Friday’s Feature: A Brief Reflection on Streaming Anime in Australia

I appreciate that readers from elsewhere in the world probably don’t need to know what streaming is like in Australia, however with Amazon recently ditching Strike and adding their anime to Prime (and Prime being available in Australia even if much like other services the library is smaller than it might be elsewhere), it seemed like a good time to reflect on the access situation in Australia.

It used to be really hard trying to be an anime fan in Australia. Purchasing DVD’s off various websites and usually ending up with questionable quality, watching fan-subs on YouTube, or resorting to Downloads were more or less the only options.

Fortunately, we now have online streaming (and a lot more avenues for purchasing DVD’s once they finally get released).

Sure there are some barriers to online streaming. The two main ones seem to be dodgy internet or the fact that you need multiple subscriptions to access sufficient content to make it worth your while. And they are both legitimate issues still to be addressed, however for me legal streaming sites are fantastic. I’m never without new anime to watch and as much as I complain about various services, ultimately the access I have now is so far beyond what I could have even imagined even ten years ago.

So let’s go through the services I currently use and some points about them (keeping in mind some of the services aren’t for anime strictly speaking, they just happen to have some anime on them). This isn’t a definitive guide nor is it researched. Just my experience with the service. I will point out it might look like I’m tearing into Crunchyroll but it is the service that has the most anime on it so I have spent the most time on it. Obviously I’ll have found more issues with a service I use daily than one I might check in on once a month to see if anything new is out (Netflix). I will point out this is a fairly rambling post. Bottom line, all services have good and bad points and to get access to the largest range of titles you need multiple services.

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Crunchryoll

This is the big one with almost all of my current watch list for the season coming off of Crunchyroll (I have one current show from HiDive that I might drop mid-season, and I’ve picked up one on Amazon but I haven’t picked any up from AnimeLab this season). It didn’t used to have quite that many titles but after their partnership with Funimation they now get the lion’s share of the anime I end up watching. They also have a fairly massive library of older titles and for the price you pay for a yearly subscription you more than get your money’s worth in content. However, probably because I use it the most often, Crunchyroll is also the service I have the most issues with.

01. Some titles don’t get released in Australia even though they are on Crunchyroll. What makes this particularly annoying is that Crunchyroll sends out an email to tell you about this great new title you can watch and when you click the link it takes you to a page that tells you the title isn’t available in your region. Seriously, get a decent email system and send those notifications to people who are in regions with access. Ultimately this is a minor annoyance.

02. The video player is not good. It doesn’t buffer a video so any internet disruption (and this is Australia and I’m in the country so there are a lot) stops the video in its tracks. Worse, when connection is restored (even if the glitch was just for a second) the video won’t just start. You normally have to reload the page and then it might start from approximately where you were up to but sometimes it just restarts the whole video (and don’t even try skipping forward – the video will crash and you will have to start over more often than not). Again, this is my experience with it but it is actually painful some days to get to the end of an episode. But that isn’t every day, it just happens more often than I would like.

03.┬áThe ‘help’ provided is more frustrating than helpful. Without getting into too much detail in the two years I’ve been streaming and reviewing I’ve had two issues I could not solve on my end at all (and believe me I tried with the second because I did not want to contact their help again). Neither issue ended up being solved in a satisfactory manner and the icing on the cake is after not resolving the issue in a timely or helpful manner I then got bugged for weeks after to provide feedback on how I found their help only the link they sent in those emails didn’t work. Very annoying. However, I could look at the bright side that I’ve only needed to access that kind of help twice and other issues I’ve been able to resolve after spending a few hours going through the very poorly organised help files.

04. Finally, Crunchyroll has been hacked and their site goes down when popular anime stream and their customers actually try to use the service on mass. This is a problem well discussed on Twitter.

Still, if you are in Australia and actually wanting to stay current with seasonal anime, despite all of those issues, Crunchyroll is actually the service that will give you the most access for your money and given the amount of anime I’ve reviewed I’m guessing I’m not too hard done by despite feeling frustrated regularly with this service.

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AnimeLab

I used to be really, really happy with my subscription to AnimeLab. Firstly they stream only in Australia and New Zealand. The player is fantastic, navigating between episodes when bingeing is awesome. You can even tell it that you haven’t watched a series so it removes all the places you’ve stopped watching and it will start all episodes from the beginning allowing easy rewatching without being bugged about whether you want to resume an episode or not. Plus, videos buffer so you can make sure you can get to the end of a show before starting it. Very little to complain about.

My biggest issue has come about since the Crunchyroll – Funimation partnership. Since Funimation partnered with Crunchyroll… well the last two seasons have not seen much coming out on AnimeLab. Last season I was watching UQ Holder on it (and I could have watched that on HiDive), and this season the only show I’m interested in watching is Record of Grancrest War and it is available on Crunchyroll. I’m subscribed until later in the year but if they aren’t getting seasonal anime then I will probably let this subscription go.

That said, if you are a casual anime fan in Australia, AnimeLab is a great service. They have quite a selection of big titles in their library and while the library isn’t massive it does get added to fairly regularly. I was very happy when they released Drifters as I hadn’t been able to watch it prior to AnimeLab picking it up and they regularly add titles and notify their users of what is in their library.

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HiDive

Okay, I only added this one late last year and it still hasn’t made it clear what the final price of a subscription will be as we are still on their introductory price. I’ll decide whether to keep this service or not then.

HiDive was a fantastic addition though as it gave me access to titles like Made in Abyss that I’d heard a lot about but hadn’t been able to access. Like AnimeLab, the existing library isn’t that big, but is getting added to, and they’ve recently got their apps up and working so I can now view on my television or anywhere else for that matter.

For the short time I’ve had the service, I’m more or less happy with it. It occasionally glitches and the menus are not great but for the most part I’ve had no major issues watching on this service. Still, I only watched three shows on it last season and I’ve only really watched 3 or 4 older shows from start to finish, so my experience here is limited.

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Amazon

This one I only just signed up for and I would not have for their anime collection. It isn’t overly impressive with what is available in Australia. While it has added 9 or so titles to my catch up viewing list for the year and I’m glad to have access, this can’t compare to the selection on any of the other services. This service was more for the movie catalogue than for anime.

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Netflix

Much like Amazon, though I’ve had this account for much longer. I watch the occasional anime title on it but the collection is not great and they don’t do current seasonal shows anyway. Netflix is definitely something you have for the other content and the few anime they pick up are just a bonus.

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As I said at the start, this isn’t a definitive guide but more my thoughts on each service and my experience (or lack of it) with the services. What I do like is that there are only a few titles left each season that I can’t access, and even with all these services together, each month it is still cheaper than going to the cinema once with another person and buying a drink and popcorn combo (which actually seems pretty reasonable given how much content I watch across these services – or it means the price of cinema tickets and snacks is insane).

It is a very good time to be an anime fan in Australia as more becomes available every season and it is actually reasonably priced to get these services. The slow internet issue is something that needs to be addressed but not just for streaming anime.

So, if you read to the end of my rambling thoughts here I’d love to know if you are Australian what your experience is like accessing anime and if you aren’t Australian, what are your options?


Thanks for reading.

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Thanks,

Karandi James.

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