Zero Day Warez!

If you haven’t seen this news…where have you been? This is very big deal and could have many interesting results. This is all speculation at the moment.

Apparently Gonzo has decided to use YouTube, Crunchyroll, and BOST to show their two latest series here in America. We will be able to see subtitled episodes of The Tower of Druaga: the Aegis of Uruk and Blassreiter through streaming video. The reason this such a big deal is because you will be able watch these episodes at the same time you would be able to watch them in Japan, for free or for a minimal price. The dream has finally come true. We are getting legitimate simultaneous releases. You will also be able to buy higher quality versions of the episodes for download. This might be the thing that changes how anime is released in the U.S. forever.

Each service is charging a different price for their episodes. Apparently BOST has a point system where you pay for points and then use them to buy episodes to watch and download. You can watch the first two episodes of each show for free but have to pay for the rest afterwards. Crunchyroll has a system where you can pay as much as you feel is warranted for each episode. Radiohead and Nine Inches Nails have tried similar experiments with their latest albums. I don’t know what sort of payment system if any You Tube is trying.

We are looking at something that a fan-subber can’t beat; at least in terms of quick availability. It is free and it is easy to get. It is what people have been asking for all along. Although I do have my concerns about that issue. Maybe I am not that trusting, but what fans say they want and what they really want can sometimes be two different things.

This is all too true. People often say they want one thing but when it is presented to them they want nothing to do with it. Will people use a quicker legitimate service if they have to pay a minimal fee or have to watch advertisements? If there is a suggested donation price how many of them will pay? How many will pay even if they love it? If they hate it or even merely like it? How many will stick by a fan-subbers because they are “real” fans.

Yeah, I am in awe of the idea that we can “pay what you feel is enough.” That just seems to spell disaster. Maybe it is just me. Just makes me wonder with what sales are, is anyone willing to pay enough? But they do have the new-ness factor on their side. No one has seen these shows before.

One of the main problems I see with this plan is that neither program they are experimenting with seems to be a blockbuster hit. Tower of Druaga is based on an old Namco game with at most what can be considered nostalgia factor in the U.S. Blassreiter seems like the type of show that American audiences would like but I had never heard of the show before it was being announced as one of the two titles to be streamed in this plan. As far as I know, that has been little to no buzz about these shows in the states.

I agree to a point but I think in many recent season some of the shows that become best loved are new and no one is really aware of them. I think most fans that are into fan-subs give new shows a chance and can easily glom on to them. And Blassreiter seems to be right up that alley, atleast from what little I’ve read and seen.

Now if this plan had been based around the Devil May Cry anime or the Death Note anime I think the results would have been a guaranteed success. Either show would have been a killer app. I am worried that if these shows don’t do well enough, Japan will assume that nothing will sell this way and scrap the idea entirely. I don’t think either of the shows are guaranteed to do poorly but I don’t think either program is guaranteed to be a success either. I think it’s a good way of distributing shows but they have to give it a chance to grow and get a hit show that will make people sit up and take notice of this distribution method. I hope Japan does not expect this to be an instant success or have unreasonable expectations of how much profit it is going to make them.

My big question is, what does Japan expect to get from this? How much are do they think they will gain? Clearly, that will be a big factor in how long this will continue. I just wonder what the numbers they are projecting are. We aren’t talking about DVD sales here. We are talking about a country that has only recently considered us a viable market. I am really intrigued by the Japanese essentially cutting out the middle man in this. However, that is a must since the shows haven’t proved themselves a success yet and why would anyone license them without it? But at the same time, that brings up a number of concerns.

I found that most of the U.S. anime companies are made up of friendly people. A majority of whom at least pretend to have an active interest in anime. I would be upset if this led to the downfall of the majority of the American anime companies. I hope that either U.S. anime companies will be able to do their business along side this distribution method or will be able to partner with the Japanese to help distribute shows in the states. Then again if this works out well enough then we just might see the end of the U.S. middle man.

Well, we have seen what happened to Japanese companies trying to sell anime on DVD here in the U.S. That alone may keep a few choice businesses around to do the majority of DVD distribution. But then again, if the plan to move ahead with just downloading everything goes, where does that leave DVDs? My biggest worry is for the quality of the translation into English. I am not saying it has to be perfect, but it should be pretty damned good. They at least have the advantage of translating far in advance, as opposed to on the fly as the show comes out. But without a good translation, I fear people will use it as an excuse to continue to look to fan-subs.

The subtitles don’t have to be the best in the world but they have to be intelligible. If Gonzo rushes out a subtitle job that makes you long for the Hong Kong bootleg with a translator who seems not to be fluent in Japanese or English then this experiment might not work either. Toei Animation is famous for creating some of the least U.S. fan friendly subtitles when they tried to release their own DVDs here.

I also have a feeling that people might take issue with the quality. The streaming quality will certainly be lower than a downloadable, DVD version. Because as one of my friend’s said regarding Crunchyroll, “What they think is high-quality is not even close to high-quality to me.” But we really won’t know the quality of the stream till it is seen.

I have never really understood this obsession with video quality but that is just me. I watched most of One Piece off of You Tube so I obviously don’t care. I assume that if anyone is so darn picky about their video quality then they wont mind paying the money for a DVD or high quality digital download. But as we discussed before what people say they want and what they actually want can often be too different things.

I assume there will be advertising attached to the releases, maybe commercials before the show starts? And what does this mean for a DVD release? Will we see one here in the United States?

It’s odd. Some people like to be able to have a physical version of anything they buy. I know people will often get online comics for free like Sluggy Freelance and Penny Arcade and then go right out and buy the book version of the same comic they read for free. The flash animated story Broken Saints is also available to watch free online but seems to do good business in selling the DVDs of the series. Some people do it to support the author and others just want to own something tangible. So even if people get the product for free, it does not mean there would be no demand for the DVD. In fact, sometimes in also increases the demand. I admit you give some things away for free and people won’t even take it then so nothing here is guaranteed. No one is going to pay for a DVD for a show they hated (well most people anyway).

I have high hopes and an very excited about this. I can’t wait to watch and I would love to see these become the norm. Clearly not every show will end up doing this, I just don’t think it would be cost effective but I would to see most major shows get a release like this. So while I think this could replace fan-subs for some things, I think they will still have their place for niche series and possibly long running things like Bleach and One Piece.

Now that you mention it, I think that shows like Bleach and One Piece could theoretically be prefect for this. Long running shows make most of their profits off of merchandise. You hook the audience on the free or low priced episodes of the show and break even on the distribution through advertising or subscription fees. Then make your mad money off the toys, games, shirts and various of merchandise. It sounds just crazy enough to work.

Narutaki Currently!
Watching Hayate no Gotoku
Reading Penguin Revolution
Listening to X Japan

Hisui (Brainwasher Detective) Currently:
Watching Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni
Reading Fujoshi Rumi
Listening to Sakura Kiss in English

Top 5 unlicensed shows I would want to see downloadable
1. Hayate The Combat Butler
2. Gundam 00 Season 2 aka Gundam 00 Z Destiny++ Final
3. Kekkaishi
4. Saiunkoku Monogatari
5. Blade of the Immortal

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