The Internet was supposed to save us all. No more platforms, no more restrictions. Everyone in the whole world would play by the same rules. It was like heaven itself.
But of course, that was nothing more than a simple lie. All because of those damned region locks.
I love anime, I really do. I want to support the industry as much as I can (if I agree with the companies, that is, but that is another matter). But trying to support an industry that does not want to support its customers, is a bit of a bother.
What it is?
Only in the USA.
Exactly. Companies own the rights to a huge amount of shows, but choose to only make them available to the citizens of the USA. We who live in the rest of the world, we cannot watch a thing. Nor can we buy the shows on DVD and Blu-ray because of region codes (unless you do not use hacks or watch via the computer).
But what about buying digital copies? That might work?
If we look at one of my favourite shows, Toradora, over at NIS America’s website, we find this:
“Preview the first four episodes of Toradora! on the ANN for free! Purchase episodes 1-15 or 16-25, ad-free, for only $7.00 a set ($14 total)”
Great prices. But if we click on the link, this happens:
“Sorry, there are no premium series available in Sweden”
This editorial was originally written three months ago and when I look at NIS America now, I cannot find the text (perhaps you from the USA can see it?). I cannot check out if Toradora is still available at Anime News Network either, but that will not be necessary. My point is that there are some fabulous prices out there, but I cannot pay.
All in all, we cannot watch it streamed, buy the DVD and Blu-ray or buy digital copies. So what alternative remains? I think you as a reader have understood it already.
But fret not! There is a light at the end of the tunnel, even if it is a faint one. It is called Crunchyroll. If you do not know about its history, it started out as an illegal streaming website, not too different from those out there today. A couple of years ago, however, it turned into a legal streaming website! And the best thing about it is that the service is available in the whole world!
Who am I kidding?
All of the shows are, of course, not available in the whole world. I do not know exactly how many of them are missing outside the USA, but I do often come across ones that I want to watch, but are not available here in Sweden. Despite this, we have access to a reasonable amount of shows, roughly around 140. Here are the ones I see.
If we ignore my own thoughts and experiences concerning the website, it is without a doubt a step in the right direction. As a free viewer the video is in SD-quality and you are forced to watch some commercials. And for ongoing shows, you have to wait one week after the episode was first aired in Japan before you can watch it.
Is this not enough for you, there is the option to pay 7 dollars a month and gain access to the episode one hour after it aired in Japan and watch it in either 480p- or 720p-quality. And no commercials!
So things are starting to become slightly better after having been almost standstill. But it is still far from perfect.
Meanwhile, we in the rest of the world will have to visit Hulu and drool. Currently there are a whopping 284 shows available, all from different distributors such as VIZ, FUNimation, Anime News Network, Media Blaster and more. Both dubbed and subbed. Both ongoing and completed shows. It is, what you might call, heaven.
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
Galaxy Express 999
Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann
Only to mention a few.
But of course.
Only in the USA.