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Andrew Osmond presents Streaming 101

So, you want to get anime that isn’t yet available on British DVD and Blu-ray? You also want to go a legitimate route, sending money to the studios which make your favourite shows, rather than stealing their product. You don’t want to go through the hassle and price mark-ups of importing American DVDs. So that leaves legal streaming as your option – websites authorised by Japanese producers to distribute anime in Britain. Here’s a guide to the main three candidates.

Crunchyroll UK – This March, the American simulcast site Crunchyroll launched a specific UK page. At that time, the site’s CEO Kun Gao gave an interview to the website UK Anime Network. He said Crunchyroll would be “much more focused about bringing our level of service to English-speaking fans in the U.K,” aiming to maximise the titles in the territory. Indeed, one of the main frustrations for British fans with Crunchyroll in the past is that they’ve been locked out of numerous titles on the site. There are two price options: using a reduced version of the site for free, or joining for premium membership. Non-members can only watch the anime in standard definition, and cannot see the brand-new episodes simulcast an hour after their Japanese broadcast.  Membership is £4.99 a month, while an £8.99 monthly “All-Access” package covers both anime and live-action Japanese drama. According to Gao, the £4.99 price is pegged, and will not be subject to exchange rate fluctuations. New users are offered a 14-day free trial. For a list of all the anime available see here. Among the new and continuing shows simulcast are Fate Zero, Naruto Shippuden, Fairy Tail, Hunter x Hunter, Kids on the Slope and Polar Bear Café. Older titles include Gundam Wing and Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. Crunchyroll also streams a selection of live-action TV drama from Japan and South Korea, including a recent Korean version of the shojo manga Boys Over Flowers by Yoko Kamio. J-drama titles range from General Hospital to the kung-fu The Legend of Condor Hero.

Anime on Demand – Beginning last year, Anime on Demand was the first dedicated anime online service focused on the UK and the Republic of Ireland. “It brings everyone together,” said Kaze UK’s Andrew Partridge (Kaze formed AoD, supported by numerous other UK companies). “We can attend events, get feedback from the fans. We’ve also got some great chances to encourage licensing on titles that wouldn’t have been picked up on DVD otherwise. From the online viewing data, the licensors can see how popular a show is. We can nurture anime online and anime on home video.” The cost is £9.99 per season (that’s season, three months). An annual pass costs £34.99. Catalogue includes Tiger & Bunny, Mirai Nikki (aka Future Diary), Persona 4 The Animation, Steins;Gate, Usagi Drop and the new mecha show, Lagrange the Flower of Rin-Ne.

Netflix – A U.K. edition of the American streaming service launched in Britain in January, with a growing selection of an anime titles on offer – see here. There were two obvious limitations; most of the titles were also available on British DVD, and the Netflix copies were dubbed only. (Though there are are a few exceptions, see below.) A Netflix representative told the Wired website that this would hopefully change, with subbed copies of anime being offered in the future.  Cost is £5.99 a month (that’s for the full service, obviously, not just the anime). The few Netflix titles not already available on U.K. DVD and Blu-ray include class-crossing London drama Emma: A Victorian Romance; the yaoi series Junjo Romantica; and Rental Magica, a comic fantasy series about a magician dispatch service. All are reportedly subtitled. Of the other titles (where there is a British DVD), there’s quite a range of material, including both seasons of Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex, Afro Samurai, Redline, Baccano!, Gurren Lagann and xxxHOLIC.

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