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Wednesday, 21 November 2007 02:21

Anime NetworkI've been very dismissive of anime download services in the past, and took specific potshots at ADV's US-based ADV Universe service a while back. It seems someone at ADV has been paying attention, though, and they've just redressed the balance a bit with the launch of Anime Network's new streaming service.

It's sadly only available to the US and Canada at the moment (unless you're sneaky enough to make use of an open web proxy, but that's a whole legal grey area that you didn't hear me mention), but the idea is sound: 3 episodes each from a set of anime series, with new episodes added each week, streamed from the website using Flash (as used by YouTube) and free to the user. There's some advertising before, during and after each episode, but the Flash player they're using apparently allows you to skip forward and back through the clip, so presumably that can be used to avoid the ads.

Here's what's good about this:
- It's platform-agnostic - Flash player is available for Windows, Mac and Linux, so anyone can play.
- It's advertising-supported - anime fans seem to be a cheap lot, outside the hard core that buy huge numbers of releases, and this lets them get their fix for no outlay. That's half-way to beating the fansub scourge (they still need to work on the long window between Japanese airing and English-language release).
- There's no need to install any DRM-encumbered crap on your PC. Given the numerous horror stories about some of these "apps" and their behind-the-scenes activities, that can only be a good thing.

The bad things? It's streamed, and not download-to-keep (although I wonder if any of the tools that let you strip Flash videos from YouTube would work here), and by the sounds of it each episode will only be available for a limited time - but be honest, how many of the shows that you watch or buy will you ever watch again anyway? And it's free.

So two thumbs up to the folks at Anime Network. The shows initially available are:
Ah! My Goddess: Flights of Fancy
Air Gear
BASToF Syndrome
Chance Pop Session
Comic Party: Revolution
Kurau: Phantom Memory
Magical Play
Pani Poni Dash!
Now we just need them to roll this out to the UK, and we're set...

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