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The Mike Toole Show - The Strange Saga of Star Anime Enterprises


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zendervai



Joined: 06 Apr 2012
Posts: 95
PostPosted: Sun Nov 27, 2016 3:58 pm Reply with quote
The thing with S'more entertainment is just how arrogant they ended up. They handled stuff in a really lazy and really non-standard way (the only other time I've seen anything with script PDFs on the DVD was an old Doctor Who DVD where the script covered a couple of missing episodes) that makes the shows borderline impossible to watch. The Galaxy Express thing was the really stupid thing though. I think S'more assumed that because Galaxy Express 999 was from the 70s that no one would notice the awful quality, but Discotek released Space Pirate Captain Harlock a while later, and that show looks great! For the time at least.

But whenever anyone tried to call them on their bizarre approach, they just claimed that they knew what they were doing and everyone was being too picky, or like Mike said, that it was way to expensive to do something that is a straight up industry requirement.
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EricJ2



Joined: 01 Feb 2014
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 27, 2016 4:20 pm Reply with quote
Hen's Tooth, as the name suggests, was more about rare titles (also offering fairly good DVD editions of Kentucky Fried Movie and The Private Eyes, IIRC, before those found better homes)
Jack & the Beanstalk was just culty and available as a 70's dubbed-proto-anime nostalgia oddity, otherwise they weren't normally a micro-anime label that scrounged what it could get (like early AnimEigo did). I remember they did a couple of Weird 70's Proto-Anime Matinees in good editions, like Taro the Dragon Boy or Jack & the Witch, before Discotek came on the scene.
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johnnysasaki



Joined: 01 Jun 2014
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 27, 2016 4:42 pm Reply with quote
there's Synch-Point that,despite having handled the first DVD release of a big and successful anime in North America like FLCL in the early 2000's ,never really took off with anything else besides Aquarian Age movie and some Di Gi Charat stuff(and also left I'm Gonna be An Angel incomplete and with a very miscast Steve Blum as the main lead,an young teenager boy...).
There's Super Techno Arts,whose only release was the Jojo's OVAs based on Part 3,though its ANN entry also lists a series called Sci-Fi Harry and a hentai(!) called Shadow,but apparently those were never released in North America.
There's also Warner Bros pathetic release of Jojo's Bizarre Adventure Season 1,being DVD only,cramming 26 episodes into 3 DVDs,and with dubtitles...thankfully now Viz is showing WB how you do things right.
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SpacemanHardy



Joined: 03 Jan 2012
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 27, 2016 4:42 pm Reply with quote
This article reminded me of another obscure anime company by the name of AN Entertainment. They only managed to put out three shows: Haré+Guu, Risky Safety, and Miami Guns. While all three were dubbed, Miami Guns is interesting in that not only was it the only dub ever recorded by the studio that worked on it, but almost all of the actors who appeared in it never starred in another anime dub ever again.
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Alan45
Village ElderVillage Elder


Joined: 25 Aug 2010
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 27, 2016 4:54 pm Reply with quote
@SpacemanHardy

AN Entertainment was the Anime Nation retailer, since gone.
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Zalis116
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Joined: 31 Mar 2005
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Location: Kazune City
PostPosted: Sun Nov 27, 2016 4:59 pm Reply with quote
You could call Hirameki International a 1.5-release company, as they released Idol Hunter Su-Chi-Pai and half of Soar High Isami before bowing out of the anime market. Though their primary focus was VNs, often all-ages/console versions of erogames. Some of the notable VNs included the well-respected Ever17 and the pretty-good Hourglass of Summer. Their releases were all right, despite some occasional wonky grammar/editing and the awkward DVD-based format (as in, actually played as DVD video with dialogue choices made via remote control sending players to different chapters) of Hourglass and some other games.

The sordid saga of Crimson Star Entertainment was detailed on ANNCast back in 2013.

Quote:
What really did S'more in was their inept stab at Galaxy Express 999, which amounted to little more than highly-compressed encodes of the episodes that Toei had been streaming online for years, complete with burned-in subtitles. When fans upbraided them for the hard subs, the company publicly complained that furnishing Galaxy Express 999 with proper soft subtitles would've cost a small fortune, seemingly unaware of the video OCR tools and cheap, motivated freelance subtlitler/timers that would've driven their costs down.
Extracting the subtitles as a script might've been feasible enough (though my experience with OCR tools leaves me preferring to transcribe subtitles instead), but if Toei only provided them with the hardsubbed streaming videos, then creating clean softsubbed video might've been a much taller order. I hear it's possible to use OCR tools to "subtract" hardcoded subtitles from videos, but I imagine the results could be less than ideal.

Though for as much outcry as there was over S'More's hardsubbed Galaxy Express 999, there isn't nearly as much complaining about the "effectively hardsubbed" (Japanese audio-only, subtitles locked on) discs cranked out by companies like NISA and Sentai for numerous titles these days.


Last edited by Zalis116 on Sun Nov 27, 2016 5:22 pm; edited 1 time in total
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classicalzawa
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Joined: 19 Jan 2008
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 27, 2016 5:05 pm Reply with quote
Pied Piper is new, I think they only have Time of Eve and Skip Beat, but I am eager to see where they go from here. They use crowdsourcing too, which seems to be the new way for tiny publishers to try and make a name for themselves.

Speaking of crowdfunding though, AnimeSols didn't seem to do quite as well with it. Which is a shame because I just adored the hell out of those guys! They had a ton of old Tezuka on their website and other ancient things no one else wanted to touch. They put out sets for three series, 3 sets for Dear Brother, 4 for Creamy Mami (completing those two series) and 2 for Black Jack (half of that show, but at least it's episodic), but they still had tons more up streaming. I really do miss them though, the releases were a bit bare boned, but I didn't mind if it meant I could own a solid copy of Dear Brother. I would also count Dororo as their work too, because Discotek only put it out based on the massive support it got on AnimeSols as AS was about to go out. So their legacy lasts in four series that made it to DVD print (and which, except for Dororo, are now massively expensive online because 1) duh and 2) they had to liquidate stock to fully shut down or something)

And also in the vein of "publishes stuff other than anime", I am a huge fan of GKids. Lame name (wikipedia says it stands for "Guerrilla Kids International Distribution Syndicate, slightly cooler sounding I suppose), but they release tons of animated movies from all over the world. Europe, Africa, South America, nothing is off limits to them. And they get damn good dub work on that stuff too, using a mix of anime and non-anime actors on things and celebrities where applicable. They seem to be handling a lot of the Ghibli movies these days for whatever reason, which is where most people would probably know them from, but they also have A Letter to Momo, Patema Inverted (speaking of Time of Eve and all, same director), Welcome to the Space Show, and soon, Miss Hokusai. Sometimes they'll get Oscar nomination nods (like for Secret of Kells, Ernest & Celestine, etc) so that probably helps them a lot in terms of sales.
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Parsifal24



Joined: 20 Apr 2010
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 27, 2016 5:16 pm Reply with quote
It was already mentioned but AnimeSols was one that could have been great but did did not succeed I liked it mostly for fact that some of the old Pierrot Magical Girl series it just didn't succeed. With Crimson Star that was someone not thinking rightly and I did end up seeing Looking Up At The Half-Moon on Crunchyroll and it was only okay I even reviewed it on my blog.
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belvadeer



Joined: 11 Jun 2006
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 27, 2016 5:22 pm Reply with quote
Quote:
I love Dragon League, man. It's about a world of magic and fantasy, and how one kid who looks kinda like Ranma has to beat all of these formidable knights and wizards and dragons at soccer. The big adversary is the captain of the Eleven Winners, a pugnacious Soccer Lion who, upon being defeated, immediately becomes one of the main character's buddies so they can go into battle together. The series is great fun, and at two episodes per VHS tape, it would've run to completion after a mere 19 or 20 volumes. I don't think Star Anime Enterprises got past volume 1, though…


Oh my gosh, I love Dragon League too! I have volume 1 and I'm equally annoyed that it never had any more releases. It's a shame too, because it's really good stuff and a medieval world of humans and nonhumans playing soccer has to be one of the most original setups I've seen in old school anime like this. I wish someone would release the whole thing on DVD (unless they already have and I'm just not aware of it).
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EricJ2



Joined: 01 Feb 2014
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 27, 2016 5:25 pm Reply with quote
Zalis116 wrote:
Quote:
What really did S'more in was their inept stab at Galaxy Express 999, which amounted to little more than highly-compressed encodes of the episodes that Toei had been streaming online for years, complete with burned-in subtitles. When fans upbraided them for the hard subs, the company publicly complained that furnishing Galaxy Express 999 with proper soft subtitles would've cost a small fortune, seemingly unaware of the video OCR tools and cheap, motivated freelance subtlitler/timers that would've driven their costs down.


Though for as much outcry as there was over S'More's hardsubbed Galaxy Express 999, there isn't nearly as much complaining about the "effectively hardsubbed" (Japanese audio-only, subtitles locked on) discs cranked out by companies like NISA and Sentai for numerous titles these days.


The fan outcry over GE999's hard subs was bumping into the trees for not seeing the forest--
The reason it had hard subs was everyone ELSE'S complaint against S'More's edition, namely just up-dumping the streaming encodes onto a disk and calling it a "collection".

Toei's certainly been keeping its core classic titles alive on the streaming market, with Fist of the North Star and Star Blazers available everywhere, but the fact that no one could license a simple straightforward film-sourced license for GE999 TV (even when the movies got nice editions from Nozomi), I remember we weren't sure whether that was Toei's fault for sitting on the TV license, or S'more's for being so darned amateur and cheap.
It wasn't the subtitles that would have "cost S'mores a small fortune", it was the actual remastered episodes they would have had to put them on if they'd done a real edition.
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The Tragic Man



Joined: 20 Jan 2010
Posts: 1
PostPosted: Sun Nov 27, 2016 5:29 pm Reply with quote
Some of Australian companies.

Red Ant Media started out as a budget PC game distributor, but got into anime with Evangelion 1.01 (yes, 1.01). They released it on DVD then disappeared; Madman picked up Evangelion and released 1.11.

Tokyo Night Train fared better; they released Daphne in the Brilliant Blue, the first Shakugan no Shana (possibly with the related OVA? I'm not sure) and I think something else as their launch titles. They later started releasing Starship Operators, but only released the first disc before folding. Madman picked up their catalogue.

On the other hand, Siren Visual seems hard to kill. After a couple of quiet years on the anime front, I think there're rumblings coming from them. At least they have non-anime lines.

Hanabee seems more interested in Rooster Teeth (whatever they do) these days, though they do seem to have licensed stuff recently.

And Madman just keeps going on. They turned 20 in October.
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Brett-Butler



Joined: 09 Jul 2012
Posts: 21
PostPosted: Sun Nov 27, 2016 6:05 pm Reply with quote
That Jack & The Beanstalk anime holds a lot of dear memories to me. I got the VHS copy of the dub as a present from my parents when I was very young, and would watch it almost religiously until I was 10. It wasn't until many years later when researching it that I realised that it was my first ever experience watching anime.

I found a copy of the dub on YouTube a few years ago and got to watch it for the first time in years - aside from a few dodgy acting performances (especially when Jack is singing), it holds up pretty well. The soundtrack is ace - all the songs act like pastiches of every single musical genre that was popular in the 70s.
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FLCLGainax



Joined: 10 May 2010
Posts: 356
Location: USA
PostPosted: Sun Nov 27, 2016 6:42 pm Reply with quote
I find it strange Jack and the Beanstalk had to be licensed from a German outfit and not from Japan directly. Also makes me wonder why they only had access to a pan-n-scan master and not the original cinemascope elements.

Edit: Post edited for clarity.
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Triltaison



Joined: 03 Jul 2011
Posts: 150
PostPosted: Sun Nov 27, 2016 7:34 pm Reply with quote
I immediately also thought of AN Entertainment, Hirameki, and Anime Sols, as others have pointed out. There's also AnimeCrash, but that was talked about in an earlier column I believe. I suppose Image Entertainment has put out a few too many to qualify, but it still has a weird variety of anime. Galerians: Rion even got a UMD through them for some reason.

How about Arts Magic? They gave us Salaryman Kintaro, Blue Remains, and A.L.I.C.E. but I think little else, if anything.

I actually have the misfortune of knowing about the Crimson Star debacle first-hand, as I went to college with Corey and knew him well enough through anime club and social activities like DnD. Still very weird to think about the whole affair, and the nature of the charges.
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horseradish



Joined: 27 Oct 2015
Posts: 125
Location: California, USA
PostPosted: Sun Nov 27, 2016 8:53 pm Reply with quote
I watched Gulliver's Travels Beyond the Moon after reading an older column a few years back. I really enjoyed the whimsical visuals and music, especially during the scenes discussing the dystopian history of the planet Hope Star and the giant robot confrontation. The brief opening scene where the protagonist Ricky is watching a film adaptation was fun for comparison to the novel. I didn't know about the long out-of-print Catcom DVD release that included 1939 Gulliver's Travels as a double feature. Maybe someone will offer a new release someday.

New Galaxy Anime announced their arrival on the market with their Unico licenses in 2007 and was never heard from again, but Discotek followed through with their own releases. Both movies had surprisingly dark undertones for a character commissioned by Sanrio.

Crunchyroll is streaming the sequel Ashita no Joe 2. Would be great if they had the first TV series as well. The Black Jack sets are still available on Rightstuf and also streaming on Crunchyroll, but others such as Dear Brother and Creamy Mami...

Triltaison wrote:
How about Arts Magic? They gave us Salaryman Kintaro, Blue Remains, and A.L.I.C.E. but I think little else, if anything.
They released the Young Jack series that included a live-action movie with each Kintaro volume: Takashi Miike's Young Thugs: Innocent Blood and Ley Lines, Shinya Tsukamoto's Bullet Ballet, Toshiaki Toyoda's Blue Spring. I don't think they ever released a fifth Young Jack volume. They also released [email protected] I had trouble sitting through [email protected] since the CGI aged badly.

Arts Magic was based in the U.K. and Rykodisc had their North American sales and distribution rights according to an old 2004 Billboard issue. Rykodisc later folded into Alternative Distribution Alliance, the indie distribution side of Warner Music Group. I found an old (around 2004?) interview with Arts Magic that discusses some history and production. They focused mainly on Japanese live-action starting in the late '90s and perhaps closed around 2009.
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