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Bandai’s YouTube Code Geass Forsakes Non-US Viewers


Bandai has begun free distribution of Pizza Hut anime Code Geass, with Gundam 00 set to follow, via YouTube, in both subbed and dubbed versions, but unfortunately it has escaped their attention that there are anime fans and potential viewers outside the US, for the time being at least.

The service is likely funded by advertising revenue sharing with YouTube, as we have seen being practiced by Kadokawa with some success, and represents their belated attempt to embrace the Internet as a distribution medium for their products.

According to Bandai, this is a trial program so the rest of the world can safely be ignored, but it is not clear just which territories they intend to add to the service as it expands. Certainly, they will not be adding Japan…

You can view the videos (or more probably not) on the Bandai Channel.

Via AnimeAnime.

Many Japanese consumers of anime are in fact becoming increasingly sceptical of the huge differential in pricing between versions intended for overseas consumption and the domestic editions; the lack of Internet distribution for many shows also grates, especially in the many cases where regional stations broadcast next to no anime.

It remains to be seen whether the publishers will be able to address this without impacting their cosy TV/DVD distribution system or driving more fans into the arms of illicit downloads or even DVD re-imports (recently there was something of an upset when it transpired the Japanese Haruhi boxset was retailing for $600 via versus $50 via – naturally many took offence or opted to import from the UK).

For international users, this is not an entirely auspicious start for a mode of distribution which must compete directly with fansubs, P2P, and innumerable video sharing services which fall under the copyright radar, which of course do not respect borders.

Fans will doubtless hope they begin lifting territorial restrictions, which have very little place on the Internet, sooner rather than later.

With no information forthcoming from Bandai, if we are to speculate as to the reasoning we would likely start by looking at the very US-centric Internet advertising industry (they may have difficulty monetising non-US viewers).

Also, the notion that geographical discrimination in the Internet anime market might still be viable (that is to say, they still have not adjusted the terms of their licensing to allow for global distribution rights) may yet linger.

Given that the majority of anime never even reaches most national markets in legitimate form, it would appear it will still take some time for major publishers to disavow themselves of the notion that they can compete with fansubs with anything less than a globally accessible offering, provided simultaneous to Japanese broadcasts…

By retaining the rights and organising the marketing and translation on an international basis they might also cut out the middlemen of anime localisers, who lately seem more a hindrance to wide distribution than a help, to say nothing of the drain on profits they represent. Thus a new distribution looks set to be born…

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  • Jes from Canada says:

    I just tried Bandai’s YouTube channel, and was able to watch Geass…. Last month I couldn’t watch it. Seems OK now. curious if it’s just a fluke. Can anyone else access from out the U.S.?

  • Indeed that the Internet is a new avenue for not just anime but also media distribution where video streaming and torrent are a viable vehicles to reach the targeted audience but of course the Internet being open, there are some risks involved where some companies doesn’t want to take.

    I think in my opionion on why Bandai restricted access to only US IP on Youtube is that maybe they are testing the Internet distribution waters and maybe there are “middle men” in other countries who distributes Bandai properties that they [Bandai] doesn’t want to “retire” yet until they’ve proven that the Internet distribution as effective for Bandai.

  • Honestly don’t care with this one, would never watch streaming anime any way, and wouldn’t pay to download it eather, if im gonna buy something i want a hard coppy of it.(just to point out i own the box sets of every series iv seen a fansub of that has come out here, 650 od dvds at present)

  • Anime is indeed cheaper in the R1 market but they better be careful with what they wish for because R1 anime is almost always interlaced and many times coming from a composite master (Negima! OVAs as a recent example). I don’t think they would ever stand for that even if the price was lowered.

    Maybe the R2 market should have 3 DVD editions.

    Limited Edition
    Standard Edition
    Deluxe Edition (interlaced, composite)

  • Seriously, nothing good comes out of US anime companies, Horrible dubs, horrible subs, and horrible quality.

    Don’t support them. Also, Streaming media is almost never available outside US and sometimes UK.

  • Artefact, I think you and many other commentators are missing an important detail that everyone seems to conveniently forget when dealing with licensed streams: BEI’s US licenses only allow for streaming within the US, with Canada being left out.

    I don’t see why is this such a big deal, especially since you and many others can get access to the real Bandai Channel with a wider selection.

    If you’re trying to say that BEI should be able to stream on YouTube internationally with no issues, that isn’t their call to make, as Bandai Namco and Sunrise are the ones that can decide such things.

    I may be oversimplifying the matter, but then again I’m not one to overly concern myself with lack of access.

    • The tedious details of their licensing deals are beside the point – this issue is how quickly (and perhaps, if) they will meet the market demands in such a way as to compete with fansubs. They need new licenses to deal with the realities of an international market…

      • New licenses won’t fix what is inherently a culture problem.

        Japanese media companies are notorious for their reluctance to adapt quickly, as evidenced by their constant denial of the impact of fansubs for almost six years until last month.

        Competing directly with fansubs would require a changing of the corporate guard from the top down with people that understood the internet, but very few of those people are in positions of influence right now.

        The only reason you’re seeing the rise in international streaming is a very late reaction to the issue of fansubbing with no real changes to the status quo.

        Had they had the sense to pay attention five years ago and headed off the middlemen at the pass, the industry on both sides wouldn’t be begging for support right now.

        They don’t deserve support since they refuse to address many entrenched issues on both sides such as distribution methodology, market research, and changing consumer demand.

        • I do agree with you on this point, but it remains to be seen whether the otaku will take action to demand more justifiable pricing to continue to support anime production in Japan.

          The reason you see such drastic differences in pricing between R1 and R2 is because domestic distributors artificially subsidize the cost of a DVD in order to attract more people to purchase it.

          Anime is an entertainment commodity after all, and should be treated as such and nothing more.

          In contrast such things are not allowed in the industry in Japan for many reasons, but the issue is now coming to head, and I’d like to see the anime industry be able to sustain itself.

          I do happen to enjoy spending the many hours of entertainment it provides me with and the many hours of lively debate.

          If you’ll excuse me, I have a startup to run, and I’ll continue to follow the discussion.

  • If I could play it I’d play it muted while watching the HD fansub version.. hell I’d even click ads and consider buying something just to make sure that these alternatives aren’t ruled out before they actually become viable.

    Then again the only viable alternative in my opinion would be offering something of the same quality as fansubs.. ordered chaptering, HD, allowed to be stored on the disk.. with an option to get it back later.
    Get me a dedicated download server and I wouldn’t mind paying ~$2 per episode, that way everyone would win as it’s still massive profit for them and I’ll be happy with a legal alternative.
    Hell if they give you $0.10 off or something for every episode you fully upload back it would hardly cost them anything and they could just swim in money.
    Okay I’d still watch the less epic shows from fansub groups.. but shoving out some cash for like Code Geass I’m not against.

    An ‘itunes’ for anime would make everyone happy.

    • iTunes already does that, the problem is that few engineers and authors know how to create episodes with hybrid audio and subtitles with QuickTime, especially since QuickTime supports multiple audio and subtitle tracks when creating video.

      The companies that are spearheading availability on the service are usually having to pull teeth just to get it on there because the Japanese licensors are loathe to allow any product which could directly compete with their own offerings.

      • I was actually talking with the CEO of a company developing manga/comic delivery systems for the iTunes platform recently, and he was of the opinion that most manga (and by extension, anime) would simply never be allowed by Apple due to their content restrictions – anything slightly mature, even shonen manga, is apparently out…

        • The above comment shows how little you know about how Apple DRM works.

          Apple is forced to add DRM by major content providers in exchange for offering paid programming for sale on iTunes.

          Audio and video podcasts are exempt because, they’re free.

          Music is a non issue now that the recording industry and Apple came to an agreement on variable pricing that allowed Apple to offer DRM free audio tracks in iTunes.

          As far as being proprietary, Quicktime uses standard containers that allow for a DRM wrapper while using H.264 AVC Baseline encoding and AAC audio.

          If all of the studios got together and hammered out a deal similar to the recording industry, we might see DRM free video files.

          Until the collective industry pulls its head out of the sand and accepts new business models easily, you won’t see much of a change.

          Best we can do is vote with our wallet.

        • Fuck Apple and their Quicktime/itunes and other proprietary shit they pull out to the streets…
          I still can’t believe how anyone can buy DRM’ed songs/shows.
          And even if its not DRM’ed, it still is encoded in Apple’s proprietary formats, so thanks, but NO THANKS.

          I hope Apple never gains a massive market share of anything, because it would be even worse than microsoft….

        • Funimation and Manga Entertainment already distro via iTunes in the US with no issues related to content.

          I don’t see how App Store issues are related to iTunes video distribution since they operate under different protocol for approval.

          The protocol may be stricter for Japan due to more stringent guidelines, but I’m not very familiar with internal Apple Japan protocol quite yet.

          Movies and other related programming have a more lax approval process than applications because of the potential for more dubious content being found in an application than in a tv show of film that can be more easily reviewed or digested.

  • Palmtop Tiger says:

    I don’t see how this helps Bandai get new viewers in the US. They already aired Code Geass R1 and R2 on Adult Swim and had the episodes up for streaming on their website.

    Now, if they put up new stuff, then I’ll be interested.

        • “I can guess from context it is obviously not my country’s currency, but should you have been from Australia, you probably would be writing $ alone too, not AUD$… In that case, how was I to know? ;)”

          I am from Australia, and I ALWAYS write something that tell people I meant Australian dollar. USD is the official currency of the internet, thanks to EBAY.

        • Yes, I understand your perspective too.
          Maybe most of the visitors are either from the US, or from countries which use other symbols? (€, ¥, etc.?)

          I can guess from context it is obviously not my country’s currency, but should you have been from Australia, you probably would be writing $ alone too, not AUD$… In that case, how was I to know? 😉

          Anyway, I wasn’t really “complaining”, it’s just that people seem to forget Internet is really worldwide.

          Cheers from Chile.

          Also, “Video not available in your country” D:

        • You’re the first person to complain of this out of hundreds of thousands of visitors, so consider it from my perspective – everyone seems to understand $ as USD, some don’t even know “USD”, and in headlines and similar brevity always wins out… Still, please don’t think that I object to your making the point.

        • I think in international contexts one should be as explicit as possible, if $ were to meant USD, why not call it USD$?, just as you would AUD$, NZD$, etc.
          There are many nations with different currencies using the same $ symbol, so I don’t think it is internationally understood to mean USD.

          (not to be a ass about it, I just think it would make things more clear for everybody in the internet age, and I like to debate sometimes 😉 )

  • Japanese prices are absurd. The Haruhi boxset costs 12 times more then it does here in the US, and on the internet you could probably find it cheaper. But otaku are willing to pay full price for the extras(which we sometimes get all of in the cheaper release) and to support the show. Anime is made cheaply and should be sold cheap. Those Japanese fans need tell those DVD companies to lower their tyrannical prices or continue to get shafted.

  • Meh, fansubs will still rule the day. Even if they distribute it through Youtube most people would still choose the “illegal” way of getting the episodes. Unless of course they hire some fansub group (i.e. like DatteBayo) and releasing the episodes free or sell the DVD internationally without overpricing them….

    Yeah, all wishful thinking I guess.

    • Check their site and you can see at least one video site has them blocked. More to the point, expecting the average user to use encrypted tunnelling is unrealistic – think of the kind of users who can’t work out how to play a Nico video here, or turn off the comments.

    • We were talking about legal options… This is new. Like it or not, you won’t see any anime if people don’t fund its production through DVD and advertising. At the moment the international audience is basically enjoying a free ride at the expense of Japanese fans…

      • Well, yeah…but what alternative is there? Us non-US fans can

        a)Import from Japan
        b)Import from US

        Option “a” has no subtitles…although much better video/audio
        Option “b” has subtitles…in horrible VOBSUB, less video/audio quality, cause they pack more episodes per disk, and add a waste-of-space english dub.

        Option “c” gives me what I want, so I’ll go with it.

        • About 3 eps fit on a R2 DVD5 at the largest(reasonable) data rate. Space isn’t an issue DVD9 wise(avg DVD is 5 eps?), but R1 companies just like to run the video through a blender for some reason. *pushes smoothie button*

        • Then I would give it a chance, but if it wasn’t at least as good as downloadable anime episodes, I would stick to them.

          Example A: Anime X is brand new, and being streamed for free on youtube with english subtitles worldwide. However, it is only in SD, while fansubs have a 720p option. Winner: Fansubs

          Example B: Anime Y is brand new, and being streamed for free on youtube with english subtitles worldwide. They also offer a payed 720p version, but you can not download it. There are 720p fansubs. Winner: fansubs

          Example C: Anime Z is brand new, and being streamed for free on youtube with english subtitles worldwide. They also offer a payed 720p version, that you can also download to keep. There are 720p fansubs. I only want to see if I like the anime. Winner: fansubs

          Example D: Anime W is brand new, and being streamed for free on youtube with english subtitles worldwide. They also offer a payed 720p version, that you can also download to keep. There are 720p fansubs. I love the anime. Winner: honestly, I’d buy the Bluray, but I’d buy the file

          These are just my opinions.

  • relentlessflame says:

    I suspect it’s probably the distribution rights/licensing reason more than the monetizing one. I’m sure they’re in active negotiation with TV networks in other countries for the broadcast rights for shows like Code Geass, and so Internet Distribution is one of the things they would have to build into those contracts. The TV networks in those other countries may have Internet ambitions of their own too. That is all even assuming that Bandai USA negotiated/was granted the legal rights for global Internet distribution and they don’t have to go through all sorts of legal crap with Bandai Japan every time, or worse, all the other production partners…

    The whole distribution model is very segmented and territorial and, as the article suggests, isn’t very well-suited to the Internet age. But it’ll take some time for the companies to get out of that habit because, after all, that sort of restrictive territorial licensing has been what’s been lining their pockets all these years. They’ll get there sooner or later even if (like some other media industries we might think of) they have to go kicking and screaming the whole way.

        • psuedonymous says:

          Ever wonder what BITRATE Youtube uses for their ‘HD’ video? It’s not high, barely that of any decently encoded SD video. Nowhere near sufficient for HD at a reasonable quality, hence the copious blocking artefacts. 1-gig per blu-ray re-encoded file is not insane, it’s a MINIMUM for a properly encoded video. Raw Blu-Ray files are even larger than that (10 or more gigabytes).

        • Care? Of course you should, otherwise it just proves you’re a bias idiot.

          Youtube HD streaming uses the same h264 and AAC audio codecs that HD fansub download uses, flash streaming had supported that since something like 18months ago as well. The only difference is that it is streamed instead of letting you download it. Unless the download is using insane bitrate like they do on Blu-rays that yields 1gig+ files per episode (which they won’t), the difference is not going to be noticable as it is perfectly fine to stream a 300meg HD anime episode over youtube (which is the size that HD fansub download aims for anyway). Also theoretically if Bandai officially uses Youtube they can do a direct HD master source conversion instead of people having to capture the already compressed TV stream (over the air digital TV *is compressed* from the original source) than compress it again for download, which means quality is going to be higher too as one less transcoding stage.

        • and it will ever be – as long as they use flash for displaying the videos.
          flash is an insane cpu hog. 720p flv? gotta get yourself a 3ghz quadcore.
          it’s like having an expensive video card (well, they aren’t expensive any more) with mpeg4avc decoding capabilities, but being unable to use them due to lack of support software-wise.
          i hope the w3c working groups comes up with something good soon… maybe the infamous html5 video tag gets integrated support from major web browsers?