Anime and Blu-ray

by Esosa Osamwonyi

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A friend and I were talking one day and suddenly we started talking a bit about anime. He was telling me about some of the anime he had picked up and was thinking of picking up next. We then proceeded to talk about the upcoming Dragon Ball Kai and this is when I asked him: “Are you going to get the Blu-ray?” He then looked at me like I was crazy and said: “Now why would do that?” Just like a sales pitch I tried to sell him on the higher resolution, better audio, etc. He then responded to me in a way I liked: “As if Anime is not already expensive why would I want to pay more for what is essentially the same thing?”

Blu-ray has been proclaimed as the next media medium and successor to DVD. It promises high definition visual, surround audio and is able to hold more. It is the next evolution for movies, games, anime, and all types of media. At least that is what the guys up top would tell you. But I have more question: Why are we still buying DVD’s?

It is not to say Blu-ray is a failure per say; it just seems more like an alternate opinion to an already popular medium (DVD). One thing that has been on my mind for some time is what is the relationship between anime and Blu-ray and how is it working out? The anime world is a very interesting industry and one that has come a long way. A form of the media that has gone with the times. Nowadays we see more and more anime being produced in high definition and old regulars making the switch. So with all this changes and enhancements anime and Blu-ray should be a match made in heaven, right?

The truth of the matter is that it is not easy to be an anime collector. Anime has always been an expensive medium at times reaching high prices in the hundreds. Depending on the series, season box sets can be quite expensive. So this raises the question where would Blu-ray have an advantage? I mean, sure, thanks to its increased storage, you probably could store an entire season on one disc, but what to say that you are getting a bargain? What exactly is stopping a company from charging you the same price or slightly more for increased visuals? This seems to be the case today.

One thing that I have noticed is that only a small amount of the anime industry seems to be supporting Blu-ray while most just stick to DVD’s. The companies that I really see releasing Blu-rays are like big companies like FUNimation, Sony and Bandai, and that’s pretty much it. In truth, DVD’s seem to aim for the consumer mindset and this companies know it. I mean which would you rather do? Pay $80-$125 upfront for an entire 26-episode series on one double-sided Blu-ray disk, OR pay $29.99 or [much] less for one DVD with 4-5 episodes for 3-4 individual DVD’s as they are periodically released? The latter is MUCH more appealing, since no one likes to part with money, regardless of how big of a fan they are. Also, it is more consumer-friendly, in that the consumer will not feel pressured or instantly turned off by the pricing; their inhibitions are unconsciously lowered, and their willingness to part with money has a chance to exceed the expectations of the DVD in question. By slowing easing the consumer in with volumes, he or she would not be as intimated when he sees them all packed together at a higher price, especially now when some companies are beginning to release sub-only releases (cuts down on price when compared to the more expensive dub releases.), it’s hard to not to see which is the huge money saver.

However the world is an ever changing place. Though people expected Blu-ray to over take DVD, I don’t see that happening for some time (if ever). The technology is still new and if i did a survey of 500 people and asked how many had DVD players, I’m sure most of those hands will be up. Some anime companies are reporting selling more Blu-rays than DVD’s, which is a good thing, but in a sense I think its not enough. The problem with Blu-ray in the anime world is that it has not done enough to really differentiate itself. It shares the same features as a DVD boxset and in a sense is an overpriced DVD. Regardless of whether “production volumes increase…and eventually be comparable to DVD’s”, the chances of the marketing standards of anime DVD’s changing to simply single Blu-ray disks is not likely. If anything, production values will gradually align themselves with the advantages of Blu-ray, allowing for even more extras to be added. The only possibilities I can see arising from turning to Blu-ray disk releases of anime is for those who highly want high-quality convenience, and again, for the anime otaku.

At this point in time, Blu-ray and anime seems more like a bother and their role in the future is uncertain. No doubt not every company will release a Blu-ray and DVD version of an anime series or film. It is an very interesting thing to think about but right now because the response is very lukewarm. This is probably something I will look into as more time has passed but for now, let me hear your thoughts on the subject.

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Author: Esosa Osamwonyi

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  • V

    I have seen a lot more Blu-rays on the dealer’s floor. Still, I think Blu-ray will spread the same way DVD did initially: movies, and only later will it spread to full television series. The difference between Rebuild of Eva 1.01 DVD and Eva 1.11 Blu-ray was something like $10. A movie is meant to be a one-shot, bit investment, you’re looking for “an experience” as it were, so I think that if the companies want to spread Blu-ray the real way to go is to focus on Blu-ray movies, and avoid overpriced television series box sets for all but their most popular titles.

    I don’t have a “Blu-ray player” per se (apart from borrowing a Playstation 3) though I have a desktop computer rigged up in such a way that it can functionally play Blu-rays (better quality than DVD, though not quite as good as if I got an actual Blu-ray player)

    Blu-ray is slowly spreading in the general market, but the anime subset is of course a special case.

  • Khayal101

    I have a PS3 and all the TVs in my house are now HD, so I usually like to use it for all its worth, and Blu-rays seem to be pretty cheap recently. After hanging out with friends at best buy we checked out the blu-ray section and saw a lot of anime titles. The price for the Eureka 7 movie was the same price as the DVD, naturally I’d go with the blu-ray. And there are a lot of great releases like Evangelion 1.11 which had a bad dvd release giving us pretty much no choice. And then there’s the Gunbuster compilation movies, the old footage just looked incredible and sounded great!(why they wouldn’t do this for the 6 episode OVAs instead of a clip show movie is anyone’s guess) and I see a lot of old movies going to blu-ray(Tim Burton’s Batman looks freaking awesome btw) and I even seen 7 dollar blu-rays of old movies. Quality is one thing, comparing The Wings of Honneamise Blu-ray and its DVD is night and day, but that might just be the fault of Manga entertainment for releasing a poor DVD quality, and Bandai releasing a high quality blu-ray. But the difference is that the Gunbuster movies, and Honneamise on blu-ray was just way to expensive, (Eva 1.11 I got for 20 bucks, Gunbuster and Honneamise were both 80 bucks) sure some old expensive blu-rays are cheaper on Right Stuff now, but initially I couldn’t see many people buying the movies for such a high price. Another problem is seeing if the quality really will be better, like the geniuses at manga entertainment releasing Ghost in the Shell 2.0…..(sigh) …what is wrong with them and transferring!?! or the new FMA wasn’t animated in 1080 but in 720 and up scaled, that looks better then the DVD, but not by much. But I think the biggest reason is that Blu-rays aren’t that different from DVDs. When DVDs first came out they were completely different from VHS, and quality difference was unbelievable, and for Anime, having dual audio options, it was the best thing to happen to us. But blu-rays are still disks, I always wanted to embrace flash drive technology, it could hold more and never get scratched, and above all be really different. So overall I think the price problem is slowly dying (for the most part), I would say the time to switch is now, especially with anime being one of the mediums switch to HD, but I don’t see many people caring to much unless there big fans and know what titles are better on blu-ray and others that are not.

  • Douglas

    I agree that Blu-ray is slowly catching on, but I don’t necessarily feel it’s important for companies to release series or films on Blu-ray that don’t warranted such a media format. Like V brought up, films would be the best, practical way to go, including some specific series that would benefit from being on Blu-ray (better sound, animation quality, etc.), but a majority of older titles

    I think the main issue here is double-dipping. Since the discrepancy between DVD and Blu-ray has been somewhat of a long one, many titles have already been released on DVD for years now, so adding more incentives to buy a Blu-ray version of titles would be beneficial for sales. If it’s an older series, conjuring up some new extras with the Blu-ray release would persuade fans to buy it again. This can even be applied to newer series/films as well.

    As for the Japanese market, Blu-ray sales have been somewhat better, but they’ve been able to release more titles. I know I would certainly buy certain Blu-ray releases if given the opportunity to do so.

  • ShinjiIkari14

    I agree that anime movies are a better choice for blu-ray, their production values are far higher, and I don’t mind shelling out the extra money in some cases (Eva 1.11). I don’t own any series on blu-ray but I’m sure that some of them look very good on it, I don’t know if the same could be said on some older shows, while the picture quality would be far better, it may make animation flaws far more noticeable since those weren’t really meant to be seen in HD. I think blu-ray is the future but I agree extra incentive needs to be given if you want people to pay more money, improved audio/visual isn’t always enough, as your friend pointed out anime is expensive enough, especially if they’re going to be charging 80-150$ for some sets, and some have even been higher.

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  • Jose Argumedo

    The problem with most Blu-ray releases from anime’s (mostly FUNimation is guilty of this) that most of what is being released was not animated, or given to the American distributors in HD (EX: See the Samurai Champloo, Witchblade, and Trinity Blood Blu-rays, not a one of them is a true HD transfer, just 1080p upconverts, which is done when you put a DVD into a Blu-ray player anyways). Most studios however truly release content in true HD like Ghost in the Shell (2.0 and Innocence) and Appleseed but some of them even neglect the lossless audio option from the release as well, which is a huge bummer. Akira on Blu-ray is pretty much the standard I want all my anime Blu-rays to be if I’m truly going to be double-dipping, re-encode from the film master, and lossless options across the board. I think we’re finally starting to see that, even from FUNimation, is a higher priority on the Blu-ray sets. However, I wish studios wouldn’t sucker people into buying Blu-rays when there is no difference from the DVD, and it’s not just anime. 28 Days Later was filmed in Standard Definition, and yet Fox released it on Blu-ray. I hope that when content isn’t supposed to be in HD anyways, such as DragonBall Z (Not Kai) or Neon Genesis Evangelion (Not the rebuild) that companies won’t release it anyways to try and make a few extra bucks.

  • Kenbei

    I recently got a chance to watch Eva 1.11 on Blu-ray and i think Blu-rays are really meant for movies. In a show it would cost too much money to put it in 1080p especially if it is a long show. But in a movie the budget is usually higher and they have the technology to achieve high visuals. Most anime are still made in 480p and 720p and will continue to be like that. This is where DVD will have an edge: “In something that has to be bought over and over again”. Blu-ray seems to have the edge in things that only have to be bought once (movies) and this is where the anime industry should really be aiming for: Movies. And Like Douglas said it has to be a movie that was made for the product in mind not something that was up scaled from an inferior resolution. One more thing the fact that Blu-rays can play DVDs (up-scaled in better quality too) may work to its advantage in the near future and will probably be key to Blu-ray taking the market from DVD (a lower price on the players too might help).