Bandai Visual USA has announced that it will release the anime version of Haruka ~Beyond the Stream of Time. This is both good and bad. The good is that a shojo anime series has been licensed. There aren’t a lot of shojo anime out there, and with the manga version of this story being released in Viz’s Shojo Beat, a tie-in should help sales. Readers who like Haruka should check it out when it comes out. I do encourage people to check out the anime versions of manga they like. Especially a short series like this. Haruka is only 26 episodes long. Seeing the characters move and hearing them speak really adds another dimension to the story. I’ll admit that, while I usually end up preferring the manga to the anime, I have never regretted watching the anime.
The bad thing about this is that Bandai Visual USA got it. If you aren’t familiar with anime, then you should know that Bandai Visual has a reputation for high priced volumes for less content. And it looks like this release isn’t going to be much different. According to Anime on DVD, this release of Haruka will be subbed only, and will be spread out over 9 volumes. Each volume will be $29.99. That’s an average of 3 episodes per disk, at $10 an episode. At a time when most anime is coming out at 4-5 episodes per disk, this doesn’t seem like a smart move, especially for a sub-only disk. Why Bandai Visual likes to set themselves up to fail is beyond me.
Now, I don’t want to imply that Haruka is a bad series. From what I’ve read of the manga, it’s seems really good. But, historically, shojo anime hasn’t done very well in the US. And by doing this series as sub-only, they are cutting out a large percentage of their audience. Reading manga and reading subtitles are two different things. Only hard core anime fans (like me) are usually interested in a sub-only release. Casual watchers, and most likely readers of the manga that may be attracted to this release will be turned off by the sub-only. I really would like this release to do well, but it’s already off to a bad start it seems. Hopefully, I’m wrong about all this.