Well this is surprising…The Japanese media began reporting yesterday that entertainment giant Toei will soon be launching their own internet pay channel in the USA with a particular emphasis on live-action tokusatsu hero shows...
Ok, so who feels like marathoning every episode of every single sentai show ever made?
For fans of Toei’s immense catalog of shows of the Super Sentai and Kamen Rider variety – programs which have always been difficult to legally obtain outside of Japan – the announcement of what will be known as “Toei Channel Japan” is tantamount to the parting of the red sea.
While details about content, pricing, and so forth have yet to be revealed, what we do know (thanks to henshinjustice.com who broke the story in English) is that the “Toei Channel Japan” will launch online later this month, will initially be aimed at Japanese language viewers in the USA (i.e. no subs), but plans are in the works to add English subtitles a year after the service launches. You can read an English translation of the full Japanese story here.
The part that has tokusatus fans freaking out is this quote from Yasuhiko Nakashima of Toei’s International Sales Division:
“Because of the current interest in ‘Cool Japan’ we saw an opportunity to show off our tokusatsu hero shows. In the future we’d like even provide the series almost as they air in Japan.”
"Hey, who sez we're not part of Cool Japan, too!"
Read between the lines, and it seems reasonable to expect that the “Toei Channel Japan” will eventually offer streaming simulcasts of the latest Super Sentai and Kamen Rider shows legally with English subs. How this would impact the current state of US tokusatsu fandom (a lot of which revolves around fansub groups and torrent trackers now) could be nothing less than revolutionary.
The Toei Channel in Japan's highlights for October. A taste of things to come for the future?
Whether Toei also plans to use the US service to eventually roll out its current and past anime series, or to tap its vast catalog of live television programs and movies (Toei studios has been cranking out product since 1950) is unknown now. But a look at the current lineup at the existing Toei Channel in Japan (above) shows a little bit of everything on the menu: from old school '70s anime like Getter Robo, Smile PreCure!, yakuza movies, samurai flicks, and the occasional peek-a-boo gravure video.
Even so, if the US “Toei Channel Japan” really was nothing but guys in spandex suits pulverizing rubber monsters 24/7, then sign me up. That’s entertainment!
Oh, and do not forget to add your old Spider-Man show to the mix, Toei!