As a rule, OTAQUEST doesn’t typically cover anime licensing in America unless we’re talking about big films like Millennium Actress or special exceptions. Shows like City Hunter and Kimagure Orange Road that were both very popular and hugely influential but missing from the North American market for one reason or another. At Anime Expo 2019, Rightstuf/Nozomi Entertainment announced, among a few older rescues like El-Hazard and A.D. Police, they’d be putting out the infamous Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei; a show whose first season aired all the way back in 2007 and yet has never received a physical release stateside nor was it ever legally put up on any big streaming platforms.
Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei isn’t quite as old as some of the shows we just mentioned, but when it came out it was quite a sensation. Before he directed the likes of Puella Magi Madoka Magica and the Monogatari series, the eccentric Akiyuki Shimbo cut his teeth cranking out a few seasons of this whacky show. Based on a manga by Koji Kometa, the series follows the perpetually depressed Itoshiki-sensei as he tries his best to teach and manage his class full of absolute weirdos. The show’s possibly the darkest ‘slice-of-life’ show of them all, and people loved it for that.
The show was huge among internet anime communities both east and west in the late 00s. In Japan, it’s iconic openings were remade using characters from different series by amateur animators on Youtube ad nausea. In the west, it was memed to hell and back on places like /a/ and local forums before meme culture evolved into what it is now. With all this fan-fare, you’d expect Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei to have been licensed in some capacity already. At one point, the now barely existent Media Blasters announced they had the rights to the first season but a physical release never materialized. Whether that failed contractual obligation was what kept it out of the hands of a Crunchyroll for so many years or something else, we’ll never know. Thankfully though, we’ll all finally get to bask in the absurdity and dark comedy of Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei once again.
Nozomi Entertainment is set to release Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei in 2020. So far, they’ve only confirmed the license to its first season.