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Buying Localized Versions Vs Importing Anime?
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Posted 12/7/14
So Lately with having a full time job now, I can afford to spend a little money on the anime that I love. But I realized I can either import or find a localized version. It seems they are very different.

I was thinking of importing because of better packaging and better support for the industry. However, lack of english subs makes it not really useful. I wouldn't be able to watch it and understand what's going on. (I'm aware some do have them, but not all.)

The localized versions I can actually understand but they do little to support the industry and often come with little to no extras besides the episodes. So there's that to keep in mind.

So what do you guys think are the pros and cons of each are? And what do you buy more often, the localized version or imported original version from Japan? What's better, do you think?
CaelK 
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Posted 12/7/14
The prices on DVDs and Blu-Rays from Japan, and the amount of episodes on each disk... ugh. I say wait for them to get imported, if you think that'll happen. You'll pay less than half for twice the episodes.
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Posted 12/7/14 , edited 12/7/14
importing pros:
extra goodies. voting with your wallet. more support for the industry.

importing cons:
often lack of subtitles, never any dubs. it's expensive, often only 2 episodes per $70 blu-ray purchase.

localized pros:
english subs/dubs. much cheaper at $50-60 per 12/13 episode season/cour.

localized cons:
not as supportive of the anime industry in japan. limited editions with extra goods rarely available. sometimes cheap packaging (looking at you, Sentai...)
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Posted 12/7/14

CaelK wrote:

The prices on DVDs and Blu-Rays from Japan, and the amount of episodes on each disk... ugh. I say wait for them to get imported, if you think that'll happen. You'll pay less than half for twice the episodes.



I don't think the series I want will be localized so that makes the decision even harder. it was going to be, but it got cancelled.


aidenraine wrote:

importing pros:
extra goodies. voting with your wallet. more support for the industry.

importing cons:
often lack of subtitles, never any dubs. it's expensive, often only 2 episodes per $70 blu-ray purchase.

localized pros:
english subs/dubs. much cheaper at $50-60 per 12/13 episode season/cour.

localized cons:
not as supportive of the anime industry in japan. limited editions with extra goods rarely available. sometimes cheap packaging (looking at you, Sentai...)


so after knowing all that, which do you think is better overall?
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Posted 12/7/14
I think it largely depends on how you want to support the anime business. By and large, buying the Japanese DVD/BD versions has more impact on what gets made. Obviously, one copy doesn't make a huge difference, but in a market where sales of 3-4,000 aren't unusual, it makes more of a difference than you think.

If you're buying the U.S. licensed versions, you are still supporting the producers of the show, though to a lesser degree, obviously. However, it does help support the U.S. anime business. The U.S. anime business is struggling, to say the least. If they can meet certain sales thresholds, however, it makes it easier to enter into big box retailers, rather than relying on online channels to get their work out. While the U.S. market will probably never hit the heights of the early 2000's again, during that time, they were paying a *lot* more money for anime licenses, so you could say that a stronger market in the U.S. would also support the producers in that way. That's a long view of it, however, and isn't likely to impact decisions to, for example, make a new series or an OVA.

If you're seriously considering going the import route, and you don't actually speak Japanese, I imagine your agenda is more about showing support than actually watching the discs. If that's the case, I wouldn't really worry about imports of Aniplex's discs; Aniplex USA's specific manner of licensing is weird, but they are essentially purchasing the product from Aniplex Japan and selling it here. They also have the same parent company (Sony), so ultimately all the money is going to the same source. Also, most everything they release on disc in the U.S. was already a hit in Japan before they released it.

In the end, though, it *is* your money. I haven't imported a disc in years because of the cost-efficiency, but that's my decision; your priorities might be different.
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Posted 12/7/14 , edited 12/7/14

aidenraine wrote:
importing pros:
extra goodies. voting with your wallet. more support for the industry.

importing cons:
often lack of subtitles, never any dubs. it's expensive, often only 2 episodes per $70 blu-ray purchase.

localized pros:
english subs/dubs. much cheaper at $50-60 per 12/13 episode season/cour.

localized cons:
not as supportive of the anime industry in japan. limited editions with extra goods rarely available. sometimes cheap packaging (looking at you, Sentai...)


There are actually a few Japanese BD box sets with the English dub included (some with just that and no English subtitles). Lucky Star, Haruhi, and Shuffle! (no Eng subs) off the top of my head have English dubs included in the Japanese BD box sets. Now rarely if ever do Japanese singles have an English dub included, mainly because they are released before one is made.

More cons for the North American side at least is video and/or audio encoding issues that don't get recalled and fixed (happens a lot). The encoding bitrate is usually always lower than Japan as well, so there can be banding and artifacts at times depending on who is authoring the video. I suspect the Japanese also intentionally give lesser video quality masters to the North American studios, so reverse importers in Japan would want the better quality domestic version. Also, defective packaging on some releases, FUNimation's Psycho Pass LE being a notable one of late.

Biggest pro for the NA releases is price for sure. You can't beat the value for the money relative to most Japanese singles.

I should also note, the sales numbers in Japan are parsed out by domestic only, excludes international buyers, in the sales ranking charts. So, the studios only really look at the data from buyers in Japan and don't care much about the few people overseas who may buy a Japanese release. They figure this out based on where the product ships, and likely also if the credit card used to order is based out of Japan.
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Posted 12/7/14

sonic720 wrote:

There are actually a few Japanese BD box sets with the English dub included (some with just that and no English subtitles). Lucky Star, Haruhi, and Shuffle! (no Eng subs) off the top of my head have English dubs included in the Japanese BD box sets. Now rarely if ever do Japanese singles have an English dub included, mainly because they are released before one is made.

More cons for the North American side at least is video and/or audio encoding issues that don't get recalled and fixed (happens a lot). The encoding bitrate is usually always lower than Japan as well, so there can be banding and artifacts at times depending on who is authoring the video. I suspect the Japanese also intentionally give lesser video quality masters to the North American studios, so reverse importers in Japan would want the better quality domestic version. Also, defective packaging on some releases, FUNimation's Psycho Pass LE being a notable one of late.

Biggest pro for the NA releases is price for sure. You can't beat the value for the money relative to most Japanese singles.

I should also note, the sales numbers in Japan are parsed out by domestic only, excludes international buyers, in the sales ranking charts. So, the studios only really look at the data from buyers in Japan and don't care much about the few people overseas who may buy a Japanese release. They figure this out based on where the product ships, and likely also if the credit card used to order is based out of Japan.


wow, so importing isn't as important as I thought it was.

I think I read that in another article, I wish I could find it.

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Posted 12/7/14

candiesandanimes99 wrote:
wow, so importing isn't as important as I thought it was.

I think I read that in another article, I wish I could find it.


It has the same net effect as a lot of people buying the domestic release based on the number of people who import being so low overseas. I import some series I really love if they offer me a good value, but for the most part I buy the domestic release which still helps support the industry arguably just as much as importing based on the volume of sales per domestic versus imports. The Japanese studios still see imports (or in their perspective exports) largely the same as someone buying a domestic version released by Sentai or FUNi... just some side cash to pad their margins.
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Posted 12/7/14

sonic720 wrote:
The Japanese studios still see imports (or in their perspective exports) largely the same as someone buying a domestic version released by Sentai or FUNi... just some side cash to pad their margins.

can always buy from a japanese re-seller, though, but do you think they get wise to a distributor when they order large amounts of the same product?
Koda89 
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Posted 12/7/14
Obviously there are pros and cons for both sides. However, being strapped for cash as I am, I tend to buy the localized versions, due to offering more bang for my buck.

It also helps save me room. Having an entire cour, season, or series contained in one DVD/Blu-ray case does wonders on saving space.
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Posted 12/7/14

aidenraine wrote:
can always buy from a japanese re-seller, though, but do you think they get wise to a distributor when they order large amounts of the same product?


That's a good question. I have no idea how closely they look at where they are going beyond shipping address and maybe credit card currency/issuer location.

I should also note, Sentai, FUNi, or what have you pay an upfront guarantee fee for whatever title they license. I imagine that is way more revenue than all the individual importers combined on any one title. So, they get that up front fee in the bank and then a percentage of every sale is paid back in royalty fees. I think supporting the domestic studios actually nets them more revenue in the long run, but buying imports on the side certainly would help too.
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Posted 12/7/14

sonic720 wrote:


candiesandanimes99 wrote:
wow, so importing isn't as important as I thought it was.

I think I read that in another article, I wish I could find it.


It has the same net effect as a lot of people buying the domestic release based on the number of people who import being so low overseas. I import some series I really love if they offer me a good value, but for the most part I buy the domestic release which still helps support the industry arguably just as much as importing based on the volume of sales per domestic versus imports. The Japanese studios still see imports (or in their perspective exports) largely the same as someone buying a domestic version released by Sentai or FUNi... just some side cash to pad their margins.


I'm not sure I fully understand, but I guess they still look at localized purchases from America and the number being sold here...aka they still matter...

so I shouldn't feel too bad if I can't import every series I want to support. Which would just be "side cash", anyways.

(if I'm way off, just say something lol!)
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Posted 12/7/14
1. As has been pointed out (in some ways), if sales of US discs get to be high enough, it will have some effect on the production decisions in Japan. Look at shows like Space Dandy. They saw the audience as being big enough to actually partner with a US cable channel to broadcast the show simultaneously in both countries. More foreign demand for anime shows will only cause such partnerships to increase.
2. When you purchase a localized copy of a show, you are supporting the shows producers in Japan and those who make it available in the localized region. This includes the people doing professional subs and dubs.
Posted 12/7/14
I don't think it matters. Both versions support the industry in one way or another.
Would only buy import from JP if I really like the anime.
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Posted 12/7/14

candiesandanimes99 wrote:
I'm not sure I fully understand, but I guess they still look at localized purchases from America and the number being sold here...aka they still matter...

so I shouldn't feel too bad if I can't import every series I want to support. Which would just be "side cash", anyways.

(if I'm way off, just say something lol!)


Nope, what you said is correct. They still look at those domestic numbers, but more as additional revenue than anything important like green lighting a new season or something.

This article by Justin Sevakis over at ANN explains things well:

http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/feature/2012-03-07


When a company like Funimation or Section 23 decides to buy the rights to an anime title, they first pay an up-front license fee, also known as a "Minimum Guarantee" (MG). This can range from a few thousand dollars per episode, up to tens of thousands. These fees are treated like net revenue from Japanese DVDs -- royalties are paid, and then it goes to the production committee.


Basically, buying a Japanese release gives them more profit per item, but you need to take into account the amount of people importing versus MG and the amount of people buying a domestic version. If only 20 people import but 2,000 people buy the domestic version with MG already in the bank, then those 2,000 + MG will net them more money in the long run than just extra Japanese copies being imported. You also support things like subtitle translation work and English vocal talent by buying a domestic version; keeping the industry in your home country healthier. Localization is kind of important to expose new generations to anime outside of Japan as well. So, I would not feel guilty in the least by supporting domestic anime companies unless those companies are doing a disservice to the title they are selling.
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