After doing a post on one of those direct download anime sites, I figured it’d be only fair to do some reviews of the sites that offer legal anime downloads. A few of these have popped up over the past few months, though not much has really been written about them.
Today I’ll look at ADV Universe. ADV Universe is ADV Films’ own anime download service. They offer DRM protected windows media files of their anime for download.
ADV Universe only offers anime from ADV (duh). Right now, the selection is somewhat small compared to the total number of licenses that ADV actually has. Also, there don’t seem to be any full series. You can download Gilgamesh, for example, but only 11 episodes are available. The series that are available right now are:
- Air Gear
- Area 88 TV
- Comic Party Revolution
- Coyote Ragtime Show
- Diamond Daydreams
- Divergence Eve
- Ellcia TV
- Jinki: Extend
- Lady Death
- Le Chevalier D’Eon
- Magical Play
- Nurse Witch Komugi
- Panyo Panyo Di Gi Charat
- Parasite Dolls OVA
- Princess Tutu
- Saiyuki TV
Each download at ADV Universe costs $4.99. This is relatively expensive for a single episode download. In the case of Coyote Ragtime Show, it’d cost about $20 for the first four episodes. But you can get the first 4 episodes on the 1st DVD for about $26…
What makes the ADV Universe price somewhat better is the inclusion of ADV Bucks. For every $5 you spend, you get 5 ADV bucks. Perhaps this is why videos are priced at $4.99? ADV Bucks can be used at ADV’s own store to buy real stuff. So if you’re going to buy something at ADV anyway, you could just get some anime downloads for free. Or if you buy some episodes and end up liking the series you can use the ADV Bucks you earned to purchase the actual DVD. It’s a really cool concept and I hope that other companies try the same same thing or at least something similar.
The episode I ended up downloading was a promotional free one. Hopefully ADV offers more epiodes for free. I’d imagine it wouldn’t hurt to provide all the 1st episodes at no price in order to get people used to the idea of DRM and legal downloads.
Wow, the download speed for ADV Universe is really slow. I got around an average of 150KB/s download on the first episode of Le Chevalier D’Eon. It took about an hour to finish because of the large file size (~470MB). This is totally unacceptable. I could run to the store and buy Le Chevalier D’Eon faster than it takes to download it! One of the selling points of downloading anime is that it should take less time than actually going to the store…
I had some problems getting the video to work with Windows Media at first. There was some weird issue in obtaining the license. Installing version 11 fixed things, but I wish it would’ve worked the first time. I know that some people will see an error message and say “forget it.”
The Le Chevalier D’Eon video was 632×480 and was encoded at 2.62Mbps bitrate. It looked fine to me, though the ADV Films watermark at the bottom of the picture was kind of annoying. Also, if fansubbers can release this anime at 1280×720, why can’t ADV? I’m probably thinking for easier system requirements. It’d be cool if there was an option though.
The audio was the English dub version. I don’t know if wmv supports multiple audio streams, but I know mkv does. It’d be nice to see a download that had the versatility of a DVD.
For fun, I tried watching the anime in VLC. This is what I got. Yep, DRM works.
ADV Universe has quite a bit of work to do before it becomes desirable to use, at least for me. The high price and the slow download speed really kill it. I think the ADV Bucks system is really cool, but ADV will have to fix a few of my gripes before I start downloading anime from them. I’d rather just buy the DVD at this point.