UK Anime Distributor Anime Limited Discussion Thread

SnowWolf

Adventurer
I'm sure AL is just as frustrated as we are about this.

On the plus side, I'm told the "A Silent Voice" discs, which AL did author themselves, are nearly identical to the Japanese.
 

Scrambled Valkyrie

Dandy Guy, in Space
Wow things were getting a bit harsh for a while there.
Sure AL have made a few mistakes here and there but they always seem to try and rectify any major issues and do right by the fans wherever possible. I think they get a bit too much hate, the majority of their releases are fine and for a small company they consistently release BDs and DVDs of much better and more consistent quality than other much older and more experienced companies like Manga UK (Who by all rights should be the UK gold standard since they've been releasing stuff since 1991).

I have been a little bit on the fence regarding Your Name on BD. I liked the film a lot and I pre-ordered the steelbook but I don't really want to own an inferior version when there are other choices available. I like to support them wherever possible, I would never stop ordering from them because of one release as I think most of their discs are really good. I will continue to buy from them (I have ZZ Gundam Part 2 and Eureka Seven on pre-order for example). However I might decide to go for an import for "Your Name". It's a shame that AL seem to have been getting the blame from some people when really the focus should be on Madman considering it's likely their QC process that resulted in this issue.
 

fathomlessblue

Dandy Guy, in Space
I think the thing that's put a lot of people's backs up is that Your Name was treated as though it was Anime Limited's flagship title. I'm fairly indifferent to the movie myself, but it's hard to understate the critical and commercial success it's become internationally, not least because of the significant backing AL gave. I was hearing Andrew (who seems to have a good relationship with Shinkai) bringing up the movie on the podcast even before the domestic release, then witnessing the hype from the SLA screening, where it won the judges prize. Since then we've had two heavily promoted cinema pushes (receiving acclaim from critics), while the AL facebook and twitter accounts have been awash with constant reminders, updates and pinned messages for the last 12 months. It's been treated as a very, very big deal.

As such, it's hard not to be shocked that the disks have made it to retail over here without a through examination of the encode or subtitle quality. No matter how much you might get sick you of examining the assets (which I'm sure wasn't a factor), or how much you might trust the team creating the disk, qc checking on your side seems like the natural thing to do, even if it means delays. It's not like AL haven't been burned by this before (cough Durarara), or that Madmen have an immaculate reputation with movie encoding (I've been hearing the Ghibli complaints for years now). It just comes across as kinda absurd: AL have put so much effort into this for a full year now, only for the project to stumble at the final, but ultimately most important step. I just can't get my head round how that happens, other then assuming the broad retail distribution (hmv, supermarket) forced a non-negotiable release date that meant last minute checks being skipped. I could actually understand that. The alternatives reek of naivety at best, a drop in standards at worst.

This is also the first time that the response has been something akin to 'it's good enough I guess' rather than fixing it, which to at least 90% of the audience it probably is. This is the problem with releasing a film with more broad appeal - most of the buyers are fairly casual viewers and won't recognise the issues, while the release is too big for any kind of recall or replacement. It's too big to fail, essentially.

I've personally made my peace with it. I cancelled my order and will wait to see how the US release is received. However, I wasn't excitedly looking to the home release in the first place, nor had already invested significant money in a premium edition. If that was the case I can understand feeling rather annoyed or short-changed so long as no option for a future fix exists.
 
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Scrambled Valkyrie

Dandy Guy, in Space
Despite me saying the comments were getting a bit harsh I can completely understand why people were annoyed. As fathomless blue said it has been treated as a flagship title and promoted to a crazy degree. I was very surprised the issue hadn't been picked up before release as well and I realise AL probably should have noticed it but as others have said at least it's not a release that's UK exclusive. I've cancelled and thankfully I was looking forward to other releases from AL much more anyway.
 

Fendergopher

Completely Average High School Student
Well it is an old-ish show at this point, and most of the people who would want to buy the box probably have already seen it and liked it. Still not great idea to spoil people with a trailer though.
 

Shadow Cat

Magical Girl
I don't watch many anime trailers but aren't they showing a little too much here in the Eureka Seven trailer?
Thanks for the mention, I won't watch the Trailer then

Its a show that I've heard really good reviews about but its really putting me off with 50 episodes. Even shows that I really like (Recent example Cardcaptor Sakura) I can only get up to Episode 30 before I've had enough. Looking back, I last watched Sailor Moon R Episode 16 back in June...

I'm not good with long series :)
 

Buzzkillington

Dragon Knight
Man I'm really conflicted by this Your Name situation :/ I mean on one hand I really want the book that comes with the DE, but on the other hand the BD (the most important part) is pretty flawed and I very much doubt anything will be done about it... Such a shame as Anime Limited had an awesome looking release ruined by someone else's incompetence.
 

Luna

Thousand Master
Sorry to break the Your Name mourning, but I'm a bit in fangirling mode right now, after just discovering the unboxing post for Hyouka.
(I'm actually a bit surprised that the Hyouka CE didn't make so much of a splash. oo)
I was pretty over the moon about it including the artwork of the Japanese regular BDs and their box illustrations. Expecially I was already prepared to get them from Japan, just for the artwork. (And I even already have the Japanese BD Complete Box and the Funi releases.) And it absolutely looks better than the rather lackluster Japanese packaging~ So totally props to that~
(The only thing that puzzles me a bit is the outer box backcover illustration choice, since two of the girls aren't from the main cast. Poor Satoshi got ditched out.)

About the illustrations, I'd have a question. @anime_andrew
*putting on puppy eyes*
Is there any chance of a booklet or whatever way to include the artwork from the japanese DVD releases?
I still fail to comprehend why the japanese single volumes (11 regular BDs + 4 artboxes vs. 11 LE BD with 4 artboxes vs.11 regular DVDs) releases have three versions each and every single one of them seems to have their own exclusive cover/jacket artwork. From the looks of the unboxing blog post the AL release seems to include all the artwork of the regular BDs and their artboxes. (And with the regular DVDs boxes having the more intricate illustrations at that.) Any chance of other illustrations making their way somehow into part 2? Funimation uses the illustration from the artbox that came with the LE DVD Volume 10, so it appears the illustrations probably aren't blocked to outside of Japan...?
*makes the puppy eyes glittering watery*
*___*"


(Sorry, but I just can't help it. If KyoAni would just release an Illustrations artbook already. It's not even like there is so little of an amount of material for one even without the clearfiles or whatever merch illustrations. >_<)


EDIT: I must be blind, but only just not registered the DVD unboxing part and that one actually has artwork from one of the japanese DVD artboxes on the reverse side of the jacket. Can I hope for something like Your Name in April Part 2 then, which had its booklet include the DVD artwork and some more? *___*
(And perhaps even more complete, given all the diffrent covers of earch of the versions? *_*)
 
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anime_andrew

Anime Limited Representative
Industry Representative
I think the thing that's put a lot of people's backs up is that Your Name was treated as though it was Anime Limited's flagship title. I'm fairly indifferent to the movie myself, but it's hard to understate the critical and commercial success it's become internationally, not least because of the significant backing AL gave. I was hearing Andrew (who seems to have a good relationship with Shinkai) bringing up the movie on the podcast even before the domestic release, then witnessing the hype from the SLA screening, where it won the judges prize. Since then we've had two heavily promoted cinema pushes (receiving acclaim from critics), while the AL facebook and twitter accounts have been awash with constant reminders, updates and pinned messages for the last 12 months. It's been treated as a very, very big deal.

As such, it's hard not to be shocked that the disks have made it to retail over here without a through examination of the encode or subtitle quality. No matter how much you might get sick you of examining the assets (which I'm sure wasn't a factor), or how much you might trust the team creating the disk, qc checking on your side seems like the natural thing to do, even if it means delays. It's not like AL haven't been burned by this before (cough Durarara), or that Madmen have an immaculate reputation with movie encoding (I've been hearing the Ghibli complaints for years now). It just comes across as kinda absurd: AL have put so much effort into this for a full year now, only for the project to stumble at the final, but ultimately most important step. I just can't get my head round how that happens, other then assuming the broad retail distribution (hmv, supermarket) forced a non-negotiable release date that meant last minute checks being skipped. I could actually understand that. The alternatives reek of naivety at best, a drop in standards at worst.
Any release for us is special as it’s for you the fans - without you most titles would travel nowhere. Your Name is important for the community as it’s helped convince UK cinemas to start taking the medium seriously and give you good people the chance to see these films where they belong.

With all the effort that’s gone into the release so far it’s vital for us that the home entertainment is also a success, commercially and critically for the anime community. Without the commercial side we can’t exist and to that end deadlines have to be met but we have thrown every available hour to try and make this as perfect as we can.

Sales wise you're looking at a mass market title here, which means once the date was set - we had to make it no matter what. When the master came in, we had to hit print that day or miss all the supermarket orders (which were big) and lose a huge amount of money (tens of thousands at a minimum).

Now it is not unreasonable for us when we receive a master from a company like Madman (or Funimation) to do basic spot checks, verify the region code is OK and expect that a full QC has been done prior to upload. Any other company we receive masters from do go through a full QC ourselves even on tight turnaround but in this case we put a hell of a lot of work into the book translation & editing which ate up QC time and we expected the same in return on the discs.

I note several people seemingly expect us to fully QC the discs again - but I'd stress that very often other companies don't even spot check the discs to ensure they run. There's a reason several releases from other companies have been recalled because nobody has checked the discs are the right region for example. The point is no matter how much you QC someone else's disc (or your own) stuff can slip through and in this case our QC team was focussed on the part of the release we were delivering.

This is also the first time that the response has been something akin to 'it's good enough I guess' rather than fixing it, which to at least 90% of the audience it probably is. This is the problem with releasing a film with more broad appeal - most of the buyers are fairly casual viewers and won't recognise the issues, while the release is too big for any kind of recall or replacement. It's too big to fail, essentially.

I've personally made my peace with it. I cancelled my order and will wait to see how the US release is received. However, I wasn't excitedly looking to the home release in the first place, nor had already invested significant money in a premium edition. If that was the case I can understand feeling rather annoyed or short-changed so long as no option for a future fix exists.
I sincerely regret that you’ve cancelled your order - we said as soon as we were back we would look at the discs and we have and I'm about to post something longer about it - the conclusion being that the audio is not defective but that the video is not up to ours and committed anime fans standards, as I explain below, I will informally be offering fans the chance to replace for the next pressing. So in short for now you can enjoy a disc that the mass market would think is fine - as would most distributors - knowing that you can return it once we do our next pressing for something even better - we cannot do any more than that.

You have to understand that on such a wide-spread title unless the disc is literally frying your BD player ala When Marnie Was There that no company can do free replacements for everyone because while not up to the AL standard ala A Silent Voice, it also isn't faulty. Every time we have done a replacement scheme it has been because of an actual defect that has hindered enjoyment of a show and been outwith standard viewing aka:
  • Cowboy Bebop (2013, replaced 2014) - Visual glitches due to capture errors on Part 1. This impaired the experience to watch and was not in the original master and while small errors, we replaced them as respect for those who supported us on our first release ever and set a good pattern in my opinion for which frankly I have only ever received grief for (this latest burst says it all).
  • Durarara!!! (2014, replaced 2015) - Discs were botched in multiple ways by Siren at the time, we re-authored and replaced off our own back. Probably our most expensive replacement scheme by the by too.
  • Gurren Lagann digipacks (2014) - This was an issue completely outside our hands which was frustrating after the delays in approval. This resulted in an entire printer being blacklisted by our production company actually. Probably the one we feel worst about still as it was never really resolved in terms of a fix except for a chunky voucher for the store.
  • Kill la Kill Part 1 (2014, replaced 2014) - Small audio desynchronisation issue found at MCM Comic Con time. We replaced this within the same year again for anyone impacted.
  • Kill la Kill Part 3 (2015, replaced 2015) - Box issue with tightness found at MCM Comic Con. We replaced this within the same year for anyone impacted).
  • Escaflowne (2016, replaced 2016) - Issue on an episode not being rendered properly for BD that manifested only on the final BD so we replaced that to ensure nobody's experience was ruined.
  • Your Lie in April Part 1 (2016, replaced 2017) - Issue on soft touch cover and soft touch inner making the box impossible to remove, revealing something nobody knew about printing (inc the printers!) Was replaced as soon as we knew the fix!
Most of these errors would be ignored by most distributors until general fan outrage got too much but in basically every case we've gone and pushed for it from Day 1 of a problem. Frankly speaking that's probably our biggest corporate ‘commercial hat on’ failing too but personally it's something I am proud of. Actually in terms of mistakes, I'm pretty confident we have no more than our largest competitors in the UK - the only difference is we talk about them, own them, build on them and try to do right by you. For that - we generally get what you witnessed this time.

You don't see the general public bemoan Studiocanal for example when they release a Ghibli BD with less than 100% perfect quality for example. I remain proud of our supporting the fans with the best possible product even when problems crop up. It's an occupational hazard for us as we output the largest volume of collector's products in the UK for anime and will keep doing so - with your support.

As a result what I will do for fans is if they watch the Blu-Ray and are not satisfied is they can email us at shop.uk@alltheanime.com with a subject line of YOUR NAME - BLU-RAY and write us a (polite and short) email saying what your issue with the Blu-Ray is then we'll replace it with a disc using a fresh master when we get it in as we're going to make sure the video is improved for the second print run. You'll need to post us the disc back at your own cost and we'll replace it then at our own cost inc return shipping :).

It won't be a formal replacement scheme because simply put the discs do pass muster in general much like the Ghibli ones authored previously - but for us that's not good enough and anyone who feels aggrieved we'll do what we can for :). This release is special to me, I want it to be for you too, and especially for any videophile (like myself) who feels it isn't what they expected, let us see what we can do to warm your heart to it :).

Best,

Andrew
 
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