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.

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