Anime Ain’t Nothing but Suicide Misspelled

*Ah ha ha ha… you know, when I wrote about anime pricing the other week, I guess I really didn’t believe in my heart that affordability would actually get any worse in the very near future. Like, in the next couple of weeks. But lo and behold - Bandai will be releasing the new Katsuhiro Otomo-affiliated OVA project, the six-episode Freedom, in HD DVD/DVD Twin format (I believe that means it works in non-HD players as a plain ol’ disc), beginning June 26, at $39.99 per half-hour episode, with (oooh! aaah!) behind-the-scenes extras. You may recall Freedom as being affiliated with delicious Nissin Cup Noodles - a commercial for the project was floating around last year.

I’d like to say that Bandai is perhaps greatly overestimating the interest in anime on HD DVD and/or whatever remaining name value Otomo (who serves as storyboard artist and character/mecha designer - the project is directed by Shuhei Morita, whose short film KakuRenBo - Hide & Seek bears the distinction of being one of the few anime shorts to receive a R1 dvd release) possesses, but I think the situation is more a matter of Bandai seeking to mold the US market into something more susceptible to simultaneous US/Japan releases, as a means of cutting down on piracy and importing. Besides, poor Otomo didn't even get mentioned in the press release (neither did Morita, or any of the creative team, actually). Freedom Vol. 1 has already been released in Japan, yes, but not on HD DVD I don’t believe - it will hit the US and Japan at the same time.

It remains to be seen whether the US market will be interested in this scheme (probably no). Maybe they need to do what Huff suggested in the comments section of my last anime pricing post and play up the ‘authentic’ nature of the release. Does that still work? As for the show itself, well - the website is very impressive. Anime News Network has links to a talktastic untranslated six-minute preview (which is to say, 1/5 an episode, and a savings of nearly $8), and the project seems to be rocking that flat cgi look from the Appleseed movie that always reminds me of cel-shaded video game graphics. And Otomo’s visual designs seem determined to prod us between the eyes with Akira comparisons.

But hey - if you just couldn't wait to get your hands on that outer-space instant noodle anime that Katsuhiro Otomo didn't write or direct (which might be a saving grace for some), our United States will soon be neck-and-neck with Japan.

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