BakuTech! Bakugan likely won’t be brawling outside of Japan, but Beyblade Zero-G probably will
BakuTech! Bakugan premiered this past weekend in Japan on TV Tokyo. It’s the newest series in the long running franchise. This particular entry is based on a manga series from CoroCoro Comic, which stars Harubaru … and his rival Raichi? I honestly don’t know what it’s about. There isn’t an English plot synopsis anywhere on the net, and I don’t understand Japanese. The first episode, Critical K.O. sees Harubaru and his Flare Dragaon (yes, that is how it is spelled) save a kid named Tatsuma from getting hit by a car. Now with a soon to be sidekick at hand Harubaru confronts his rival Raichi in an epic Bakugan battle. It’s the most down to Earth Bakugan series as it doesn’t feature galatic battles and the usual Vestroia links. But there’s a problem with this. BakuTech! Bakugan is a 5 minute CG series. Yes, you read that right.
You see, BakuTech! Bakugan premiered as part of Ohacoro Up! a fifteen minute series that airs TV adaptations of Hyper Yo-Yo, A Penguin’s Troubles, and Keshikasu-kun. Yes, that’s 4 shows airing in 15 minutes all of which have CoroCoro Comic companions. Duel Masters used to also occupy a space in this, but with this year’s Duel Masters Victory V the show now has its own separately branded 15 minute run time. Together Victory V, and Ohacoro Up! (with its 4 shows) fill the 8:30AM Saturday morning slot on TV Tokyo.
That explains the run time for BakuTech! Bakugan, but what about the CG part? Well, BakuTech! Bakugan is produced by ShoPro. ShoPro also produces Duel Masters, and for the last half of a decade rather than creating traditionally animated Duel Masters series, ShoPro has been producing really stiffly animated CG atrocities. Victory V still suffers from this, and actually every show outside of Hyper Yo-Yo (which is live action) in Ohacoro Up! (every show in Ohacoro is produced by ShoPro) is CG. In fact, the current Hamtaro show (yes, Hamtaro still exists in Japan) is also in CG. It’s produced by ShoPro too, and all these shows have the same low quality CG look.
You’ve obviously read the headline if you’ve gotten this far and are bound to ask why this makes BakuTech! Bakugan so unlikely for localization. Well, you see none of ShoPro’s CG shows have ever left Japan. The way these shows are animated (and handled by TV Tokyo with their show pages being the most barren of the Spring season) screams low budget, and if a franchise like Bakugan is getting a low budget production than it’s likely they don’t have international backers. This is where I mention the older 22 minute flat animated Bakugan series. Bakugan Battle Brawlers, and its subsequent 3 sequel seasons were all co-productions between SEGA Toys, Spin Masters, TMS Entertainment, Japan-Vistec, and Nelvana. The last of which brought Bakugan programming outside of Asia. ShoPro was never a part of the traditionally animated series, and interestingly, none of those companies outside of SEGA Toys and Spin Masters (who co-invented the brand) are involved with BakuTech. No Nelvana means no international release unless someone else picks up the slack.
Anyways, ShoPro is the production arm of Shogakukan, a huge media publisher in Japan. The same media publisher who owns CoroCoro Comic, the same magazine where all the Ohacoro Up! shows have links to. ShoPro is animating an advertisement for their magazine which is in turn an advertisement for the products associated to these franchises. They’ve even been nice enough to release a chapter the anime is based off of on their website. It’s obviously in Japanese.
I suppose BakuTech being CG isn’t what solely seals the deal. With a run time of about 5-6 minutes BakuTech! Bakugan is way too short to be broadcast in western markets. You’d have to edit 4 six minute episodes to get a standard western TV show length, and assuming BakuTech lasts 52 episodes, that leaves you with a tiny 13 episode order. That just isn’t going to work. If BakuTech were to come out in North America, it wouldn’t be on TV but as a web series or something. Given Bakugan was missing in action from Spin Masters at New York Toyfair I get the suspicion they’re done with the brand. Nelvana, who was the one to announce all of the new 2D Bakugan animation, has also stopped talking about the franchise, and will not promote BakuTech at MIPCOM, the largest TV trade show.
BakuTech’s situation is an interesting one. Originally Bakugan failed in Japan, but international success led to the creation of Bakugan: New Vestroia. That series first aired in Canada, and the US, and took more than a year before airing in Japan. The success in the west led to another two sequel seasons, Gundalian Invaders, and Mechtanium Surge. Mechtanium Surge, which is the final season in the non-BakuTech Bakugan world concluded in North America earlier this year. Gundalian Invaders concluded in Japan earlier this year as well, but instead of going onwards to Mechtanium Surge, BakuTech came along. I think the ratings for the western intended series weren’t good enough for those involved to buy a 22 minute slot on Japanese TV, so they produced a cheaper, shorter series so that Bakugan still had some presence on Japanese TV.
Now onto Beyblade, Metal Fight Beyblade Zero-G also premiered this past Sunday on TV Tokyo in Japan. The series stars Zero Kurogane, and after being given a special Beyblade by the legendary Ginga Hagane he vows to become the best Beyblader in the world. The series is still sharing a timeslot with Cross Fight B-Daman, so the run time is still 11-12 minutes, but Nelvana staff is listed in the credits. Musical production for Zero-G is given to Neil Parfitt, and Scott Bucsis. The duo have produced the music for every one of the Beyblade revival’s seasons, and likely ensure an international release. Unfortunately, Nelvana staff didn’t compose Zero-G’s opening song, which makes me fear they’ll change any references in their current dub opening from Metal Fusion/Metal Masters/Metal Fury to Zero-G, which can fit the word length.
Unofficial Sentai Akibaranger also premiered, but that never stood a chance of coming over here.