Why are anime boxsets so horrible?

This week’s piece doesn’t have much to do with Canaan in particular, but is a burning question that has been on my mind for a while now. I am a collector of anime. Been one since I was first gifted the complete boxset of Death Note by my grandparents when I finished school. I just love having a shelf full of boxes representing the shows that I have fallen in love with over the years. Firing up a bluray always feels a little more special to me than typing in the URL of a streaming service. Especially when that streaming service then turns out not to have anything I wanted to watch anyway.

So why are publishers so terrible at making their physical releases look presentable?


I get that we are no longer in the era of brick & mortar stores. People no longer walk up to shelves lined with VHS tapes or DVD cases and pick a show based on how well the box sells it. People who buy blurays are probably already fans of a show after they streamed it or they’ll at least have done some research on the product beforehand. Especially the show’s fans are a guaranteed audience who’ll buy the stuff regardless. Even so, it’d be nice if the marketing lads kept putting in the effort.

I certainly know that, as a fan, I’d much rather have a bluray boxset that looks nice. Rather than some generic, shitty box that I just bought to support the chain of companies that keep anime available in my region. I like being able to pull out the case of a show I am passionate about and show it to friends and family. Maybe even pop it in and watch a few episodes together. This becomes an issue when the box is plain ugly, awkward, or misrepresents the show entirely.


My most common complaint would be that the pictures on the back are usually ant-sized. Taglines and the description of the show take center stage, with usually about 3 or 4 minuscule pictures being added in to give an idea what the animation looks like… If you have a microscope available, that is. I often find that these pictures are poorly chosen too. Such as Another having a collection of boring screenshots, followed by one picture of Misaki Mei in her swimsuit. It completely fails to give a proper idea of what the show is actually like.

Those descriptions also tend to be pretty dull. Anime are often eccentric and trying to describe their appeal in just one paragraph is not easy. Especially comedy anime are tough and tend to end up with awkward descriptions that don’t come close to capturing the joy and humor of the series they belong to. I can’t even blame the publisher for that. How does anybody go about describing the story and “feel” of Nichijou in like 10 sentences?


Also not in the power of anime publishers to fix is the shitty quality of plastic. I got a lot of boxes that have little bits chipped off for no discernible reason and anything with a switch tray inside it is bound to have something important break off. Even if you try to mitigate this by buying expensive collector’s editions, you often end up with overstuffed, flimsy cardboard packaging that easily tears.

What anime publishers could do is not cheap out so blatantly. I have had expensive boxsets that are just standard DVD cases with blank insides and plain, white discs with a title on it. The now popular collector’s editions used for shows like Re:Zero, Erased, and Amanchu have this ugly flyer with the show’s descriptions glued to the back. It’s loose enough to be annoying and look ugly, yet glued on just well enough that you’ll damage something if you try to fix or remove it.

I could rant for hours about all the shitty anime DVDs and blurays I have bought over the years, but I think I am going to save this for a top 10 someday. What are your thoughts about buying physical anime today and have you ever had a purchase that you ended up regretting or even refunding?

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