So we all know that Aniplex announced their prices for R.O.D the TV and Durarara! A few days ago. And, while we expected higher prices, I was still somewhat amused by the sticker shock that ensued. Granted, $160 for a 26-episode show is high in this day and age. But the reaction is almost identical to when Bandai Visual entered the market a few years ago.
To those who are new don’t remember, Bandai Visual tried to cut out the middle man a few years ago, and released a number of shows on DVD. The quality was phenomenal, but the pricing was absolutely ridiculous by then-modern standards. Granted, that’s what DVDs in Japan were going for at the time. It’s too bad that Bandai never realized that America isn’t Japan. We’re a bunch of cheap bastards that, by and large, value quantity over quality. Needless to day, people refused to pay $40 per two episodes of Galaxy Angel Rune, and the company quickly and quietly folded to become a part of Bandai Entertainment.
Anyway, Aniplex seems to have learned a little from the follies of their predecessors. Their Blu-Ray and DVD releases have more than two episodes – it won’t silence the hate machine that’s already started. Before we know it, $160 for 29 episodes is going to turn into worse and worse atrocities as the release date gets closer. Of course I can’t help but wonder if half of the biggest complainers were even planning to pick up Durarara or R.O.D, but that’s another story for another day.
Personally, I see the prices as a bit more fair than most – but I come from a different time. I come from a time when $29.95 for two episodes was a bargain, and subtitled versions of shows cost more than the dubs. A 26-episode series could easily cost about $400 to $450 before tax, and longer shows were pretty much fodder for the richest of anime geeks. Let me be the first to say that I’m glad things aren’t that expensive anymore!
Anyway, I can’t help but wonder if Aniplex’s pricing scheme is in line with something I heard from former face of ADV David Williams. Before the company folded, Williams mentioned at an Anime Boston that anime DVDs would slowly shift to two markets: more disposable sets, and pricey, high-end collectors’ items. The so-called “collector items” would be made to appeal to the hardcore fans of a show – high-end boxes, premium extras, and amazing video quality. Aniplex seems intent on making this divide finally occur. R.O.D and Durarara won’t sell a lot of copies at all – I’m wagering sales in the mid-to-high hundreds for R.O.D – but hopefully it won’t deter them from more attempts into the market. I loved Bandai Visual’s Patlabor packages, which were bundled with giant, gorgeous books filled with behind-the-scenes notes and artwork, and I definitely appreciate what Aniplex is attempting now.