5 Series We’re Surprised Aren’t Licensed

hisuiconI’m not going to lie to you. This post is mostly an easy post we are doing to recover from the madness and non stop posts that came from our Otakon 2010 coverage. But just because it is easy post doesn’t mean it can’t be entertaining. These are all series that we feel have the ability to do really well if they were licensed and translated into English but for one reason or another have not been picked up for the U.S. There might be licensing issues behinds the scenes, the price might be insanely high, there might be a bidding war going on, or dozens of other reasons that are keeping these shows from being picked up. But the #1 cure to such problems is enough customer demand. So what do you think? Are we being delusional about the series we picked? Did we leave anything out that you think is a sure fire success?

Honestly, I find it fun to speculate what would make a good license and why going beyond my own personal desire for a series. There are about a million shows and books that I’d like to own for myself in English but a lot of that is wishful thinking (Legend of the Galactic Heroes will surely be picked up, right? RIGHT?) but with this post it is more about a business stand point or atleast the thinking that these series would do well enough to earn a little bit for the companies releasing them. That being said, I don’t work in the anime and manga business and I only have a vague knowledge of certain aspects of it.

Vinland Saga

Vinland Saga has the highbrow appeal of historical drama, like something you’d see on PBS, and the lowbrow appeal of over the top medieval combat on par with parts of Berserk. It’s not uncommon to have scenes of political backstabbing bookended by well-choreographed bloodshed on the battlefield. Which is to say that is why this series rocks. Written by Makoto Yukimura of Planetes fame insures rich characters and meticulous research but unlike Planetes you can sell it to a broader audience. It is that perfect blend of shonen and seinen that has had success with manga and comic fans in the the U.S. Perhaps if it had an anime adaption it would be a more appealing property but as it stands on its own quite nicely Dark Horse seems like the perfect company for this title.

Yankee-kun to Megane-chan

We stumbled upon Yankee-kun to Megane-chan purely by name alone. Which seems odd because Miki Yoshikawa was a well known assistant of Hiro Mashima and frankly the series is hysterical, why aren’t more people talking about it? Miki Yoshikawa has comedic timing and wonderful exaggerated character reactions infused in an energetic romantic comedy. Daichi Shinagawa and Hana Adachi have great chemistry and the supporting cast provide great comedic interaction. The plot pacing is energetic and you never feel like the characters are trapped in an endless loop until the manga is canceled. This has the appeal of School Rumble and similarly if it had a anime it surely would have been licensed long ago.

Liar Game

After Death Note ended in the U.S. is seemed like a no-brainer for VIZ to license Liar Game meeting the demand of all the fans who wanted more physiological battles of wits. This manga screams out to be read by people who want to know what to read next after Death Note. It has all the suspense and intellectual cat and mouse but none of the supernatural twists. Plus its main characters are much more likable than Light. Nao Kanzaki is a female character who grows considerably as the series progresses becoming an equal partner to Shinichi Akiyama in the deadly game. The live action drama of Liar Game is huge in Japan so popular in fact maybe that’s the reason the series hasn’t hit U.S. shores.

Pretty Cure

One of the most successful franchises in Japan for Toei right alongside monsters like Dragonball and One Piece is Pretty Cure and its many iterations. It blends the girl friendly narrative of Sailor Moon with the fight choreography of Dragonball without going into the pervert territory of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha. Nagisa Misumi and Honoka Yukishiro feel both fresh and familiar at the same time, in fact the whole series manages to do an old genre justice. If it could be fortunate enough to get a dub and be on TV it has an chance of being the next Sailor Moon and all the merchandise that would come along with it. And if the original seems too dated, someone could pick up any of the other series including the currently running Heartcatch Precur! At one point 4Kids had the license and it ran in Canada, bring it to the states!

Kara no Kyoukai (Garden of Sinners)

Despite the bias of certain people on this blog, who shall remain nameless, there is a strong potential for a U.S. release of Kara no Kyoukai. With a mixture of action and philosophy that casual U.S. audiences tend to eat up plus its dark, claustrophobic, noir storytelling, and a minimum of one spectacular fight scene per movie this series seems like a shoe in. It has the shortness of a 7-episode OVA but the animation quality and budget of 7 movies. While the first movie ties into the overall story it can easily be licensed as a stand alone title to test the waters. Aniplex is obviously trying to sell it in the U.S. so it might be more a matter of when not if it gets licensed.

18 thoughts on “5 Series We’re Surprised Aren’t Licensed

  1. Elliot Page says:

    While I am nowhere near an expert on such matters, I would bet that Pretty Cure is not more widely distributed due to the sheer size and popularity of the franchise. Given how much of a success it is, especially with the mountains of tie in merch, i am willing to bet that the licence would cost a pretty penny. Also, add in the fact that the fights are highly physical and have less of an emphasis on more TV and Rating board friendly non-contact magical attacks and you end up with an expensive item with the risk it won’t make it onto TV. But perhaps I am overestimating that point.
    Either way. Pretty Cure Needs to be on TV to capture one of it’s core markets, and unless it was a dead cert I can’t see anyone picking it up.
    But of course, I am more than happy to be prooved wrong in this case.

  2. Shay Guy says:

    I’m still surprised the manga of Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple hasn’t been licensed. The scanslations are among the most popular in that circuit, Funimation’s said the anime was one of their biggest surprise hits, and it’s not exactly a niche sort of series.

    • reversethieves says:

      I am 100% certain Daryl Surat would agree with you on that fact. I don’t think either Narutaki or I have watched or read Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple so it did not go on the list. But it does seem odd that no one has picked up the manga.

      – Hisui

      • Lothos says:

        I’ve read up to the current chapters of Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple and fully agree that the manga would be a sure sell in the US.

        The various Grappler Baki manga I’m always surprised never got licensed. Unless you want to count the very short serialization in Raijin Comics, I think they got through maybe the first 3 volumes of the series (which has…maybe 100 total volumes over all the series?). I think it’d be a nice seller in the 16+ crowd.

        A manga I’d like to see licensed, but only think would have modest success would be Shamo. Definitely a series I’d consider to be the thinking man’s fighting series. Obviously aimed at an older audience. Really it’s more like a dramatic character study of a sociopath and his ups and downs with a lot of fights interspersed.

      • reversethieves says:

        I think the problem with Grappler Baki and Shamo is the art style. I would assume the casual manga fan would take one look at the covers and pass it over. No matter what most casual manga fans say about wanting something different most of the time they want what they are already reading with a minor twist of freshness. Anything far outside of that is rejected. If Dark Horse go them they might be able to market it with their ties to comic book stores. But considering the manga magazines they come from those might be very hard to impossible titles for Dark Horse to pick up.

        – Hisui

      • Patz says:

        I think the problem with Kenichi is that it is around 38 volumes long now and shogakukan so the only company that could release it is viz. I would freaking love to get my hands on it but I am pretty much losing hope for that one.

      • reversethieves says:

        If the manga market was healthier I would disagree with you. But still of all the titles I think that Kenichi has enough of what people like that it has a good shot. Just not the best shot.

        – Hisui

  3. lvlln says:

    Aniplex showed an official English subbed version of Kara no Kyoukai movie 5 at last year’s Anime Boston. Surely it’ll get a US release. Would be especially nice if it coincided with the light novel translations.

    • reversethieves says:

      I am just more surprised that it has not been picked up as of yet. I guess the price tag on 7 movies might be a bit too much for a casual license in these hard economic times. I do wonder if Aniplex is just trying to sell all 7 at once as opposed to one at a time.

      – Hisui

  4. JELEINEN says:

    I think Vinland Saga will get licensed once it ends or just before it ends. As of right now, whoever licensed it would get a couple of years of releases at a volume every 2 – 3 months before they caught up to the Japanese, then they’d slow to once a year or so because VS is a monthly. It’s the same problem Dark Horse has run into with Berserk.

    • reversethieves says:

      If this was back in the manga boom days it would have been picked up already. Sadly this is not the case anymore. Still I hope the strength of the writing and action gets Vinland Saga picked up anyway.

      – Hisui

    • reversethieves says:

      It was in my longer list of suggested titles. So we can blame Narutaki for it not being on the list.

      But it is a good choice as well.

      It’s funny. I never watched the fansubs past the first episode because I was so sure it would be licensed I figured I would just watch it when it came out in the US like I did with Slayers Revolution.

      The joke was on me I guess.

      – Hisui

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