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.
Area 88 – Darius Washington
This was one of the great 80s anime focused on aerial combat. It’s gone through a couple decent releases, first from Central Park Media on VHS, and then in part on DVD, eventually getting decent life on DVD by ADV Films in conjunction with the 2000s TV show. It had a diverse depiction of fighter planes from different corporations and had a pretty heart-wrenching plot. Poor Shin Kazama is tricked out of his life as an airline pilot trainee by his childhood best friend Kanzaki and sent to an all-mercenary air force in North Africa, where the latter hopes for Shin’s death. Since each mission earns him money and a chance to buy himself out of the contract, Shin flies out as often as he can, which winds up changing him over time. As many 80s titles have benefitted from the restoration processes HD offers, it’d be excellent to see these shadowed and detailed depictions of aerial warfare remastered for modern viewers.
To be fair, Discotek would probably release a Blu-ray of Great Teacher Onizuka if they had the materials, unless their DVD release did especially poorly. Alas, this is more of a request for the Japanese side, as there has been no sign of Blu-ray treatment for the series as far as I can tell. With new manga from the original creator and new live-action adaptations still coming out of Japan frequently, it’s a wonder that there hasn’t been any attempt to remaster the sole anime version. As great as it is, it doesn’t hold up too well visually these days, at least based on the masters that Discotek must’ve gotten from the corpse of Tokyopop’s anime ventures.
With the focus on the feature films for the last few years that have kept this property out of the loop, we’re still very hopeful that we’ll see this property some day. And not just the TV but also the feature films that were produced not long after the series aired. Neon Genesis Evangelion was one of those crazy evergreen titles that just boggled people that it was still selling after so many years. I remember working the ADV Films booth not long before the company went under and at big conventions you would still move a ton of copies in all its form, from standard box sets to thinpak sets to the special tins that were made. While the series is definitely showing its age, and there were so many versions presented over the years – sometimes with unnatural fixes to help with the jitter – getting a Blu-ray release even of it in standard definition but with better encoding tools would be great to finally have. There’s a whole generation or more of fans that have never seen the show for sale through normal outlets anymore and only know the films – which as good as they are isn’t the whole story.
Last Exile (not Fam The Utterly Forgettable Follow Up), the original 2003 anime about humans living on an alien planet using imaginary technology that allows them to fly high in the sky (based on some kind of antigravity magic substance), is an exciting young persons’ adventure, something you might have seen in print during the 19th Century, which is also the kind of world that Range Murata imagined for these people. It is large scale epic done well, with striking visuals (Gonzo occasionally did something right now and then) and a fitting score. While originally released by Pioneer/Geneon back in the days of singles (and the singles show the name change in progress), it has fortunately been kept in print by FUNimation in a complete DVD set from 2011. But that’s not good enough. We’re firmly in the age of Blu-ray and it’s high time that this show, which at least was animated in 16:9 aspect ratio during a time when that was not a given, gets the Blu-ray treatment. That the mediocre (at best; I couldn’t finish it) sequel series is on BD while the original is not is an injustice that needs immediate rectifying.
This is a series of OAVs that’s been very close to me as it’s the first untranslated anime I saw at a convention back in ‘88. There have been 3 trilogies along the same storyline as well as a reboot that was produced in the 90s. The initial story depicts a race of humanoid women known as the Solonoids fighting an increasingly destructive war against the Paranoids, a liquid-like race that use reptilian and sometimes crab-like exoskeletons to move around.The results of the first trilogy lead to the birth of the human race on Earth, who wind up dealing with developing creatures in their own war from then on. The first 3 trilogies (Eternal Story w/ sequels, Earth Chapter, and New Era) used character designs by Kenichi Sonoda (Bubblegum Crisis, Riding Bean) and lent to implied ideas of reincarnation among all the global and galactic warfare taking place. The visuals look a bit dated from the VHS / laserdisc era and could use some touching up with extra clarity and saturation for modern HD times. Also, it’d just be nice to have more hard-hitting sci-fi on the anime shelves.