Animeigo has announced “that so far, we have not been able to secure a license to release the rest of the Yawara anime series.” Animeigo released a 6-disc, 40-episode Yawara! A Fashionable Judo Girl set (MSRP $139.98) last May, but 80 episodes of the 124-episode series, which aired in Japan from 1989-1992, remain unreleased in the U.S. The series is based on the manga by Naoki Urasawa, one of the top manga-ka in Japan, and the creator of Monster, Pluto, and 20th Century Boys.
The Yawara anime series, which was animated by Madhouse, aired in Japan during the run-up to the Barcelona Olympics in 1992 at which medals were awarded for Women’s Judo for the very first time. The Yawara anime was hugely popular, earning higher ratings than the anime adaptation of Rumiko Takahashi’s Ranma 1/2, which was airing at the same time.
Animeigo provided no reason for its inability to license the rest of the series, but it is likely that slow sales for vintage anime series combined with licensing fees that reflect the series’ popularity in Japan and the growing reputation of Urasawa here in the States are at the heart of the problem. In its announcement Animeigo did indicate that it would license the rest of the series in the future if the situation changes: “If conditions change and it becomes possible to obtain a license, we will certainly do so. Everyone at Animeigo loves Yawara and wants to continue work on the series.”