Thoughts on Daisuki, False Promises and Delays

SoredemoMachi05

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!”

SoredemoMachi06

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.

SoredemoMachi07

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.

DaisukiSAOIIQuality

This is Daisuki’s 1080p.

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*
Buddy Complex
M3 the dark metal
SUSHI NINJA
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.

SoredemoMachi02

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.

SoredemoMachi4

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.

SoredemoMachiFTW

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.

Advertisements

15 thoughts on “Thoughts on Daisuki, False Promises and Delays

  1. herkz says:

    They actually did delay everything in the past when a few episodes of Monogatari S2 leaked, so it’s probably what happened here again.

    • Marow says:

      They did? I have a bad memory. Then again, I was never affected by it as it never streamed in Sweden in the first place. So that’d explain it.

      Strange decision.

  2. Hanners says:

    The only thing I’d take exception to here is the assertion that “The video quality is really low even on 1080p” – to give some credit to DAISUKI, their 1080P streams are much higher bit-rate than Crunchyroll’s equivalent, and they look it too. I believe the same is true of their 720P streams now, but I’ve not checked it out for myself.

    That aside, “what is the point of DAIKSUKI?” is a question that I’ve asked a few industry figures, and put simply nobody can figure it out – their business model (if they even have one) makes absolutely no sense, and they continue to make decisions which work against most if not all of their originally stated goals; decisions which are also, as you’ve noted, incredibly poorly communicated to those who might use the service.

    I was quite excited to see what DAISUKI could do to shake up the streaming business and perhaps upset Crunchyroll’s applecart, but they’ve frittered away any good will with bad decision-making and the glacial pace of progress (if you can even call it that) which they’ve exhibited.

    • Marow says:

      I’m not too well-versed into the technical details, but the streams look awful in comparison to Crunchyroll’s. Here’s a quick comparison I did, using the image featured in this post: http://screenshotcomparison.com/comparison/98086

      It’s not the exact same frame, but the quality is noticable. There’s no defending Daisuki. It’s good they have a higher bit-rate, but… yeah.

      You’ve talked to industry figures? Lucky! Surprising not even they understand Daisuki.

  3. Flawfinder says:

    I didn’t say this to you on Skype, but our conversation was the only reason I remembered Daisuki existed in the first place – aside from ANN’s news that it’s streaming a new episode of M3, but nobody cares about M3 and the stream was really bad when I tried the first episode. The selection of titles is lame and it’s not even offering good streaming services. There are no ads or sign-ups, so I don’t see how it makes money for hosting this stuff. It’s just Crunchyroll back in the old days except with 1% of its efficiency.

  4. Rain says:

    To be fair it has at least one reason to exist this season: Crunchyroll’s Black Butler: Book Of Circus stream is still not subtitled in English nearly four weeks into its run for some reason. I appreciate that this only matters to people who like Black Butler, don’t speak Spanish/Portuguese/Japanese and live in countries without any other Black Butler streams, but it’s something.

    There are way too many streaming services out there for the amount of content, and too many which employ region locks. Daisuki could have been so much more than it is.

    • Marow says:

      Wouldn’t surprise me if Daisuki was the reason for the lack of Black Butler on Crunchyroll, but what do I know. It’d be a way to forcibly create a market.

      Seems like there are many streaming sites indeed, especially if you live in USA for example. Kinda hard to justify subscribing to multiple ones – for a high price – when neither have a great library!

  5. Tony Yao says:

    When I went to see Daisuki’s booths at Otakon & NYCC, they felt a bit lifeless compared to the others.

    The NYCC booth was REALLY disappointing. It was just cosplay contests and a MC trying to get people hyped for the service. People sat on the booth stage when nothing was going on. That’s how I remembered Daisuki – as a thing that was there. Nothing more, nothing less.

    I was hoping they would get exclusive content featuring animator/seiyuu/producer interviews. Stuff that fans would crave, but they dropped the ball on that. That’s the only way I think Daisuki can have any relevance.

    I think this shows that Japan can’t “save” or “help” the industry, when American services ironically do it better to a certain degree.

    • Marow says:

      They even had a booth? And judging from what you say, it doesn’t seem good at all! Gosh, I’d love to interview them. Do you remember how they were trying to get people hyped?

      I was really hoping for the exclusive content too, just like you. The few things so far – like interviews with the voice actors of Sword Art Online – were rather fun.

  6. BruceMcF says:

    Their problem is the flipside of the problem of streaming sites of home video distributors ~ while their licensors always have something, they don’t have enough to put on a blockbuster lineup. If I were an English speaking expat living in Southeast Asia, where they now stream much of their simulcast lineup, I would be happy that they exist … but since China, India and Korea are largely blocked, and its China that I may be heading to work, even that doesn’t help me.

    There does not seem to a coherent business model which would attract the content of other licensors onto their site, and without that, its hard to see how they ever have a simulcast lineup that makes them anybody’s “first choice” streaming site in a region that is already being served by one or more overseas streaming simulcast sites.

    Their promise is shown by the ability to sidestep that four week delay. That seems likely to be a side-effect of the deal that resulted in European licensing in German and French speaking countries, with a European licensor (likely within the Aniplex/Sony family) getting exclusive sublicensing rights for that four week period in order to make use of those rights in a more limited area.

    So long as the exclusion from Daisuki is limited to places that actually get exclusive streaming rights, Daisuki is not trapped by that kind of “region shadow” where a deal aimed at one target market as a side effect blocks access from a wider area.

    But without any clear means of landing streaming rights for series outside of the Daisuki partnership, and without any demonstrated success that would encourage more companies to join the club, the opportunities to take advantage of their “skip the middleman” system to sidestep those kinds of contractual problems are only going to free up access for a limited number of regions for a limited number of titles at a time.

    The real lure of that approach was the hope that it would allow the partners to open up more streaming of their catalog. With a big catalog of titles at the site, a handful of simulcasts would turn into an added bonus, and the limited number and variety wouldn’t be such a big issue.

  7. megaroad1 says:

    Interesting blog. Europe is unfortunately a bit of a black hole when it comes to anime licenses and releases. Things have gotten better with Crunchyroll lately it has to be said.

    Aniplex though has an awful business model outside Japan. I don’t think they care too much for their overseas revenue frankly.

  8. […] Thoughts on Daisuki, False Promises, and Delays – Anime Viking […]

What Do You Think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s