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.
Macross Plus – Darius Washington
I was originally going to write about the Macross Do You Remember Love movie, which hasn’t been released on DVD in the U.S. but did get VHS releases (both uncut and horribly edited under the name Clash of the Bionoids) by Celebrity Home Films. It’s since had Blu-ray releases in Japan (remastered and both censored and uncensored for violence and nudity), but under the rules of this piece, I’ll move to a different entry from the franchise, Macross Plus. This is one that many consider one of if not the best releases in both Japan and the U.S. Manga Entertainment brought this excellently animated tale directed by Shoji Kawamori of two fighter pilots competing for their respective companies’ contracts, as well as their old friend Myung’s heart. However, the development of an insane music A.I. named Sharon Apple threatens them all as well as many people on Earth eventually. The fight sequences were astounding and the music of Yoko Kanno, Gabriela Robin, Melodie Sexton and Akino Arai was first rate. However, due to music rights tied up in the legal battles plaguing the rights of the Macross franchise in the U.S., there were several changes for the English dub that made the BGM a bit weaker and delayed the 4th volume’s initial release. Nevertheless, the entire series has received an excellent HD remaster in Japan that really needs to be seen in the U.S. Hopefully this will be the case someday.
For such a beloved series, there is perhaps no title that has been as mistreated as Monster. Despite producing an excellent dub of the complete series for broadcast on Syfy of all places, Viz only ever released one-fifth of it on one DVD set back when they would drop series left and right. For some time, it was at least available for streaming on Hulu, but even that didn’t last long before being reduced to those same fifteen episodes, and for many years now, there has been zero availability for the series in English without importing the Australian release. As fans continue to pester North American companies for some hope of acquisition over the years, the responses always indicate that no such hope will surface anytime soon. Even if someone in North America was finally able to give it a proper home, it appears to lack a Japanese Blu-ray, so the chances of a full release on Blu-ray in the US are tragically low.
Back when there weren’t a lot of anime releases to actually buy the choices were slim. There were a bunch of dubbed movies that filled the sex and violence side. You had a couple of video game oriented pieces and you (already) had re-releases of certain shows that saw TV broadcasts here that you could pick up. It was closing in on point where I was getting ready to move away from anime because as appealing as the films were, if that’s all anime was then it was going to get boring. When AnimEigo brought out Urusei Yatsura, I got to check out a TV series that was unlike anything else brought over. TV shows were few and far between at this point and with the liner notes, ever expanding cast, and so much cultural material, it was just an amazing show that helped me understand the culture a lot more in addition to laughing a whole lot. Enough so that I shelled out the big bucks for that big laserdisc set. Sadly, this series has long fallen out of print and has been unavailable, leaving me very frustrated because it’s a cornerstone of the greater anime world. Thankfully, it got a Japanese Blu-ray release in the last couple of years that has me hopeful that we’ll see some sort of pickup since there are some fantastic translations already produced for it. Rumiko Takahashi has a lot of properties that are far more popular to be sure, but Urusei Yatsura is the one that holds a special place for many and was such a big mainstream hit in Japan that it’s one that I think really deserves a proper treatment here.