With apologies to TV’s Patrick Macias.

Remakes, relaunches, renewals, reimaginings, whatever you call them, making old things new is all the rage these days. On some level, it clearly smacks of laziness and a dearth of fresh ideas, but like it or not there’s big money to be made in recycling things that would otherwise be lost and forgotten. For now at least. And while it’s not nearly as widespread as it is in, say, the North American movie industry, this phenomenon is slowly but surely making its presence felt in the otaku realm as well.

By my reckoning, there are about 26 “new” shows being produced this season, give or take a few long-running holdovers from previous seasons and whatever else I might have missed or ignored. The list as I reckon it is as follows (please correct me in a comment if it brings you a lot of pleasure).

  • Akikan!!
  • Asu no Yoichi!
  • Chrome Shelled Regios
  • Genji Monogatari Sennenki
  • Hajime no Ippo: New Challenger
  • Hetalia Axis Powers
  • Kamen no Maid Guy OVA
  • Kemono no Souja Erin
  • Kiss x Sis OVA
  • Konnichiwa Anne
  • Kurokami the Animation
  • Major 5th Season
  • Maria-sama ga Miteru 4th Season
  • Maria†Holic
  • Minami-ke Okaeri
  • Queen’s Blade
  • Ride Back
  • Shikabane-hime Kuro
  • Slayers EVOLUTION-R
  • Sora o Kakeru Shoujo
  • Tetsuwan Birdy Decode 2
  • The Tower of Druaga ~the Sword of Uruk~
  • Viper’s Creed
  • White Album
  • Winter Sonata
  • Zoku Natsume Yuujin-chou

Of those 26, 11 are adaptations or continuations of properties that have been animated before. A further 12 are adaptations of something that was previously published in some other medium. This leaves exactly 3 shows that are completely, 100% original new material.

Three.

Really.

Of course, this is nothing new. Adaptations in one for or another have been the bread and butter of anime production houses for almost as long as there have been anime production houses. Many of the most loved titles of all time are manga/game/light novel adaptations, so anyone who tells you that this is the death of creativity and the decline of the otaku empire doesn’t really have a leg to stand on. I’m not going to claim that these figures represent a change for the worse, damn kids, get off my lawn and so forth. I’m sure that this has already been discussed and debated to death. Remakes aren’t going anywhere for a while, and that’s ok.

There is, however, something interesting in that list. Two things, in fact. Slayers and Tetsuwan Birdy.

At the beginning of last year, I would have told you quite confidently that Slayers was dead. After three TV series and five movies, it had been dormant since 2001. The main character’s seiyuu was more or less retired, even supplementary materials like  figures and collectibles had basically ground to a halt, and generally no one really seemed to care. Otaku that were around in the 90s might look back on it fondly, but there was no real clamor for it to return.

And then it did.

Birdy is an even stranger case. Up until very recently, my entire exposure to the Tetsuwan Birdy “franchise” was thanks to a VHS box in my local blockbuster circa 1997. Once a month or so, I would pick up the box, stare at it for a few minutes, then decide not to rent it. The same could be said for several dozen other tapes, and none of these are decisions that really haunt me. A year ago, if I could even remember what you were talking about,  I would have put the odds of more Birdy coming out roughly one notch below the chance of getting a new Project A-Ko sequel.

And then it did.

A few more of this type have popped up recently. Golgo 13 and Casshern, just to mention a couple, have both been absent from animation studios for years and years, yet they abruptly came back to life with no warning and no clear reason. Unlike things like Gundam, Macross, or even Lupin, these are not the kind of perennial properties which are constantly reborn and re-released. These are shows that enjoyed their moment in the sun ages ago before fading into relative obscurity. They don’t even have a significant anniversary as an excuse.

It’s probably also worth mentioning that one of the biggest theatrical releases of late has been the Evangelion rehash. Just saying.

Setting aside for a moment the hows and whys of what brought these shows back to life, I think it’s only sensible to explore the vast opportunities presented by this phenomenon. We are living in an age when literally any show, of any vintage, can come back at any time for absolutely no reason. Birdy pretty much proves this. The possibilities now are endless, and I suspect that even the most jaded and cynical otaku would have at least one beloved show from their childhood (or before) that they’d like to see revived.

A few possibilities:

Nadesico

Baka bakka

Right off the bat, this is nothing but pure wishful thinking on my part. I loved this show in a way that I’ve never really loved anything that came after it, and the thought of getting more is enough to bring a tear to my eye. Sadly, Tatsuo Sato himself has said that more Nadesico is “impossible” at this point (not that I was really holding my breath even before that). Still, anything is possible, right?

Why would it be great?

The show itself was pretty fantastic, and manages to do parody without feeling wholly derivative. It was also host to Ruri, one of the most beloved characters of the age (and not just by me). Now that otaku in-joke comedy has had a chance to become more sophisticated, and since mecha shows are actually starting to come into their own again, it seems like a perfect opportunity for something Nadesico-flavored to make its presence felt again.

Why might it not work?

The central “harem” concept feels a bit tired these days. Also, while it was far from being a total disaster, the movie that followed the TV show was not as well received as it could have been, and it would be difficult to push the story and characters in a different direction at this point

How likely is it?

As I said above, “impossible”. Wishful thinking and nothing more.

Anything by Rumiko Takahashi

Yapapa yapapa

Although she herself is still very much alive and kicking, she’s left several decades worth of series behind her to fade away into memories. Ranma was the 800 lb gorilla of anime fandom in the mid 90s (at least on one side of the Pacific) and it’s hard to overstate how much otakudom as a whole owes to Urusei Yatsura. If you’ve never experienced anything that predates Inu Yasha, you owe it to yourself to give these a try.

Why would it be great?

With few exceptions, these shows are all winners of the highest order, and the open ended and chaotic nature of the storylines would probably lend itself well to a “last hurrah” type of story, catching up with everyone a few years later to give them all a chance to smile and wave at the camera for a minutes. Nothing fancy is needed here, just a quick “Hey, remember these guys?” with modern animation and old-school seiyuu would be enough to make a lot of people happy.

Why might it not work?

Again, harem comedies no longer seem to be a winning formula, despite the onset of the moe age. Furthermore, although Takahashi-sensei’s stories are famous for many things, brevity is not one of them. By my best estimate, Urusei Yatsura alone ran for something like eleventy billion TV episodes, with six thousand movies and roughly twice as many OVAs. And Ranma is not far behind. None of these shows really leaves you wanting more, and trying to do something fresh with the concept is a tricky proposition. The most these could really sustain would be about an hour’s worth of material, and even that might start to get stale.

How likely is it?

Could happen, I suppose. Even Dragon Ball is showing a few spasms of life these days. I wouldn’t put money on it, but I suppose Hayashibara Megumi has demonstrated a willingness to work again with her reprisal of Lina Inverse, so it’s not quite as unlikely as it would have been just a year ago. Fun fact: the seiyuu that originally voiced Lum now works dubbing episodes of Doctor Who into Japanese.

Kimagure Orange Road

Ushio, ushio, wherefore art thou Ushio??

Bear with me. Like Nadesico this has a bit more to do with taste than logic, but it’s not completely out of left field.

Why would it be great?

I have always thought that this was a show that was well ahead of its time in many ways. An over the top sci-fi premise combined with a surprisingly down to earth execution results in a show that never really feels anywhere near as old as it looks or sounds.

Why might it not work?

Although the look and feel of the show would not feel out of place on TV today (cel animation aside, of course), the style and setting are inextricably linked with the 80s. Retrofitting modern music or fashion onto it would be a crime.

How likely is it?

Sadly, most shows of this vintage that have been revived seem to be more action and less romance. This, combined with a setting that’s too specific to be ignored and too mundane to have novelty appeal, make this one look rather unlikely.

Sailor Moon

Tsuki ni kawatte...

Stop laughing, this could work. It may not exactly be Shakespearean drama, but I’ll readily admit that I would watch it if it came out.

Why would it be great?

Nostalgia value aside, I think it’s easy to forget how entertaining this show really was the first time around. Sure, the later seasons may have gotten a little out of hand, but prior to CCS, this was the mahou shoujo story. A guilty pleasure for many and an overall merchandising bonanza, honestly what’s not to love? It’s also worth noting that this was one of the first shows to make serious mainstream inroads into the North American marketplace, which is (for better or worse) becoming increasingly important for a lot of people.

Why might it not work?

The mahou shoujo genre is dead. Dead. Dead. If anything is going to revive it, it’s probably not old blood like this. There’s nothing exactly wrong with the character designs, but I suspect a heavy moe upgrade would be needed to inject any meaningful new life in here. And regardless of the actual quality involved, there’s some deeply rooted perceptions working against a revival. To a lot of people, this is still more of a joke than a passion.

How likely is it?

Given the circumstances, I have a nagging suspicion that any new release would probably come from an unexpected and somewhat unfortunate place. Look for a low-rent MMO, or a poor quality Hollywood reimagining riding the coattails of the Dragon Ball movie.

3×3 Eyes

I got nothin for this

Here’s one some people might be less familiar with, but that doesn’t make it less deserving. This falls into the peculiar category of well-loved mangas that have gotten pathetically token anime releases. Unlike some of the better-explored entries onthis list, here we have something that could really benefit from a prolonged, proper adaptation.

Why would it be great?

There’s a lot of potential here. The manga is a sprawling, epic story (or so I’ve been told) and if done well it could make for a great dark fantasy show that doesn’t pull any punches. The art looks gorgeous, and the characters are as appealing as ever.

Why might it not work?

Honestly, the only real hurdle here is that a proper adaptation would need to be pretty explicit. At the very least, this would call for a seriously late night time slot, and even that would be pushing it. Because this limits the commercial viability, it would be a pretty good trick to maintain the appropriate tone and still be able to afford the scope that this deserves.

How likely is it?

I’d say it has as good a chance as anything else of getting animated. Let’s just hope that it either gets adapted properly or not at all.

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure

WRYYYYYYYYYY

Again, we have a property that’s in a strange kind of limbo. Based on a manga that is the very definition of epic, JoJo been animated before, but in a deeply unsatisfying manner. It’s not that the OVAs are poor, it’s just that they cover such a minuscule fraction of the total story that they come across as more of a tribute than an adaptation.

Why would it be great?

This is a property that’s been wildly successful in just about every medium except for television. “Beloved” doesn’t begin to cover it. Despite its age, JoJo is still getting games, figures, and other memorabilia released on a regular basis. If an anime could achieve 10% of the popularity of the manga, it would put every other show of the season to shame.

Why might it not work?

The graphic violence becomes an issue here as well, but it seems like it could be a more surmountable problem due to greater recognition of the property. The style is also profoundly anti-moe, which I suppose might be a hindrance no matter what kind of show you’re trying to produce.

How likely is it?

There’s not a lot of reasons to keep JoJo off TV. Even in an abysmal time slot, it’s entrenched enough that it could still do quite well. What’s more, JoJo’s has the added benefit of being better suited to merchandising. Even if the show itself failed to meet expectations, it would easily give enough of a boost to game and figure sales to make the whole endeavor worthwhile. Really, the only reason not to expect a show to be announced any day now is that it never has been before. And hey, GeGeGe no Kitaro just managed to pull off a very similar transformation.

Video Girl Ai

She'll cheer you up, you know

I know I can’t be the only one that misses Masakazu Katsura, but that doesn’t seem to have stopped him from dropping off the face of the planet several years ago. He occupies an odd niche as a mangaka whose many and varied creations have gotten plenty of anime adaptations, but not a one has been remotely satisfying. At least, discounting the animated prequel to the Zeiram movies, which is an odd bird any way you look at it. For my money, there is no one alive who can produce more alluring character designs, and it is a source of no small personal frustration that they are so consistently mistreated, and relegated to token OVA releases. VG Ai is certainly the most egregious example I can think of, but the same idea applies just as well to I”s, for example.

Why would it be great?

The character designs alone sell it for me, but more importantly, this is a concept that might actually work better than ever as something targeted to hardcore otaku, which distinguishes it from some of the other entries on this list.

Why might it not work?

Although the OVA was woefully incomplete, this is something that arguably had its chance and failed, and really, the manga it’s based on wasn’t all that big to begone with. And while this may sound stupid, the premise revolves around a girl that emerges from a videotape, and…well…videotapes don’t exist anymore. Obviously the basic idea would work with a DVD, but a surprising number of details just don’t map well to digital video formats. It may just be the video nerd in me getting worried over nothing, but it actually seems like it could be a serious problem.

How likely is it?

I may literally be the only person in the world who still cares about this, but if wishing made it so…

Bubblegum Crisis

BURNING TOUCH

Another entry from the “where are they now” file, who’s heard from Sonoda Kenichi recently? We need him to get back to work. Now.

Why would it be great?

An all-female singing group that puts on high-power, high-color armor and fights evil robots in their spare time. If that’s somehow not enough for you, it’s also laced with enough Blade Runner references to make any self-respecting Sci Fi nerd have a full on geekgasm.

Why might it not work?

The two things that make Bubblegum Crisis what it is, the music and the art, are both an asset and a liability. As much as I love them, neither one can really be considered “timeless” and efforts to update them could be…awkward. At best. Other than that, not much is worth worrying about it. The worst case scenario would be that it turned into some kind of Gonzo production.

How likely is it?

Ehh. Stranger things have happened, but in this day and age there’s not a lot of reason to appropriate the Bubblegum Crisis name in lieu of just making a more generic, but oddly similar show. And really, there’s no shortage of those already.

Dirty Pair

Lovely, just lovely

I’m a little embarrassed by how long it took me to think of this one. If it were given fresh animation, this wouldn’t feel the least bit out of place as a modern production, yet it still has enough lingering goodwill and fond memories to get a nostalgia boost. It’s very nearly the perfect candidate.

Why would it be great?

Dirty Pair represents fun, senseless, over the top action at its brainless best. It works in any format, for any length. Unless you loathe fanservice or violence, you can find something to enjoy.

Why might it not work?

The concept is totally sound, so the only real danger here is in implementation. Basically, if treated badly, it might just fall apart under its own stupidity. That and, for a real fanservice show, the cast is a bit small by modern standards.

How likely is it?

I’m a bit surprised this hasn’t happened already, to tell the truth. Keep an eye out for it in the future.

Patlabor

Alphonse

Not tremendously likely, I’ll admit. It hasn’t even been that long since the last Patlabor movie, but somehow I still find myself wanting more. A surprisingly accessible blend of police procedural and robot combat, this show holds a very special place in my heart. It doesn’t hurt that it has Mamoru Oshii’s fingerprints all over it, either.

Why would it be great?

For a relatively simple concept, Patlabor has enjoyed amazing longevity. Yet at the same time it’s easy for people who have never seen it before to just jump in and not feel lost. It’s not for everyone, but it could easily thrive in a relatively low budget and low key scenario.

Why might it not work?

Although it is possible for Patlabor to work without having Mamoru Oshii on board, it’s a lot more risky, and it seems like he already has plenty to do these days. And the lack of moe potential isn’t going to do it any favors.

How likely is it?

Not very. At least not for a while. A movie is the most likely scenario, but even that is a longshot at this point.

Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu

Uchuujin, miraijin, misekaijin

I’m joking, obviously. But seriously, what the shit, KyoAni. Get it together. On the plus side, we are due for an official English release of the light novels real soon now, and I have it on good authority that they’re looking stellar. Hopefully that can tide us over until season two, which appears to be tracking for winter of 2015. Possibly longer if Key makes any new games.

That’s all I’ve got. Have I missed anything? It’s clear that most of these are a shot in the dark, but if you’re going to flood the market with old IP, you might as well do it right. Don’t be surprised to see a few of these come across the radar in one form or another over the next couple of years. I don’t believe that remakes are inherently evil, but like CG animation, it’s a lot more noticeable when they’re done poorly. So what do you think? Is it better to let sleeping franchises lie, or is it worth the risk to put a fresh coat of paint on our collective childhood?