Note: This post was originally meant to be part of “This Is How You Can Watch Anime Legally in 2014”, written by Justin at the website OASG. It ended up too long, however, so I rewrote it and published it on my own blog.
When it comes to the legal outlets for streamed anime there are few available in Sweden. Essentially, it all boils down to Crunchyroll as the few other alternatives are too weak in comparison. Those alternatives are, in my case, Daisuki and Viewster. Not only do these two have meager libraries, but they also have poor video quality to boot. However, whereas Viewster at least has titles unavailable elsewhere, Daisuki offers nothing of worth which surprises me.
With this in mind, let me share a story regarding my very short experience using Daisuki and a few questions which arose about the platform.
Daisuki is a legal anime streaming website founded in 2012, and launched in 2013, by the following seven Japanese companies: Asatsu-DK, Toei Animation, Aniplex, Sunrise, TMS Entertainment, Nihon Ad Systems and Dentsu. You may recognize a few names, such as Aniplex or Toei Animation, which help produce a lot of anime these days.
To quote from their website, the goal of Daisuki is the following:
“Just like how the word “anime” has become widely used, Japanese animations are taking the world by storm. But is the anime you’re watching the real thing?
DAISUKI is a new service created by real anime companies that have continued to create Japanese anime.
We’re the real thing, and that’s why we can provide everything from that famous anime everyone is talking about to rare anime known only to a few, and even the latest new anime, all in the best quality.
DAISUKI is an official site where you can watch real, high-quality anime!”
According to an early article on Anime News Network, Daisuki aimed to host over 500+ titles, stream live programs, sell tie-in goods and more. The goal was to develop a platform for the Japanese companies and increase revenue, rather than continuing to rely on Western anime companies for distribution.
It was never explicitly mentioned what market Daisuki was aiming for, only retorting to “overseas” (i.e. Western market) instead of specific regions. However, in an interview on Japanator, we learned the following:
“Basically the website itself will be available world-wide outside of Japan. There are region restrictions though, which depend on the titles. We try to provide our service to all overseas fans, but in case of some series exclusive rights may be already given to another company in specific regions, for example.”
While the regions were still unclear, it seemed as if there would only be a hindrance if the licenses were owned by other companies. In other words, it seemed like Daisuki would be able to make a large impact in the legal anime streaming market as it’s owned by large publishers such as Aniplex. In addition, the interview also mentioned campaigns with prizes and plans to stream older anime series.
There are many other interesting interviews with Daisuki on other websites, but there are especially two that caught my attention. The first one is from Anime News Network, which states that Daisuki was initially meant to be an aggregator for popular anime titles currently available on multiple platforms:
“Well, for example, you can watch One Piece on Funimation,” Shibata said. “You can watch [Madoka Magica] on Crunchyroll. You can see each show at a certain website, but fans don’t want to take the trouble to look at a lot of different websites. It’s not exclusive, but you can see all the shows on Daisuki.”
The following quote in particular is what makes me react:
“Shibata stressed that the company is looking to work side by side with Funimation and Crunchyroll, and Daisuki has no plans to pull series’ licenses from those websites.”
The second interview is from Anime Herald and has a similar quote to the one shown above:
“Also do we do not aim to get exclusive users for DAISUKI, so for example sites that are already streaming a title which will be streamed on DAISUKI too, may continue their streaming service.”
In other words, Daisuki was meant as a complement to the already existing anime streaming websites. The purpose was not to remove series from other platforms or trying to gain exclusive users.
As I wrote earlier, it seemed as if Daisuki would have a bright future ahead. They would have many titles, stream worldwide when possible, offer making-of material, video messages from the staff and more!
Fast forward to today, one year later, and the situation has changed dramatically. Daisuki is, by all means, to be considered as a wasted effort. The initial plans mentioned throughout this text have not been realized to a greater extent.
I was recently forced to use Daisuki to watch Sword Art Online II as it airs one month late in EU territories (except UK and Ireland) on Crunchyroll. On Daisuki, however, it airs nearly simultaneously with the Japanese broadcasts. This wasn’t the case for the first season of the series, which aired as normal in Sweden on Crunchyroll.
This was strange considering Daisuki’s early goal as a complement rather than a competitor. Aniplex are one of the producers of the Sword Art Online franchise and also a founder of Daisuki. Was this an attempt to promote Daisuki?
No matter the case, I ended up testing Daisuki as an anime streaming platform. Disappointingly, it did not live up to very high standards. The video quality is really low even on 1080p and the subtitles are small. Furthermore, the library is ridiculously small in comparison to the previous goalpost of 500+ titles. Today, in Sweden, I can merely watch the following titles:
Puella Magi Madoka Magi**
Sword Art Online I + II*
World Conquest Zvezda Plot*
KILL la KILL*
M3 the dark metal
Black Butler Book of Circus**
*Titles available on Crunchyroll in Sweden
**Titles available on Crunchyroll outside of Sweden (includes *)
As you can see, Daisuki has nothing to offer. Add the fact that some of these are only exclusively available on Daisuki in Sweden and it even becomes confusing. Certain titles are available on Crunchyroll in a higher quality, but at the same time others are not? And Daisuki has done nothing to ensure a steady growth of new and old anime titles as promised?
This begs the question: what is the point of Daisuki?
They offer nothing advantageous except for a free access to higher qualities, assuming you register, and even then it’s not very high. The shop – which features figurines, nendoroids and so on – is not anything unique either, with more expensive prices than the popular website AmiAmi. Finally, the unique making-of and staff videos are few and seem to come and go – which is disappointing, as they should be quite intriguing!
Daisuki is nothing but a failure and an example of how not to establish yourself in the anime streaming market.
The story does not end here, however, as there has recently been a lot of announced anime delays on Daisuki. When I was about to watch the fourth episode of Sword Art Online II I stumbled upon the following message:
“To all users For security reasons we have to change the streaming times as below. Sorry for the inconvenience and thank you for the understanding.
30/July/2014 11：00（JST): Sword Art Online II 04
This also applies for streaming start on DAISUKI YouTube channel. Sorry to keep you waiting. We know that all fans are waiting for the simulcast streaming.
Again, sorry and thank you for your understanding. We hope you enjoy our service and keep supporting legal anime content.”
This was posted the very same day Sword Art Online II was supposed to air. It had been delayed four days; from 26th July to 30th July.
Seeing this announcement my very first thought was “What does this mean?”. What does “security reasons” mean in this case?
My initial guess was piracy, as there in my view cannot be any other possible reason for delaying an episode due to security reasons. We’ve seen this happen with other anime streaming websites, meaning it could very well be the case now, especially considering how a particular anime fansub group stated that they’d figured out how to rip from Daisuki – even if the mentioned title was M3 the dark metal which isn’t delayed.
Yet, this seemed bizarre to me for multiple reasons. First of all, Crunchyroll has long been subjugated to piracy and there have been no consequences as far as I know. Secondly, Crunchyroll streamed the fourth episode of Sword Art Online II without any delay. One could argue that Daisuki merely wants to keep its own streaming platform safe from piracy.
This would be a valid explanation if it weren’t for what else I discovered.
Upon having spoken with people residing in USA, the matter has become more complicated. In USA, Daisuki are currently streaming the following airing titles: Sword Art Online II, The Irregular at Magic High School, Aldnoah.Zero, Black Butler Book of Circus, Persona 4 The Golden Animation and SUSHI NINJA.
Here’s the catch: only the first three are delayed from 26th July to 30th July. The rest is not. If we look at the air dates, there may be a reason for this: the other series don’t air during the “security reasons” period. In other words, they don’t need to be delayed.
I did, however, do some more research and discovered that there actually are other anime airing during this period. One such is is Akame ga Kill! which last aired on 27th July as seen on Daisuki’s Facebook page. Another is M3 the dark metal which last aired on 28th July, once again mentioned on the Facebook page.
This means there are two anime titles airing as normal on Daisuki, while a few others are delayed because of “security reasons”. However, what could the security reason possibly be if not all titles are affected? If so, is piracy really the reason? All titles should, after all, share the same video settings. It cannot be to secure Daisuki as a website if they don’t delay everything.
There is one thing in common with the delayed anime, however: they are all produced by Aniplex. The rest are not.
Does this mean only Aniplex are delaying their titles on Daisuki? What could possibly be the case for this? As said before, it cannot be to secure Daisuki as a website as not everything is delayed. So are Aniplex the only producers scared of piracy, possibly because of that anime fansub group stating that they’d figure out a way to rip from Daisuki?
Yet, if this were to be the case, why aren’t they reacting towards Crunchyroll too? Is it only a larger matter because Aniplex is actually part of Daisuki?
The reason for the delay should, in other words, be Aniplex – which ends up affecting Daisuki as an anime streaming platform. This is not a sustainable method of gaining new viewers.
Daisuki need to prove their existence’s worth – because currently they have no good reason to exist.