Anime Streaming Goes Legit
As you probably already know there are several sites (including of course the ever-popular Youtube) where you can find anime in streaming format available to watch straight away. Most of these streams are illegal, as they originated from fansubs, TV captures or DVD rips. And with the growing trend of fansub downloading, the anime industry has been searching for a way to monetize this potentially lucrative market. Starting in April it looks like there might be an answer. GDH, the parent company of well-known animation studio GONZO Digimation, has partnered with streaming sites Youtube, CrunchyRoll and BOSTTV to provide streams of two new shows (The Tower of Druaga: the Aegis of Uruk and Blassreiter), with English subtitles, simultaneously with the Japanese TV broadcast. Just think about that for a minute. You'll be able to watch it at the exact same time that actual Japanese people actually in Japan are watching it. Even fansubbers can't match that.
At this point you're probably wondering "what's the catch?". Not much is known about the two shows involved or what options will be available, but we do know that there will be a free streaming option as well as paid downloadable versions. There may also be a "season pass" where you pay upfront and get a pass for the entire show. The other catch of course is the quality. Youtube's quality is fairly low, although they have been taking steps to improve that of late, but the other two sites appear to have better quality. As well as actual video quality, there might be issues with the subtitles - some previous attempts by Japanese companies to subtitle shows in English have not had great results. However, a lot of people (including myself) think this model could represent the future of anime and are fully in support of it: many of the major fansubbers have already declared that they won't be subbing the two shows involved.
The official press release (it's in English, so don't be afraid to click) has a little more detail but we will have to wait until the shows start on April 4th and 5th to see whether it's a "go" or a "no".
NOTE: Because this streaming deal has been brokered by the Japanese company itself, the only regional restriction will be that it cannot be viewed within Japan (since other companies have Japanese TV streaming deals). Everyone in the world outside of Japan will be able to watch these shows. So it doesn't matter if you're in the USA or Canada or England or France or Germany or Spain or Poland, you can still watch it. And since it's online streaming, every viewer counts towards the viewing figures. The future of anime is in YOUR hands!
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