Experiment: Crunchyroll Subscription, Sample Platter

So one of the biggest and most infamous fan-sub sites went too legit to quit. It did not happen overnight but it has become one of the forefront sites to see legitimate streaming anime near simultaneously with Japan. They have a mixture of new shows and old although they tend to put the emphasis on promoting the newer ones. They even have some live action shows. Does this mean that Crunchyroll’s detractors have forgiven them for the mistakes of the past? Heck no. The Internet neither forgives nor forgets. Does that mean that sane people should forgive them and patronize their site? We paid the price and took a look to let you know!

We grabbed the first time offered Anime Membership for Crunchyroll. This essentially means that we could watch certain shows, streaming, just a few hours after their Japanese release. We also had access to many older titles in their entirety. Without the membership people would have to wait about a week to view said episodes. Many things were added and taken away through the experiment and things certainly changed over the course of the three month period as Crunchyroll became more accustomed to their new program.

Month 1 – January

Well, Crunchyroll’s website design hasn’t gotten any better. I often have to use their search function to find shows, when they should be easily accessible in the index portion. This also brought up another issue of not knowing all the shows and perks allotted to the paying members of the site. About halfway through the month members were able to watch older shows ahead of non-paying members. For example, where most have to wait a week between episodes of Captain Harlock, we were able to access the entire show. But we found this out quite by accident, one day it was just there and we were able to deduce the reasoning behind it. They could really use a members area on the site where all this information is updated and available. There is no mention of how long titles are going to be streaming. Some of their previous series that streamed are now only available for download. However, as a paying member it would be appropriate for us to be able to watch those shows streaming. As far as the quality goes, I have had good luck. Most video go up to 480P but I mainly watch in just high quality for ease. And the speed of the streams is very quick. I watched various titles and had little if any problems with anything.

They did very little overall site redesign when they first introduced the membership program and made their commitment to go legitimate. The only major change I could see was that however they stream their shows now trips the firewall at work so I have to watch anything on Crunchyroll at home. It’s sort of obvious that each animation companies has their own rules about how you can watch, download, and purchase their titles on Crunchyroll. Some shows are immediately available for everyone while other are available to members then slowly unlocked for non-members. Also the options and price to buy episodes to download varies from series to series although they are usually $1.99 each. I wish they would give members a discount on downloads especially for really long series like Fist of the North Star. I would also like to see the ability to buy “box sets.” Essentially a discount if you buy all the episodes at once. Once again it seems the only viable way of buying something like Fist of the North Star. As it stands, it would cost $302.48 to buy all 152 episodes of it! I would have watched more shows in January but I was in the middle of watching Patlabor and Turn A Gundam neither of which are short. I sampled a little and then decided to wait to finish what I was watching to throw myself fully into Crunchyroll for February.

What was watched between the two of us in one month: Time of Eve 1-3, Fairy Musketeers 1-6, Captain Harlock 1-6, Natsume Yuujinchou 1-14, Tower of Druaga 1-4
at the special price (about $7.00 for the month):
$0.22 per episode
at the normal price (about $13.00 for the month):
$0.41 per episode

Month 2 – February

I definitely like the new site design. It makes things easier to find but it is still not immediately obvious what shows are available to watch. Simultaneous release shows are usually prominently displayed though. The problem is when they throw a full or older series up. They only publicize it when it first goes up. If you don’t log in when they are talking about it, it’s easy to not know. I did notice an odd problem showing up for me. Sometimes when I pause a show the episode will stop streaming and I will either have to move the progress bar or reload the episode to start watching it again. I started February with throwing myself in Captain Harlock. The sub seems pretty well done and I don’t remember seeing anything that seemed terribly off. It was fun to be able to view a classic whenever I wanted to. I found it odd that they would put on 40 of 42 episodes of Harlock up. Similarly, there are only two of six episodes of the Sakura Taisen New York, NY OVA. It just doesn’t make sense. Also they made mention that they were going to put up the first three episodes of Air Master but when the time came they never put it up. I really wanted to watch Air Master!

Thank the lord the website has finally gotten an update! I wouldn’t say it is perfect, but it is atleast an improvement over that cluttered space they had for so long. However, since the site update, I have been having strange problems with the player. Most of the time the subs falling off to the right. I have tried it with the different resolutions but they are always off center. This isn’t a problem unless the line is long, even then I can usually figure out what it says. But that doesn’t make it okay. Equally strange is the missing progress bar as well as the play/pause buttons. So when I watch a show I better damn well not have to get up for any reason! I am using Firefox on my MAC, Hisui hasn’t had a problem on her PC. I sent a video problem message hopefully this will not continue through March.

What was watched between the two of us in one month: Tower of Druaga 5-8, Captain Harlock 7-40, Sakura Taisen New York NY OVA 1, Eyeshield 21 1, Gintama 1-2, Fairy Musketeers 7-11.
at the special price (about $7.00 for the month):
$0.15 per episode
at the normal price (about $13.00 for the month):
$0.28 per episode

Month 3 – March

Continuing the trend from last month, I still had video problems. When watching in plain ole High Quality I am still experiencing the same subs off to the right problem. When watching higher than that the problem is fixed, however the subs are slightly cut off along the bottom. That problem was preferable. I am stilling not seeing a play bar or buttons. And I just got the latest Firefox so have no idea what the problem is. Nothing has really changed for me from last month on the site. No major site updates or making changes or bettering it.

Well the miracles of miracles occurred and Crunchyroll started work at work again which is always nice to have something to watch during lunch. I still can’t watch Tower of Duraga at work  because for some reason they won’t load the subtitle stream but all the other programs work fine. I decided after I finished Fairy Musketeers I would move onto the monster that is Fist of the North Star. They also added six new shows which were a good mix of fresh from Japan and some older shows but nothing like the classics like Harlock. I was a little sadness that the episodes of Air Master never went up when whatever deal they had seem to fall through.

What was watched between the two of us in one month: Tower of Druaga 9-12, Fairy Musketeers 12-39, Sakura Taisen New York NY OVA 2, Eyeshield 21 2, Fist of the North Star 43-68
at the special price (about $7.00 for the month):
$0.12 per episode
at the normal price (about $13.00 for the month):
$0.22 per episode

Conclusions

If you want to watch certain new shows as they appear on Japanese television, this has a lot to offer. Shows being the important word here because you need to be watching more than one to justify the price. For older shows it hardly seems worth it. When they are first added you can only watch an episode or two at a time, but just wait and you can watch it all for free. Since they are old, time really isn’t a factor. The quality is definitely high enough and the variety of shows is great. At this point I will continue to use the Crunchyroll site but not subscribe. I will probably revisit the subscription when things change or are updated. Including the ability to download the shows you watched for a discounted fee would be good. Of course if Crunchyroll were to go subscription only I think it would be worth it.

How much you need to buy a subscription comes down to two important factors. How impatient are you and how much free time you have to watch anime online. It’s like a gym membership. Some people are going to work out several times a week and get the most out of their money. Other people are going to show up a few times but hardly ever go again then regret their purchase. And others will never buy a gym membership as long as they live. I got quite a bit out of the membership but I wonder if it was worth the money. If you watch it large blocks or have to watch it the second it comes out but need to be legitimate then it would be worth it. You will get whatever you want as quick as possible. I have enough shows that I legitimately own unwatched that I can juggle enough to wait. So like Narutaki I think that I will continue to use Crunchyroll but there has yet to be a series I so badly need that I would have to pay for a membership. As long as they stay legitimate and keep adding a variety of shows I will pay attention. Streaming video is the best method for good B and C-list titles that would not have commercial viability otherwise. A mixture of new shows and old shows keeps them alive and relevant. Only time will tell how much Crunchyroll will be able to win over their shady past in the eyes of fans.

From what we can tell here is what you can watch on Crunchyroll:
Angelic LayerBASToF SyndromeBest Student CouncilBLASSREITERCaptain HarlockChance Pop SessionChi’s Sweet HomeChrono CrusadeD4 PrincessDear BoysDigimon Adventure 02Eagle TalonEgg ManElectric Soldier DOKAN KunEyeshield 21Fairy MusketeersFist of the North StarGad GuardGalaxy Express 999GankutsuouGatchamanGintamaGirls HighGravionHayate no Gotoku !!Japanese Anime Classic CollectionKaede New TownKaleido StarKaleido Star: New Wings Extra StageKaasan- Mom’s LifeKid KosmoKigurumikkuKite LiberatorKotetsushin JeegLa Corda d’Oro – Primo PassoLa Corda d’Oro – Secondo PassoLady DeathLast ExileLinebarrels of IronMagical Angel Creamy MamiMagical PlayMartian Successor Nadesico: Prince of DarknessMighty MaxMizu no KotobaNajica Blitz TacticsNarutoNaruto ShippudenNatsu no Arashi!Natsume YujinchoNeko RahmenNeo Angelique AbyssNeo Angelique Abyss (Second Age)Nurse Witch Komugi-chan Magikarte ZPale CocoonParasite DollsPeace Maker KuroganePeeping LifePitekantoRamen Fighter MikiREBORN!Ristorante ParadisoRizelmineSaiyukiSakiSakura Taisen: Le Nouveau Paris OVASakura Taisen: New York NY OVAShangri-LaShugo CharaSlam DunkSpeed RacerSteel Angel Kurumi ZeroStrike WitchesSumikoThe Tower of DRUAGA (the Aegis of URUK)The Tower of DRUAGA (the Sword of URUK)Time of EveUltimate GirlsVandreadVandread The Second StageWeb Ghosts PiPoPaYatler Matler Space TyrantsYonna in the Solitary FortressYume TsukaiZaion: I Wish You Were Here

Top 5 Shows to watch on Crunchyroll
5. Gatchaman
4. Captain Harlock
3. Time of Eve
2. Tower of Duraga
1. Natsume Yuujinchou

16 thoughts on “Experiment: Crunchyroll Subscription, Sample Platter

  1. omo says:

    I have a CR subscription for 1yr, so I have a notably better value point than you, but I also spent a lot more. To me I think you guys really hit it–it’s like a gym membership, and if you are following 2+ shows it becomes a good deal.

    Sadly this hasn’t really been the case for me in that half the shows I follow are free to all. The only other real perk I use is the higher resolution options, but unless you’re watching Naruto the 720p stream is pretty lame and the 480p stream is hit or miss depending on the series. Sometimes it looks fine (Saki) other times it’s kind of eh (Shangri-la).

    I don’t think discount on pay-to-download is very attractive as a perk, but that’s just me. Unless they can give you better video quality…

  2. omo says:

    CR used to be a site where you can “pay” to download fansubs. It was one of the most deplorable thing you can do as far as anime and fansubs go. This is besides the point that it was mostly just another youtube-type site.

  3. otou-san says:

    I’m with omo for the most part, I bought quarterly and I’m still debating if it’s worth it just to have all of Harlock available. I have been a bit disappointed in the higher-quality streams. If you’re a Naruto fan then getting the HD simulcasts is a swell deal, but I don’t think I have to watch any fansubs of Shangri-La to know which will be better quality.

    However, I think (hope?) those things are going to iron themselves out before too long — when the HD streams started on CR they barely freaking played at all. They will have to iron out soon though, because the privilege of being legit isn’t that much of a privilege and personally I’d rather have some decent quality.

    I would jump at discounted downloads because I often take anime on my iPod and usually resort to ripping some of my DVDs that I haven’t watched yet.

  4. Rockfest says:

    Eh, I’m rather just passive on the whole CR thing. Although it isn’t really confirmed but back in the old days when CR was still streaming ‘illegal’ subs, you had to pay a membership fee to get access to HQ, no ads, unlimited streaming, etc, etc the usual business. People made the educational guess that they were making a profit off the hard work of the fansubbers. A year or two later, CR received investment capital from Venrock, about $4.05 million. (Also, funny thing, CR didn’t post any of this stuff on their site). And then the transformation started, and the raeg began too. You don’t receive investment capital if you aren’t profitable. Gonzo jumped onboard, and so did a few other studios. Long story short, although they started out as an ‘illegal’ streaming site for anime, they’ve now turned themselves into a profitable legal source for anime, but the internet never forgives or forgets.

  5. reversethieves says:

    @omo
    I like that line about the subscription be worth it if you are going to watch 2 or more shows. I am going to steal it and give you credit. (In fact I just did.)

    Quite a few people mentioned they subscribe or are thinking of subscribing due to the fact that it gives you access to higher resolutions. I have a rather bare bones setup so I don’t really notice a big difference. I am also not much of a videophile so that means I don’t notice as much as other people. Still the difference in the streams is worth pointing out. Thanks for that heads up.

    I think the discount on pay-to-download is a call perk for anyone who would use such a service and unimportant to everyone else. I think it’s just an interesting idea.

    @phatbhuda
    People mainly hate Crunchyroll becuase they used to have a good deal of fansubs on their site of licensed and unlicensed shows but did not have the permission from the people who fans subbed those shows, the people who held the license in the US, or the original companies who made the anime. And then they had a system that if you wanted anything more the low quality you had to pay or a subscription. Profiting on fansubs is just one of the biggest taboos in anime fandom. Even your your normal level crazy fansub defenders will go after someone who profits through fansubs.

    So they had shows they had no license for and were accused of stealing other people’s fan subs and making a profit from it. Now in Crunchyroll’s defense they did not personally post the fansubs. Users uploaded them at their own discretion and as far as I know CrunchyRoll as a company did not upload anything without the fansubbers permission.

    In the haters defense the whole site was set up for users to upload fansubs and for Crunchyroll to make a profit from it. So they knew that people would be putting up other people’s work and making a buck off it. Just becuase you did not do it yourself does not make you innocent.

    Also if you look at the interview that they did with Anime News Network and some other people who did research of them they come off as sort of shady.

    – Hisui

  6. reversethieves says:

    @ omo & Rockfest
    Wow you guys are quick. I am glad that you both wrote in to answer Phatbhuda’s question. I had totally forgotten the fact that Crunchyroll got that huge amount of venture capital did little to warm people to them.

    @otou-san
    Yeah Hayate will also not play subtitles at work which ticks me off. I mean watching Hayate at work on my lunch break would make Fridays a good more tolerable. I also think Gonzo goes out of it’s way to make it’s streaming versions much less quality than their downloadable versions so you buy the downloadable version. I noticed that on the original episodes of Druaga I got.

    Oh Funimation will also soon have up all of Harlock if you need your instant Leiji Matsumoto fix with no subscription.

    – Hisui

  7. Rockfest says:

    @reversethieves: No matter how you look at it, the interview with ANN was biased. I understand that there were questions that had to be asked, but the way that the interviewer approached it was off.

  8. reversethieves says:

    @Rockfest
    You are certainly correct that ANN went in there looking to draw as much blood as possible but that interview did not really help their image in my mind. I also assume that was the point of ANN doing the interview. I just assume that almost all interviews are going to be conducted with some deal of basis but that might be a bad choice on my part.

    – Hisui

  9. Kairu Ishimaru says:

    It would have been better if CR just went back to their free sevice of Anime videos. They sucks for now, cause I cant get a subscription. XD

  10. reversethieves says:

    @Kairu Ishimaru
    Well if you wait a week you can watch most of the simulcast shows. I am currently waiting for Hayate, Ristorante Paradiso, and Saki (to a lesser degree) episode 2. I don’t think that a week is a horrible amount of time to wait but that is me.

    @Anon
    Cool. I am going check out Shangri-la later this week.

    – Hisui

  11. gia says:

    I bought my Crunchyroll membership on a 6-month basis, and I’ve definitely been getting my value out of it– but the immediacy is a big deal for me. I mostly follow Skip Beat! (okay, followED) and Shugo Chara!, but it’s great to have all the other stuff available for random watching which I do on occasion with friends, and it’s also been great having access to so many of the new shows.

  12. reversethieves says:

    @gia
    Yeah a subscription is also worth the money if you HAVE to have it now. I love Hayate but I can wait a week. If you are doing a single episode review blog or hate going on forums and getting spoiled then you will probably not regret the subscription as well.

    If my two choices were subscription or nothing I would be much more tempted to get a subscription. What am I saying. Actually to legitimately watch Hayate I would pay. But as long as I have the option to wait a week and watch commercials I will take that instead.

    – Hisui

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