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10 Great Out of Print Anime We Want Back

Get These Anime Going Again!

By Mark Thomas     February 23, 2010

10 Out of Print Anime We Want Back
© Mania/Bob Trate


We’ve compiled a list of 10 titles (and a few honorable mentions) that have disappeared that we would like to see brought back. Note that this is not a list of titles we think would sell well, but rather a list that we think everybody should see and therefore should sell well.

10. Dominion Tank Police (OAV)

When it was released in the US and UK in 1991, the Dominion Tank Police OAV became one of the first titles to ride what would eventually become the mainstream anime wave. Prior to this, anime was either underground or adapted by American studios who generally ignored its origins. Though Dominion might not hold up as well today against modern titles, its equal parts silliness, ‘80s cartoony violence, and thought provoking themes still make it a fun watch; and it is interesting to see the origins of some of the philosophical ideas that would characterize Masamune’s later works.

9. Project A-Ko

Another ‘80s title that saw release in the West in the early ‘90s, Project A-Ko is an action comedy that actively parodies other action movies. The premise centers around the rivalry between Eiko (A-Ko) and Biko (B-Ko) who constantly fight over the affections of the bubbly Shiiko (C-Ko). The popularity of Project A-Ko spawned a few followup OAVs, though none were as well received as the original. But its irreverent humor and ridiculous premise are prime examples of the type of insanity anime was able to get away with in the 1980s.

8. Sailor Moon

The consummate “magical girl” title, Sailor Moon was to girls in the ‘90s what Dragon Ball was to boys, and for a while was every bit as popular. Usagi Tsukino (Serena in the English dub) is a typical school girl until she meets Luna, a talking cat who helps her unlock her dormant powers, fighting as Sailor Moon, to defend Earth from the Dark Kingdom. Though Sailor Moon was aimed at teenage girls, its mix of common shonen fighting tropes and magical romanticism gives it a wide appeal; it is an early example of a series aimed primarily at females with strong, female protagonists who are able to be leaders, and it helped spawn other popular titles such as Wedding Peach and Revolutionary Girl Utena (another missing title). A recent resurgence in popularity in Japan has renewed interest worldwide, but it seems strange everything Dragon Ball gets constant re-releases while Sailor Moon was allowed to disappear.

7. Cardcaptor Sakura

Cardcaptor Sakura was an early attempt at using playing card RPGs as the basis for a story. Ten-year-old Sakura Kinomoto accidentally releases the ancient power of the legendary Clow Cards while messing around in her father’s library. Each Clow Card has its own power, and collectively they are the sealed powers of an ancient sorcerer.. Much like Sailor Moon, Cardcaptor Sakura blends fighting action with more traditional shojo elements—such as romantic relationships—that allows for a wide appeal, and Sakura is another strong protagonist. It was popular enough that it managed to fashion a niche for itself in a time when Pokemon more than dominated the collection-based anime world, but it has pretty much disappeared in the last few years.

6. Galaxy Express 999

An early space opera by Leiji Matsumoto, Galaxy Express 999 (three-nine) tells the story of the poor street-boy Tetsuro Hoshino as he travels across the universe to Andromeda—the terminus for the Galaxy Express 999—where he hopes to get converted into an android so that he might live forever. Galaxy Express 999 introduced the concept of the intergalactic rail system later used in The Galaxy Railways, and it spawned quite a few spinoff titles such as Maetel Legend and the Galaxy Express 999 movies. As one of the classics of anime, and the basis (along with Space Battleship Yamato and Captain Harlock) for Matsumoto’s other works, Galaxy Express 999 is a title that should never go away.

5. Kimagure Orange Road

Kimagure Orange Road never received the full treatment when brought over by AnimEigo. It centers around Kyosuke Kasuga, a magical being known as an esper who typically is not allowed to perform music around humans. However, when Hikaru Hiyama notices him make a brilliant play in basketball (aided by magic, not that she’s aware), she falls in love with him. AnimEigo picked up this title in the 90s, but oddly in an era where everything was dubbed (and often the sub was not even available), Kimagure Orange Road was only offered in subtitled format. Even as the DVDs were released in the 2000s, they still came sub-only. It is a title that is at times hilarious and at other times touching and it still holds up well today. This is a lost license that should be rescued as its universal themes are just as true now as they were in 1988.

4. Record of the Lodoss War

Record of the Lodoss War is an interesting case study, as it is based on a series of “replays,” or novelized transcripts of Dungeons and Dragons sessions held by author (and Dungeon Master) Ryo Mizuno. The story follows the son of a disgraced knight, Parn, as he journeys to try and restore his family’s name. With an understanding of the D&D game, Record of the Lodoss War gains quite a bit of subtext as parallels can be drawn between the events in the stories and the facets of the game. But even without that connection, it remains a fascinating piece of high fantasy. And in a genre whose contribution to the fantastic tends to be more in science fiction, that is a rare thing indeed.

3. Serial Experiments Lain

A psychological thriller with roots in cyberpunk, Serial Experiments Lain was one of the first anime titles to explore the effects the internet would have on society as society becomes more connected.. What makes Lain so fascinating to look back on is how eerily prescient it was with how the internet would change life. At the time Lain was released (1998), the net was still in its infancy for mainstream exposure. Most people were on by that time, but the power of the net had yet to be realized. Serial Experiments Lain does a great job of predicting its effects, and though the Wired in Lain is more complex than the real life internet currently is, it is not a stretch to connect what we have to Lain’s “futuristic” world.

2. Master Keaton

A title hailed as one of the best manga/anime from the past ten years by its fans, all things Master Keaton were unfortunately killed in 2005 thanks to insider infighting. Telling the tale of Taichi Hiraga-Keaton, the son of a Japanese man and English noblewoman, Master Keaton is at times mystery, at times action, and at all times fun to watch—mostly thanks to the unendingly optimistic Keaton. Keaton is an investigator for the prestigious insurance firm, Lloyds of London, and he is tasked to investigate insurance claims for fraud and/or negligence. Sometimes these claims are fairly straight forward, while other times Keaton finds himself wound up in a terrorist plot, a murder case, or any other number of crimes. But through it all, he longs to return to archeology, which had once been area of study. The Master Keaton manga ran through the late 80s and 90s and was made by Hokusei Katsuhika (writer) and Naoki Urasawa (artist). The 39 episode anime adaptation was completed in 1999 (dubbed and released stateside from 2003-2004), and both met with good success. However, after Katsuhika (real name Hajime Kimura) died in 2004, Urasawa began to take more credit for the storyline of it, which caused some infighting between he and the publisher, causing all releases to cease publication immediately. As such, Master Keaton is fairly difficult to find now, which is a shame because it is such a joy to watch. 

1. Koi Kaze

A controversial title, to say the least, Koi Kaze is the dramatic story of a man who has misfortune/bad grace to fall in love with his younger sister. Koshiro Saeki is a 27-year-old in a rut: he works at an agency that helps arrange marriages. One day he meets a young, high school girl who fascinates him and finds that he can open up to her in a way that he has never been able to do before. Unlike titles like Sakura Diaries or Please Twins, who use awkward sexual tension between relations as a source of humor, Koi Kaze’s approach to the possible incestuous relationship between Koshiro and Nanoka is one of sympathy for the situation they are in and does not try to make light of it.
Honorable mention goes to titles like Revolutionary Girl Utena, Haibane Renmei and Key the Metal Idol. Feel free to chime in with any titles that you feel we have neglected. We are sure we have missed a couple or three.


And 10 Best Supporting Characters In Anime


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Showing items 1 - 10 of 17
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okonomiyaki4000 2/23/2010 4:25:07 AM

 I could go for another Lodoss series. 

LooneyBinJIm 2/23/2010 6:12:51 AM

Great list! All good choices. Don't know if I would have put Koi Kaze at #1 though. This list could have easily gone to 20. Some honorable mentions I would suggest:

City Hunter (very popular title back in the day)

Texhnolyze (often suggested by Lain fans)

Ronin Warriors (even the bootleg sells for a good amount of change)

Black Jack (had a cameo in the Astro Boy anime back in the Day)

Captain Herlok: The Endless

Demon Lord Dante (forerunner to Devilman)

Calibur454 2/23/2010 6:24:40 AM

i would add dual! parallel trouble adventure in the list- it was a classic anime that even had air time on dult swim in its early hay day- you may still be able to find the box set for over 80 bucks here or there but a re-release set at a cheaper price would be nice to find

ooga 2/23/2010 6:38:11 AM

One title that comes to mind because my daughter was watching it a couple of days ago is Sherlock Hound. And a MAJOR oversight of this list IMO has to be Maison Ikkoku one of the greatest anime ever!

Mark T. 2/23/2010 6:57:17 AM

I had Maison Ikkoku on my shortlist for titles (you're right LBJ, this list could have easily been 20), but the manga far outstripped the anime for me that the anime just doesn't hold up like these other titles. But otherwise, I agree with you. I love Maison Ikkoku.

mtaffer 2/23/2010 8:50:48 AM

Bring back Rurouni Kenshin and do a proper 3rd season, like the manga.

derobert 2/23/2010 10:01:34 AM

Wow, does this mean that Utena is finally back in print?

SchaefDogg 2/23/2010 11:01:32 AM

Good list. I definitely agree that Serial Experiments Lain needs to be brought back. Haibane Renmei is another good one that needs to be brought back. (I sadly don't own this one, but I would buy it in a heartbeat if it ever is rescued.)

You can still find Koi Kaze on RightStuf, I picked it up while they still had it, and Record of the Lodoss War is coming back into print thanks to Media Blasters.


insaneben 2/23/2010 11:05:52 AM

Note to Mark Thomas:

Record Of Lodoss War was license-rescued by Media Blasters late last week.

Also, no love for [b]"Gun x Sword"[/b]? That series deserves to be rescued from licensing limbo. It has the same director, character designer and over-the-top storyline as Code Geass. And what about [b]"Crusher Joe: The Movie"[/b]? Good old-fashioned over-the-top '80s sci-fi goodness. I'd also like to nominate [b]"Haunted Junction"[/b], a series that, despite having awful animation, has a solid sense of humor (the first episode alone is worth the price of admission).

And no, derobert, Utena is still stuck in licensing limbo. (Incidentally, both it and "Project A-Ko" were licensed by CPM back in the day.)

Supermutant2099 2/23/2010 12:04:34 PM

I agree with most of this list except for Lain and Koi Kaze.  I wish City Hunter gets resuced too since ADV only put the TV series out in half season box sets that were never easy to find when they were in print.  It was to me never easy to find.  Now impossible.  Dual and Masion Ikkoku (espically for those have hard time finding last volume) also.

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