This is true for a lot of anime that received Macekre dubs and the only uncut version being the fansub. This is the case with most anime dubbed by 4Kids Entertainment, but averted withOne Piece. In addition, most 4Kids dubs themselves aren't available on home video of any kind due to their struggles with getting home video partners. (Pokémon is an exception.) They had a particular nasty fallout with FUNimation after they distributed their titles on video for years.
This also applies to the 4Kids Macekre of One Piece. Later episodes were never released on DVD, so those with Bile Fascination will have to look hard. The first 52 episodes are on DVD (courtesy of Viz Media) and can be found really cheap.
Fans of Kirby: Right Back at Ya! are often frustrated by the fact that not all of the Japanese episodes have been fansubbed, even as of 2015. Those fond of making/watching fan videos are often frustrated by the fact that if an episode has been fansubbed, it's nearly impossible to find it without subtitles, and if you can, it's likely to be very bad quality, with the time it was originally being broadcast in very large numbers in one corner. Some of the episodes are clearly ripped from damaged VHS tapes, and the fansub will apologize for this from time to time. Some episodes of the English version can be pretty hard to find, as well, most infamously Shell-Shocked, which was only aired once when they did reruns since the initial run was replaced at the last minute with a baseball game.
Tokyo Mew Mew had 26 episodes localized by 4Kids as Mew Mew Power and then dropped due to them not being able to get a merchandising deal (despite high ratings). The other 26 episodes were never licensed. The 4Kids dub of episodes 24-26 has also not been shown in the US since they lead into a sharp cliffhanger (literally, their dub of episode 26 ends with a "To Be Continued..."!), however they did air overseas in the UK, Australia, Canada, etc. To this day, Tokyo Mew Mew hasn't received an English re-dub, official subtitled release (fansubs are readily available), or any home video release of any kind in the US. The 4Kids dub was only released to DVD in Australia (eps. 1-11 only) and South Africa.
Shaman King got two uncut DVDs with episodes 1-6 from Funimation before they were canceled. Three more volumes (with eps. 7-15) were solicited, but never came out. That's the only home video release that show has ever gotten in the US. The 4Kids dub, which successfully completed its run on FoxBox, has never made it to video, and no other official release of the uncut/subtitled version has transpired. Those uncut DVDs featured a separate dub with the 4Kids cast and a faithful script, but only 6 of its 15 recorded episodes has seen the light of day.
Do you remember Tama And Friends on syndicated television in 2001? Then the home video was never announced and released during the 2001-2002 syndication. The TV-rip of all 13 dubbed episodes can be easily found.
This applies to almost all movies from Eleven Arts (not the movies that are being distributed in theaters). Yeah, they have all the rights to those movies, but no company are interested in distribute them at all. Do you want to see them? Take note:
The touching story of a girl with a bad leg, 5-tou ni Naritai. This was fansubbed in English, Spanish and Russian.
The movie based on the book "Bootleg", Chocolate Underground. There is a fansubbed version in English and in some other languages, but only when this was released as a web-series.
A story about two brothers, one of them deaf, Daisuki Dai-chan. Better luck finding it, since no DVD or RAW version exists.
Yet another WWII film (albeit biased in favour of the Japanese, since it's based on a Japanese war survivor's autobiography), Garasu no Usagi. There is an English fansubbed-version on torrent and streaming sites. No Spanish version is available on the Internet. However, for people that live countries like Mexico, Japan Foundation have it covered since they sometimes show the movie.
The Macross franchise is legendary for having multiple cases of this caused by its legal snarls:
Macross: Do You Remember Love? has been caught up in rights problems for so long that no one is really even sure if anyone has the rights to it. The closest thing it has to a proper Western release was an infamously bad English dub done in Hong Kong for VHS: the version of the dub that was released in America, Macross: Clash of the Bionoids, was somehow even worse, due to Celebrity Home Entertainment removing almost thirty minutes worth of material from the film in an ill-advised effort to make it "kid-friendly".
Macross II did get a proper Western release, but that seems to have been mostly because it was made without any involvement from franchise creators Studio Nue and Shoji Kawamori, neither of whom consider II to be an "official" Macross series anyways.
Robotech: The Movie (a Macekred version of Megazone 23), because the licensee was uninterested. Even the man who edited/rewrote it for Western release was lukewarm at best about it, and its theatrical release amounted to a few days' run in Dallas. Scuttlebutt has it that Robotech: The Movie is to Carl Macek what The Star Wars Holiday Special is to George Lucas. A version of Robotech: The Movie with all the Megazone 23 footage out is available as a bonus feature on some Robotech DVDs, but you'd have to look elsewhere for the full film.
Interestingly, the unadulteratedMegazone 23 had its own licensing. Streamline Pictures had rights before they went under, then ADV Films after that. As of present, it's unlicensed and out of print in North America, but it could still be up for grabs by one of ADV's splintered offspring.
The hit-and-miss, yet undeniably familiar English dub of Neon Genesis Evangelion (including Directors' Cuts) and its two films Evangelion: Death and Rebirth and The End of Evangelion are for all intents and purposes abandoned by Manga Entertainment - which lost the license rights to the original series and today is standing on its last legs. Studio Khara is reportedly waiting until they have finished the Rebuild of Evangelion films to begin re-licensing the original series in the English-language marketplace. The dub tracks, however, have already been transcoded onto recent 1080p Blu Ray releases by fansubbers, for nostalgia's sake.
Mazinger Z was broadcast in Spain in 1972. However, only thirty-three random episodes of the first season were dubbed before Moral Guardians forced them to pull the plug - and the last episode was never aired. IVS released several tapes, including twenty-four of the episodes aired by RTVE1. For fifteen years buying, renting, or borrowing those few tapes were the only way Mazinger-Z fans could watch the series (and only a tiny chunk of it!). In 1993, the whole of Mazinger Z and part of Great Mazinger were broadcast, and UFO Robo Grendizer was aired later, but neither series was released on video or DVD, and if you had not recorded the episodes or you did not know someone who had done so, you were out of luck. Finally, in the late nineties, several movies featuring the most famous Go Nagai Super Robots were released on video, and in the 00's a group of fans uploaded and shared both series and UFO Robo Grendizer online. However, the original Spanish dub of many episodes is still missing since they were never released (fortunately, some fans recorded several episodes and kept the tapes for THREE decades. Thanks to them part of the lost dubbing job was recovered). Given that the fights and disagreements between Dynamic Planning and Toei prevent the original anime series from being aired or released out of Japan until recently, sharing the tapes, importing the Discotek NTSC DVD sets, or downloading the episodes online is the only way Spanish-speaking fans can watch the Mazinger trilogy.
This trope also applies to the original 1977 English dub of the series, which was produced and aired in Hawaii (it lasted about 29 or 30 episodes). The heavily-edited "Tranzor Z" version has also lacked an official release.
The collapse of Geneon means that a number of beloved shows have gone out of print, as is the case with Satoshi Kon's wildly ambitious and original Paranoia Agent, though the individual volumes can be purchased used on amazon.com for relatively cheap.
But not all is lost. As far as is known, all a company has to do is step forward to buy the licensing rights from their original distributors. A few of Geneon's gems like Trigun have been claimed by companies like Funimation.
Central Park Media's manga is also now under this trope. Interestingly, their older DVD sets are still not too difficult to find, given that most of them were released between 1999-2002, a time when DVDs were new, highly expensive, and exclusive. Some of them won't destroy your wallet either; you can actually get a box set of CPM's original DVD release of Slayers on eBay for reasonable prices (ranging from as low as $30 up to around $80), a given because each season was originally released for about $100 each. While the series has been long since re-released, both individually and in a nicely-priced boxset, the older DVDs (and the same applies to any other older company) are coveted for their extras.
Sadly, while the Slayers TV series is easy to find (if you look hard enough, you can even find the old CPM releases in discount or specialty stores) the five movies and two OVA series are out of print (ADV Films had the rights to them). In this case, distribution wasn't that plentiful to begin with (either due to sub-par reviews, little promotion, or disliking the dub that differed from the more-loved TV series), and the license has expired. Slayers Premium alone, for example, can be bought new on eBay for $75 - keep in mind that it's only a half-hour long, even if it does have nice extras. Actually, if you look hard enough, collecting the movies/OVAs individually isn't usually too hard or expensive. The boxsets on the other hand can go for hundreds. Fortunately, these movies and OVAs can be found fairly easily dubbed on YouTube and other places on the web.
ADV Filmsdubbed all the episodes, and many foreign dubs use the unreleased English dub as a reference. The dub is considered very much hard-to-find.
'Defeat Him! The Pirate Ganzack', a 30 minute One Piece short made for the 1998 Jump Super Anime Tour, had an extremely limited release. Other than seeing it as part of the tour, the only way to get a VHS copy of it was to send off for one using a coupon in Weekly Shonen Jump and it has never been re-released since. The fact that the later anime would be made by a different studio with a totally different cast probably doesn't help.
The JoJo's Bizarre Adventure movie Phantom Blood. A newer, and thus odder, example. Six years after its release in Japanese theaters, it has still not received a DVD release. No one is sure why, but the most commonly cited reason is that Hirohiko Araki, the creator of JoJo, loathed it for its poor quality and reception. The film had a very rushed production schedule, brought on by the family of a producer pulling funding after he died in an accident during production, resulting in a messily-made film that deviated significantly from the manga and omitted several crucial characters (most notably Speedwagon). Because of this, it's impossible to find on even the shadiest corners of the Internet, with the exception of a rough version (no voiceover, occasional storyboard frames instead of completed animation) of the first 16 minutes of the film. No DVD release means that the only way for it to be seen would be through a bootleg video camera copy.
Sailor Moon was this for a decade due to heavy licensing problems that occurred. It has since been re-licensed for an English-language streaming/home video release by Viz Media and Madman Entertainment in North America and Australia respectively.
All the original DVD releases from ADV and Pioneer with the original DiC/Cloverway dub are getting very expensive, with some 7-episode single DVDs going for as much as $90!!!
The boxsets are worse, including ADV's sub-only sets of the first two seasons, some of them have been going for as much as $2,000, which is saying a lot considering the MSRP was no more than $60 per set. The 2nd season set seems to be the worst considering that it was available for only a brief amount of time. Because of all this, bootlegs, fansubs, and DVD rips were very easy to find online until Toei started suddenly eyeballing the series like a hawk.
The final season, Sailor Moon Sailor Stars was never licensed in the US before the licensing issues kicked in, so it was never legally available in any format until Viz picked up the franchise. Viz's streams finally reached the season in December 2015, marking the very first time the season has been available legally in English. The same can be said for the Sailor Moon R movie short, the Sailor Moon SuperS movie short, and the SuperS TV special (which was comprised of three more shorts). Italy was the only foreign country to get those until Viz and Madman respectively confirmed they were included in their licensing deals.
Episode 67 was near-impossible to find in the US for many, many years since it was mysteriously absent from ADV's Sailor Moon R subtitled boxset, contributing to its reputation as being a very bad filler episode, especially after it was rumored that Naoko Takeuchi herself wouldn't allow the episode to be released because of how much she hated it. It turns out however that it was skipped because ADV didn't receive the materials for it from DiC, who had skipped the episode in their dub, and didn't have any copy of it.
The manga also went out-of-print from Tokyopop before Kodansha USA picked up the rights in 2011. This marked the first time the original unedited and un-fliped manga was available in English. Tokyopop's old censored and flipped editions went for high prices for quite a while.
Code Name Sailor V was rare and hard to find in America, even online, for years until Kodansha finally picked it up and gave it a mainstream US release.
The series remains unlicensed in the UK. MVM used to have the UK license to the DiC dub of the first two seasons, but it was an infamously poor seller (almost leading the company into bankruptcy), and there's a rumor that licensors there are scared to touch it. Jerome Mazandarari, the one formerly in charge of Manga UK, once said he would rather slam his testicles in the Manga office door than license Sailor Moon.
And the original English dub by DiC/Cloverway is gone forever outside of illegal viewing and buying the tapes second-hand due to Viz claiming that the original cinetape materials for them no longer exist or are in very poor shape (there's also possibly music issues that would need to be cleared for DiC's episodes), which fans of the 90s dub are understandably outraged about.
The Toon Makers Sailor Moon trailer for what they planned on doing with the series was screened at a convention and hasn't been seen since... unless you count the many places to view it online (though it was taped with someone's camcorder). Nicknamed "Saban Moon" (despite Saban not being involved; it was produced by Toei's American division Renaissance Atlantic, who helped produce Power Rangers), the TV pilot has still never been seen by anyone outside the industry. Because of that, it has become something of a curious sacred treasure among some members of the American Sailor Moon fandom, who want to see for themselves just how bad it really was. Even the animation cels and shooting script (for the animated segments), which were recovered recently from a storage locker, sold for thousands on ebay.
And just like what happened with Dragon Ball Z, fans of the Japanese version are still circulating copies on the internet with the original audio for certain previews ripped from the initial broadcasts. A quick search will bring up several clips featuring this lost high-quality audio, though full episodes take some extra effort to find. However, Toei did keep the original audio masters for the episodes themselves.
Super Pig, in anime or manga form, is impossible to obtain legally. Japan saw a DVD release, and copies can be found if you know where to look - untranslated.
Revolutionary Girl Utena had a DVD library that was once out of print, hard to find, and traded incestuously with other fans via internet. Thankfully, Nozomi and Right Stuf re-released the series in three limited edition box sets in 2011 using the remastered footage, including the movie.
Utena happens to be one of those series that's sub-licensed. The US distribution rights actually belong to Enoki Films, who in turn sublicensed it on to Central Park Media through their Software Sculptors label. The title went out of print because CPM went under, and they later licensed it to Right Stuf.
Crush Gear Turbo was a surprisingly-decent show with a surprisingly-good dub (the script, not necessarily the quality of the voice actors)... which has no DVD release. Had no VHS release. Has never been subbed (and never will be without DVD/VHS releases)... and both times it aired on Cartoon Network in Australia, some people missed the final episode, which resolved the entire main character arc! Arrrrgh!! Although a few volumes of DVDs of Crush Gear Turbo have been released, they are extremely hard to find. Heck, finding any proof of the existence of the English dub is difficult...or the franchise at all! There isn't even a page for it! The short-lived toyline was last seen on the bargain rack. Apparently, it can be found on various sources online.
When was the last time you read the Haruhi manga? No, not the newest version, which can be found in American bookstores nowadays — what about the 2004 version? Your answer is probably "never", because it was quickly canceled and is difficult to find even on the internet.
FUNimation's in-house uncut dub of the first 13 episodes of Dragon Ball was unavailable on DVD for many years due to licensing issues with Trimark (who FUNi had sold the rights to back in 1995) and Lionsgate (who bought Trimark in 2004). FUNimation had to wait until 2009 for the rights to expire and revert back to them before they could release those episodes and do season boxsets for the original Dragon Ball. However, those episodes were available on Region 4 DVD in Australia, where the licensing issues had no effect.
This also affected the first movie, which was unavailable uncut and hard-to-find for many years, even fansubbed until 2010 when FUNimation was finally allowed to redub and re-release it.
The original Dragon Ball in general was difficult to find on home video for a long time since FUNimation's "saga" sets for episodes 14 onwards were only briefly in-print, didn't sell very well, and went for high prices online. The blue "season sets" were really the first time the series had seen a major video release in the US.
The old BLT and Saban productions of early DB and DBZ respectively have become rare dubs since their DVDs are now out of print, and hard to find (although FUNi released a limited-edition DVD set with the old Saban DBZ eps). AB Groupe's English dubs that were made for Canada and Europe (due to broadcast standards in Canada restricting the use of non-Canadian programming), including their Blue Water dubs of DB and DBGT and their Ocean dub of the second half of DBZ, have become extremely rare since they haven't seen ANY home video release whatsoever, and only exist in TV rips. FUNimation's English dub is distributed on home video in those areas since AB Groupe only had broadcasting rights.
The old short-lived Harmony Gold dub from 1989 was thought to be outright lost until someone somehow got their hands on an old VHS TV rip from the 80s, and it briefly appeared on a Russian video site. This upload is now gone, but too late! Several people weren't gonna let it slip away without salvaging it first, and this dub is no longer considered lost. However, it only contained the TV special dub of movies 1 and 3. The short-lived Harmony Gold dub of the TV series still only survives as a Spanish dub offshoot.
95 episodes of Dragon Ball Kai with the Kenji Yamamoto score aired from April 5, 2009 to March 6, 2011, before he was fired by Toei Company for plagiarism, mainly the scores for Avatar and Terminator: Salvation. Reruns of these particular episodes have since replaced it with cues from the Shunsuke Kikuchi score from the Z series. On the respective Japanese Blu-Ray, Japanese DVD, American television airings, and American DVD/Blu-Raysnote Parts 1-4, not the "season" sets, the Yamamoto score was intact on episodes #001-#076, #001-#072, #001-#063, and #001-#052. So your best bet to getting ALL 95 Kai episodes with the Yamamoto score would be to trade with someone who recorded the show off of Fuji Television during the aforementioned period in the run. Episodes #096-#098 were never released with the Yamamoto score, so you would be completely out of luck finding those with the music intact.
Fans of the Japanese version are still circulating copies on the internet with the original audio ripped from the initial broadcasts. Fuji TV and it's affiliate networks disposed of the cine tapes for Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z sent by Toei (excluding the movies) because not only was their storage space was at a premium, but the cine tapes were also quite large, and they only survive through low-quality copies that sound like the actors recorded with pillows over their mouths. Finding copies on the internet with audio sourced from the original broadcasts is extremely rare, but highly covered. A quick search for "dragon ball z original broadcast audio" online will bring up several clips featuring this lost high-quality audio, though full episodes take some extra effort to find.
VIZ seems completely reluctant to release an uncensored version of the Dragon Ball manga or with all the color pages intact. The best they'll do are the VIZBIG editions, which are censored and contain only half the color pages, or the original trade paperbacks, which contain no color pages and, according to some, have wildly varying degrees of censorship (some volumes are censored, others aren't), with the DBZ half being more censored than the DB half. Even the new three-in-ones (not to be confused with the VIZBIGs), which are advertised as being uncensored, aren't actually uncensored at all. It doesn't help that much of the censorship has to do with content that in the United States is considered racist or pedophilic.
The Candy Candy anime, for the end result of the 1997-2002 legal battles between the two co-creators is that the series is Screwed by the Lawyers. Though miraculously, it did get a recent reissue in Latin America.
For years, Mad Bull 34 never saw a DVD release in North America, since Manga Entertainment had lost the rights to it before DVDs came into the picture. Discotek Media now has Mad Bull and released it in 2013 with bilingual audio, even promoting it as "quite possibly the best bad anime ever made."
The first five volumes of Lucky Star are pretty easy to find on the cheap, usually no more than 15 USD each. The sixth and final one? Good luck.
Monster Rancher suffered from this. Season 3 was dubbed but never aired in the US, and for years all we got were VHS releases of Season 1, and one DVD with 8 episodes. Discotek Media later rescued the series and released the entire English-dubbed series in 3 boxsets (including Season 3), and another boxset containing the entire Japanese series with English subtitles.
The tapes containing the (admittedly rushed and shabby, but still a fan-favourite) Spanish dub for Slayers were destroyed by the network after the airing rights expired, since they needed the space and didn't think they would be of any use anymore. Something like ten years later, another company bought the distribution rights of the dub with the intention of releasing it on DVD, but since it physically doesn't exist anymore they've been asking anyone who owns episodes on tape and the like to contribute.
Remember Mon Colle Knights on Fox Kids? It was awesome! Let's see if we can buy it... No. Well, no matter, we'll be able to watch it on... No. Hmm... (hours of searching later) ...This show's so damn obscure, it's nigh-impossible to find a place to download it.
If anyone wants to see Fighting Foodons again, they're pretty much out of luck considering that this is one of the rare anime series that 4Kids has done pretty well, if nothing else for its Narm Charm. Despite this fact, there are still no official releases for it yet.
The 1973 Doraemon anime is significantly hard to come across as the result of NTV Video going bankrupt. To pay off its debts, the company sold off several of its possessions, including the master negatives for Doraemon; not helping the issue was the fact that the president of NTV Video resigning during the shows run and being replaced by one who was disinterested in anime. Because NTV Video is now defunct, it is legally impossible to syndicate the anime or provide it on home video, and the one opportunity it did have to see syndication was shot down so that children wouldn't confuse it with the then-ongoing 1979-2005 anime.
Lupin III is an interesting example, as the movies and TV Series had at least two different companies releasing them in English (as well as a on-again, off-again broadcast on [adult swim]), as well as Tokyopop's release of the manga. The distributor for the TV series (Geneon) canceled their dub/release after episode 79 due to low sales/ratings, the movie distributor (FUNimation) finished up the ones they had bought, and the second series of the manga was cancelled almost halfway through its run due to low sales. Now Discotek Media has been re-releasing the anime franchise (with every half-hour Lupin television episode available legally online in North America through Crunchyroll or FUNimation), but nothing for the manga.
Cyborg 009, take your pick of any of the three different series (1968-1969, 1979-80, or 2001-02) — only eight episodes out of the entire 51-episode run of the most recent series has been officially released on DVD in the US (in both censored and uncensored formats). However, all 51 episodes were dubbed into English, but are harder to find due to lack of a home video release to support it's longevity. The last few episodes weren't even broadcast on Toonami, and are impossible to find dubbed. However, the first 26 episodes were released to DVD in Australia, and are a bit easier to find. As of the present, it seems unlikely that Sony Pictures will release the series in R1 format or even stream it on their Crackle service, owing to rights issues that representatives haven't explained (indicating that the license may no longer be active).
You want to watch either of the earlier series? Good luck. They're nearly impossible to find, even fansubbed. The '79 series was officially subbed and broadcast on a San Francisco station in the early 80s, but recordings don't exist. It's actually easier to watch the Italian dub than it is the original Japanese version. However, a fansubbing group is doing the 60s version and 35 episodes of the 70s version is subbed so far, so things are looking up! Still no word on official releases though.
The manga doesn't have it much better. Tokyopop only released the first 10 out of the 36 "MF Comics" imprint volumes before they canceled the series (presumably due to low sales). However at least they ended their publication at a good spot. "The Underground Empire of Yomi" was (coincidentally) the original intended ending to the series. Comicology has licensed the series digitally, but, again, only has the first 10 volumes and recycle Tokyopop's Bowdlerized translation.
Out of the animated 009 films, 009 RE: Cyborg has been the only one to make it to a recent R1 release, after two years of being held up in limbo by the dub having to be redone to Production IG's preferences. The 1980 film was dubbed in Japan in the late 80s (by the same studio responsible for the JAL dub of "Mystery of Mamo"), and released to VHS in the US both uncut by Best Video Corp and in edited form by Celebrity Home Ent. (as "Defenders of the Vortex") but never on DVD,. The 1966 film and its sequel "Monster Wars" have never seen the light of day in a R1 market, though fansubs do float about.
Unlike most anime dubbed by 4Kids, Pokémon has a lot of the series available on DVD (it helps that 4Kids has never owned home video rights for the franchise). But there are some weak spots. So you want to get some of the episodes of the Johto arc? Well, all of the Johto-arc singles DVDs can only be found online now, as Seasons 3-5 never got re-released onto DVD boxsets. Worse, some DVDs are only available used, with several over $90. As for the Master Quest season? Good luck finding either the 1st or 2nd box set without using Google. The rest of the franchise however, isn't too difficult to find on DVD.
Viz recently reissued Season 3 (the first Johto season) on DVD, and have plans for more.
The banned episodes of Pokemon, even if they were dubbed, the most famous of which is the seizure-inducing "Denno Senshi Porygon" that aired only once in Japan, are a notable example.
The Japanese version for the original series in general is very difficult to find due to there being no official home video release for itnote It is available on Hulu and Amazon Prime in Japan, but Region Coding is in effect for the rest of the world., and no complete fansub. Though it's not impossible to track down recent episodes, only the hardest of hardcore fans have seen much of the first several seasons in Japanese. The only exceptions are the banned episodes.
The infamous "Beauty and the Beach" wasn't initially broadcast in the West due to its inherently lewd premise... and James's fake breasts. It was dubbed with some inevitable edits and broadcast Out of Order, after which it was never seen again. It isn't even on the DVD sets.
After singer Noriko Sakai, who narrated the short Pichu and Pikachu, was arrested for a drug abuse scandal in 2009, OLM, the production company behind the anime, went so far out of their way to ban the short from ANY future appearance on home video. It would be 2017 before the short got to see a high-definition release... in Australia.
The Pikachu shorts in general now suffer from this outside of Japan. They were dubbed, but the older ones have been removed from recent DVD and Blu-Ray re-releases of their corresponding movies, apparently due to a combination of licensing issues and the Noriko Sakai scandalnote though Pikachu's Vacation was remastered and re-released with the first movie in Cinemark theaters, and Beyond Home Entertainment included the shorts in a special edition Blu-ray in Australia, and the newer ones have been alotted to a limited release on Pokémon's website and then never seen again.
The 1998 theatrical version of Pokémon: The First Movie has remained under this status since the release of the kanzenban version a year later. The latter version re-does a large number of shots in the film to add in CGI (be it replacing entire effects such as whirling clouds or simple choreographic retouches); this is the version that would be used for the film's English dub and all following home video releases. The theatrical version, meanwhile, has never seen a single re-release since its initial VHS & LaserDisc pressings in the first half of 1999, and only continues to survive thanks to the likes of eBay, Amazon, and a small number of video-sharing sites in the most obscure corners of the internet.
In the UK and Australia (at least), the first season, or Indigo League, was released in 2017 on both Blu-ray and DVD, covering fifty-two episodes.
For a long time, if you wanted any of the Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise on DVD, then you may have had to fork over a chunk of change. 4Kids' (former) main home video distributor, FUNimation Entertainment, got into a dispute with 4Kids, and since then, 4Kids' shows generally didn't come to any home video format for years. Yu-Gi-Oh! was released to DVD via FUNimation, but after Season 3, no DVDs ever saw the light of day, and the DVDs that DID come out went for a lot of money since they were discontinued for years especially the box sets). GX and 5Ds were pretty much nonexistent on home video as well. There were briefly uncut DVD releases of the original series but only three volumes were ever released.
However when 4Kids went kaput and the Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise rescued by Konami, Cinedigm got the license to release the series on DVD. All of the original series is out, and releases for GX, 5Ds, and Zexal are currently in progress. They also put out the "Bonds Beyond Time" on billingual DVD and Blu-ray (using Manga UK's subtitles). Unfortunately, there's still no word on a subtitled release for the main series.
Both sub and dub of GX and 5D's are now available on Crunchyroll, as well as the dub and 80+ episodes of the sub of the original series.
The OAV spinoff for Makeruna! Makendou. Released on VHS in Japan on March 15, 1995. All sites that claim to have copies are defunct. A downloadable copy can be found online, though.
Arguably, anime that's available on DVD in Japan (y'know, the nation that they were produced and broadcast in) don't qualify for this Trope. However, Japanese releases only have one print run. Popular series get reissued from time to time (if you're lucky), but if it's a particular edition that you're after, your best bet is to scour auction websites.
Ayakashi: Samurai Horror Tales made it Stateside. Geneon obtained licensing for its spinoff series, Mononoke — and then promptly went bankrupt, leaving the series in a sort of licensing limbo that wasn't resolved until 2014 when Cinedigm and Siren Visual released the series to DVD subtitled in North America and Oceania respectively.
Science Ninja Team Gatchaman was finally fully released uncut by ADV from 2004-2006, and Rhino released 40 of the 85 episodes of the 70s Battle of the Planets English adaptation (along with a handful of episodes of the 80s G-Force adaptation) before Sandy Frank's master license to the franchise expired, and all of that went out-of-print and became difficult and expensive to find. Urban Vision's DVD of the 1994 OVA also fell out-of-print around this time. However in 2013, as a result of Sentai Filmworks' deal with Tatsunoko, they now have the license to the series and issued all 104 episodes of the entire original series on Blu-ray and DVD in 2013, along with the 1994 OVA (with a new dub). They also picked up the 70s compilation film for the first time, which wasn't even in demand.
The Battle of the Planets adaptation is also now streaming for free on Hulu and The Anime Network.
We unfortunately can't say the same thing about the two sequel series Gatchaman II and Gatchaman F (aka Gatchaman Fighter). The only time they were ever released in English was through the heavily, heavily butchered English dub from Saban in 1995 called Eagle Riders, and even that only had a brief 13-episode run in the states. All 65 did run in Australia, but it's still impossible to find now. The original two Japanese shows haven't even gotten fansubs.
At least until recently. Sentai is releasing a subbed, undubbed set of Gatchaman II in April 2017.
The later DVD box sets for Maison Ikkoku are among the rarest in anime,; some of them are over $700. Because of the series' low sales, later volumes got small print runs.
The Dragon Quest: Legend of the Hero Abel dub was masked in legal problems from the beginning (not the least of which was Akira Toriyama receiving zero credit) resulting in only 13 of the 43 episodes being dubbed, and no official release of either dub or original versions.
Robot Carnival. This old classic that was among the first exposures of anime to the West has only received a Region 2 DVD released a looooooong time ago. It was rights issues, as original US licensee Streamline Pictures went under. Fortunetly, Discotek Media has licensed it and will be released in DVD in Region 1.
Good luck finding The Littl' Bits on video or DVD these days! Only precious few sources exist, and even then there's still four whole episodes that are damn near impossible to find in English.
The Noozles actually saw a limited VHS release courtesy of Celebrity Home Entertainment's "Just For Kids" label. Still fits the trope, though. Celebrity also distributed a moral lesson anime called EYES of Mars, again VHS-only. It once aired on Syfy as well in the late 90's, but little has been heard of this (or even Celebrity) since.
Adventures of the Little Koala saw at least one VHS release as well, courtesy of Family Home Entertainment, but that was only because Nickelodeon still had the broadcast rights to the series at the time. Unless those legal disputes are resolved (if they ever will be), it's unlikely that Little Koala will ever see a DVD release.
If you missed out on seeing Grimm's Fairy Tale Classics when they were on television, you might be completely out of luck at this point, considering these shows are almost impossible to find. A few episodes have wound up on video-sharing sites such as YouTube.
Future War 198X. Wizard Video, an internationally known distributor of horror movies at the time, once released a VHS tape of it in Australia in the mid-80's. The tape itself has 35 minutes chopped out, no credits besides the original Japanese, and an entirely different dub. This edit was taken by both sides of the Berlin Wall in Germany and Italy, each of them giving their own seperate dub. Since there wasn't much potential for a narrated foreign cartoon about WWIII to have a demographic besides the arthouse crowd, hardly any tapes were made at all. These tapes are near impossible to find. See here.
Sazae-san is an interesting example because the show is still on the air (since 1969). Despite having more than 2,000 episodes in the vault, not a single one was ever officially released on VHS and DVD. This was from a request the creator made before she died; they kept their word. Episodes broadcast before VCRs became the norm are extremely difficult to find because they've never been shown again after their initial airing. This is why the show's 35th (2004) and 40th (2009) anniversary specials was a big deal for collectors: as a treat to viewers they pulled out some 1970s episodes from the shelves and broadcast them again for the first time in decades.
The obscure animated Mario movie The Great Mission to Save Princess Peach! only saw a release on VHS in Japan and was never released to DVD or released in countries outside of Japan. Even the original VHS release is pretty rare and usually sells for hundreds when it hits auction sites. It's really unknown if it will ever get a proper re-release at all.
Crayon Shin-chan was aired for over a decade on Hawaii TV station KIKU in a subtitled form that was faithful to the original Japanese version. Unfortunately, the tapes used by KIKU were destroyed immediately after broadcast as part of the licensing agreement, so it only survives on the VHS tapes of fans who recorded it while it was airing.
The English dubs by Vitello Productions and Unbound Creative Inc. (formally known as Phuuz Entertainment) suffer through this trope. The Vitello dub had some episodes released on five DVDs in Australia and on three Fox Kids promo DVDs in the UK, but they are now out of print. Fortunately, most episodes can be found online. The Phuuz dub, however, is literally impossible to find nowadays. Doesn't help that it never received a single home media release at all and none of its episodes can be found online other than a few voice clips on Behind the Voice Actors.
If you want to find the Japanese print volumes and the OVA of Kaze to Ki no Uta, then good luck! Both the older prints of the manga and the OVA in VHS and Laser Disk form are out of print and it's unlikely that the OVA will be re-issued on DVD (outside of Italy), and for a long time, there weren't even any fan translations of the manga. Even worse, it would also take an monumental task for anyone to translate the entire manga since it has stylistic character usage from the 1970s, so you need a good grasp of the Japanese language to translate the whole thing. But the fansubs of the OVA and manga raws of the original print can be found around the internet.
Several of the earlier Excel Saga manga volumes appear to have gone out of print, and can only be bought used for several times their original price, if you're lucky. It is also hard to find scanlations because no one wants to translate all the jokes and references.
While the Excel Saga anime has been re-released by Funimation, its sequel/spinoff OVA, Puni Puni Poemi, is becoming harder to get since it got stuck in purgatory along with several other old ADV titles. It may seem pointless - it's only two episodes of spastic, roadrunner-paced perversion and merciless parodies - but the extras on the Excel Saga DVDs include production notes and the history of Poemi, and the last episode even features a preview.
A lot of Viz Media's older manga in general. The manga under their first logo is long out of print, while the manga under their second logo (along with the demographic distinctions, i.e "Shojo" and "Action", which was used to differentiate from the English Shonen Jump manga line) are either being re-released or are also out of print. The InuYasha manga is now being released in omnibus format unflipped (the original release was left-to-right, then by the 35th volume they went to the original format), while some others, such as Fushigi Yuugi and Neon Genesis Evangelion, are being re-released in omnibus format. A lot of their older shojo manga, for some reason, is now out of print, including the Revolutionary Girl Utena manga, Basara, Please Save My Earth, and Wedding Peach.
Speaking of Wedding Peach, the manga is harder to find, while the anime is also one of many stuck in ADV Films' distribution limbo. Weirdly enough, Viz recently licensed Wedding Peach Young Love, which is a retelling of the story for younger audiences.
Any Light Novel series licensed by Tokyopop are now forced into circulation because the company went under very recently. This would've been difficult to begin with anyway because of how unpopular light novels are in the states. Case in point, most of the licensed series only had between one and five volumes translated, and most of them went out of print due to low sales long before Tokyopop closed its doors. The Slayers light novels are a good example; six of its fifteen volumes were released before its halt due to poor sales. Tokyopop decided to give the fans a break after some demand and translated novels 7 and 8 (completing the first arc) on a print-by-demand basis.
Most of Tokyopop's other manga series is now getting rarer because of the aforementioned closing. The laughable cine-manga is long out of print, as are older incarnations of their manga that were flipped. Titles such as Magic Knight Rayearth, Cardcaptor Sakura,Chobits, Clover, and Love Hina, however, are now being re-released in omnibus format, either by Dark Horse manga or Kodansha USA.
Del Rey's manga line averts this; most of them have been transferred to Kodansha's new USA division, including Mahou Sensei Negima!.
Deadman Wonderland is an interesting case. Not many people knew about it when it came out, and due to poor sales, was cancelled after four volumes when Tokyopop restructured, which canon-wise is roughly the same time the anime wrapped up. Unfortunate, considering that when the revived Toonami showcased the anime upon its re-launch, interest in the series soared, forcing those wanting to see what happens next to resort to scanlations. Thankfully, the manga has been relicensed by Viz.
The Bobobo Bo Bobobo manga, which only has six translated volumes starting from the middle of the series released, and there was very little distribution. It gets even worse, because apparently the Japanese manga is going out of print as well.
The subbed English versions of Ginga Densetsu Weed and Ginga: Nagareboshi Gin are somewhat difficult to find now that YouTube has begun taking down the Weed episodes. Made even worse is the fact Gin was only subbed in good quality by the original group of subbers up until episode ten, leaving viewers with the badly done original subs that don't make grammatical sense much of the time, until a new subbing team picked up the rest of the episodes. Since there is no way to even get these episodes in English professionally anytime soon, keep the downloads and YouTube vids up.
Low sales of the box set featuring the first 15 episodes of Monster prevented the rest from being released, a real loss as it was one of the biggest dubbing jobs ever. Luckily, the entire English dub is up on YouTube, and the subtitled version on Netflix.
Siren Visual have licensed it for release in Australia, with the first volume (of five) due in November 2013.
Ranma ˝'s DVD release was slowly going out of print (helps that it was an older DVD series with eight disks a set and initial prices being around $120 each).
No longer the case as Viz is re-releasing the series on DVD and Blu-ray.
Ditto for the manga, which was only available in old flipped editions for years before Viz finally picked it up again for an omnibus (and un-flipped) re-release.
Most of the older things that Viz released have yet to see a DVD release. One Pound Gospel also has not seen a DVD release.
This can happen to companies of niche genres or even larger ones (example, yaoi). The amount printed is usually low to not be a risk to the company and so even finding a book a year after its English release (example 7Days) is difficult and expensive. Fortunately due to the digital age it is possible to buy some titles online or with devices like the Kindle and the Nook.
This happens to so many Viz Media titles on DVD. Especially those that were on Toonami or Toonami Jetstream and then dropped when the block was shelved 'til 2012. Without any televised medium in the US or online publicity, the incentive to sell these series tanked. Among the titles Viz has screwed over with incomplete releases (despite being completely dubbed) are:
Hikaru No Go (All 78 episodes were dubbed into English, 76 were put up on Toonami Jetstream, and only 52 came out on DVD. The last couple episodes' dubs weren't released until Viz put the whole series up for purchase on iTunes).
Full Moon o Sagashite
Blue Dragon (Season 2's dub only airing on Cartoon Network Pakistan)
AKIRA is a bit of a strange case in North America, more related to availability rather than lack of being released. You may not have many troubles finding the DVD release, however it's based off of the 2001 dub. The original dub, which still has its reasons for enjoyment, not just nostalgia, you'll have to look for. The manga, on the other hand, good luck finding it - you may be able to find it in bookstores, but due to its Doorstopper-status, will be lucky to find more than a few volumes at once.
Averted for the film with FUNimation's 2013 release, which includes both the original dub distributed by Streamline Pictures, and Pioneer's remade dub, as well the original Japanese audio, all on one disc, just in time for the movie's 25th anniversary.
Even with the manga, it's still not available un-flipped in the US, despite multiple re-releases. The Marvel Comics colorized editions from the 90s are also hard to find since they've been out of print for over 15 years, and even then, some chapters aren't available in collected format. Despite this, they're in hot demand with collectors who prefer that version (Katsuhiro Otomo approved of it, and even selected the colorist himself) or appreciate its historical significance (it's the very first fully-digitally colored comic).
The Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind manga was, at one time, very hard to obtain without resorting to online posts or downloading copies. However, a re-release from Viz Media came out in 2012. The Macekre of the anime film is likewise unavailable...but that's probably for the best.
The English localization of the Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei anime was announced but there doesn't seem to be any follow up. Torrents don't seem to be a choice either making the show very difficult to acquire.
The English dub of Go! Go! Itsutsugo Land, Let's Go Quintuplets! has, until just recently, been literally impossible to find anywhere on the internet. The first two episodes of the dub are included on the Spanish DVD release, however this is out of print and rather hard to find. Fortunately a few episodes have appeared on YouTube in recent weeks; however the uploader does not have the complete series, so some episodes remain lost to the ages.
The Manga UK English dub of the Space Adventure Cobra movie is only available on a French DVD release since it's other dub is much easier to re-release since it didn't use the music of a certain semi-popular British pop band.
Are you a fan of the cute anime Hamtaro? Well, good luck finding VHS copies along with the DVD volumes! Today, looking for a copy of the show is very rare. Sadly, the DVD and VHS copies only have three/two episodes which is only the first few episodes of season 1. Finding episodes for the rest of season 1 and other seasons can only be found on the Internet. So you better download the episodes while you can before it gets deleted from the Internet or taken down for copyright law! Hopefully the entirety of the English dubbed episodes of Hamtaro won't be gone forever!
The original 1981-82 release of the Mobile Suit Gundam movie trilogy: Currently, the only commercially available release is the 2004 remastered 25th anniversary versions which have re-performances by all the surviving cast members (and replacements for deceased seiyuu). It also includes futuristic raygun sound-effects being replaced by more contemporary machine gun sounds. The background music in several scenes is removed in favor of more noisy explosion and gun sound effects. Lastly, the musical arrangements have been switched around somewhat inappropriately. In the second movie, the vocal piece used during the attack on Jaburo is moved to the closing credits replacing the original, more moodier music. In the third movie end credits, Beginning is replaced by Encounter which itself was removed from it's original place in the final battle. The rationale given by Bandai so far is that the original soundtracks of these films were in irreparable shape due to age. If you want to watch these movies in their original form, they you might hunt down the 90s VHS versions from Anime Village. Or the late 90s dubs (if you want to mock them that is).
Spirit of Wonder: Miss China's Ring: Released by Animeigo during the late 1990s. Now out of print for years. The OVA followup Spirit of Wonder: Scientific Boys Club, released by Bandai, may be a little easier to find.
A handful of episodes of Captain Harlock as dubbed by ZIV international in the early 80s occasionally showed up on VHS. Re-released by Malibu Graphics in the early 90s but not without serious audio-visual problems. The Macekre known as Captain Harlock and the Queen of a Thousand Years has never shown up anywhere except as episodes taped off of television. Then there were the fuzzy fansubs of the entire series made by Corn Pone Flicks until they decided to stop distributing them (interestingly, their rationale not so much being copyright infringement but because they felt people were more interested in Captain Harlock than their own productions. Go Figure) With Discotek Media's coming release of the original series onto DVD (Crunchy Roll has has already hosted it for years), North America finally sees a release of the original 1978 series.
Eventually averted with Legend of Galactic Heroes. It went over a hundred episodes and has an enormous cast, so making an official release of that anime in the west would be atrociously expensive. Given that it's a rather dated anime intended for a niche audience, no distributor even tried, until Sentai Filmworks acquired the licensing rights to the OVA series in 2015.
Despite FUNimation licensing a good amount of it, some bits of the Tenchi Muyo! franchise remain with their licenses unrenewed. The most notable Tenchi properties that are currently out-of-print are...
The Tenchi Muyo Mihoshi Special, last released on a DVD double-packed with the Pretty Sammy OVAs (see below) in 2002 by Pioneer, who are now out-of-business. This DVD is now very out-of-print, and can only be found on the used DVD circuit for less than $40 if you're lucky. However, the special with the dub is on the (expensive) Japanese Blu-ray release.
The Pretty Sammy franchise (specifically, the OVAs and the TV version). The OVAs were, as stated above, last released on a DVD from the now-defunct Pioneer in 2002 with the Tenchi Muyo Mihoshi Special. The TV series, released in the US as Magical Project S to help distinguish it from the OVAs, was last released in a series of limited-run, subtitled-only DVDs (in two parts) and VHS tapes in the late 1990s and early 2000s. These releases were, again, from Pioneer, and are out-of-print. Part 2 sold horribly and still has a few copies left in-stock at Right Stuf for a bargain price, but Part 1 cannot be found anywhere for a decent price.
The English dub of the Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki episode 13.5 omake is also out-of-print. It, too, was last released in a DVD set released by Pioneer in the early 2000s. The current version of the omake available on DVD and Blu-ray from FUNimation is subtitled-only. However, the dub is on the Japanese Blu-ray release.
Many of the earlier Tenchi Muyo DVD releases also contained special features that are not available on current releases (a lot of behind-the-scenes production notes and an interview with the composer were left out of FUNimation's rerelease of Tenchi Muyo! in Love, for instance), making tracking down these out-of-print versions a priority for the more completist-minded Tenchi fans.
Ultimate Teacher was released in Japan in 1988 and the U.S. got a subtitled release in 1991 and a dub in 1996, all on VHS. Everybody's rights expired before a DVD release was made, and given its obscurity, it's unlikely to get a re-release. There is hope, however, on the work's main page is a link to the entire thing (both U.S. and U.K. dubs) on YouTube, and thanks to a favorable review by Bennett the Sage, it's seeing a comeback in popularity.
In 1997, Urban Vision released a set of separately dubbed and subtitled VHS tapes of Final Fantasy: Legend of the Crystals, the four-episode anime OVA sequel to Final Fantasy V. Despite having become a Cult Classic within the Final Fantasy community in recent years, these out-of-print VHS tapes are the only known releases of the series in the English-speaking world. And since Urban Vision apparently went under around 2010 and the series has yet to be granted a relicense (despite being part of Final Fantasy, a definitive Cash Cow Franchise), odds are good that these tapes are going to be the only way to own physical copies of the series for the foreseeable future.
You remember Speed Racer, right? Of course you do. Now how about Speed Racer X? Even if you do, you won't be able to find it very easily. Legal issues kept the show from airing past 13 episodes in the US and none of those had an official release stateside. The only way to view the series now is through incredibly rare recordings people have done. A few episodes are on YouTube, but they're incredibly poor quality. Funimation released the original Japanese version in 2017 as part of a Limited Special Collector's Ultimate Edition also including both versions of the original series. They haven't given it a stand-alone release, nor are they streaming it.
That aforementioned release was actually the first time Mach Go Go Go had ever been officially released in North America in its unedited form. Funimation isn't currently streaming it either. The popularity of Speed Racer effectively got in the original version's way.
Quite possibly the case for anime that got cancelled, like Please Save My Earth and Pilot Candidate (aka Candidate for Goddess). Relative obscurity of the shows, plus their aborted status, means that these won't be anyone's moneymakers anytime soon.
The anime of Ninin Ga Shinobuden is still in print, but the manga isn't so lucky. The first three volumes can be obtained without too much trouble, but good luck finding the fourth, even with the help of the internet.
Hello Kitty's Animation Theater was a 2000 Sanrio effort featuring Hello Kitty and other Sanrio characters acting out various fairy and folktales in surprisingly faithful adaptations. It received both an English dub and a subtitled release, packaged together, but it's fallen out of print, as have various dubs of other Hello Kitty series (...and Friends, Paradise, Stump Village) by ADV or Genenon. (The only HK series that's easy to find on DVD is Hello Kitty's Furry Tale Theater, the English-language Saturday Morning Cartoon from The '80s, via MGM — and they present the shorts in themed compilations, losing the Christmas Episode in the process. iTunes, Hulu, and Amazon offer it uncut.)
No anime series in the Cutey Honey franchise has been dubbed and/or released overseas save for the original 1973 anime and New Cutey Honey.
Medabots. Back during its initial run, ADV Films did release the first two seasons in several volumes, which are now hard to find. Shout! Factory re-licensed the series years later and put out the first 26 episodes, but sales were so bad any further plans were canceled. The follow up series Medabot Spirits? Nothing so far...
The Osamu Tezuka series The Amazing 3 has been released in its original format in Japan, but for those who want the English dub? They're out of luck unless they can find bootlegs of it recorded from KCOP-TV in the '70s. The actual reels to the dub were allegedly thrown out in the trash.
Speaking of Osamu Tezuka, a manga he did called Phoenix was published under Viz's Editor's Choice line, went through a print run, then fell off the face of the planet. Copies of the first volume go for over $60 used.
Any North American fans have to rely on importing Magical Princess Minky Momo as there's been no official home video release of the whole series. An English dub of the series titled "The Magical World of Gigi" (by Harmony Gold) lasted 52 episodes and managed to air in Australia, but it's even harder to find anything of it. The only commercial release of dubbed Momo material was the first OVA, retitled "Gigi and the Fountain Of Youth", which can only be found if you have a copy of the old VHS releases or have found a video rip of it.
Tekkaman has at least 13 episodes dubbed, and these were released on VHS both in their separate form and as compilation videos. As the series' license has expired and the dub's master tapes were sold back to Tatsunoko, anyone wanting to see the dub must try to find the VHS releases or rely on other fans' video rips.
The anime Doukyuusei, English title End of Summer, is an absolute bitch to get; most people got interested in the series when Right Stuf started selling the second tape for 99 cents while clearing out inventory because HOLY CRAP 99 CENTS; they then realized they wanted to see more, which wasn't available to them because the first VHS was out-of-print. It's now 2013, Amazon has the second VHS for $7 but the first VHS is permanently unavailable. It's not available on any shady streaming sites, either; Soft Cel Pictures really buried this series. However, a torrent of the first episode is available; said torrent is a VHS-ripped fansub that looks like shit and is full of grammatical errors, but hey, it's a torrent. An edited rip of the official VHS that cuts off right before the first sex scene is also available on YouTube.
Nichijou (both anime and manga) and Gosick never had an official home media release in America, although you can still watch them on Crunchyroll. For Oceania, Madman Entertainment put them out on DVD in sub-only form.
...and as of September 1st, 2014, you can't, thanks to Crunchyroll's streaming licenses expiring. But in Australia, Madman Entertainment did release a full series DVD/Blu-Ray set for at least the former. Get yourself a region-free player, and you may not be out of luck.
Averted as now FUNimation is releasing both series on DVD and Blu-Ray.
Most of Bandai's older franchises, including Haruhi Suzumiyanote FUNimation snapped that one up in the Summer of 2014, are discontinued in America and becoming increasingly expensive. However, most of the key ones have been re-licensed by FUNimation (such as Haruhi), Discotek Media, or Sentai Filmworks.
Kasei Yakyoku. Not only it's a josei anime, but it was only released in laserdisc in 1989. Good luck finding a torrent even for the raws.
This Very Wiki has a fake entry that is a parody of this trope's prevalence in the anime fandom: supposedly, Ichiban No Tempura is a Cult Classic that was only aired in Japan once, and all those who pirated the tapes died mysterious deaths, so only the most hardcore otakus know of its existence. Of course, the truth is that no such anime exists.
Street Fighter II V has become this, as it is no longer available to buy digitally or stream legally in any English website. Its out-of-print status has also made it so secondhand DVD copies run for high prices.
Ojarumaru has only 160 out of the 1,418+ episodes released on DVD in Japan. This is very baffling since every episode of the 1st-5th series (specifically the first 450 episodes) was released on VHS there. Worse, all the 1st-5th series DVDs by Nippon Crown have been long out of print and are quite rare. Used copies are going for no less than $50 on auction websites. Even worse, most of the episodes, especially the older ones, are very hard to find online. Thankfully, NHK E-Tele airs reruns during the series' hiatuses during the summer and winter. The only problem though is that nowadays the episodes produced in high definition note Since the 10th series. are the only ones rerunning! The standard definition episodes haven't reran in quite a while and only do so on rare occasions.
Streaming isn't any better. Only cherry-picked episodes from the 1st-19th series are available on streaming services in Japan, such as Netflix Japan. At least most of the cherry-picked episodes aren't even available on DVD.
The series' first special, Ojarumaru: A Happy Blue Back, only got a VHS release and there are currently no plans of a DVD release. However, it did get a VideoCD release in Hong Kong, which has the Japanese audio.
While VHS copies of Ojarumaru the Movie: The Promised Summer - Ojaru and Semira can be found pretty easily, DVD copies require some digging, especially if you're living outside of Japan. Not to mention that used copies of the DVD on auction websites can go for as high as $70!
Good luck trying to find the manga version that was serialized in Shogakukan's Ciao manga magazine in 1993! None of the chapters have been collected into tankōbon volumes. As a result, it's impossible to find nowadays unless if you have access to a 1993 Ciao magazine.
Oyako Club doesn't have a home media release and probably never will. Want to see any episodes? Good luck with that! Majority of the episodes are extremely difficult to find. However, a couple episodes were uploaded onto YouTube and another in a torrent, which no longer has anyone seeding it.
According to a YouTube comment, there was an English dub of the children's educational series Shima Shima Tora no Shimajiro that was released Direct-to-Video in Australia. It's almost as hard to find as the 1973 Doraemon anime, if not even harder to find.
Speaking of Shimajiro, there's no DVD release for the first series yet, despite how popular it is in Japan and being a long runner. Although it's available for streaming on Rakuten SHOWTIME, they only have episodes 421-519. The early episodes did get a handful of VHS releases back in the 1990s, but that was it.
The series' successors, Hakken Taiken Daisuki! Shimajiro, Shimajiro Hesoka, and Shimajiro no Wow thankfully don't suffer through this trope since the episodes to all three series are readily available on DVD. Hesoka is currently streaming on Rakuten SHOWTIME, while Wow is on Hulu Japan.
While all the various Digimon series were rescued by Newvideo and Saban Brands, none of the dubbed movies including Digimon: The Movie were. While that movie is on DVD. it's out of print. This is likely because, although Saban regained the rights to the English-dubbed TV series, the rights to the movie are split between Fox, who distributed it and owns the home video rights, and Disney, who bought Saban Entertainment and owns the TV rights (and presumably the rights to the other dubbed movies as well). That said, Digimon: The Movie is very easy to find on YouTube.
The Best Film/Video re-release of the Celebrity Home Entertainment releases of early anime dubs such as Cyborg 009: Legend of the Super Galaxy, Phoenix:2772 and Macross: Do You Remember Love. These have never been released to DVD and with the exception of Macross:DYRL, which has had other problems regarding licensing, the other two have faded into obscurity despite deserving more recognition (Legend of the Super Galaxy being the first movie of the Cyborg 009 franchise and Phoenix:2772 being based on an Osamu Tezuka creation). The Best Film/Video releases are actually better than the Celebrity Home Video editions which were released under their "Just For Kids" banner and cut for length and content. The Best Film/Video re-release restored the full length of the films indicating that they were originally dubbed in full length.
Good luck finding an official English dub of Animal Yokocho. While Cartoon Network made an English dub in 2008, it's rarely found online. Doesn't help that the majority of search results of the English dub are mostly fandubs.
Since FOX's rights to it expired and Disney redubbed it, copies of the Streamline dub of My Neighbor Totoro on DVD are hard to find and very expensive online. It doesn't help that the older dub is widely regarded as the better of the two.
Although Nintama Rantarou has the 1st and 2nd series, and every episode since the 16th series fully released on DVD by NBC Universal Entertainment Japan note However, some episodes were not included on the 1st and 2nd series DVD box sets apparently due to NHK losing some of the master tapes over the years., the 3rd-15th series have not. So far, the only DVD releases of the 3rd, 4th, 6th, and the 9th-15th series are cherry-picked episodes under the 4-volume "The Stage of Those Days" line. As for the 5th, 7th, and 8th series? Not a single episode to those particular series are available on DVD in Japan whatsoever. Are they at least available for streaming? Nope. Only the 1st, 16th, and 17th series are available for streaming. Doesn't help that trying to find certain episodes of the 3rd-15th series online, especially the 7th and 8th series, can be extremely difficult or just downright impossible.
Good luck finding any English dub of Maple Town. Since the anime never gotten a VHS or DVD release.
Nono-chan is so hard to find nowadays due to the lack of a home media release for it. However, a few episodes of the Malaysian dub can be found on YouTube and Anime Malay.
Midori no Makibao: due to it's complete audience alienating premise, has only seen release outside Japan in Taiwan and The Philippines (where it wasn't popular). There was a DVD boxset release but it's out of print. Someone has uploaded the entire series up to YouTube though.
Hai Akko Desu doesn't have a home media release. However, the first 54 episodes can be found on YouTube. The other 109 episodes haven't been uploaded at all and are literally impossible to find nowadays.
While the uncut Cardcaptor Sakura anime and the first movie have been rescued by NIS America and Discotek Media, respectively (the former with the Animax dub, no less), the old Nelvana dub, titled Cardcaptors, hasn't been rescued, unless you count the first film. Geneon (then known as Pioneer) did some releases, but not only are they long out of print, but they were cancelled upon finding the uncut subtitled releases to be selling more, meaning they don't even cover the whole dub.
Likewise, the second movie remains stuck in the limbo. This is especially frustrating when you consider that it's the Grand Finale to the series. Like with the Cardcaptors dub, Geneon did a release of this (and even made their own dub for it), but it's also long out of print.
The first two Shonen Ashibe series have been released on VHS in Japan during the 1990s, but have yet to be released on DVD.
Whether the estate of E.E. "Doc" Smith had anything to do with it is up for debate, but none of the anime adaptations of Lensman have been seen at all since the early '90s.
Good luck finding any episodes of the Saban dub of Maya the Bee that aired on Nick Jr in the late 80's and early 90's.
Good luck hunting down the DVD copies of Daisuki! BuBu ChaCha. They're long out of print. You'll have better luck finding rips of the DVDs on YouTube.
Tenkai Knights has never been fully released on DVD in the US. All the country's got is just one DVD release, which combines the first 4 episodes into a movie for some odd reason.
Averted in France, Germany, and Japan where the entire series was released on DVD.
For a while, On Your Mark, a collaborative music video between Studio Ghibli and Japanese music duo CHAGE & ASKA, became impossible to find due to Universal Music pulling their entire collection of the duo's music and videos following one of the members being arrested for drug charges (which also resulted in a delay of a Studio Ghibli compilation so that the music video could be removed). Studio Ghibli later averted this by offering a bonus disc with On Your Mark to those who purchased their Blu-Ray and DVD box set.
The X1999 movie, a unique retelling of CLAMP's dark fantasy manga, hasn't had any known home media release anywhere since Manga Entertainment released their Region 1 DVD in 2001. Due to the law of Too Soon kicking in around 2003, it hasn't yet been released in high definition and likely will not for the foreseeable future.
An English dub of Stand By Me Doraemon made by Bang Zoom! Entertainment and featuring the character names and terminology from their dub of the third TV series has yet to be legally issued outside of Japan.
That aforementioned dub has never been given any official home media release, and Disney XD no longer airs it.
Danchi Tomoo has only 39 out of 78 episodes available on DVD and streaming in Japan. As a result, the only way to watch anything beyond episode 39 nowadays is to catch reruns on Disney XD Japan.
Most episodes of Gan to Gon and Hoshi no Ko Poron are hard to find.
However, the VHS recordings of both shows (8 were Gan to Gon and 70 were Hoshi no Ko Poron) were found by morikawa and was uploading every Saturday (other Saturday for Gan to Gon) until April 8, 2017 (Gan to Gon) and August 6, 2017 (Hoshi no Ko Poron) on both Niconico and YouTube.
While not a series, good luck getting the Daicon III and IV animations ever released. Two short films from Gainax featuring an almost nonstop series of unlicensed pop culture and otaku cameos note Including, but not necessarily limited to: a TIE fighter, the Millennium Falcon, C-3PO, Chewbacca, Nazoh from Ōgon Bat, a Pira Seijin with a nametag reading "Tarō the Blaster" (Bakuhatsu Tarō) on his chest, Captain America, Robin, Batman, Spider-Man, Superman, Wonder Woman, Kamen Rider, Jumborg Ace, the Shooting Star, an Ohmu from Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, Nausicaä herself, Lynne Minmay, Mazinger Z, Kool Seijin, Cutie Honey, Lord Jaxom and Ruth, Anna, Apollo Geist, Ātman, Bandel Seijin, Barom One, Bat, Bert, Big X, Boss Borot, a Brutishdog, Captain Dyce, Char Aznable, Cobra, Cornelius, Cyborg 009, Densen Man, Doruge (a Toei kaijū), Fighters, Doraemon, Gavan, Gill-man, Gort, Hack, Hakaider, Hell Ambassador, the Invisible Man, Inspector Zenigata, Kamen Rider V3, Kanegon, Kemur, King Joe, Lum Invader, Lupin the Third, The Robot from Metropolis, Metalinom, the Metaluna Mutant, a Martian from the War of the Worlds, Ming the Merciless, Moonlight Mask, Q-tarō, Pris, Robby the Robot, Robokon, the Robot Gunslinger from Westworld, Robot Santōhei, the SDF-1, Snake Plisskin, Soran the Space Boy, Space Ace, the Space Battleship Yamato, Speed Racer, Spock, Superman, Super Sentai, Susumu Kodai, Tetsujin 28, Triton, and a Xilien. over a bed of the song "Twilight" by Electric Light Orchestra pretty much ensures that you'll never see it outside of YouTube.
Missed out on the English version of Jungle Tales (Urikupen Rescue Team), when it aired on Nick Jr. in the early 1990s? Too bad, since only Swedish-dubbed versions can be found circulating the Internet.
An English dub of the Tamagotchi anime exists, but only the first 26 episodes were dubbed, and it only aired in Australia on the channel GO!. Worse yet, the dub got screwed over by GO! in 2014, to make way for reruns of Animaniacs, so the English dub of Tamagotchi is no longer rerun there, and the dub never got a DVD release. Thankfully, most, if not all of the English episodes can be found on YouTube. The original Japanese dub mostly averts this by having a good amount of episodes available on DVD.
The 1988/1991 direct-to-video series Mother Goose Songs & Rhymes which told songs and nursery rhymes featuring anthropomorphic animals, is currently out of print.
Good luck in trying to obtain all the Kill la Kill DVDs/BluRays containing the English dub (with the OVA included) as Aniplex has made obtaining them very expensive (as one DVD can run about $60), forcing fans to have to buy five separate individual volumes instead of a boxset. It's possible to get the whole series (sans OVA) on digital home release via iTunes (or obscure online stores), but it's only subbed. The series (with the OVA) can also be found scattered online, though, not for download unless one is familiar with URL converters (and those are tricky matter, too).
Sonic the Hedgehog had a manga that ran in several Shogakukan magazines from 1992 to 1994. It starred a hedgehog named Nikki who had a Superpowered Alter Ego named Sonic. The series is especially notable for introducing Amy Rose and Charmy the Bee to the franchise. Unfortunately, the series has never been put into volumes. It's extremely rare and little is known about it in either the English or Japanese speaking fandoms.
Super Mario's Fire Brigade and its sister short Super Mario Traffic Safety are two late '80s/early '90s shorts by Toei. They were Super Mario Bros. PSAs made for schools and thus aren't available for commercial release. Then again, they also weren't ever released outside of Japan.
Hell Girl DVDs can set your finances back in the triple digits, and there are no sites legally streaming it (not even Funimation). Likewise, even if you know/knew a store that carries the DVDs, you can't be guaranteed to get enough of the DV Ds to complete the whole set.
High School Of The Dead is a rather odd case, as DVDs can be found if one knows where to look (like 3rd party sellers on Amazon, eBay, etc), it's just that few stores carry them because of its Too Hot for TV nature. The same would apply to Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt (though they don't have the same production company), however, the latter is released sporadically.
The first dub (2003) and the OVA of Read or Die has gone out of print and is largely hard to find, unless one want to spend about $50 or more. Likewise, the newer dub is equally hard to find.