Customer Review

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic show, great value but poor subtitles from Kaze... again, 21 Feb 2013
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This review is from: Code Geass: Lelouch Of The Rebellion - Complete Season 1 [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
Lets get this out of the way because I'm not going to focus much on the show itself but this particular release, Code Geass is fantastic and one of the very few Anime series of the last ten years I have really enjoyed. This pack with the full 25 episodes of the first series in a slim case is great value and not too hard on my increasingly limited shelf space! The picture and sound quality are solid and definitely up to par.

The biggest problem I have with this release is the subtitles. First of all Kaze continue to force the language options on their releases. You can switch only from the title and pop up menu however if you want English with subtitles or Japanese without, tough. There is really no good reason to lock the subtitles. The subtitles themselves are white with black border which isn't the worst scheme but can sometimes be hard to read (personally I much prefer yellow on black) though this isn't that big a deal. The text encoding itself has some issues with quotation marks displaying as a random chain of characters. For reference I'm viewing on a PS3, I can't say for sure if this problem occurs on all players. It doesn't happen too often but it is pretty poor in that just watching through should have shown this problem and it's been a persistent problem across multiple Kaze releases.

None of these things detract too much from the fantastic show, not enough for less than 5 stars. In Kaze's long history of howlers this is actually pretty good for them.
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Showing 1-8 of 8 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 2 Mar 2013 18:22:22 GMT
Last edited by the author on 8 Mar 2013 13:45:52 GMT
You're right, there is isn't a good reason to lock the subtitles, there's an essential one: the Japanese publisher orders them to. Japanese anime blu ray/dvd's cost a hell of lot of money than local releases, usually with 2-4 episode sets coming to same price as your average 13-26 episode series over here. That's how the studios stay in business. Obviously savvy Japanese fans realise that they can save a lot of money by reverse-importing shows from the west, which is why hard-coded subs exist to deter them.

Just be thankful we get to see releases at such a reasonable price. Having different blu ray regional codes takes a lot of slack from us (although there are obviously fans with multi-region players). Over in the US, which shares the same region code as Japan, many releases are either made to charge eastern prices (up to $500 for a 26 episode series), delayed several years until the hype goes down, or are released without a Japanese voice track at all (see the US release of Persona 4). Basically it's a compromise, one which we're not doing too badly on. The Japanese buisness mentally seems to be that anyone who doesn't need subtitles should be buying the original releases. Try paying those prices, then come back here to say how unfair it is.

As for the subs themselves, there are far more issues adding them to a blu-ray disk than a dvd release. From what I've heard it sounds like hell, especially if you want to add multi-layered subs (eg add sign translations on top of character dialogue). It is unfortunate there are issues though. As for the white text choice, that's the current norm as people generally seem to despise the old yellow colour style. Virtually all modern fansubs use the white on black style because this is what most of the fans want. The licensers merely take note of this & follow suite. Sadly, I think you're in the minority in wanting the old garish style back, at least in regards to current demands. I for one am rather glad to see them go.

In reply to an earlier post on 11 Mar 2013 18:13:13 GMT
Dave Xenu says:
I respectfully disagree with nearly all the points you make.

"You're right, there is isn't a good reason to lock the subtitles, there's an essential one: the Japanese publisher orders them to."

I am well aware of reverse importing but unless you are privy to the contracts Kaze has then this is pure assertion. Funimation releases don't lock language options (or usually even region), neither do Optimium's Ghibli releases. I can't check but IIRC media blaster titles don't either. However all Kaze's titles do. Either it's a condition only being placed on them or more likely it's an aesthetic choice to select language through the pop-up menu on the misguided belief that it's more convenient.

As for the state of anime in the US that isn't especially relevant though I would be interested to see a series that comes to close to $500. There is the odd exception but for the most part US releases are comparably priced to ours, they have a wider selection and they are released sooner. Also none of that changes the issues with this release. Also in my review I praised the price of this release and it was a major reason for giving it the full 5 stars.

"As for the subs themselves, there are far more issues adding them to a blu-ray disk than a dvd release."

And yet, as I noted, similar issues persist across multiple Kaze releases and other companies don't have the issue. There is no excuse. It's just shoddy.

"Virtually all modern fansubs use the white on black style because this is what most of the fans want. The licensers merely take note of this & follow suite."

Utter assertion and it's doubtful licensed releases pay the slightest bit of attention to subtitling style choices in pirated versions. Yellow on black wasn't a purely aesthetic choice but became prevalent because it was the most legible. Admittedly with the higher resolutions and better picture quality available now this is less important but it did make a huge difference on VHS releases and early DVDs. The move away is more likely because the current major publishers weren't running back then. Funimation is probably the longest standing and not long ago they were "that company which does Dragon Ball." ADV, Pioneer/Geneon, Bandai for example are no longer publishing anime, however even Bandai's last wave of releases used the scheme. As noted it's not as important now, even so white on black is sub-optimal. For me personally that matters because I am mildly dyslexic which makes quick reading tasks harder. The less time spent reading subtitle the better. Choice of font and colour can make difference to that. Like I wrote though it's not major problem so much as a minor gripe.

In reply to an earlier post on 5 Jul 2013 03:02:17 BDT
DeeJay says:
Just to touch upon a few things. Funimation are a US only distributor so its not really a fair comparison. They will sell thousands more copies and as a result can pay more per license. As a result the terms of their deal could easily be different. Ghibli are also more mainstream titles, with large backing and even get theatrical releases. They are worldwide releases so any locking would be pointless.

Manga entertainment are responsible for distributing kaze titles in the uk, so maybe the greater problem is the agreement between the two, as kaze may not want titles imported to countries where they have already released them.

In reply to an earlier post on 5 Jul 2013 13:39:03 BDT
Last edited by the author on 5 Jul 2013 16:14:35 BDT
Huh, I didn't realise there was a reply to my original comment until a follow up one appeared. Ah well.

On the subject of locked subtitles, Andrew Partridge, Kaze's UK P.R. representative has openly stated many times that the reason this occurs is as result of the demands of the Japanese publishers, as a result of Kaze's releases being distributed to various countries across Europe. This is the official company response. I guess you could be cynical & call bs on that, and say it's because repeatedly sorting out different license variations for seven or eight different countries each and every time would be a logistical nightmare, so they just streamline the process into a caps-all system. Still, without actual evidence to the contrary, I'm inclined to go with what we've been told rather than speculate.

In response to the comment about US pricing, there has been a number of small-scale publishers that have tried (and mostly failed) to release high-value premium editions of certain series/movies. Currently Aniplex is carrying out a similar approach & is extremely successful, despite being highly unpopular with the fandom. They released Fate Zero and Garden of Sinners (technically not a tv series, but whatever) for well over $500 rrp, with Madoka, Bakemonogatari and the upcoming Sword Art Online releases, being priced around $300-350 for the completed sets, although they occasionally release slightly cheaper versions a year or two later. Their recent acquisition of Gurren Lagann has an rrp of $650. In short, Aniplex is currently winning many of the contracts for popular new releases, based on Japanese BD sales.

As for your claim that it's `utter assertion' to presume licensors have changed their sub style due to fan demands, certain companies have stated this in the past. Funimation have been quite candid about it on podcasts (possibly one of the ANN ones) and panels, while Sentai have also admitted it at anime conventions. They looked at the results of surveys (either their own or from Crunchyroll), forums, as well as popular trends with illegal subbing groups, and came to a decision based on the results. Justin Sevakis, an ANN podcaster who is employed in blu-ray production, has also talked about this several times. These people are anime industry professionals and experts in their fields: they know what they're talking about. It sucks for you and I can only offer my sympathies there, but they went with what the loudest voices were demanding.

I will admit that Kaze's issues with subtitle quality are entirely their own, and the more exposure I've had with their releases, the more I've realized it's a significant problem. They have been known to do things as cheaply as humanly possible, or at least carry out things according to their preferences. Whether consistently releasing dvd's with DD 2.0 Stereo, even when the source US product has 5.1 Surround (Jellyfish Princess, for example), or cramming as much material as possible into the smallest space (Un-Go has 11 episodes and a 45 minute ova pushed into one disk, yet zero extras compared to Sentai's 2-disk set), the company is building up a level of ill-will amongst fans.

Ultimately, while I do love Kaze's general business model of driving down costs between various countries, allowing them to pick up smaller niche titles that Manga Entertainment wouldn't touch, the end results have so far been spotty at best. Sadly, now that Andrew Partridge, the only public UK voice for the company, has left there is nobody left to bring these issues to light (not that they seem to be listening anyway, but still). We shall see if they improve, or drop out of the UK market altogether. There have been signs that all is not right for a while now.

In reply to an earlier post on 23 Jul 2013 14:14:45 BDT
[Deleted by the author on 23 Jul 2013 17:25:53 BDT]

In reply to an earlier post on 23 Jul 2013 15:48:45 BDT
[Deleted by the author on 23 Jul 2013 17:25:40 BDT]

In reply to an earlier post on 23 Jul 2013 17:44:46 BDT
Dave Xenu says:
I replied with a much longer post but deleted it. Culling it down this about sums it up.

I've yet to come across a single non-Kaze release which locks the language options. Whatever the argument as to why, empirically it's substandard. Kaze certainly has filled out gaps, releasing titles which otherwise wouldn't have been and I appreciate that. I'm not saying Kaze is all bad, my point is their releases have a history of being substandard. And dragging back on topic there are elements of this release which are substandard, however in this case as wrote way back in the review, I am utterly willing to forgive them on account of the pricing.

Beyond that, you need to fact check your Aniplex pricing. Their pricing is ridiculous but the prices you listed are still exaggerations of how much they actually retail for. Also Aniplex's business model is pretty way off topic.

No personal offence intended but after replying I realised I'm not actually interested in this conversation. Though after deleting my response, you made the effort of responding so I should at least do the courtesy of leaving some reply.

In reply to an earlier post on 23 Jul 2013 19:16:49 BDT
Last edited by the author on 23 Jul 2013 19:20:45 BDT
Saw your earlier post in hotmail and was halfway through writing a response to some of those points, so apologies if this seems a bit random and addresses issues no longer in the comments. I started so I'll finish. Plus I can't be arsed shortening it. ^^

Anyway, basically as the likes of Manga Entertainment, Anime Limited, MVM, Funimation and Sentai etc all are predominantly centred on the same interconnected countries (ie the UK and America/Canada), as opposed to Kaze's multi-European strategy, I don't think it's possible to judge the strategies and procedures taking place. We've been told one thing, but many believe another. I'm personally suspicious and could accept it's more to do with a set system of operating in place, but without actual evidence from the French office itself, nobody is in a position to say whether their reasoning is sub-standard.

Without getting crazy pedantic, I did mention Aniplex pricing was rrp, and not what sites were necessarily selling. Fate/Zero, Kara no Kyoukai and Gurren Lagann were/are being sold for over $500. Madoka was initially sold in box-sets for $95 per four eps (so around my $300 projection) set and due to demand were sold for that exact price by many sites. The box-sets priced around $40 came out 6-12 month afterwards, with no prior announcement at the time of the first batch. I suspect something similar will happen with Sword Art Online. They have a habit of pulling low-blows like this. They recently announced that Fate Zero, which was already released sub-only in two $455 rrp sets ($329 per set on rightstuf), will now see a lower priced editions come out with a dub and host of new extras. It's pretty skeezy.

So yeah, it's easy to think of Aniplex as an anomaly in the anime market, but these days they're not only licensing smaller franchise with dedicated fanbases, like with their Type Moon products, but most of the biggest selling releases in recent years Madoka, SAO and the Monogatari franchise), due to Japanese approval, since they won't suffer from reverse-importation. Honestly, I still find it a minor miracle that they weren't able to pick up Girls Und Panzer and Attack on Titan, which are the other two big sellers. I don't think the UK market is strong enough to support such a system, but I wouldn't be surprised to see someone giving it a try within the next few years.

Extended note: Yeah, talking about Aniplex is going pretty far off-target, but I find them interesting (if rather ghoulish) enough to chat about.

All I can say is that while Kaze will never listen to your issues regarding subs (or pretty much anything), there are some other new-ish anime distributors making more of an effort to engage fans. Andew Partridge (the poor sod who was hired by Kaze to recite their company statement and do his best to engage the fans concerns) is now the voice of Anime Limited, which has recently picked up Cowboy Bebop, Gurren Lagann and RE: Cyborg, and is far more engaging with the fans. They may be able to help out with certain future releases by adding a second yellow font sub-track. I can only wish you the best with that. Peace out.
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