Polly's Japanese Cartoon License Wishlist
by Polly

Dear Funimation, Media Blasters, Nozomi, Bandai, and all other licensors,

I've been a consumer of domestically-licensed and released Japanese Cartoons for many, many years now. Ever since the big and scary VHS days. I've since continued to blow money in what some would consider ridiculous amounts on DVDs and various merchandise here and there for years. My spending habits have only increased in the last five years or so, thanks to me finally giving in and hopping on the fansub bandwagon. Though I watch lots of shows like this for free on the internet, I've continued to support the industry, typically always buying the shows I like and in some cases, even the shows I didn't particularly enjoy 100%. I don't see this changing anytime soon.

So, this is my plea to anyone in the licensing biz out there who may be listening, to consider the following titles on this list for license in the US and other territories. A license announcement and release of any of the following shows would make me happily dispatch those oh so diiiirty fansubs from my backup drives. I'm only one voice, and I realize this, but it'll be interesting to see if any of these come to fruition.

Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai
Likelihood of License: Hey, Section 23, get it and I'll buy it four times. Funi certainly doesn't want it.

The first season was released in the states as When They Cry initially by Geneon before they folded in 2007 and was finally rescued in the Great Geneon License Rescue of 2008 by Funimation. I'm not really sure how well it really even caught on here or how much of the domestic fanbase actually went out and bought DVDs, but for some reason I'm sure the numbers would be a smidge depressing.

Higurashi Kai picks up where the first season left off and finishes off the story. The change in tone for the series from gore-fest to drama series didn't seem to rest well with some, but a lot of us enjoyed this new direction and finally getting some of the answers we'd waited for since the first series.

I'm almost certain Funimation will announce this one at some point, FUCK YOU GUYS!

Michiko to Hatchin
Likelihood of License: Pretty good if it gets noticed

Michiko to Hatchin is a bit of a lost gem among recently airing Japanese Cartoons. First airing during the late 2008 season and produced by Manglobe (Samurai Champloo/Ergo Proxy), Michiko to Hatchin is another one of those "we're on a big adventure that lasts the entire series" shows that the studio seems really fond of. It follows the exploits of Michiko Malandro, an escaped fugitive, and her rebellious, though clearly more level-headed daughter, Hatchin as they attempt to hunt down Hiroshi Morenos who is both Michiko's former lover and Hatchin's father while avoiding death at every corner, escaping from both vicious thugs and law enforcement.

Many, many things make this show worth attention. For one, the characters are some of the most well-developed and believable in recent Japanese Cartoon history not only in their personalities but also designs. Another shining aspect how down-to-earth the show is. The many characters and stories represented throughout the entire show's run won't always turn out the way you expected and the writers really deserve a lot of credit for this. Michiko to Hatchin is also one of the most gorgeous shows to come out in the last five years. Almost no detail is skimped here as characters are constantly changing outfits (almost every damn episode everyone has new threads!) and the background art is some of the most breathtaking I think I've ever seen in Japanese Cartoons. I would also be selling the show a bit short if I didn't mention the music's heavy jazz influence akin to that of Cowboy Bebop.

This show was born for the western audience with both its subject matter and taste for attitude and action. Should it come here (I really see no reason why it shouldn't) it's one definitely worth checking out.

Dennou Coil
Likelihood of License: Please? :(

One of the most underrated shows I believe I've come across in ages. Everything about this show just pops, be it the visuals, the characters, or the slowly-unraveling plot that actually has a satisfying ending.

The story's primary focus is on a group of children in the near future trying to figure out the mysteries of the city they live in which seems to exist half in reality, and half on the internet. Maybe it could be considered a more light-hearted Lain.

Initially the show's so light-hearted and fun you could probably get away with airing it as a Saturday Morning cartoon. Though, I'm sure once you hit the 2nd half of the series it'd get Escaflowne'd to death in a hurry.

Initially I never had high hopes of this one ever seeing the light of day on our side of the world, but the recent aquisition of Ghost Hound has renewed my faith a bit.

Tokyo Magnitude 8.0
Likelihood of License: It's a winner, come on!

When a magnitude 8.0 earthquake strikes Tokyo, for many, it may as well mean the end of the world. Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 is likely the closest realization of a fictional disaster in animation I've ever seen. As the world continues to crumble away as people try and survive and pick up the pieces, it's hard not to get pulled into how realistic and gritty the whole atmosphere can be sometimes. You're literally on the edge of your seat the entire time and feel connected with the cast as they struggle to survive in a world that's wrecked by aftershocks, buildings collapsing, and the realization that the world they knew and people they love may never return.

The story follows Mirai, a young schoolgirl who thinks her life can't possibly get any worse, and her younger brother Yuuki, aided by a complete stranger with a heart of gold as they trek back to their home through the danger and remains of the new world to their home in Setagaya in hopes that their parents survived the tragedy.

Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 is an immersive, sometimes frightening, and without a doubt touching tale of survival at all costs in the face of death and a world of uncertainty that I think anyone who enjoys a really good drama should take the time and see.

Moyashimon: Tales of Agriculture
Likelihood of License: A big fat maybe

Now that I have your attention, let me introduce you to Moyashimon, a great little show all about microbes, agriculture, sake brewing, and not as much lesbian action as the pic to the right may lead you to believe.

The story follows Tadayasu Sawaki, who attends an agricultural university in Tokyo as he makes new friends and learns more about his unique abilities. His unique ability being that he can see and interact with microbes, which many at the university either believe to be made up horse shit or are looking to use for their own research.

The show plays out much like a slice-of-life show with a lot of comedy and drama mixed together. There's an underlying ongoing plot that never reaches a point of uber seriousness, but it's a satisfying story regardless. Much like Hidamari Sketch, the show's just easy to pick up and put down whenever you feel like it and at the same time you'll probably end up learning quite a bit about both sake brewing and bacteria and microbes in the world around you. It has a very edu-tainment'ish vibe that's never really too overdone.

Again, like Hidamari Sketch it's hard to say why I liked this show so much. There's just a light-hearted charm to it and it's an easy investment of time. This one may have a chance, because Del Ray will be releasing the manga in English beginning in September '09.

If that's not enough to convince you, then why not just enjoy the OP featuring the cutest lil' microbes ever?

Gakuen Utopia Manabi Straight!
Likelihood of License: Doubt it

Manabi Straight is one of those shows that kinda just hit me out of nowhere. It's probably the first slice-of-life'ish show I ever tried to take seriously. I probably started watching because of gradient hair...

The characters and the story are both warm and endearing. Watching the students of a school fighting for the last few fun things they can have before the responsibilities of adulthood in a future that's really not so great ended up being more engaging and touching than I figured it'd ever be. Tack on an ending I think we can all relate to in one way or another and you have one of the sweetest little slice-of-life shows released.

I'm not really sure who you could sell this show to in the states. My only bet would be a Media Blasters or Nozomi release in sub-only format.

Rozen Maiden: Overture
Likelihood of License: Never

I'm obsessive-compulsive like a mo-fo and lacking this very nicely crafted two-episode OVA in my collection to finish off the rest of the Rozen Maiden series is probably gonna drive me crazy.

The focus of the OVA is on the origins of the past between Shinku and Suigintou. It does a great job in its roughly 50-minute run of being both revealing and emotionally evocative. It doesn't stick around long enough to outstay its welcome and when it's over you can begin to understand both sides of the story.

I really never saw Rozen Maiden as a big-seller and was surprised that Geneon licensed it and Funimation picked it back up to finish both TV series (for which I'm thankful). This one's just a "please don't let me go crazy" license.

These Shows Are Now Licensed
(no doubt THANKS TO ME!)

Sora wo Kakeru Shoujo
Licensed by Bandai as of July 31st, 2010

Also known as The Girl Who Leapt Through Space, but not to be confused with The Girl Who Leapt Through Time.

Sora wo Kakeru Shoujo is in a few words: Fun on a bun. It's a show that finds Sunrise clearly just having fun with a story and the results are passed onto the viewer quite easily.

The story's main focus is on Akihi Shishido, a girl who really doesn't seem to have any great talent of her own coming from a family that's just chock full of potential and wealth. Her life changes drastically when one day she's accidentally pulled into a conflict between fully self-aware colonies by Leopard, an eccentric and only partially functional colony, and made to help put him back together again. The story unfolds at a very nice pace with only a few detours here and there (and one that's just completely incomprehensible...) and is an overall fun ride from start to finish.

As is par for the course for any Sunrise show, there is no shortage of characters to be drawn to. Almost all of them are completely likeable on some level or another, but as is the case with their other shows, many tend to fall by the wayside by the time the story is over and plot points end up completely disappearing. It's all good though, because as I said, this show is just pure fluff fun on a bun. Think My-Hime/Otome mixed with the over-the-topness of shows like Code Geass and Gurren Lagann and you have a pretty good idea of what this show offers.

I think this one's a clear winner for Bandai, sub-only release or not, however I think it'd do well with the right promotion under any of the current big distributors here. And if that's not enough have some Akiha tits!

To Aru Majutsu no Index
Licensed by Funimation as of July 2nd, 2010

(AKA: A Certain Magical Index)

To Aru Majutsu no Index takes place primarily in a city where magic and science rule the day and the people that can utilize them take turns beating the ever-loving shit out of each other. Why start there? Because, it's what I believe to be the show's main draw. The fights are fantastically done and are really what made this show a lot of fun for me.

That's not to say the story and characters aren't good, because they are. All the main players are likeable in some way including the side characters. They just kinda end up falling off a bit. The primary example is Index, the show's own damn namesake, being reduced to a comedy relief role after the initial six episodes. The drama aspects of the show are also handled quite well, however, those looking for any kind of tell-all resolution by the end of the series may feel a bit ripped off.

The story is divided up into arcs with each one featuring a new set of characters who are likely gonna end up magically whomping each others' asses. Each arc could really be considered its own OVA series if you had to think of it that way. Satisfying stories in their own right, but never really feeling like they tie together all that well, save one or two special cases.

It's a show that'd definitely draw the FIGHTAN crowd, but may leave those looking for a bit more feeling a bit empty. I couldn't shake how much this show felt like a Funimation property all the way through, so it's entirely possible they'll see that at some point too.

A spin-off series, To Aru Kagaku no Railgun is currently airing and it's kinda barf. In fact, I dropped it after four episodes or so, because it was so shitty.

Hidamari Sketch | Hidamari Sketch x365
Hidamari Sketch Licensed by ADV as of October 29th, 2009
Hidamari Sketch Licensed by ADV as of January 21st, 2010

Hidamari Sketch is one of the very few slice-of-life shows I can watch and not be completely annoyed with (Lucky Star) or bored out of my mind with (Azumanga Daioh). There's just something endlessly cute, relaxing and refreshing about the characters in the show and the things that happen in it that wouldn't make me the least bit angry if they milked this damn thing for another 10 seasons. The production values are also quite high for a show of this nature.

And Ume-sensei! Everybody loves Ume-sensei!

I don't have high hopes for a domestic release, though the manga is being released here as Sunshine Sketch and may be doing well enough for itself. I can only see a Funimation or Nozomi (known for their oddball licenses and ability to promote them) picking this one up, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Ghost Hound
Licensed by ADV as of July 28th, 2009

Probably the longest shot on the list so far...

Ghost Hound is a story of dreams, out of body experiences, and of course ghosts. It's so deliberately slow-paced and unwilling to show its hand until much later in the series. The visuals and various dreamscape sequences are quite pretty and very surreal and the characters far more engaging than you'd believe them to be.

This one's likely in the "way too damn weird" category to ever see a domestic release, which is a shame because it's really quite good if you go in with the right mindset.

Strike Witches
Licensed by FUNImation as of April 9th, 2009

I just wanna see all the whining at prudey little sites like Anime News Network and Animesuki when it does. That's all really.

You can all thank me now!


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