Let me start out by saying that a lot of time has passed and since the time I posted my Dragon Ball Super Malay DVD Review, I’m literally drowning in these things. Literally, I own quite a few and have found the quality to differ depending on the anime. Of course, I’ll be covering these as well as explaining a lot of information that anime fans are completely in the dark about, as communicated to me by sellers right here in the US. Though let me state that I have also continued to support localizations in my country, which means that I have also purchased Shiki, Deadman Wonderland, Gargantia, The Berserk 3 Movie Set, The Marvel Anime box and Soul Eater box among others. I will continue to support all of the anime that I find to suit my palette and be fairly priced. You can also use CrunchyRoll and Netflix to watch all sorts of anime for a small fee, including the Devilman Crybaby series which has so far been rather entertaining to me. I was skeptical at first.
In any case, let me explain some of the results of my research on this subject. First off, most of the Malay discs are purchased through eBay, whether you purchase here in the US from a shop or right from the home country which takes about a month to ship, unless you buy about a dozen of them; which is wise to do. In any case, the legalities of this are interesting. First of all, the rights for these are mostly handled under the table by Japanese anime companies and Malaysian distributors. This doesn’t surprise me, nor should it you as Malaysia isn’t a very rich country and the Asian film market is a massive commodity there. I’m sure there are definitely bootlegs out there too, but Amazon and larger companies like Lambian Filem are making sure that when you search for an anime DVD and find a Malaysian disc, it belongs to LF, Hong Feng or another company that they’ve given rights to. Again, LF does their own in-house dubbing of these titles, so what you’re finding online is what Malaysians are purchasing in anime shops around the region. Not all Malaysians are happy with this, as these companies are not always given the DVDs to work with and will sometimes use fan-rips, re-subbed by the company. It’s a bit of a weird situation, kind of like when Lars bragged that he’d downloaded a copy of Metallica‘s previous album, Death Magnetic. He held the rights to it, so it was a completely different manner. Not even the fan-subbers hold rights to what they sub, but these companies actually managed to obtain those rights – which is getting more difficult judging from the amount of releases on their page, which seems to get smaller and smaller every week. During the end of last year, they released several Summer anime that they’d gotten the rights to, but as of this year, they haven’t really put out so many. I think it may have been three last week and three this week. That’s an absurdly small number, which means that they’re obviously having to wait longer to get rights to these franchises. (Edit: They have picked up as of late, including the last DBS box, featuring episodes 88-131).
Tokusatsu is even slower as (at the time of this writing) I saw only one release for Ultraman Ginga. We still don’t have Kyuranger yet, but I know that Toku fans are salivating in anticipation of it’s release. (Edit: We do now and the next Sentai series is on it’s way too now.)
I also talked to a seller who has been selling these discs here in the states for a while. He told me that it is basically a grey area of sorts, as I might figure. He only had one major complaint from an anime company who requested that he stop selling the first volume of Super Lovers, a popular BL/yaoi anime. He asked if he needed to remove the second volume from his shop as well, but the company responded that it wasn’t worried about that volume, just the first. Japanese anime companies are quite strange in this regard, so we’ll just leave it at that. He also said that many of these anime just won’t release in a box form here in the US because of the digital streaming age, which is a sad thing for collectors. You may want to own a physical copy of a series, but will find that it never made it over here or just wasn’t released in anything other than digital. Sure, it might not be an official box, but a nicely made packaging for a great anime or toku is nice to have in any form. I’ve never had an issue with any of these displays and they have only been getting better.
Secondly, some even feature the dubs and I have no earthly idea how those rights were grabbed, but have a bit of a theory. An American anime dubber might do the voices for the character and get his pay, but he doesn’t actually own the rights to those lines. Just like an actor in a film. He gets paid for his work, but he doesn’t own the final product. He can’t take those lines and use them in anything else of his own. They’re owned solely by the company and can be negotiated in any fashion. If a negotiation was made between an English and Asian company completely unbeknownst to the actors, I don’t think that it really matters as long as they get their royalties and the pay for the work that they did initially. For all I know, they may have even gotten royalties for this kind of international distribution. We cannot be certain.
As I said before, these are the official Malaysian DVDs that are sold in their local anime shops. Just as we don’t sell many imports here, they don’t sell many imports there. Fans definitely want imports, just like fans in the US would love to have Japanese imported versions of their favorite shows for collector’s value. These are pretty damn expensive though, so if you like spending a hundred bucks on one volume of a Japanese work and have a DVD or BluRay player that can actually read Japanese imports (note, most western players cannot) then by all means, knock yourselves out. I just don’t have that kind of money.
I was completely blown away by the presentation here, as I am extremely familiar with these characters and even consider one in particular an inspiration for a character in my previous book series. In any case, the company here (Glorious Media, as sold on the LF website) gave me not only a boxed sleeve with a foil logo, but also a pop-out cover of the cast! These pop-up covers are very cool and I’ve already gotten several like them before. I love them. I have to ask you, why would a bootlegger go to all this trouble? Surely, it would cost even more money to make expensive pop-out covers and print out different image stickers for each disc. Plus, some of them would be stuck on wrong, the colors would be mismatched, exc. I’ve seen bootleg crap before. We’ve all seen it at the Dollar Tree. This isn’t even in the nature of “Bootleg crap.” It’s definitely professional work.
For The Golden, which was never localized in the US for some ridiculous reason I’m sure – we have two discs with six episodes each. That’s great, because these files are about 700mb a piece, which is going to equal out to superb DVD quality, and it is – it looked nice. The subtitles are also good, nothing out of the ordinary there. Plus, these are ripped from the actual DVDs and are not TV rips. Yet another fucking plus in this set. Now for the original series (which wasn’t why I bought the set, by the way) they’ve packed twelve and thirteen episodes onto each disc, which may result in lower quality. But I’m familiar with the original series, the DVD/Blu is readily available for purchase and it’s even on Netflix, which I pay just $11 a month for. To be honest, I haven’t even put the DVDs of the original series in. In all honesty, the two Golden discs are in great quality and that’s good enough for me. A downside for some is that there is no dubbing available on this disc as with many Malay discs that you buy. Though as The Golden never came to the states, I really didn’t care either way.
Persona 4 The Golden is a sort of alternate timeline version of the original series, adapted from the remake of the PS2 title released exclusively on the PS Vita. It involves a new character Marie who has lost all of her memories, and starts out mainly with silliness and some fanservice episodes, though it then becomes hugely serious as the anime goes into harsh detail explaining the backstory behind Adachi and the original murder that started the entire game. After watching this, I have to say that I didn’t feel bad for Adachi. You see, the actress in question was cheating on him. She also looked down on him. Many women had looked down on Adachi, but Adachi himself wasn’t always such a bitter person. I can understand why he might have pushed her into the TV and anyone who has ever been deeply in love with a person but was then betrayed, might have done the same. That is just my opinion though. In any case, this deeply mature segment was completely left out of the original game and I guess I can understand why. Later on, we find that the amnesiac Marie is a big-bad and they have to battle her in order to change her mind and all that good stuff. If I recall, Yu still jumps aboard the train and goes back to the city as if all of that never happened, but I do believe that he comes back to visit again, which they show towards the end and is rather nice. It felt like a real tying up of most of the events in Persona 4, except for the TV Realm and Teddie’s past, which are both never really explained. I feel that there’s a bit of a pacing problem in the series though, as all of the fun stuff happens right before everything goes into the darkest corner imaginable for the series. You never see it coming and once it does, you kind of wish that the more light-hearted episodes would return. (Reiterate: I loved these episodes, especialy the music related one where marie plays a few notes of the velvet room theme on guitar.) I’ll also admit that I love the anime’s ending theme, especially where Marie has been synched with the song so that it seems as if she’s singing during the end credits. This is an amazingly cool effect. I definitely don’t like the opening theme very much though, I felt it was much weaker compared to the other two in the previous series and have no idea what in the hell the frontwoman of Lotus Juice was singing about this time. It felt like a B-Side from the band. All in all though, if you consider yourself a diehard fan of Persona 4, you owe it to yourself to pick this one up. Especially right before Persona 5: The Animation airs, which will be very soon. Which reminds me, I still need to finish the game!
A great way to experience Persona 4 The Golden, so definitely give a purchase if you are able. This boxset was a bit rare, so you might not be able to find it anymore. They do stop making certain DVDs after awhile, so get it while you still can if you’d like to at least own a copy of The Golden. Next I’d like to cover the four Persona 3 films, two of which we also never got localized for some yet unknown reason. (This will be on hold, as I have other material to cover and was NOT overly fond of those films.)
EDIT: You can buy these officially if you like now, but The Golden was never dubbed. So there won’t be much of a difference.