Hello, again friends. Now that we have all the streaming services covered (see part one of our revamped essential guide) let us take a quick look at the other avenues for anime access.
Blu-Ray & DVD
Oh, what a time to be a physical anime collector! With each passing day more and more anime is coming to Blu-ray and DVD (although why you’d still buy DVDs if you have the option for Blu-ray is beyond me!). Just recently we’ve had Cowboy Bebop The Movie, Aldnoah.Zero Parts 1 & 2, Ushio & Tora Complete Series Collection, Kinmoza! Complete Season 1, Beyond the Boundary The Movie, Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ Part 1 and the Norn9 Collection to name only a few. So there is no scarcity of physical content available and while I love the streaming services mentioned in my previous piece, there is something to be said for the quality of the visuals on Blu-ray, the fidelity is undeniably higher despite many streaming services offering 1080p. Last month Japanese distributor TMS Entertainment announced they will be releasing two of, acclaimed director, Osamu Dezaki’s works, Ashita no Joe 2 the Movie and Space Adventure Cobra the Movie on Ultra HD Blu-ray remastered in 4K and restored from the 35mm original negative. Who could say no to that?!
There is, of course, an elevated cost involved in buying physical releases. You aren’t going to get the same value as you do with the likes of Crunchyroll, but it’s not always as expensive as people might assume. I recently bought all three Ghost in the Shell Arise Blu-rays in a 3 for £20 deal at HMV. That’s well over 5 hours of content, not including all the bonus features on the discs, behind the scenes content etc. Plus I can revisit those anytime, I can lend them to friends so they can experience it, or right now I could sell them on to somewhere like CeX then use that to buy more Blu-rays. Of course, you’re not always gonna strike it lucky price wise, but there are some great deals out there if you ask around.
So where’s best to look? Well, the aforementioned HMV actually have an anime discount campaign running right now. There’s also Amazon where I’ve secured a fair few anime movies for little more than a fiver each (plus I have Prime so I have their streaming catalogue and next-day, sometimes even same-day delivery). There’s also base.com, who often have a decent range at a low cost, or if you want a really simple URL to remember how about www.anime-on-line.com? They have weekly deals and a huge clearance selection too. You can also often buy directly from distributors like Manga UK and Anime Limited. You may even find your local CeX is a great place to pick up stuff for cheap and is also a good spot to cop often forgotten anime “classics” like Vampire Wars and Psychic Wars (which I recently obtained for £1.50 each and very much look forward to reviewing). One word of warning though, their pricing can sometimes be a little inconsistent. They are usually cheaper, but I’ve occasionally seen stuff in there priced higher than it’s available brand new. I recommend a quick search on other sites before you commit to buying in CeX, rather than assuming it’s cheaper because it’s pre-owned.
It’s been a very good year for theatrical releases. In 2017 I’ve seen Ghost in the Shell, Napping Princess, Perfect Blue and I would have seen Sword Art Online: Ordinal Scale if it wasn’t for social commitments. I also missed out on Your Name in IMAX because of work. It’s hard being an adult. But my point is that the fact that the opportunity was even there is incredible. We’ve also had The Night is Short, Walk on Girl recently. This month Pokémon The Movie: I Choose You is on the big screen, as is Akiyuki Shinbou’s Fireworks. Then December gives us Lu Over The Wall. Oh and I forgot the Yu-Gi-Oh and Fairy Tail movies that were screened earlier this year. So yeah, anime in the cinema is most definitely a thing, and with the Eureka Seven movies already announced for next year, it seems it’s here to stay.
Now bear in mind these are limited releases. They tend to only run for a couple of days, in the case of some only one day, but clearly distributors and exhibitors are seeing the appetite and hopefully, if enough people go we’ll start seeing wider longer releases. I signed up for a Cineworld Unlimited card at the beginning of the year because I wanted to get to the pictures more often, and just the anime I’m getting alone is making it worth the monthly fee. In terms of hearing about screenings, following Anime Limited (aka All The Anime) and Manga UK on social media will help keep you up to date as they are the ones who are bringing most of these movies over. I also just keep an eye on my local cinema listings, I have the Cineworld app and just flick through the Coming Soon every now and then, that’s how I found out about both the Napping Princess and Perfect Blue screenings. Or of course, you can keep it locked to Japan Curiosity for the latest in anime news 😉
Gone are the glory days of Toonami, the Golden Age of anime on TV is nothing but a distant legend. But, in 2017, after years of nothing but various iterations of Pokémon, we have anime on TV again. One could argue that in the internet age, with all the services we covered in the previous piece, that TV is a little redundant. But the fact is that many people still pay (often way too much) each month for the comfort of traditional television. And if you happen to be in a household that has Sky, and you turn to channel 153, you’ll enter VICELAND, and upon entry, you may stumble across Cowboy Bebop, Tokyo Ghoul or Kill La Kill. Now I don’t necessarily think that this is indicative of a paradigm shift. Don’t expect to start seeing dedicated anime channels, or even Japanese content on more mainstream channels just yet, but with the rise of Netflix and the like bringing the inevitable fall of old-schoolers like Sky and Virgin closer with each waking moment, maybe broadcasters may have to start pushing more left field content in order to keep themselves relevant. As a quick aside, VICELAND is also available if you have a Now TV Entertainment Pass, that’s £7.99/mth and gives you access to channels like Sky One, Sky Atlantic, FOX, Comedy Central and more, plus a bucket load of box sets to boot.
So there we have it. As with last year, this second part is significantly shorter than part one, and there may not have been any landmark sweeping changes, but enough has improved to make it worth another write up. Physical releases are more frequent, anime in theatres has enjoyed a recent boom, and we even have it back on TV. The latter is perhaps not as important because I can get far more anime for far cheaper in a myriad of places online. But the first two, and particularly the theatrical releases, are simply superior ways to watch anime, and I for one will continue to invest in them, so long may the trend continue. Thank you for reading our Essential Guide To Watching Anime in the UK, we hope that we have helped bring even just a little more anime into your life. If you feel we’ve missed anything then let us know in the comments below or on social media, and as mentioned above for all the latest news on anime releases in this fine country, stick with us here at Japan Curiosity.