Tech Connect: HD-DVD or Blu-Ray?

This seems to be a topic sweeping tech circles and the Hollywood industry; in the anime community, it is being discussed mostly in theory. And I think many anime companies are taking the right stance towards the new formats: they seem to be waiting for a winner in the format wars before announcing new releases on new formats or transferring their current libraries.

A review of Tom Cruise's The Last Samurai is posted here on High Def DVD Digest[highdefdvddigest.com]. I found the article linked through this Slashdot article[slashdot.org]. According to High Def Digest's review, there is a gap between what the capabilities of the format are and what technology is available on the market. This is good for the format because there is still room for it to grow. Hot in its heels though, Sony is planning on releasing Blu-Ray two months earlier, according to Anime on DVD [animeondvd.com] according to a news post on 26 April. The new release is supposed to debut in June.

With the popularity of DVD coming only in the late 1990s as the true successor to the market-popular VHS videocassettes, many anime companies were starting to have DVD libraries by 2000; AnimEigo, as I remember, announced around this time that their entire library from there on out would be in DVD format. And with the new format, a competition for the market right of succession, it seems they're going to sit this out until that successor is determined.

If I can though, I would like to make a prediction about the format war. I personally think that HD-DVD will win out. Sure, it is technically inferior to Blu-Ray but it's not as if American DVDs (both Hollywood and anime) are stretching the limits of the format that warrant such a large gap in size between DVD and Blu-Ray (not to mention HD-DVD to Blu-Ray). Another feature HD-DVD has over Blu-Ray is the ability to be backwards compatible with current DVD players. So, while a new player will need to be purchased, an HD player will play both HD-DVDs and regular DVDs, thus making many collections not obsolete right off the bat, as was with DVD from VHS (until the dual unit decks were introduced). I think these two defining factors are what is going to drive the market towards HD-DVD; after all, even though Blu-Ray is the technologically superior, Sony has lost the format war to a technically inferior foe before.

None of this is to knock on Sony or Blu-Ray; to be honest, Sony is one of my favorite electronic companies. Also, I think Blu-Ray is a much better format for data storage due to their huge size and capacity. I plan on buying a Blu-Ray burner as soon as they become more affordable.



Near the Start of Con Season

The 2006 Con season is beginning soon and we've got a couple of cool developments to report.

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On 7 April, Bandai of Japan reported (broadcast in English through Gunota) that the first TV series of Mobile Suit Gundam will be finally coming to DVD. What was once previously thought impossible is now becoming possible. Now there is much speculation (and hope) in the American fan community that Bandai Entertainment Incorporated, the North American division of Bandai Japan, will be able to release a long-awaited subtitle version Stateside. Only time will tell and hopefully Bandai will have a release confirmation during the con season this year. Little Akihabara hopes to be able to break the news.

Defying hopes, and very much pleasing to the fans here in the US, Media Blasters has announced three stellar titles this month alone - Hyaku Juou GoLion, Dairugger XV, and Yuushaou GaoGaiGar.

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Media Blasters back at the end of March announced it would be releasing the original American version of Voltron (and the lesser seen Vehicle portion in addition to the classical Lions); there were some vocal fan wishes for the original versions and MB announced those in a "Oh, by the way..." fashion. While GoLion and Dairugger are in the classic genre that Little Akihabara hopes for, GaoGaiGar's homage to the classic mecha genre holds hopes for many other classic mecha titles to follow suit. Either way, MB has proven with these three and its previous announcement of Tekkaman Blade that it is truly a company that sees value and profitability in more classic Japanese animation, as well as answering calls of an older fanbase.

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Although with the blitz of classic licenses over the first quarter or so of this year, it leaves one extatic and looking to the future for what's next, but there is a cynical part of me that is worried that this is it for the year. I sincerely hope that I am proven wrong about this and that we will see many more licenses announced and hopefully some more that will actually be released towards the end of this year (as GaoGaiGar is planned).

That's all for now; I am hoping to revamp the site some more, do some more exclusive imagery and get a couple of editorials written up.

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