Ladies and gentlemen, in the continuing spirit of companies taking all of my money, I bring you another Christmas Bonus. This time we’ll be talking about anime DVD and Blu-ray releases.
I’ve been buying my own anime for a good few years now. The first two series that I ordered online were Pani Poni Dash and Comic Party, because buying them together gave me free shipping. That was back when DVDs were the main form of release, and I think volume sets were all but done for. I never really bought single volumes of anime DVDs, so I don’t know how much they cost, but I’m pretty sure $35 was average for most complete sets of anime. For the longest time, Funimation was the only company I noticed while buying stuff, but I slowly moved into the territory of Bandai’s titles like Gurren Lagann, which only ran me about $30 for the Anime Classics version. The main point is that with enough careful searching, I could find a decent show at a reasonable price.
Now that I’m less easygoing of an anime watcher, I realize that both my tastes and prices have changed. Sure, you can get an older series for less because it’s been on the market longer, but I need all the shiny new things that are making themselves known. The main problem is that a lot of those shiny new things aren’t just DVDs anymore. The physical media has made the shift to Blu-ray for the most part, and price has increased to reflect that. It almost feels like the average price for anime had doubled in the past few years.
Funimation has been very good about putting out their new stuff, even going back and adding old but good series, on Blu-Ray. The major difference is that they do BD/DVD combo packs for people who may not have a Blu-Ray player yet. On the other side of the competition is Sentai Filmworks and Aniplex, both of which split their DVD and BD releases. The biggest difference between these two is that Sentai usually gives you a fair amount of content in the DVD release, while Aniplex gives you a stripped down version with almost no extras. That’s great if you just want the episode, but Aniplex’s BD releases have tons of bonus stuff which makes it seem like you have to pay so much more just to get all the cool extras.
Let’s take a look at 3 examples from each company, starting with the one I take the biggest issue with. Aniplex has had stupidly high pricing for a lot of their releases for a while. It was relatively fair with Durarara!! but recently they have put out Sword Art Online for home release. SAO is a 25 episode series that Aniplex has managed to split into 4 separate volumes. The first volume has a retail price of $112.98 for the BD release. Normally RightStuf is really good at offering good deals, but the lowest I can find it is $89.98. Every volume is like that, so in order to get all 25 episodes, I need to pay almost $400. On the other hand, if I want just a DVD version, it’s only $50, and RightStuf knocks it down to $40. The main thing to bear in mind is that still quite a lot for only seven episodes. Despite the super high prices, they have a bunch of really good series that have really good quality acting and directing. I would definitely suggest grabbing Durarara!1 and Sword Art Online.
I know back in the day, anime pricing was super crazy. I once paid $90 for twelve episodes of Rave Master on 3 discs, but when you compare Aniplex’s pricing model to Sentai or Fumination, it looks laughably high. Aniplex also doesn’t release nearly as many titles so it’s almost like they’re hoping the die-hard fans buy everything they release, which might happen, because I want all of the things they announce. Over here we have Sentai Filmworks, who does a bunch of releases every month, but it seems like they don’t market as well to demographics. Most of their releases tend to be more slice-of-life style shows, and, from what I hear, the dubbing quality isn’t very good. It’s been a while since I watched a Sentai release myself, but Kids on the Slope is one that I heard could have been done much better. In terms of pricing though, it’s not too terrible. For twelve episodes and a decent amount of special features, the BD version is set at $70 while the DVD version is set at $60 and has the same special features. RightStuf knocks a little off the price, putting them around $53 and $45 respectively which isn’t too terrible when you look back at how much Aniplex is charging for just seven episodes.
For Funimation’s style of releases, there are a few things to take note of. When Funimation does a series longer than thirteen episodes, they usually split it into two parts. The first part will have two versions, a regular release and a Limited Edition release. The LE is just a fancy way of saying that it ships with a big hard case that both parts will slip into, which is very nice for collectors who plan to get the whole series anyway. The series I’m going to highlight is Guilty Crown, because I really want it. In addition to getting the hard LE case with part one, this version has a special artbook that increases the price to $90 for the first eleven episodes. It is worth noting that while RightStuf does a great job knocking the price down to about $68, you can find it on Amazon for even cheaper. It’s always good to look between RightStuf and Amazon, because one might have sales the other doesn’t. If you don’t want the artbook and LE box, you can get Part 1 and Part 2 for roughly the same price. It’s all about how you want to have your collection.
With the holidays rapidly approaching, it’s important to know the average prices for the anime you want to get. Personally, the combination of quality and fair pricing of Funimation makes me lean toward getting more of their stuff, but Aniplex has me wanting a bunch of really good series that I want to own. The important thing to stay mindful of is how much you’re spending at once and if you can wait for a sale to come out. RightStuf’s Christmas sales are on the way, so I definitely recommend holding off on big purchases like SAO or Guilty Crown until then. Another good thing to check out is their Bargain Bundles, where Funimation will occasionally package similar series together at a discount. As long as you shop smart, you can make it so your wallet bleeds a little less than usual so you can spend that money on even more anime!
QUESTION TIME! Which company’s releases do you prefer? I’ve already said Funimation has my overall vote, but maybe you’re a Sentai Filmworks fan. Let me know in the comments, and post any great deals you might know about!