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Bandai's at the Stake, and in the Meantime...

January 14, 2001

Alright, Bandai announces their dub-only release of the original Gundam TV series edit on DVD. Big deal, right? I mean, the VHS release was already heavily edited to begin with, why subject the Bandai stuff to the headache of editing the audio too, not to mention the hassle of dealing with Japanese execs who haven't even released a Japanese DVD for the series? Are we so spoiled that we should expect a DVD in Japanese before the Japanese themselves get one?

Apparently so. The knee-jerk reaction of American anime fandom is far worse than the furor of the Kite release last year. Yeah, so AnimeVillage has been a bit out-of-date in its website, and Bandai may not be the fan-friendliest distrib out there. So does that entitle us American fans to grab our proverbial pitchforks and chase them out of the country? Don't be ridiculous.

At least with Kite, Media Blasters eventually released an unedited version (after much urging) under its Kitty Films division. And we sure called that one - it's really unnecessary to subject oneself to the prurient content in that OAV series. It does nothing for the medium, and I hate to ask anime fandom if that extra sex act or two was really worth fighting for.

As for Gundam, Bandai is trying very hard to get the licensing for the original Japanese version of Gundam, but until it is released for the Japanese market, we should not reasonably expect it to show up. Are we so selfish now that we can't wait for even the Japanese audiences to receive what they're due? We're Americans - gaijin, so really, why should Sunrise pay us any heed at all? Yeah, so Buena Vista Japan assented to the Mononoke Japanese track. But they're not the original rights holder, as Sunrise is. They are a subsidiary of an American company! Sunrise is a different can of beans here, and they are control, not the American division of Bandai that has been harassed by so-called "fans".

It's well and fine that people are petitioning Sunrise to allow their material to be released on a Region 1 DVD, so long as they realize that it won't happen unless the company's executives decide it is in their best interests economically (which it probably isn't) or a Region 2 Gundam DVD is released (which is more likely, if still a longshot). Again, be nice, and no one gets hurt. Disappointed, perhaps, but not hurt.

Meanwhile, the online editorials I have seen, particularly at Anime News Network (http://www.animenewsnetwork.com) , have offered a voice of reason not often seen in fan rants - a commendation to the webmasters there for being brave enough to present an opinion as seemingly unpopular as my own.

As for Bandai - well, the problems I have with them have nothing to do with this situation, and besides, their releases, by and large, are fine by me. (But where on Pern did they come up with the name Pilot Candidate for Megami Kouhosei?!?!)

Yeah, it's great to be a fan, but please don't get so caught in fandom that you lose rational thought, and wage jihad in the name of Lalah Sun. It's embarrassing!

- Carlos Ross


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