Hugh Heffner holds Suzumiya Haruhi USA Licensing

Haruhi-sama

Yeah, because he’s afraid that Kyon-kun will take over his harem.

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Nah… just joking, it’s all due to the weirdness that is America, from Anime News Service:

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

Arguably, in 2006, the top new anime which has gained the most ground in the hearts and minds of grass roots North American anime fans is Kyoto Animation and Kadokawa’s The Melancholoy Of Haruhi Suzumiya. The TV series only debuted in the spring in Japan but quickly became a viral phenomena in the English speaking world mirroring it’s rapid popularity explosion in Japan. By the time only a handful of episodes had aired and been fansubbed, if you happened to tap the pulse of online fandom you’d have every indication the property was going supernova in America. It then penetrated anime cons nationwide in the US, the American media and continued to enjoy strong support online. It’s around this time that one would expect alarm bells to be ringing in some offices in Texas and California to start making phonecalls and booking trips to Japan. A license announcement was anticipated by AX at least and certainly at one of the major anime cons of the summer. But it never came. Meanwhile fansubs saturate file sharing networks on the internet and the whole series shows up on YOUTUBE.

So What’s the hold up? There are several continuities of thought. Firstly, these days when an anime reaches the buzz level of a show like Haruhi you can bet several companies will be locked into a bidding contest for a period of time. A monetary figure is eventually put on the table that can’t be surpassed by the others and that company gets the license. It’s very possible this process could be going on right now. It’s also been postulated that licensing Haruhi Suzumiya for the American market could come with a snag…….. in a bunny girl outfit. Some are saying it may be very difficult to work around the issue of a major character whose trademark sexy bunny costume appearance is litteraly already trademarked in the United States and other countries as well. To the uninitiated, Hugh Hefner’s Playboy empire happens to own the registered trademark to the traditional bunny girl costume in America. Acquiring permission to use the bunny image is admittedly what kept Gainax’s American division General Products USA from selling the Daicon animation shorts there in 1989 (although it’s interesting that Otaku No Video and even more recently, the videogame Dragon Quest 8 both feature bunny girls and did make it to release in the market). It’s possible the costume frames could be retouched (or completely replaced with something new) as was done for US release Dirty Pair manga several years ago. In that case, Kei and Yuri ended up with cocktail-waitress dresses. For Haruhi, this kind of compromise sounds even more likely if one takes into account the fact that the entire TV series is right now being massively retouched with over 1,000 pieces of animation being added (including new scenes, props etc..) in Japan for the DVD release. It would make sense that new scenes sans bunny girls could be easily created with the artists already in the studio at this time churning out the new material. Perhaps when this process is complete international licensing activities and releases can commence.

6 Comments

  1. Tsubaki Said,

    October 19, 2006 @ 2:27 am

    They take out Bunny suits, then it ain’t no Haruhi.

  2. Crusader Said,

    October 19, 2006 @ 3:21 am

    I share Tsubaki’s sentiments, its like whitewashing history, a crime against civilization.

    Short of demolishing the Hefner Empire with fire and sword or shot and shell can’t they just give the bastard his cut and be done with it?

  3. Crayotic Rockwell Said,

    October 19, 2006 @ 6:17 am

    Couldn’t they just stick a giant frog on it or something and say it’s an entirely new design? :P

    I’d much rather they add to the costume than take away.

  4. lolikitsune Said,

    October 19, 2006 @ 7:19 am

    >>I’d much rather they add to the costume than take away.

    Sleeves, pant legs, and coverage to the neck.

    Fuck yeah!

  5. Os Said,

    October 19, 2006 @ 9:15 am

    Ah yeah. I saw that article on ANS. It’s rather intersting and makes sense but there’s just a part of me that just doesn’t give them full credit.

  6. sam56240 Said,

    October 19, 2006 @ 2:08 pm

    Strange. If the trademark was applied for the bunny girl, why didn’t the company (Kyoto) pay some fee to use it?
    so i assume that it wasn’t trademarked in Japan?
    just a bit confused, that if it becomes licensed, will it become a American product? lol @ myself for so many questions.
    I thought the bunny girl of Suzumiya Haruhi represented something different compared to the Playboy Bunnygirl in the first place. After all, the animal ears craze is more common in Japan than in America or other countries.

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