Crunchyroll still isn't great

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If you have read my posts as of late you may have noticed that I have grown a rather strong disliking to streaming services, especially Netflix for their constant cancellations of shows they create but never seem to finish. Over the past year my interactions with Netflix have grown thin, watching less and less on the platform to the point where I would spend weeks just not watching anything on there. Not even bothering to open the application or load up the web browser version. Netflix, for the most part, was just rejected. It lost its place within the household and has not been missed. The only things I would sometimes watch on there were series that had been made many years before, or sometimes anime. Ultimately just using Netflix as a method conveniently placing background noise into whatever I was doing.

Though I noticed that I wanted to watch more anime than I had been. But finding the library on Netflix rather boring. I grew curious as to how Crunchyroll may be performing in recent years, especially since I have ignored it. Streaming within the world of anime seems to be a rather controversial idea, and often enough for reasons that are quite fair: a loss in quality in the animation as a result of caps from services. Editing changes and potential censorship. And even just incorrect translations in the subtitles. For the most part, it seems much of the western anime space is tightly kept via its own community. One that encourages piracy under the intentions of keeping the experience authentic as it comes from Japan. Though that authentic experience is arguable. To which I found myself curious as to how Crunchyroll now functioned with the massive rise in anime popularity.


Annoyingly the first thing I had to do was figure out what my password was from many years ago. Locked out of my account from numerous incorrect guessed, I ended up having to wait to request a password reset link. Having finally achieved the changing of my password, I was met with the challenge of now creating a username for the account. One that seemed mandatory, while expressing very clearly that usernames cannot be changed. This is true suffering! To think of an eternal username in the era of taken usernames. I'm not sure what this is meant for, but it seems a bit counterintuitive just to watch anime. Though these were just two minor hurdles in getting to check out the supposed modern, approved method of watching anime. I knew from before that Crunchyroll would run ads on its shows, while also offering an ad-free version in exchange for your typical monthly subscription fee. The fee itself actually very tolerable, coming to roughly £5 a month. When compared to other streaming services, this is a very attractive pricing, and definitely one I cannot fault. Admittedly the other issues faced were a result of having not wanting to get the Premium version.

I wanted to spend more time with the platform, interacting with it from my phone, tablet, and desktop via the browser. Though on each of these devices I encountered the same annoying issue, one that made the streaming experience next to impossible: buffering. I found that the shows I decided to check out, when available to those without the monthly subscription, would run into a constant issue of buffering that would stop shows at any moment and fail to ever pick up again. I knew it wasn't relaxed to my connection or device(s) due to the varying differences between them. And while the minor video game and anime ads that played multiple times during the viewing did not bother me all that much, this buffering issue only led to the increase in time spent supposedly viewing ads over actually viewing the shows. At times this had me tempted to just throw down the money to get the premium version, though I felt conflicted, believing that the issue would only continue. The screenshot below actually displays the buffering issue, to which the show never actually picked up, and I just gave up on using the app.

To add to these issues was the strange UI which just didn't make things all that appealing. You'd go to watch a show and it would play in a small media player without utilising the entire screen space. Instead keeping the episodes menu up unless you again hit the media player's fullscreen option. It added to the number of things you had to do just to get comfortable watching something. Something that should only last 24 minutes excluding the advertisements under the free version.


Not all is bad, however. One thing I really enjoyed was the ways in which Crunchyroll encouraged you to discover shows. A menu for scrolling through specific genres based on your interests helps keep things simple and easy to follow, while not relying too much on an algorithm to recommend things to you. But that still exists in another form. In the main home area of Crunchyroll you can scroll down and find very specific niche interests. Crafted genres that, well, aren't quite genres. Themes and tropes that can be found within genres themselves. I found it funny that there was a category regarding what to watch when you are eating. It's very self-aware in regards to how a modern anime fan might want to wind down and relax. These little subgenres essentially getting you to not just rely on the genre menu and instead roam through shows that might be appealing to you in other ways. I think it's a neat idea and I have seen Disney+ try something a little similar with their idea of collections.

Ultimately Crunchyroll might be worth the small monthly subscription fee. It is a very affordable and reasonable sum. You gain access to faster releases and get the ads removed. As well as access to the full Crunchyroll library; which is actually locked out for free users as a method of enticing you to pay up. The paywall idea isn't one I enjoy seeing, but I can see why it might be encouraging. The experience itself with Crunchyroll isn't amazing, but if you get over the technical issues like its constant buffering and even its often refusal to use 1080p as the preferred resolution, it's tolerable if you want to support the industry a bit more. Though I have to admit that I can understand why the anime audiences seem so persistent on maintaining their flow of piracy and achieving the utmost available quality and thus viewing experience. With streaming, you don't get that. You get convenience at the expense of quality.


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You are absolutely right when you talk about that piracy is encouraged in the world of anime, but to some extent is that sometimes you have no other options, since the only streaming platform that I know is legal is Crunchyroll, but this same has too many problems, especially when you have bad internet, it doesn't offer you low-quality servers, the Free version is a joke, also that many times it doesn't have a license for some important anime, for example, the second season of Bleach that was released recently, I'm not saying that I don't recommend Crunchyroll, but I would think twice before sticking a subscription as expensive as theirs.


It's still crazy that there are so few options in the west. I know of Crunchyroll and Funimation, but Funimation is Crunchyroll, haha. Netflix and Prime Video just aren't options really.