What's the scoop on Anime pricing?

Lately, I’ve been sort of following Trigun on Adult Swim, but seeing as it’s on at something like 1:00 or 1:30, and I’m too lazy to actually set my VCR, I often miss it or fall asleep halfway through. Doesn’t make the parts of the storyline I am seeing any more coherent. So I figured I’d see about maybe getting the box set. On Amazon, it’s $180.00! OK, enthusiasm for Trigun rapidly waning…but what’s this? “Buy used or new from $29.99”? Vendors on the Amazon marketplace have 3-DVD sets, brand new, for $40.00 or thereabouts. My * guess * is that these DVD sets are bootlegs or grey market, or in some other way * not * the same thing that Amazon is selling in an 8 disk box set for vastly more – a guess that seems to be confirmed by a visit to a few other DVD stores that sell the 8-disc box set for comparably outrageous prices.

So, questions:

  1. Are these box sets on the Amazon Marketplace bootlegs? If so, why does Amazon let them get away with selling them?

  2. What’s the deal with selling the box set consisting of twenty-six 30-minute episodes for $180.00? That seems awfully steep for all but the most dedicated collector. Who the hell pays that much for anything on DVD? Compare and contrast with BTVS or similar TV series where each more-or-less 26 episode season is in the $45.00 range.

I’m not sure about your first question so I’ll leave it for a more knowledgable doper to answer. My personal opinion would be yes. I know of bootleg anime music cds and they have a similar setup to what you describe. I have no clue why you would find such great ‘deals’ on a big site like amazon though.

As for your second question, the manufacters are able to charge a premium for anime because right now it is a niche market. They can pretty much charge us whatever they want to. I usually see individual dvds for ~30 bucks at local stores. 3 - 4 episodes per dvd translates to ~200 bucks for the entire set. I know it’s hard to believe but people do pay such high prices for them. Hell, right now I’m saving up some money for the Serial Experiment Lain series ($130).

Even harder to believe is that anime use to be much, much more expensive. I don’t know how much vhs tapes were ‘back in the day’ but they only contained 2 episodes each. You do the math.

Yes. If a DVD holds more than 4 episodes (or 6, if its a short series and they try to cram in onto a smaller amount of DVDs, like Nightwalker), its most likely bootleg. 13 episode series likely will have 2-4 DVDs in the set, 26 episode ones anywhere from 6-8. Most box sets are in the 100-200 dollar range, unless they are a few years old (Lodoss: Chronicles of the Heroic Knight had its price sliced practically in half recently).

I’m guessing that set was called ‘Trigun Perfect Collection’, which has been confirmed to be a HK bootleg.

A lot of stuff with bootlegs is if it is too good to be true, then it is. Especially on eBay. I learned my lesson with Sonmay and EverAnime soundtracks back in the day.

-kuja no miko

I know what you mean, I’d like to get .hack//sign, but not at $35 for 5 22 minute episodes.

The cheap ones are probably “Asian” editions - which “play in any DVD player”. They’re from Hong Kong and supposedly legal. I’ve been looking for X-files seasons 1-3 in the US/CA versions, since I was sucked into thinking a couple of years ago that the ebay seller who claimed the asian versions were identical except the artwork and case was telling the truth; the truth is 1/2 of the disks have no main menues so you can only pick the 1st episode from a menu, then have to chapter skip to the others, and there are no dvd extras but a couple of language clips on some s1 disks and none at all on the other two seasons.

And Amazon Does allow those same editions- but people on Amazon are charging people $70-80/season for them instead of the $20-30/season most of the sellers on ebay are now asking, so it makes it even harder to tell which version a seller is offering at a glance! I wish amazon and half would make sellers list them seperately, since they do NOT match the specs given for the sets. Isn’t that false advertising?

And that’d be for the TV shows – OAV (made-for-video miniseries)used to go at 1 ep per tape even if it was only 30 minute installments (e.g. the original release of AMG or Tenchi Muyo Series 1) – but in that case, that was the same release schedule as in Japan.

And still, US-release prices are often cheaper, in equivalent Dollars, than the Japanese-domestic releases were in Yen.
As to how come BTVS can have an entire season much cheaper: syndication market. Hit American TV shows live forever in 5-day-a-week syndication in every major market in the USA plus dubbed into local languages worldwide. You probably have Buffy and the various versions of Star Trek on-the-air in leading stations in Buenos Aires, Capetown, Taipei and Istambul, who paid what to them is good money for the privilege. Meanwhile Trigun and Big-O are on… second-tier Basic Cable. So the licenser for North America relies on you, the home-video buyer, for his profit.

Well, I understand this, but I’m sure that the market for anime is pretty elastic and that they’re pricing themselves right into bankruptcy. At $180.00, Trigun (fer example) is only going to get bought by the most dedicated fans and collectors. 'Cause it just isn’t * that * good a story, or that amazing an animation job. Certainly, random viewers like myself, even though I’m well in the upper bracket of discretionary income, are not going to be buying Trigun on a whim, just to see how it comes out. Meanwhile, they’ve opened a huge door for bootleg versions. If the box set were priced reasonably, a lot more people would be liable to resist temptation and pick up the “official” version.

Well, we’ll have to see if any of the labels actually try to go for the “random viewer”. I don’t think they seem interested. Still, media companies are not in business to “price themselves into bankruptcy” so if one of the major labels does, or even better if one ever takes in a big haul with a price-leader release, the others will make the proper adjustments. Otherwise, just like every other seller of any commodity, they’ll charge “what the market will bear”. Which apparently in the case of Trigun is so far $22.50/disc, though each consumer may find that to be too high. (Heck, the music business still refuses to cut CD prices significantly even in the face of file sharing)

Anyway, the labels apparently already operate from the premise that it will be extremely rare that the “random viewer” will buy a whole series in one sitting. The typical buying habits of regular middle-of-the-road anime fans seem to be that they buy the series installment-by-installment, starting with just the first one or two and then, if they like it, going on as they can handle it until they complete it (took me almost 2 years to buy all of Trigun, and one of those years was after every chapter was out). And spreading out $25 installments every one to two months over a year and a half does not shock the system as much as plunking down $150-200 at once so it’s more tolerated.
The more hardcore fan will rely on (mostly school-based) Anime/Japanese Film clubs (and earlier, SF/Fantasy clubs), showings at Anime or SF cons, or P2P lending/exchanging of tapes/discs (specially “fansubs” of titles not yet released in the USA*), or Chinatown/Japantown videoclubs if they live in a city large enough, and the such, for first exposures, but still will mostly buy one-at-a-time. (*And the really addicted, Monkey-on-his-back otaku, is NOT going to resist temptation and wait for the licensed version unless it’s priced something like $5.00/hour of entertainment, or else it’s shipped to his house the same day it gets aired in Japan.)

Back in early VHS days, the companies would release a cheaper English-dubbed version and a more expensive subtitled version. When DVDs came on line, the public expected both versions AND more episodes per package… so price-per-minute-of-programming did go down for many series. Just not too damn much…

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