Words of MavericK

Blabbering of a Fool

The Slaughtering of Anime in Singapore II

I guess the feeling I’m having at the moment is known as ‘enraged’. Read this. You guys will understand why.

ODEX. The ‘Britainnia’ of Singapore. And currently, every otaku/anime-lover in Singapore wishes he/she could be like Lelouch (Hey, I sound just like an otaku! I think…anyway…) ODEX is supposed to be the friend of every anime fan out in Singapore by providing original anime titles locally, but now, I may be exaggerating, but it has incurred the wrath of every anime fan instead. Well, ODEX did implement what they had set out to do in the first place: distributing anime to the general public, especially anime fans, in Singapore. That, is the undeniable fact. Then hey, what’s all the fuss that otakus/anime fans are kicking up about?

Let’s first talk about the quality of the VCDs (not DVDS) they released. How do I know about the quality of their VCDS? Well, I own 5 boxes, Mai-HiME (Box 1 & 2), Azumanga Daioh (Box 1 and 2…this title is actually quite worth collecting, but the quality isn’t simply what I expected) and Petite Princess Yucie (Box 1…I know it sounds gay, but I find the story capivating.. :P). And these are what I observed:

  1. Resolution: Watch them on TV of 13″ and larger and you get mosaic. Watch them on your computer, you’ll never touch your ‘Maximize’ button again.
  2. Dubbing: Sure, the VCDs come with the original dubbing of my favorite language, Japanese, but added to the mix is either atrocious Mandarin, or super-atrocious English (atrocious as in the expressions of the dubbers, not the grammar). You might even wish you’ve never spoken these languages before. And since they are in dual-sound format, you have watch them using a player that allows you to switch the sound channel, or watch it on your computer. But then, problem 1 (above) comes in again.
  3. Subtitles: Hey, they are as good as those people download from the net…you know, what you call them…softsubs. Yup, plain, white, DULL subtitles. But guess what? You can’t remove them from the screen like what you can do with softsubs. So for people who like to take snapshots of the videos you watch, you’re gonna have to stick with ugly text at the bottom. And yah, I can’t fully understand Japanese, but still almost 5% of it, and out of this percentage, there are mistakes. Simply wonderful.
  4. Price: I was never good with market prices, or the reasonable value of things, and I am still not good with them now. This, will have to be judged by the consumers. $29.90 for a box, which contains around…at least 6~7, at most 10 episodes, if I didn’t remember wrongly. This, is entirely up to the person purchasing them to decide whether they are worth the money.

Hey, I do own the VCDs, so I dun think my views on these VCDs are biased. I mean, I did finished watching Mai-HiME and Azumanga Daioh by watching those VCDs!!!

About the link above, that is the part many people are enraged about. Of course, it is also an undeniable fact that downloading and uploading of copyrighted properties is illegal (ok, guess unlicensed/un-copyrighted properties are deemed illegal too), but shouldn’t ODEX prove themselves first before executing such a move? This downloading issue isn’t just faced by Singapore alone, but in other countries as well. Look at this blog post. Inside it are a few paragraphs taken from another blog (I suppose…never heard of that person):

Bandai’s idea behind the ASOS Brigade is to reach out to everyone who has already become fans of the series through watching the fansubs. They have created their own amateur-style home movies and are posting them on the internet. They have also created a Myspace page and encourage fans.

Many people feel that Haruhi will never sell well in the US because most of the fans have already seen the show through illegal methods. This campaign is an attempt to target the fansub community into actually supporting the series financially when the opportunity is available to them. The movie ends with special thanks to “All fansubs lovers who buy the official DVDs and who help support more creative works,” and specifically gives no thanks to “downloaders/bootlegers who never buy the official DVDs.” This is a very bold statement, but I completely understand where they are coming from (Jenkins, 2007)

And from the blogger, Impz, himself/herself:

What is wrong is that the companies are not coping well with the changing market and they are too slow to adapt to the new environment. The case above for Bandai will show that profits are definitely there for the earnings, if you engage the fanbase. As much as you can whine, you will be surprised how cheap it is to engage the major influences of the regional proximity, merely a short email and some small tidbits (the dvd set for review) can create a greater buzz in the whole environment within the wired world.

Now, instead of using ODEX’s method of trying to destroy the problem, great ol’ Bandai has decided to accept the fact, and using this fact of having fansubs downloaders out there, they engage them and in turn create a chance for themselves to make profits, and also garner supporters for their products/goods. I’ve never really imported any anime DVDs before, but from the reviews I’ve read on the net, those from Japan and the US are of pretty good quality (what R2 DVDs…dun really know about them, there are only Code 1-3 DVDs here in Singapore).

Here’s an analogy which, to me, can explain a bit more clearly about the situation now, but it might sound stupid. 😛

There are 2 restaurants, A and B. The chefs from both restaurants have the same master, but the master only allows the chef from A to sell his recipes. A sells a variety of food, but the taste and quality of the food doesn’t justify the price one has to pay for them. B being the better chef, modifies the recipes, and though they are the same variety of food as A. Furthermore B manages to copy their master’s recipes, do a bit of modification here and there, and comes up with newer recipes faster than A, with better quality and taste, and provide them to the public for free. Which side will you eat from now? Now, of course this would be foul play in business, as it affects the business of A. So what did A do? A kidnapped a few of B’s customers/patrons, and fed them with laxatives, making sure they really got shit, and warned them not to eat from B again, as it is not right.

OK, now think, will you continue to eat from B? Let’s say B starts to charge for their food, would it be worth it? After all, their food is indeed better than A’s, right? But what can A do to salvage themselves? Well, here’s what I think:

  • Improve on their food, to be as good as, if not better, than those from B.
  • Thank their customers who eat from both sides for showing support even though the food from the other side is free. This actually doesn’t benefit the restaurant financially, but by doing this, they gain customers who will welcome and appreciated when patronizing them.

Now, of course there’s the question of whether people who d/l fansubs are willing to fork out money for original copies. Well, I can say there are, but not all (nothing perfect anyway). I for one will buy the original copies (yup, I own original copies of Japanese drama, even though I’ve watched them online before, as they are worth collecting). But for those who are downright cheapo, punish them by all means, for the true anime fans will know that what they are gonna adversely affect the anime market.

On a side note, I bought the 5 BLEACH anime boxes that’s available right now. Now, you must be thinking, I wrote so much about the poor quality of the VCDs, and yet I still bought them? Haha…to explain, the boxes are not by ODEX, but by Poh Kim (but still poor quality), and when I bought the last 4 boxes, I bought them at the price of $29.90. Yup, for 4 boxes, so it’s like literally buying 1 box and get 3 boxes free. And it was so because of the Great Singapore Sale. (I bought the first box of BLEACH stupidly at the price of $29.90 though… :P)

Anyway, I actually agree that what ODEX is doing isn’t that wrong. The problem is that they have chosen the wrong time to do it. When should be the right time, you might ask? When ODEX has proven itself that the quality of their goods are top-notch, comparable to that available from the net. Then when they execute such a move, I believe they will not incur such wrath from people, like now, as people will at least have an alternative to get their favorite anime titles from.

Well, guess it’s too late now…have to see how it goes…will add links to blogs and threads in another post…for it is 12 now, and I have to wake up at 6:15 tmr…
Before I forget, I have to thank the dropping quality of Naruto and BLEACH anime, so that I was able to stop watching anime from the net for a very long time. 😀

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