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Buying DVD and BD from Japan seems to be a lot more expensive in Japan than overseas in a country like the US.

It might cost someone in the ballpark (these are just estimates, actual prices may be more dramatic) of $70 for 2 episodes are in a DVD for a new series in Japan. While in the US, $45 for 4 episodes for the same series...

Even if we compare Western release to Japanese ones in the same market. The domestic Japanese version come at a higher price per disc/length than western releases:

Why is the cost so high? Although it's nice to see your favorite shows in 1080p with less compression, that alone can't be worth the price tag...

  • Just FYI the 2-episode discs from Japan are of higher quality than the 4-episode discs commonly released in the US. – atlantiza Jun 26 '13 at 15:19
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    Note that some companies distributing in the US seem to be trying to change this... (making the discs more expensive)... much to some people's annoyance. – Clockwork-Muse Jun 26 '13 at 16:43
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    Comparing US movies, which are released in theaters first then on DVD/BD, and Japanese anime, which are mostly released on TV or stream on Web (Nico) first, then on BD/DVD is a bit unfair, IMO. The income for a US movies comes from both theaters and BD/DVD sales, while for Japanese anime, it only comes from BD/DVD sales. I think it is better to show the price disparity on equal ground. – nhahtdh Jun 26 '13 at 19:06
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    @nhahtdh That is wrong. TV anime gets lots of money from advertising and from other merchandise. – Euphoric Jun 26 '13 at 21:29
  • @Euphoric: Merchandise should be more or less the same (and depending on the material). I don't know about advertising, and how much they actually recover from it - would be nice if there is some sort of comparison. – nhahtdh Jun 26 '13 at 23:48
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From what I could gather from this ANN article (from the "The High Prices... Explained!" part), the high price is due to rental pricing. Basically the home video industry was originally "set-up" so that only a few thousand sales were made for niche releases, and these were made to video rental shops. The prices were around $89.95 (in America, which also used this model), but it worked well because with just a few thousand sales one could make over a million dollars in revenue, and the video shops also benefited because they had a semi-exclusive item (since it was too expensive for "normal" people to buy).

Initially, video industry people didn't think there was much of a market in selling to collectors.

But the fans proved them wrong. Otaku of all kinds (not just anime fans) started buying the videotapes and laserdiscs, and they bought them at those high prices that were intended just for video stores. There was no reason to lower it. In fact, there were a few experiments to drop the price to a more affordable amount, but that usually resulted in a slight increase in sales -- not enough to make up for the drop in revenue.

(emphasis by me)

The article goes on to say that since we are talking about a specialty market (since only the hardcore fans really want to own the products), and not a mass-market, the prices stayed astronomically high.

Basically, a few thousand fans buying a certain anime are enough to nearly support the whole budget of a show, and disc sales are basically the only way in which a show can make profit.
For these reasons, even as the rest of the home video industry lowered their prices, the anime industry stayed at the same high prices (they basically had no reasons no lower them).

9

Because it is extremely niche market. Anime in Japan is not that popular as you might think. Most anime airs way into night, mostly around midnight. That is why, even if anime is accepted much more in Japan, the number of people who watch late-night shows and are actually willing to pay is quite low.

Just look at top sales of anime: Bakemonogatari is leading with number around 70k of sold discs, and even 10k sold discs is considered huge success. So those few fans are willing to pay those ridiculous prices, yet if they halved the prices it most probably would't sell twice that much.

And let us not forget anime airs normally on TV in Japan. For most people, it is enough to watch it or record it from there. And BD/DVD doesn't provide enough added value to actually buy it, no matter the price.

Sources are problematic, because most of them are in japanese, so you need to depend on 2nd hand translations. Some sourcesSome sources: It's Blu-ray Sales That Matter

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    And BD/DVD doesn't provide enough added value to actually buy it, no matter the price. Usually, BD/DVD comes with extras (booklet, commentary, uncensored footage, new episodes, etc.). In my opinion, those seems to be good enough added value when buying a BD/DVD. But the price is no doubt quite high. – nhahtdh Jun 26 '13 at 18:38
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    @nhahtdh Maybe for you. But for everyone else, who just want to watch the show, thats just useless stuff. Only hardcore fans of the show find it valuable enough to invest money into it. – Euphoric Jun 26 '13 at 18:46
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    It is true that it is only valuable to fans, or people who think that it is worth re-watching. The comparison in the question is a bit unfair, though. – nhahtdh Jun 26 '13 at 19:05
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    I think you've posted some decent ideas here, but sources would really benefit the credibility of your ideas. – atlantiza Jun 26 '13 at 19:20

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