atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

Urusei Yatsura

Over the past several days I've been working on copying my Urusei Yatsura tapes to DVD.

AnimEigo started subbing UY in 1991 or 1992, and they are still not finished with the series yet. Granted, the fan base for UY is somewhat smaller than the fan base for other long series.

UY is an acquired taste for me. When I first saw it, I hated it. But I later came to like it, and now it's among my favorites.

Why not just buy the AnimEigo disks? First off, I already paid for a copy. Second, AnimEigo's prices are 'way above those typical for the industry of today. When they first started subtitling UY their prices were reasonable: anime was a niche in a niche market and large runs could not be profitably made, so the per-unit price was rather high.

These days that's no longer the case. Anime can be mass-marketed; one need only look at the lineup on Cartoon Network to understand that. They are still running Inu Yasha and there are other series which they're running besides that. They ran Gundam W, FLCL, Cowboy Bebop, Tenchi Muyo!, Blue Submarine No. 6, and a host of others. (Currently they run Samurai Champloo, Cowboy Bebop, Naruto, ghost in the Shell, and I forget what else.)

UY can't be shown on TV. Well, it can; but since it's a product of the early 1980s, there is occasional brief nudity, as well as panty shots and other instances of fan service. There would have to be some creative editing and some digital swimwear involved, which would be sure to raise an enormous ruckus from the anime puristas. ("Americans just don't get it!")

And I have to wonder if AnimEigo even has the rights for US broadcast. In the early 1990s I'm sure that would have seemed a superfluous expense.

But since UY has no real wide exposure, it's not a front-line series. People just don't buy as much UY as they do of other series; so the per-unit cost is still higher than for other series. In other words, don't expect to pay $65 for 35-episode box sets, as you can with Cardcaptor Sakura (when it's on sale). It's not going to happen. If you buy new, you can expect to pay between $25 and $30 per DVD for UY, and it's still four episodes per volume.

I just don't have that kind of money laying around. Since UY was finished long before all-digital anime production became a reality, it was made the hard way: hand-drawn cels, transferred to acetate, then hand-painted; each one painstakingly photographed in sequence. And then that got transferred to videotape, of course--analog videotape--all of which means that even in the best of cases the video quality is not exactly perfect. Copying to DVD from SP VHS tape makes for no serious degradation in video quality.

Fortunately the Fair Use clause in US copyright law still allows me to do this legally, otherwise I would not be talking about it here. I own the tapes; I am allowed to make copies of them for personal use only. (It would be illegal for me to make the copies and then sell the tapes, though. Ditto for selling the copies...or even giving them away.)

The next big project after this will be to transfer my Kimagure Orange Road LDs to DVD. I bought the box sets from AnimEigo when they came out, so I've got the entire TV series. That'll take some time, though. I just hope I can stand all the episodes wherein Kyouske runs after Madoka screaming, "Ayukawa! Ayukawa!!!" over and over and over again ad nauseum....

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