I had planned to do a post on this later on, but a reply to a comment I made on Twitter irritated me so I wanted to do it now while I’m still feeling the wroth 😀
Anime-on-Demand is the new UK based legal anime streaming site. Unlike sites such as UK Anime News who basically syndicate Crunchy Roll, this is a dedicated UK streaming site. When it was all announced I was (like a lot of people) dancing for joy and getting ready to whip my card out to pay a subscription.
What we have however is a site that frankly looks like a 15 year old slapped it together in their bedroom.
So, lets take a look at the websiteâ€¦â€¦
Main home page
First thing i noticed was the site design itself, is well, crap. Talking with the MangaUK staff on twitter i commented on the fact that the site looked crap (@MangaUK it’s nice to see us brits getting a streaming site finally, but gods is it ugly!! and @MangaUK no to mention it looks like a dodgy illegal site >.<). At the time my comment was a bit of a throw away one. Iâ€™m definitely glad to see the UK get a dedicated streaming site, but even so i wish it didnâ€™t look cheap and tacky.
MangaUK responded with two comments that really set my teeth on edge, the first: @RyuSheng I think it’s sleek and clean. Not ugly at all. Shame on you for saying otherwise. And a follow up of @RyuSheng Why do some fans do nothing but complain when we (the industry) do something to improve the service we give. U r killing us.
Can you say over reaction much. Okay back onto the site before i comment on the comments.
Notice that big red box, thatâ€™s meant to be a flash advertisement for the anime, only it doesn’t work properly. After doing some digging i found the site isnâ€™t multi browser friendly, it worked fine in Firefox and sort of fine in IE, but in Chrome and Opera it had various troubles requiring me to tweak the settings a bit. For sites like this you want to make it look and work as much as possible in all of the main browsers.
I finally got it to work, sort of, but with just the Japan Quake and Tiger & Bunny add it looks a little woe begotten.
Then thereâ€™s all that vast white space, and we arenâ€™t just talking a little here almost three quarters of the home page is nothing but white space, while i don’t like adverts much, even having some of those in there would have been better than nothing. Or better yet syndicate the ANN UK news there. Come on people use that grey matter living between your ears!!
Next we have the actual anime on offer, a whole whopping one show!! Okay yes they announced that they had licensed six shows, but so far all of those have been available on Crunchy roll already, with the exception of Tiger & Bunny.
This is really how the home page should have looked, not so much white space, but still some. The show list is, pathetic though. We have one and a half of the older Gundam shows on there. The first, Mobile Suit Gundam is complete, but sadly dubbed, the second Zeta Gundam is only the first twenty episodes, though thankfully dubbed.
And finally we have the new Tiger and Bunny series. Not really a lot on offer, and frankly nothing that would inspire me to subscribe. The site also plays host to the ANN TV archive, and a slew of trailers from both old and new anime.
Next we have the cost involved. I donâ€™t really like their pricing method. Crunchy roll have better terms, and frankly feel like better value for money.
Firstly you need to remember that these are promotion offers, which means the price is going to go up when the offer ends. Speculation around my local club is that the season sub will rise to somewhere between Â£19.99-24.99 where as the annual one will rise to Â£49.99-59.99. Please note that that is OUR speculation, based on other services that have tried this in the past, and not a price gotten from AoD.
For me however, even the offer price feels like a rip off. I currently subscribe on an annual basis to Crunchy for $59.95, which is roughly Â£37 a year. Granted the current annual price is slightly cheaper, but the real value of it wont be known till their final prices are announced.
The question here isnâ€™t which is more expensive, itâ€™s which is more value for money. Since all of the shows I want to watch are on Crunchy roll as well, what reason is there for me to spend another Â£35 for a another subscription service? Especially since Crunchy have now started to license more titles for UK airing, and only a bare few of their titles arenâ€™t available here yet.
They do need to fix their payment system as well, though the system is better than the Crunchy Roll one. Both sites use PayPal, however AoD allows you the option to pay without having a PayPal account, something CR doesn’t allow. However AoD does make one mistake here, when you click the pay button it takes you to the French PayPal site, which if you donâ€™t understand French is intimidating and confusing. They need to fix this so that when you click on the payment button you get taken to the British PayPal website.
For me of course the bigger question is, can i really afford to be paying two companies who offer the same service, and almost exactly the same shows? Sadly the answer is no i canâ€™t. So it comes down to a choice between the two. So you look at the proâ€™s and cons, and frankly Crunchy comes out on top every time.
Iâ€™m one of those that has wanted a UK based Digital streaming site, but i wonâ€™t support it unless itâ€™s worth supporting, which frankly right now it isnâ€™t. It has a haphazard feel to it like the site was launched in a rush because they wanted to launch it at the same time as Tiger and Bunny launched. If thatâ€™s the case, then thatâ€™s their problem.
They should have waited for all six of their shows to have been ready for the site, worked on the site a bit more, and then have launched. Forget the simulcasts for this season, instead work on getting a good looking site up for launch, and go with the simulcasts for next season. Weâ€™ve waited years for a site already, do you really think an extra season would have been to much?
They also need to have gotten some of the older shows licensed for UK broadcasting. Even if it meant you were airing the same titles as those aired on Crunchy. What matters is that you have the content to stand up beside Crunchy and look like a valid alternative. No one is asking you to become Crunchy over night, but launching with a pitiful two one and a half shows from the 80â€™s and two episodes from a current season, and expect the fans to support you? Come on guys give us some credit!! Especially in this cash strapped environment, where do you think fans are going to go. You or Crunchy Roll?
Now, onto the comments made by Manga UK. I got the impression from the first that i was â€œbetrayingâ€ British fandom because i wasnâ€™t all google eyed over the new website. Well guess what, tough. I didnâ€™t think much of Crunchy when they launched but the won me over. At least their site was better designed and while i hated the colour, didnâ€™t have vast amounts of nothing on it. The AoD site looks horrid, mainly because itâ€™s all red. Use a different colour, mix colours, add content even if itâ€™s just trailers or AMVâ€™s. I mean come on guys you have a vast catalogue of trailers, not to mention loads of news that could be used to fill in the white noise. Also at least try and make it as browser friendly as possible. No one expects you to have a site that works in every browser under the sun, but you could at least get it to work properly in the main ones, IE, FireFox, Opera and Chrome.
As for the second comment, why is it that whenever a fan criticises the industry weâ€™re only doing it to harm the industry? All to often I’ve seen publishers get all holier than thou on fans and take the attitude of â€œjust take what we offer you and shut the hell upâ€. Well, sorry but not with me. If i think something is crap I’ll tell you itâ€™s crap. Iâ€™ll also tell you WHY i think itâ€™s crap and offer my opinion on how to improve it (as i have tried to do here). Criticism isnâ€™t always about demeaning the industry, the simple fact is we criticise because all to often the industry NEEDS the criticism so as it can learn where itâ€™s ballsed up and improve itself.
Anime on Demand is pretty much in Alpha status, it has a long way to go before it can really be considered live, and even longer before it will win people away from Crunchy Roll. It will be interesting to see however if the UK Distributors of Anime actually do pull their fingers out and give AoD the support it needs. If they do weâ€™ll have a pretty damn good site here.