The Stretched Out Wait, Full-screen vs. Widescreen Anime

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As a per­son who likes watch­ing his shows the way they were meant to be seen (there­fore despis­ing those ani­me dubs of the ear­ly 90s), I’m pret­ty picky when it comes to the aspect ratio of my favorite shows.

I’m usu­al­ly hap­py with the way my ani­me is broad­cast and/or released on DVD, but as such, I RAGE when a show is broadcast/released with an aspect ratio that butch­ers the way the show was orig­i­nal­ly meant to be seen.

To clar­i­fy, here’s a run­down of the two types of “screens” you can either get while watch­ing a tele­vi­sion show.

Fullscreen — 4:3 aspect ratio. The stan­dard for your aver­age SDTV. Fine and dandy if it was intend­ed for this, but for ani­me, it’s usu­al­ly just a crap­py “pan and scan” (crop­ping and adjust­ing the cam­era on an orig­i­nal widescreen pic­ture). No let­ter­box­ing in your aver­age TV set, so I call it fullscreen because it takes up the whole screen, since I have a stan­dard tele­vi­sion. ;D

Widescreen — 16:9 aspect ratio. Looks sexy on an HDTV. Widescreen seems to be the norm for quite a few ani­me, but there are those rare times where ani­me are actu­al­ly meant to be seen in fullscreen and the damn things stretch­es the shit out of it. If you have an SDTV, then more often than not, widescreen shows will add those black bars (“let­ter­box­es”) that mis­in­formed chil­dren seem to love to com­plain about.

Here are some visu­al examples.

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Now, onto the main point. Does­n’t it piss you off when an ani­me is shown in its prop­er aspect ratio SEVERAL WEEKS AFTER it orig­i­nal­ly aired on tele­vi­sion? I’m look­ing at you, CLANNAD and K‑ON!. Dammit, as a picky per­son who wants to watch the series at the same pace as every­one else and get a NON-CROPPED, high-qual­i­ty run of the series at the same time… it’s cer­tain­ly a twist­ed turn of events. I can’t rest watch­ing K‑ON! in “fullscreen” with­out won­der­ing if I’m miss­ing out on Rit­su doing some­thing lawd at the bot­tom cor­ner of the screen or if Kyoto Ani­ma­tion left some sort of east­er egg in the back­ground, because of the fail crop­ping of the image. Not to men­tion, the ani­ma­tion does­n’t seem to run as smooth­ly on the eyes in the fullscreen broad­cast. Every­thing feels so clumped togeth­er, some­how. Same goes for CLANNAD.

A sim­i­lar RAGE-INDUCING sit­u­a­tion, as men­tioned above, are the times you wait with antic­i­pa­tion for a DVD to get an R1 released, dubbed and subbed, and then, the moment you pop that sono­va’ b!tch into the DVD play­er, you’re treat­ed with a pre­sen­ta­tion that’s stretched, cropped, and lost 40–50% of it’s orig­i­nal good­ness. If Bandai did that to The Melan­choly of Haruhi Suzu­miya… I swear, rage will ensue, ‘tard or not.

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Behold, Drag­on Ball Z, which was bet­ter off shown at a 4:3 screen res­o­lu­tion. FUNi­ma­tion’s “widescreen” cuts out more from the pic­ture com­pared to what they’re try­ing to gain.

The Drag­on Ball Z dub (and back then, the Pock­et Mon­ster movie dubs) is a guilty exam­ple of rap­ing the orig­i­nal aspect ratio annu­al­ly, in all sorts of ways (some­times called “remas­tered”, even though all they did was grain the shit out of it). For the dubs of the Pock­et Mon­sters (Poke­mon) movies, not only did they insist on chang­ing the scripts and the musi­cal scores, they also decid­ed to force out almost half of the visu­als in the movies. They con­tin­ued to ignore the fan crit­i­cisms and con­tin­ued this with their sub­se­quent dubs of the sequel’s movies, even when the movie dubs start­ed to get bet­ter with faith­ful scripts and most of the musi­cal scores intact (why they did­n’t do this for the actu­al series, hell do I know?). What they did to the Lucario movie, which was actu­al­ly an above-aver­age ani­me movie on its own with visu­als rem­i­nis­cent of the old Miyaza­ki films, was a tragedy.

Thank good­ness I like even bet­ter series.

I swear, if FUNi­ma­tion did what they do with their Drag­on Ball Z dubs and applied it to visu­al­gasm Shig­u­rui and their oth­er dubs, I would­n’t trust them ever again. Then again, that’s the only dub where they decide to bang the shit out of it like a baby that just got hold of a rat­tle for the very first time, so thank­ful I shall.

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Point short­ened: Don’t fuck with my ani­mu. I like em’ purty.

Steven Edit: Woo, I’m gonna be sneaky here and add in some of my own thoughts. As a not-so-wealthy gamer, I’ve noticed this as soon as the Xbox 360 was released. On my good ol’ trusty 480P tele­vi­sion screen, the 360 would con­ve­nient­ly let­ter box the crap out of all of my games. All over the inter­net peo­ple were whining.

BAWWW, MY MASS EFFECT HAS ANNOYING BLACK BOXES!!!”

Fuck­ing idiots, I tell you, fuck­ing idiots. As Johnny/Mikoto/Queer­bait has been rant­i­ng about above, a stan­dard 4:3 res­o­lu­tion is usu­al­ly a widescreen 16:9 res­o­lu­tion pan and scanned to hell. This leaves half the damned pic­ture sliced off, as well as dots rolling around every­where. I have K‑ON! for both 4:3 and 16:9 and after watch­ing episodes 4–6 I decid­ed to just let episode 7 rot until it rolls out on widescreen. And yes, I am going to rewatch a few episodes of K‑ON! just for the widescreen. The world’s con­vert­ing to widescreen for a rea­son, our eye­sight was built for it, our periph­er­al vision is excel­lent for view­ing a 16:9 ratio, if you want to release both res­o­lu­tions for us less wealthy peo­ple with stan­dard def­i­n­i­tion TV’s, then at least release both at around the same time. I’m a few weeks behind K‑ON! and it’s killing me. *sigh* Back to Full Met­al Alchemist for me I guess.

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