Anime and Blu-ray
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.
Author: Esosa Osamwonyi
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