So I've noticed that while people have talked about pirated anime DVDs & CDs, there's no real guide around here about them. So in the interest of making sure the facts are straight, I'm posting a bit of a guide, which will evolve as time goes by. But first I have to make a couple things clear:
1) Yes, I realize that this is partially in my own self-interest, as I am in the business. However, I would rather have you purchase your anime from Wal-mart or Best Buy or Circuit City or deepdiscountdvd than to purchase from a dealer of pirated anime.
2) THIS IS NOT ABOUT FANSUBS! Fansubs will be mentioned, but the ethics will not be part of this discussion. This is about the selling of copied anime for profit. I will not entertain any responses about fansubs.
OK, now, first thing we have to do is clear up some misconceptions:Misconception 1) These are legit Japanese imports:
Japanese imports are actually much more expensive than their American versions. As an example, an ad in the Japanese edition of Newtype lists the Ghost in the Shell: SAC 2nd Gig DVD Box set for 42,000 yen. Doing a straight 1 yen=1 cent conversion and you're looking at paying $420 for a box set that will have the Suggested Retail Price of $99.98 in the US.
Also, there are 2 other ways to tell. Japanese discs rarely have English subtitles on them (though the international market is slowly changing that) and just as rarely have Chinese subtitles on them. Secondly, most Japanese discs will be region coded
, which means that a Japanese DVD won't play on a US DVD player unless you bought one that allows you to change the region codes. Now the Blu-Ray discs are coming out that have a much less restrictive region-coding, placing Japan and America in the same region, so they should be playable. However, that's Blu-Ray, not standard DVDs.Misconception 2) These are legit Chinese imports:
There are a limited number of legitimate Chinese releases. However, they are usually region-coded as well (Region 3, as opposed to Japan's Region 2, and US's Region 1). Many will also included a Chinese language track as well, either in Mandarin or Cantonese. The Cantonese version of "Howl's Moving Castle" is listed on some websites for $21.99, not for the $8-$10 versions you'll find at a pirated anime dealer.Misconception 3) It has an English dub track, these are discounted American versions:
Ah, sounds like you got what is known as a "Region 1 rip", where the pirate used the American DVD release. Look for a Chinese subtitle track and markings of a company other than the known American companies. Misconception 4) Don't care if it's legit or not, I got a deal:
Actually, no you didn't. You got ripped off. Let's put it this way. A friend of your's downloads a copy of (Insert Blockbuster Movie still in Theaters here). You say, "Gee, could I have a copy?" To which your 'friend' puts out his hand and says "$8... and because I'm a nice guy, I'll print up the copy of a DVD case cover I downloaded as well." So you paid $8 for a bad copy of a movie that he got for free, a blank DVD that cost him .50 at the most and a little bit of ink and paper for the cover. And he not only does that to you, but 9 of your friends as well. So he's got $80 for something that basically cost him nothing... now multiply that by the tens of thousands and drop the production price due to volume. No licensing fees (and you know they didn't MAKE the anime either), low production costs (sometimes they will even use fansub scripts rather than translating it themselves) and a high profit margin.
So you got ripped, the store that sold it got ripped (anyone who knowingly deals in pirated anime is also being used by these pirates), the companies who lost profit from lost sales got ripped... everyone got ripped EXCEPT the actual makers of the pirated DVDs, who are laughing all the way to the bank. How do know what to look for?
Sometimes the simplest answer is "Is it too good to be true? A full series for $24?" But since some of the legit companies are starting to cut some prices, that may not be the only indicator. So a few links to look at the back covers of a few DVDs for comparison:
First, a legitimate Japanese DVD. This from a Fruits Basket disc
. Notice the yen price is clearly printed ( 5,500 yen or $55 ), the Region coding is 2, and there are several logos from production companies.
Next, a pirated DVD, from a Detective Conan movie
. Notice the English & Chinese subtitles, All Region coding, and a contact e-mail using a free service ( @yahoo.com ). Also notice the lack of any other production logos.
Lastly, from a pirated Samurai 7 DVD
. Notice the Chinese/English subtitles, All Region coding, and lack of production company logos. Also notice that the copyright warning is in English rather than Japanese or Chinese for a supposedly Asian release.
Later on, I'll talk about CDs and Wallscrolls.