Extended Tweets: Adventures in Making Informed Amazon Purchases Involving Old Nickelodeon Series

The Japanese version of this post would have been called “Crisis! The Missing 12 Episodes” which, oddly enough, is shorter than the actual title of this post.

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Bad Box Art

Another Tuesday, another batch of DVD/Blu Rays released to mentally put on my to-buy-eventually-because-I-know-prices-will-drop-in-no-time list. In particular, today marks the release of Marvel’s movie The Avengers to home video format. In a nutshell, I thought the movie was an enjoyable popcorn flick that was able to do what it was meant to in terms of bringing together all of the previous Marvel movie heroes together in one super action-y though kinda plot-weak script. And now that I’ve alienated all my readers, lemme talk about the true gripe of this post: the cover art.

It’s crap like this that justifies the existence of customized covers. Just look at this box art! It’s ugly, isn’t it? And the alternate art for the standard release doesn’t help much either. I mean they’re alright I guess, but shouldn’t a summer blockbuster film be represented by more than a couple stock photos of the characters all crammed together in an attempt to make it look like they’re all interacting with each other? Even if you completely disagree with me on this particular example, you must have encountered at least one cover art for a book, movie, CD or game that just made you stop and think “… seriously?”

While I know that we’ve all been given the whole “beauty is only skin deep” and “don’t judge a book by its cover” spiel, I can’t help but think that at least in terms of cover art, this statement doesn’t hold completely true.

Maybe it’s because our media is moving towards a more digital over hard copy means of storage, but I still feel like cover art should be something to be given some value to. Similar to movie posters, cover art is meant to not only provide a decent image as to what you’ll be getting yourself into upon purchase, but to do so in such a way that’ll make you want to buy the thing in the first place… even if it means doing so for a second or third time. If cover art had absolutely no impact on things then all blu-ray cover art would still use that ugly blue/silver skin that the early BD releases had… either that or I’d say something about Blockbuster being able to sell more used movies with missing cover art, but I’m pretty sure that example’s far from relevant nowadays.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that the entire premise of cover art is to be appealing… or at the least, look somewhat presentable. And I get that things like The Avengers movie and the latest release of Batman’s Arkham City are good enough to get by even with horrendous box art, but to do so would be to miss the point of even having cover art in the first place. It’s like getting dressed in the morning—you can dress like crap if you want to, but there’s a certain peace of mind when you dress to impress.

To the Ends of Earth… or At Least Your Wallet

So it was recently announced that the hands-down best anime of 2011 Ano Hana has finally been licensed in the states not by Funimation, not by Viz Media, but by NIS America: King of niche shows with limited edition releases.

The problem with this? Outside of licensing monster Funimation, most other anime released in the states are painfully expensive, with a good number of their titles priced at around $70 retail price, probably due to them being marketed as “Premiuim Editon Sets,” with a bonus mini-art book alongside the standard subtitled (read: no dub track for those afraid of mixing reading with TV watching) episodes. Normally, I wouldn’t see this as a problem, but with a number of their titles averaging at around 13 or so episodes, the price per episode is suddenly looking pretty steep. Such is only made even more apparent when comparing to Funimation releases, which are able to not only contain the expected dub and sub of the episodes, but also the clean opening and ending footage for a cool $30 at most retailers. Even when taking into account that most NISA releases drop to around $50 at most retailers, it’s still quite a ways away when comparing to what’s become the gold standard with Funimation, even having released their own equivalent of “Premium Edition Sets” with things like the Dragon Boxes going for around $50 at worst upon initial release.

It’s situations like these that truly bring people of the “support the industry” party out of the woodwork. Do you support your favorite title and the decision of future licensed anime titles by picking up a release where you’re essentially paying $4.50+ per episode, or do you quietly twiddle your thumbs while holding on to your fansubbed episodes? Ultimately, it’s the choice of the consumer, and deciding to buy or not buy does have an impact on the future of how releases are dealt with. Support the industry by picking up a $50 11-episode set, but risk the industry believing that people think slapping down that much cash for an anime is acceptable… it’s a fine line.

Out of Print: The Nicer Way of Saying “You’re Screwed”

It’s rare that I do entries with a subject matter that’s as recent as that same day, but I guess that just shows how much this current subject matter means to me.

A few months ago, I was introduced to camelcamelcamel.com—quite the useful site for deal-seekers that frequent amazon. For the most part, I use the site to keep an eye on new/relatively new DVD and Blu-Ray releases in hopes that they slowly but surely lower in price, as most items usually do over time. But what if that low point has already been reached and you’re unknowingly forced to buy due to three horrendous words: “Out Of Print.”

While I’m not entirely new to the term (I have dabbled with it in my younger years in the context of Pokemon cards), I feel a more personal connection to the term in terms of home video releases since part of the reason I buy such things in the first place is to not only watch the film/series, but to collect it. Out of the number of home releases I own, very few of the TV series in my collection are actually complete. Sure, I’ve got The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Samurai Champloo, and the like, but that’s only because the releases were convenient enough to bundle all the episodes in one release.

For longer runner series, it’s more of a hassle. Case in point: Garfield and Friends. Running for seven seasons, but released in five volumes, I’m proud (and I guess somewhat ashamed) to say that I own every episode of that series. I can’t exactly say the same about the entirety of the animated Garfield works from that era. The Garfield specials were released on three separate DVD releases. Being an American series, I figured I had enough time to wait things out and pick them up whenever I felt like it. I then check their listings on amazon to find that the holiday special release has quadrupled in price due to those three horrendous words: “Out Of Print.”

I found it completely baffling to think that something as completely humdrum-whatever as Garfield DVDs would be put up at such a price, and yet I guess I should have seen it coming. The average life-span of DVDs is around five or so years if that, so it makes sense for something that was released in 2004 to get the sudden price bump by now. So my listing for the Garfield holiday special DVD remains in my camelcamelcamel.com queue, forever doomed to linger there with me waiting for it to some day drop in price once more but to no avail.

Never again.

Today, trusted anime online retailer rightstuf.com reported that anime classic Neon Genesis Evangelion has been announced as “Out Of Print” and that fans should grab their copies while they can. Now, unlike American shows released in America, anime released here is an entirely different beast. Having invested more money than I dare admit to on the Dragon Ball franchise, I’m used to used re-release after re-release after re-release, so maybe my initial thoughts upon hearing the OoP news about Evangelion was a bit too glass-half-full. Knowing that Evangelion is such a highly regarded series worldwide, I was always under the impression that even with the weird three-way licensing drama between the original series, the follow-up movie, and the current movies, each version would still be readily available, since in the case that one license were to go screwy, one of the other two companies (read: Funimation) would swoop in just like that. For those that watched the last arc of Yu Yu Hakusho, think of the licensors as the three demon kings and that’s essentially what I hold to be true.

Then again, it’s never that easy with home video releases… especially when anime is involved. At first, I thought that this was actually a good thing, since it would mean that a new release is just around the corner. Then I thought to myself just how long that corner would be. In the case of America and their re-releases of movies, it could be anywhere from five years to longer. So I guess the question at hand isn’t just whether to buy now or not, but whether or not I’m willing to wait that much longer.

DVD Purchasing 101: The Waiting Game

Earlier last week, I finally caved and bought Evangelion 2.22 on Blu-Ray, Summer Wars on Blu-Ray, and FLCL on DVD—three very awesome titles that would normally cost closer to $60 even on a good day, and I got ‘em for $30 (minus the damn shipping, but even considering it, it was still a good buy) all thanks to playing the waiting game.

If you aren’t interested in being the first kid on the block to have the latest and greatest title on home video release, then you’re probably better off playing the waiting game—holding out on buying said product in question until it lowers in price. While such a law holds true for all purchases, there are certain “sub-laws” which one should abide by in terms of picking up movies or TV shows. Here are just a couple that come to mind:

What is the fanbase of the series in question?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again—the types of people that would buy something like The King’s Speech are a different type than those that would pick up something like say an anime release. As such, the guys pushing for these releases try to get into the minds of said people, trying to think about just what their shopping habits would be. Not to cause any offense on my own demographic, but anime fans (at least the type that actually purchase what they like) are more likely to immediately pick up a title, while more casual buyers would probably have more practically things to prioritize for.

Keeping this in mind, the titles aimed at the more casual fans are more than likely going to decrease in price sooner than releases aimed at a more “hardcore” audience. I don’t even think it was a month before I was able to pick up King’s Speech on DVD.

How “Special” is this “Special Release?”

I fucking hate Disney. More so because they’re good at making money than for the fact that I had a traumatizing experience at their theme park.

I’m sure most home video consumers are aware of Disney’s little concept of “The Vault”—which essentially plays the “limited time only” card, keeping the release widely available for only a short amount of time before it goes off the market again, giving second-hand sellers an excuse to bump up their prices to insanely high prices just because they know that the item’s no longer in circulation firsthand. And you might think that because of this ridiculous money-making scheme that you’re essentially forced to pick up whatever good title Disney throws at you for whatever price they put it up for. And you’d be half-right.

This is when you start to look at the grander scheme of things (but not too grand, otherwise you’ll get into the whole “worldly possessions” thing). Honestly, the shift from VHS to DVDs as a standard was a much higher step than DVD to Blu-Ray, or even to 3D Blu-Ray (or whatever the hell that one’s called). And while it doesn’t apply to all items out there, there are a decent amount of titles that will have multiple releases on the same video format. Sticking to Disney, The Lion King already had a previous release filled to the brim with extras and the like. When it went back into Disney’s Vault, its price skyrocketed to the triple digits. However, with a new release coming out on DVD/Blu-Ray/3D, prices have sunk to well below its initial MSRP. Multiple releases will more than likely mean variations between each one, though, so some compare and contrasts will have to be done before a final decision’s made.

Who’s Releasing It?

I’m sure warriors of way back when and even today’s modern soldiers would roll their eyes if I were to use “know your enemy” in the context of DVD purchasing, but whatever. In this case, the enemy is the distributor—the guys trying to make the item appeal to you to the point that you’d be willing to pay an extravagant amount for it. This is when knowing a little bit about the companies at hand will save you a good sum of money.

I already mentioned Disney and their tendency to put out limited releases, but there are plenty of other distributors/companies that act in a different manner. In Funimation’s case, they’re fully aware that the anime titles they’re releasing will be gobbled up by the fans, who have little to no choice when it comes to deciding who to buy from, since most other US anime distributors have gone under within the past few years. This has led to Funimation taking every option available with their titles, releasing them as many times as the consumer is willing to double dip for it. For example, a good number of their bigger titles were released in 13 episode chunks before being re-released in 26 episode chunks for the same price. Something similar can be said about WB and Harry Potter, re-releasing each movie so many times that I honestly lose track of it all. Though, their oversaturation of the Potter series has led to some apparently good quality releases for cheap, with certain Blu-Ray releases going for as low as $10.

Bonus Content

We’ve reached a point in our home video world that bonus material is practically mandatory for movie releases. While this is true, however, this results in bonus content ranging in quality from interviews with the cast/crew essentially saying “yeah, I’m in it, so you should buy it” to the more considerate interviewees that actually provide a more in-depth look at the movie that you wouldn’t get otherwise. So your mileage may vary.

Television series are the polar opposite, however. While newer series will stick to including at least a handful of special features (again, your mileage may vary), there still exist a good chunk of series out there that are severely lacking in any special features outside of your bullshit ones like anamorphic widescreen and subtitles. Which leads to the next point to consider…

Episode Count

It’s not 10 years ago, so I shouldn’t even have to say that $50 for a 26 episode series is an outrageous price to pay, especially when the release in consideration is a “bare bones release,” containing only the episodes/movie without any bonus content. Plenty of distributors have realized this and have made their price per episode ratio significantly lower than what it used to be. I’d say around $30 for a typical season set of around 26 episodes is a good average price to pay, though that’s assuming that you enjoy most if not all the episodes on that release.

My cousins have a “3 songs” rule when buying CDs, where you have to have at least three songs on that release you like to justify the purchase. A similar thing can be said about television series and their releases. Though you shouldn’t start to split hairs too much. I mean, as much as I like overanalyzing my purchasing decisions, going as far as a price per minute ratio could be considered a bit too much.

Marathoning Musings

With the rise of movies and television being available not only through DVD and Blu Ray, but in Special Editions, Unrated Editions, Digital Copies, 3D Editions, Full and Widescreen, etc, it would be an understatement to say that we’ve reached the point that consumers have more than just a couple of options when deciding to make a home video purchase. And with even the crappiest of shows and movies practically guaranteed a release of some kind on the market, one must wonder what television’s fate has become in the midst of all this home release nonsense—in particular, scheduled television blocks.

While channels for the most part roll with your standard television schedule, I always saw block programming to be particularly interesting. Unlike commercials, I didn’t feel insulted when channels tried to schedule their programming days in accordance with the demographic that would most be likely to be tuning in at that particular time. Whether it be One Saturday Morning, Nick: GAS, or good ol’ Toonami, I could always rely on there to be something I know I’d be interested in between a block’s designated start and stop time.

But with the dawn of the modern home video collector, what’s there to stop someone from simply hoarding on their favorite titles and watching them at their own leisure, minus the commercials and with the inclusion of a pause button?

Such is the conundrum for today’s block viewers, who’d be more likely to marathon through their DVDs than stand slave to a television channel’s air times. But that exact same problem is why block programming still appeals to me. Rather than finding the various aspects of aired programming annoying, I’m starting to find them more like a novelty than anything else. Just the thought that some kind of team went to the trouble to finding which shows would best be suited to play after each other in combination with what types of commercials to air at that time mixed in with some quirky bumper mini-programming (ie: TOM and Sara’s banter during Toonami) and you have quite the interesting entity formed.

Even when taking into consideration all the signs of the times and the push towards being able to watch something on your time rather than the network’s, I find it interesting that the push for program blocking in some way, shape or form is just as strong.

Let’s look at Toonami (as if I haven’t done that enough already)—hours of action programming all bundled together nicely under the roof of TOM and Sara’s ship, the Absolution. Not only do the programs themselves complement each other, but the block’s hosts also do an effective job of setting the mood as well. Add in the occasional total immersion events and you have quite the programming block to deal with.

So, imagine my surprise when I find that Toonami—action cartoon programming king for 11 years before its untimely cancellation three years ago this month—is getting a revitalization of sorts in the form of Neo Toonami. I’d say more, but that’s what the video’s for:

 

Okay, maybe some explanation’s required. According to the site’s FAQ, Neo Toonami is a fan-run web stream, airing select action cartoons online without the restrictions that would otherwise be present if it were to be aired on television. Add to this a revived TOM, Sara and Optimus Prime-ish narrator, and you essentially have the ol’ cartoon block set in the present. Here’s where I’d make some kind of comment on how Toonami’s slogan was “The revolution will be televised” except swap out “televised” with “streamed,” but I couldn’t find a better way to do it other than the way I just did.

While the date of the first web stream has yet to be set, you have to give props to the team behind Neo Toonami for even getting this far. I personally can’t wait to be able to marathon through some choice action cartoons without the need of swapping out DVDs every 20 or so minutes. Not to mention that when I have personal marathons, I feel like I owe it to myself to actually sit down, pay attention, and absorb every second of what’s playing. With a block, I don’t feel that pressure and am able to watch it more casually, even as background noise in some cases. And that’s really what the heart of block programming does—it conveniences the audience by airing choice programming you can chill out to. They’re kinda like mix tapes in that sense, except without the connection to hipsters.

DVD Purchasing 101: April Decisions

On a personal level, I hold April 12th as one of those days in me-history that’s helped make me a better person. For the rest of you, it’ll be one of the more interesting DVD-Tuesdays we’ve had in a while.

While I’m sure a number of you can name a good handful of other releases to be looking out for in the coming days, three particular titles have caught my interest: The Incredibles, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, and of course The King’s Speech.

But, of course, being a poor college student that still has the decency to buy nice things when he can just so he can say he supports official releases, you can see the problem here. No way in hell would I ever buy all three in one go, but being able to buy at least one of them on release day would be enough to satiate my fanboy needs. So, like all complex conundrums in the world, things would be better if they were split up into easier, more digestible, chunks.

Let’s start off with the easier to deal with of the three: The King’s Speech. As much as I loved the movie (read: “loved the movie before it won for best film”) I will say that as a general rule of thumb, live action movie dramas are one of the first DVD releases to put on hold. As a whole, the expected demographic that would be interested in purchasing such a movie (as demonstrated by the demographic that was in the theater I was watching it in) are older types that aren’t as aggro about the things they’re interested in. And as such, this is without a doubt bound to be one of the better movies that will be getting a price drop in less than a year’s time.

On the complete polar opposite of the spectrum is the release for Deathly Hallows Part 1. WB, especially WB with a franchise as big as the Harry Potter series, absolutely loves milking what they’re presented with. Off the top of my head, I’m pretty sure the preceding HP films have at least five different releases, from standard releases, to boxed sets, to combined special edition boxed sets… It’s a franchise with so many different types of releases to choose from that best takes advantage of those aforementioned aggro fanboys with their quick-draw purchases. Add to this the highly likely fact that they will be releasing some kind of Deathly Hallows Parts 1 and 2 set in the near future and this is definitely one of those times when the waiting game will pay off in the (short) long run… though that snazzy $16 Blu-Ray listing on amazon is tempting.

Enter the release for The Incredibles. Pixar has not only made an excellent job with their movies, but have also had an equally excellent track record when it comes to releases for said movies. The Incredibles’ initial release on DVD in 2005 still stands out to me as a release with special features that are just as good as the movie itself—having a commentary that actually keeps me interested throughout the entire movie including the credits definitely says something.

But wouldn’t already having such a release automatically null out any possibility of me daring to double dip with the upcoming Blu-Ray? Not necessarily. For one, I had the misfortune of getting the DVD release in full screen, which would be another beast entirely if you don’t get what the difference in aspect ratio means to film. Furthermore, it’s because of having the older release that I’d even have enough money to pay for this new release in the first place. As much as I hate Disney releases just because of that whole concept of “The Vault” keeping the prices for previous DVD releases at an all-time high, I will say that they do have their bases covered when it comes to double dip buyers. Currently, Disney’s movie rewards site has been giving out $10 discounts for double dip purchases, as long as you’ve got the UPC code for your older purchase, thus finally taking down the List Price in this case from a ridiculous $45 to Best Buy’s alright $25 to a downright cool $15. Of course, this is all relying on the fact that Best Buy will be willing to accept the coupon and all its vague limitations. Generally speaking, Disney/Pixar is fully aware that their films are awesome in smexy true 1080p and have been incredibly stingy with the price tag on most if not all of their releases because of such. So when it comes to getting any kind of deal on those titles, you take it even if it means brown-bagging it and biking to school if you have to. Yes, it’s that important.

DVD Purchasing 101: FLCL

It’s no secret that next to manga, the second thing you’re likely to find on my shelves is DVDs.

While some may find it hard to wrap their minds around, DVDs have come a long way in the time they’ve been dominating the markets, and in some cases are even considered something more along the lines of a collectible rather than something merely for home video release purposes.

That said, the actual process of DVD-purchasing has become that much more difficult. With releases and re-releases for certain series only inevitable, consumers must become well aware of the current changes during the release process, from release date, to box art, to everything else between, before, and after. But that’s what makes it fun.

Let’s take for instance the release of FLCL. For those not in the know, FLCL (or Fooly Cooly if you want to be fancy) is a 6 episode original video animation essentially telling a coming-of-age story in the most indirect and confusing way possible. Because of such, the series received quite the amount of talk back when it originally aired and has become something of a cult hit in the mere 11 years it’s been in existence.

Initially released to DVD in the states in 2003 with a complete series set released in 2007, the releases soon became out of print—understandably so, considering how the anime industry is especially suffering thanks to the internet granting access to torrents and the like for free. This is where things get interesting for DVD enthusiasts.

For a series as popular as FLCL, it was only a matter of time for another company to pick up the license for the series with a re-release soon following. And with the price of the out-of-print copies being sold with three-digit price tags, you can guarantee that I wasn’t the only one playing the waiting game.

With North American anime distributors dropping like flies, I think everyone was anticipating Funimation, one of the few surviving companies English-speaking countries could refer to for their anime needs was basically expected to pick up FLCL sooner or later. The especially eager fans would park it in front of their computers, continually refreshing their amazon.com searches for the show, hoping a new listing would pop up eventually. And as expected, January 6, 2010, Funimation announced that they’ve “acquired home entertainment and digital rights to the six OVA sci-fi comedy anime series “FLCL” from Production I.G.” Now all that was left was a release date.

For a while, the announcement was the only clue that a new release of the series would be coming. Well… that and a splash page with a stock image from the series and some text declaring a release in 2010. Something of a rule of thumb when it comes to home video releases, though: release dates are never set in stone. As days turned to weeks and eventually months, December 2010 came and there were no listings on any online retail sites for the new release at all. The optimistic like to think release date delays are to ensure that the release itself is the best it can be—crammed to the brim with special features and the like; the pessimists like to think it’s nothing more than a marketing strategy, building up more hype and anticipation for when the series eventually does get a release. Either way, the waiting game continues.

Oddly enough, with only a handful of solid information actually provided for the release, I always find it interesting how fans get so hyped over the series’ release regardless. As such, I can only imagine just how extra-hyped people get when the inevitable happens and the surge of release information arrives. Funimation is no stranger to this and as of the seventh of this month, a trailer for FLCL was uploaded to their YouTube channel, making way for that much more discussion building up to its release next month, picking at practically every aspect of the trailer if only to kill time before actually picking up the release once it’s out.

One thing I’ve always found annoying when it came to re-release trailers is the sort of backwards hype given to the series. While it was true that Evangelion added to FLCL’s original hype back in the day, I always find it strange when companies tack on their more recent projects when “reverse-hyping” their old projects. The same thing happened when Toy Story 1 and 2 were coming back to theaters, with Pixar hyping it up by bringing up their later titles like Monster’s Inc. and Finding Nemo. As good as those titles were, I always feel like I’m being lied to when newer things are being used to hype older things. Something tells me there’s room for a Justin Bieber / Kurt Cobain stab in here, but I’d rather not.

Next up when putting the “anal” in “overanalyzing trailers” is the audience clearly being pandered to. While some trailers are able to directly take from the series it’s hyping, without taking any kind of new direction to it (I guess you can consider the series itself already pandering to a certain audience, but I won’t go into that) there are other instances where I can’t help but think I’m being pandered to in the most negative way possible. Taking out any of the footage from the series itself, the trailer is made up of bold text put to neon colors literally flashing in and out of the screen. And while neon colors may have meant something else ten years ago, I can’t help but think Funimation is hyping the series as something for, ugh… hipsters. Sure, the level of pandering isn’t as bad as say the online trailers for Toy Story 3 with their auto-tuned version of “You’ve Got a Friend in Me,” but that doesn’t mean I’ve gagged slightly less after the trailer’s finished.

But what most people will get out of these kinds of trailers is without a doubt the release’s cover art. Sure, you may already be sold on the product itself, but wouldn’t you actually like to see what you’re gonna be putting on your shelf? Here’s where a couple kinks in the whole “home release process” come into place, though. Even with something as solid as a release trailer, things like cover art are far from finalized. Heck, not even a full week since the trailer’s been released, signs of new box art have already popped up on amazon.com’s listings, which bring me to my next point.

With online retailer listings also come your basic release specs. Although your basic info on special features, run time and the like are also not necessarily set in stone, that doesn’t stop fans from picking at every bit of new information they can find. Is the aspect ratio maintained from before? Is it actually worth getting a Blu-Ray release for a series never animated for such? Does the run time include special features along with the episodes? Such are the basic questions that must be asked for a proper purchase to be made.

One tidbit of info that nearly all consumers out there who don’t wipe their fanny with $100 bills will consider is the price for the release itself. As a general rule of thumb, the maximum I’d expect a release to be will come out to about $2 per episode in the release, and even then that’s pretty pricey. But when it comes to something like an OVA, FLCL in this case only totaling at 6 episodes total, would it really be worth hocking over more than $12 for a re-release? Some factors besides individual episode cost I consider are: box art, special features, and (most importantly!) personal enjoyment of the series… also known as its replay value. Personally, for something as enjoyable and out-there as FLCL, I’m willing to pay something around the lines of $20. And, of course, amazon.com being the demi-god it is has slashed the price of the DVD from its $40 retail to the predicted $20. Sweetness.

But wait, there’s more! Before I’m actually willing to put down the pre-order price for this thing, the most important thing I’ve got to do now is compare it to its previous release. The chances of me actually getting my mitts on the original 2007 American release are less than likely, but regardless, comparisons must be made. So far, specs indicate the new release will only contain one disc for all 6 episodes (reasonable), while the old release had four discs, two episodes for the first three discs, and a handful of bonus features on the final one (a bit excessive, especially considering the special features are nothing but music from the show and a bit of dub-bloopers as far as google research has told me). Second up would have to be comparing the packaging: it should be safe to assume that like most of Funimation’s recent releases, FLCL will be in a standard DVD package, with a slipcover for the case at the most. Meanwhile, the 2007 release went over the top, with the discs in a digipack (+10 presentability, -10 shelf space) which may or may not be a pro depending on your sense of packaging taste.

So that’s pretty much it. After the pros and cons have been done, a purchase is made, I thoroughly watch every bit of whatever I just got before putting it on the shelf and the process repeats itself. This probably explains why I’m severely lacking in textbook money right now.

Now Available on Home Video

While some kids argued over console wars between Nintendo, Sega and the like, I was more of a TV network kid myself, taking sides in terms of which shows I preferred on which cable station. That said, I was more of a Nicktoons kid growing up, over a Cartoon Network one. And while as of late, both networks are experiencing some definite lows, I will say that at the moment, I’m sure wishing I took CN’s side when growing up if only for one reason: Season Sets.

Nickelodeon, like most things awesome, had some pretty humble beginnings, though most will most likely begin its history starting off with its various reruns of older cartoons previously aired by channels like ABC, NBC and WB. For quite some time, that was how afternoons on Nickelodeon would be, mixing in shows like Garfield & Friends with Inspector Gadget and The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show. Though, that’s not to say that they aired these shows exclusively, with the network kicking off in August 8, 1991 with three completely new shows of their own to accompany the vet ‘toons: Ren & Stimpy, Doug, and Rugrats. With this, soon came about Nicktoon hits that would carry the company for years to come.

As the concept was with television shows in general at the time, the more popular shows were given VHS releases, collecting only a small number of episodes from a television series, perhaps under a common theme (friendship, the beach, holiday specials, etc.) with only the most upper-crust of shows really getting a full-on season set release—reasonable enough, considering how many tapes were needed for merely one season of a show. Fast-forward to the late ‘90s and early 2000’s, when DVDs made things simpler for everyone, especially TV show collectors.


With the dawn of DVDs, it felt as if a heavy burden was lifted off of most TV shows’ shoulders, most of them practically guaranteed a DVD season set, even in the case of their cancellation. Though even then, it still felt as if live-action shows were given this treatment, with a majority of animated shows having yet to get the sort of release treatment even the worst of live-action shows have received.

In Nickelodeon’s case, the number of complete season releases can be counted on one hand. Most notably, would be Nick’s two main cash cows as of late: Spongebob Squarepants and Avatar: The Last Airbender, both receiving not only complete season DVD releases, but complete season releases with quite the plethora of bonus content just to make the purchase that much more worth it. But what about Nick’s older titles out there? Surely they’re fully aware of their ever increasing library of shows to make some serious bank out of, right?

Enter Nickelodeon’s “Rewind Collection”—a short-lived run releasing season sets for Nick’s older live-action shows (in particular Clarissa Explains it All and The Adventures of Pete and Pete). Being cancelled after Clarissa’s first and P&P’s second season release, failure to sell as well as Nick’s newer titles has been chalked up by fans to bad marketing, with most fans still unaware that such releases exist.


Sadly, the same fate is can be said for Nick’s attempt at entering the digital marketing world, making their older releases available via online retailers. While select Nicktoons and live-action Nick shows out there have been granted “limited run” season set releases such as Rugrats, Hey Arnold, and Danny Phantom via amazon’s website, being “manufactured on demand using DVD-R recordable media” this basically shows the lack of confidence Nick has in their older titles selling well, only making as many DVDs as ordered by consumers. And even then, checking amazon’s listings, it looks like it’s been a good year since one of these releases has come about, leading to the assumption that such releases have been stopped completely.

As for Nick’s iTunes releases, it seems like one gigantic step back has been taken, sticking with not season set releases, but common theme releases, similar to the VHS releases. And while a good majority of the better episodes have been released via “Best of” compilations, it still irks “completionist” collectors out there that figure that the reason for such a release style was more than likely due to some of the more “out there” series (Angry Beavers, Rocko’s Modern Life, etc.) having some episodes featuring some suggestive dialogue/material; “Best of” releases has become a way for Nick to handpick just exactly which episodes may be released and which one’s won’t.


Also taking into consideration the lack of special features as well as strict retail price (you can’t exactly get a “used” digital copy for a lower price) it is clear that Nick isn’t exactly doing their best in selling their older titles to mass markets. Though, I will admit that the limited amount of downloadable titles is worth the purchase, considering it’ll be more than likely that it’ll be more than likely that a release with special features won’t be happening any time soon.

Compare that 838 words worth of Nickelodeon nonsense to Cartoon Network’s line of releases.

CN’s line of home releases started off similarly to Nick’s with VHS releases of select episodes. However, once DVD’s started becoming the norm, CN took a somewhat different route than Nick, actually having the gall to take the same route as live-action series nearly from the get-go and releasing season sets. However, like Nick, it seems as if a lack of hype surrounding the releases led to a short-lived run, with only a ragtag select series like Ben 10, Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, and Ed, Edd ‘n’ Eddy getting such treatment.

As of late, newer shows on Cartoon Network have been released in volumes, releasing episodes from the series in order in single disc releases—a step up from “common theme” releases, but still nowhere near as efficient as season releases.


June 19, 2007 marked the release of the first season of The Powerpuff Girls, one of CN’s most popular original shows. With such a release, it only made sense to anticipate other shows from that era to receive the same treatment of release. However, with the second and third seasons of PPG cancelled, it seemed as if marketers were hesitant to delve into the older realm of cartoons. Though considering that in January 20, 2009, PPG was released in a complete series set, one can only guess what’s going down in corporate-land.

In terms of online releases, however, it seems as if CN has been more lenient in terms of releases, with full season releases of CN shows both old and new. Lately, the trend has also come back to Cartoon Network’s DVD releases, with Johnny Bravo, the first CN season set to be released under the “CN Hall of Fame” label last month, with Courage the Cowardly Dog and Dexter’s Laboratory having set release dates later this year. And while these series are available in their entirety on iTunes, the promise of at least some special features makes these releases worth the buy.


As the release label suggests, the “Hall of Fame” releases finally presents Cartoon Networks’ original shows—the shows that put them on the map and defined the channel for years—in a manner showing not only respect for the series themselves, but confidence that the series will sell well. Hopefully, Nickelodeon will wise up soon enough, ‘cuz YouTube clips and torrents just aren’t cutting it for me.

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