|a LaserDisc?||anime?||the point of this site?|
First introduced to the consumer market at Christmas 1978, the Reflective Optical Video Disc system represented an attempt to apply the principles responsible for the success of the vinyl audio record to the production of movies for home viewing. A joint venture of MCA (which initially provided discs under the "DiscoVision" label) and Phillips (producers of "Magnavision" players), the video disc was attractive from a manufacturing standpoint because it could be replicated by an inexpensive injection molding process in minutes, while videotapes required real-time dubbing. In addition to low prices, the system promised the consumer a much better picture than that obtainable from tape, stereo sound (at that time not available even on broadcast television) with ultra-high fidelity, and unlimited use thanks to the non-contact optical pickup.
Under such names as LaserVision (an industry organisation formed to ensure intercompatibility of discs and players), CD-V (a Phillips standard which added digital audio and subcodes to the analog LV format, and also introduced a 12cm "single" with five minutes of video and 20 of CD audio), and most commonly LaserDisc (originally a Pioneer trademark, but now legally a generic term), the optical videodisc system persisted in the marketplace until 2002, maintaining a small but significant share of the home video market and a larger share of industrial and instructional markets in North America and East Asia, and a minor presence in Europe.
The great distinctive feature of LaserDisc is that, unlike any other video system ever to enter widespread home use, it is a full-bandwidth technology. That is, while VHS throws away information indiscriminately in order to keep the mechanical parts of the system practical [incidentally generating a blurry picture with desaturated colour], and DVD throws away information selectively in order to reduce the data rate from the disc [interpolating from what remains using mathematical techniques developed by the Motion Picture Experts Group to ensure an acceptable picture under most circumstances], all the information which can possibly be present in a standard NTSC or PAL television picture is retained by the LD encoding format. This has the practical result that colours are reproduced accurately, high values of contrast in small areas are preserved, and frame progression has no effect on picture quality. These points are particularly relevant to the anime enthusiast because the individually-created frames, flat colour washes, saturated hues, and narrow bright lines characteristic of modern Japanese animation are completely alien to the MPEG specifications which define DVD, while the picture and sound quality of VHS [which is rapidly going the way of the dodo] were never acceptable in the first place.
The word "anime" is a French term, adopted by the Japanese to describe motion pictures made by drawing or allied processes of independent frame creation, as opposed to those made by continuous photography of external reality. Particularly outside Japan, anime is used specifically to mean animated motion pictures made in Japan, and in reference to the distinctive style of motion-picture graphic art which has developed there.
Simply put, the attractiveness of anime to the non-Japanese is conditioned upon the fact that, whereas in Western countries animation is almost exclusively reserved for children's entertainment, animation in Japan is considered to be simply another cinematic technique, equally applicable with live-action methods to the production of features for any audience. While there is certainly a great deal of animated children's programming made in Japan, more mature audiences are not slighted; and in fact many of these juvenile programmes are rendered attractive to the older viewer by their use of continuous [and often quite complex] story lines and treatment of themes not common in their Occidental, particularly American, equivalents. Additionally, much animation of Japan is rendered in a distinctive visual style, influenced heavily by that nation's long graphical art tradition which, rooted as it is in the use of an ideographic script alien to the spoken language it renders, has both novelty and a compelling force for the stranger.
Over the years, a great deal of Japanese animation has been adapted for foreign audiences. In order to avoid debate over what does or does not deserve to be termed "anime", I have adopted a simple rule for this archive: No LD will be inserted which does not carry the appropriate original Japanese-release dialogue. The term "Japanese-release dialogue" rather than simply "original Japanese dialogue" is necessitated by the existence of at least one anime, the movie Armitage III: Poly-matrix, which was released to Japanese theatrical audiences with English as the spoken language, supported by Japanese subtitles. The reader will note that this rule prefers Mach Go Go Go to the Trans-Lux Speed Racer , Macross, Mospeada, and Southern Cross to the Harmony Gold Robotech , and several similar cases, in addition to excluding the [rumoured but unconfirmed] Manga Entertainment dub-only LDs.
The last anime laserdisc has probably been pressed. As LD is my preferred video format, and anime forms the emphasis of my video collection, I would often like to know certain information, of a kind seldom available from the seller, about a given disc before buying it. In addition, as discs are often priced in the market according to the caprice of the seller, I would frequently like to have some basis to judge whether I should pay a given sum or wait in the hope of obtaining the same thing more cheaply later.
These problems have led me to try to collate information from my own collection with data provided by other LD collectors, in an attempt to compile a comprehensive database of Japanese and foreign-market anime releases, with technical information and where possible (e.g. in the case of serially-numbered discs for which one can identify unique responses) rarity data. My eventual goal is to collect such a large sample that identification of a particular disc, down to manufacturing-line details, would be possible from even a brief description.
In a broader sense, the LaserDisc was an important part of the experience of being an anime hobbyist from the mid-1980s onward, both in Japan and the United States — and for some people, and in some ways, it still is. Not only was LaserDisc the prestige video medium in both Japan and North America, it acquired a special significance in the anime hobby community. LD's durability made it the obvious choice for those importing programmes which simply were not available outside of Japan, and its high quality and freedom from copy protection led to its adoption as the standard source for the fan-traded tape copies and amateur subtitling projects which gained so many programmes most of their exposure in the days before "anime" was a mass-marketable brand. It even became common practice to classify such tapes in terms of their removal from the LD source, with "first-" and "second-generation" copies being particularly coveted; many old fans could trace the lineage of their tapes by occasion and location of the original transcription, and the name of the disc owner.
In Japan itself, of course, LaserDisc was a much larger part of the overall Home Video market than overseas, and was accordingly marketed more vigorously. One result was the development of the well-known "omake" special video features, the often-spectacular package art, and the infinite variety of physical extras and premiums (production art, trading cards, board games, and even snippets of 35mm film prints to name a few) as enticements to the buyer, often accompanying a package price equal to or less than that of the tape version. On a more fundamental level, the superior distribution mechanism LD represented was a serious factor in the growth of the Japanese video market, which was the principal or even exclusive outlet for so many productions.
All things considered, it is scarcely surprising that the LaserDisc came to be important to the international anime hobby community, not merely as a video delivery medium, but as a symbol or defining element of the hobby itself. This applies most strongly to Japanese discs, of course, but it seems to hold somewhat for American releases as well. It would probably even be fair to say that the LD acquired a sort of totemistic significance which it did not really have for any other group of people; one still meets anime fans who will buy LDs, particularly limited editions or favourite programmes, despite not having the equipment to play them back!
The Comprehensive Anime LaserDisc Census, then, is meant to serve not only as a resource for those anime fans who have kept their old LD libraries, and those who are still actively collecting, but also as a document of a fringe cultural phenomenon which might otherwise be passed over in silence. Any suggestion or contribution which might help increase the degree to which it achieves this goal is warmly welcomed.
Entries are arranged by distributor's catalogue number. Each entry provides certain information about the item it refers to, as follows:
Additional information, when available, will be listed for discs as appropriate. Since anime LDs were produced over a period of at least 15 years by many different entities, their features vary considerably, and many criteria do not apply to every disc.
As the vast majority of anime discs [as with LDs generally] are NTSC format, this is assumed in the listings, and only PAL discs are flagged with the video format.
The character of a disc packaging is extrmely variable. In particular, some discs come in simple cardboard jackets, some in gatefolds, and some in opera-album-style boxes. Many pages of colourful printed matter, trading cards, and even 35mm film and specially-printed paper inner sleeves have been known to be included with discs, while others are packaged without special materials of any kind. Often the collector might like to know whether his extras are complete, or the prospective buyer what he ought to be getting — and if he does not recieve it, a reference to confront the seller with can be valuable. Since this information is not identifying in the proper sense, it has not been included in the source file, but is appended to individual listings as it becomes available.
This is the second general-use iteration of the page content and arrangement. Most of it has been rewritten in Strict compliance with the HTML 4.01 standard, using CSS2, and validated using the W3C HTML validator; unfortunately, since the W3C has deprecated the content-oriented "start" and "value" attributes of the Ordered List in favour of a CSS mechanism using counters, which does not work as described in the CSS2 specification on most browsers, some pages are only compliant to the Transitional level. [349/2758]
Here is the update log .
To make a comment, or for more information, do not hesitate to contact
publius at caldc dot com . Thank you.