When AnimEigo announced their acquisition of Yawara! last year (hinted at in a rather interesting game on AnimeOnDVD.com's forum), many fans and admirers of the show were caught by surprise. The 124-episode anime, a big hit in Japan and highly-rated by those who have watched, follows high-schooler Inokuma Yawara as she is being prepped by her grandfather to be a judo champion like him, despite her desire to live life like a normal girl. Recently, its licensor provided another surprise, this time in the form of a free preview disc. The disc will feature the first four episodes (sub-only, like much of AnimEigo's titles) and will be available at no cost to either those buying other AE products or those chiefly interested in the discs themselves (there is a $5.00 shipping & handling fee for them, though).
It's a great move by AnimEigo to offer a preview disc of a show like Yawara!. Though it will cost them, the impact is cushioned a bit by the length of the overall show ("Four down, 120 to go") and the increased prospect of potential buyers. When taking that and the adjustable preorder pricing scheme (more preorders, lower price) for the first season box in consideration, AE should be able to absorb the preview disc costs.
For the occasion, I'll be listing this on HardDoor's Free/Low-Cost Anime Guide. It may not be streaming or downloadable, but it is available thru the Internet and it is for free, so I suppose that it counts in the end. The ordering was simple enough, so hopefully Yawara! will be as good as they say once it comes onto my steps.
P.S.: AnimEigo could have done this via digital distribution, but I guess they either didn't have the capabilities/contacts, or they wanted something more concrete like a DVD, which can give the sense of obligation or drive to finish the rest of the series. Not to mention, it can be viewed and traded at any time more easily than by DD. Either way, I like the idea very much and I will be eager to see how good the show is and how it is presented.