Anime on Laserdisc

And now for something completely different...a look at anime on LaserDisc!

This month, I finally succeeded in getting rid of my 26" Sony HD-CRT, a super-massive battle tank that weighed 230lbs.  It was an interesting compromise between traditional picture tubes and 21st Century HDTV, and while it had its strengths, the compromises were too much to bear.  And did I mention the weight thing?  So having sold it, I a traditional 24" Sony Trinitron.  Ya know, standard def.

This new situation gave me an opportunity to explore a form of media for the first time - Laserdisc.  The original optical storage media, the ancestor to CD, DVD and Blu-Ray, the humble Laserdisc only succeeded among the hard-core cinephiles and home theater buffs of the 1980s and 1990s.  In Japan, however, the format was much more popular, and it proved to be the destination of choice for anime lovers.

Yes, I'm getting old and nostalgic for outdated media.  I accept that.  It's why I collect vinyl records, cassette tapes, and classic video game systems.  These are pieces of my youth.  But there's something more, a dissatisfaction with modern digital media.  I'm not that fond of CDs, and I'm not that fond of DVDs, either.  Blu-Ray?  Well, strange as it sounds...I'm really not that big on it.  I can't quite explain why, after owning an HDTV and BD player for two years, I have only a handful of movies to show for it.  2001 and The Searchers look fantastic.  So why haven't built a large BD movie library?

I've noticed that curiosity about Laserdiscs have risen in recent years.  It might just be that, curiosity, and nothing else.  It might also be a yearning for alternatives in this ultra-slick digital world.  I can't say just yet.  But there is something to the LD format, the way it delivers the complete experience.  The Experience - there's that phrase I used in an earlier post. Hmm.

Have a look at this YouTube video, which shows off a number of anime LDs and looks quite good.  SD quality animation that rivals DVD, but without the pixelation, digital artifacts, or compressed audio?  More to the package than a plastic case, or worse yet, nothing but a digital file?  This could be interesting. Share your thoughts and memories if you're so inclined.


Barry P. said...

This post brings back memories for me. Although I don't watch it very often, it's nice to have my laserdisc collection around. Maybe it's just cool to have something that not everyone knew or cared about (or maybe it was just the big investment).

Unknown said...

Dear Mr McInnes,
I don't have memories about Laserdiscs, because they were very rare in Italy
(even a 1 in 100 owners ratio is probably excessive),
but I can share a post of an expert
full of interesting details

skyjedi said...

My Ghibli Laserdisc Boxset is one of my prized possessions.

And it happens to be the only place you will ever hear the old KIKI English Dub.

And Whisper of the Heart has what was at the time an awesome feature ac3 sound. Not just stereo. Too bad i don't own one of those expensive demodulators or a player with ac3 rf out or i would check out the Japanese track on that or my Laserdisc for Princess Mononoke.

Laserdiscs are of course sub DVD quality in image and before blu ray were only great for their uncompressed PCM or Full Bitrate DTS. Very few titles were anamorphic and the ghibli films were not amongst them. If you don't mind a postage size stamp blurry image with black bars on all sides on an HDTV more power to you,lol.

Daniel Thomas MacInnes said...

The Ghibli ga Ippai LD box is a holy grail for collectors and fans. The prices on Ebay are horrific, but it includes a couple things ('80s Kiki dub, On Your Mark) that were unique to that release. Now that we're collecting Ghibli on Blu-Ray, it's no longer as important.

Personally, I wouldn't have bothered with LaserDisc if I didn't have a standard-def Sony CRT. On my television, there's little if any difference between DVD and Blu-Ray; I'm also weary of BD's terrible packaging and high prices, and DVD's pixelation and digital artifacts. Perhaps LD offers a compelling alternative? I'm still undecided. I'm still trying to calibrate my Sony (they wreck the factory settings).

There are no "perfect" media formats; there are pros and cons to LD, DVD and BD. I'm not fully satisfied with any of 'em, but I am enjoying the quest to discover their secrets.

Ghibli said...

To skyjedi or anyone else in possession of Ghibli Laserdisc Boxset:
Could you, please, extract the audio track of Kiki's delivery service and share it with the community? This rarity needs to be preserved while there are still some laser disk players around.

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