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The Bad Packaging on DVD Blues

I got myself stuck by a case of bad DVD package design.

Let me start with a tiny bit of background first. I like to watch anime but I have to go out of my way to see it (this is normal for all my television/film viewing, so don't think I'm singling out anime). As a result, what anime I do see is normally force-fed by friends. This was the case when I was loaned "Outlaw Star" when I got back from my trip on Wednesday. I got home, set the three DVD cases down, and promptly forgot about them until the weekend, when I could set aside some time to start watching the series.

The appointed time came and I opened one of the three packages, fired up the DVD player and settled in to watch. I was pleased with what I saw. It had a nice balance of action and goofy humor, and I was particularly struck with how well the first episode played, especially how well it dropped the audience into the story in media res. So I continued watching, which is when I started noticing how the show was showing characters and plot points that the main characters seen but I had not.

I should have stopped right there, but waited until the I was done with all the episodes on the disc. Then I pulled it out, put it into the DVD case, and inspected the case itself. There, in an unobstrusive corner of the front artwork, was a small graphic with dark lettering on a darker star-like image which told me that this was the 3rd collection.

I'd been watching episodes from two-thirds of the way into the series!

Thinking rather unpleasant thoughts, I checked the other two DVD cases. They had the same dark-on-darker graphic, each in a different corner of the packaging, and each placed on a dark spot of the underlying artwork, which was terribly busy. I actually had to squint to find out which one was the first collection. For a product that was sold commercially—as was the case for these DVDs—a mistake like this is unthinkable. Yet there it was, in my hands. The important parts of the design, the title and the collection number, had been placed subordinate to the artwork.


I have not gone back to finish the series. I might (since the quality of the series was not the problem), but not until I wash out the awful taste of bad design I got from the packaging.

3 comment(s):

Anonymous Anonymous said:
Sadly, you also watched some of the best episodes in the series, if memory serves...

Still, I'm suspicious of how you came to the conclusion you had the first disc of the first set. The disc itself is better labelled, IIRC.
commented 7:17 AM, June 03, 2004
Anonymous Anonymous said:
that's really funny. i hope you go back to it, despite crappy packaging (which i've not seen)because the show is loads of fun.

commented 7:56 AM, June 03, 2004
Blogger MK said:
I'm not going to discount the possibility of user error and I could even blame exhaustion with missing any crucial information on the disc itself (and I normally check the disc itself at least, just in case I'm throwing in a special features disc instead of the film or vise versa).

That doesn't excuse the decided lack of user-friendly design on the packaging itself, though. That design practically screams "We're not going to market this DVD to anyone but those who are already fans of the series". That might make sense to Bandai, but it doesn't make sense to me.

Again, grunble.
commented 6:46 PM, June 04, 2004