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10 Anime Cancelled Before Their Time

Great Anime Shot Down Too Early

By Chris Beveridge     March 16, 2010

10 Anime Cancelled Before Their Time
© Bob Trate


Even in the best of times when anime is being released in the US do we find some series simply not making the cut for various reasons. But there’s always hope that they’ll resurface somehow, even if they don’t finish out their dub. Fist of the North Star fans got just that last year with the announcement that the unfinished series will finally see a release through Discotek after Manga Entertainment lost its license. Here’s 10 more shows we’d love to see find their completion somehow:

10 Great Anime Series

10. Hikaru no Go

Viz Media attempted to bring over this series about a young student who makes contact with the long dead spirit of an amazing Go player and begins his journey of discovery into the game. With a lot of support from the Go community in the US, it never translated into sales and the show finally stopped getting released after 11 volumes which amounted to 45 out of the 75 episodes made. A show about Go may seem like it could be dull but it had a sports edge to it that kept it vastly entertaining. The show has found some new life on Hulu and Viz’s own anime site, though whether we’ll see episodes past what was released on DVD remains to be seen.

10 Great Anime Series

9. Saint Seiya

Saint Seiya is a bit of an odd case as only so much of it was available to ADV Films to release at the time because of how the company DiC Entertainment had dealt with it under the name Knights of the Zodiac, an attempt at doing a very kid-friendly dub version that aired on Cartoon Network before being dropped. ADV Films worked with the uncut version, both in dub and sub form, but their sublicense of the property only amounted to the first 60 of 100 and 14 episodes before it ended in one of the worst places possible and left fans unfulfilled. Not only are there many more episodes but new OVA episodes continue to be produced as recently as 2008 in Japan.

10 Great Anime Series

8. Air Master

One of the launch titles from failed distributor Toei Entertainment, Air Master suffered horribly with its release on DVD in the US. Awful subtitle designand marketing of the show led to it only getting three of its six volumes out before the company left in the middle of the night. Fans have lucked out by having Toei stream the episodes through a couple of different sites, but the show never got to finish for the fans who bought the releases. This is a title that would do pretty well even today with a release in the half season sets with a slight bit of reworking.

10 Great Anime Series

7. I’m Gonna Be An Angel

When your debut title as a new company fails so badly, it doesn’t give anyone confidence. Synch-Point launched in 2001 with this title being done in a very fan-friendly way with multiple subtitle tracks and a lot of love. The show had its fans but whether through distribution issues, marketing or the title simply not clicking or meeting expectations, only the first three volumes made it out (with repeated delays) before Synch-Point announced putting it on hiatus so they could put out something that actually made them money. The show still has a following and some name recognition and is a title that if rescued would earn a company some credit as helping to finish out a real tragedy in the release world.

10 Great Anime Series

6. Slam Dunk

If only one thing can be said about Toei’s debut into the US scene, it is that they were definitely ambitious. Slam Dunk was a title mentioned just as often as Dragon Ball Z back in the early ‘90s by fans as an amazing title and it’s true as the one hundred and 1 episode show about basketball draws you in hard and never lets go. Toei manage to get 20 episodes out as they were trying to figure out how to author a DVD properly before it all just up and disappeared. Similar to Air Master, it did find a home in the streaming world years later, but it is another one that deserves a proper release in order to expose it to more people. Sports anime is difficult, and this one focuses heavily on the sport and very little on the off the court real world drama of characters, making it an even harder sell for some.

10 Great Anime Series

5. Strange Dawn

While director Junichi Sato was a bit of a golden boy during the early part of the decade, riding off his Sailor Moon stint and other shows that were being picked up, Strange Dawn was the unusual one of the bunch as released by the small outfit Urban Vision. The 13 episode series saw 2 volumes released with a dub that was done in Australia which left dub fans somewhat uncertain because of the accents and dialogue choices. The show itself was among the more quirky things that Sato had created and it didn’t connect well with people at a time when there was such a glut in releases that it fell under the radar.

10 Great Anime Series

4. Full Moon

What better way to help a title than to shift it from a bimonthly release to quarterly? That’s the approach Viz Media took here with the show about a young girl who is very sick that’s given a chance in life to become a musical sensation through magic. Pure young girl wish fulfillment material, the 52 episode series slowed down in the late teens and 20s before simply being solicited no more after the seventh volume got it to episode 28. Full Moon never found its audience in the glut at the time and the release schedule made it worse, adding in that the manga fans didn’t transition over to the anime that much either. Shows aimed at girls do just as well as sports shows in the US, another unfortunate thing, but this is one that was more grounded with its characters and worked better than most.

10 Great Anime Series

3. Prince of Tennis

Sports shows will always have a hard time in the US simply because a lot of anime fans just aren’t into sports. Or even if they are, well, they’d rather watch the real thing. Viz tried with one of their biggest brands and a solid seller from their manga line-up with Prince of Tennis, which ran for 178 episodes in Japan as well as a few additional things, such as a movie and even a series of musicals. Viz’s release fell quite short of this with only 50 episodes released in 4 box sets that were edited with new opening and closing themes that literally seemed to be done by someone’s brother. While the show was pure shounen sports fun, it couldn’t catch a break here and simply disappeared.

10 Great Anime Series

2. Kodocha

Kodocha was licensed with much excitement earlier in the decade by FUNimation and they managed to get the first half of the 102 episodes out before saying they only licensed the first half of it. The show about a hyper young girl who has a famous novelist for a mother and spends her days working in the TV entertainment industry provided for a lot of laughs and wacky comedy, but it’s age and the content itself didn’t find a large enough market to support it (and a dub). The show blended a lot of wild and weird moments with elements that were off-putting to some – such as the lead talking about her manager as her pimp and boyfriend – while the edits that were made to it caused quite a stir, though those were largely related to the music which is a big part of the show and music rights are always difficult at best. The second half of the show is unlicensed, and like Super Gals, could easily find a very hungry and excited audience out there should it find a new home.

10 Great Anime Series

1. Lupin III

As hard as Geneon tried, and even with some late night broadcasts on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim, Lupin just couldn’t cut it. The season that they worked with had 155 episodes to it and Geneon got out 79 of them across 15 DVDs over a couple of years. Lupin’s been a long time favorite of many but it’s a hard sell with its animation style and the simple fact that it is episodic, something that’s very difficult to sell well over a length of time even to diehard fans. Still, the Lupin brand has appeal, has the allure of Miyazaki working on it and has had quite a few movies make its way out here. It’s a series that needs another chance, even if it is subtitled only with larger sets at a time instead of the 5 episode bilingual releases that were prevalent during the Geneon run.
Anime always has some great opening sequences. Check out 10 Awesome Opening Anime Sequences. Also, check out 10 Great Out of Print Anime We Want Back.  If you are digging on that, then try 10 Anime Series That Need a Reboot. Finally, even if you didn't love those (which you really should have) you will love 10 Most Iconic Anime Heroes

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Showing items 1 - 10 of 21
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abynum5 3/16/2010 7:06:16 AM

Unfortunately, there are usually higher-quality items in this graveyard than in others.  A few of these items I wholly recall, but completely forgot about -- like FULL MOON.  Also, I'm sure there are titles a lot of fans think might fit in here, but probably shouldn't (but not of their own fault)... I don't think many people were aware of Geneon's massive subtitled set releases of CARD CAPTOR SAKURA when they were published, for example.

KODOCHA was a great series, but I'm still thankful that FUNimation released as much of the series as they did.  I really wish the SAINT SEIYA property caught on, but I suppose that's wishful thinking... since it belongs to a segment of anime science fiction rooted in a bygone era that somehow survives across multiple media channels.  My feelings are the same for ARMORED TROOPER VOTOMS.

Hectotane 3/16/2010 7:58:54 AM

A note on "I'm Gonna Be An Angel" and "Kodancha:"

Maybe these anime titles would've done better if the young male leads DIDN'T SUCK SO BAD.


Hey.  You take a look at the current anime being mainstream, "beyond the otaku market" hits.  You take a look at the titles here that didn't become hits.  The lot of them ain't worth rescuing.  I'll vouch for Lupin 3rd.

But when (in #7) you're suffering from being dumped, on-and-off sickness, and a bunch of weirdoes invading your life...  When (in #2) your own sister wants you to die because your mother died giving birth to you...  I personally don't know who thought who was stupid at that time.  I know it's not me, last I checked.

starpunk 3/16/2010 9:12:45 AM

I couldn't agree more with Lupin the Third, I loved watching all 79 episodes and I would watch the rest in a heart-beat. I also wish someone would license season two and ovas for When They Cry.

SelectiveRealism 3/16/2010 11:08:30 AM

 How does Cowboy Bebop not make this list?

gimpythewonder 3/16/2010 12:25:07 PM

B/c Cowboy Bebop wasn't canceled.  It ended.  Not every anime last forever.  My favorite ones are the ones that tell their story and end.  There are very few things that can hold my attention for hundreds of episodes

reionpremente 3/16/2010 1:17:22 PM

 About Bebop, from what I've heard, they're actually continuing it in Japan.  I hope someone will pick it up when it's finished.  And please God, don't let Bandai get it again.  They did a fine job... I just don't want to worry about the delay problems.  

tovuk 3/16/2010 2:59:46 PM

U know I fell ashamed I haven't seen any of theses! LOL!

Wyldstaar 3/16/2010 3:12:49 PM

Space Battleship Yamato!  Yes it did get a second season, but the first season wound up being cut in half because the studio was told that the show had been cancelled before the show exploded onto Japan's popular culture.  If that hadn't happened, we would have gotten a season two that was about the trip from Iscandar back to Earth.  As it was done, it took 25 episodes to get to Iscandar, and only one to get back home.

animefanjared 3/16/2010 3:33:09 PM

@ reionpremente:

What is this about them making more Bebop in Japan?  I haven't heard anything about it.  Is this something they have actually started production on, or is it just rumors?

Muenster 3/16/2010 5:22:07 PM

9 out of 10 of the series listed above was pure dribble, none more so than Prince of Tennis. Anyone who liked it is a pathetic boob that probably whacks off to Naruto and Sailor Moon. Furthermore, a good rule of thumb regarding anime, is that if it takes place in a school, or involves teenagers with giant machines of death and or magical powers, or features a clueless boy with a harem, it's probably a waste of your time as you've most likely seen it already.

The only good series was Lupin III. Poor animation quality, but witty stories and well acted. (most of the time)

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