More Classic Anime Rediscovered – The Dubs of ZIV International

Someone, tell me:

Is “Ziv International” like a proto version of Viz Video? Their names are so similar, yet one is an obscure company who licensed a bunch of anime in the early eighties, dubbed maybe 2-4 episodes of each series they had, and then kinda disappeared… the other is a licensing giant and one of the top three licensors in the industry at the moment.

“Ziv International” also has the dubious honor of introducing me to anime, practically the day I was born.

Here’s the thing… when I was young (and I mean like, 1-3ish) my parents acquired a video of a cartoon called “Angel,” which you can see two different dub intros to right here. The intro I always knew growing up was the one that had lyrics.

“Angel” (which I now know is a dub of an anime called Hana no Ko LunLun, or Flower Girl LunLun), was… well, it was weird, but as a kid, me and my sister liked it. Stuff like bad voice acting didn’t bother us back then, and the stories still seemed kinda powerful. Basically, Angel is this incredibly skinny girl who looks like she belongs in a Leiji Matsumoto manga, and one day a talking cat and dog tell her that she’s the “flower child” (not kidding) and that she’s supposed to find the “seven-colored flower.” Unbeknownst to her, Angel is being persued by a guy with a racoon tail (?) who is in the employ of some evil woman who wants the seven-colored flower for her own purposes… it was really like an anime take on Boris and Natasha, where Natasha is played rather seriously and the Boris figure is serious except for the whole having-a-tail thing.

But Ziv only dubbed two episodes, and in both of them Angel met someone who was having a hard time (one of them was about a farmer’s son who wanted to be a painter, but his dad was too set in his ways and wanted to force the son to be a farmer, stuff like that) and she would somehow help them find their inner strength or believe in themselves or something. She also had like a magic hand-mirror that could transform her or something. One of the episodes involved rescuing someone from a fire. This is a show I saw when I was a kid so I’m a little fuzzy on some details.

Here is something I’m not fuzzy on though:

Like most anime in the VHS days (even though Ziv pre-ceded the anime boom by more than a decade), it included trailers for other anime, and these were often more interesting than the main feature. The “Angel” video I had included trailers for two other shows. One was called “The Green Forest” which… looked stupid honestly.

The other one though, was for an anime called “Captain Future.” The minute I saw their trailer (aka the show’s intro) I just knew I had to see this show some day. It promised to be… something. I’m not sure what. I’m sure everyone has a time like that, where there’s something that really interests them, like they just… they need to know. They don’t know why they need to know, but they do.

It’s obscurity was felt in the early days of the internet tho. For some reason, Captain Future was popular in France and Germany so most of the pages I found were in French or German (neither of which I can read, and Google Translate didn’t exist back then), the only thing I could really find out was that Captain Future was based on a series of pulp magazine novels by Edmond Hamilton, and I could never find those, either. As I said in my previous post, I am neither rich nor well-connected, so the world of old Sci-Fi pulps (which is mostly a collector’s realm) is cut off to me.

So I contented myself with looking at the VHS racks in every pawn shop and Goodwill I went to, and while I found other… interesting specimens like “Vengeance of the Space Pirate” and “Macron-1” I never found Captain Future. And to be honest, I was kind of afraid to. I mean, what if I finally found it, and it turned out to be the most godawful anime ever? That’s just the kind of luck I have. A part of me would almost rather it remain a mystery.

But its a mystery no more.

In addition to the Youtube link above, I found out that this website also features Captain Future. Unfortunately, the one they host is NOT the Ziv dub–“Captain Future and the Space Emperor” is the Harmony Gold release, which replaces the awesomely cheesy theme song with background music from Robotech, and the four episodes featured are a fansub of the original Japanese. I admit this was kinda disappointing, but since the Ziv International dub is on Youtube, I can’t complain.

For those who were interested in that “Angel” show, they have that, too. The videos they have are a fan-remaster–they use the ZIV English dub, but the footage is sourced from a Japanese DVD, and they took the effort to make sure the dub track matches up. I honestly wish preservations of old dubs like this were more common, for nostalgia value if nothing else.

….

Incidentally, I’m interested in doing more posts like this. See, awhile back I did a post about the Anime version of Aladdin (googling “Anime Aladdin” actually turns up the video I put on Youtube, the description of which links back to this blog) and since then I’ve gotten several comments from people who had been looking for that anime for years.

This makes me think that talking about obscure, forgotten anime (and even forgotten cartoons like “The Heroic Adventures of John the Fearless”–I doubt anyone besides me has actually seen that one) might be a productive use of my blog, a complement to my original focus on video games. Because hey, memories are important, too.

Also, if there’s something you’re looking for, in a “I saw this cartoon once and I can’t remember the title, but it was about [insert description here]” way, go ahead and ask in the comments. I probably know what it is, or can find out… unless it was something that never aired in my area, but it doesn’t hurt to try, right?

Here’s a free one: That cartoon about the baby with magical powers who went on fantastic adventures, and everyone kept telling you it was Rugrats even though you knew it wasn’t? That was Fantastic Max.

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5 thoughts on “More Classic Anime Rediscovered – The Dubs of ZIV International

  1. Since nobody else has responded to this, I might as well go ahead with what I know.

    The first time I became aware of ZIV was through their eventual buyout by Lorimar Television in the 80’s, and the brief syndication they had of the Gumby shorts to TV stations at the time. I never really knew of those anime offerings they had until the late 90’s. It seemed like unlike the effort they made to try to get anyone interested in a show like Captain Harlock or Angel in the states, they did however see some success internationally, especially in Latin America, where they distributed several programs like “Festival de los Robots” (similar to Jim Terry’s “Force Five” block), an anime version of “Little Lulu”, Captain Future and such.

    In Canada, their “Fables of the Green Forest” (a.k.a. “Rocky Chuck”) was rather popular on channels like TVOntario in the 80’s (I think only a handful of episodes found their way to video in the states).

    Aside from the one or two Japanese imports they tried to sell, they also had a back library of other shows they tried to re-sell as well like the forgotten “Spunky & Tadpole”, the ever duplicated “Clutch Cargo”, as well as the Gumby shorts. Here’s a recent blog article featuring a trade ad ZIV put out promoting what they had by the late 70’s…
    http://tralfaz.blogspot.com/2015/06/psst-wanna-buy-cartoon.html

    They even had a short-lived record label, essentially re-issuing previous children’s albums from Capitol Records.

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