Archive for the ‘ Editorials ’ Category

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. Continue reading


Top 5 anime series that should’ve aired in Canada but didn’t

I’m not going to lie, it was actually a bit difficult to figure out five series that haven’t aired in Canada, that could make an impact. While there is a lot that didn’t air in Canada, most of it didn’t get picked up because it wasn’t notable, or didn’t catch a following in the US. There are a tonne of series that didn’t get the exposure they deserved because of their venues, which will be the topic of a future list.

Note: Recent series have not been listed as there is still a chance they could pull through, and land a broadcaster up here. If by next year, none land a Canadian broadcaster, a new list will be made.

5. Rurouni Kenshin

Kenshin's got that pretty samurai swag.

The long running samurai epic that captivated audiences in the US was one of the few Media Blasters titles to get a TV run, well, not in Canada that is.

Why didn’t anyone pick this up?

I kind of hinted to this in the description, Media Blasters doesn’t often get series on TV, so I’d imagine trying to do a Canadian TV deal would be difficult (in actuality, none of their licensed series have aired on Canadian TV). The Los Angeles dub may have hurt it (as a good chunk of anime aired in Canada, is dubbed in Canada), I’d imagine Media Blasters inexperience, and edited, but not localized TV version of the show played a bigger role.

4. YuYu Hakusho

"I'll get you Urameshi!!"

Before Funimation had Fullmetal Alchemist, YuYu Hakusho was their other cash cow that helped transfer viewers from Dragon Ball onto something else on [AdultSwim].

Why didn’t anyone pick this up?

At the time, YTV was only airing localized series, and early YuYu Hakusho by Funimation didn’t fit this bill. The Texas dub, and the fact it was indeed picked up by Funimation (a company that rumours shown a falling out with YTV over tape delays on Dragon Ball Z, which culminated in the alternate dubs of later Z/GT/ and DB being aired, finally ending when Bionix aired Fullmetal Alchemist, and Case Closed) really didn’t help. I guess YTV felt content with Knights of the Zodiac as a transfer show…

3. Sgt. Frog

Not Hypno-Toad I'm afraid

Sgt. Frog is an insanely popular gag-manga that was later adapted into an even more popular anime series. The series features humour in the styling of Sponge Bob Square Pants, made it a much easier sell to North American audiences than, say, BoBoBoBoBoBoBo. Canada wasn’t the only country to pass on airing the Frog, as the series has yet to find a mainstream broadcaster in the US, and is in risk of not having an ongoing dub.

Why didn’t anyone pick this up?

Like every other show I’ll list on here, I can’t give you the true reason why these shows didn’t get picked up, I can only give you somewhat educated speculation.

For Frog, the series is long, spanning over 330 episodes, and ongoing, it would’ve been a big commitment for a broadcaster to handle (for a Canadian broadcaster, it would require a lot of commitment, as the show never had a Canadian dub for any sort of incentive), given that they wouldn’t be earning much if anything from the series huge merchandise line, had it proven successful. Given comedic anime’s lack of success in the US, it would’ve been a risky pick up. Secondly, the series was initially licensed by ADV and reportedly pitched incredibly hard to US networks. ADV hasn’t had a property air in Canada, and when their rights to the series were transferred to Funimation, their hard push may have soured the bed with broadcasters with the series. While we don’t know if ADV pushed for the series up here, word may have traveled, shooting down any potential Funimation had with the series. Funimation’s dub also didn’t help the cause. They spiced up the script a bit in order to catch a slightly older audience than what was initially targeted in Japan, that nearly destroys the entire thing the show had going for it.

2. Neon Genesis Evangelion

No one likes Shinji

Neon Genesis Evangelion is one of the few anime series that holds mainstream critical acclaim, and has been a proven cash cow for all the parties involved. But a popular broadcast on [AdultSwim] in the US wasn’t enough to get this emo mecha saga on the air in Canada.

Why didn’t anyone pick this up?

When the series was picked up by [AdultSwim], it was well after a failed edited run on a special edition of Toonami. At the time of the AS broadcast, Bionix, the only real venue for the show at the time, was only a year old, and had a full slate of programming largely at the hands of both Bandai Entertainment, and Viz Media. Neither party had anything to do with Evangelion, the series was actually picked up by ADV, a company who I just previously mentioned never was able to get a show on the air in Canada. ADV’s token Texas dub, and the show’s age probably didn’t help either. Though, some may argue the show’s content made it unlikely to air in Canada.

1. Mobile Suit Gundam 00

The one that got away...

Sunrise’s newest attempt at selling their Gundam franchise to the people of today would sure be guaranteed a broadcast in Canada after the incredibly successful runs of both Gundam SEED, and Gundam SEED Destiny, especially since it has a Canadian dub, right? RIGHT? Wrong. Despite airing in the United States on the SciFi network, Gundam 00 has yet to lift off in the great north, and likely won’t. Setsuna and friends are grounded.

Why didn’t anyone pick this up?

At the time of 00`s premiere in the US, the only network that could air the show, YTV, was in the process of dismantling their older youth animation block, Bionix, by dumping it on Saturday nights. This change occurred as the channel was shifting into fulfilling their Co-View strategy (a broadcast term in which lineups are created that appeal to both children and their families, it gets more eyes on the screen at once, giving the channel more efficient advertising venues than to have a Pampers commercial on at 9PM in a show that targets 14 year olds), after a change in the higher ups at Corus Entertainment`s children`s division. To make matters worse, to get the show on SciFi in the US, Bandai Entertainment had to sell partial rights to the show to Manga Entertainment. Manga Entertainment has never dealt with YTV, and in fact, Manga Entertainment`s parent company, Starz Media, has an exclusive relationship with the Canadian premium television package of Superchannel stations, which meant if it was going to air anywhere, it was going to air on Superchannel, a venue that only a fraction of the country gets. Oddly, as time went by, Gundam 00 is one of the few notable series from Manga`s Ani-Monday block to not get picked up by Superchannel, coupled that with the fact Manga Entertainment`s website and Youtube channel don`t stream Gundam 00 as they did Gurren Lagann lends to the idea that maybe Bandai didn`t sell off Gundam 00 to them. Conspiracy theorists use this, along with the fact that Bandai`s own stream of Gundam 00 was geo-locked against Canada (this has since changed, and the dub is viewable on The Anime Channel’s Youtube Page), as a sign that they did sell, or at least tried to sell Gundam 00 to someone up here. With the series having finished airing in the US more than a year ago, it`s unlikely that any broadcaster who could have the rights would use them now.

Edit: Thanks to Mohji for pointing out that the Gundam 00 Youtube streams were no longer geoblocked.

The Death of the Canadian Dub

Lately the idea of a Canadian voice cast tackling the world of anime hasn’t been all that big. There are a few reasons for that; a strong Canadian dollar, the current anime industry’s economics, and a lack of desire to get a dub to help ensure a show gets a broadcast up here.

Before we go into the why, we need to see how bad it really is. The three main cities in Canada that do the audio production for anime are (in the order of body of work) Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto. Of those three, the only one confirmed to be working on anime projects is Toronto with Beyblade: Metal Fusion and Bakugan: Gundalian Invaders.

The west coast took the largest of hits. Vancouver’s Ocean Productions (also known as Ocean Group and Ocean Studios) was one of the largest houses that once took most of the work in all of North America. Now, in 2010, the last dub they produced was for Viz, in the shojo title NANA. NANA’s first DVD set was released in September of last year. Ocean currently doesn’t have any announced projects. Previous Ocean dubs include InuYasha, Death Note and Black Lagoon. The Vancouver scene is the home to many acclaimed voice actors such as Brad Swaile and Scott McNiel.

Located in Calgary is Ocean’s sister studio, Blue Water. They’re the lesser used of the two and have historically only been hired to do low budget work. While their output has been cut back, they’re still active. Recent titles include HunterxHunter, Deltora Quest and Pretty Cure. Previous dubs include Zeta Gundam, G Gundam and the alternate English versions of Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball GT.

The Toronto voice acting scene is the least used of the three in Canada. You can list all the titles dubbed in the city on a single sheet of paper. Its claim to anime fame is the dub of Sailor Moon. Toronto is the least hit of the three. In fact, as the other two are losing work the Toronto scene grows. But there’s a saying that goes like this, “You can’t lose what you don’t have”. That saying is pretty accurate for Toronto anime voice work, as very little has been done there outside of the failed Toei USA/Geneon tag team plus some of Nelvana and DiC/Cookie Jar’s backlog. As I mentioned earlier, the only anime work being done in the city is Beyblade, and Bakugan. Which to be fair, is more than what the city was home to a few years back, though it’s important to note that both of those shows are Canada-Japan co-productions.

Now raises the question of why. Well, it all comes down to money: who’s got it, who doesn’t and how much.
The death of anime distributor Geneon Entertainment was a major loss for the Canadian voice acting community. Geneon, along with Viz and Bandai were the only major R1 companies that used Canadian talent. When Geneon, one of the largest anime distributors in North America went down, it shook the entire industry. They were one of the few companies that still dubbed everything they licensed. Their demise was a precursor for events to follow.

With Geneon dead came the realization that the North American anime industry was in a severe decline. Studios began to cut back heavily on the titles they picked up. This is especially true for Bandai Entertainment. Once a major force in the anime industry with a large variety of titles being released annually, to today. Bandai Entertainment is a company who can’t release a series without it being delayed multiple times. They have only a small handful of titles that are ongoing, and of that handful, few are receiving a dub.

Viz is an interesting company. They’ve paid for countless dubs, yet have only partially released them, or have never released them at all (Uncut Blue Dragon and Zoids: Genesis, I’m looking at you). The company has always prided itself as a manga company and never an anime studio, so it wasn’t a leader in quantity of products released. But now things are at an all-time low. Viz’s current lineup of ongoing series consists of just Bleach, Naruto and Pokemon (of which they distribute for Pokemon USA). None of those are dubbed in Canada. They do have InuYasha: The Final Act in the pipeline, which has a Canadian dub.

With the few companies that still outsource audio work (as Funimation and Sentai Filmworks do their voice acting in-house in Texas) releasing such meager amounts of content, price wars were bound to happe, and they did. Bang Zoom Entertainment, located just outside of Los Angeles, California, has reportedly slashed their recording costs by such a large margin that they’re receiving the bulk of the dub work now. That leaves the other big voice acting cities (Vancouver, Calgary and New York) to pick up the scraps. But why can’t Ocean and Blue Water be price competitive? Well, the loonie is preventing that.

Many of the Canadian dubs we’ve seen over the years were only produced because our dollar was so low that it allowed foreign companies to get their work done here cheaper than in the US. However, the loonie has soared due to the US dollar taking a beating, meaning the Canadian studios lost their price advantage. Now with American studios cutting production costs to record lows, there’s simply no real reason to send work up here. Especially since a Canadian dub no longer means a Canadian broadcast.

Ever wonder why Canada got an alternate dub of Dragon Ball, Z and GT? Well, those alternate dubs were all produced in Canada. Being that they were produced in Canada, they counted as Canadian content and would help fill in the CRTC’s mandate of Canadian programming. This would encourage broadcasters to pick up anime with a Canadian dub. Just think about it, what were some of the first older youth oriented anime series to air on YTV? Escaflowne, Gundam Wing, InuYasha and Gundam SEED. Guess where all those shows were dubbed at? Ocean Studios in Vancouver. In fact, most of the anime series YTV has aired over the years had their English audio work done in Canada. The problem is that YTV isn’t biting anymore (I’ll explain why YTV isn’t biting in the future). While I doubt many Canadian dubs were done solely with the intention of getting a Canadian broadcaster interested, it sure didn’t hurt. Getting on a TV channel means more exposure and more exposure means more fans and more DVDs sold.

Despite having written over 1000 words of doom and gloom, it’s not that bad for the actual voice acting talent. While anime work has decreased significantly, there’s been a much greater increase in foreign demand for Canadian animation, as well as an increase in video game work. That said, some of the more prolific Canadian voice actors have either opened an at home studio, or have moved to the US to get more roles. The anime industry in North America is on the cusp of a rebound, and eventually our dollar will go back to its normal power, so this will be a temporary downturn.