Some huge news broke overnight which could easily end up being the biggest development of 2013 from the perspective of a UK-based anime fan. Six major Japanese companies are launching a new anime service called Daisuki specialising in overseas streaming and merchandise. With heavy hitters like Aniplex, Sunrise and Toei on board, all of whom are known for blocking streams to the UK on third party sites, this could be very interesting indeed. Since the new Daisuki service is scheduled to start in April, we don't have long to wait to see what's going to happen.
Previous criticisms of Japanese-led overseas anime initiatives have been dubtitles (not applicable where there are no dubs, of course) and cost (Japanese streaming sites have always been reasonably priced, and this mentions both ads and subscriptions). It sounds as though they have a good understanding of their market so far, and I've long believed that the only way to fix the current broken streaming situation is for Japan to take control of it themselves. It's all very well for users in the US, but when you live in a smaller country nobody wants to sublicense a risky show that won't make its money back - and if the US takes the UK rights and then blocks users with UK IPs, they've pretty much created a situation where fans have no choice but to miss out or resort to learning how to circumvent blocks. It's playing to the culture of piracy rather than monetising anime properly.
I'm not worried about the service failing to meet my needs. So long as the UK is actually included in the new service's definition of "overseas" - it often isn't - then I am comfortable reacting with cautious excitement. The streaming situation has always been grossly mishandled by the current set of companies controlling it; Crunchyroll is doing an excellent job with the titles they pick up, but every other company either sits on UK rights and locks us out or gives us a sloppy service with no communication. The press release specifically mentions One Piece, Lupin III, Mobile Suit Gundam and Prince Of Tennis: all series I'd love to be able to watch as simulcasts, yet only one of them has streamed at all here when the US was in command. Japan cannot possibly do a worse job with overseas fans than the US has done so far.
I'm looking forward to catching up on some much-missed classic anime!