A lot of anime fans see US localizing and publishing outfits as the ultimate evil, citing the lousy dubs, re-editing and censorship of the old days. Even though releases have gotten a lot better over the years, the myth persists as part of that "Nippon banzai" mentality all too common to anime fans. The funny thing is, you know who'll really screw up a US release of a Japanese cartoon, if you let them? The Japanese themselves.
This is going to be a long story, so let's take it from the beginning. In Japan, home video is ludicrously expensive. Go ahead and take a look at CD Japan, where any old movie costs $40 on DVD: about double what I'd pay here in the States. The situation with anime is even worse: TV series are completely dependent on DVD sales-- not the TV broadcast-- for their profits, so prices are significantly higher. The recent Bakemonogatari, for example, is selling (very well, for anime) at about $75 for two episodes on Blu-Ray.
As such, Japanese fans had to take notice of the DVD anime boom of the late 90s and early 2000s. Even taking international shipping into account, Region 1 DVDs have always been a better deal than Region 2 discs, usually by insane margins. I bought the entire 47-episode Patlabor TV series for about as much as the previously-mentioned otaku paid for two episodes of Bakemonogatari. Because the R1 discs usually had Japanese-language audio, many Japanese reverse-imported these discs, bought Region 1 DVD players, and still paid much less than they would have for the domestic equivalent. Otaku may be suckers, but they're not stupid.
This does not make Japanese companies happy. It's why it takes so long for anime to reach the US: if Japanese and US releases were made at the same time, everybody would buy the one that costs a quarter (or less!) of the price. With Blu-Ray putting the US and Japan in the same region, importing HD anime will be no trouble at all.
(My personal conspiracy theory as to why Funimation's DVD releases have 7 episodes on a disc and have video quality on par with the average fansub is that ugly R1 DVDs are one way to get Japanese otaku buying R2s. Don't quote me on that.)
Now Bandai sells Gundam DVDs for $800 (!!!) a series in Japan. Here, I can get Zeta Gundam in its entirety and brand new for about $60. Bandai has more stake in this than anybody, and they aren't at all interested in changing the way things work on their end: specifically, making the obvious move to lower prices so that more nerds can afford more cartoons. Instead, Bandai had a truly brilliant plan: they would get Americans to pay Japanese prices for anime! I've already detailed how poorly this went in an old post.
While Bandai Visual USA was dead on arrival, Bandai was still thinking of ways to avoid a dark future of affordable anime. Their latest hit came today. Sunrise's recent bomb Kurokami will be released on DVD in a few months as usual: however, the Blu-Ray release will feature English-dubbed dialogue only. The idea is clearly to prevent reverse importation by simply leaving out the Japanese-language dialogue.
This is actually not the first time Bandai has pulled this one: back when the original Mobile Suit Gundam met with disastrous failure on Cartoon Network, the DVD release was dub-only. Bandai's US people lied about the reasons for this, insisting that the audio materials for one of the most important and successful anime in history had been, uh... lost somewhere. Right. Years later, of course, Mobile Suit Gundam came out on DVD in Japan for 800 dollars as usual, with the original dialogue intact.
Now Kurokami sucked anyway, so this isn't a huge loss in and of itself. However, one has to wonder what this means for the future. If a shitty show like this gets this treatment, is it fair to assume the same will happen with shows people might actually want to reverse import? Gundam Unicorn is just around the corner, you know, and the Japanese release is set to have English subtitles. It will also cost $50 for one episode. As of yet, there are no details about the US release of Gundam Unicorn. It would make absolutely no sense to sell a new show directly targeted at diehard fans of the old Gundam anime dubbed-only, but you know what they say: nobody fucks up anime releases like the Japanese.