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The Evangelion Factor
By Chris Beveridge
December 12, 1998
As the thinking goes, with every format/media that comes out, there is one "killer app"lication that will make it a household word. For VHS, many make claims of the movie Top Gun, which was the first of the sell-through tapes to hit the market. For CD, a lot hold to the idea that Pink Floyd helped it to spring into the huge format it is today. After all, I believe Dark Side of the Moon has continued, to this day, to be in the top 200 discs sold every week. That's no small feat. Even the PC world will most likely acknowledge that the game Myst did more to boost sales than many other applications over the year.
And since the inception of DVD, fans of the format have been seeking this killer app. Once the realization last December that Titanic could be poised to be a huge smash, surpassing even Star Wars in sales, people have been heralding this as the killer app for DVD. And while it may be one of the best things that will eventually come out, the boat has unfortunately sailed on making as huge of an impact as it could have if it was released day and date with the VHS. So, supporters are once again on the lookout for the next big killer app that will help bring more people to the DVD format.
What does this have to do with Evangelion and DVD? Well, it should be getting clearer now. Since anime DVD began to get some good support earlier this year with the phenomenal release of Ghost in the Shell, those who owned players at that time could truly see the benefits that anime derives on the DVD format, when done properly. A stunning 5.1 soundtrack, often cited as a reference disc by non-anime fans. A gorgeous 16:9 transfer that will make people drool over it when they someday see it on an HDTV set upconverted to 1080i. To this day, it's still the best anime has to offer on the DVD format.
But still, fans and supporters are looking for the true killer app. Many cite Evangelion as being the one, but like Titanic, it also has missed it's mark. The majority of fans already have it, either in sub or dub, or lots of people have the import laserdiscs. And as the general thinking goes, if presented with the choice of buying something again that you already have on one format, or buying something you haven't seen yet, most will go with the unseen product, and maybe allocate funds at some point for the other product. With this thinking, Evangelion is relegated to the same level as most other catalog titles; it's something that now takes up shelf space and sells far less than it used to.
Thankfully, with anime, it seems as if every year there is a new "killer app" show that makes its way over, and it's something that people can't stop raving about. Evangelion had that status for quite some time, and it looks as if Escaflowne, which is now making it's debut, will easily be popular, but falls lower from the large amount of fansubs that have been out there for some time. Will it have the same anticipation? Possibly, but I don't think it will, instead being relegated slightly higher than Gundam, especially if you go by the thinking of "buy something new, not what you've seen".
What does that leave us with? Actually, there are a few options, but most will not be the total killer app, but will definitely help bring in a larger fan base of anime DVD fans.
Urusei Yatsura - Many couldn't afford the huge laserdisc sets, especially with the limited time they were offered. With the ability to put the same amount as on the laser set onto the DVD's, even figuring 4 episodes a disc, being a single layer disc and thereby costing less to produce than a dual layered or RSDL disc, would let more people get into it at a far cheaper price. Offering up a box set of 10 discs for the price of 200$ would certainly motivate me to get a player, and I plunked down the 400$ for the laserdisc box set, and I'd buy it again in a flash.
Orange Road - This falls under the same as above for UY. With the declining sales of laserdisc players over the past few years, especially the last year alone, the upcoming set is one of the last great hurrahs of that format. If you were just getting into anime, and fell in love with KOR OVA's and the movie, and heard that there was a laserdisc set, and looked into the LD market, would you buy into it?
Fushigi Yuugi - This one is close to becoming similar to Evangelion and Escaflowne. While the fansubs haven't been as numerous as Evangelion, the tapes are coming out, and with no laserdisc release, many LD fans are bringing themselves to purchase Pioneer VHS tapes. If the release of a dual language TV episode series (52 episodes) were to come out on DVD and VHS only, that would once again bring in a group of new fans to the DVD format.
El-Hazard/Bastard!!/Tenchi TV - Basically, anything that's been released on VHS only by Pioneer will cause some amount of fans to "switch". With Battle Athletes being the first of those making their way to DVD but not LD, there have been rumblings from several people saying that it's one of the main reasons for moving up to DVD.
Robotech - Don't laugh; This could quite possibly be the best thing we could have on DVD. With the ability to present the "Perfect Collection" on a dual layer discs (layer 1 - Macross, layer 2 - Robotech), you would have such an immense interest in the format that it could quite possibly be the killer app many have been wanting. Unfortunately, Harmony Gold has asked that the Perfect Collection series be put on hold (which I believe it pretty much was for some time now), though this may change in the future.
Macross: Do You Remember Love - Though this does fall under the category of Evangelion and Escaflowne, I'm sure this would be just as large and important among fans. With no domestic subtitled release of this movie existing (U.S.), and put on the DVD format in the 5.1 sound, it would bring an immense boost to the format.
Those are my picks for some of the killer apps that could bring anime DVD to a respectable level. What do you think? Let me know in the forum!