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Old 2006-10-18, 12:40   Link #1892
Senior Member
Join Date: Apr 2006
Funny this article came up just as we were discussing this topic...

10-18-06 (5:53AM EDT)---- What's Holding Haruhi Suzumiya's USA Release?

Arguably, in 2006, the top new anime which has gained the most ground in the hearts and minds of grass roots North American anime fans is Kyoto Animation and Kadokawa's The Melancholoy Of Haruhi Suzumiya. The TV series only debuted in the spring in Japan but quickly became a viral phenomena in the English speaking world mirroring it's rapid popularity explosion in Japan. By the time only a handful of episodes had aired and been fansubbed, if you happened to tap the pulse of online fandom you'd have every indication the property was going supernova in America. It then penetrated anime cons nationwide in the US, the American media and continued to enjoy strong support online. It's around this time that one would expect alarm bells to be ringing in some offices in Texas and California to start making phonecalls and booking trips to Japan. A license announcement was anticipated by AX at least and certainly at one of the major anime cons of the summer. But it never came. Meanwhile fansubs saturate file sharing networks on the internet and the whole series shows up on YOUTUBE. So What's the hold up? There are several continuities of thought. Firstly, these days when an anime reaches the buzz level of a show like Haruhi you can bet several companies will be locked into a bidding contest for a period of time. A monetary figure is eventually put on the table that can't be surpassed by the others and that company gets the license. It's very possible this process could be going on right now.

It's also been postulated that licensing Haruhi Suzumiya for the American market could come with a snag........ in a bunny girl outfit. Some are saying it may be very difficult to work around the issue of a major character whose trademark sexy bunny costume appearance is litteraly already trademarked in the United States and other countries as well. To the uninitiated, Hugh Hefner's Playboy empire happens to own the registered trademark to the traditional bunny girl costume in America. Acquiring permission to use the bunny image is admittedly what kept Gainax's American division General Products USA from selling the Daicon animation shorts there in 1989 (although it's interesting that Otaku No Video and even more recently, the videogame Dragon Quest 8 both feature bunny girls and did make it to release in the market). It's possible the costume frames could be retouched (or completely replaced with something new) as was done for US release Dirty Pair manga several years ago. In that case, Kei and Yuri ended up with cocktail-waitress dresses. For Haruhi, this kind of compromise sounds even more likely if one takes into account the fact that the entire TV series is right now being massively retouched with over 1,000 pieces of animation being added (including new scenes, props etc..) in Japan for the DVD release. It would make sense that new scenes sans bunny girls could be easily created with the artists already in the studio at this time churning out the new material. Perhaps when this process is complete international licensing activities and releases can commence.
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