12 Days of Anime – Day 4: Rage
I don’t like piracy. I never have. That certainly applies more to games than anime, but even with anime, I never download to my hard drive. I feel if I limit my access to anime I haven’t paid for (and with my network, limit is very apt) then at least I won’t be too far off from the people viewing it across the ocean on TV. Since joining the blogosphere last year, though, I took this to the next step and actually started buying anime DVDs. The second one I bought was the complete set of what is probably my favorite anime of all time, Kino no Tabi. I was really excited to finally get DVD quality and own this work that had been so formative for me. That was when it happened. I saw unfolding before my eyes what may have been (and may still be) the worst licensing job known to anime.
There was a total lack of episode listings in the case, with only a range of episodes pasted onto the front of the discs themselves to let you know which to select. You can also tell that it was probably designed for four discs, but they only used three, likely so they wouldn’t have to spend as much. But that was still okay. I could handle that. I put the disc in my player and was instantly greeted by one of the shabbiest menus I’d ever seen. Literally the only options were to choose an episode to watch and to choose your preferred audio. It was barebones to an extreme. But that was still okay. Kino no Tabi has never had much in the way of popularity or attention, so I was expecting (even if I wasn’t hoping) that there wouldn’t be a lot of frills. I could still handle it, so I started episode one, and the opening credits (lacking subtitles) started. Something felt off, but I forged on, my excitement still clinging to me. Then the credits ended, someone spoke and my screen was instantly assaulted by
GIANT YELLOW LETTERS TAKING UP A TENTH OF THE SCREEN
Yes, only the most obnoxious and odious of all subs, the giant yellow letters in some obscure serif font, were good enough for my favorite anime. I sighed, my excitement waning. I would still be able to enjoy it, of course; it was an excellent show. But the magic of actually buying and maybe having the possibility of supporting my favorite show was starting to fade. Aside from the visual quality (which was somehow not even that highly improved over the internet videos I had watched), this was actually a step down from the fansubs I had seen before. But that was okay. I would still be able to enjoy it. Until. . .I finally realized what had been off before, and I’d been having so much trouble finding the right volume. The DVD makers had somehow encoded the episodes so that the volume went up and down, just like a sin or cosine wave. That was it. You can give me no frills, a barebones case and menu screen, you can even give me terrible subtitles. But do not actively make the show worse and interfere with its quality just because it isn’t a smash hit and your interns needed something to do. What’s curious about this is that it holds true for both the English and Japanese audio tracks across all three DVDs, except for the menus. The only explanation I can come up with is that they had some kind of equipment problem when doing the episodes but never checked it (or didn’t care enough to fix it).
Screw you, ADV films. Just. . .screw you.
Fortunately, I didn’t stop buying anime and I haven’t had any problems like that with my other DVDs, but I have to admit this wasn’t a great experience. Here I was supporting the industry, and they showed a clear lack of care. I think I felt a little betrayed, even. And with that, I end this account of one of the more memorable anime experiences I had this year: Rage.