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.
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.
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.
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.