Has Nelvana’s Medabots anime license expired?
With the recent news that Amazon Instant Video was headed to PS3 I decided to be a bit nosy and look around the US Amazon website to check out their library of content. I don’t know why I would do that since there isn’t even a Canadian equivalent of that service for me to bemoan about the lack of content on our version. Anyways, one of the Amazon Instant Video titles I remember being slightly salty about not being here at all was Medabots. Medabots was a video game based anime series Nelvana licensed in the early 00s and aired to some success on YTV, and abroad. It was about a bunch of kids in the near future who had robots they could battle with. The show was a lot of fun, and definitely one of the highlights in regards to Toronto dubbed anime. While the first series got a Canada-only VHS, and DVD release (courtesty of Kaboom), alongside a complete U.S. release from ADV, and a partial DVD release from Shout! Factory the second series (known as “Medarot Damashii” in Japan) never received a DVD release here. That’s why Amazon Instant Video interested me. You see, that was the only legal way someone could watch those episodes, though given that’s the terrible part of the series I’m not sure why anyone would want to watch it… Anyways, the news of the PS3 application got me interested in checking to see if it was compatible. Instead of finding out my American buddies could watch the misadventures of Ikki Tenyrou and Coach Mountain, I was greeted with this:
Yeah, the series is no longer available due to licensing issues. Some of you guys might think this is some region-locking stuff. It’s not. Look at another Amazon Instant Video series and you’ll at least be given the purchase options at this stage. Not so with Medabots.
But, okay maybe Nelvana’s deal with Amazon expired? Streaming rights do that some times. Then I noticed something, Nelvana.com no longer lists Medabots as a property. According to the WayBack Machine, the last time Nelvana included it was a property on their website was in 2011, prior to the current site design.
It certainly seems like the robattle is over for Nelvana. It’s a shame too, since Medabots was an incredibly fun show that stood amongst the mon craze of the late 90s, early 00s as a show that wasn’t afraid to poke fun at itself. I’d have loved for it to be a part of Wayback Playback (which hasn’t been updated in ages), but worst of all is that this signifies Nelvana not seeing a future for the property. Medabots turns 15 years this year, and after the release of 2009’s Medabots DS (which wasn’t localized), the franchise has seen a mini-rebirth in Japan.
I guess it would be careless of me to post this story without pointing out that Medabots.com is still a domain owned by Corus (Nelvana’s parent company), and one that they just extended a few months ago. The website is still kind of up, though not in a state where it’s usable. It’s also important to note that Kidsco, an international channel owned partially by Nelvana still has a few local affiliates list it as a show. Though, it needs to be stated that Corus still owns the domain name for their Cardcaptors website, even though it’s clear they no longer have that series, and Kidsco’s website isn’t one that’s heavily updated. The most damning evidence of all would be the fact it has been 11 years to the day that Nelvana licensed Medabots. Licenses rarely last forever.