The List
7 Japan-International Co-Productions

by Lynzee Loveridge,

International success of anime comes and goes. "Animation for adults" doesn't translate in every culture and many of the shows coming out of Japan are extremely niche. Some series are luckier than others and gain enough international fans to garner overseas producers while other companies look to Japanese studios' distinct style for their project. This week's list looks as seven examples of international projects animated in Japan.

7. Sin: The Movie American anime licensors like Funimation, Media Blasters, and in this case ADV, have all fronted money to see an anime project brought to life. Sin: The Movie has the distinct reputation of being one of the worst results. The anime film by Japan's Phoenix Animation is based on a first-person shooter developed from a Quake II engine mod released by Activision in 1998. The game itself wasn't particularly well received, but ADV went forward with 60-minute anime adaptation anyway.

6. Dungeons & Dragons The late 80s television anime series might be considered a precursor to the more current X-Men, Iron Man, and other Marvel animated properties. Toei Animation produced Dungeons & Dragons with Marvel Productions and TSR (now Wizards of the Coast) for CBS. The story follows six friends after they're transported to a magical world via a carnival ride and end up as classes from the Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition tabletop game.

5. Monsuno Jeremy Padawer put together Monsuno for Nick Toons in 2012 after showing his marketing capabilities with the Pokemon, Dragonball Z, Club Penguin, Neopets and other brands at Jakks Pacific. The 52-episode series first premiered in the U.S. and was animated by Japan's Larx Entertainment. The toy-centric marketing series is in the same vein as the later, U.S-funded Yu-Gi-Oh! and Beyblade series.

4. Afro Samurai Originally a self-published manga, the manga gained traction after animation Studio Gonzo and Samuel L. Jackson got wind of it. Jackson, Gonzo, and the manga's creator Takashi Okazaki worked together on the project with Jackson voicing the lead role. The series premiered on Spike TV and later on Japanese television with a Japanese dub.

3. Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland The animated film by Tōkyō Movie Shinsha, now known as TMS Entertainment, premiered first in Japan in 1989 followed by a later cut in the United States in 1992. The film is based on the 1905 newspaper comic strip by Winsor McCay and was a collaboration between animators in Japan and screenplay writers in the United States. However, ultimately the film was a work of love by Yutaka Fujioka who flew to California to convince McCay's descendants to let him make the film. The film saw a lot of prominent staff come and go from the project including Ray Bradbury, George Lucas, Hayao Miyazaki, Isao Takahata, Yoshifumi Kondo, and Osamu Dezaki.

2. The Big O Season 2 After low interest from the Japanese audience, The Big O was cut from its planned 26 episodes to 13. International fan reaction was much more positive, leading Cartoon Network to front the money for the remaining 13 episodes. The later season was produced with the Japanese staff with contribution from American producers. Even more episodes were laid out as an option, but international sales didn't justify more being created.

1. The Last Unicorn The Last Unicorn as a cult classic among anime fans and the book's original author, Peter S. Beagle, regularly turns out to anime conventions as a guest. The novel was penned in 1968 and the film was created for British television by the now defunct Top Craft studio. The studio was founded by Toei alumni Toru Hara and produced the animated The Hobbit film, ThunderCats and Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. When the studio went bankrupt in 1985, Miyazaki and Takahata changed the studio's name to, that's right, Studio Ghibli.

Some other notable internationally-funded series include: Dead Leaves, Ghost in the Shell/GitS: SAC, Samurai X: Reflections, Spider Riders, and Ulysses 31.

The new poll: What was your New Year's resolution?

The old poll: It looks like Watanabe and BONES' Space Dandy is the #1 anticipated show for the season!. Here's the full results (anything under 1% was omitted):

  1. Space Dandy 18.0%
  2. Sailor Moon (???) 13.4%
  3. Chūnibyō demo Koi ga Shitai! Ren 10.4%
  4. Silver Spoon TV 2 9.5%
  5. Nisekoi 6.1%
  6. Seitokai Yakuindomo 4.9%
  7. Pupa 4.8%
  8. Nobunaga the Fool 3.7%
  9. Noragami 3.6%
  10. Magical Warfare 2.5%
  11. Buddy Complex 2.2%
  12. Saki Zenkoku-hen 2.0%
  13. Sakura Trick 1.9%
  14. Witch Craft Works 1.9%
  15. Hozuki no Reitetsu 1.9%
  16. Hamatora 1.7%
  17. Wizard Barristers: Benmashi Cecil 1.58%
  18. Toaru Hikūshi e no Koiuta 1.1%
  19. Tonari no Seki-kun 1.0%

When she isn't compiling lists of tropes, topics, and characters, Lynzee works as Associate Editor for Anime News Network, blogs about women and LBGT topics in anime and manga on her blog Engendered Dilemma, and posts pictures of her son on Twitter @ANN_Lynzee.

discuss this in the forum (62 posts) |
bookmark/share with:

this article has been modified since it was originally posted; see change history

The List homepage / archives