Anime Reel – Anime & Manga TV News

Editorial: Kurokami on Blu-ray and Back Importing

Posted on: November 10, 2009

For a girl who looks like a hobo, she sure does cost a lot.

There’s been a bit of a kerfuffle on the Internet today after Bandai’s announcement of the Kurokami Blu-ray discs, which will have an English dub track and no Japanese language track. I figure it’s a good time to educate you folks on how good American releases are compared to the Japanese market, and why this had to happen.

First, I’d like to remind you that this isn’t the first time Bandai has done this. The original Mobile Suit Gundam releases were and still are English-language only, because at the time of the English release, the classic series had not yet been released on DVD in Japan. Americans got the discs all the way back in 2001, while Japanese fans – you know, the ones you think would be the ones who would buy more Gundam shows than Americans – didn’t get a digital release until December 2006, close to six years later.

Second, I’d like to point out the Japanese anime industry’s grotesque profit margins on DVDs and Blu-ray compared to what the US gets. Because of the limited market and the willingness of the otaku market to pay exorbitant costs, Japanese anime DVDs are spread out over many discs and priced at what many would consider insane points. As an example, the first Black Lagoon release in Japan contains two episodes and has an MSRP of about  $64. Compare to FUNimation’s first season DVD box here in the US, which has a price tag $69.98 for 24 episodes. For five dollars more and a region lock, you can get twelve times as much content – more than that, if you count the extra language as content – at the same quality!

Is it any wonder that many patient Japanese fans imported the American release of Black Lagoon and bought new DVD players/adjusted their laptop drive’s region rather than pay Japanese prices? I’ve muled my share of DVDs across the Pacific for Japanese friends myself, and there are many more series affected by this price gap than just the one example.

The last thing to consider here is related to the last one: with Japan and the United States inhabiting the same Blu-ray region, so the same Blu-ray player will be able to play both releases of Kurokami without any hacks or mods. If Bandai released an American edition of Kurokami with the Japanese language track intact, the Japanese market would die a horrible death, which would be disastrous for the studios. Consider that the Kurokami Blu-ray in Japan is 9240 yen ($103) for three episodes – assuming about $1.50 production costs per disc, that’s a disgusting $100+ profit margin for each disc sold. The Japanese arm of Bandai Visual will do everything it can to preserve that.

So there’s the industry outlook as it stands on this kind of thing – whether or not this situation is right, or if it can even sustain itself for very long before the market eats itself, that’s another argument entirely…

Advertisements

8 Responses to "Editorial: Kurokami on Blu-ray and Back Importing"

Don’t forget part of it is also because Kurokami was one of the first “Simuldubs”. It was aired on a US network dubbed, within, if I recall correctly, within 48 hours of the Japanese airing. So marketing wise, releasing it with the japanese audio would also be an admission of failure of the simuldub, which it kind of was. The industry is trying hard to combat the fansubbers, and in reality, this was a great attempt, but the american industry has just GOT to get up and over the hurdle of using the same Voice Actors, regardless of ability. Some do just fine, don’t get me wrong, but others, their voice just sounds so unnatural and stilted, that it ruins the entire experience. I’m not anti-dub, like a lot of the fansub watching community, there are a few that are pretty good, and quite a few that are watchable. Kurokami to me fell under the “Watchable”, except that the show itself was a rather mediocre choice to do the simuldub experiment with. A higher profile show, would have been a far better choice to truly gauge the success of the idea.

[blockquote]Consider that the Kurokami Blu-ray in Japan is 9240 yen ($103) for three episodes – assuming about $1.50 production costs per disc, that’s a disgusting $100+ profit margin for each disc sold.[/blockquote]

Um, I know it’s slightly pedantic, but that assumes that the release doesn’t need to cover the development of the show itself. Don’t get me wrong, here in the UK, buying the Japanese version of any show is out of the question (although importing from Hong Kong often allows for a somewhat cheaper alternative) because of the silly markup. It wasn’t long ago that “import” media was still about the same price as the Japan MSRP but translated into local currency, thankfully with the advent of online retailers that seems to have stopped. Maybe it might be useful to do a guide to the content’s life from broadcast to DVD release etc ?

[quote]Is it any wonder that many patient Japanese fans imported the American release of Black Lagoon and bought new DVD players/adjusted their laptop drive’s region rather than pay Japanese prices?[/quote]

There is a big store near Akihabara (K-books, near the train station, if I remember well) that has a half stage consecrated to Australian DVDs and i assume it’s for the same reasons.
I just wonder how japanese DVD can sell so well when you discover that “Myself Yourself”, a nice-but-not-skyrocketing series of 12 episodes, is sold in 7 DVD for ¥ 4000 EACH.

Holy crap! I knew things were FUBAR over there for DVD’s but that’s horrendous! Thanks for the perspective!

So… was it “Kurokami” about anyways? Doesn’t “kuro” roughly translate to “black” and “kami” to “god”?

Sorry, meant “what is” not “was it.”

The Japanese anime industry will definitely need to change something soon. I can’t blame the Japanese fans for importing since it is so high. That might be one reason why there are so many filesharers in Japan.

That Sucks. I had no idea it was that bad. thanks for the inside-look on it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: