I am starting to wonder if it is even worth watching the television versions of anime anymore. In recent years, the industry seems to have an ever increasing practice of improving their television versions for the DVDs and BDs, and it is really starting to become very tiresome. Initially it started with harmless things such as fixing some frames here and there, or maybe even having a few extra scenes. Touching up on the quality to make sure the fans are getting their money’s worth is something I certainly can find agreeable. However, originally this did not mean the television versions were that different from their later revisions; you didn’t feel like you were missing out just because you saw it as it aired. This has changed in recent years for the worse.
Just this last weekend I was trying to watch the penultimate episode of Fate/Zero, something I was highly anticipating, only to become so frustrated I had to pause to not ruin the whole experience for myself. At one point during the episode there is a clear, sloppily edited in scene transition that visibly cut out the majority of one of the final and most important conflicts in the entire show. The delicious drama, characterization, and action we all were really hoping to enjoy were deliberately edited out of the show because it could not fit in the confines of a television format. Oh but don’t worry, these scenes will be on the blu-ray (along with a bunch of other ones throughout the show)!
Maybe some aren’t that bothered by this, but this is totally and completely unacceptable. It is simply not professional of the anime studios to deliver an unfinished product to their audience. I’m sure the expectation is to gall the audiences into buying their obviously overpriced DVDs and BRs for these extras, but unlike in the past, what’s being added to the DVDs/BDs are no longer really extras. Instead, essential pieces of the story that had been left out from the initial TV run are critically inserted. The television audiences are actively losing out on their entertainment experience and the only way to avoid this is to fork up some cash.
I guess when your industry for late night anime is so dependent on pushing out these overpriced discs they will use any underhanded tactic they have at their disposal. But if these companies are not willing to give their best effort in the television airing, why in the world should I believe they will do differently on revised products? The expectation here is that you enjoyed the television airing so much that you would gladly pay for it, but this just seems completely wrong to me. Was it not that when you watched a series you could see exactly what was being sold?
Perhaps the most egregious example of this to me was the original airing of Bakemonogatari. The poor scheduling by SHAFT ended up being so terrible that they later had to air the last three episodes on the internet. If you only watched anime on TV, you would never have been able to see them, and if you had gone into its sequel Nisemonogatari without seeing the last few episodes of Bakemonogatari, there would be quite a few details that you definitely find confusing. As always you could just buy the DVD or BD, but how would someone know if the last few episodes were even worth paying for? To me, this just isn’t right.
Of course, big franchises like Fate and Monogatari can get away with these things because they have huge fanbases who are ready to cough up as much cash as the creators would like. Moreover, after a few years the product that will end up being remembered is not going to be the television airing, but the actual finished one. Particularly in Fate/Zero’s case we have seen enough effort put in by Ufotable that it’s all but assured that the final show they put together will be as glorious as many expected. The canon version of Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner we all know today is actually a director’s cut with tons of extra footage, so this is not unheard in the movie industry. But the reason why someone like him redid that movie was because he was unhappy with the initial theater release! This was not an excuse to be lazy or to deliberately not give the audience the absolute best they had.
So now when I consider the fact that my initial viewing experiences of shows are souring by unprofessional practices which directly affect the quality of a television show, I’m starting to find myself less inclined to check out certain shows as they are airing. If their best effort is being saved for the DVDs and BDs then there is no reason to watch anything but that. I simply have no interest in viewing unfinished products that are becoming no better than glorified commercials.