Yes, at long last, a new Heidi fansub project is underway!
Heidi, Girl of the Alps is arguably the crowning achievements in the careers of Isao Takahata, Hayao Miyazaki and Yoichi Kotabe. It's certainly the archetype for the Studio Ghibli films, and it did as much to bring Japanese anime to the outside world as anything. Indeed, Americans are only now catching up to what the rest of the world has known about for the last 35 years. Every major region of the world has broadcast Heidi on television...every region except the United States.
Now, at long last, I hope we can resolve this problem, at least among the faithful. The perfect news would be Heidi on American TV, with an official release on Blu-Ray and DVD. Unfortunately, that is most likely never going to happen. It's just too expensive to import a 52 episode series, then translate and dub the scripts into English. You would need the backing of a major Hollywood studio like Disney, and they're not about to invest money in an anime from 1974. So, once again, we turn to the fansub community to bring one of the greatest anime masterpieces to a receptive audience.
As for specifics on the 2011 Heidi Fansub Project, I'm afraid I have little news to report. I can tell you that all 52 episodes have been translated into English, and this was completed late last year. The translator handed the scripts to a fansub group, which has made Heidi their top priority. As to what this means for dates, and when we can expect the series to be finished, this is still a mystery. I will investigate and follow up on this, and hopefully we will have more good news to report.
I've been spending much of my weekend trying to chop up and upload the first episode of Heidi to Youtube. I have copies of episodes 1-4 from a 2007 fansub project. That project has since stalled and it appears to have disappeared completely. The same fate befell another fansub group who was working to translate 3000 Leagues in Search of Mother (aka Marco); they quit after a half-dozen episodes. I'm pointing this out as a reminder and a caution: this is very long and hard work. And this is the work of dedicated volunteers.
I think 2011 will be different. We have the English-language scripts, and this is always the biggest hurdle in any fansub project. The rest is just coding. Because of this, I am confident that we will finally see Heidi this year. This will be the final major work from the Takahata/Miyazaki canon to be translated into English. All of their directorial work dating back to Horus, Prince of the Sun (1968) to today will be available to an English-speaking audience. That is an achievement! I can't wait.