– Okay, so what is this? –
A little something different I’m trying out here, similar to what Geek-B-Roll did on his Tumblr. I’ll be posting reviews of various Malaysian DVD bosexts I’ve purchased from various sellers on ebay. For those of you who do not know, Malaysia has a very odd system of government that allows what are more or less “official bootlegs” to be sold within the country. This is mostly anime, asian drama, tokusatsu films and myriads of other content not normally available (or licensed here in the west). In the past, I had purchased three very cheap boxsets of anime DVD’s that I’ve always wanted to have – Berserk, Record Of Lodoss War and Mahoromatic: Automatic Maiden. I did not know these were HK’s (Hong Kong DVDs) or what was once considered the best form of bootleg you could buy. Why? Because I watched these DVD’s with friends for years and never noticed that they were bootlegs. The detail in the cases, artwork and the menus themselves were perfect. Many of them seemed to be complete 1:1 rips of the originals. How was I supposed to know?
(My old HK’s)
So, I got curious one night and checked ebay for the same thing about a decade later. The HK’s were all gone. A thing of the past. But in their place were dozens of Malaysian DVD boxsets, reasonably priced and offering the entire series of well, anything you can think of. For instance, the entire Fist Of The North Star with all of the movies and such for $34. Now, if you can even find all the movies and the complete series on ebay it’ll probably cost you about $200. Especially since some of these aren’t even licensed in America and were never dubbed over like every Dragon Ball Z thing known to man. As far as I’m concerned, I don’t really care what the quality looks like as long as I can see it – and even in a compressed format (like I had to do with some of my own DVD’s) it’s worth checking out to me. Now I know that some of you use streaming and whatnot, but the further away from the city you live, the harder it is to find decent internet, and furthermore – fair internet. The only viable option wants to charge me $50 a month for merely 20gbs of data, which I’d use in about a week or less. It’s nearly useless and I’m already paying more than that for 12gb of data on my cellphone, which I use much more than my laptop anyway. So streaming isn’t really an option as well as torrents. Plus, I’m a sucker for the art, even if it is a bootleg art – at least these crazy companies care enough to represent the product halfway decently.
By the way, all of these are made by a company that goes by the name of myanimationlv (www.myanimationlv.com), which is where you can buy them directly – but it’ll cost you. How much? Well, tack on about $20 shipping to every title and then you’ll see why the ebay option is more preferable, especially as most offer free shipping. There is another site however, based directly to western customers called www.ezyanimedvd.com, but the prices are a bit higher regardless of the fact that they sometimes have sales. I always go for the cheapest price I can get with these things though, as I have to do all the decompressing and high quality conversion/re-subtitling myself.
– The Review –
Observe. I bought Keijo first, just to test the level of quality and presentation of these things. Keijo is a ridiculous anime about young women who use their breasts and butts in some silly sport to knock each other off of a floating platform into the water. It’s surprisingly well-written as far as these fight scenes go, reminding me of a martial arts anime albeit with a goofy premise. After a long time of waiting (these usually take about a month to ship – please keep that in mind) it finally came.
Presentation: The box was actually quite beautiful. Instead of the plastic case I’d expected, I actually got a full-cardboard slipcover with a holograph of the anime’s title. Not even the major companies will go that route. My HK’s looked better than the actual western release boxes, and to charge as much as they do for these things, the official publishers should really look into these ideas. Yes, I do like holograms and foil covers when I buy these kinds of things, not some lame overpriced box that felt unlovingly created by some soulless machine. The box slid out (from the right, oddly enough) to reveal what I thought was a backwards DVD case. Well, it turns out that the cover print was made that way, matching the front and back of the box completely. Inside, we have a black case with a DVD that matches the artwork on the cover. Good enough, moving on.
Performance: These DVDs are Region 0, so they aren’t encrypted. A toaster can play them. The thing read on my PS3 quite well, albeit I did notice a little bit of fuzz going in and out, despite the fact that everything else was quite clear. No real sound issues to speak of either, minus the theme song, which felt a little tinny. I’m guessing that could be because of the raw Japanese punk soundtrack and not the DVD itself. Oddly, this DVD came with the English dub. Note that you don’t get that often, and it’s more or less one out of every hundred Malay DVDs that will ever feature an English dub. (Usually that’s only provided for people in the west who are looking to get anime like Attack On Titan really cheap, which sells well over there for good reason.) This really wasn’t a great feature, because that dub is pretty god-awful. I watched two episodes with the dub and kind of felt that they butchered it. Also, these DVD’s get a lot of flack about their subs being “terrible” or “so bad” but aside from not all of the episodes featuring English subtitles, (you can always pull them off the disc and find subs yourself, you know) I did find some of what I read to be much more interesting than what I was hearing in the dub. So, go figure. It is as you might expect from compressed files, (each one was about 359mb, which is more or less low quality for cellphones and that works for me – it may NOT work for you) with some artifacts and fuzz here and there, but totally watchable. I’ve read dozens of forums about these things, and one guy claimed that he doesn’t have high standards when it comes to anime quality, but this was too bad for him. If what I saw was too bad for him, then yes – he does have high standards, I’m sorry to say.
Conclusion: Yes, you’re getting a good deal. But only if you like low quality compressed files. For me, this is no issue. I’ve been watching low quality shit, since there was low quality shit. I can actually go back into my younger years and remember watching the fuzziest crap out there, just so I could see it. And it’s not like I’ve forgotten those films because the quality was bad. Nope, they still have the same feel as ever. I still remember the good parts as well as the bad – a film is a film, no matter how you see it. But I will say that I won’t settle for the camera crap any longer. I know a lot of people who watch cam screenings but I just can’t watch that crap anymore. I’d rather watch a low quality DVD rip than something with a bunch of people moving around in the theater, or I’ll just go to the damn theater myself. That wouldn’t be the one in town either, it’s a dump – they don’t even have the rights to new movies, only films that have been out for a number of months, some of them already on DVD. Yep. I’ve heard it may have closed down again. Couldn’t imagine why. (Insert sarcasm here) That being said, most of you will probably forego these reviews and ramblings, especially if you have access to crunchy or whatever you use – but for me out here in the sticks, things are just a bit different. You do with what you have available to you. On the plus side, at least the presentation is sharp enough to display on my shelf.
Performance : 8
This version of Keijo isn’t half bad, but if you want to buy the licensed one instead, please do. The dubs are deplorable either way, so I would just turn them the hell off.
– Post Review Ramblings –
Oh, and by the way – some people do want collections of Tokusatsu films like Super Sentai and Kamen Rider. Shout has only really issued up to Time Ranger, but Malaysia is already finished with Zyohuger, which was the last series Toei aired before the current Kyuranger. People are really trying to get their hands on Gokaiger, even though I found the Power Rangers version (called Super Megaforce) all over the local Walmart. Unfortunately for them, I don’t want the Power Rangers version of anything. I want the Sentai versions, which you can only get in Malaysia right now along with the Kamen Rider stuff, which Shout still hasn’t brought to the US. Especially Kamen Rider Gaim, which was written by Gen Urobuchi. In any case, you’ll at least be getting them cheap and I’ve already been to several ranger forums where they’ve just bought everything. If you’re a sentai nut, you’re a sentai nut – and you just blow all of your money on bootlegs. Now, I’ve bought a few of these myself, namely Magiranger and Go-Busters (as everyone there thinks it’s godlike, and it is the last sentai series they’ve done with a darker and more mature storyline like Jetman) with the intention of picking up Dekaranger and Gokaiger later on. I’ll also be covering those in the future.
I have also been checking the feedback notices for many of the sellers, which have high positives and low negatives. Some of those seem automated, but not all are. It’s pretty easy to tell when something says “Great service, will try again!” fifty million times in a row, and then a couple of them seem completely out of place and feature everything from kawaii anime emojis to various greetings from around the world. Even “you guys rock!” which you can tell is coming from more human purchasers. There are a few negatives to be had also, sometimes service will not go so well and people leave all sorts of terrible comments. Then of course you get the “bootleg” comment. Well, duh. Did you really think you were going to get the whole series of Dragon Ball Z for $20? People have been buying bootleg crap from Asia for years now, so this doesn’t really come off as surprising to me. My mother purchased shower curtains and some kind of rings from Wish ever since she discovered it, and all that shit is coming from China. By the way, I do support anime when it’s something that I want to see and we get it in. I actually bought the full boxset of Dimension W at the local Walmart for $30. This is a little steep for twelve episodes, as a Malay version of the series (for which none exists) would have only cost about $10-$12. But, my money goes right to Funimation and keeps them pumping out this stuff on a regular basis.
One last thing – I’ll only be reviewing the stuff that I’m interested in and personally bought. So no requests here. For instance, I’m not going to review the Attack On Titan Malay DVD as I’m really not that interested in the series and we have both volumes at the store, so I don’t want to bootleg something I could get outright and in my hands tomorrow. Still ain’t gonna watch it. :P