Successful sales? Anime was far more niche then than it is now - I'd hardly sales to the incredibly small anime fan base back then "successful." Simply put, the financial success of Dragonball and Pokemon in Japan is what attracted US publishers to them - they would have been released in America regardless of the existence of films like Akira, Ninja Scroll, and Ghost in the Shell. Those may be the titles that engaged a small group of us back in the day, but they are not what caused the anime boom. If anything, those films ensured that America kept getting the same violent, substanceless garbage (compared to the variety we have now, anyways) that anime was known for back then.
I think you are missing the point. I am not saying the audience is necessarily the same people. I am saying the sucessful sales from Anime films like Akira and others are what made US publishers more open to other Anime titles like DBZ and Pokemon.
Ninja Scroll was released in 1993 in Japan. We watched it in PAL format in the original Japanese in early 1994 if I remember correctly. The NTSC MANGA ENTERTAINMENT US release was June 1995 (because we wrote letters to MANGA to add it to their catalogue...At least that's what we would like to think;).
The June 1995 date is direct from the MANGA.com website who released ninja scroll.
Thanks for playing.
One thing I will give you credit for, though, is Ninja Scroll's US release date - IMDB and Wikipedia need to be updated.