Akemi's Anime World

U.S. Renditions Anime Company

A bit of info about U.S. Renditions.

Company Overview

U.S. Renditions was the original US anime company to start translating and releasing unedited anime, targeted at mature audiences, to a North American audience. The company opened its doors way back in 1987 (before even old standbys Streamline, AnimEigo, and US Manga Corps), when the only anime most people outside Japan had heard of were heavily-edited Saturday Morning kids' fare (though the door had been cracked, so to speak, by Robotech not too long before). They were also, to my knowledge, the first to release subtitled anime in anything resembling a mainstream form. A few years later they added a spin-off label targeted at more mature audiences (generally focusing on violent/horror-themed anime), Darker Image Entertainment (also known as DIE).

U.S. Renditions also had the honor of being the translation/production branch of mail-order import bookseller Books Nippan, a company that (among other things) distributed untranslated manga and US-release anime videos via catalog sales. In fact, it was, through the mid-'90s, just about the only way to get your hands on untranslated manga and other anime-related imports if you lived in the US. (A similar business model is still around today, incidentally, for example RightStuf's anime division, and VIZ Video in relation to its parent Japanese publishing houses.)

They also offered membership in the Books Nippan Japanese Animation Fan Club, a discount club for their catalog sales. The company faded away as the market expanded, eventually folding around the year 2000, though apparently the US staff continued to work, relatively successfully, in the anime industry. Almost all their licenses were eventually picked up by Manga Video.

Their Catalog

The company, when in business, had a small but varied collection of licenses; all of them were available subtitled, something that didn't become common until comparatively recently. The following is a list of every title they released:

U.S. Renditions Complete Release List

  • Appleseed (OAV)
  • Black Magic M-66 (OAV)
  • Dangaio (3 OAVs)
  • Giant Robo (OAVs)
  • Gunbuster (6 OAVs)
  • The Guyver: Bio Booster Armor (6 OAVs)
  • Iczer-One (3 OAVs)
  • Macross II (4 OAVs)
  • Orguss (OAVs)

Nearly all of these were eventually picked up by Manga video after the company folded. Gunbuster, Giant Robo, and Macross II were probably the best-known titles on the list (note that that's the very old Appleseed OAV, long before the big-budget CGI movies).

Darker Image Entertainment Complete Release List

This is a list of all USR's DIE-label releases; the licenses were also mostly picked up by Manga Video (though Raven Tengu Kabuto still hasn't been re-licensed).

  • Ambassador Magma (OAVs)
  • Devilman (OAVs)
  • Guyver: Out of Control (OAV)
  • Outlanders (OAV)
  • Raven Tengu Kabuto (OAV)

The best known titles on the list is Devilman.

What Their Releases Are Like

U.S. Renditions, only existing in the pre-DVD era (and never being big enough to produce any LaserDiscs), never released anything but VHS tapes. They did, however, produce subtitled versions of almost all their titles, a true rarity in the era, nor did they edit the titles for content. They even included some early extras, for example the Gunbuster science lesson shorts between episodes. That's not to say that they did all that good of a job; unlike AnimEigo, which was fanatical about quality from the beginning, USR's early titles had somewhat rough translations, and the subtitles on their earliest tapes were comically large. Still, their tapes will be remembered fondly as the first "real" anime available outside Japan.