Subverted with Sonic X, as 4Kids released the "uncut" subbed version of the entire series online, but it's only available in the United States. It's also the international version, which means a lot of the Japanese symbols and signs have been wiped clean, and this includes the Title Card and the Eyecatches. So if you actually want to watch the real Japanese version, you have to look elsewhere.
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 and can be found really cheap.
Most Macross series, for that matter, except Macross Plus. The Macross series is legendary for its legal snarls. The original series has been released in English a few times (notably in the form of Robotech, as well as separate translations by AnimEigo and ADV Films), and Do You Remember Love was given an English VHS release once. That's about it.
Robotech: The Movie (a Macekred version of Megazone23), because the licensee was uninterested. Even the original editor/rewriter of the series was lukewarm at best about it. 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.
Interestingly, the unadulteratedMegazone23 had its own licensing. Streamline Pictures had rights before they went under, then ADV films after that. As of present, it's unlicensed, but it could still be up for grabs by one of ADV's splintered offspring. Robotech: The Movie is on DVD with all the Megazone 23 footage cut though as a bonus feature on some Robotech DVDs, but you'd have to look elsewhere for the full film.
Mazinger Z was broadcast in Spain in 1972. However, only thirty-three random episodes of the first season were dubbed before Moral Guardians forced to pull the plug -and only thirty-two were aired. The last dubbed episode never was emited-. IVS released several tapes, recopilating twenty-four of the episodes aired by RTVE 1. 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 Mazinger Z -the whole series- and Great Mazinger -part of it- were broadcast -and UFO Robo Grendizer also was aired later-, but both series never were released in tapes or DVD, and if you had not recorded the episodes or you did not know someone could lend you his/her tapes, you were out of luck. Finally in the late nineties, several movies featuring the most famous Go Nagai Super Robots were released in tape, 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. Thank to them part of the lost dubbing job was recovered). Given the fights and disagreements between Dynamic Planning and Toei prevent the original anime series from being aired or released out of Japan, sharing the tapes 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 are relatively easy to find (if you look hard enough, you can actually find the old CPM releases in discount or specialty stores) the five movies and two OVA series are rare and 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 Sentai Filmworks has chosen not to distribute it anymore (and no other licencor will pick them up). 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 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.
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 cited is that Hirohiko Araki, the creator of JoJo, loathed it. Because of this, it's impossible to find on even the shadiest corners of the Internet. No DVD release means that the only way for it to be seen would be through a bootleg video camera copy.
Another stated reason for why the movie never been put on DVD is because it was left incomplete after the unfortunate death of a producer lead to a drop in funding.
Sailor Moon, due to heavy licensing problems that occurred several years ago.
All the original DVD releases are getting very expensive, with some 7-episode single DVDs going for as much as $90!!!
The boxsets are worse, 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 until Toei started suddenly eyeballing the series like a hawk.
Fortunately, all of that seems to be turning around since the manga and anime is being relicensed around the world, including the US.
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 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), the TV pilot has still never been seen by anyone outside the industry.
Only 18 episodes (88 where dubbed) of the Swedish dub where released on VHS, but fans circulate the episodes online.
And as of May 2014, thanks to Viz Media, it is officially out of licensing hell!
Except in Canada, which Viz simply refuses to touch streaming-wise (although they say they have something planned).
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 has a DVD library that was (until recently) out of print, hard to find, and traded incestuously with other fans via internet... if they were lucky. One enterprising fan is working on getting the reissues fansubbed. At $300 for each of the two volumes, it's quite the economic task.
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.
Thankfully, Nozomi re-released the series in three limited edition box sets using the remastered footage, including the movie.
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!!
Actually, a few volumes of DVDs of Crush Gear Turbo have been released, though 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.
In the beginning of Dragon Ball's run in America, Funimation had licensed home video distribution rights for the first 13 episodes and first movie of DB to Trimark as well as the first 67 episodes and first 3 movies of Dragon Ball Z to Pioneer. While Pioneer/Geneon pretty much just gave up their license as soon as it expired, and FUNimation redubbed the original Saban DBZ episodes pretty much as soon as the show ended, it was Trimark that really became a problem. FUNimation redubbed the original 13 episodes of Dragon Ball as a part of their in-house English dub for the series in 2001 for broadcast, but the Region 1 DVDs began with episode 14 since Trimark held onto the rights until 2004, and FUNimation planned on releasing the episodes to DVD after they finished releasing the rest of the series (although these episodes were released to Region 4 DVD uncut in Australia), but when Trimark was bought out by Lionsgate, they renewed all their licenses for another contract term, making it impossible for FUNimation to release the episodes uncut until at least 2009. For years, most of the online uploads of these episodes featured the old BLT Productions dub on the old Trimark DVD release, since at the time, FUNi's uncut episodes could only be found on the Australian DVD. Fortunately when Lionsgate's contract expired, FUNi was given the rights, and finally released the original Dragon Ball in five season boxsets in 2009-2010. As for the first movie, finding it uncut period was difficult for years since as a result of the license fiasco, FUNi was unable to redub it at all until 2010.
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 FU Ni 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 has 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 two movies. The Harmony Gold dub of the TV series still only survives as a Spanish dub offshoot.
VIZ seems completely reluctant to release an uncensored version of the Dragon Ball manga with all the colour pages intact. The best they'll do are the VIZBIG editions, which are censored and contain only half the colour pages, or the original trade paperbacks which are printed on cheap paper, contain no colour pages and, according to some, have wildly varying degrees of censorship (some versions are censored, others aren't).
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".
Same goes for Violence Jack almost word-for-word.
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 Mediaannounced in earlier May 2013 that they acquired the license for the full series (yes, also the third season that was never aired in the States) in three box sets for a consequent release in December and also the series will have another release but this one will have full audio in Japanese with English subtitles in earlier 2014.
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 complete series has been uploaded to YouTube. (However, as the main page says, we can't link to it here, in part to make sure it stays up.)
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 canceled their dub/release after episode 79 due to low sales/ratings, the movie distributor 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 is releasing a movie every now and again, but nothing for the TV series or the manga.
This has changed for the Lupin III (Green Jacket) series, as Discotek has gained the rights, and begun distribution for this one.
Cyborg 009, take your pick of any of the three different editions (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.
Ultimate Muscle, quite possibly one of the only animes 4Kids has ever done right, only has the first 4 episodes available on DVD. This, of course, is unsurprising as 4Kids has so little sense they make Kid Muscle seem like a genius.
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.
The banned episodes of Pokemon, 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 it and no complete fansub. Though it's not impossible to track down. You've just got to do some digging.
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 during Season 3, after which it was never seen again. It isn't even on the DVD sets.
The first three Pokemon movies, all of which were distributed by Warner Bros. as a result of their network airing the anime, have had their DVD and VHS releases long out of print. With the exception of occasional broadcasts on WGN America, Cartoon Network and television stations, they've never been re-released in any home video form, DVD or Blu-ray disc, likely due to a long-standing legal dispute between Nintendo, Warner Bros., 4Kids and Toho. The latter two films had popped up on iTunes and available to purchase for a time, courtesy of WB, but were then taken down, apparently at the request of one of the fighting parties. The only movie that's still available in any digital format is the third movie, and it seems it was directly ripped off from the original DVD release.
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. As for the subtitled versions, there are official subs of season 1 and most of season 2 of Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds available here. 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.
Fortunately, you can now also watch the entirety of the original Yu-Gi-Oh! for free on Hulu.
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 has still not been resolved.
However, if you are in Australia, you can buy Mononoke from Siren Visual.
Science Ninja Team Gatchaman finally got a complete release in 2006 by ADV, however sadly this was not to last long. After Sandy Frank's master license for the series (of which ADV was a sublicensor for their uncut releases) expired in early 2007, ADV's dub eventually went out of print and the boxsets have become notably hard and expensive to get a hold of. Likewise, Sandy Frank's Battle of the Planets adaptation and the 1980s G-Force: Guardians Of Space dub of Gatchaman a;so fell into this situation. Years before the license expired, Rhino released approximately only 40 of the 85 BOTP episodes in the US, while fans in the UK and Australia were able to obtain the entire series legally. G-Force had a comparatively worse fate however, with only a few select "Best Of" episodes released on a compilation DVD, leaving its fans to have to rely on old Cartoon Network recordings to fill their collections.
As the US license to Gatchaman has expired, it remains unlikely that the sequel series will also be picked up, along with the fate of the Macekre adaptation by Saban known as Eagle Riders, leaving fans to have to continue to rely on bootlegs of both the originals and that version.
As of June 2013, this is not longer a case applied to the original series and the OVAs since Sentai Filmworks recently announced that they got the license for them to be released firstly bundled together in DVD and Blu-Ray and later, the OVAs series is then going to be released in DVD only.
The Battle of the Planets adaptation is also now streaming for free on Hulu and The Anime Network.
Tokyo Mew Mew had 26 episodes released in the US by 4Kids and then dropped due to them not being able to get a merchandising deal (despite high ratings). The other 26 episodes were never released and there are no plans to release even those that were seen in the US. It is unlikely to ever be completed. Episodes 24-26 have 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..."!)
Despite only being released a few years ago, the DVD box sets for Maison Ikkoku are among the rarest in anime, some of them are over $700.
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.
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.
Hopefully everyone taped The Noozles and The Adventures of the Little Koala when they had the chance, because the places where you can see those classic shows are dwindling to near extinction at this point.
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.
If you missed out on seeing Grimms 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 release on VHS in Japan and was never released to DVD or released in outside countries. 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 rerelease at all.
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.
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!.
Want the first volume of Mirai Nikki? Good luck with that.
Deadman Wonderland is in 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 recently 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 10 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 (Katsuhito Otomo approved of it, and even selected the colorist himself) or appreciate it's 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.
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 Creator/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.
Legend of Galactic Heroes 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 has even tried.
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 SammyOV As (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.
The Pretty Sammy franchise (specifically, the OV As and the TV version). The OV As 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 OV As, 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. Vol. 2 sold horribly and still has a few copies left in-stock at Right Stuf for a bargain price, but Vol. 1 cannot be found anywhere for a decent price.
The English dub of the TenchiMuyoRyo-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.
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.
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 2005 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 Eighties, 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 had 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.
Most of Bandai's older franchises, including Haruhi Suzumiya, are discontinued in America and becoming increasingly expensive.
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 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 140 note And that's just from Series 1-10! Series 11 and forward hasn't been released on DVD as of 2014. out of the 1,418+ episodes released on DVD. Worse, all the Series 1-5 DVDs distributed by Nippon Crown have been long out of print and are quite difficult to come by. Even worse, only a handful of episodes can be found on the internet. Thankfully, reruns air during the series' hiatuses. The only problem though is that nowadays the episodes produced in high definition note Starting from Series 10. are the only ones rerunning! The standard definition episodes haven't reran in quite a while.
Although Hulu Japan and U-Next has Series 7, while NHK On Demand and Yahoo! Gya O has Series 13, only a tiny chunk of episodes from both series are available! Who knows when they're going to stream all of Series 7 and 13.
The series' first TV special, A Happy Blue Back, only got a VHS release and there are no plans of putting it on DVD. However, it did get a Video CD release in Hong Kong, which has the Japanese audio.
The Movie was released on VHS and DVD, but the DVD copies are becoming so rare that the VHS copies are a lot easier to find.
Oyako Club doesn't have a home media release and probably never will. Good luck trying to find episodes since they're extremely difficult to find. However, a couple episodes were uploaded onto YouTube and another in a torrent.
Dororonpa! doesn't have a home media release, however, it is available on Yahoo! GyaO. Tele-Asa Channel 1 reran the series in 2014, but it was eventually removed from their schedule.
Gatapishi got a few VHS releases during the 1990s, but has yet to be released on DVD. Luckily, the entire series is available on Yahoo! Gya O.
According to a YouTube comment, there was an English dub of the children's educational series 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.
While the various Digimon series were rescued throughout 2013 and 2014, none of the dubbed movies were. While the heavily edited Digimon: The Movie is on DVD, it's out of print, and none of the other dubbed movies got a DVD release.