Wednesday, July 26, 2017

I miss how Hulu used to be

With all the debate I'm seeing in the Anime community right now between Crunchyroll's model and the new additions of Netflix and Amazon's Anime Strike service. I just find myself remembering how much I loved Hulu not that long ago.

The majority of time I have spent streaming Anime online legally was on Hulu from 2014 to a certain point in 2016.  They ran smoothly, I could watch and even comment (via Facebook) on the video without needing an account, but was also able to make a free account so I could have a Queue and favorites.  And the ads were placed in the designed commercial break spots.  I might have complained about some small things at the time, but now I really appreciate what I no longer have.  The only real improvement they needed was even more shows to choose from.  Plus they included the Dubs just as Free as the Subs for almost everything that had Dubs, Sailor Moon and Attack on the Titan were the only exceptions.

From when I first watched Noir till sometime in 2014 I was not an Otaku, not knowingly, I was just a Nerd who happened to have seen a few more Anime then the average nerd.  Finding TVTropes in 2012 started increasing my Anime curiosity (since due to the Alphabet the Anime and Manga examples were first on every Trope's page), but I wasn't feeling too compelled to jump into all that just yet.

The hype around Sailor Moon's comeback is what first lead me to Hulu.  And from there It was on Hulu I first watched Madoka, and Utena (including the Utena movie) and The Rose of Versailles.  (A few others Animes I watched at that time I don't recall if Hulu or Funimation's website is where I watched them.)  And I re-watched Death Note and El Cazador there, I noted that they had Noir and Fujiko Mine but those I had on DVD so I didn't need Hulu for them.  And they had lots of other options.

Doing all of that mostly on Hulu was how I first got really into Anime.  Eventually to the point where I almost felt like I didn't need anything else.  How easy and convenient it was is what made it possible.

In theory everything I loved about Hulu should apply to Crunchyroll's current model.  But for me it just hasn't ran as smoothly the few times I've tried to use it.  Maybe that can be blamed on my cheap Laptop, but I used the same Laptop for Hulu.  Plus Crunchyroll frequently doesn't include include Dubs.

But then Hulu changed.

Two things happened.  They dropped most of their Anime, the most notable thing they still have is the exclusive streaming rights to the original Sailor Moon and it's official Viz Subs (and some of the Viz Dub).  But even worse is that a lot less, possibly everything by now, became possible to view without a paying subscription.  I first noticed this with non Anime stuff, a few non Anime shows I'd watched there, and I had wanted to use it for Pretty Little Liars last half season so I could just not need my TV at all anymore, but then found it wouldn't be view-able for free.

Now even Sailor Moon can't be viewed without a subscription anymore.  (And I inherently don't trust Free 30 day trails, my family has gotten billed for things we canceled before.)

Some of the few shows they do have I might feel inclined to try right now, after all I should maybe look at Vampire Knight for the Halloween Recommendations post I'm working on for October.  But I don't have the ability to pay for it.

Amazon's double pay wall is people's main annoyance with it.  What bugs me though is how none of the stuff Amazon gets seem to get Dubbed, unless I've missed something, I haven't really checked all of them, but they have Vivid Strike which ain't getting Dubbed.  I'm still unclear how all the licensing stuff works.  As someone who prefers Dubs, knowing every Netflix show will get Dubbed is a major relief.

Amazon most annoys me when it gets what I feel could be a good entry point Anime.  Princess Principal could be a great Anime for the people I know who are into New Pulp stuff. But I can't expect them to pay all that money just to check out one show.

What's funny about Netflix is how for Western Television their Binge watching model is being viewed as the wave of the future, people think the success of the Marvel Defenders shows is making this the eventual new standard. 

But for Western Anime fans it's basically the opposite, since we used to mostly not hear about shows till they were complete in Japan.  The ability to now watch shows relatively close to when they first aired, especially doing so legally, is a new experience, so going back to waiting till we have a full season to binge feels like an attmept to turn the clock backwards.

Of course that wouldn't happen if the shows weren't airing on the normal weekly model in Japan.  If the shows got made for the Binge model release to start with like Marvel's shows are, there would be no difference in how this practice is viewed for Anime and how it is for Western TV.  What annoys Western Fans is being forced to wait for something others aren't.  For centuries that was the unavoidable norm with imported media, but one of the benefits of the Internet is supposed to be tearing those walls down.

Thing is even for Western Television I think the Netflix model will turn out to be a fad. While I do want to see every show become Streamable once each episode airs.  The experience of knowing that at a certain time many other fans are watching at the exact same time you are, and being able to live tweet and post on forums and groups about it as it airs and right after.  And then spend a week speculating about what will happen next together.  Is as fun for fans of Western TV as it is for Anime fans.  I know this as someone who just finished spending 7 years as a PLL fan, and before that did Smallville.  And so in time I think the novelty of what Netflix is doing will die out.

But in the meantime I wish Netflix would focus on giving Dubs for older shows that simply didn't get Dubbed.  They tried that with "Glitter Force" but dropped the ball by Americanizing it.  This time drop Saban and try another PreCure series, like maybe Suite, and do it properly this time.  I'd also like to see Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne, Rose of Versailles, and La Seine No Hoshi.  And there is sure as heck a market out there for Legends of the Galactic Heroes.  Also some of the Gundam series that fell thought the dubbing cracks like Turn A Gundam.

And/or get into the business of doing New Dubs for shows where the old one is flawed, or generally hated.  Like Utena, or Higurashi, or their own failure with Smile Pretty Cure.  Also really old stuff like Space Battle Ship Yamato, and a number of Mecha shows.  For languages other then English, it sounds from what I hear like France deserves a do over on it's Rose of Versailles dub.

That leads me to thinking, perhaps in general the compromise should be giving us the Subbed version right away but then hyping the drop it all at once gimmick for the Dub.

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