Evan Burkey

Weeaboo Wednesday or: How I Learned to Stop Torrenting and Love the Netflix

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One of the bigger problems anime fans run into is the method of how we get our sweet, sweet anime. If money isn’t an issue, then buying overpriced DVD sets is the way to go. If you’re like me, and money is tight, you have to resort to seedier methods like bittorrent. However, I’ve discovered a legitimate way to get a substantial amount of anime on the cheap. My friends, let me introduce you to the wonderful world of Netflix.

Netflix offers both DVDs through the mail and streaming movies over the Internet. They have multiple service plans, but the one that I have and think is the best deal is the 1 at-a-time plan. This plan allows you to have 1 DVD sent to you by mail, and gives you unlimited streaming from their instant streaming selection. As a movie aficionado, the instant streaming definitely caught my eye. No more searching for worthwhile torrents or buying overpriced DVDs is definitely worth my $8.99 a month. In case you’re still on the fence, here’s some reasons why you might want to take a look at Netflix.

Anime Selection

Netflix’s anime DVD selection is massive. You can easily find most movies and OAVs that have been brought to the States. While I was browsing the anime section, I came across many series, OAVs, and movies I have never seen before. The sheer amount of anime is what attracted me to Netflix in the first place. Also, the instant streaming selection is quite large and has some excellent choices. Most of the streaming choices are movies and OAVs, but there are a few full series up, such as both Ghost in The Shell: SAC series, Desert Punk, Pani Poni Dash, and others.

Streaming To Your HDTV

Using several different devices, you can stream movies straight to your TV or PC. I use my Xbox 360, which through HDMI displays my movies and anime in glorious HD. I also purchased a Roku Netflix Player for my parents’ Christmas gift, which is a small device that hooks to your router through wireless or an Ethernet port, and streams the movies to your TV. Other solutions include streaming straight to your PC, using certain Blu-Ray players, or a Tivo HD Box.

Recommendation System

This has to be one of the best features with Netflix. As I browse through the selection of movies and shows, I rate everything I’ve seen. As you rate more shows and movies, Netflix builds a profile about your likes and dislikes, and begins to push unwatched material you might like to the front pages. There’s quite a bit of anime in the streaming selection I had never heard of, and based on the recommendation system I watched it and enjoyed it thoroughly. Granted, the recommendation system requires many reviews before it starts to give you good suggestions, but that is the nature of the beast.

It’s Not Going To Get You Angry Letters From Your ISP

Whether we anime fans admit to it or not, downloading fansubs is copyright infringement. The binders of burned DVDs on my bookshelf are technically breaking the law, and so is PC that’s downloading the latest fansubbed episodes off bittorrent. Netflix offers a cheap, legal alternative to downloading most anime off the internet, and I’m all for staying within the confines of what is legal and what is not.

And now, on to some of the issues with Netflix

One DVD At A Time

With movies, this isn’t such a big deal, but with shows it raises a problem. Anime distributors are notorious for putting only 2 or 3 episodes on a disc, and with the cheapest plan being 1 DVD out at once, it makes it difficult to watch full series if you’re like me and love to plow through at 6-7 episodes a sitting. Let say, for instance, I want to watch the first season of Naruto (though I’m not sure why I would). Since I only get 1 DVD at a time, I have to get Volume 1 which contains 4 episodes. Knowing my habits, I’ll watch all 4 episodes in the course of an hour and a half. Now I have to wait 2-4 days for the Volume 2 to show up. If you don’t mind waiting a few days for the next disc in the set, then that’s fine, but I don’t want to wait that long to see what happens next.

Streaming Video Requires A Very Good Connection

As stated earlier, I watch all my streaming video on my Xbox 360 with an Ethernet cord plugged into my router. On top of that, my connection runs at 8mbps downstream. So for me, movie quality is not an issue. My parents, however, have 1.5mbps downstream through DSL and their Roku Netflix Player runs on the wireless network. They can’t watch movies in HD, and during peak hours the video quality becomes pretty poor. Netflix requires at least a 1.2mbps downstream for the streaming service, but I would recommend at least 3mbps if you want great quality.

Costs Money

A rather simple problem, some people feel they shouldn’t pay for anime. Now that issue is a completely different topic I’ll touch on another time, but regardless some people don’t want to pay up. $8.99 for the simplest plan that offers unlimited streaming is pretty damn cheap, and it is also a fair price. I have had a couple people scoff at the price, which is ridiculous.

Netflix’s anime selection is definitely not perfect, but it’s a great way to get your hands on a ton of anime without paying absurd prices. They offer a 14 day trial if you are interested, and I recommend any anime aficionado at least give it a shot.

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