There’s always a lot of anime to be dealt with each season with so many new shows and things to get excited about that are getting home video releases. But there are also a whole lot of releases over the years, many from companies that no longer exist in the North American market, that got a DVD release but never got a high definition release. Sometimes there simply were no materials at the time, the licensor didn’t have the Blu-ray format rights, or there were holdbacks while waiting for Japanese remasters to get done. We’ve pooled together some ideas of a few shows we’d like to see (and we’ll have more in the near future as well) as our recommendations of things to try and check out while also serving as a reminder to ourselves and fellow fans of shows that shouldn’t be overlooked.
Berserk – Chris Beveridge
While there was initially a good bit of anticipation over the recent continuation of Berserk, that property got me to go back to the 1997 series and revisit it with my daughter for the first time. This series is one that really hit me in a big way when I first saw it through Media Blasters what feels like a lifetime ago and it even got me to import the then high-quality Japanese DVD box set. The show is one that’s certainly a budget produced one in terms of animation but it has that something special about it that most others don’t. The original manga doesn’t adhere to traditional storytelling that we get from the medium as it’s telling a strong and dark fantasy work with some really specific goals in mind and things it wants to say. The original show has been out of print for quite some time in North America and it’s likely to remain so for a good bit longer since the focus has been on the recent continuation or the theatrical adaptation that was done of what these episodes engage in. It’s one that I know quite plainly, even more so in this revisit I’m doing with the old DVDs, that it’s often little more than a bunch of still scenes. But when that music gets underway, the panning sequences hit, or just the nods to the characters and what they do comes along and knowing their path, all of it leaves me craving a really nice high definition box set to engage with it in a new way.
Sure, a BD release of the 2004 international box office bomb would probably explode in the face of whatever distribution company opted to gamble on picking it up, but I want Imaishi’s sci-fi erotica/prison break/buddy movie – replete with gun-toting infants and dick drills dribbling grease cum – in my face in nothing less than crisp 1080p! The art style is made to look like American comic books from back in the day, and Imaishi was reportedly given free reign to go as nuts as he wanted to. (And, oh boy, did he ever.) In addition to proto-Redline art styles as well as pre-Inferno Cop sight gags and Kill la Kill camerawork, this OVA is 99% action and crass humor and 1% thought … just like this type of anime oughta be. The OVA also got a fantastic English dub and is filled with so many explosions that never reach their full potential due to being withheld from BD. This must be fixed! (Also, please look forward to the defining Oldtaku no Radio episode on this title … coming soon!)
Welcome to my personal pick for The best damn OAV series period. Not even my next couple entries could dissuade me from this opinion. Yasuhiro Imagawa of G Gundam fame brought together excellent homages to classic anime and live action influences for an unexpectedly powerful story with excellent use of modern (at the time) animation techniques and perfectly styled retro designs. Yes I felt a lot had happened before young Daisaku brought his remote commanded Giant Robo to help the Experts of Justice defeat the Magnificent Ten of Lord Big Fire, and probably a lot happened after that, but still I knew a great story had been laid out in front of me with an ending I never saw coming through each of the 7 episodes’ heart-wrenching cliffhangers. It had a decently-regarded English dub produced by Anime Works / Media Blasters, which was released in Japan on HD with a nicely remastered video. So this is one Blu-ray that very much needs to be released in the U.S.
Mushishi Zoku Shou is one of my favorite anime of all time, so to see Aniplex sit on it and refuse to give it any sort of physical release is infuriating. However, at least it is still available on Crunchyroll, in crisp HD. I re-watched the full series recently, and it was rough to go back to Funimation’s old Mushishi DVDs before setting into the quality we’ve come to expect today. With three complete BD-Box releases of the original series available in Japan at this point, this is well within reason to hope for, although considering the series was unsuccessful enough to end up on Funimation’s S.A.V.E. line and for Aniplex to not even attempt to release any of its sequels, perhaps it’s not so likely after all.
I have a soft spot for Happy Lesson. As one of my first non-action anime series to watch, I found Happy Lesson a delight with the hijinx of Chitose with harem antics from machines going crazy to misunderstanding adventures. A harem series that didn’t take itself too seriously, but had a lot of comedy, it’s light-hearted adventure. Currently, it only has DVD and its DVD is not easy to come with, as AD Vision went out of business and no one rescued the licensed. If it did get picked up, Advance and The Final should also come along with it, remastered. If not, then just the original series can do.