Long ago when the Internet was still young (or around 2004 for me), I remember when it was nearly almost impossible for me to keep up with the seasonal anime grind without the aid of fansubs. Fast-forward to today and it is a wildly different scene with so many options ranging from VOD (Video on demand) services like Hulu and Netflix to traditional cable trying to get in on the action. Hey, it is nice to have so many options, right? That is what I would like to say if everything wasn’t so fragmented. With Crunchyroll, Funimation (the latter two entering into a partnership), Daisuki, Netflix, Hulu, and now even Amazon competing for not only your time but money as well…..seasonal anime streaming has become more complicated. Has this newfound convenience been more of a blessing or curse?
As someone who has purchased a lot of subscriptions with various sites for more than anime, I am glad that the deal between Crunchyroll and Funimation has actually produced some useful fruit such as the ability to access both catalogs for just holding one. And while I will continue to undoubtedly support both….the licensing strength combined has been personally disappointing in past seasons. Sure, props to Funimation for getting titles like My Hero Academia and Attack On Titan, but recently, Netflix and Amazon has started to move in. With Kuromukuro and Little Witch Academia going to Netflix (both excellent titles might I add) and Amazon recently getting Welcome to the Ballroom to add to the “Anime Strike” exclusives for Summer 2017 (a show many are not too pleased to find in Amazon’s loving arms), it is unnerving that I might have to stretch myself thin in order to watch everything I want to. Granted that I do not try to watch every single possible series that airs any given season and can easily return after the fact when acess is more viable, I still can not help to feel that the world of streaming and simulcasting in the realm of anime is becoming too unmanageable.
However, for all the bellyaching and needless whining that I am doing, most of the series I have seen are offered across multiple services. For example, Eromanga Sensei, one the titles that I enjoyed from Spring 2017 is accessible from Amazon, Crunchyroll, and Daisuki. Granblue Fantasy is also another case: not only being available to the aforementioned services but also adding Hulu to the list. It is great when opportunities like this present themselves and viewers can choose the platforms they wish in order to view the content they care about, yet it does become discouraging when exclusively is involved forcing viewers to less desirable options with their own set of weird issues. Besides having a few minor technical hiccups with streaming, Netflix also often mislabels their content (in the case of Little Witch Academia calling the 13 episodes one complete season when it is really 25 episodes in the series) or not incline to simultaneous releases (like it was Kuromukuro and Little Witch Academia).
While watching anime has come a long way since years ago when it was near impossible to have access to so many series at once, it also still has a lot of growing to do. Whether it be regional restrictions or even the quality of how the titles are released, I think that companies still have much to learn before playing gatekeeper. Not only does it keep viewers happy but also limits causing problems such as misinformation or trust that could spurn potential customers. Until then, I suppose most of us paying customers will have to keep doing so until companies get their act together. But hey, nice to have so many options, right? How has your own experience with streaming anime been?