Yet Another Nail in the Coffin (Update)

So here it is midnight as I type this, and I’ve a mind to jump in the car, drive clear across Houston, and pound on Sentai Filmworks front door. I am seriously cheezed off right now.

I did my part, as mentioned in the last post — I paid good, hard money for three series that I had already seen in fansubs. Since I don’t have a BD player yet (consumer electronics, other than computers are generally low on my “must have” list–I only got a 43″ HDTV a few months ago), I am getting a lower resolution (480i vs 720p), but can live with that. Not easily on a 43-incher, but ok. The order came in today from Robert, and I decided to watch a little late evening anime after housework. Ah, the bachelor life.

I popped open the case to Infinite Stratos, brought over by Sentai, and got a pleasant surprise. Not only did they include the show (well duh), but they included the soundtrack CD and and a bonus DVD with extras. Not much, but it had the clean opening/closing and a radio show (that they filmed) featuring Houki’s, Rin’s, and Cecilia’s seiyuu. (Houki’s is cute, but I’m biased by the character, I think.) Sadly, no sign of Laura’s. They also had an interview with the director done by Charlotte’s seiyuu and some behind the scenes footage of them doing the CGI, which was cool and I want to talk about that later because it needs pictures.

Not only that, but the first thing I saw on opening the box was a little four-page leaflet with the romanized lyrics to each of the songs. I popped the CD into the computer and listened for a bit. There’s ten tracks, but I didn’t need five of them to be the ED song by each of the female cast. The other five are all different, and again, Houki’s is my favorite — although Laura’s is intriguing; it sounds like ELO doing Wagner on a synth. (The mind boggles).

All in all, I thought, a pretty good package to help dispel Sentai’s reputation for cheap, no-frills sets. Looking at the label, I saw that they’d included the OVA too. Nothing awesome, but more than I expected. Then I moved on to the DVD.

I noticed right away, something was amiss. Or rather, missing. Like the left and right side of the picture.

That’s right, the DVD is in 4:3. The series was definitely broadcast in 16:9; those files were among the ones I was able to recover after last winter’s virus, and I checked. Sentai included the frippery, and skimped on the basics. As if licensing crap and overextending ADV wasn’t bad enough, Ledford’s peddling for profit an inferior product when I could get much better for free. So, I just paid $40 for the soundtrack CD is how I look at it. I like the show; it’s a cut above the usual harem crap, even if it’s not all it could be… but I cannot recommend this series to anyone, given the poor value.

Seriously, is the anime industry TRYING to drive me into the arms of fansubbers?

And after all that, it might be the DVD player after all… maybe. It does appear to be 16:9, but the DVD player insists its 4:3 and won’t even let me activate 16:9. Other DVD’s play widescreen with no problem, so either my DVD is flaky or the discs are miscoded and my computer just ignores it.

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4 Responses to Yet Another Nail in the Coffin (Update)

  1. Andrew F. says:

    That’s really weird, considering I can’t find any similar reports about the Blu-ray–and the Blu-ray release tends to get a lot more fan scrutiny in situations like this. The package even says it’s 16:9 (for both DVD and Blu-ray). I’d contact Sentai and/or RACS; it could very well be an honest mistake–though that would be a pretty damning indictment of Sentai’s QC.

    • AvatarADV says:

      Speaking as someone who was, once, the majority of ADV’s QC department… yeah.

      Though I -did- miss that mistake once. Side effect of working straight from the masters. Anamorphic masters take up the entire 4:3 screen area, and are intended to be compressed down into the 16:9 format (thus having more horizontal lines in the image, right?) So it’s pretty easy to tell when you’ve got it wrong, because the characters are all a little stretched out and too-tall.

      Except when you spent a few months subtitling it from videos taken directly from the master and NOT reformatted into 16:9, at which point your brain goes “oh, yeah, this is what it looks like” when you’re looking at the DVD…

      But it’s a lot more likely someone slipped them pan’n’scan masters (one hopes they’re at least pan’n’scan?) and nobody there noticed because the people working on the show hadn’t ever seen it before and didn’t know what it was supposed to look like.

      Honestly, these days I just pay Crunchy and download anything they don’t get, with a few exceptions on BD. Can’t be arsed to care anymore…

  2. Ubu Roi says:

    I kept thinking “I must have the settings wrong on my TV,” but no, it said the picture was natively in 4:3. Is it possible that my DVD player was responsible? It’s rather old, and I can’t remember watching anything on it in 16:9.

    Hm, I have an experiment to perform tonight….Kanon’s in that ratio.

  3. Ubu Roi says:

    Well, I had issues getting Kanon to play in my computer; it was 4:3 on TV. I probably don’t have the right codec so half the time, WMP blows up on a DVD or spews error messages across the screen. “Invalid floating point operation.” Whatever.

    Oh the other tests. Demon King Daimou (also by Sentai) displays in 16:9 just fine when played on my old DVD. Which means it’s not the DVD player on IS, it’s Sentai being cheap. Probably figured “oh, there’s so few people left on DVD, it’s not going to make any difference.”

    Dearest John,
    I have found another and he satisfies all my needs… for anime. I wish you well in the future. Perhaps you’ll find another sucker one day.

    With much h8,


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