I just felt like commenting on the news that Bandai Visual USA is bringing over two anime series from the current season, True Tears and Shigofumi. They plan on actually releasing the DVDs at nearly the same time as our Japanese counterparts but with a few catches:
- The DVDs will only have 1 or 2 episodes on them
- The asking price for a one episode DVD is $30 and the price for a 2 episode DVD is $40.
- The DVDs will only be subtitled
If you buy DVDs of any sort you’ll realize this is really high. Let’s do a quick comparison:
The list price of season 3 of Battlestar Galactica is roughly $60 dollars ($59.98) with the Amazon price of $38.99 for a total of 953 minutes of one of the best SF shows on televison. This works out to be a 15.89 minutes per dollar using the list price and 24.44 minutes per dollar at the actual Amazon price.
Compare this to a 2 episode DVD for list price $40 dollars which I will hypothetically guess to actually cost $30 dollars and contain around 46 minutes of actual show. This works out to 1.15 minutes per dollar list price and 1.53 minutes per dollar actual price.
This doesn’t take a math genius to figure you get much more show for your dollar by going with Battlestar Galactica and it’s not that Battlestar Galactica is special, most tv series run in the same price range. So the question becomes what are they thinking? One answer I’ve read and it makes sense if it’s true is that they’ve decided to make peace with fansubs and just go after the market of collectors who even with free fansubs will want to buy the DVDs and not necessarily care about the cost. This would mirror the situation over in Japan since the DVDs are priced ridiculously high and are only bought by the otakus but since most series can be seen on tv normal viewers can get their fix that.
If this is true maybe we’re started towards an anime future where DVD releases are no longer the primary legal way to watch new anime and some system that makes more sense will come along. My best case scenario would go something like this: there’d be an anime channel that would cost something like $25 – $35 a month to subscribe to that would show subtitled anime within hours of it being shown in Japan. This would beat even the quickest fansubs, make it as simple as turning on the tv to catch all the latest animes, and save the time and cost of burning excess anime to discs and this would give the American consumer a low cost method of legally watching anime before they buy overpriced DVDs of their beloved series.
Maybe I’m an optimist to think we’re heading in a more sane direction – how many American anime companies have to go out of business before they realize they need to change their business model – it could just be a move to milk even more money from American consumers but we can always hope.