The company which releases “AnimeCartoon” DVDs is a known bootlegger (and also goes by Anime Studio, among other names). The next bootleg I’m looking at is an AnimeCartoon “release”. What I’m not convinced of, however, is that AnimeCartoon is the one who’s done this release. It looks to me like a Malaysian bootlegger bootlegged the bootlegging AnimeCartoon’s bootleg. If I hadn’t started this review before realizing this, I would have reviewed the AnimeCartoon bootleg before this one, then compared this release with it.
Unlike the bootleg of Pioneer’s Region 1 release, the AnimeCartoon DVDs use their own English translation for subtitles, and use the Japanese DVDs as their material source. Because I’ve already put together minor subtitle comparisons on this release, I’ve included them in this review, but I’ll put a more thorough comparison of Pioneer’s subtitles and AnimeCartoon’s subtitles in my review on the Anime Studio bootleg later on.
Being from Malaysia, this item comes with a sticker on the bottom with the following information:
Tajuk: Cardcaptor; Pengedar (Distributor): Rungreang Entertainment. Then, there’s the line “Pengerusi Lembaga Penapisan Filem Malaysia” (Malaysian Film Censorship Board), etc. This is used in eBay auctions to show the authenticity of this set, even though it’s either a Malaysian AnimeCartoon bootleg release, or a Malaysian bootlegger’s bootlegging of a bootleg.
Box Art and Quality
The Outer Box
The box is almost flimsy, cardboard. The show title is shown as “Cardcaptor Sakura” in English, alonside the Japanese “カードキャプターさくら” with “Japanese Animation” below it. The sides of the box solely use the Japanese logo.
The front shows Sakura in a pink costume, with Kero beside her. Li is in his ceremonial outfit and Tomoyo has her camera, both at the bottom of the front artwork. The artwork itself looks nice. The quality is decent, and the colors are not faded.
The back of the box matches the back of the first DVD case, which I’ll get to below.
DVD Case 1
The first DVD case shows an artwork of Sakura, Tomoyo, and Kero. It doesn’t use the same style as the box cover and the second DVD case cover, which is to have an artwork of Sakura which overlaps the starry border around her at the top, nor does it have two circles at the bottom showing other main characters.
The back of the case shows eight low-quality screenshots of scenes from episodes on the DVDs in the case. The accompanying text reads, “Resembling the great Oriental myths and legends of history. Cardcaptors is the epic story of an ordinary young girl who becomes a hero as she struggles to save the world from destructive magical forces.” I imagine this text comes from the United States “Cardcaptors” release.
Staff and credits on the back are all listed in Japanese, I presume copied from the a Japanese DVD release. The credits include crediting for the opening theme “Platina” and the ending theme “Fruits Candy”.
There is also an artwork of Sakura in her winter school uniform, Kero with her.
DVD Case 2
The front follows the same format as the box’s cover. This time, sakura is wearing a white dress, and the circles at the bottom show Kero and Meiling.
The back is the same as for the first case, with the same summary and credits. The eight screenshots are from episodes contained in the second DVD case, and the artwork of Sakura shows her in a blue-based costume, holding a transformed card.
The cases are low-quality plastic. They’re poorly made, and don’t fit together very well. Each case is designed to hold two DVDs, not the four included. DVDs come in sleeves able to hold two DVDs, slipped into the plastic cases. This overall leaves the case bulging to have four DVDs not properly seated in the two available DVD spots, and I would imagine a potential for the DVDs to be cracked in transportation.
All the DVDs use the same artwork, showing Sakura in a blue-based costume. Numbering on the DVDs helps keep them in order. The artwork looks to have been printed by a home printed to a DVD sticker which was then stuck on the DVD.
My copy came with an extra first DVD, with a blue underside, whereas the eight DVDs otherwise have silver undersides. The silver ones cannot be read by my laptop’s DVD player, although my PC’s DVD player and a regular DVD player both are able to play them.
Comparison with Region Two and Region One Releases
The menus are different from both the region two and region one releases, using manga artwork and anime trading cards for background images.
Choosing subtitles requires Chinese-reading or some guesswork. Episode titles are all in Japanese.
The video source is the Japanese region two release, so the negatives of the Pioneer region one release are not found. This release increases the video’s brightness, but this also gives a washed out feel to the colors. You get many episodes on a DVD, and the compression artifacts to go with it. Also, sometimes areas of red contain blobs of green, probably a side-effect of the compression algorithms used.
You don’t even need to view the full-sized screenshot to see what bad compressions can do to video, but check it out anyways. Notice the compression artifacts around the sleeves’ bows and ruffles as well.
Here’s a quality comparison. The episode title here is さくらと不思議な魔法の本, which in the region one release is translated as “Sakura and the Mysterious Magic Book”. I’m not sure how the AnimeCartoon translation came up with “Who? Who is calling me?” Of course, the region two title has no subtitles at all.
There a logo mark for AnimeCartoon which won’t be seen on the official releases. It’s only shown for a short time, and it’s not distracting (although it’s low quality). There’s also noticeable cropping at the top of the bootleg and the bottom of the official.
Here are more scenes to compare:
The theme songs are decent quality. There are no issues here. Dialogue also sounds to have no issues.
To speak honestly, I wanted to do an autoleveling of the colors on the US licensed release screenshots, so Tomoyo’s skin would look the correct color. The AnimeCartoon version needs no improvement, but the US licensed’s color is off. Even if it’s corrected with autoleveling, Tomoyo’s hair still remains purple. Clearly I chose not to autolevel the colors, as that would make for a dishonest comparison.
The English used in the AnimeCartoon subtitles looks to be a decent translation. The use of casual US English gives an easy-to-read feel (at least for an American; I can’t say for British or Australians).
Tomoyo’s song in an early episode is not subtitled. You also get some lines such as “I suppose it does in the living room there is a bigger one” (from the stuffed animal episode).
Extras and Omakase
There are no extras, and Kero’s Omakase is not included. Although, if you watch closely, you might see a split second that wasn’t cut out.
DVD Error Check
I don’t have the results from an error check on the extra copy of the first DVD (blue underside) which came in my pack, but there was an errored area on the disc. While playing an episode midway through the DVD, my laptop reached an errored area and stopped playing. The other eight DVDs (silver underside) cannot be played on my laptop, although they play fine in a regular DVD player. Because of this inability to be read by my laptop, I cannot run an error check on them there.
On my PC, I was able to play the first and eighth DVDs just fine, and was able to copy the eighth without any errors being found. I did not test the first seven DVDs for errors.
Chapter points are at the start of the opening theme songs and at the start of each episode. This allows easily reaching the starting point of an episode, but there’s no chapter point for midway through an episode, or the ending theme.
Verdict: Almost a “buy it”, with a number of reservations (including the DVD error mentioned just above). I’ll be reviewing another Anime Studio release, so I’d say to wait and check the verdict there, as all pros in this verdict will apply there.
Translation quality ranges from unreadable to decent. Casual US English is used, and it flows well. Names are dropped when they are unnecessary, but when they are used, they often (when space allows) keep the Japanese name suffix.
There are some minor errors with subtitles, such a space before a comma rather than after, but it’s nothing too terrible. Also, writing is not subtitled. At one point, I saw the subtitling fall behind a little, and a simple line was missed (Sakura saying “Good morning” to Li).
Video quality has its pros and cons. There’s more compression, but no cropping (compared with the US licensed release). Character outlines lack the (relative) sharpness of the US licensed release, but the colors are correct. Extra compression at parts results in red areas being filled with green, which can be jarring mid-episode.
The DVDs are obviously not 100% legit. If they were legit, then that would mean they were released by a company able to make DVDs with something other than a DVD burner, stick-on labels, and a color ink printer. The quality of the box and DVD cases are lacking, as well.
If you are going to buy a set other than the Japanese or US releases, this set is much better than the bootleg of the US version I reviewed prior. I still recommend waiting for the other Anime Studio release review before making a choice, however.