgotten, ignored, or simply unknown. That idea ended up becoming the blog you are at right now:

The Land of Obscusion: The Home of Obscure Anime (and a really bad pormanteau of the word "obscure" and the Genesis song "The Land of Confusion")

Why create a blog about obscure anime? Well, you can easily find a multitude of blogs where people simply talks about the new shows that air each season, but even those blogs tend to simply mention the smaller-name titles but then focus on the anime that they're watching, and because of that there's a lot of overlap. But considering how long anime has been around, there's a wealth of anime that has been seemingly lost to the annals of time, not to mention new shows that just don't get any sort of coverage. Are all of these shows must-watch diamonds that have somehow been lost? Probably not, admittedly, but at the same time there are plenty of titles that are still worth checking out, and it's very easy to forget about them as time goes on. I do love watching anime that are big-name and have tons of coverage & popularity, but at the same time I enjoy digging around and finding titles that aren't known that well. It's like digging for precious metals, where you go through a ton of dirt, finding some stuff that's worth small change but taken together can still be worth something, until you finally find that valuable material that's been hidden for who knows how long.

And that's the focus of The Land of Obscusion: To simply give these obscure, forgotten, or underappreciated anime a chance to shine, even if it's from an extremely small-name blog that can only give them a small glitter to shine with. Even a small glitter is better than darkness. And if it's not an anime, then at least be assured that it's related to anime in some fashion.