The current anime streaming market-to-home-video format means North American audiences have quick and easy access to almost every show, every season. In days of yore, this was far from standard and many series went under the radar, never to resurface. This week’s list looks at one series from each staple genre with a few qualifying points: it aired on television in Japan, it was never fully released legally in English, fansubs are not readily available, and it ran at least one cour (often much, much more).
6. Hana no Ko Lunlun (Magical Girl) Anime Sols has had moderate success bringing lesser known or older magical girl series to the forefront. Others, like Hana no Ko Lunlun are still wallowing in obscurity. The story follows French orphan girl Lunlun who teams up with a talking dog and cat to help them find a magical flower. The late 70s series got very limited exposure stateside under the title Angel by ZIV International who produced two episodes cut from multiple Japanese episodes.
5. Pro Golfer Saru (Sports) The comedic sports series has an impressive pedigree. The original manga was helmed by Motoo Abiko a.k.a. Doraemon’sFujiko Fujio A. Saru, who like his namesake is reminiscent of a monkey, has honed his golf skills by practicing in the countryside with a homemade club. He takes on a mysterious Mr. X to prove his self-proclaimed status as a “pro golfer.” The story never came stateside which could be credited to the U.S.’s tepid reception to golf. The 1970s series is still popular enough in Japan though, and got a DVD release in 2010 and a Wii video game.
4. Pachislo Kizoku Gin (Shonen) Around the time Nobuyuki Fukumotointroduced the world to gambling manga Tobaku Hakairoku Kaiji, Kengo Asaipenned Pachislo Kizoku Gin about pachinko journalist (is that a thing?) and college student Ginya Otonashi who discovers he’s actually really, really good at Pachinko. The series ran for 23 episodes and followed Ginya as he meets new people during his run as a “Pachiko Aristocrat.”
3. Pygmalio (Fantasy) Pygmalio is a mix of Greek mythology and traditional fantasy settings. Nippon Animation produced the 39-episode series in 1990 and it would have been right at home on U.S. TV as a younger version ofConan the Adventurer, He-Man, or The Pirates of Dark Water. The story follows the quest of super-strong Prince Kurt to return his mother back to normal after she’s turned into a statue by Medusa.
2. Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair (Shojo/Romance) The title of this anime might ring a bell for you or anyone else familiar with American Folk music. The semi-biographical anime series is named after the well-known tune by Stephen Foster, otherwise regarded as “the father of American Music.” The titular “Jeanie” in the series is named for Foster’s wife Jane Denny McDowell and followers their lives as young children in Pennsylvania in 1838. Was historical fiction considered unpalatable for U.S. kids because it didn’t stopLittle House on the Prairie from taking off.
1. Zenderman (Sci-Fi) Zenderman is sandwiched between its better known predecessor Yatterman and Rescueman from Tatsunoko Productions’ “Time Bokan Series.” The series follows Tetsu, Sakura, and Amattan as they literally race through time to discover the Elixir of Life before their evil pursuers.Yatterman proved unsuccessful among fans when it was up for funding onAnime Sols so prospects are likely lower for the even less well known Zenderman.
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