Sinners and Winners

News just in from the United States reveals that errors on the subtitles for the bespoke Garden of Sinners release have caused Aniplex USA to issue replacement discs for one of the DVDs.

There has been a round of exasperated tutting throughout fandom about this, with a recurring comment that if fans are paying the premium price of $190 for a box set, the least the release company can do is check the discs before sending them out. But from the sound of it, the error on Garden of Sinners was a reading glitch that many viewers might have even shrugged off. For those who bought their discs through the Right Stuf, replacements were sent out automatically, meaning in some cases that the discs arrived before fans had had the chance to put the defective original in the player to be shocked in the first place. And yes, mistakes happen, and Aniplex USA have rushed to correct theirs, which is surely better than just sniffing contemptuously and telling their consumers to like it or lump it.

Would that all film companies were as committed to aftercare as Aniplex. It would be nice, for example, if I woke up one morning to discover that had Kiseki mailed me a better quality DVD of Gunbuster and apologised for the piss-poor tape-transfer edition that they originally sold me.

There have been some awful mistakes in anime releases over the years, and many of them have been simply left. In the subtitle world, we’ve had to put up with spelling errors, mis-timings and that popular bugbear of modern fandom, “dubtitles”, when a voice-track rewrite is used to supply a very rough subtitle file, which often doesn’t match the Japanese at all.

What about it, Hollywood? It would be awfully sweet of Ridley Scott if he snuck into my house one night and left a gift-wrapped copy of Prometheus that has a coherent plot. But there’s a slippery slope right there… as film archivists start to argue about whether lighting and colour timing is right even on modern versions of classic movies, we might find ourselves in a situation where hypothetical tinkerers are replacing your discs every other week….

Jonathan Clements is the author of Schoolgirl Milky Crisis: Adventures in the Anime and Manga Trade. This article first appeared in NEO #108, 2013.

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