You know. Those shows that you used to watch back in the day when anime was edited and played for kids on Toonami. Like Zoids. Yeah, what ever happened to that cheesy, yet somehow compelling, robot fighting show? Sadly, it’s here and… not here.
Unfortunately, Zoids is a sad example of how fickle and unreasonable the anime industry here in America can be. Zoids is licensed by Viz Media and back in the old Toonami days they sold DVDs of the episodes. It was early in the DVD days so there was only dub available and it was edited too. But it was something. Now, however, Viz not only doesn’t produce those DVDs anymore, they don’t even acknowledge Zoids as one of their shows. To get a hold of these things you have to cough up huge chunks of money for out-of-print DVDs or borrow them off a friend. As long as the models were selling in Walmart, this show had a spot in the anime world, but as soon as it was taken off TV and the models were out of style, it disappeared. This trend isn’t uncommon for “kid shows” in the anime industry. Which is sad seeing as how some “kid” shows do reasonably well for themselves with older fans (see the excessive My Little Pony craze online for proof). Sadly most large companies think that if their target audience is bored with something then it should be boxed up and thrown out. What they fail to realize is that just because a target audience gets bored, doesn’t mean everyone is bored with it. After all, hundreds of fans would give an arm and a leg for legal copies of Sailor Moon DVDs that really don’t exist anymore (although the old VHS tapes can still be found on ebay every now and again). Another example is Hamtaro, a “kid show” that has DVDs available, but often only as overstock. Thankfully the prices are not nearly as inflated and thus can be bought on the cheap. Zoids, on the other hand, goes for 50+ dollars a pop.
There is a small hope for older shows. FUNimation has been re-releasing some old classics like Kaliedo Star on DVD. Which is good news considering that its original company, ADV films, went down years ago, taking a lot of classic titles with it. Though the show doesn’t have nearly as large a fanbase now as it once did, it has another chance at life. Not to mention at newer fans that have yet to bite into a classic anime. Unfortunately, there is no such luck for shows like Zoids, whose company is not dead but still very much alive. Alive and clinging to a title they have no intention of ever releasing again. And as more shows begin to get streamed here by anime companies, we might see a lot more shows like Zoids soon. Shows that are licensed for streaming only and never see a real release, like Tatami Galaxy. While the overall direction of the industry is good, moving more towards an internet based system, it’s sad to see some of the titles that are dropped along the way, titles companies see as unable to bring a “large enough profit.”
Maybe, someday, companies like Viz will realize that a show makes nothing at all when it’s kept in a dusty box and at least streaming a show is better than hiding it in a black hole. Maybe. But it’s unwise to hold your breath.