Geneon Anime Worth Rescuing – Part 1
During the recent Anime North convention in Toronto, a Canadian blogger reported on twitter that FUNimation entertainment stated its intention to announce “new Geneon license rescues” at Anime Expo, which will take place July 1st through July 4th in San Francisco. Such news is good and unsurprising; a considerable portion of Geneon Entertainment’s library has been picked up again since the company stopped distributing in September 2007. So far this year three significant titles have already been announced: Trigun, Chobits, and Gun X Sword. Given all this progress, a fan might reasonably wonder just what is left to pick up now. The answer to that question? Quite a lot, actually. So in anticipation of the Anime Expo news and perhaps future announcements with any luck, here the spotlight will briefly shine on ten deserving anime from Geneon that are still lost in the wilderness.
10. Read or Die TV
A spin-off of the original OVA that once aired on Adult Swim, the Read or Die TV series crosses over but mostly focuses on the adventures of three sisters that can manipulate paper and use it as a weapon. Just like “The Paper” Yomiko before them in the OVA, the trio end up taking on a global world domination plot in a story that features elements of action, adventure, science fiction and mystery. Having seen the OVA I’d say that R.O.D. is definitely about the fantastical adventure as opposed to being any kind of serious supernatural thriller, but it certainly has fun with its off-the-wall concept. A company could certainly do worse than this choice.
If nothing else, this 2004 series certainly has an original premise going for it. It’s also one of the very few anime to actually directly address World War II in any way. In the story a strange storm somehow sends the Aegis Destroyer JDS Mirai back in time to 1942, at the time of the Battle of Midway no less. The captain and crew make the decision to try finding a way home while staying uninvolved in the war, for fear of changing history and even causing a temporal paradox. Naturally it isn’t that easy; the entire plan is endangered when the ship rescues an endangered officer that manages to access the ship’s records and learns far too much. Thanks to this the series is apparently anything but a jingoistic exercise; the Mirai and its pacifistic self defense force crew is essentially contrasted against the imperialism of the time. While the show was never exactly a hit before, the concept is quite interesting and the series has a reputation for realism that’s likely to appease history buffs. If it were rereleased in a collection today, Zipang could have what it takes to reach a new, sufficiently large audience.
8. Paranoia Agent
Good enough to find its way onto Toonzone’s top 25 list of animated series during our “Toons of the 2000s” retrospective, Paranoia Agent got a run on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim block and can be fairly considered one of the strangest anime series to have aired on U.S. television. As he does in his acclaimed films Satoshi Kon deliberately blurs the lines between fantasy and reality, constructing a surreal narrative that slowly but surely unravels the strange mystery surrounding the “Lil’ Slugger” that literally takes a baseball bat to people suffering some sort of emotional distress. To explain it is to ruin it and make this entry far too long, but suffice to say that Paranoia Agent is a case of high-tier storytelling that deserves to stick around.
7. Fighting Spirit (Hajime no Ippo)
The old single-volume release model for anime DVD’s was never cost effective, but for a series of seventy-six episodes like Fighting Spirit it was surely a brutal liability. Sports anime also seem to often have a tough uphill climb to make, as the recent disappointing performance of Big Windup demonstrates. Still, by its nature Fighting Spirit is more action-oriented than any other sports anime is going to be–after all, it’s about boxing. The story is certainly standard in the sense that we have a once-timid highschooler getting involved in the sport and working his way to the top through hard work, but there’s nothing wrong with that. Ippo may not be perfectly analogous to Rocky Balboa (who is?), but he is that type of scrappy fighter that people naturally like to cheer for. As noted in an old Toonzone review, the show is technically impressive and the action enjoyable and engaging. With an affordable release and fresh marketing, Fighting Spirit could make a great comeback if it’s only given the chance.
6. Serial Experiments Lain
A well-liked adaptation of what is arguably still Yoshitoshi ABe’s magnum opus, Lain is another series that enjoyed television exposure (on the former TechTV) for a time before ultimately falling into limbo. For a series that was originally made in 1998, it’s quite prescient considering that it’s essentially a cyberpunk supernatural fantasy exploring the problematic implications of a world where we’re all connected by computers and technology. Rather like Paranoia Agent, it also has a reputation for being a good old “mindscrew,” an assertion I will not dispute considering that the story kicks off with our protagonist Lain getting an e-mail from a classmate that’s supposedly dead. Does the show deserve to be licensed again? Well, off the top of my head, I can’t think of a major work that delves into the issues that Lain purportedly does besides Ghost In The Shell. And at only thirteen episodes, in today’s market it’d be released in a single collection that would be a fantastic value for a fan aching to see something completely different.
Stay tuned for the final five tomorrow and voice your opinions in the comments!