Crunchyroll – Now is the PERFECT Time to Release High Guardian Spice

On November 7, 2019, Raye Rodriguez, the creator and executive producer of High Guardian Spice, tweeted he and his team had finished production on the series and that it was only a matter of time till it would be released into the wild. Over a year later and that Tweet is still pinned on his Twitter page.

Meanwhile, Crunchyroll has been radio silent on the exact date of High Guardian Spice's premiere, except to say that it's "Coming Soon." This phrase was tweeted on February 25, 2020, by the official High Guardian Spice Twitter account. The account has made no updates since, despite the show supposedly still coming out in 2020.

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Between November 2019 and November 2020, Crunchyroll has rolled out numerous other Crunchyroll Original series. Some have been quite popular and well-received such as The God of High School and Tower of God, but others have been utter disasters. Currently, Gibiate ranks as the lowest rated full-length TV anime series on MyAnimeList, and EX-ARM's recently released trailer has an over 90% dislike ratio on YouTube.

High Guardian Spice received quite a bit of blowback when it was initially announced. Many disliked how Crunchyroll announced the series with a trailer that centered on diversity among the staff instead of the quality of the product.  Some were angry that Crunchyroll is spending its money on producing American cartoons instead of paying translators better wages and acquiring more anime licenses. Of course, there were also trolls opposed to the show's diversity period.

The controversy around High Guardian Spice was perhaps a valid reason for Crunchyroll to delay it until they'd rolled out some of their other Original series. The dislike ratio on the EX-ARM trailer speaks for itself. There's something oddly endearing about the naive overconfidence of said trailer, with its final line "Declaring war against all of the SF series around the world!!" It almost comes across as parody, but unfortunately is not.

At Crunchyroll Expo 2020, the director of EX-ARM, Yoshikatsu Kimura, held a virtual panel with voice actor Soma Saito on the story and development of the series. There, he reassured everyone that he had some connection to anime because his previous job was at the prestigious Production I.G ... as a live-action director. Yes, his only credits are live-action credits, and according to IMDb, even that isn't too long a list either. Thus far, everyone announced for the series has never worked on an anime before.

Despite how everyone involved's lack of experience inevitably leading to a disastrous production, EX-ARM was greenlit regardless. It was originally set to premiere in July 2020 but was delayed due to COVID-19 to January 2021. Unfortunately, it does not appear that delay has given their team enough time to release a competent product.

As disastrous productions like Gibiate and EX-ARM are released and given premiere dates, Crunchyroll Original series that have already finished production, like High Guardian Spice, is left on the backburner. High Guardian Spice isn't even the only Crunchyroll Original receiving the silent treatment. On Crunchyroll's Original homepage, Meiji Gekken: Sword & Gun and FreakAngels are still copyrighted for 2020 but there's been no news about them since their February announcement. Meiji Gekken, at least, seems to be that it's relatively early in production -- the staff hasn't been announced, and even the title is a working title. FreakAngels has to deal with creator Warren Ellis having been accused of manipulative and predatory behavior by over 60 women and nonbinary people.

Crunchyroll's fear of the anti-diversity crowd that complained loudest about High Guardian Spice seems to be hurting the chances of other creators trying to pitch diverse shows to the service. In August, animation creator Sara Eissa discussed on Twitter how her show pitch for Astur's Rebellion was rejected due to bias against elements of diversity such as POC and LGBTQ+ main characters. She never directly stated which company rejected her pitch, but she implied guesses the company in question was Crunchyroll were correct.

Say what you will about High Guardian Spice's art style or marketing, but at least showrunner Raye Rodriguez has years of experience in animation. At the very least, High Guardian Spice will be a professional-quality product, and diverse stories are worth celebrating (even if it's an awful idea to make a trailer that's just about diversity). Crunchyroll has embarrassed themselves with Crunchyroll Originals like EX-ARM and Gibiate, and it's doubtful High Guardian Spice could be worse... and in fact, there's reason to believe it could be a good show.

onyx equinox

There is some light at the end of this tunnel for Crunchyroll at least. Onyx Equinox is releasing November 21 and will be the first of Crunchyroll's original American cartoons to be released. If this series proves successful enough to overcome the stigma against American cartoons on Crunchyroll, one would hope Crunchyroll will gain the confidence to finally set High Guardian Spice free from its cage.

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