Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Wasteland Wednesday: The Bizarre World of Bootlegs (Part I)

Neon Genesis Evangelion Bootleg DVD Box Set

No so long ago, a friend told me that they were moving overseas and, to lighten his load, decided to give me the majority of his anime collection. Well, two-thirds of said collection turned out to be bootlegs. He said that many came from a single source he had bought from years ago. Apparently this was one big mega-purchase for him, since the prices were "too good to be true" and he was genuinely thinking they were legitimate releases. Lo and behold, they arrived at his door and were not. Now, with his impending move, either they all went into the trash (because he obviously can't sell them) or I take them. So, being the humane fellow I am, I decided to save them from the dump. 

I'll say this, it's fascinating how bootleg companies really churned somewhat "official looking" products, at least on the outside packaging (though this isn't always true). However, I figured I'd post a few images just for curiosity sake and as a potential visual resource. I've been on more than one anime forum/blog where I've seen worried members asking if something on eBay is a bootleg or not…well, if they're any of the products in the following images, I can assure you, they most certainly are bootlegs and to avoid them! So, take this as my public service announcement for staying away from bootlegs if anyone finds a "too good to be true deal". Truth be told, despite many of these covers looking professional, it's still fairly easy for many fans to spot signs of an official release and bootleg. But, nevertheless...

First up, for this edition of WTF Wednesday, we'll look at Evangelion. Always a popular one. Sometimes bootlegs will have a "company" name on the box (FX, EverAnime), but not here. The front/back of the box is completely devoid of any logos. This is always a clear indicator of a bootleg. This nameless company did pull out all the stops though, in terms of artwork. It's an impressive high-quality cover, with some nice artwork throughout. Even the discs have some vivid art on them.

However, the episodes are clearly compressed and the quality leaves much to be desired. To make matters worse, the final two episodes won't play. It appears they'll work somewhat on certain DVD players (I tried three players, each earning mixed results), but not at all on others and, even then, when it does work there's still issues playing through the whole way.

One of the most peculiar things about this set is the subtitled lyrics for the opening title song, "Cruel Angel's Thesis". They're not the same subs from the ADV discs, in fact they're not subs I've ever seen before on any release. I have no clue who translated them. Oddly enough, they don't seem half-heartedly translated, so it doesn't seem like some crappy rush job, nor are the subs a nonsensical mess. I figured if they just ripped this off completely from an official source they would have ripped the subs too, but nope. Bizarre! 

That last disc is a mystery to me. The entire 26 episodes of EVANGELION are on the first 3 discs, and this 4th disc (the so-called "Disc 2") is filled with weird clips of super sentai shows (all of which are neither subbed nor dubbed)!. I have no clue what any of the shows titles are. I assume some of these aren't clips but actual show openings... If anyone knows of a '70s super sentai show where a kid runs around with a black ball creature with a yellow hat that looks like a sombrero, well, it's featured here. There's a bunch more too, including some guy with weird bug eyes (not Kamen Rider, though he shows up later on the disc). I even spotted what looked like a war-themed super sentai show complete with soldiers, tanks, machine guns guessed it...a giant robot. It's a trip. I guess whoever put this bootleg set together figured that after watching Evangelion, who wouldn't want to watch around 50 super sentai show openings, all from the '70s/'80s. If you make it through the Super Sentai openings (and there is a bevy of cute female actresses in many of them) your reward is some more outlandish Japanese TV show openings at the end, which defy all manner of explanation. Some of these shows I would imagine are now obscure in Japan, let alone never dreamt of in the US. An odd inclusion in this set, but maybe they just needed to fill out that fourth DVD slot...?

Oh, and final note. Anyone who ever had the misfortune of handling a bootleg box set knows how fragile the cases typically are. Take a DVD out and you have a 90% chance of breaking the clips that held that disc in the case. Not so here, shockingly, the case for this Evangelion set is more durable than 9 out of 10 official releases. So, I guess they got that right...

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