4K Media (Konami) & Cinedigm to Release 600+ Episodes of Yu-Gi-Oh! on DVD, Blu-ray, Digital Platforms

August 26, 2013 at 10:45 pm | Posted in Konami, Yu-Gi-Oh! | 27 Comments
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Yugi getting ready for a duel in Joey's dream in episode 128
It’s time to duel!

Yu-Gi-Oh! is back on home video! 4K Media (Konami) and its video distribution partner Cinedigm revealed in a press release today that the pair will be releasing all 600+ episodes of the Yu-Gi-Oh! anime series on DVD and Blu-ray in the U.S. and Canada, followed by releases on digital, VOD, and SVOD platforms.

Perhaps the most interesting aspects of the release are what it doesn’t say. The release hides a number of curious facts, the most notable coming from the mention of “600+ episodes.” Yu-Gi-Oh! fans know that there aren’t over 600 episodes in the anime… unless you include the sequel series! The only way to reach that episode count is to include not only the classic Yu-Gi-Oh! series, but also Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D’s, and Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal as well!

The mention of a Blu-ray release is particularly noteworthy as well. None of the Yu-Gi-Oh! series have seen a BD release in Japan. As a rule of thumb, Japanese anime licensors don’t allow foreign distributors to release anime video products that have not already been released in Japan. Licensees like FUNimation and Manga UK regularly deal with these restrictions in their endeavors to bring products to the U.S. and UK markets, trying their best to craft complete and appealing products while juggling the limitations of what they are and are not allowed to release.

Since none of the Yu-Gi-Oh! series have been released in Japan on BD, it’s a safe bet that Cinedigm will not be releasing any of the series in the U.S. and Canada on BD. The only Yu-Gi-Oh! anime title that has currently seen a BD release in Japan is the 10th anniversary Bonds Beyonds Time movie, so if Cinedigm has a BD in the works, that must be it!

Classic Yu-Gi-Oh! and Yu-Gi-Oh! GX are the only two series that have previously seen DVD releases in the U.S. Neither show were released in their entirety. English-language DVDs of Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D’s and Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal have only been released in Australia. An English- and Japanese-language DVD and BD of Bonds Beyond Time have been released in the United Kingdom.

Plans for the DVD release of Classic Yu-Gi-Oh! season 1 were first officially announced on July 18 at San Diego Comic Con, with news that the all five seasons would be returning to DVD coming shortly after.

“The DVD announcement at Comic-Con International is the first of many to come,” said Mark Kirk, 4K Media’s SVP of Digital Operations and a longtime friend of the online Yu-Gi-Oh! community, in the release.

We’re looking forward to them!

Update (August 29): Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D’s and Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal WILL be released on Blu-ray.

27 Comments »

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  1. If there’s Bluray, that means it’s gonna be remastered? Or else they’re not HD?

  2. Classic Yu-Gi-Oh! and GX were made for SD television, not HD. If there were to be Blu-rays of the anime series released (and this is a big if), they could only be of the 5D’s and Zexal series, not of the original and GX series.

  3. So that’s why there’s not gonna be Bluray??

  4. I thought the technical limitations would be obvious so I didn’t mention them in the post. A high-definition Blu-ray product can’t exist if the source material doesn’t allow for it. When it comes to filmmaking, classic Yu-Gi-Oh! and GX are SD fossils from another era. That’s all there is to it.

  5. The more significant reason (and in my opinion, the more interesting reason) why BDs are unlikely is because Japanese licensors regularly restrict what their overseas licensees are allowed to release. BDs are often a major sticking point.
     
    A pretty well-known example of this occurred in 2012 when FUNimation announced that it would release Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt on Blu-ray alongside its DVD release. The licensors balked at this arrangement so FUNimation abruptly withdrew its BD plans. The show wasn’t released on BD until many months later. Crunchyroll’s Humberto Saabedra wrote a great editorial highlighting that situation.
     
    Reverse importation is a serious fear for Japanese licensors (whether or not it is true or even substantiatable). They don’t want less expensive foreign BDs to cannibalize the sales of collector-priced Japanese BDs. This fear is heightened by the fact that American and Japanese BDs share the same region code and can thus be natively played on BD players in both countries. This is why there are no anime released outside of Japan on BD if that anime hasn’t already been released on BD in Japan. As things stand, Amazon Japan’s top 100 lists are already rife with less expensive U.S. BDs outselling their local releases.
     
    Even when licensors do allow for BDs to be released, they are often “crippled” and a step below what the Japanese fans get. A recent example is Manga UK’s release of Steins;Gate. Manga UK wanted to release the series in one full-season box set on DVD and BD, but the licensors wouldn’t allow it to. Instead, Manga UK revealed that their licensing agreement called for it to settle for two half-season boxes instead. (FUNimation released the same thing.) The only place you can find the complete season of Steins;Gate on BD in one package is in Japan, where it retails for over $400.
     
    Another example is the presence of subtitles that are burned into the video (“hard subs”). Again, this is something mandated by the licensors.
     
    I suppose there is a tiny sliver of hope that 5D’s and Zexal could come out on BD if the releases were to include only the edited English-dubbed version and not the original Japanese version. Under those circumstances, the licensors wouldn’t have to worry about reverse importation.
     
    But like I said in the post, it’s a safe bet that Cinedigm won’t be releasing any of the series on BD at all, only the BBT movie.

  6. Will DM classic be getting a DVD re-release in Japan too?

  7. You already asked me that, remember? :)

  8. I’m sorry, but film restoration doesn’t work that way. Just because a movie or series is as old as a dinosaur doesn’t mean it can’t enjoy the benefits of a restoration. As long as something is photographed on film, which is the case for pretty much all major big studio productions (since the beginning of mass production of movies in the early 1900s till now); studios can scan the film reel the series was photographed on in 4k or even 8k resolution. After digitally scanning that they typically proceed to do the real restoration, which is to digitally remove dust, speckles, get rid of the unsteadiness in the footage due to the film wave, etc…And last but not least, downconvert the picture to a resolution of 1920x1080p, which is the resolution of blu-ray videos are in. Studios have to downconvert the resolution because we still don’t have the technology availabe to fit the huge size of a 4k video into a disc (although we are pretty close to reaching that point). The level sets of Dragon Ball Z that Funimation cancelled is a great example of this:

    http://www.blu-ray.com/movies/Dragon-Ball-Z-Level-1.1-Blu-ray/26859/#Review

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rw_5VynMIM8 (a trailer giving some comparisons shot)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=moAy02J2fd8 (a featurette explaining the process)

    Here’s an example of a non-animated tv show that was restored:

    http://www.blu-ray.com/movies/Friends-The-Complete-Series-Blu-ray/48413/

    And last but not least, a great example of two classic movies that were restored:

    http://www.blu-ray.com/movies/Lawrence-of-Arabia-Blu-ray/52492/#Review

    http://www.blu-ray.com/movies/The-Great-Dictator-Blu-ray/20817/#Review

    So yeah, restorations of pre-digital movies/series is awesome because we see more detail and things we didn’t know were there (or didn’t look sharp/defined, including far targets) at a higher resolution. That being said, it’s important to know that restorations don’t come cheap, and a restoration of a complete series costs a lot of money. It is rumored that money (along with some technical difficulties in the restoration process) was one of the reasons Funimation cancelled the Dragon Ball Z blu-rays, as it couldnt keep up with the cost and profits of this release.

    It would be awesome to have all the Yu-Gi-Oh! series in glorious HD, especially the original one, since most of the Japanese DVDs for that one have lots of artifacts. But it is unlikely due to the license issues you stated, and because Yu-Gi-Oh! is a series that licensors don’t care about their uncensored fanbase. However, just the thought of having Yu-Gi-Oh! in HD, even if they don’t include the one series in most need of being in HD and even if it is dubbed and censored, is amazing.

    It is also amazing that Konami is trying to keep up with these times and trying to distribute the anime via streaming, although the quality of a stream is never gonna be better that the quality of a blu-ray.

    Well, that’s all I have to say, I hope I didn’t bore you halfway throughout this post lol.

  9. Excellent comment. You definitely didn’t bore me! I enjoy technical discussions very much and learning new things. However, your explanation actually mentions exactly why Yu-Gi-Oh! can’t be restored using the methods you described:

    As long as something is photographed on film…

    Unlike Dragon Ball Z, Yu-Gi-Oh! wasn’t photographed on film. The original source is actually already digital and the masters are stored on DigiBeta tapes (for SD television), hence my comment about it being a fossil and the source material not allowing for an HD release. Reproducing a true HD version of the show would require going all the way back to the original After Effects files. Given the age and the huge number of episodes of the show, it would be a miracle if those were still around. I won’t say that an HD release is flat-out impossible, but I’d wager that it is very much unlikely, even if we were to ignore all of the crazy licensing obstacles.

  10. Oh shoot, that’s a real shame =(. Still, even with this new information, I still think that Yu-Gi-Oh! and Yu-Gi-Oh! GX would be better in Blu-ray, but with a good SD remaster. I haven’t watched the Japanese DVDs in a while, but off the top of my head I can remember that the GX DVDs where pretty good for the format while most of the DM DVDs were downright awful (the most annoying artifact I remember are the rainbows). Those artifacts happen due to a poor encoding and compression of their source material to the DVDs.

    Taking into account that the masters are stored in DigiBeta tapes, I assume that they are in NTSC 720X480i (the standard for Japanese TV at the time). So if i were to release Yu-Gi-Oh! and Yu-Gi-Oh! GX (with quality in mind), I would start from scratch with a new SD encode from the masters to Blu-ray. An ideal new remaster of Yu-Gi-Oh! DM on Blu-ray would benefit from:
    – Greater scratch resistance for discs
    – Proper cropping of image
    – More accurate colors
    – Progressive transfer
    – Uncompressed 2.0 DTS audio (native audio)
    – A lot more video bitrate, which give us less video compression (thus a less intrusive compression)

    All of the features above are practically standard nowadays for new Blu-ray releases, the only thing that would keep a new SD remaster from not looking good these days are artifacts due to a poor encode. However, I doubt the possibility of a poor encode because less compression and some quality encoding is something that is more common with recent releases from any studio in general, due to studios having more years of digital experience, from big studios like Disney/Warner Brothers to small anime studios (in comparison).

    Yu-Gi-Oh! GX isn’t too bad on the artifacts side, but would still benefit from less video compression, uncompressed audio, a progressive transfer, more accurate colors and a proper cropping of the image. I admit that I’m a little disappointed because there is little possibility of the first two Yu-Gi-Oh! series in HD, but that can’t stop me from hoping of a good, solid looking 720x480p transfer ^_^

  11. I don’t have any Japanese GX DVDs, but I do have some DM DVDs and I know about the quality issues you mentioned. I am not by any means a videophile, but even a layman like me noticed the rainbowing and oddly cropped picture. I would love to see the Japanese version of Yu-Gi-Oh! be re-released in any format. I wonder how fans would react to a Blu-ray that only contains SD video though. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of such a thing being released, in the U.S. anyway. In Japan, I believe the 2011 BD release of the GODMARS anime featured the entire series in SD. There are probably other examples, but I’m guessing that’s not a common practice.

  12. I need to correct some things I said in the above post regarding the unique features that Blu-rays have over DVD. DVDs have the capability to support uncompressed audio, a progressive transfer, and the correct cropping of video. However, these features have only gotten more frequent on DVDs with the advent of HD video. So in conclusion, it’s like the advent of HD/Blu-rays has practically forced companies to treat the quality of their DVD’s with some respect xD. The rest of the features are exclusive to Blu-Ray. I also forgot to mention that Blu-ray is more interactive tha DVDs.

    Also, I forgot to mention one other thing that may keep a new SD remaster from not looking good these days (I already mentioned poor encoding and why I don’t think it’s too much of a threat): problems/artifacts inherent to the source itself. Let’s suppose that some (I repeat some, because the poor compression and encoding had to contribute to the poor quality of those old DVDs) of the annoying artifacts present on the old Japanese DVDs are related to the source it’s stored on. That still wouldn’t justify a poor quality release these days. Digital restoration techniques have evolved so much these days, that problems related to a source impossible to fix the days those DVDs were released have a 95% chance of being fixed now. Just look at what Funimation did with their sources (the featurette youtube link) to know what I mean.

    So yeah, after these two long posts I definitely have to say, for the sake of us fans and for the sake of quality Yu-Gi-Oh! releases (even if dubbed and censored): Blu-ray FTW!!!!!!

    I’ll keep my fingers crossed hoping that some international executive finds a way to convince the Japanese license holders and Konami USA to please us hardcore fans with an uncut release.

  13. I was ninja’d xD. Anyways, after I finished posting my comment I saw your answer. Regarding your answer: believe me I would also feel weird about having a Blu-ray with only SD content on it lol. In fact, I’m in love with HD and try to avoid SD content as much as possible. But since the only way to have one of my favorite series is only in SD, I believe that Blu-ray would be the most beneficial format to it. More bitrate (exclusive to Blu-ray) is huge to a quality release. I know that the bitrate issue is some technical aspect that some people may overlook, but studios can always employ a better effective marketing technique saying something like: ” Enjoy this release with restored footage and audio, with colors you have never seen before and with more episodes per disc”. I think that would be an effective way to practically say that the release is gonna be artifact-free with the highest resolution possible, with uncompressed audio, with more faithful colors and with less discs (taking less shelf space because blurays hold approximately 5 times the storage in Gigabytes of a DVD). Not having HD sucks, but I have seen recent 720x480p that are astounding too, if done well of course. I really hope to some day add Yu-Gi-Oh! to that list ^_^

  14. One day, the licensors will realize that classic Yu-Gi-Oh! is still loved very much by fans everywhere and that they should not have underestimated its potential and neglected it in favor of the newer series. Maybe we’ll get a beautiful, restored release like you described for its 20th anniversary. We can only hope…

  15. Will these DVD’s ever be released in the UK? on region 2 format.

  16. Only time will tell. 4K Media would need to find a distributor in the UK first.

  17. I hope they release/redo the original series over with top quality animation throughout like they had in certain episodes (e.g. Episode 97,183).

  18. Re Steins;Gate, the complete series is coming out 30 June

  19. Hahaha, so what’s that, a one-year delay from Manga UK? How terrible! Looks like FUNimation is releasing a Steins;Gate complete BD set too on September 30.

  20. Do you like Steins;Gate?

  21. I’m afraid I don’t know much about it. I only used it as an example to illustrate my point about the hassles that often arise when Japanese anime licensors try to restrict what international licensees can do with BDs.

  22. Does anybody know if the original yugioh series box sets as well as the other sets are going to be released in australia?

  23. There haven’t yet been any announcements about Classic Yu-Gi-Oh! or Yu-Gi-Oh! GX getting a new release in Australia. Let your local anime and video distributors know that you want to see them and maybe they’ll pick them up in the future! Madman Entertainment released the first season of 5D’s a few years ago and Roadshow Entertainment is still releasing ZEXAL. Neither series have been released in the U.S. (yet!) so Australians have a lot of luck with getting Yu-Gi-Oh! on home video.

  24. Well, regarding SD shows having Blu Ray releases: shows like Gravion, Godannar and Nanoha were made in SD, early digital animation format, and they were, or are being, released in Blu Ray. Of course, when it comes to Gravion, it’s just an upscale, and I can’t talk about the other two, as I haven’t seen Nanoha in BD, and Godannar’s HD release was announced a week ago or so.
    But my point is, there’s really nothing stopping YuGiOh from getting a nice HD release. It’s super popular even today, and it would be strange for it not to get one.

  25. Personally, I wouldn’t be interested in an upscale, as an upscale isn’t true HD and all modern video equipment are already capable of upscaling DVDs to HD resolution anyway. But I’m sure there are plenty of people who would be very happy with Blu-rays even if they contain upscales. As long as the marketers are truthful about what they are selling…

  26. I’m hoping Konami will completely redub the series. While I doubt they’ll get the rights to the Japanese score, considering the fiasco with 4KIds, a more accurate dub would be nice.

  27. I think maybe Yu-Gi-Oh classic cant be restored or it cant seem good if they remaster it by upscaling and giving it more bitrate a little more detail. But from what I see in Yu-Gi-Oh Gx Japanese DVD’s (raw DVD). Even as DVD, when you upscale to 720p it seems very good. Even if they compress it to a bluray instead of DVD with higher bitrate and with a little filtering with Avisynth. It could seem like a HD source. I agree it cant be 1080p but it could be a good 720p. I deducted this point from Bluray of Elfen Lied, it is 1080p, but it is not really HD, there are chroma problems and lines are smooth. But it is better than DVD,no noise, more stability. So I think it is what Yu-Gi-Oh Gx would be like if they make Bluray of it. Its a kind of upscale, but Yu-Gi-Oh Gx has the potential to be upscaled. I know it cant be as good as Warner Bros Bluray Releases, I know many 2000 or 2002 tv shows that have been released as Bluray.


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