I’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 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.
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.
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.
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!
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.