The Anime Streaming Nightmare

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?

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10 thoughts on “The Anime Streaming Nightmare

  1. Call me old fashioned (lol), but I still buy a lot of anime on dvd. Most of the series I am currently watching are admittedly older stuff, but still a lot of fun.
    As for streaming services, currently I am only watching anime on Crunchyroll and Netflix. And honestly for now, these are enough. It’s great to have a lot of options, but considering I already have way too little time on my hands, I have enough to watch with those two. I do think it’s very cool that anime is now much more available than it used to be. That is a very good development 😀

    • No argument here about DVDs. Most titles I’m viewing now are also slightly older, but admittedly, there are a few that I rather stream than own. That being said, Hulu and Crunchyroll/Funimation has been a nice combination that covers most of my bases. However, just like you, time is at a premium, but nice to have the services when I am ready.

  2. The only thing that pisses me off are two words that sometimes appear on titles “Region” “Locked”

    the hell man, you’re trying to promote legal streaming and supporting the studios but you locked us out?

    as always i’ll be supporting through merchandises i guess…

    • Unless a country has some weird censorship laws on the books or some extraneous licensing terms, I can not think of any other reason why the restrictions would be in place. I know that Australia and New Zealand has Animelab for streaming, but unless you live in a major country…it is hard to watch what you want. I’m pretty sure there are plenty of companies that will want your money, just depends on where you are geographically.

  3. I get disappointed when an anime looks interesting but hasn’t been picked up by Crunchyroll; or more accurately: locked up by a different streaming site.

    However, it feels really good to finally be legal while I watch. Growing up I didn’t think much about piracy or how it hurts creators. I don’t know how much money from my year-long sub actually makes it back to creators, but I like that I’m paying for products instead of stealing them.

    Besides, C-roll has more shows to watch than I’ll ever get to; so even if I’m not getting exactly what I want, I’m still quite happy with what I do have access to.

    • Crunchyroll is getting more competition, but they still do seem to get a majority of the seasonal content. Of course, there are exceptions like with Amazon this season or Netflix the previous one getting sought after titles.

      If the data that MAG put out is correct, they claim the estimated damage from online piracy is $20 billion. Think I might do a little personal research later on. I am glad that the creators do benefit from watching it legally, but I wish they would pay the animators more since they are the ones that seem to be at the bottom as far as pay goes.

  4. While I covered some thoughts about legal streaming sites and the strengths, I do think Anime Strike/Amazon is cancer, which caused a lot of outcry in the fandom. People wouldn’t mind if they only pay one monthly fee. It’s for the fact that it’s behind a double paywall is what makes people angry. This also has an effect on discussion of the anime Amazon takes since people aren’t willing to pay for an Amazon Prime subscription on top of the fee to pay for Anime Strike, unless they already pay for it since they shop at Amazon frequently. Or that it will drive people to piracy just to watch it. It’s a lose-lose situation.

    Competition is good, but with if it becomes too fragmented or require users to pay two times to get through the double paywall, it’s just going to drive people back to piracy and it’s not necessarily a good thing.

    • I nearly forgot you have to pay for Prime on top of the $5.00 per month, but some individuals are willing to do so. According to a piece written by Forbes back in May of this year, Strike seems to be doing okay, but I would not be surprised if they had some slight drops. As much as I like Amazon and use it frequently, I would not be willing to pay for Prime (no extra benefit for me), but there is a market for it and as long as people are still paying I do not foresee the service going anywhere or changing the barriers to entry. Well, not for awhile anyway.

      The option comment was something of snide remark, but of course, if the trouble of watching anime every season or in general becomes too much of a hassle – yes, piracy is a consequence.

  5. While I love the instant (or near instant access) of streaming, I’m still big on physical media (DVD’s particularly). Unlike streaming they don’t disappear after a set period of time and they don’t use up my downloads to watch so if it is a series I plan to watch more than once buying the DVD is my preference.

    • I still purchase physical media as well since it is nice to have harder to find/older titles that have no chance of getting re-released or licensed. Think Funimation letting the license on Sekirei expire earlier this year in North America is a good example. Although as stated, for many titles that I don’t intend on purchasing or want, streaming is good enough for me.

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