Space is Nothing. Format is Everything…

[NOTE: Originally written December 1, 2008. Never been published. Article extended to meet revision. Images subject to copyright.]

The use of space is important in Asia and Southeast Asia. Whereas the laserdisc went by the wayside here in the U.S. by the 70s – 80s, Asia still continued to use VCDs during the 1990s to early 2000s (funny how this seemed to coincide with anime’s growing momentum here in North America).

What is the VCD? Virtually unknown to most North Americans, the VCD appears to be the standard on how films are formatted and marketed in the Asian market. Whereas, in North America/Canada, we once had the laserdisc and later, the VHS, both VCD and Laserdisc appear to still be in common use.

With the VCDs I’ve purchased and viewed, quality in the format appeared high, resolution was quite crisp, more so than in some DVDs! My one gripe is that with a VCD, a film is split in two discs! However, you still get both discs in a VCD sleeve or pack! And the VCD is still hands-down CHEAPER, often half the price of the same film in DVD. However, please make sure to read the product description. Sometimes, the VCD is cheaper because it is in another-language format or Region format. Make sure before purchasing, your DVD Player model can play VCDs (My 2 Toshiba DVD players can play VCDs).

My series “Utawarerumono” was packaged in Japan in only two volumes (4 DVDs), slim pack lined in velvet to protect the disks! (Geneon and a few other American/Canadian anime distribution companies are now doing thin packs).

The company I purchased “Utaware” had a wonderful website, easily to navigate – which, to a web designer, is key and king – and their customer service was phenomenal, quick and simple. Their e-newsletters were timely, they often had sales, discounts and even contests, to win swag from their U.S. store or direct from their Japanese distributors!

Later, this company was shut down for illegal copyrights, bootlegging, counterfeit anime products, and where did that leave me, the consumer? Mind you, I HAD NO CLUE they were illegal. Everything APPEARED legit. My only gripe was that I didn’t buy more before they were put out of business! And before you say anything, there are plenty of LEGIT companies that don’t do well for their customers, don’t sell well-packaged products nor sell quality items as this company.

And NO, I am NOT saying the name. And I’m not endorsing in any way to buy bootleg stuff.

Utawarerumono English title

Utawarerumono (in Romanji letters) English DVD

Here in the U.S., we seem to needlessly waste items, including that intangible called SPACE – the U.S. edition “Utaware” comes in several BOX SETS! It’s a 13-episode war fantasy epic!! Why do we need it boxed!? Shouldn’t it simply be SLIPCASED?!

I remember around 2001 at Aventura Mall’s Suncoast (now Fye), the clerks used to aggressively force-feed NewType subscriptions to fans of Japanese animation – shh.. “anime” wasn’t in the mainstream lexicon, and we weren’t called otaku yet, just ‘oh, one of those’! – Also, a girl couldn’t be into anime unless a boyfriend, partner or husband had introduced her to it, or if she had small children. Yes, I know this was the Industrial Age…

I wondered why my order looked so big and felt so bulky and heavy. The clerk explained that it had an “Escaflowne” action figure. Realize that the image below is only HALF the package. The mech action-figure takes up another half, the same height, width and size.

NOTE: Esca-flow-nay is the mech the male protagonist rides.

Escaflowne DVD set

Escaflowne Complete Collection

In 2010, I bought, what my mom thought was one of the best Christmas gifts she’s received.

My mother’s always been a hardcore “Thunderbirds” fan– the actual, ‘Supermarionation puppetry’ 60s TV series, NOT that live-action travesty Hollywood had the nerve to waste money on!

I did my online hunt, and the first item was the “Thunderbirds” Megaset (top). Below is the 40th Anniversary Megaset in thin pack. View the major difference in size and width! And it is STILL all 12 DVDs with Bonus material!

Thunderbirds complete DVD set

Thunderbirds Megaset (Complete 12 Volume Set)

Thunderbirds 40th Anniversary Thinpack

Thunderbirds 40th Anniversary Collector’s Edition Megaset

Needless to say, I bought the slim pack. One can only hope that this trend of making DVD, and now Blue-Ray, will continue to be packaged as thin or slim packs to the consumers. It doesn’t hurt the quality of the discs in any way, and the marketing doesn’t seem hurt by the smaller space either.

NOTE TO READER: By the way, “Uta-war-ray-roo-mon-no” means “The One Being Sung” in case you need something to be the life of the party. Or you wanna impress that Certain Someone.

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