Why was the Shadow Skill anime discontinued in the U.S.?
Actually, the series wasn’t discontinued. Four episodes were all that were ever produced in the OAV series. The premier OAV was actually titled Shadow Skill volume 2.5 in Japan, to denote its chronological setting in the manga story. The second OAV series was then Shadow Skill volumes 1-3. Following the OAVs by a few years came the 26 episode Shadow Skill TV series. The TV series has never been licensed for distribution in the US, I believe, mainly because sales of the OAVs have never been good enough to support the importation of more of the series. There is a chance that the upcoming DVD release of the Shadow Skill OAVs will generate renewed interest in this deserving title and spur Manga, or some other translating company to license the TV series for domestic release.
If you’ll indulge my shameless plug, the Shadow Skill OAVs, in my opinion, are a sorely overlooked little treasure. Upon their initial domestic release, many fan reviews dismissed them for having no depth or story. Such is exactly the reason why Shadow Skill can be such a pleasurable diversion. Admittedly, the second OAV series does not match the energy or even the production quality of the original single episode, but there are few anime series that can match the brilliant, incredible martial arts choreography of Shadow Skill. Furthermore, fan favorite voice actress Megumi Hayashibara provides the voice for the main character, Ellen Ra. Good voice acting, attractive character designs, giant werewolves, lots of gushing blood, magic and sorcery, and unbelievable hand-to-hand fighting make Shadow Skill a great choice for mindless, adventurous entertainment. The TV series expands on the OAV experience by introducing more story, many new characters & monsters and a great deal more magic to the mix. As a cross between Lodoss Wars and Street Fighter, I think the only thing Shadow Skill needs to become more popular, is more people to watch it.