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There are a lot of anime that have a first season, but no second season, even though there is enough material to produce another season. There are also a few anime which are dubbed, but only up to a certain point in the series.

So, why do anime companies keep the rights to these anime, instead of passing them on to another company?

For example, here are a few anime which didn't get more seasons:

  1. Mayo Chiki (1 season) - Big cliffhanger
  2. Rosario Vampire (2 seasons) - Another cliffhanger
  3. High School of the Dead (1 season)
  4. The World God Only Knows (3 seasons) - Missed out a lot of content

And some which are dubbed only to a certain point in the series:

  1. Detective Conan (130 episodes) - Stopped due to low ratings
  2. The Familiar of Zero (1 season) - Dubbed no further due to low ratings

There are many more examples. Why are the studios behind these series and dubs reluctant to release the rights to others to continue the series?

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    For Mayo Chiki, Rosario Vampire, HOTD, TWGOK, that's all available in Japan. For shows with low rating, there is no point in continuing to produce more, for both the company holding the rights and other companies. – nhahtdh May 23 '15 at 19:15
  • OK but high school of the dead was popular in western areas. – Druski corbett May 23 '15 at 19:25
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    HoTD's manga author is on a long hiatus. He only returned once with one chapter (?) then back to hiatus. I don't read the series, so I can only guess that there is no material for another season or the ending would not be meaningful. (And anime are usually made in Japan before they are dubbed in the West, the decision to continue making another season in most cases depends on whether the series can make money in Japan) – nhahtdh May 23 '15 at 19:29
  • Which anime companies are you talking about? The ones that produce the anime in Japan, or the ones the produce the translated versions outside of Japan? – Ross Ridge May 23 '15 at 19:55
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    @nhahtdh Also, anime is (to some cynical extent) advertising. If the series is on hiatus and they're not publishing anything new, there's less to advertise -- just DVDs and merch. It would be a bad investnemtn to produce more anime at that point. – Matt Nordhoff May 24 '15 at 5:03
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Essentially, it all comes down to money.

A lot of series are discontinued simply because the series aren't making enough money - whether that be for the English publishers in the West, or the original publishers in Japan.

Selling the rights of an anime means that they cannot continue to receive any recurring income from the series - even if it isn't that significant. Ongoing income could include licensing the rights to stream the show as part of a package deal to streaming services. For example, a studio licenses a bundle of three shows to CrunchyRoll, when CrunchyRoll really just wants one. [On a side note, this is why there's a load of random movies on Netflix]. Also, if there are new platforms on which to sell their media - such as new online stores or new video systems - studios effectively get another burst of sales, especially if it's digital (much less cost to put the items up for sale).

There isn't a lot of incentive for other companies to buy studio's productions that have proven to be loss-making, especially as the price and the long processes to secure the deal would often be hard to justify. It's a much wiser decision for companies to focus on works that have a solid following.

Every season, the popularity of a show drops as less and less people keep up to date/interested. If a show is profitable in the first season, it doesn't necessarily mean that it can manage with reduced sales the next time round. On the other hand, if the main show is still profitable, they don't really have much reason to sell it either.

It isn't strictly true that shows will never change hands though.

Take Yuru Yuri for example: the third season is going to be animated by TYO Animations, even though the first 2 were animated by Dogakobo. Anime companies tend to be fairly tight-lipped about internal processes and exchanges, so I'm afraid it's quite hard to get more information on why they swapped studios, or the process they had to go through to do it.

There have been several Western examples of "license rescues", which, whilst not explicitly the same as the bare rights (but similar to your dubbing question), allow publication of a discontinued series to continue to be translated. This is quite rare unfortunately - Viz Media explains that they tend to be hard sells. Western companies are similarly tight-lipped, although luckily less so that their Japanese counterparts

Further reading

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Although this is an old question being revived, I'm here to clear up a bit of things.

The studios of anime are usually just hired staff. They don't run or own series. Unless its an original project E.G: Trigger's "Kill La Kill".

There are things called production committees composed of lead producers & company members that are filling in spots for companies such as: Kodansha, Kyoani and etc.

A Producer comes a long to get an animation adaption of a series. Usually places like SQUARE Enix, a large multi-media company, have a production office where they find series associated with themselves to be animated. Such as popular manga, being printed by SQUARE ENIX. Which then they take to financiers, people with resources, producers & studios.

The heads & most important are those choosing to make the series continue or not, whether for financial reasons or just no-longer wanting to work on the project.

For example "SNAFU 2" was animated by a totally new company. That decision was done by the Production Committee. Not the animation studio. Though, remember animation studios can be part of the production committee either on top or usually the bottom. Mostly they are on top due to original productions, they own. Changes in the studio can happen due to large schedules, or disliking their work on the first project.

However, a director or art director, may be associated with the animation studio. Which will lead in the anime`s directing overall or just an art direction such as the production studio: SHAFT. SHAFT, though Aniplex is the head-producer of "Nisekoi" a few producers & Chief director are from SHAFT. Because, Aniplex adores their style. This weaves back & forth. A Director maybe from one studio but still direct for other series, with different studios.

Just check all the cast & staff. Or at the end of an anime's opening you may see who is producing the series. Though, it is undisclosed many times.

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