Is It Legit? A Quick Tutorial in Telling Real DVD’s from Not-So-Real DVD’s

Hey Guys, Samurai here with a bit of a Public Service Announcement. Now, I’m sure loads of you have bought anime DVD’s online before from sites like eBay and Amazon, right? And I’m sure you’ve come across deals like this…


Or maybe like this…


Where you can get a complete collection for WAAAAY less than what the stores or other retailers are selling it for. But buyer beware–a lot of the time, these deals are NOT what they appear to be. Often times, these great deals are simply pirated DVD’s–inferior copies or remakes of the original source material being flogged and sold as legitimate versions. They may look like the official release, and they might have all the episodes of the original release, but these pirated collections are about as legitimate as that Kenyan Prince who needs your account number to wire $1,000,000 to your account.

“But Samurai-san,” I hear you whisper from your bedroom late in the night, “What’s the difference between these and the official versions? What am I losing by buying the cheaper versions?” Well, putting moral and potential legal implications aside, when you buy a pirated version of an anime, you’re buying an inferior product. Let’s take a look at a listing on eBay for a legitimate copy of or next reviewed anime Deadman Wonderland.

(Disclamer: Please note that I will be comparing the North American release of Deadman Wonderland as released by Funimation Entertainment. I know that some releases from other countries like Australia look different, but I’m only comparing the US version here.)


Okay, so here’s a listing. Notice that the seller, whose name I blued out for privacy reasons, has taken multiple pictures of the case and the DVD’s, which, as a buyer, sparks confidence that the seller is selling a legitimate copy. Notice that the official release of Deadman Wonderland is a 2 disk DVD set [Sometimes three depending on country of release] that contains extras including commentary tracks and behind-the-scenes interviews with the US Voice Actors as well as some tasty bits from Japan like the original trailers or Japanese V/A interviews. Also notice all the case art. Every inch of this set is covered in artwork. There’s little if any empty space. Also, if you zoom in, you’ll notice that the outer box, as well as the two inner cases and the DVD’s themselves all have the “Funimation” branding on them, along with the production company, Kadokawa Pictures.

Now, let’s take another listing for Deadman Wonderland


Okay, so this one kinda looks the same as the other right? There’s Ganta and crew in the middle, there’s the Deadman Wonderland logo on the top. And hey, it’s $29 with free shipping-Half the price of the official version! Looks legitimate, right? Let’s take a closer look…

First and foremost, notice where the DVD is coming from–Malaysia. Yet the shipping and handling is


FREE? That would, and should, throw up a red-flag for any buyer. Also, look at the case and the artwork as compared to the official release. Notice how barren it is? Notice how it looks next-to nothing like the official version? Notice how, unlike the official version, there’s NO outer box? RED FLAG! Also, notice that there is NO branding from Funimation or any other known anime production company anywhere on this case. RED FLAG! Also, the entry has this as being a 1 disk Complete Collection. Let that sink in. One disk…for a 13 episode series…while that might sound cool, once you get it home, it’s really not. Chances are the files on the disk have been compressed to within an inch of it’s little digital life. The consequences of that compression are poor video and sound quality which can, in some cases, render the DVD un-watchable or even un-playable in some DVD players. This is done so the pirates in question can use cheaper media to burn the show to. RED FLAG! Another sign: look at the back cover…again, no production company logos back here. But what’s this? Region-Free coding? All legitimate anime distributors code their DVD to the region they support so they only work on that countries DVD players. RED FLAG! Also, let’s look at the subtitles. English…okay, but Chinese subtitles? Malay subtitles?  Once upon a time, there were Spanish or french subtitles on SOME DVD’s…but nowadays you will only find English subtitles on DVD’s released in North America. RED FLAG!! So, all that being said, the verdict is that this DVD is, of course, PIRATED, and it’s only a matter of time before some unsuspecting fan comes along and buys it, thinking that they’re getting an amazing deal, but in reality, they’re getting a far inferior product than the real thing.

FLCLFakePirated anime isn’t just limited to online purchases. Some offline Brick-and-Mortar stores could, inadvertently, be selling faux goods, thinking they’re real. I speak from personal experience with this regard. About 4 years ago, I was in my local FYE when I stumbled across what was marked by the store as FLCL Volume 3. [This is before Funimation got the license for the series…] It was marked as “used” for about $12. The DVD looked just like the one that my local library had, except for some coloring differences. I also noticed that, on the back, it was listed as having ALL 6 episodes! A Grin broke out on my face–FYE screwed up! They marked the DVD as Volume 3 not realizing that this was some kind of Complete Collection DVD!  I made a bee line for the register. I got home, popped it in my DVD player, and that’s when I noticed something weird…Instead of ONE episode, I had all 6…and it was not very pretty–the video quality was poor, the commentary tracks were messed up, the disk skipped several times…it was a mess. I have since bought the official Funimation re-release of FLCL [which is so ridiculously cheap now…] and banished the copy away to the back shelf…a stark reminder of my mistake.

So, yeah, as you can see, there is a difference between the official release of a DVD and the pirated version. It’s all part of the risk you take buying from private sellers online or offline. But if you exercise a little caution and common sense, you can avoid getting scammed and get a great deal at the same time. And, if you inadvertently get burned or have been burned with pirated DVD’s, don’t feel too bad. It happens to the best of us…


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