Friday, May 2, 2014

One Week Ramblings: 5/2/14 The Granola Card Edition

Welcome to One Week Ramblings, my weekly ramblings of anime-CARDCAPTOR SAKURA IS COMING BACK TO THE US!!!

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Ahem. Pardon me.

The huge news this week is: Cardcaptor Sakura, the classic magical girl TV anime series adapted from the manga by CLAMP, has been licensed by NIS America and will be released on Blu-ray and DVD on August 5th!

This show has quite an interesting history, both for itself and for my own personal anime background. The original TV series started airing in 1998 and aired for a total of 70 episodes plus two movies. It was very popular in Japan, and while it comes after several other magical girl series like Sailor Moon, the show was notable for being one of the first to be a hit among older and/or male viewers as well as the young girls that are typically the demographic for such shows.

Nelvana first brought the show to US children's television in 2000 under the name Cardcaptors, where the content was heavily edited and much of the show had been cut in a misguided attempt to appeal to American audiences. Not knowing this, I watched this edited version as a kid--mainly because it aired right after Pokemon--and rather enjoyed it. Without really knowing why, it appealed to me in a way that no other animated children's show did, and the show would remain on my mind for several years.

Geneon Entertainment sub-licensed the show in the U.S. and starting in late 2000 released DVDs of the show with the original Japanese audio track and English subtitles only across a total of eighteen volumes. Back then, though, I had no concept of anime as something that originated in Japan and could be watched in that language (all animated shows were the same to me). The release was mainly geared toward more hardcore anime fans, anyway.

Nevertheless, the card-capturing magical girl remained in the back of my head for several years, and would suddenly resurface five years later, when I was in college. By that point, I had become somewhat more aware of anime and manga to the point where I would occasionally look through the manga section of a library or bookstore for fun and could recognize a few names of shows here and there as being "anime" shows--Cardcaptor Sakura being one of them--but nothing beyond that. Still, the card-capturing Sakura came up in my thoughts once again during my freshman year, which got me interested in rewatching the show one way or another. At the time, still having no knowledge of Japanese-language anime DVDs and not having the money to buy them anyway--the fact that Geneon's license would expire and the DVDs would go out of print in late 2006 did not help--I turned to the one place everyone goes when looking for shows of their past: YouTube.

It was there that I discovered Cardcaptor Sakura; not the version that I remembered from my childhood, but the version I at least knew was probably the original version. (Some later research would tip me off to the heavily-edited nature of my childhood's version.) Watching through that was probably the first time I really got into something that I knew was an "anime". Between the unique and varied cards, the interesting characters and the focus on their relationships, and the overall novelty of what I was watching, I was hooked. It would be a while longer before I really got into anime, but Cardcaptor Sakura was definitely a major part of why I am an anime fan today.

Now, 16 years after the show started airing and 8 years since the original license expired, the show will be available in the U.S. once more. NIS America will release the show on August 5th in both a Premium Edition Blu-ray set and three standard edition DVD sets. The Premium Edition Blu-ray set includes all 70 TV episodes across 9 discs, as well as a chipboard artbox and a 76-page hardcover artbook. The set retails for $250, but you can find it cheaper on other sites ($180 on RightStuf, or $200 on the NISA Online Store with a tear-resistant poster as a bonus), and overall, for the sheer amount of content, it is definitely worth the money. The three standard edition DVDs contain 23-24 episodes each and retail for $60 each, though again, their actual price is lower on various sites.

Both versions will include a full English dub in addition to the standard Japanese with English subs. This is not the edited dub that went with Cardcaptors as I mentioned earlier, but it is also not a brand-new dub made specifically for this release; currently, it looks like it will be the English dub done by Animax for their release of this show in Singapore. The dub will be mono audio only and is essentially a "bonus feature".

Needless to say, I am incredibly excited for this release. Once I get it, I am sure that a re-watch of Cardcaptor Sakura is in order.

This is also notable in being NIS America's first license rescue, as well as the first time they are releasing a show which aired earlier than 2008.

Also, as a reminder, this license only covers the TV series, and does not cover the two movies. Discotek Media still has the license to the first movie, and will release it on DVD on September 24th, 2014 (which will include the original Nelvana dub, but with no edits to the actual video), with the Blu-ray release to follow later in the year. The second movie is still unlicensed as of now. As for why the two licensors are different: the Japanese companies responsible for international licensing for the TV series and each movie are different.

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Speaking of Discotek Media, they have a license of their own to announce: Chi's Sweet Home and Chi's New Address. This series of adorable shorts about a kitten's life will be released sometime "soon".

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Meanwhile, Sentai Filmworks has announced their August slate of releases, which includes the Short Peace series of short films, the second half of From The New World, and Watamote - No Matter How I Look At It, It's You Guys' Fault I'm Not Popular!, all with English dubs as well as subs, and all on both Blu-ray and DVD. They will also be re-releasing Mayo Chiki! with an English dub, as well as on Blu-ray for the first time (their previous release was a sub-only DVD). In addition, they will be releasing the following shows with subs only on Blu-ray and DVD: Fantasista DollLove LabUta no Prince-sama: Maji Love 2000% (Season 2), and KINMOZA! - Kiniro Mosaic.

They will also be releasing Yuyushiki on Blu-ray that month, one month after its DVD release in July. This is the first indication that the various DVD-only releases in July could very well get Blu-ray releases later on.

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Finally, something more fun: Sometimes you can find anime fans in the weirdest places. Case in point: On Wednesday morning, the social media manager of granola bar maker Nature Valley revealed themselves on Twitter as an anime fan... and not for what you might expect. The reveal occured when they actually responded to a question about, of all things, who their favorite Love Live! girl was. From there, this Nature Valley employee's knowledge of all sorts of anime caught the attention of anitwitter accounts everywhere.

The surprising connection, of course, led to images of anime with Nature Valley granola bars photoshopped into them. The fun didn't stop at the end of the day, as the Nature Valley Twitter account continued to interact with anime fans on Thursday.

This is a cool thing and a nice reminder that anime fans really are everywhere. It is also probably a really good marketing move for Nature Valley, who has probably gotten themselves a lot more customers in the form of anime fans...




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