For a while I have covered Malaysian anime DVDs, which I still purchase every now and again through importing and dealing with certain shops in the region. However, I noticed last night on my Facebook feed that a local US-based store called “Twitty” was selling these to people around the world, and despite the slightly raised markup from the handful of sellers on eBay that I know do sell the anime here (the higher price is mainly because you don’t have to wait a month for shipping) this store was selling people the same anime DVD’s that I’ve bought rather cheaply for exorbitant prices. Now, I know that you may be a fan of Dragon Ball Super and that the 1-131 box set might look good to you, especially when it is in English. But that’s the thing.You see, Twitty lied to its customers and assured them that this DBS DVD set had the English dubs. Now, these companies have gotten the rights to more English dubs than usual, but DBS is still in the process of being completely dubbed as far as I recall and it would be a while before the Malaysian distributors would get the rights to those dubbed tracks for Chinese and Malaysian audiences. Though what’s more, is that you can grab this nice little box set for a mere thirty bucks on eBay, but Twitty was charging well over sixty dollars for this piece, which is definitely a scam in my book. That’s highway robbery by all counts.
The nature of Malaysian DVDs is of course a gray area. The Japanese have their discs, which are region locked for that country and not playable in most western devices. That’s just the way it is. Because of this, western releases are made for those of us in the US, UK, Canada and other neighboring territories. So what about the Chinese, Vietnamese and Malaysian markets? Well, that’s where the Malay DVD comes in. Made in Hong Kong along with your other western localized releases, these were called HK’s for the longest time and were considered “bootleg” by collectors. Now, that only applies if we’re talking about western territories. However, in Malaysia you’ll find that only these discs are available in their anime shops. Because of quality complaint by the people of Malaysia, the discs now offer much better picture and English subtitle quality as well as the option of an English audio dub track. I also feel that this has to do with the growing popularity of these discs to foreign markets, particularly because they’re myriads cheaper than the localized release and offer a full series and extras in one box.
And judging from what I read on those Twitty facebook comments, people don’t care. Now, Twitty did post that they were selling the complete Inuyasha box and one person of a moral high ground commented that he informed Viz (the western localizers of the series) of this infringement. Though the most that Viz can do is to call the store and ask that they stop selling it. They can’t however, request that Malaysia stop selling it because that is within the rights of their own government and the rights that were negotiated under the table for these territories to distribute anime in their country. Viz is nothing more than a US localizer. Another comment stated that the discs didn’t brand with the original anime producer’s logo. That is once again, because rights were distributed completely under the table. A-1 simply says, “Here you go” and that’s pretty much it. Regardless of all this, it is never a wise thing for a store selling Malaysian DVDs to post them all over social media in the west, especially when they claim to have a shop in Arizona. Anime fans are geeks as you know, and geeks are quite resourceful. I found some posts where the wall image used for this store was actually taken from a store in Japan. Additionally, the site where these DVD’s is sold is not Twitty at all, but a place called “Zumy Store” which doesn’t have a single DVD for sale at all. There was nothing there but handbags and cheap Chinese trinkets, more or less. Then things got a bit more interesting when I noticed that Twitty was using some odd links – all of which took me away from “Zumy Store” and into a place called “Retro Hubble.” Here is where troves of both Malaysian discs and official localized releases were being sold, for again; exorbitant prices. I had been here before, because I remember this shop trying to sell me overpriced stuff that I was able to get cheaper through my sellers. Adding insult to injury, many buyers were complaining that they were waiting forever for what they thought was a small shop located in Arizona and demanded their money back. There’s no real way to tell if this shop actually exists, even though an address for Retro Hubble is included in their “About” section. With “Zumy Store” both the “Contact” and “About” sections pulled up 404 Errors. Though everything that required money certainly worked. Oh, and by the way – people were definitely posting pictures of their received products in the comments. Surprisingly, most were very happy with the quality. The Ghibli boxes were posted often, to what I’d consider customer satisfaction. Problem was, these people were paying another sixty dollars to get something that they could find for at least sixteen to thirty dollars from eBay sellers, even those few in the US. So they would’ve had lightning fast delivery and a much cheaper price overall. But don’t tell Twitty/Retro Hubble that. I posted something of that nature and they blocked me from commenting on their posts. They didn’t want people to know that they were being ripped off. Not that these products were inferior – they are Standard Definition whereas most companies use Blu-Rays now for their releases, they just weren’t worth the amounts of money that people were being charged.
My problem with this is that Twitty, Zumy Store, Retro Hubble or whoever they are is definitely making waves with Malaysian discs. People that have access to western releases are buying them due to low costs. The presentation is nice and the quality is the best it has ever been. On par with any high quality stream, I can say that. The problem is, that this takes money away from these localization companies. Instead of paying thirty dollars for a split season of My Hero Academia Season 2, I can just pay thirty dollars for both seasons of My Hero Academia in high quality with the English dubs. This was fine for the Malaysian people who are not paying as cheap a price as you are (look at the price tags on any of these DVDs and you’ll see) but for people in western territories it can become a threat to profit along with streaming sites, which they’ve tried to combat with Crunchyroll, VRV and others. So maybe they’ll decide to finally give up the ghost and quit splitting these seasons. Instead of thirty dollars for pieces of a season, they’ll just box the complete seasons for a more reasonable price.
Even with TV shows, you can get them rather cheaply, depending on the show. They were selling the complete Penny Dreadful (S1-3) for just a mere twenty or so bucks at the retail outlet I work for, so I know that this can be done with anime. The complete Beetlejuice and Ghostbusters cartoon series also sold for just thirty dollars. Dragonball GT sold for a mere thirty dollars as well. It seems that if something isn’t very popular, they’ll sell it to you at a fair price. That seems just a tad bit unfair, which is why I see these Malay DVDs as a sort of “vote with your wallet” thing in that circumstance. Sony now owns Funimation, and I still support Sony and buy their films when I enjoy them anyway; so they’re still getting my money in some fashion.
As I get older, I find that more companies want my money. Though the internet makes it much easier to actually make a decision in who gets my money and furthermore, who actually deserves to have the fruit of my hard-earned labor. Unlike movies in the US, anime distributors mainly dub and box the stuff. They don’t actually have to create it by hand, the impoverished anime creators suffer through all of that. Yes, dubbing takes a lot of time – and as I said, if you want to support localization efforts, please buy the localizations or support their many streaming services. AT&T just bought Crunchyroll, so things are heating up in the streaming market.
To end all this, I’d like to say that while Malaysian DVDs or Odex boxes are becoming much more popular in an age where physical media is becoming more expensive and less available than it was a decade ago, I don’t think it is a good idea for this shop or any shop that sells these discs to advertise on social media, and definitely not rip people off. Twitty definitely used a couple false images in their product descriptions, which made people want some discs much more than they realized and that’s just not a good business model. They’re quite shady in all honesty and I would never deal with them. I’ve been importing from a small shop for a while now and they send me business cards as well as bookmarks and posters and such. I definitely pay attention to anime sales in my retail outlet, as they have done numerous and I’ve walked away with dozens of localizations. No, I’m not just sitting around with hundreds of Odex boxes, I do support the companies and you should if you live in an area where anime is localized. I don’t like streaming, but I do pay for netflix every month and could stream several of the anime that I own in an Odex box. Though I barely use the service, I’ve certainly been paying for the rights to stream these series if I wanted to, with the dubs (which some of my older Odex boxes do not have, by the way.) So yes, I do my part. I just honestly have a fascination with the kanji being added to the titles of the anime as well as the official Japanese translation for many of them and the flashy boxes. I love it. I’d buy a shipment of nothing but the boxes, because there’s just so much work put into them than we get here. Again, if you look at the four DBS seasons that have released, the box art is just weak. There’s no thought to it at all. Nothing shines, there’s no kanji. I want my Japanese anime boxes to look like Japanese anime boxes. I like the pop-out characters and the cloth inserts. The only reason why I continue to buy these, is because once again, these people are doing what big US anime localizers aren’t – giving us the culture of the anime. I don’t want Americanized anime, I want Japanese anime. I want it to look like it is a work of art from another country, no matter how clean or vulgar the plotline. What if I decided to go back and localize foreign heavy metal abums? I translated the band’s logo all the song titles on the back, and then I went into the booklet and translated all of the lyrics inside. Doesn’t that take away the cultural impact of the product? This is a Norwegian, German, Swedish, Finnish or otherwise act and it isn’t meant for other ears, but other ears can listen to and enjoy it. We even edited Mega Man X Legacy Collection because of failure to get copyrights for a couple of Japanese songs as well as for content. And some companies are under-fire for editing subs or changing the dubs from the subs completely. I don’t care how much you love Attack On Titan, what you’re getting in the dub is so far removed from the script that it’s ridiculous. Shockingly ridiculous. It’s almost like Funimation wanted to play Ad-libs. So don’t tell me that the cultural impact and integrity of these discs are being compromised, which is yet another reason I would rather support anime in Malaysia in most cases, over what has been badly butchered in the US. I am an older guy and I love my dubs, especially the bad dubs from the nineties (nostalgia) but this is shit and I personally won’t settle for it.
We have a choice not to be ripped off by either poor localization or shops like this one, which scammed customers into paying far more than they should for Malaysian DVDs. Please be a responsible consumer and do research before you choose to buy from this or any outlet. Wish is also rife with these kinds of foreign goods. I was gifted an awesome Drgaon Ball T-Shirt that I think is quite amazing, from Wish and I know that it is not authentic for our region. That being said, I love it and would consider it one of my favorite shirts. Much of the stuff bought on Wish is not authentic either, but it doesn’t really matter just so long as the quality holds and that is what I find true for most of these products. You can get really geat stuff for far less than you’d have to pay if it was official and that’s just an effect of removed borders. People have more choices than ever in what they buy and as long as they’re enjoying it – that is all that counts. Though once again, that does not mean that they should be scammed, lied to or forced to pay exorbitant prices.
Shame on you Twitty, Zumy Shop and Retro Hubble.