For Western media, a Blu-Ray release is just a way to own your favorite TV shows and movies at stunning high resolution. But for anime? A Blu-Ray can absolutely transform the experience.
A Blu-Ray release of an anime can look completely different than its broadcast counterpart. We’re not just talking minor color differences: we’re talking fully redrawn scenes with significantly increased production value. Since many anime studios are under tight schedules when finishing a show for broadcast, they usually take their time to “finish” the show when preparing the Blu-Ray release. This is even true for shows that you’d assume have all the time and resources they could ask for, like Dragon Ball Super.
With this in mind, is it even worth streaming shows as they debut if you’re getting an unfinished product? Should you only watch anime on Blu-Ray to get the best experience? There are a few things to keep in mind before jumping to any conclusions.
The benefits of streaming anime can be boiled down into these three factors:
1: It’s good to watch a show when it comes out. Thanks to streaming services like Crunchy Roll, Western Anime fans are fortunately able to watch their favorite shows with subtitles less than 24 hours after the show airs in Japan. Yes, this makes it easier to watch your favorite shows, but it also means the internet will abound in spoilers that you might accidentally stumble upon. Your best chance of not getting spoiled is to stream as soon as you can.
2: Blu-Ray releases are expensive. Owning a single season of an anime on Blu-Ray can easily run you $30-$60 a season. This isn’t to say you don’t get plenty of bang for your buck between additional dub options and bonus features. But dropping this kind of cash for every anime you’re interested in should be reserved for hardcore collectors only.
3: Blu-Ray versions of anime can be streamed too. Yes, many official streaming services will actually update shows with their superior Blu-Ray renditions after they release. This varies case-by-case, but if you are late to a particular anime, you might not need to shell out big bucks for the “finished” version of the show. A true “have your cake and eat it too” solution to the issue.
Here’s the thing: if you’re an anime fan, you should definitely still get your favorite shows on Blu-Ray.
Everything that you’ve heard about the advantages of collecting physical media applies here. And with anime Blu-Ray releases, you often get a ton of great bonus features that are well worth the money for dedicated fans. If you’re lucky, some Blu-Ray releases can even become valuable collectors items!
But if you’re a casual anime fan, or you’re just checking out a new show, streaming is the better option. You don’t want to waste money on something you wind up hating, after all. And if you do really like what you see, you’ll definitely enjoy watching it again on Blu-Ray and spotting all the improvements along the way. Saying “why not both” seems like a cop-out answer here, but… I mean, for good shows, it’s worth it.
The high price tags on anime Blu-Ray releases can be intimidating at first. But if you start with your favorite shows first and build from there, you’ll be surprised to see how fast your collection grows. So don’t let the blemishes of broadcast anime stop you from checking out shows you’re interested in. They might be the next additions to your shelf later.
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