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Sony anime store hands on

Robotech Robotech Robotech Robotech Robotech


Yeah, so apparently Sony's video anime store launched last week. I'm not sure why, but I didn't notice. And you know what's really strange is, I wrote this!

Yesterday, while I was waiting for my beta copy of LittleBigPlanet to download (no, I didn't have to mention this, but I thought I'd rub it in), I decided to give the video anime store a go.

[end_preview /]

The story linked above lists all the content that's available at the store. The content is organized into six areas: Xam'd: Lost Memories (yes, it gets its own section), Recommended (for the record, Sony recommends Xam'd, Persona, Tales of Symphonia, Gundam OO, Mai Hime Zwei, Disgaea, Ogon no Kolda, Gunparade Orchestra, Blood+, Akagi, and Fullmetal Alchemist), Television Series, Specials and OVA, Movies, and a full list containing all 41 available titles.

The television shows are all being released gradually. Everything appears to be at episode 5 at the moment. I'm not sure when new episodes are released in general, but Xam'd promises a new episode every Wednesday.

Currently, all titles are offered on a rental-only basis. I'm not complaining about this, though, as I wouldn't be too keen on buying a movie that's locked into a particular video player.

The videos are also, at the moment SD only, except for Xam'd. Too bad. I downloaded the first episode of this banner title in the lineup, and the quality in HD is fantastic -- not perfect, as you can still see some compression artifacts on solid colors, but so gorgeous that you won't want to go back to non-HD sources.

I'd suggest not downloading Robotech immediately after watching Xam'd (yes, I'm calling it Robotech with the intent of pissing of the purists). The Robotech video quality is really bad. It looks like it was copied over straight from a VCD. I'm not sure if this is an age issue or if Sony really did shop for a master copy in a Taipei night market.

On the note of Robotech. Did you realize that the events that lead off the show -- the alien space ship crashing on Earth -- happened in 1999? Mankind refurbishes the ship, dubs it Macross, and readies it for its mission to fight the Zentradi, all in 2009. That's right, next year!

By the way... Robotech episodes are 200 yen each! Get five episodes, order a pizza covered in an appropriate amount of mayonaisse, and you've got yourself a great night for just 50 bucks (pizza is kinda expensive here unless you go with Dominos, which sucks just as much as it does in America... I'd make a plea for a Japanese Round Table branch, but by the time that happens, I'll be rich and living in Minami Aoyama and will be able to order from California Pizza Kitchen, which makes the best pizza ever, and is run by an Indian like me WOOT!).

Ahem... back to the video channel... as you can see, all the videos at the video anime store are anime titles, which is why I've been making heavy use of the strike tag (no one has ever done anything anywhere near as clever!). I'm not sure if Sony plans on expanding to actual movies and television shows, but for now this seems like the perfect lineup of video downloads for the PlayStation crowd (although not necessarily, as I've said in the past, the PlayStation 3 crowd just yet).

A couple of things bug me about the video channel right now. First, the two videos I downloaded don't have subtitles (I'm talking about Japanese subtitles). I hope this is something that will be included with future titles, because highly echoed Zentradi speak is difficult for my foreign ears to understand.

I also have some issues with Sony's little view-while-you-download feature. It's a little awkward right now. Let's say you select to view while downloading and you press X to get back into the XMB. From what I can tell, there's no way to actually get back into the streaming view. You have to wait for the download version to finish. Admittedly, this wasn't a big problem for the titles I tried, as the PS3 managed to download my 1.5 gigabyte copy of Xam'd in less than 10 minutes, but for feature length movies, the ability to restart might be neat.

So there you have it! The PlayStation anime store has successfully launched and is slowly building up a lineup of rental SD classics.

As usual, Sony ain't sharing specific download numbers for the shop. Unlike the game shop, it doesn't even provide a top ten list. We're going to probably have to judge the performance by seeing if Sony can actually get additional content lined up for the service.

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