Anime on Blu-Ray

I’ve heard two sides of the argument on blu-ray disks and players in general. The arguments are as follows:

  1. The disks are overly protected, you only get the full benefit of them if you use HDMI, otherwise you are throwing away your money. To play it on a computer you’ll need one of only two licensed players and Sony won’t license anyone else, harming the open source ideal. While none of the disks currently in productions actually have the restrictions for analog signals like they say, Sony can flip a switch and turn these restrictions on at any time. They only want to use digital signals, you have to have specific compatibilities to play them and so forth. Basically evil film companies are infringing upon the rights of the people and are basically forcing people to buy a lot of unnecessary new TV’s and such to enjoy high definition. Blu-Ray should be boycotted. Buy DVD’s instead because their protections are easy to bypass.
  2. The movie companies are well within their rights to protect their intellectual property and try to prevent piracy.  Other technologies have virtually forced people to buy new equipment as they’ve come out. No one is forcing anyone to use Blu-ray and DVD sales are still pretty strong. Get it if you want, wait a few years and it will be cheaper and easier.

I agree with both sides of the argument, honestly. That’s a topic for another post though.

What does it have to do with anime though? The whole high definition thing is a pretty valid argument for not buying anime on blu-ray or HD in general. As cartoons they’re easier to upconvert and have a higher tolerance against pixilation when stretched out higher than their normal resolution. So the cheaper DVD format is quite sufficient for the purpose of storing anime. Theoretically there should be little difference between an anime on blu-ray and one on DVD. Except price, the blu-ray is probably more expensive.

In my experience that’s not entirely true. I found box sets of Basilisk and Witchblade on sale on Amazon for a few dollars less than their DVD box sets. I have a home built blu-ray player so it worked out really well.

The quality of the anime was noticeably better on the blu-ray than it was on the DVDs. Quite a bit sharper than it was on a TV similar to mine at my parents house on the normal 480p resolution. Fit the screen better, and the sound was higher quality too. I don’t know if the anime was the full 1920×1080 or not but it was definitely better.

Another good thing was that each set only has three disks for twenty six episodes rather than six, or eight or twelve like some box sets have on DVD so there was much less switching of disks. A full ten episodes fit on the disk, which is very cool if intend to watch more than about two or three hours of anime at a time. Not having to store a lot of disks is a real bonus too. If I get the Naruto sets, I’ll be getting them on blu-ray because of the sheer number of episodes involved.

The only drawbacks I see are a slight lack of bonus features, and the disks don’t have a lot of the extras that other blu-ray movies have. Some titles have games, interactive features, and other extras. Other companies may add these to their anime, but the two Funimation titles I have did not. No offense to fellow Texan, Clarine Harp (who produced at least Basilisk’s disks), but come on, have your crew pick another template for the menus. Other than that, they are excellent and do have one feature that you don’t see much on other titles: they work with the mouse on a computer. So excellent thinking there!

So, my mind has been changed about buying anime on blu-ray. It’s definitely worth a few dollars more, or in the case of some, significantly less, than the DVD sets.