Founded in Los Angeles, California, in 1988, Streamline Pictures was the first North American company that was created primarily for the intention of distributing translated anime uncut and faithful to the original content. The founders of Streamline were Carl Macek, who had worked for Harmony Gold USA during the mid 1980s, most notably on the series Robotech, and Jerry Beck, an animation historian and film distribution veteran who had worked at MGM/UA, Orion and Expanded Entertainment. At one point or another, Steve Kramer, Ardwight Chamberlin, Tom Wyner, and Mike Reynolds all of whom served as series staff writers (and voice actors) on Robotech, worked as independent writers and voice actors for Streamline.
High profile products
The first high profile product distributed by Streamline was its December 1988 release of the anime film Akira. The company was also known for its 1989 theatrical distribution of the film Laputa: Castle in the Sky directed by Hayao Miyazaki, and its 1992 video dubbing of The Castle of Cagliostro. Streamline also dubbed My Neighbor Totoro, and Kiki's Delivery Service, in 1988 for Tokuma Shoten, although these were only used as in-flight films by Japan Airlines at the time. As a fan of Miyazaki's films, Macek did not think Laputa (of which Streamline was the distributor) had received the quality of dubbing that a Miyazaki film deserved. He thought that it could have been done better, so Tokuma Shoten gave him the opportunity to prove his words. For his first project, he asked to dub My Neighbor Totoro, one of his favorite Miyazaki works. The Streamline dub of My Neighbor Totoro was released theatrically in the U.S. by Troma Films in 1993; but its dub of Kiki's Delivery Service appeared only on the 1990s Japanese laser disc release of that title. (Since then, however, Castle in the Sky and My Neighbor Totoro have both been redubbed by Disney.)
Tokuma Shoten was pleased with the quality of the initial work, and it immediately hired Streamline to produce the English language version of Kiki's Delivery Service. Soon after its release, the film was bought by Japan Airlines, who showed it during their flights between Japan and the U.S. (The film has since been redubbed by Disney). Streamline also licensed and dubbed other popular anime series and movies such as Fist of the North Star, Wicked City, Lensman, Vampire Hunter D and The Professional: Golgo 13.
Home video market
Streamline, in being the first company dedicated to making anime accessible to the English speaking world, was notable for releasing a wide variety of anime that fit in a wide variety of genres, many of which do not fit completely in any genre such as Twilight of the Cockroaches. During the 1990s VHS era, before the common availability of hybrid DVDs, anime distributors released anime via subtitled or dubbed tapes with the subtitled editions being noticeably more expensive than the dubs which were expected to sell better. Streamline is also notable in being the only such company to eschew this practice and release only dubs of its anime. The only exceptions were the later Akira subtitled release and their Robotech Collection, which included episodes of the original Macross, Southern Cross and Mospeada episodes on the same tape along with their Robotech counterparts. (Since then, these three titles were re-released by ADV Films through Harmony Gold.)
Because of Macek's notoriety with a certain branch of fandom, Streamline became one of the early catalysts of the sub vs. dub debate. Macek's philosophy towards anime dubbing, as stated in several interviews, most notably published Protoculture Addicts and Animag, has become largely synonymous with the negative connotation concerning "Americanized dubs".
Streamline Pictures stopped producing new anime releases in 1996, folding into Orion Pictures - which, in turn, would fold into MGM one year later, in 1997. Streamline subsequently went out of business in 2002.
Today, the Streamline film and television library is owned by MGM, but the rights to all productions have either lapsed to other anime companies (such as Akira and Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water) or have never been released again (such as Robot Carnival). Many of Streamline's English dubs later have had their copyrights run out, and have subsequently entered the Public Domain (such as Streamline's Lupin III: Mystery of Mamo dub).
List of titles released
|Year Licensed||Title||Last/Current Licensor or Status|
|1988||My Neighbor Totoro||Troma Films; Walt Disney Company|
|1988||Akira||Orion Pictures; Pioneer Animation/Geneon Entertainment; Bandai Entertainment|
|1989||Laputa: Castle in the Sky||Walt Disney Company|
|1989||Twilight of the Cockroaches||Out of print|
|1989||Kiki's Delivery Service||Walt Disney Company|
|1990||Lensman||Out of print|
|1990||Zillion||Out of print|
|1991||Robot Carnival||Out of print|
|1991||Fist of the North Star||Orion Pictures; Image Entertainment; Discotek|
|1991||Zillion: Burning Night||Out of print|
|1992||Neo Tokyo||Orion Pictures; ADV Films|
|1992||Planet Busters||ADV Films (as Birth)|
|1992||Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water||Orion Pictures; ADV Films|
|1992||Robotech II: The Sentinels||Orion Pictures; ADV Films through Harmony Gold USA|
|1992||The Castle of Cagliostro||Orion Pictures; Manga Entertainment|
|1992||The Professional: Golgo 13||Orion Pictures; Urban Vision|
|1992||3×3 Eyes||Orion Pictures; Geneon Entertainment|
|1992||Vampire Hunter D||Orion Pictures; Urban Vision|
|1993||The Speed Racer Show||Live Entertainment/Family Home Entertainment|
|1993||Robotech||ADV Films and Manga Entertainment through Harmony Gold|
|1993||Dirty Pair: Affair on Nolandia||Orion Pictures; ADV Films|
|1993||Dirty Pair: Flight 005 Conspiracy||Orion Pictures; ADV Films|
|1993||Dirty Pair: Project Eden||Orion Pictures; ADV Films|
|1993||Windaria||ADV Films (as Once Upon a Time)|
|1993||Doomed Megalopolis||Orion Pictures; ADV Films|
|1993||Wicked City||Orion Pictures; Urban Vision|
|1994||Silent Möbius||Miramax Films; Bandai Entertainment|
|1994||Crying Freeman||Orion Pictures; ADV Films|
|1994||8 Man After||Out of print|
|1994||Lily C.A.T.||Orion Pictures; out of print|
|1994||Lupin III: Tales of the Wolf||Orion Pictures; Geneon Entertainment; Funimation Entertainment|
|1995||Babel II||Orion Pictures; Media Blasters|
|1995||Barefoot Gen||Orion Pictures; Geneon Entertainment|
|1995||Casshan: Robot Hunter||Orion Pictures; ADV Films through Harmony Gold USA|
|1995||Crimson Wolf||Orion Pictures; Image Entertainment; out of print|
|1995||Lupin III: Mystery of Mamo||Orion Pictures; Geneon Entertainment; out of print|
|1995||Megazone 23||Orion Pictures; ADV Films|
|1995||Great Conquest: The Romance of Three Kingdoms||Orion Pictures; out of print|
|1997||3×3 Eyes 2||Orion Pictures; Geneon Entertainment|
- "Carl Macek (1951-2010)". Cartoon Brew. Retrieved 2010-04-19.
- Kannapell, Andrea (1997-01-05). "A Campus Cartoon Trend Moves On". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-08-08.
- "Carl Macek Passes Away". LA Times. Retrieved 2010-04-20.
- "Macek Training". Anime News Network. Retrieved 2010-01-25.
- "The 'Robotech' master". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2010-10-25.
- "American anime pioneer Carl Macek passes away". Comic Book Resources. Retrieved 2010-04-20.
- "Tooning In to Japanimation". LA Times. 1996-01-14. Retrieved 2010-08-23.
- "Right Stuf's Anime Today interviews Carl Macek!". Right Stuf!. Retrieved 2010-04-20.