Monday, June 25, 2007

:anime: Introduction:: Free (and Low Cost) Anime on the Internet…and It’s All Legal!

Over one year ago, I posted a thread on the currently “hibernating” fan site AnimeX.Com on a couple of spots where one could find free (or low cost) anime available on the Internet in a legal manner—no fansubs, and no bootlegs. Back then, the use of digital technology was in its relative infancy in terms of use among the industry players. Bandai Entertainment, ADV Films, and Central Park Media, as well as a few broadcasters, were primarily the only ones actively posting content on the web, ranging from trailers and promo packets to actual, full-length episodes. Much has changed over a year’s time, as much of the anime industry on both sides of the Pacific have offerings over the Internet. Viewing video streams is usually free and the downloading of episodes normally are low in price ($.99 to $5). And while some past venues have undergone changes—Anime Village went offline for a few months before returning as Bandai Ent.’s online store; BandaiChannel now blocks foreign viewers from its video contents—the explosion in growth of digital distribution has lend to a boom in the number of places one can visit for their anime interests.

The use of the Internet as a means of gaining access to anime for free or low cost, in a legal manner, has been something I have felt strongly about for a long time. To increase exposure and accessibility for titles through such means is a necessary step for companies to make, one that I am glad to see many doing. It is also beneficial for fans that want to watch anime without crossing into the legally grey area of fansubbing or the outright illegal realm of bootlegs.

For these purposes, I wanted to celebrate HardDoor’s 1st anniversary this week with a post on the subject, followed by a directory of sorts pointing towards websites offering anime content for free, or at the very least, a minimal fee, safely and legally. This was something planned before HD’s inception, but I opted to wait until the digital distribution movement matured more and offered a greater amount of services (and, well, I also needed the free time to do something like this). The article will be an updated and revised version of one I was writing for AnimeX before it closed down, whereas the directory/guide will be kept up to speed much as possible, with at least a monthly updating should there be any. Lastly, expect a permanent link to be placed on the sidebar of the blog later on.

Hope you will all enjoy, and happy hunting (and watching)!