Cinedigm’s Yu-Gi-Oh! Bonds Beyond Time DVD and Blu-ray: An Overview

July 15, 2014 at 7:49 pm | Posted in Bonds Beyond Time, English dubbed, Japanese, Konami, Yu-Gi-Oh! | 6 Comments
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Cinedigm's Yu-Gi-Oh! Bonds Beyond Time Blu-ray menu

Out today is the long-awaited release of the Yu-Gi-Oh! Bonds Beyond Time movie in the United States on DVD, Blu-ray, and digital platforms. The film, a commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise, made its theatrical debut on 300 screens across the U.S. in early 2011 but is only now getting a home video release. The title is licensed by 4K Media (Konami) and distributed by Cinedigm as part of its Flatiron Film Company label and includes both the English-dubbed and original Japanese subtitled versions of the film.

This post will provide an overview of the contents of Cinedigm’s Yu-Gi-Oh! Bonds Beyond Time DVD and Blu-ray releases. Comparisons of Cinedigm’s products to Manga Entertainment’s Region 2 UK releases and to the original Region 2 Japanese releases from King Records/Marvelous Entertainment (“MMV” for short from here on) will also be included.

The World of Licensing Restrictions: How to Handicap a Non-Japanese Anime Video Release

Cinedigm’s Yu-Gi-Oh! Bonds Beyond Time is the first official Yu-Gi-Oh! video product released in the United States to include both an English and Japanese version since FUNimation’s short-lived uncut DVDs of the Classic Yu-Gi-Oh! series from 2004-2005. Fans in the United Kingdom also received a bilingual release in July 2011 from Manga UK. A Yu-Gi-Oh! title that includes the original subbed Japanese version?! Yes, it’s true! But there must be a catch, right?

Both Cinedigm and Manga UK’s Japanese versions of the film include subtitles that are permanently fixed; on both of their DVDs and BDs, the subtitles are burned into the video (i.e. they are “hard subs”). While some viewers may see this as an annoyance, this is the price that licensees often have to pay if they want to release some anime titles outside of Japan at all.

The issue of forced subtitles and other crippling restrictions that afflict such anime releases has been discussed extensively by anime fans and pundits as well as industry insiders. Numerous episodes of the Manga UK podcast have touched upon the problems and their causes.

“Reverse importation, as far as some Japanese licensing companies see it, is a big problem on Blu-ray,” said Jerome Mazandarani, the Director of Marketing and Acquisitions at Manga UK, in episode 18 of the company’s podcast. “Blu-ray is where they derive most of their finished packaged goods’ value now in Japan, and they are very, very concerned about it.”

The price of anime outside of Japan is considerably lower than that within Japan, Mazandarani explained. And if large Japanese production companies are very worried about an American or UK edition BD getting imported back into Japan, they have the leverage to curb the perceived threat. For instance, they can mandate that licensees burn the subtitles into the video of the Japanese-language versions of their titles. They can also disallow licensees from releasing a title for a certain amount of time after a DVD and BD are released in Japan, or disallow them from releasing a title in a certain way (e.g. no complete box sets).

In the same vein, the audio tracks of Cinedigm and Manga UK’s Japanese versions are inferior to the audio tracks on King Records/Marvelous Entertainment’s releases. While MMV’s DVD and BD contain both a 5.1 surround and 2.0 stereo audio track, Cinedigm and Manga UK’s contain only a 2.0 audio track with the Japanese version. The table below summarizes the audio streams found on the six releases.

 

DVD

Blu-ray

Cinedigm

 

 

English

Dolby Digital 5.1

DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

Japanese

Dolby Digital 2.0

DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0

Manga UK

 

 

English

Dolby Digital 5.1

DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

Japanese

Dolby Digital 2.0

LPCM 2.0

King Records/MMV

 

 

Japanese

Dolby Digital 5.1
& 2.0

DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
& LPCM 2.0

These types of restrictions are not by any means unique to Yu-Gi-Oh! titles, nor are they unique to English-speaking territories. Forced subtitles have even reared their ugly heads in France, a country whose anime industry is even bigger than that of the United States, explained Mazandarani in the fifth Manga UK podcast. Ultimately, Japanese companies simply don’t want to give Japanese fans any incentives to import less expensive releases from overseas, so some anime titles — and Blu-rays in particular — released outside of Japan will continue to be marred by these restrictions and deficiencies. It’s an unfortunate issue that the anime industries in Japan and throughout the world need to find a way to deal with.

The Lack of 3D: Falling Flat

Yu-Gi-Oh! Bonds Beyond Time is a historic film in Japan. While 3D movies that use computer-generated graphics are commonplace, Bonds Beyond Time marks the first time anywhere in the world that a traditional, hand-drawn 2D animated feature had been converted into 3D for the big screen. MMV’s DVD and Blu-ray releases preserved this viewing experience for the Japanese home video market, delivering the film in both 3D and 2D formats.

When it first arrived in American movie theaters, Yu-Gi-Oh! Bonds Beyond Time was titled Yu-Gi-Oh! 3D Bonds Beyond Time. 4Kids Entertainment embraced the film’s 3D elements and even hired Cinedigm to render in 3D a special 10-minute back story of Yugi, Jaden, and Yusei using scenes from their respective anime series.

Sadly, none of the hard work that went into creating the 3D theatrical experience was retained for Cinedigm’s DVD or BD; its releases contain only the 2D version of the film. What happened? Manga UK’s BD included the 3D version of the film, so why doesn’t Cinedigm’s?

Whether one believes that 3D adds an exciting and worthwhile layer to the cinematic experience or is just another gimmick for money-grubbing producers, it’s regrettable to see the hard work of others disregarded for the American home video market, and even more so when the 3D materials had already been provided for another English-speaking territory’s release.

Packaging, Extras, and Artwork

Cinedigm’s Yu-Gi-Oh! Bonds Beyond Time DVD and BD come packaged in ordinary plastic keep cases. The case housing the BD is about 25 percent thinner than a standard case.

Extras are something that Cinedigm’s Yu-Gi-Oh! releases have been lacking, and sadly, its Bonds Beyond Time DVD and BD fail to buck the trend. Cinedigm’s bonuses include a “Feature Flashback,” which is just the 10-minute back story exclusive to the English-language version of the movie, and the English-subtitled Japanese version of the movie, which I would hardly consider an extra. (The Japanese licensors probably consider it one heck of a generous extra though, given the dearth of Japanese Yu-Gi-Oh! media available in the West!)

Manga UK’s DVD and BD fared slightly better in the extras department, having included a Super Rare version of the Malefic Red-Eyes B. Dragon TCG card with their initial print run. In addition to listing the Feature Flashback and subbed version of the movie as extras, Manga UK also included the original 30-second theatrical trailer.

Neither Cinedigm nor Manga UK’s products hold a candle to MMV’s DVD and BD, which were predictably packed with collectibles while being sold at predictably exorbitant collector’s prices. In addition to including the standard disc and case, MMV’s initial print runs also included an Ultra Rare version of the Malefic Red-Eyes B. Dragon OCG card, a booklet filled with line sketches and illustrations of the movie’s characters and monsters, and a slipcover that features original artwork of the main characters.

All of the home videos releases of Yu-Gi-Oh! Bonds Beyond Time around the world use the same image of Jaden, Yugi, and Yusei striking a pose while crossing their Duel Monsters cards dramatically like swords. Cinedigm’s are no different, though the characters aren’t posed in front of the familiar green wall of hieroglyphs seen on the original English-language movie poster and on other home video covers, including Manga UK’s. Instead, the main characters are standing amidst a backdrop of outer space (or is it the Malefic World?) while being surrounded by a bright ring.

The only home video release that uses different artwork is of course the Japanese release from MMV, whose limited-edition slipcover shows the main characters standing unflappably straight while their monsters leap into action in the background. This exclusive artwork has not been included with any other territory’s video release.

Product Summaries

Title: Yu-Gi-Oh! Bonds Beyond Time
Street Date: July 15, 2014
Distributor: Cinedigm Entertainment
Label: Flatiron Film Company
Licensed by: 4K Media (Konami)

DVD
Region: 1
MSRP: $14.93
Disc count: One double-layer DVD disc
Language: English & Japanese with English subtitles
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen (16:9)
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 (English) & 2.0 (Japanese)
Closed Captions: Yes

Blu-ray
Region: A
MSRP: $19.97
Disc count: One single-layer BD disc
Language: English & Japanese with English subtitles
Video: 1920×1080 (16:9) at 23.976 fps
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (English) & 2.0 (Japanese)
Closed Captions: Yes

Also available as part of Cinedigm’s ‘Yu-Gi-Oh The Complete Set‘ DVD Megaset box and on various digital platforms for rental and download.

Related posts:
Cinedigm’s ‘Yu-Gi-Oh! The Official First Season’ Box Set: An Overview

Related categories:
Bonds Beyond Time

6 Comments »

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  1. a friend in the pal region who’s a yu-gi-oh anime fan was wondering, is bonds beyond time the ONLY new video group release that’s also getting a uk release along with the u.s.?

  2. The UK and American releases of Bonds Beyond Time are unrelated. They came out at different times from different companies. Does that help? I might be misunderstanding your question.

  3. i mean are there season sets for the original and gx s1 available in the uk? i suggested to him he could always import it from amazon since they ship internationally but would need a region free player to watch them?

  4. There are no season sets for Classic Yu-Gi-Oh! or Yu-Gi-Oh! GX available in the UK as of yet. Your friend could import Cinedigm’s Region 1 releases, but yes, he would need a region-free player to watch them.

  5. Hi! I’m a big Yu-Gi-Oh fan, and also an amateur stereoscopist (aka, 3D filmmaker). So, please pardon me if I correct one fact in your post: YGO 3D is not the first 2D animated film in 3D. The company that converted Yugioh also converted at least two other 2D films into stereoscopic 3D, albeit after Yugioh’s release. Disney released their 3D Lion King conversion a bit later in 2011. So, technically speaking, Yugioh may be the first 2D-animated film digitally *converted* into 3D- but there have been other films actually made for 3D in years prior. From my research, “Abra Cadabra” was the first 2D-animated 3D feature film release in 1983, with “Starchaser: The Legend of Orin” shortly after in 1985. Neither film used digital conversion, as the technology did not yet exist- it was done as part of the original filming process.

    But the history goes further back than the 80’s. If you want the first 2D-animated 3D film of any length, that’s “The Owl and the Pussycat” in 1952. And, if you want the first hand-drawn 3D image ever, look to Charles Wheatstone’s original drawings that he included with his introductory paper on stereoscopy in 1838- that predates photography! So, based on your definition of “conversion” (after animation is complete vs. as part of the animation process), Yugioh may or may not be the first 2D animation converted to 3D.

    And now that I’ve infodumped you, carry on as usual. :D

  6. I did say that BBT was the first 2D-animated film to be converted into 3D, not that it was the first 2D-animated film in 3D, period. I was actually restating what BBT’s press materials said when the movie first came out. Since there have been other traditionally-animated, full-length films made in 3D as part of the animation process, they must have meant that BBT is the first to be converted into 3D after the animation is complete. I’m glad you mentioned that the Lion King’s conversion came later because I’ve seen some other 3D enthusiasts claim that the Lion King was first. It’s pretty cool to see people embracing 3D animation for so many decades.


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