With piracy so utterly rampant in the anime industry, companies are trying to find different ways to provide legal copies of their material to consumers. Sites like Crunchy Roll and publishers like FUNimation stream old and current shows on their respective websites, placing ads in their shows to generate some sort of revenue. That said, not many companies have the resources of FUNimation or even Cruchy Roll, what with all the shows that have been shown there in the last year.
Thankfully, iTunes and the Apple App Store provides a new front for companies to make their shows available for purchase. In particular, the show Denno Coil (licensed as Cyber Coil) has gotten its own free app, courtesy of Tokuma Shoten, where fans can buy episodes at $3 a piece as well as some extra features. It's something I haven't seen done before, so I decided to give the app a go and give my impressions.
To be frank, it's pretty awful. While $3 an episode doesn't seem like much, multiply that by 26 and you're spending $78 for a low-quality digital copy of a show that is much better served on a bigger screen and on DVD. It may seem odd or elitist or just plain pack ratty, but if I'm going to spend over $70 on a show I need some sort of physical media to show for it. Not only that, but I expect some high quality video, not sub-DVD quality video that looks bad even on a small screen.
To add insult to injury, the download was absurdly long. The bloody first episode took over an hour to download and I couldn't download it in the background. That's right, my super nice, technologically superior smart phone was useless for an hour while I watched this app take its sweet time downloading. For something to take that long, I'd prefer if they found some way to stream it as opposed to dropping the whole thing on my phone.
Granted, I wouldn't spend $3 to only stream an episode. However, if they charged me a buck to stream it I wouldn't have minded. I know that seems odd, but if you think about it, the convenience of streaming a show at any time to me is worth a dollar. I also know that Crunchy Roll has their own app where you can stream content, but everything isn't available there. If a show seems interesting enough, I'd do it.
As for the extras, there are some plain photos, a staff list, an episode-by-episode synopsis of the whole show and a section where you can make your own dub. Being the only thing worth spending any sort of time on, I loaded it up and recorded my own dialogue. The most I can say for it is that it works. It's silly, superfluous and will be forgotten in a few minutes.
The real shame here is the show is quite interesting and I would be interested in watching more if it wasn't so expensive for an inferior product. I'll tip my hat to Tokuma Shoten for trying something new here, but they're going to have to try better next time if they want people to actually spend money on their product.