POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Feb 24, 2011
I've been thinking quite a bit lately about how we anime fans are getting our fix of legal anime.
Part of it stems from Suncoast Video closing its Pearlridge Center store last month. Another part is from an ongoing e-mail conversation I've been having with a reader about various anime rental sources, both on traditional DVDs and via online streaming. The fruits of that conversation likely will appear in a future column, after I've done a bit more hands-on research on the topic.
But the focus of today's column comes from news of how one Japanese company is taking its anime straight to users of Apple's iPod Touch, iPhone and iPad. Last Saturday, Anime World, a branch of Japanese media company Tokuma Shoten, released a free app for those devices based around the 2007 series "Denno Coil," renamed "Cyber Coil" in English.
What you get for the free download are story synopses for all 26 episodes; Anime World's "Infomation" page, which is in Japanese and useless to us in the English-speaking world; a "special" section that currently contains all of one picture; profiles of 11 characters; and "Anireco," where users can act like they're recording a character's dialogue during part of the anime (even though all of the audio cues surrounding said dialogue are in Japanese, so good luck trying to figure out the proper context).
The core of the experience lies in the "movies" section, where users can download each episode, one at a time, for $2.99 each. Episodes are in Japanese with English subtitles. Granted, it's more than the $1.99 per episode Funimation is charging for its anime on Apple's iTunes Store, but let's put things into perspective: You can get six episodes for the price of one episode on DVD of the anime I wrote about last week, the renamed-for-"Cel Shaded" series "Cat Poo One," and still have enough left over to buy a nice snack somewhere.
"Initial testing indicates a lengthy download process that cannot be done in the background," Anime News Network noted in its report. But I was still curious: How long would it take to download one episode to my humble li'l iPod Touch?
So I paid my $2.99, began the download process, got in my car, drove from my home in Mililani to the Leeward YMCA in Waipahu, got in a lovely workout, then drove back to find the episode waiting for me ... about an hour and 45 minutes later. A second download confirmed that, indeed, "instant" gratification isn't exactly something you should be expecting when you get these episodes. (By contrast, a download of the first episode of Funimation's "FLCL" from Apple's iTunes Store took a shade under an hour.)
This entire exercise would be pointless if the series wasn't worth watching. Fortunately, the included anime player is up to the task, and "Cyber Coil" brings with it an intriguing hook for a story. It's set in a time when augmented reality has taken society by storm and nearly everyone owns a pair of eyeglasses that's connected to the Web. Yasako and her sister, Kyoko, have just moved to a new city, but they're about to be sucked into a conspiracy surrounding a mysterious world known as "legacy space," an obsolete part of cyberspace, and the powerful cyberforms known as "illegals" that lurk within.
» MangaBento: This group of anime- and manga-inspired artists meets from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday at the Academy Art Center, 1111 Victoria St., Room 200. Visit www.manga-bento.com.