Let us just say that there are a lot of "prototype" pilot episodes of famous manga whose ideas didn't make into the final product.
Many abandoned plot elements from Bleach have been revealed by Tite Kubo in databooks or interviews.
The unpublished pilot chapter was very different from "Death and Strawberry".
Rukia shrunk to about 15 cm tall when Ichigo took her powers.
Pilot!Orihime was stalked by her hollowfied father rather than her brother, Ichigo reciprocated her affections, and she died at the end of the story arc.
Some of the rules are different, as souls have to be given tickets to get into the afterlife, and the Soul Reapers have to cut the chain of fate (doing so in the final manga results in the spirit becoming a hollow).
Kubo originally intended Mayuri to be Ishida's 'personal villain', with a series of escalating fights between them until Mayuri finally died and Ishida avenged his grandfather and race. This appears to have been de-emphasized when Kubo planned out the Arrancar and Blood War Arcs, at which point Mayuri became an over-the-top Token Evil Teammateand Yhwach became the real villain in Uryu's personal saga.
Kubo mentioned in an interview about Shinji that he'd originally planned for Ichigo's friends to develop powers, but Shueisha told him to hurry up and introduce the Shinigami.
The original main villains were supposed to be Gin and Urahara. Aizen was supposed to have been Killed Off for Real, and it was only after the assassination that Kubo decided to peg Aizen as the "most interesting" pick for Big Bad. The odd zig-zag in Kisuke's characterization in the first two arcs made more sense after this was revealed.
Kubo originally wanted the Shinigami standard weapon to be a firearm, while Rukia would be a bit of an anomaly by wielding a scythe. Rukia did end up wielding a scythe in the Fade To Black movie.
Sayaka Yumi from Mazinger Z was one of the first Action Girl and Tsundere with a lead role in Anime, and she and Kouji did the Belligerent Sexual Tension bit before no one else. However, she was Put on a Bus at the end of the series. The Bus Came Back again at the end of Great Mazinger, but after the end of the series she was Put on a Bus again. She was to become the 4th spazer pilot in UFO Robo Grendizer, but character developer and co-plotter of the series, Shingo Araki, opposed Go Nagai and designed a new character that did not appear in the Grendizer manga: Maria Grace Fleed, younger sister to Grendizer main character Duke Fleed. Maria soon became a fan-favourite in the latter part of the series. What might have happened had Sayaka and Maria, two hot-tempered, HotbloodedTsunderes liking the same boy, shown up in the same series? Fans have made plenty of fanfics and doujins about the topic and it ended up in the scripts of many Super Robot Wars games.
Kouji Kabuto wore a Scarf of Asskicking and used a bike to dock on Mazinger Z in the Go Nagai's early designs. However, Kamen Rider premiered before Mazinger Z, and Go Nagai removed and changed those elements because he did not want people thought he was ripping off another show. The idea would return in Shin Mazinger as a literal prototype for Mazinger Z.
Originally there was a recurrent the idea about giving Minerva X as a replacement mecha for Sayaka (in fact, it's was somehow created for that purpose, as the true Mazinger Z partner, but not as a pilotable mecha, according to the original story), but it's was latter decanted to the Tear Jerker side (Minerva's "death" in episode 38)(and probably for having Sayaka always with a "breaking easy" mecha, in the misogynous Nagai's style...) Funny enough, there is an alternative universe manga called Mazinger Angels with Maria Fleed piloting it, and finally you can get Minerva X alive and playable for the good guys team in Super Robot Wars Advance and Super Robot Wars 64, letting you put Sayaka in it as her pilot, making combinations attacks with Mazinger as her true partner, and having original attacks quotes, all as it was intended/could been in the original series...
Back in the early '00s, AD Vision had plans to release some of the original Go Nagai series to compliment releases such as Getter Robo Armageddon and Mazinkaiser, but that plan obviously fell through. It wouldn't be until late 2012 when Discotek revealed that it would release the original Mazinger series.
Naruto's prototype has no ninjas, as the titular boy was a Fox Demon in human form on a quest to learn how to make friends in the Human world. Naruto's personality was even more mischievous and bratty. The Sexy Technique was still around there, but it was comparatively more clothed than its official manga counterpart (a minimal top and daisy dukes, showingthe fox tails). There were still equivalent characters for the Third Hokage and the nine-tailed fox (the latter of which was Naruto's father), but no other characters.
The one-shot story was actually published, and takes place in the modern world — much of the Schizo Tech in the series may result from this. Also, the original Naruto wore goggles on his head from riding his motorbike, and the mangaka says that he loved the visual, but found it too complicated to draw constantly — hence the whole business with the forehead protectors.
Outside of the pilot, Akatsuki was originally supposed to be composed entirely of inhuman monsters. This is probably why the majority of them are humans but with massively altered bodiesnote Orochimaru has snakes and/or is a snake, Deidara has mouths in strange places and is a bomb, Sasori is a puppet, Hidan's appearance and abilities were meant to show him as a Shinigami, Kakuzu has multiple hearts and is a optical fiber cable network, Zetsu is a plant, Kisame has sharks AND is a shark.. In the third databook Kishimoto mentioned Hidan's scythe was supposed to have a bunch more special abilities that he didn't have time to show.
Hinata wasn't originally a ninja. Kishimoto's original sketch of her can be found here.
The pilot for Dragon Ball was called "Dragon Boy". Its hero, Tanton, was a boy with bat wings that would evolve into the monkey-tailed Goku. The pilot interestingly featured an artifact called a Dragon Ball, but it was pretty useless. All it did was release a puny dragon. The story was also heavily based on Journey to the West and had Tanton escorting a princess that strongly resembles Bulma back home to her country. When the story ends, the heroes still have nine-tenths of the way to go. Just think of all that could have been here...
Also in regards to Dragon Ball, the incredibly obscure and short lived Harmony Gold dub in the 80s. Goku was named Zero, Bulma was Lena, Krillin was Bongo... It would be completely different to the Dragon Ball of today where Funimation kept most of the Japanese names.
And speaking of the Funimation dub, imagine if the later seasons had remained with The Ocean Group instead of being taken in-house in Texas. Many of Funimation's big name actors (AndSean Schemmel) got their start in Dragon Ball Z. If it remained in Canada, what would have become of the dubs of all Funi's later properties?
One Piece had two prototypes before the chapter that eventually became the first one, and there was heavy rewriting between them. We only say that Luffy's character was way toned down and close the discussion. Also, there was no titular treasure (Luffy pretty much became a pirate for the hell of it), and the series was called Romance Dawn (which was used as the name for the manga's first chapter and volume).
In the second Romance Dawn, which was submitted as the pilot, Luffy's grandfather(who's a marine vice-admiral in the actual manga) played an equivalent role to Shanks, which Oda did so that Shanks would have more of an impact when he was introduced in the actual manga. There's a character named Silk with a similar design to Nami and the position of a swordswoman of limited skill, but she doesn't join Luffy's crew in either version.
The story of the first prototype was adapted into an animated special made for the JUMP Super Anime Tour that's set in the continuity of the main series between the Thriller Bark and Sabaody Archipelago arcs (following the manga, as the anime hadn't gotten to this point yet). Even before this, the villain named "Crescent Moon-Galley" made a cameo appearance in the anime version of the Loguetown arc.
Captain Kuro makes a reference to the crescent moon that would otherwise be a throwaway line if not for the possible reference to Romance Dawn.
In other development news, Zoro was originally conceived as one of Buggy's bodyguards.
In Oda's initial draft for the tenth movie One Piece Strong World, the Big Bad Gold Lion Shiki was building a Weather Control Machine on a sky island which needed four Green Rocks to power it (said Green Rocks were actually referenced in the very first teaser), and this was presumably the genesis for the kidnapping plot. It was also written to be an intense and tearjerking piece, but Oda threw the whole thing out because he felt that it was too forced.
Other supplementary materials for the movie reveal that the giant snake from the Skypiea arc was originally intended to be an octopus, and Shiki's distinct injury of getting a steering wheel lodged in his head was originally going to be Kuma's distinguishing feature.
The Green Databook reveals more information about the parts of the series that did not make it into the manga - among other things, Dadan was going to be a man, Usopp (though with an older design) was going to be the first mate, the shipwright was a short Fishman with a mallet (Franky was there, but he looked completely different and was considered the weaponsmith), and Sanji was originally named "Naruto" but JUMP rejected this as they were still optioning the Naruto pilot to become a series. Well, that explains his eyebrows...
Even more: Moria was originally conceptualized as a kindly-looking priest, while Doflamingo looked like a DJ/rapper, Blackbeard's first name was "Everything", Akainu had glasses and Kizaru was cheerful in a jovial sense instead of the creepy one. Also, Don Krieg had made himself into a mecha and the Amazon Marguerite had a Zoan Devil Fruit called the Cat Cat Fruit Model Black Cat which made her look like a Cat Girl when transformed.
In a Log Book, a series of sketches were printed, one of which was Chopper with Robin's arms, legs, and eyes on his back. When asked about this, Oda said he was originally intending on Robin to transport the unconscious crew via this method at the end of the Skypiea battles, but he realized this would be such horror for his younger readers that he replaced the idea with something simpler. Still, it brings up an untapped idea of how Robin could easily expose of enemies without using her basic "Clutch" attack.
Wandering Son was originally going to be about a High Schoolgirl that yearned to be a boy, but the author realized that a boy who wants to become a girl before entering into puberty would have a lot of worries related to growing up and decided to go for it, changing the plot accordingly. The original idea was used with the secondary protagonist though, Takatsuki Yoshino (albeit she was in elementary at the start of the series).
The original version of Berserk had Guts as a somewhat less cold character with an eyepatch (which he gives up before the prototype's end), had elements of a Deadpan Snarker and took up hunting demons after his mother was killed by one. The Big Bad was to be a single demon lord by the name of Vana (instead of the four demons known as the Godhand that take up the role in the series proper), and the sacrificial mark was on the right side of his chest instead of on the back of his neck. The prototype was actually intended to be a Shōnen story, but was changed to Seinen because the story was too dark.
Rurouni Kenshin had two prototypes, both called Meiji Romantic Swordsman Story. The first one revolved around Kenshin saving Chizuru, the daughter of a merchant, from a jealous former samurai, and had none of the characters from the final version apart from Kenshin (whose name wasn't given). The second prototype had Kaoru, Megumi and Yahiko, but all three were siblings and Megumi's personality was completely different (being shy and submissive), and their father had been a comrade of Kenshin's. The main plot was about a former student of the Kamiya dojo taking it over and trying to marry Megumi in order to obtain it legally so that he could use the dojo as a gambling hall. Kenshin's name wasn't given in either. Also of note is that a minor mook character from the two prototypes eventually became the basis of Anji's design. If you count the author's first published work, Crescent Moon in the Warring States, then Rurouni Kenshin had three prototypes. It does include some elements of the final story, but takes place in the Sengoku (Warring States) era of Japan and focused on Hiko Seijuro, a master of Hiten Mitsurugi-Ryu (Kenshin's style) and Isshinta, a cowardly boy.
Watsuki originally planned for it to be revealed that Hannya had been stepped on in the womb like The Elephant Man, explaining his featureless death-mask of a face. Luckily, he realized the Unfortunate Implications of that idea and changed it to reveal that Hannya had intentionally mutilated his face so that he could easily disguise himself as just about anything.
In stark contrast to Light, Taro gets scared of the notebook and stops using it after his first two unintentional uses (although a classmate of his uses it to kill people and deflect suspicion from himself). This fits nicely with Near's statement late in the manga that if Light were an ordinary person, he would not have used the Death Note after the first time.
Taro's character design was later used as the inspiration for the fourth Kira, Teru Mikami.
"Vol. 13: How to Read" implies that the creator had considered having L win with Light dead and that an error between editor and artist switched Mello and Near's character designs.
It was also said that Naomi Misora was originally going to be a more major character, but since she wound up being too clever, she had to be killed off fast. Also, Ohba had considered having Mello be the one to win against Light, but since he was also too "smart", he had to be killed off to provide suspense.
Mogi was originally planned to have a larger role, but Ohba couldn't decide how to do it.
Allegedly, early concepts for the Shinigami would have made Ryuk, Gelus, and Rem resemble attractive humans, but the decision was made that Gelus's brief appearance worked better if he looked somewhat pathetic and Ryuk and Rem being beautiful did raise concerns that fans might side with the team of killers just because of their looks. The designs were soon changed to give the Shinigami a more appropriately inhuman feel.
Project A-Ko was supposed to be a part of the Cream Lemonhentai anthology. Then the director decided that the comedy bits A) were strong enough to work on their own and B) worked better without being broken up with sex scenes.
Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch, in its original short story format, was going to be set in a mystical coast town in Ye Nonspecific Pirate Days. Yes, Kaito was a pirate. Lucia, who was named Lyre at the time, had a much skimpier outfit and her full team consisted of herself, Hanon and Rina, with no Sixth Rangers. There were only three villains, too — Izuuru, Gackto and Sara — and they were all merpeople; the rule that all mermaids were female hadn't been invented yet.
Ikumi Mia, as one may have noticed from her constantly adding things that premiered in the anime adaptations of her works back into the manga, is a go-with-the-flow revisionist. What you may not know is that she never intended for Tokyo Mew Mew in its current incarnation to exist at all. She had been commissioned to draft up a horror manga, and thought it would be cute if a catgirl with a pink and black motif were added into the cast. The executives at Nakayoshi were immediately smitten with the character and wanted more Petting Zoo People, which she soon added. Then they decided that the horror story was too dark for a kids' magazine, but they couldn't just leave those characters there. After many, many revisions, the mysterious, chilling pink-and-black catgirl became the cute, easily flustered pink-and-red catgirl Momomiya Ichigo, and she and her friends were Magical Girls in modern-day Tokyo.
Mahou Sensei Negima! had numerous character redesigns before the final product: Negi was supposed to be named Negi.T.Silverberg and be older looking; Nodoka was to be named Meiko Miyazaki; Ako was to be named Ayu Izumi who instead had a large scar across her chest instead of her back; Makie Sasaki was originally going to be a different person entirely named Kozue Migara who was best friends with the lead girl (a role filled by Konoka) and who played on the lacross team (an idea which lead to the creation of Sakurako Shiina); Yuna and Chizuru had several connections in their designs, starting with the character of Yuko Akashi, an energetic, random girl, who worked part-time at the academy's daycare, while the character of Tsutsumi Nadai was a character with a strong father complex who was good at cooking and house-work. These various traits went to both Yuna and Chizuru. Kaede was at first intended to be a clumsy and incompetent ninja. Not to mention the school itself possibly being a giant tower reaching to the sky, or a large island in the sea of Japan. These are given as notes in the back of the manga volumes, along with other characterization notes that, at least unless/until the manga contradicts them, are considered fanon for the series.
Speaking of Negima, the OADs count as well. Anime News Network has listed adult!Negi being voiced by Hiroshi Kamiya. Seems to be good considering the fact that he won the Third Annual Seiyuu awards. Cue the third OAD and it's still Rina Sato who voiced adult!Negi. Not that bad all things considering, but it would have been nice if Hiroshi Kamiya did the job (then again, at this point, he wasvoicingfourmajor roles).
Sonic X, as evidenced by its original pilot created circa 2001, was supposed to include a cast of anthropomorphic animals instead of humans (who are not generally well-regarded, especially Chris Thorndyke), as well as a new hedgehog affectionately dubbed "Nazo" by the fanbase (a reference to the title of his image on the long-gone Japanese Sonic X site). Most of the comments on YouTube are in this vein; hell, even the uploader's caption is "This is how Sonic X should've been done (No chris no humans whatsoever)".
The Gundam franchise has had What Could Have Beens aplenty:
The original Mobile Suit Gundam would have had the original RX-78-2 Gundam destroyed not by the Zeong, but by a grunt unit. As well, Char would have taken up a unit known as the Kikeroga and used it to drop Luna II on Earth, predating his Axis asteroid drop by 13 years!
Another interesting turn of events was the case of Miharu, the Zeon spy girl that became Kai's love interest. According to source books, she was originally going to be a member of the Zabi family!
Another was that the meeting between Degwin Sodo Zabi and General Revil would have been much different had the series been allowed to be fully completed: they would have met on the White Base and during the meeting, Degwin would have spotted Sayla and, recognizing her as Zeon Zum Daikun's daughter Artesia, would break down and beg for forgiveness, revealing that he indeed murdered Zeon!
Yoshiyuki Tomino wanted the Gundam to be all-white like a Star Wars stormtrooper, a notion vetoed by the producers, who wanted kid-friendly primary colors.
At one point, there were plans to make a manga known as MSX, set a few years after the One Year War and featuring a whole new slew of Mobile Suits. However, it ended up getting canned when Zeta Gundam was announced.
As well, there are a number of abandoned Mobile Suit ideas as to what could have shown up. Included were a G-Defensor Mk-II (The original destroyed at the end of Zeta), two different Gundam Mk-II Is (one of which was a contender for the main hero unit. A Mk-III would later become a Mobile Suit Variation), a Double Zeta Gundam which utilized various combiner parts, which suggest that they had different, almost Super Robot-like ideas for the suits.
Mobile Suit Gundam F91 was supposed to have been a full-fledged series, but was shortened into a movie instead. While the Crossbone Gundam manga answered several questions, the question remains as to what the series could have been if it went that way.
This happened with Victory Gundam: the titular Gundam was to be introduced in the fourth episode instead of the first. However, thanks to executive meddling, and a need for the Gundam to always appear early, the fourth episode was made into the first, much to Tomino's consternation. It happened again with Gundam SEED, which was originally to follow the 'Big Bang' aftermath of Turn A Gundam, tying into the UC timeline and, as an interview said, "planting the seed for the future". The concept was not followed up on by Fukuda, however, and, once again, Tomino was not happy about it. Most recently, it happened yet again with the revelation that Mizushima wanted Gundam 00 to be originally set in the UC timeline, a proposition Sunrise turned down.
Speaking of Turn-A, Tomino didn't just want all the Gundam series used in this series, he wanted to use ALL the mecha series he created, including Ideon and Daitarn 3. That was shot down.
Gundam SEED had a number of things planned for the second half of the series, including having Flay pilot the Strike Rouge as propoganda material for the Earth Alliance, Flay and Sai dying in an attempt to save the Archangel from a bomb and even killing just about everyone save Athrun (who'd lose a leg). This never happened due to the immense popularity of the Seed characters among the viewers.
And a close fight between Strike Freedom and Destiny in the Gundam SEED Destiny finale, both terribly damaged from all the fighting.
Also from SEED Destiny was the rumor that Neo Roanoke would pilot the N Dagger N, an MSV-based suit based off of the Blitz Gundam. Instead, he rode in on the Exus.
In Gundam 00, the incredibly feminine Tieria Erde was at one point planned to be a beautiful woman dressing like a man. That screaming you hear is the many straight male fans of the series that got trapped by Tieria during the series run, particularly during his single episode as an incredibly hot Wholesome Crossdresser. Interestingly, despite this plot point being dropped early, there is still arguably some foreshadowing for it in early episodes of the first season, such as the name and visual metaphors his gundam presents, Tieria's feminine appearence multiplying several thousand fold when he's upset, and the Pronoun Trouble he experiences after revealing his extremely masculine gundam's inner female form that dips in to the gender neutral. Sadly, fans lost a probable Ms. Fanservice and a chance to get a female "main" pilot in the series in exchange for what's probably the closest we're going to get for a canonically gay Gundam pilot.
Years before Gundam Wing came to American shores, Sunrise released a pilot for a series called Doozy Bots, which had a scientist named Professor Doozy turn a bunch of stereotype high school students into SD versions of various heroic Mobile Suits to battle laughable versions of Zeon-based Mobile Suits.
Speaking of Gundam Wing, one of the original ideas for the series was to continue its multi-national theme. The original designs for the five main Gundams centered around Japan (Wing), Europe (Deathscythe), America (Heavyarms), China (Shenlong) and the Middle East (Sandrock).
In liner notes for the manga rereleases, Takeuchi revealed that she had thought of making Ami a cyborg and having her do a Heroic Sacrifice, along with the idea of Makoto being a gang-leader.
Early plans for a Sailor V spinoff (that evolved into "Sailor Moon") had Sailor V as the team leader with no Usagi present, while her friend Hikaru would be in the "Ami"/Mercury role. The early gang-leader version of Makoto was in the treatment as well, named "Mamoru Chino" (and depicted as a chain-smoker). Rei also appeared, but with the name "Miyabi Yoruno". The girls would be in search of a mysterious princess named Artemis (relation to the cat unknown). This version was to be produced as an OVA, but plans fell through.
An early advertisement for the Sailor V manga had her with Usagi's hairstyle and a small crown on her head, with the working title being "Pretty Soldier Sailor V".
Takeuchi also intended to include a character named "Diana the Moon Fairy", a talkative, impertinant, and playful fairy. She was to be found in the ruins of the Moon Kingdom, and would have stuck with Luna (whom she didn't get along with) and Usagi. She was eventually replaced by Queen Serenity, and the name Diana was used for Luna and Artemis's future daughter.
Also, Tuxedo Mask could have been named "Mysterious 2098 Face". Takeuchi was later stunned she could have come up with such a bizarre but meaningless name.
During the early creation phase of Sailor Moon, Takeuchi initially drew each of the girls with individual◊ costumes◊ before choosing the rather uniform versions later used. She admits she doesn't remember creating this costumes at all.
The hair colors of the senshi repeatedly changed. Usagi and her mother were once thought to be green-eyed and brunette, then later changed to both being depicted with pink hair. Ikuko retains her pink hair and red eyes in some manga images, where as the anime went with the brown eyes and blue hair variety. Usagi initially being portrayed with pink hair was first done, as the idea was that pink was her image color, but this was later changed to white.
Originally, Kunihiko Ikuhara envisaged that Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune were going to be the main characters in the Supers movie, and it was going to be independent of the main series. Sailor Neptune was going to be in a deep sleep at the end of the world, and Sailor Uranus would have had to steal the talismans from the Sailor Senshi to revive her. These ideas were later used in Revolutionary Girl Utena.
Allegedly back when a live action Sailor Moon movie was in talks in the late 90's Geena Davis was considered to play Beryl. Fan rumors around the time suggested that Rini was going to be turned into Serena's little sister not her future daughter (which is kind of weird for their parents to gave their daughters similar names, since Rini is a dimunitve of Serena) and Amy was going to have normal hair.
DiC had originally considered dubbing up to the first 13 episodes of Sailor Moon S, but they were only able to afford to dub the rest of R. However, their considered names for the Outer Planetary Soldiers did make it on to the early Irwin Canada doll releases, with Haruka being called "Corrinn", Michiru being "Nerissa", and Setsuna being "Celia". Allegedly, DiC would have portrayed "Corrinn" and "Nerissa" as best friends, which would likely mean the S season would have experienced quite the editing (which it did with Cloverway, although they didn't edit enough at times, making the "cousins" cover-up look rather strange).
The Mixxzine/Tokyopop verion of the manga briefly had Hotaru (who later became the only senshi to retain her original name in the Cloverway dub) named Jenny. It was changed back in later issues.
During the creation of Sailor Moon Stars, animation director Yoiuchi Fukano designed a new form for Sailor Moon called "Sailor Moon La Cygne" or "Sailor Moon Swan". Given the Fan Nickname of "Fukano Moon" because of who created it, the design◊ went completely away from the sailor motif that was standard of all Sailor Guardians, looking like a transition between Sailor Moon and Princess Serenity. Ultimately, though, it was decided to use Naoko Takeuchi's Eternal Sailor Moon instead.
Originally, Hayate the Combat Butler was going to be a one-shot about a teenage girl and her little sister who were in debt with the mob, and the things they had to do to pay them off without getting sucked in. These characters became Yukiji and Hinagiku. Word of God says the one-shot is part of Hayate continuity, and will be worked in as part of the series.
Before the Executive Meddling that turned the second season of Code Geass into what it is today kicked in, the writing staff had originally planned for Lelouch to win the duel at the end of the first season. After that, there were several possible routes the story could have taken. One of the proposed scenarios involved Lelouch being imprisoned after being defeated by Emperor Charles, only to later break himself out of prison and run in a political election against Schneizel. The other scenario involved Jeremiah's sister Lilicia, who would look like a female Lelouch, becoming Zero and taking control of the Black Knights, confusing them greatly when they find out their leader's gender. Because of this, Lelouch is forced to join the Black Knights as himself, and gets picked on by Tamaki, who has a crush on Girl!Zero.
There were some potentially big ideas for the second season, including introducing Kallen's father, bringing her supposedly-dead brother back (foreshadowed in a first season audio commentary where the head writer teases that he might not be really dead, greatly surprising Kallen's voice actress), an explanation about Suzaku's superhuman abilities and his relationship to Geass, and a greater exploration of C.C.'s past. All this had to be cut in the great reshuffling brought on by Executive Meddling.
Even earlier than that, it was mentioned in passing that Lelouch and Suzaku's characters were derived from the first draft of the series, which would have been about a Wide-Eyed Idealist fresh recruit in the army (Proto-Suzaku) and his idealogical conflicts with Proto-Lelouch, his cynical commanding officer.
In a bonus feature for Code Geass: Tales of an Alternate Shogunate, Kallen sneaks into the studio and finds an early story idea. It describes the story as a " Lone Wolf and Cub type story", with Lelouch, Suzaku and Nunnally as the main characters (Nunnally ends up being Demoted to Extra), and Lelouch possibly having an eyepatch over his Geass eye. Kallen seems to like the idea until she sees the idea to put Nunnally in a cart with Hadron blasters equipped.
At the end of Venus Versus Virus's first volume you get to read the original oneshot and see the original character designs. The character designs are more slim, Nene looks less...Unusual, and Riku's design is less formal. The plot differs slightly and it seems that the yuri is more apparent than in the actual manga.
The very first Macross. Back when it was on pre-production as Battle City Megaroad, Lynn Minmay was a delivery girl who worked in her parents' Chinese restaurant aboard the ship and who usually delivered Chinese food to the main bridge. The staff liked her so much that while the series evolved into Macross, she ended up expanded into not only a vertex in the main love triangle, but probably the most important character in the entire franchise.
According to Shoji Kawamori himself, the earliest concept for Macross was an all-female crew, with Misa Hayase as the captain. Makes you wonder how that would have played out...
Macross was also initially envisioned as a parody of the mecha genre (i.e., taking the transforming Up to Eleven with the ship itself being a Transforming Mecha). Early drafts of the story included a trip around the world, with a landmark or city getting destroyed at pretty much every stop.
On a related note, Robotech was originally planned only as a dubbing of Macross. The other two series were added in because more episodes were needed for syndication. Had they not been forced to mix the stories, Harmony Gold may have been able to continue translating and airing subsequent Macross installments. Of course, whether or not that would have been a good thing is best left to the reader...
Outside of the name changes, the Robotech adaptation of Macross is actually considered to be pretty faithful (up until they change the last few episodes to hook into the other two shows), especially considering the Standards & Practices of the era. Even the death of Roy Fokker was kept in, which was unthinkable for a cartoon at the time. Given the care of the adaptation and the zest Harmony Gold people usually show for Macross, not many people doubt they would've done a good job with the rest of the franchise and do bemoan the fact that various hurdles from the way Robotech went down prevent us from watching Robotech Plus, Robotech Seven, Robotech Zero and Robotech Frontier instead of, well, what we got.
The original dub would have kept a more international dimension, with Hikaru Ichijyo being called "Rick Yamada", averting the Race Lift that often happened in dubbing shows at the time, instead acknowledging the original character's Japanese ethnicity.
The Robotech franchise has a few more What Could Have Been moments on its own. A sequel series with all-new animation, Robotech II: The Sentinels, died after the major American sponsor pulled out due to disappointing toy revenues and a jump in the yen/US dollar exchange rate, leaving only enough material for a direct-to-video movie which barely started the main plot. Its follow-up, Robotech III: The Odyssey never got beyond a vague outline. The first movie (not to be confused with the more recent The Shadow Chronicles) suffered from Executive Meddling, and never saw wide release. Robotech 3000 never got beyond a CGI trailer.
On a related note to the above, the success of Voltron in the United States was nearly a total accident. World Events Productions previewed a show called Mirai Robo Daltanious, somewhat liked what they saw, and told Toei that they wanted "to go with the vehicle one, and the one with the lion" (they were referring to the prominent lion emblem on the chest of Daltanious). This communication goof confused the Toei execs, and instead of Daltanious (which they were shopping around due to it having been a decent success at home), they sent over a far-less-successful-in-Japan show called Beast King GoLion with a shrug of "whatever, silly foreigners"... and the crew at World Events fell in love with GoLionimmediately and proceeded to make it the headliner of the Voltron run, scrapping all Daltanious-related plans on the spot. The rest, of course, is history. Had the world not gotten "Lion Voltron" as we know it, who knows what would have been different, or if the frankly very different Daltanious would have appealed to Americans at all.
Tetsuo Hara's two-part pitch for Hokuto no Ken that he wrote and illustrated by himself bears little resemblance to the later serialized version he co-wrote with Buronson. In the pilot, Kenshiro (who originally bore the surname "Kasumi") is a teenager who leads a seemingly peaceful life in present-day Japan (the apocalypse hasn't happened yet) with his sweetheart Yuki (not Yuria) while learning the ways of Hokuto Shinken from his father (who is implied to be Kenshiro's own biological father). That is until his girlfriend is murdered by a rival martial arts clan (the Taizanji Kenpo school) for witnessing a crime and Ken himself is framed for her death. The pilot deals with Kenshiro hiding from authorities (who are secretly under the control of the Taizanji) while seeking to avenge his girlfriend's death. The major fights from both pilots ended up being used as template for filler fights in the anime and Hara would later revisit the concept of a Hokuto Shinken successor living in a civilized age with Souten no Ken (even reusing the "Kasumi" surname for Kenshiro's predecessor).
While nothing definite has been revealed, one has to wonder What Could Have Been with Yu-Gi-Oh!, had the card gamePlot Tumor been nipped in the bud as was planned; Kazuki Takahashi, the manga's creator, never intended the card game story to last more than a few chapters, putting it on a rotating list of children's games to base stories on. He also based the Millennium Puzzle and the spirit of Yami Yugi within on Hellraiser's puzzle box and Pinhead, playing the shadow games in a similar manner. Had the card game not garnered such popularity and forced him to rewrite the rest of the series Lighter and Softer, who knows how Darker and Edgier it could've been?
In the manga, Mr. Takahashi mentioned the premise of Yu-Gi-Oh was about "the mysterious" in every day life before it morphed into a story of games and the supernatural connotations of them (and later Duel Monsters specifically). Paranormal Magnet Yugi Muto, anyone?
Originally, Seto Kaiba was meant to be a one-shot villain for the manga. However, Takahashi decided to add more to his character, including a tragic back-story for his present-day character and ancestor, give him a little brother, and make him somewhat appealing. Never knew that, did you, Kaiba fans?
Giant Robo was over long and over budget, so a lot of stuff had to be cut to make way for the main plot. One the director himself mentioned as something he regretted was that Sally the Witch (the ORIGINAL magical girl) was going to have a fight with the Big Bad ruling council, the Magnificent Ten (themselves famous cameos). The awesomeness of this scene can only be imagined but by the time the last episodes rolled around there was just nowhere to put it, and sadly she ended up as little more than a slightly confusing plot device.
That's just the tip of the iceberg. You know how the series ends with a teaser for a final battle between the Experts and Big Fire? That was supposed to be animated, as the climax of the series. And, in fact, Imagawa had plans for an entire saga spanning several OVA series, of which Giant Robo was the second to last chronologically. The others would have explained things like how Daisaku became an Expert and the origin of the Magnifacent Ten (along with a teamup between Giant Robo and Tetsujin 28) before it all culminating in the final series, "The Siege of Babel," which is the story teased at the end of Giant Robo. Thanks to funding issues, none of these series will ever come to be. The sheer amount of potential awesomeness we have been denied almost boggles the mind.
The opening scene of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann originally was an accurate display of what they planned the final storyline to be like, but it went through some massive re-writes. Additionally, Yoko's identity as the schoolteacher Yomako was originally supposed to have a plot about there being a teacher there that looked a lot like Kamina.
The concept art for the second movie included, among the other Tengen Toppa Gunmen, designs for a Tengen Toppa King Kittan. It's unclear, but this could have meant that the movie was at one point going to spare Kittan along with all the other secondary members of the team.
AD Vision was once set to dub the series, but their financial troubles forced Gainax to pull the licence and give it to Bandai. They revealed that they would of solved Simon the Digger's name pronunciation by just calling him "SIGH-mon."
There are a total of 28 Angels; the document uses the same Japanese word as in the series but also includes "Apostolo" in katakana. In order to get the extra twelve/thirteen out of the way quicker, the twelve strongest ones were supposed to have attackedall at once during the finale, completely erasing America from the map.
The Evas look slightly different. Units 05 and 06 are specifically mentioned; Unit 05 was to have been brought into Japan after Zeruel while Unit 06 would've perished during the finale. While not making it into the series, these Evas were recycled for the Rebuild movies as the personal Units of Mari and Kaworu respectively.
Ritsuko is a fan of bonsai and punk rock, of all things.
Hyuga, Ibuki and Aoba aren't present and SEELE isn't mentioned. There is however mention of a character named Conrad Lawrence; based on the description of him being an old man who set up NERV and put his later nemesis Gendo into position, he might've been the earliest draft of Lorenz Keel.
Sketchy descriptions of the final episodes taking place differently: after Rei's secrets are revealed, the twelve strongest Angels descend from the Moon and completely annihilate America, destroying Unit 06 in the process and plunging humanity into mass panic. The UN decides they have nothing to lose and aborts the Human Instrumentality Project over Gendo's protests, resolving to go down fighting instead. A cryptic mention of "the ruins of Arka, the Promised Land" (located in the Geofront) being a key objective.
Kaworu mentioned without name as a child with a cat. To those who have read the manga, this sounds even weirder. According to interviews with Anno the cat would have made it into the final product had it not been for budget-constrains. The same interviews also reveal that they had at one point considered introducing Kowaru earlier than they eventually did and that Shinji first would have found him playing an abandoned piano in some a ruined house.
Arael was supposed to have engaged the Evas in close aerial combat instead of Mind Rape, using some sort of vibroweapon on its wingtips. The Evas themselves would've been equipped with flight harnesses in order to fight the Angel. These plot elements both found their way into the third Rebuild movie.
Shinji was supposed to have received the Mind Rape (from an Angel unrelated to Arael), not Asuka.
Dub-related: According to the commentary, Amanda Winn Lee originally wanted to try out for the role of Misato, before Allison Keith's performance changed her mind.
Kaworu was originally going to be a transfer student at the kids' school, rather than the newest Evangelion pilot. This was changed after Hideaki Anno realized that the school setting had more or less been written out of the show by the time episode 24 came around.
What would the later episodes have been if they had had the money? What is clear is that End of Evangelion was basically an expanded version of what was originally scripted for the final two episodes, hence the film being split into two parts. Had Gainax's budget not been shot, the finale would have just been a shorter version of the movie (albeit with less violent and sexual imagery.)
Ironically, the director of the films, who really wanted to develop the third Rei, was pissed off at this and managed to overturn the decision in the third movie, where it's revealed that Rei wasn't rescued after all and now Rei III has replaced her.
Another scrapped plan for the second movie would've had Asuka and Mari piloting Eva Unit 02 together during the battle with Zeruel. In the final film Mari pilots it by herself since Asuka is hospitalized, though storyboards of the original idea can be seen on the DVD extras.
Yet another abandoned idea would've shown Bardiel's mental attack on Asuka in greater detail. At one point Asuka would hallucinate her own face being ripped off, only for it to begin mocking her. Like the above scene, storyboards for the sequence can be found on the DVD release.
Almost nothing of the preview for Rebuild 3.0 made it into the actual film, which makes one wonder what they were planning originally.
Shinji was supposed to have longer hair that would wave in the wind and that he could hide behind during dramatic scenes. They cut his hair because he looked too feminine and too messy.
The plug suits would look closer to the classic space suit look, Rei was initially dubbed Yui Ichijo, had black hair, got along better with Asuka and was friendlier and less the Rei Ayanami Expy we know today.
Initially the final line of End of Evangelion was going to be "I won't let you kill me" rather than the infamous "I feel sick". (The original scrip for Episode 26 had the line be proceeded by a trademark "baka!"/"idiot!", but it was removed from EoE's storyboard). According to Yuko Miyamura (Asuka's voice actor) Anno couldn't make her say it how he wanted it to sound, eventually he instead described the masturbation scene to her from Asuka's perspective and had asked how she would react if it happened to her, which led to the current line.
The leaked original script for episode 25 and 26 (which was used for the End of Evangelion) featured two different proposed epilogues, neither of which corresponded completely with the one in film: The first one (Last A) is the closest to the final one, but lacked the Book Ends Lilith/Rei, had the cast's names on the graves Shinji raised, showed Asuka kicking down hers (it is still shown to have been toppled in the final film after she returns from instrumentality) and has the original version of the final line (see above). The second one (Last B) however was much bleaker than the final film. It starts with Shinji laying on the beach holding Rei's hand before Shinji turn his head to see the Book Ends Lilith/Rei. The camera then pans out to show that Shinji is only clutching the arm Rei lost earlier. His monologue then reveals that he was the only human self-reflective enough to ever return from instrumentality, meaning he will be spending the rest of his life alone after finally finding the will to live with other people. After the credits starts both would have shown scenes revealing that Unit-01 had ended up on the moon, its/her helmet broken and revealing woman's hair.
Published drafts for episode 24, as well as the previously mentioned ones for episode 25+26/EoE, shows that there had been plans to include a minor sub-plot about different characters visiting Toji in the hospital that eventually was cut.
Likewise, the pilot trailer that was revealed on April Fool's Day had Ken serve in place of Professor Utonium, had the girls' transform with their weapons instead of their henshin belts and using their weapons in melee combat closer to the originals. Rolling Bubbles was long-ranged, with bubbles that disintregrated Mojo's machines and Hyper Blossom and Powered Buttercup were mid-range and point blank resprectfully but far more violent in their handling.
Ash's original partner in the anime was supposed to be a Clefairy instead of a Pikachu. Think about it: if successful as a franchise icon as Pikachu has been, Super Smash Bros. Brawl players could have been able to play as a Clefairy that could Metronome other fighters' Final Smashes for its own Final Smash...
Another choice for Ash's original partner was also a Jigglypuff, but one who couldn't sing.
The very first trailer for the movie Mewtwo Strikes Back in Japan, it is completely made out of scenes that didn't make it to the final product; the grown-up Misty segment, in particular, is a huge source of speculation and discussion withing the fandom, specially by taking account the movie would be the Grand Finale for the anime.
Media Blaster wanted to release uncut DVDs in America at one point, but of course Viz got the rights and they were unable to do this.
There was originally going to be an episode that celebrated the Japanese New Year during the Kanto run. This episode was intended to air soon after the infamous Porygon "seizure" episode, so production was halted, and after a while simply cancelled.
Here's one to consider in light of that 18-month report: Pokémon Gold and Silver was originally scheduled for release in Late 1997, but was delayed to be adapted for the Game Boy Color. The first episode of the Anime aired on 1 April 1997:
Had the game been released as originally scheduled, or even with a slight delay (i.e. Spring 1998), would an immediate sequel have followed?
Given that the delay happened, what if the "Porygon Incident" never happened and the series ended in October 1998, 1 year prior to Gold & Silver's actual release (As opposed to January 1999)? Would we have had a whole year in the Orange Islands? Or would the Anime have taken the year off?note Note that even with the Filler Arc, the Johto season in Japan still started 1 month early.
In either of the above cases, (presuming that they didn't go the Filler Arc route,) would Ash still have been the protagonist, or would he (and his companions) have been replaced?
The GS Ball was originally going to contain a Celebi that was to star in a large portion of the Johto arc. After Pokémon 4Ever came out, it was decided that having a Celebi in the anime right after a movie featuring Celebi would be redundant, so the idea was shelved.
According to ADR director Tom Wayland, in Pokémon: Arceus and the Jewel of Life Arceus was originally going to be voiced by actor Vincent D'Onofrio of Full Metal Jacket and Men In Black fame. However, before his recording session, there were difficulties with D'Onofrio's agent and he was unable to record for the movie. After re-auditioning, Tom Wayland himself was chosen to voice Arceus instead.
Team Plasma was supposed to make their debut appearances in Castelia City during Best Wishes, but their episodes were indefinitely postponed after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster, as the episodes featured Castelia City being destroyed. A related episode about the fishing competition was also postponed, but was broadcast without any references to the original setting of Castelia City.
When the ''Advanced Generation" was in pre-production, there was a discussion on who would get Put on a Bus, Misty or Team Rocket. Misty leaving the show was controversial enough, but one wonders how much the fandom would have flipped their lids if Team Rocket left.
Takeshi Shudo had story plans for finding out more about Ash's father. This idea was scrapped and we ended up with the show we have now because of it.
Early previews for Spell of the Unown refer to it as Tower of the Unown.
As mentioned in the Gunsmith Cats article, the original incarnation of the story, Riding Bean, had Rally as Bean's triggerwoman.
Science Ninja Team Gatchaman is full of these. The first series was originally supposed to focus mainly on Ken, Jun, and Jinpei out of the team, but after Joe became more popular, he gained more screentime in the anime. Jun was also originally intended to be second-in-command, but after the team numbers got shuffled about in production, Joe gained that position instead. Early plans for the series also put more emphasis on the relationship between Ken and Jun, possibly making them a romantic couple.
Katse's initial design was much different, with a long mane on the cowl and the uniform being primarily green. This design was eventually assigned to a Galactor boss when the first two episodes were made. Katse was also initially intended to be THE Big Bad and secretly a woman, rather than a Gender Bender made from fusing twins with X as only a consultant. These ideas did not make it very far, and it was decided that X being the one in charge would make for a more interesting story.
There would have been a Sixth Ranger in Gatchaman II, known as "Jack the Hawk" (G6). He was to be Joe's never-mentioned younger brother, while Joe would have been resurrected and brainwashed into being a Galactor operative under the name of the "Space Joker". Joe would eventually be freed of his brainwashing, although the planning notes did not specify if he'd rejoin the team or act as an ally. This idea lasted as far as a 1976 outline for the series (when it was called "Gatchaman 2" without Roman numerals). A later outline for the sequel, titled "New Gatchaman", had a different concept: Joe was back on the team, with no Jack to be found. However, this "Joe" would be revealed to be an android copy, who only was under the delusion that he was the actual deceased Joe Asakura. The android would have then performed a Heroic Sacrifice at the end of the series. By the time the sequel went into production as Gatchaman II, it was decided that Joe should remain part of the team and the plans for him were heavily reworked: Rather than there being an android Joe replacing the original, the Joe on the team would be the original, having narrowly survived his death by being modified into a cyborg. He does attempt to sacrifice himself at the end of the series, but it's averted and he continues to live.
Another failed remake idea by Tatsunoko was an SD Gatchaman series slated for 1996, which would have had the team reimagined in the super-deformed format and with an extra female member, operating from a floating platform. Unfortunately, concept art for this version has yet to surface.
Early plans for the Gatchaman series (tentatively titled "Birdman", among other working names) had the lead character named Ken Hayabusa, with his birdstyle being the Great Hawk, rather than the Eagle. His teammates would be named Jun Shiratori, Joe Takano, Ryu Washio, and Jinpei Tsubakurou. Jun was to carry a fencing sword as her weapon, rather than a yo-yo. At some point in the planning, Joe was to be into gardening rather than racing, and this detail visually carried through to his model sheet, where he was depicted with a flower hanging out of his mouth.
Sandy Frank Entertainment had originally considered doing all-new "original" stories for their Battle of the Planets adaptation, but due to expense concerns and already fulfilling their syndication quota, the ideas didn't get very far. They also attempted to get a redubbed and remastered version off of the ground in 2004, but it never got any further than an unaired pitch pilot and the idea died off fast. Sandy Frank had also considered doing an all-new American animated series with different designs in an attempt to not pay Tatsunoko royalties for the Gatchaman characters, but this got no further than a mere wish.
A remnant of this original idea can be seen in Belarus's first color appearance in volume 1 of the published manga. Though she still wields a knife, her hair (and eyes) are colored brown and her expression seems to be a little less severe.
Also, South Korea was initially female◊ and with aspirations of becoming an Idol Singer. The original designs would be re-used in Sena, the lead of Himaruya's web-manga Moe Kan.
Hell, Korea in general, speaking only for the anime. He was going to be in it, but protest from South Koreans forced Korea off the show. The series would have been broadcasted on Kid's Station in 2009, but was cancelled after the protests Kid's Station apparently had no knowledge of. South Korean protesters claimed he was an offensive sterotype because his clothing and birthday are incorrect, his behaviour perverted and "not understandable", and the fact that he obsesses over Japan, even though this usually is World War II we're talking about.
More fun with gender changes! Hungary was to be a male crossdresser (while Poland would be a female character), but Himaruya switched him to an actual female and made Poland the Wholesome Crossdresser. For added fun, Hungary was supposed to be more of a "witchy" character, with a shorter fuse and the habit of shooting arrows at whoever thought of her as a male.
Himaruya has noted that he once considered making Switzerland a female, with her true gender only being realized by Germany when he'd see her out of uniform. This idea did later get recycled with Hungary (who was a massive Tomboy when she was younger) and Prussia, with the latter only realising that the former is female when her uniform gets ripped to Absolute Cleavage levels.
In the third volume of the manga, a special pamphlet revealed various designs that could have been (including the witchy Hungary): Cuba as a cute little boy instead of a gruff Jerk with a Heart of Gold, Italy with no Idiot Hair, Russia as a dark-haired drunken uncle kind of man, Greece with sleek hair and glasses, England with normal eyebrows, a meaner-looking Liechtenstein, and China with short hair and glasses.
Before what we now know as Axis Powers Hetalia was formulated, Himaruya was originally intending on writing a manga set in New York City with a cast of characters that were "useless heroes". Since he wanted the characters to be of different ethnicities, he did an online search of ethnic traits. Instead, he got pages of ethnic jokes, one of which went something like, "The only weapon the Italians had during WWII was a white flag." That was how Italy's character came to be. From then on, he retooled the whole series by giving it a historical/geographical angle and making the characters into allegorical portrayals of nations. Oh, and in the end, Italy was the only character who was a "useless hero."
For the dub, Todd Haberkorn was originally cast as England, with an unnamed voice actor cast as Italy. Said unnamed voice actor dropped out, and Todd had to drop England to try out for Italy (owing to the fact that the voices were too similar for scenes the characters shared). England was taken over by Scott Freeman. And before Todd was finalized for the voice of Italy, he was in competition with Vic Mignogna, who later was cast as Greece. Also mentioned was that Todd auditioned for Germany, using a voice not unlike what was later used for Prussia. (The story can be heard here)
In one of the omake of the Chrono Crusade manga, Moriyama discussed a few of these. For example, the tomboyish GenkiCat Girl Shader was originally supposed to be a man crossdressing in elegant clothing. (You can see some remnants of this in earlier scenes of the manga, where a figure that represents her is shown as taller and appears to be wearing a long gown.) There's also a sketch of a figure that was supposed to be Chrono and Rosette's rival at the Order—his design seems to be recycled in a younger version of Remington shown in a flashback.
The story was originally going to be set in the 1800s but Moriyama changed it to the 1920s to take advantage of newer technology.
An extra released in the Princess Tutu DVDs says that originally the concept for Fakir was called the "black prince", and he was a 'crazy' young man babbling stories that only Ahiru believed.
Love Hina prototype version had Naru already engaged on a love relationship with another guy, while Keitaro was much less of a pushover: right after the first hot spring incident with Naru and the subsequent beating up from the girls, he severely considered kicking them out of the boarding house. (He is the new manager, after all.) Also, the girls's original reason to befriend him was just to get on his good side and avoid being kicked out. (Naru was supposed to take the bullet for them.)
During the manga's run, the girl who was supposed to end up with Keitaro wasn't Naru but Motoko Aoyama instead. Constant setups for this can be seen on the manga, with both Keitaro and Motoko seriously considering it at least twice. The fact that both Keitaro and Motoko are the characters with the biggest changes and character developement of the entire cast also says a lot, but according to Ken Akamatsu himself, he was running out of ideas near the end so he decided to drop that option and quickly finish the manga with a typical finale instead.
Originally, Naru was named Midori and instead of being a hot-headed Tsundere, she was to have been a Dojikko, even in the cafe where she worked. Shinobu was to have been the Tsundere, as well as having a ponytail similar to Forty's.
Less of a straight example than the others, but CLAMP mentioned during an interview after the conclusion of Card Captor Sakura that Syaoran/Sakura being a "normal" pairing (discounting Syaoran still being a foreigner despite being a boy Sakura's age) was never really part of their considerations; if Syaoran had been a girl and/or older/younger than Sakura, they still would have ended up together. Several fans who were disappointed that Syaoran and Sakura getting together prevented any yuri in the series were rather intrigued by this information.
Speaking of CLAMP, according to The Other Wiki, Tokyo Babylon originally debuted in a set of doujinshi by Nanase Ohkawa. It contained the original three main characters (Subaru, Hokuto, and Seishiro), but was supposedly about hunting elves. Also, while Seishiro was still a veterinarian and still had a dark side, it's said that it wasn't as pronounced as it was in the final product, thus having him undergo the most character change between the doujinshi and the final manga.
Apparently, CLAMP was originally made the storyboard for the second season opening of Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle. But it got rejected by Bee Train in place for the current second opening which is a boring slide show. Also, the second season would have been closer to the manga itself which divulged into the Darker and Edgier territory. However, NHK made the show more kid-friendly and lighter which resulted to much dissatisfaction on CLAMP. And in the end, CLAMP pulled the plug for a possible third season and have Production I.G continue it instead in a form of OVAs.
Pandora Hearts was originally a short-story drawn in the author's early career, featuring an early-design of Liam as the main character; a priest named Harris Watson, Oz as a kid who had his sister killed by the Serial Killer B-Rabbit whom the main character was pursuing for no other reason but because of his 'God' Or Was It]], and Old!Gilbert whose face was hidden in the shadow (only recognized by the viewer because of his Badass Longcoat and Nice Hat). And despite having B-Rabbit in the story, Alice was Oz's sister instead.
Minor/only-dub-related one: Johnny Yong Bosch mentioned that, at first, many ideas were thrown around about what to do with the "Endless Eight" episodes of Haruhi Suzumiya. Among the ideas were making different accents per episode and switching the roles among the voice actors for each episode. Bandai ultimately decided to go for a straight dub.
D.Gray-Man had a prototype titled Zone which was more of an experiment of what the characters and plot would be like. Allen was originally a female character named Robin and General Cross's weapon was going to be what Allen's current weapon is. Lavi was also supposed be a character for another manga titled 'Bookman' but the idea was scratched and he was put into D. Gray Man.
Mai-HiME has two prototypevideos. Several characters have different hair colors and uniforms, some of the Elements and Childs are different (Natsuki has two double-barreled pistols and a golden Duran).
Angel Beats! was originally supposed to have 26 episodes, but it was cut down to 13 at the last second. As a result, 26 episodes of content had to be cut down to fit 13 episodes worth of screen time. By the end of the series, it was clear that many of the unresolved plot threads and development of only a fraction of the main cast were meant for a longer running series.
The Afganisu-tan series was supposed to be longer, but its sequel was cut short when the mangaka's PC had a virus.
Sonic The Movie was supposed to be an entire series however Sonic is not nearly as popular in Japan as in other countries so it never took off. The "movie" is simply two episodes put together.
By Wordof God Hikari wasn't originally intended to join the group, and it was only decided to add an 8th child around midway.
Likewise, according to this interview with the series' director, the infamous 02 epilogue, in which Sora and Yamato ended up married, was originally planned to be the first series' finale.
Remember Digimon Adventure 02? Remember the Dark Ocean and how it only showed up in about 3 episodes? Well, originally it was supposed to be used as a plot point (perhaps as the next big arc after the Digimon Kaiser?) but it was completely ignored by the regular writers of the show.
Way, way back in the planning stages of Digimon Tamers, Impmon was originally supposed to be Takato's Digimon. When that fell through, they decided to make Beelzemon the Big Bad of the series, but changed their minds and replaced him with the D-Reaper, so he became The Atoner. Also, Renamon was originally supposed to be called Lunamon (which eventually became the name of a completely different Digimon).
Digimon Frontier's Digidestined were originally going to have slightly different designs and color schemes. Also, Koji was originally planned to be female, an idea that was presumably discared due to Tamers already having a female lone wolf character.
According to the Getter Robo Bible, the prototype for Getter Robo was actually a racing manga, which Ryouma, Hayato and Musashi riding old-fashion race cars and performing stunts with them.
Bandai America at one point had the rights to Blue Comet SPT Layzner, but according to internal sources the master copies they got were old and fadednote Ironically, they were said to have a blue tint to them which rendered them completely useless. Literally unable to do anything with it, Bandai just held onto the license for years until it finally expired.
On a related note, any of the licenses Bandai had when they stopped producing new series in early 2012. Among them was Turn A Gundam, which is one of the "Lost Four" Gundam series that fans never thought would get licensed. note The others being Gundam ZZ, V Gundam, and Gundam X.
Many Cure fans are pretty thankful that 4Kids never dubbed the first series as they intended. Changed openings, names and cultural references aside, the Toei/Blue Water dub turned out for the better.
Speaking of the first series, Nagisa's goofy ponytail she wears while playing lacrosse almost became her default style.
In the very early stages of the Italian dub for Futari Wa Pretty Cure Splash Star, the dub company was planning to make Saki and Mai Nagisa and Honoka and make it a continuation of the first two series, despite all of the continuity problems it would of had.
Similar to what happened with Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger vs. Space Sheriff Gavan: The Movie, notes for the Smile movie list that Akaoni was a big fan of the storybook villain Aoioni (Blue Demon). However, like most movies, the series villains are only namedropped and nothing is mentioned of this fanboyism.
Designs of the Yes! Pretty Cure 5 cast were vastly different than their finalized states. Komachi was shown with neck-length hair with no ponytail, Karen was actually much more colder in design, Rin looked more like Nagisa and Urara had braided pigtails. As well, their school uniforms would have been normal Japanese schoolgirl uniforms.
Other differences include variations of their costumes (at one point, their costumes resembled the usual uniforms worn by the previous teams and another had Cure Mint and Cure Aqua with more elegant costumes), a baton that would have granted the girls a different ability when used (for instance, Cure Dream spinning it would entrance a monster, yet Cure Rouge could end up getting a power boost from it when set a different position) and Natts was, at one point, set to be a flying squirrel.
Many people noticed how quickly things changed in Suite Pretty Cure ♪ after the infamous 2011 earthquake and tsunami, especially with the fact that, compared to Heartcatch, it was decisively much more Lighter and Softer. It's unknown, though, how much was changed from the original story.
Originally, Alice was supposed to have an older brother who would have been more of a globe hopper. He was the previous Student Council President before Mana and it was his advice that would lead to Mana becoming Cure Heart.
Mana also had two crushes, the aforementioned brother and another unidentified male, but were dropped because they said it interfered with her "charity" character personality. She was also supposed to have a relationship with Joe, but was stopped by the female producers. On that note, they also tried to pair up Alice and Makoto, but opted not to because of silly reasons (they felt Alice's perfect person should be a prince. and Makoto wouldn't be in a position to fall in love) before settling on Rikka.
There were plans for Makoto to join the team permanently at the halfway point, but was scuttled due to Pretty Cure All Stars New Stage 2. She was also supposed to take the fairies and leave at the end of the series.
There were plans to show off Alice's school, but were scuttled due to the creators fearing that if they didn't show Makoto more, fans wouldn't like her.
Ira was supposed to die, not just... run off.
Because they had so much story, the producers actually hoped to have a sequel series focusing on Slice of Life things.
YuYu Hakusho was originally going to be brought to the states by AnimEigo before FUNimation showed interest, and AnimEigo pretty much decided not to pick up the series. Imagine if Yu Yu Hakusho had been dubbed by Coastal Carolina Studios and give AnimEigo, who doesn't license ANY anime anymore, a mainstream hit!
In addition, Media Blasters had dubbed the first movie (which has been redubbed by FUNimation), imagine if the series had been dubbed by Animaze instead of FUNimation!
A bad example... imagine if the English dub turned out like the Poltergeist Report movie's English dub from Central Park Media/TAJ Productions!
When Hajime Kanzaka was beginning to pen the Slayers light novels, Lina was conceived as a ten year old (she starts out at fifteen in the first book), and the setting would've been either modern or slightly futuristic, as he penned her as being obsessed with technology (the setting is actually a Medieval European Fantasy, and her obsession shifted from technology to money and treasure.). Also, Naga the Serpent was originally slated to appear in the fourth novel, which is set in her home kingdom of Saillune, but Kanzaka, in an interview, was reportedly too lazy to explain her appearance, so he gave her a little sister, Amelia, instead. Finally, Kanzaka mentioned that the Badass Normal swordsman, Gourry, has a lot of hidden magical potential, but so far, it's never been acted upon.
There are storyboards out there from the third Tenchi Muyo! OVA series that expanded the sixth episode. In it, it shows Tenchi being flung 10,000+ years into the future and on planet Jurai. There, he meets Queen Misaki, now as the Counteractor, revealed that she became that after Emperor Azusa and Queen Funaho died long ago. The Juraian Empire constantly attack her, which explains her odd shadings on her body - that's her rebuilt self.
Originally, Washu was supposed to have been the true Big Bad of the first OVA series, with Kagato as a disguise. However, the creators enjoyed her craziness too much and decided to make her part of the main group instead.
According to art books Sherlock Hound was supposed to be a floppy-eared dog instead of a fox. It also seems they were originally going for a darker, more true to the original story with Sherlock being a drug addict among other things.
The author of Ouran High School Host Club was instructed to extend the first chapter of the manga by seven pages, and in order to fill the space decided to add in an additional host - that would be Ohtori Kyouya, who would go on to become The Chessmaster and the cool half of a Red Oni, Blue Oni pair with the male lead.
The first 52 episodes of Magical Princess Minky Momo were translated by Harmony Gold for a dub called "The Magical World of Gigi". However, the project failed to take off in the US due to Harmony Gold being unable to get a TV deal (similar to the cases of their Dragonball and Dr. Slump dubs). The scripts for this adaptation were recycled for a few overseas adaptations, such as ones aired in Italy, France, the Netherlands, and Mexico. The only piece of the Momo series that managed to be officially widely released in English was the first OVA, which was retitled "Gigi and the Fountain of Youth". The English dub of the series however, did briefly make it onto Melbourne's ATV10 channel, where it aired in a morning cartoon block on weekdays throughout the later half of the '80s.
There was also to be a third Minky Momo anime for the new millenium, titled "Miracle Dream Minky Momo", but it never got off the ground and only a manga adaptation was made. The third Momo would have hailed from a land-based kingdom, rather than one in the sea or in the sky.
Harmony Gold had also produced adaptations for Demetan Croaker (retitled "Adventures on Rainbow Pond") and Temple the Balloonist (retitled "Sabrina's Journey") , which they intended to market as part of a TV package with Gigi. While the first dub didn't make it to airwaves, an old catalog entry shows that at least 26 episodes had been translated for it. It is unknown how far Harmony Gold got with their adaptation of Temple, though its scripts were also recycled for overseas dubbing.
King of Braves GaoGaiGar: Project Z, the continuation of the GaoGaiGar story. The story would of had Mamoru and Ikumi joining the hero group from Betterman after the disappearance of 3G. Because Allouette, the All There in the Manual tyke genius who built GaoFighGar, lost her intelligence after falling into a coma, rebuilding said mech was impossible. Instead, that would have used Stealth Gao II (the component for Star GaoGaiGar) and the Liner Gao II and Drill Gao II (components from GaoFighGar) and using a new Nendroid known as GaiGo, they would have created a new King of Braves, GaoGaiGo. Pictures also showed that Genesic GaoGaiGar would have returned, seemingly bursting through the sun, possibly meaning Guy Shishioh, the original protagonist, might have become an antagonist somehow. However, for unknown reasons, the idea was shelved, though figurines of GaoGaiGo were made.
Dirty Pair: The entire franchise has been dubbed into English... except for the main 26-episode series itself, which has been something of a gripe among not only fans, but North American anime distributors who would LOVE to produce one... apparently Nozomi Entertainment is the exception to this rule, and unfortunately for everybody else, they ended up being the ones to finally get the license to the series. David Williams from Sentai Filmworks did promptly offer to produce an English dub with Seraphim Digital Studios (likely with the same cast from the movies and OVAs), but Nozomi declined, likely for budget. Still, some are hopeful that such a dub WILL be made for this anime classic for a collector's edition re-release or a Blu-ray reissue.
Two of Rumiko Takahashi's Mermaid Saga stories were made into OVA's back in the early 90s. These OVAs (Mermaid Forest and Mermaid's Scar) were extremely well-made and considered legendary among North American anime fans. However the two stories of the manga which are arguably the best (Mermaid's Promise and The Village of Fighting Fish) never got the OVA treatment. They eventually got made into anime much later as part of the Tokyo Movie Shinsha TV series; but those were of far inferior quality. One can only imagine what those two OVAs would have been like.
The opening of Revolutionary Girl Utena features Anthy and Utena riding upon pegasi in armor. This was an idea for the plot that wound up falling through as the series developed further.
The remastered Utena releases feature a character booklet with many unused design concepts: Touga was drafted as having short blond hair, while Saionji would have short hair and wear glasses. Utena was to originally keep the blonde hair she had in the early manga illustrations by Chiho Saito, although Ikuhara had trouble deciding on her exact uniform color (he had already vetoed the pink uniform, as explained in a manga omake). At one point, Anthy was considered as having light skin and blue hair, Miki was to have black hair, and Juri would also have her hair be a shade of blue. There is even a draft design for Utena herself that depicts her hair blue.
Tekkaman was to have more episodes dubbed past the thirteenth story, but William Winckler Productions ran into trouble when they were unable to get TV stations to pick it up, due to it having to have a toy line in order to air. Ted Turner apparently considered picking the dub up for TBS, but then balked as he considered it too violent for childrens' television.
Had the Tekkaman dub not flopped, WWP was thinking to also license Neo Human Casshern and Hurricane Polymar. Casshern's original TV series would not see any release until Sentai Filmworks announced it as part of their deal with Tatsunoko in 2013.
There are several differences between the Fullmetal Alchemist movie's original script and the final product. One major point is that Izumi's death was on-screen; the script writer even apologized to her Japanese voice actress for giving her no lines.
There was also meant to be a scene with a meaningful conversation between Winry and Colonel Mustang at Hughes gravestone.
Space Battleship Yamato's third television series (called "The Bolar Wars" in Star Blazers) was originally meant to be a 52 episode extravaganza, over twice the length of the first two series. It was truncated to the usual 26 episodes only because the producers were starting to feel that the melodramatic Space Opera style of Yamato was starting to become less relevant to audiences in the wake of newer, grittier shows such as the Gundam franchise. So West Cape Corporation considered the low initial viewer ratings of the show and elected to truncate the series. It shows in the final work. Numerous subplots were removed. Also, the premise of Yamato III was to focus on the Next Generation characters with the original Yamato crew hanging around as mentors. The newer characters got little development and were quietly pushed back into the background. The 1980 film Be Forever Yamato proved successful in its use of subplots, character development, and focus on newer characters, so these concepts were to fare into a 52 episode TV series where these elements could be used to even more potential. Among the things that we would have seen in Yamato III are 1) An outer space version of Aushwitz 2) A baby born on the Yamato 3) Tension between Yamato and Dessler as Yamato now seeks a new home planet much like Dessler did in the original series 4) A touching story focusing on the Space Battleship Arizona (included as a tip to perhaps the most famous of the American ships sunk at Pearl Harbor) 5) An interstellar empire based on America 5) An overdue Romantic Interest for Sanada (Sandor), 6) Much more character development for Captain Dan Hammer whose role was cut short after his brief appearance and 6) More exploration of the Shalabart religion. The loss of all of this caused Yamato III to be a weak point in the saga, even to Star Blazers fans.
An adaption of the cut material can be found in comic form on Cosmo DNA.
The original season, the trip to Iscandar, was also cut down to 26 episodes. Amongst the material that got cut was Derek Wildstar's brother, Captain Harlock (or at least an early version that would go on to be the character we know as Harlock).
In the original concept of Miracle Shojo Limit Chan Limit was given a time limit of one year to live after her accident, and the story was going to focus on the days until her death. Toei retooled the series as a traditional Magical GirlSlice of Life story with a cyborg heroine when they decided that this idea was too grim.
Elfen Lied creator Lynn Okamoto has said he wished he'd given the residents of Maple House more slice-of-life stories, sort-of seen in the manga-format/anime-continuity bonus adventure included in the Japanese Blu-Ray release. The anime itself had a different ending than originally scripted. Among the differences is a kidnapping plot against Yuka, the Chief's manga plans coming out in the anime, more details about Mariko's mission, and the gate at the end actually opening, though the person behind it remains unseen.
The Big O was originally written as a stand alone series that the writers did not know, but hoped with have a second season. Had the show not done so well in America it would've been likely that series wouldn't have been picked up by western producers meaning no second season. Likewise, the second season was written with the expectation that many of the unanswered plot points in it would be explored in a third season - but the show's audience limited to the late night slots of [adult swim] and poor DVD sales meant it was impossible to produce a third season.