Saturday, March 23, 2024

Weekend Lounge ~ Early Anime Releases

Welcome to the weekend! Let us get to today's subject.

An sort of addendum to the recent post on Rooster Teeth and Akira Toriyama, I wanted to discuss the early days of DVD. The reason for this is because it is the first period of home releases where preservation itself was considered a selling point for the form. VHS and Beta were never sold to people as something you would own once and then never need again for the rest of your life. DVD, however, actually was.

For those who don't remember, or just aren't old enough, DVD, much like CD, was sold as one time one buy and it would last Forever as you would never need to do anything else. The late '90s and early '00s were very big on preservation as a selling point. And for the most part, it held true. If you were lucky enough to buy something back then, or buy it used now, there is a good chance your disc actually does function.

However, certain distributors and production companies did cheap out back then, which means there is a specific chunk of old media that actually hasn't been preserved at all. I wrote about that topic here. Today, I want to go in the other direction. What hasn't been preserved, not because of the quality of the actual discs, but due to the companies themselves simply not releasing the series properly to begin with. Believe it or not, there are still plenty of movies and TV series that have not had proper re-releases since their early days on standard definition TV or a cropped VHS release.

One perfect example of this is the anime that helped break the form overseas--Dragon Ball Z. Though it has had multiple releases over the decades ever since Funimation first released the clamshell Arrival VHS back in the '90s, there have been countless releases of the series. However, did you know that there has never been a complete version of Dragon Ball Z that wasn't a terrible mess that is close to unwatchable or incomplete in some way. Aside from one release in Japan (the now-rare Dragon Box releases), the entire series has never even had a presentable release before.

And it is just DBZ. The original Dragon Ball anime, GT, Super, and the movies, all have at least some form of watchable release that holds up. I can confirm my season releases of the original Dragon Ball anime on DVD have good presentation, multiple audio tracks, and still work after all these years. And it is also the only complete release of said series. The sequel series, Dragon Ball Z, however, has had multiple releases over the decades and ever single one has tremendous issues. Check out the above video to see what I mean.

All of this is to show that preservation isn't always a problem of faulty discs and shoddy production companies. Sometimes the source itself, or the one in charge of the license, simply refuses to release the product in question in a state that can be preserved in the first place. And what better way to show that than with what is possibly the most popular anime series ever released. Especially since due to the current state of streaming above all else, the likelihood of Dragon Ball Z now getting a proper home release at all is extremely low.

It's weird to think about for those of us who grew up with the Greatest Toys Ever. Preservation became a goal of a generation that released good things should be carried on, and demanded such from the companies that never thought twice about it. But now in the digital world, and over the last decade, we've started to fail in our original goal. Of course, not everything needs to be preserved, or will be, but one advantage Gen Y has is an eye for knowing what effected them and what has a chance of striking a chord with future generation. I'd like to think one of the most popular anime series of all time would be one of those, but who really knows at this point.

If we're failing at the one thing we're good at, then maybe Gen Y really does deserve its reputation as quitters. Personally, I'd prefer not proving the clich├ęs right, but that's me.

That's it for this week, and I'll see you next time. Our subject next time will be quite a bit different than mere preservation problems.

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