Do I Need To Check All My Anime Blu-Rays For Errors?

by Justin Sevakis,

Melissa asked:

Every time I order a new anime series and it comes in the mail, I watch it asap, skip nothing the first time around, and force myself to watch the dvd discs that come in the combo pack. The reason behind it, to make sure all the discs are error free. Am I wasting my time by doing this? What are the chances of getting a disc that has any sort of error on it?

Chances are very, very good that you are wasting your time. Discs get proofed at many, many stages during production. For the most part, anime companies are very good at catching video glitches, audio issues and other errors that can crop up during production -- and if there's one they miss, ALL of the discs are like that. If you're vigilant on forums and Twitter and the like, you'll probably hear about it, and if it's bad enough, the company will likely reprint the disc and offer a trade-in program.

I hear people asking all the time if all of the discs look like theirs, or if there's is special. Theirs is never special. Discs are delivered to the replication plant as a fully structured, encoded, and complete file, and either it got etched on the disc perfectly or it didn't. Differences in video and audio quality, subtitles, or even menu programming simply cannot occur this far down the production line. For every copy of a disc made, as long as there's no actual read/write error on the disc, everything will be EXACTLY the same. It's similar to streaming: if you're watching on a similar device with a similar connection speed, chances are you're watching the exact same file being streamed over the internet to you, and nothing will ever be different.

Now, there's one major caveat. Sometimes, if a disc has been out for a while, the publisher will do a new pressing, and in doing so, creates a new glass master that fixes a flaw that made it out on the first disc. Usually these flaws are minor, and in some cases the company will announce a program where owners of the first version can trade in their discs to upgrade to the new version. Sometimes the fixes are kept quiet so as not to upset people that are already happy with their discs. (Some of us people that make discs are perfectionists that just need to fix things that nobody else notices.)

That said, there is a remote possibility (even more remote with Blu-ray, given all the error checking that goes into them) that a stray dust particle might have flown into the stamper as it was stamping your disc. Or some bad chemicals were used to produce your disc and the layers within it are becoming un-laminated. This will manifest in the player as a very obvious error: a glitch in the video, a pause in the audio, and/or perhaps a part where the player gets "stuck" and can be heard audibly chugging away on the disc while displaying no video.

These things are exceedingly rare, and are the only things that are worth returning to the retailer, even if you did manage to find something wrong. And you don't need to sit there and watch the entire disc against your will to check for them. You can just as easily just pop the disc in your computer, explore the contents of the disc, find the VIDEO_TS folder (or BDMV folder on a Blu-ray), and copy the entire thing to your hard drive. The disc will be encrypted, so the resulting folder won't be useful for anything (you can trash it immediately), but if the file copy goes fine, your disc has no read errors.

For the record, I would never, ever do this and don't think it's a good use of anyone's time.

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Anime News Network founder Justin Sevakis wrote Answerman between July 2013 and August 2019, and had over 20 years of experience in the anime business at the time. These days, he's the owner of the video production company MediaOCD, where he produces many anime Blu-rays. You can follow him on Twitter at @worldofcrap.

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