Beyblade Spins Again, But This Time Without Nelvana
Repackaging an already proven idea for a new generation can be a safe bet. Takara Tomy proved that by relaunching Beyblade in 2008 after a four year hiatus. Now they’re set to do that again, but for the first time ever, it looks like Toronto-based Nelvana won’t be at the helm of its western expansion.
The third generation of Beyblade, titled Beyblade Burst, begins next month in Japan through a manga series, with the tops to follow in July and a new anime set for sometime after. The big gimmick for this line is that the tops explode during battle. There’s also connectivity with smartphones in the way of the BeyLogger, which allows players to track victories and see real-time rankings.
While the two and a half year gap between the end of the prior reboot and the start of Beyblade Burst seems a bit soon, it’s the news of the anime’s western distribution plans that caught my eye. According to a report by Kidscreen, the anime adaptation of the spinning top toyline will now be handled by Sunrights. The New York-based company is owned by Asatsu DK (ADK), who with Mitsubishi own d-rights – the Japanese company responsible for all Beyblade animation. Sunrights previously looked over the western launch of B-Daman Crossfire and its sequel series.
The shift to Sunrights is surprising due to Nelvana’s history with the brand. The company had handled Beyblade in the west since 2002, when they initially licensed the property. Their relationship with the series only seemed to grow, as Nelvana then co-produced the Metal Fight Beyblade reboot anime. In fact, just two years ago they announced additional western-oriented Beyblade spinoffs. Now they’re no longer involved in a brand that they’ve helped gross US$3.65 billion at retail.
Perhaps related to the above: that last Nelvana Beyblade spinoff is MIA in the west. While Beywarriors Cyborg just recently saw a streaming release in Japan, no word has been issued about a North American launch. Nelvana doesn’t list it on their site and toy partner Hasbro has been equally as silent. At first I thought Teletoon was running Beyblade Metal Masters as a placeholder for Cyborg, but now who knows.
Today’s announcement leaves me with more questions than answers. It’ll be interesting to see how Beyblade Burst plays out.