Giving Up On DVDs, But Not, I Hope, The Industry

Update: Thanks to something brought to my attention in the comments, I see that I need to get new sources for some of the info in this post (I apologize for publishing this rushjob but I’m trying to make a post-a-day quota. Won’t happen again.) Do read the comments, though.

Needless to say, the anime industry in the US has changed a lot in the ten years I’ve been buying DVDs. For the holidays, I got Canaan—the complete series—on 720p blu-ray for about 30 bucks—the price I would’ve paid at Suncoast for a single volume of anime five or so years ago. Thirteen-episode shows used to come out on four releases totaling over $100—now they cost $30 and come in thinpacks. 26-episode shows used to be on six to eight DVDs totaling nearly $200, whereas now they’re usually in the $50-60 range.

My tendencies as a buyer and the consistency of my DVD purchases have gone virtually unchanged over the years. After all, I’ve never had a job, so the money I’ve had always came from either holidays or from whatever random cash I came upon. The fact that DVDs got cheaper was cancelled out by the fact that I found other things I also wanted to buy, such as figures and artbooks, etc.

Changes in the industry never made a huge difference to me, which is why I rarely talk about it. I like more than enough anime that there’s always something I want which I don’t have, so it’s never been like there was no good anime to buy; but that fact has finally changed.

I buy DVDs because I’m a collector, but they’re ultimately practical devices; I’m going to watch my DVDs. However, as of last year, I was introduced to the beauty of high-resolution anime and reached a point where I can’t bear to watch low-res anime anymore. Not only do I only watch current anime in 720p resolution (I don’t care if it takes longer to release), but I go back when the 1080p BDs are out and re-download the series.

I own somewhere around 100-150 DVDs; some of them I bought because the series was one of my favorites, whereas others I couldn’t find online. There’s no longer virtually anything that can be found on DVD and not online, so that purpose is null. Meanwhile, if I downloaded a series before it got released here, the version I already have looks better than the version that got released.

Watching DVDs on my computer tends to be a terrible experience because I have a 1080p monitor and shit gets stretched. Now I have to switch to a 720p monitor or a laptop if I don’t want the picture to be ass. It didn’t take me long to realize that there’s no longer a practical purpose for me to own DVDs. I’m a collector, but if I can’t even watch the damn things, why bother? They’ll just take up space and money.

I got Canaan on blu-ray because it’s one of my favorite shows, was cheap, something I want to show my friends, and I’m a hardcore collector of the series (owning about $300 worth of figures for it). But I know that those BDs are only 720p. I’ve heard that they’re one of Funi’s best releases, but it’s still thirteen episodes on two disks (one of which has the first nine). I know I could jump onto TokyoTosho right now and get 1080p rips of the show in less than a day. If I was a first-time viewer making that decision, between 1080p in a day and 720p with cash down and a five-day shipping wait (because it’s $30 on Rightstuf but I saw it for $65 at FYE), it couldn’t be more obvious.

For practical purposes, the anime industry is useless to me now. It seems like the industry banked everything on the goody-two-shoes who refuse to watch anime “illegally” out of some sense of moral superiority (fuck those guys). The industry has forgotten about us collectors who want to own the DVDs just because we want to own them.

There are plenty of ways I could be brought into the game again. Include cool special features on releases that make me want to own them. For instance, I know the Japanese release of Dance in the Vampire Bund had commentary. Release that show on blu-ray with the commentary subbed and I will buy that shit, I don’t care how much you charge for it. Release these shows in 1080p at the very least so I don’t feel like a fucking idiot for paying money for an inferior version of something I could have for free.

Again, the changes in the industry never effected me until now. If DVDs were as expensive as they ever were, I’d have kept right on buying them, just focusing on getting my favorite shows. I’m paying the same amount now to get more shows, but it’s not like I’m getting more out of it since the quality and bonus features are lost (the PaniPoni DVDs were worth the cost of four shitty thinpacks). Give me 1080p blu-rays with subbed commentary, charge $30 for four episodes, and I’ll be fine, whatever. But if things remain as they are, then my limited income has many other places to go. I buy figures, I buy manga and light novels, I buy doujins and artbooks, and all of those have been as worth my money as they ever were (the same prices they ever were, too).

Right now, I feel like if I buy DVDs or shitty Funi blu-rays, I’ll be throwing money out the window.

Bonus: Canaan.

19 thoughts on “Giving Up On DVDs, But Not, I Hope, The Industry

  1. sorry I don’t have anything to add to this post comment wise since I don’t buy a lot of dvd’s myself but i must say…

    Bunny Canaan is REALLY fucking HOT

  2. You don’t “know” what you think you know. Canaan wasn’t released by Funi, it’s Section 23 (Formerly ADV). The Canaan JP BDs are 1080i. The Canaan US DVDs are also 1080i. Any 1080p rips were made from the 1080i JP BDs, and no anime has ever been released as 720p video on BD, either in Japan or in the US. Production resolution varies (and is a much more complicated issue), but all the video on anime BDs has been 1080i/p.

    • Thanks for the help.

      I’m not sure why I thought Canaan was released by Funi, but you’re right. So, there are no 720p BD anime, just 1080i and 1080p, or are there only 1080i? Also I’m looking at my Canaan DVD now and it actually says 1080p, contrary to a review I’d read on the release which listed it as 720p—obviously I need new sources.

  3. Incidentally, regarding Canaan in particular, 1080p wouldn’t have helped much because the show was originally produced in 720i (yes, 720i — thankfully studios don’t do that anymore). And, FWIW, apparently the U.S. Blu-Rays were in 1080i just like the Japanese release (which is itself a sort of horrible upscaling story…) So even the 1080p fansubs… it’s a bit misleading in this case; it implies the source had that much to work with in the first place. (FWIW, very few anime I’ve seen actually has 1080p of native detail; 720p is usually the max.)

    But anyway, yes, over the last year or two in particular, I think a good chunk of “serious” collectors have abandoned the R1 industry, because they’re pretty much not worth collecting (Nozomi releases and a few others notwithstanding). People willing to spend the cash have either migrated to the Japanese Blu-Ray release front, or just focused on other avenues. That being said, I imagine it’s not as if the U.S. distributors are unaware of the situation, but they’re hamstrung by the Japanese licensors who are worried about Japanese customers “reverse importing” the much, much cheaper American Blu-Ray releases. So… it’s a bit of a mess at the moment.

  4. No 720p video on any anime BD, at all. Across the world, I think less than ten 720p BDs have been made at all since the format was introduced. Probably 90% of anime BDs are 1080p, if it isn’t, it’s because of framerate. 30fps has to be released as 1080i (or else frames get skipped or merged togther). 24fps gets released as 1080p. The labeling on S23’s releases is often wrong. If you saw anything about Canaan being 720, it’s probably not the video on the BD they’re talking about, it’s production resolution. Canaan was made in 720i, then upscaled to 1080i for broadcast/BD. Basically, it’s not very HD, better than a DVD upscale, but pretty soft looking for something that’s supposed to be HD, but that’s a problem with the way the show was made, not the BD.

    • Alright, that’s all quite helpful. I wish more reviewers knew what they were talking about (I’d also read reviews about Casshern Sins being in 720p, they could’ve meant the original res as you said, but that didn’t seem to be the case).

      Now, here’s a question: will an upscale of a 720p video to 1080p still look better? Because all the “1080p” BD rips I’ve had most certainly look better than the 720p rips I’d previously had, but is that perhaps just as much because it’s not a broadcast version? What, exactly, is going to look the best on my 1080p monitor?

  5. For TV shows, there’s almost no point to 1080p BD rips. There’s no more detail to be seen. As relentlessflame mentioned, for TV shows (and even most movies and OVAs), they’re not animated at 1080p to begin with. But BD rips will just about always look better than than broadcast, either because broadcast is made to look worse on purpose, or because the video is far more compressed for broadcast, or both. For most things, 720p BD rips are as good as it’s going to get, aside from the having the original BD. All you get out of most 1080p BD rips is a larger file size.

  6. You cannot create information from nothing. God won’t let you. If you don’t believe him, then Nyquist and Shannon won’t let you.

    If a 1080 upscale looks better than the original 480/720 work, it probably means (a) you’re watching it on a 1080 display and (b) the upscaler in your display/hardware is suckier than the one used to make the “commercial” upscale.

    • …And to be clear, it’s probably not uncommon that the scaler people have in their random media player is worse than the one used during BD production. But yeah, in general terms, this is not so unlike how you often see anime artbook/magazine scans that are many, many times the lpi of the original print. A lot of it is just extraneous blur, but conventional wisdom is that bigger resolution = always better. Half the time, at least with images, I scale it back down to its native size and save the file space. ^^;

  7. You could learn some Japanese, switch to BD only and enjoy that same-region-coded imported goodness. :) You may not even have to do the first part, if more companies do what Aniplex did with Kara no Kyoukai (though the lack of subs on Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya BD doesn’t bode well).

    • Bandai has already licensed Disappearance for the US… they may have skipped subs on the Japanese release for that reason.

      My wallet can’t withstand too much Japanese Blu-ray goodness though… even the Lucky Star box set is kinda tempting, since the encode on my DVDs looks like arse.

  8. I also don’t buy DVDs very often and prefer to buy character goods. But I’ve always been a few years behind the times; it’s been less than a year since I got my first HD TV and started watching some anime on H.264 mkv. I haven’t even gotten into blu-ray yet, mostly because I have a six year old computer that can barely handle mkv files larger than 300MB per episode. I’m not that picky when it comes to pristine quality as long as it looks decent, especially compared to how fansubs and YouTube videos used to look when I first started with fansubs in the early 2000s – I still watch avi files if I can find them since they’re easier on my old computer and take up less space if I want to save the fansubs. Currently I’m just enjoying watching anime on a big screen with my DVD player’s upscaling – technicalities like the difference between 720p or 1080p don’t matter to me right now. But I’m sure eventually I’ll get into blu-ray and all the stuff you mentioned, just not now.

    I’ll still continue to buy DVDs of my favorite series or if I find excellent deals, but character goods will be my more frequent purchases.

  9. Personally, I never really saw the rage about 720p and 1080p. For some shows it is pretty nifty, but it’s a passing fascination for me.

  10. As others have pointed out, the vast majority of TV anime aren’t produced in 1080p and are simply upscales that will only look better than 720p if your media player is using a poor scaling algorithm. Use the EVR Custom or Haali video renderer in MPC-HC. They do good enough scaling that you probably won’t be able to tell the difference between 720p and 1080p encodes when the source is an upscale, and most 480p will look decent. Or at least it will if the 480p is decent to begin with; there’s a lot of crappily encoded anime DVDs out there.

    If you want a good way to check if an anime is native 1080p (or at least higher than 720p) or not, go download and install AviSynth and AvsP. Now make yourself a new text file in Notepad and paste the below couple lines into it, replacing the file name with a screen shot in the same folder, and save it with a .avs extension instead of .txt. Open it in AvsP, flip back and forth between the first two frames in the video preview using the arrow keys, and look for differences. Even numbered frames are the original screen while odd frames have been downscaled to 720p and back up to 1080p again.

    imagesource(“1080p screen shot.png”)
    interleave(last, last.spline36resize(1280,720).spline36resize(1920,1080))

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