March 26, 2022

Hills of Silver Ruins (3/20)

Keeping the kirin around with a sealed horn to lend legitimacy to the pretender was the strategy used in Shadow of the Moon, although Asen apparently intended to prevent Taiki from returning to his kirin form, along with denying him the use of his shirei, the assumption being that he could control a small child.

But that was not the Taiki he ended up with.

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March 19, 2022

Hills of Silver Ruins (3/19)

This is another chapter that might be hard to follow in places without having first read The Demon Child.

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March 12, 2022

Hills of Silver Ruins (3/18)

I've posted chapter 18 (book 3) of Hills of Silver Ruins, a Pitch Black Moon.

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March 09, 2022

No Netflix for now

Netflix raised its rates. So I dropped Netflix. Though probably not permanently.

My price hike kicked in this month, which gave me time to finish Mitsuo Iso's brilliant Den-noh Coil and Orbital Children (what The Matrix and even Person of Interest coulda shoulda been), and finish season one of Eden's Zero.

The irony is that once a streaming service reaches a certain size, it encounters the same underlying problem with cable television that streaming was supposed to solve, namely the impetus to become a one-stop shop for everybody who walks through the door.

In order to get your specific something, you end up paying for everybody else's something too. On Netflix, that's 200 million somethings.

That gets expensive, though still not as expensive as cable. If you're looking for the broadest possible appeal, if all you want to do is sit down in front of the TV and watch something, anything, then Netflix is a great deal. It's cable without news and sports.

But if you know what you want to watch, then narrowing the options makes more sense. What streaming services need is a way of evaluating the signal-to-noise ratio. Unfortunately, what is a "signal" and what is "noise" is largely subjective.

In terms of the total number of titles I want to watch (the "signal"), Crunchyroll is the runaway winner, at half the cost of Netflix. But in terms of the pure signal-to-noise ratio, tiny HIDIVE comes out on top. And I'm only paying two bucks a month for HIDIVE.

As far as that goes, I'm not paying anything for Tubi. And speaking of Tubi, one option is to pair a premium service with an ad-supported tier.

Perhaps all premium streaming services will eventually pair up with an ad-supported tier to monetize the kind of long-tail material that once ended up on OTA subchannels like ION and MeTV. It looks like Disney Plus may be headed in that direction.

The caveat here is that the service has to invest in ad-server technology that brings the user experience in line with OTA television. Tubi's ad engine mostly accomplishes this. Crunchyroll's ads seemed designed to annoy you into getting a subscription.

So I wasn't surprised when Crunchyroll announced it was ending its ad-supported tier for debuting series starting with the Spring 2022 season.

But the one aspect of streaming that really beats the old cable model is the ability to create a virtual à la carte service using the serial subscriber approach.

On Netflix, I'm looking forward to the second seasons of SAC 2045 (coming in May), Ultraman, Komi Can't Communicate, Eden's Zero, and Godzilla Singular Point (if it ever gets the promised sequel), along with a couple of anime movies.

But in the meantime, it's simply not worth staying subscribed while I wait for them to show up someday.

So Netflix goes back on the carousel. Once enough content accumulates, I'll give the carousel a spin and sign up for a bout of bingeing. Netflix accommodates this approach and will keep a dormant account intact for up to ten months (as does dLibrary Japan).

I'm keeping HIDIVE. The merger of the Crunchyroll and Funimation catalogs makes Crunchyroll a fantastic deal, so I'll swap dLibrary Japan for Crunchyroll. Toss in Tubi and I still have more Japanese content than I have time to watch at a third the cost.

Related posts

Tubi update
The Fun is over
dLibrary Japan update

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March 05, 2022

The Fun is over

A little over a year ago, Sony acquired Crunchyroll from WarnerMedia (a division of AT&T) for $1.175 billion. Sony already owned Funimation, so it was only a matter of time before they merged the two streaming services together.

That time has come, and Funimation content is moving to Crunchyroll. Crunchyroll has the most subscribers in the most markets and the largest catalog in the business, so it made sense to go forward under the Crunchyroll brand.

As of March 1, 2022, existing and new Crunchyroll subscribers will have access to library and simulcast content previously exclusive to Funimation. All new series from the upcoming Spring 2022 season will stream exclusively on Crunchyroll; Funimation will only continue to add new episodes of current series.

So Funimation is grandfathering existing series that are still adding episodes. Once they are finished, Funimation will be too, with its home video operations "eventually moving to the Crunchyroll brand internationally."

This is a welcome development. Having dropped Netflix (temporarily), I was thinking of subscribing to Funimation for a month or two to pick up a few exclusives. A quick check shows about half of them have already moved over.

Though given the size of the Funimation catalog, and that many titles will have to be re-encoded to convert the subtitles, the move may take several months. Plus Funimation is still adding contractual content through the rest of March.

Like Netflix, Crunchyroll uses embedded subtitles, which are vastly superior (aesthetically) to the closed captions that Funimation used and HIDIVE still does (though some people do prefer closed captions along with the dub).

Of course, the other big question is how this will affect the price of the service. Now may be the best time to lock in a Crunchyroll subscription. For the time being, a yearly subscription is a little less than half the cost of Netflix (HD).

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