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ADV's "Kino's Journey" AniMini: Great Show, Weak Format

Have you ever wanted to try out an anime before buying it, but not wanted to jump into the legal grey area that is fansubs? Well, ADV’s AniMini product is supposed to be the solution to your dilemma, giving anime fans a quick, cut-rate look at an anime series without having to shell out the bucks for a full-length DVD. The AniMini is a three-inch DVD containing one episode of a series (dub only) and a coupon for ten dollars off the full DVD at the ADVFilms online store. The AniMini itself sells for between $6.98-7.98, depending on the show. Does the idea work?

Well, I’d never seen the series Kino’s Journey, but I had heard good things about it. Problem is, I’ve been collecting too many series recently. So, wanting to be careful about jumping into a new one, I decided to give its AniMini a spin.

Kino’s Journey is about a girl, Kino, and her talking motorcycle, Hermes, who travel about the world looking at various societies and cultures, observing their values, and learning of their history. The Kino’s Journey AniMini contains episode 3, in which Kino and Hermes look at the way certain societies can become bound together by traditions and history that they don’t even fully realize they share. It has an interesting storytelling style that’s like a more linear Boogiepop Phantom, and the animation is fairly nice, set against beautiful, European-looking backgrounds. The character design is odd at points, but interesting; the music is subtle; and the dub seems to be one of the better ones I’ve heard from ADV. All in all, it seems to me, a series worth pursuing, and I will be picking it up.

So, does that make the AniMini idea a success? Well, it does for ADV: Based on the AniMini, I’m buying one of their series, right? I’m not sure it’s such a good deal for me, though. Factoring the coupon, the cost of the AniMini, and the shipping charges into the equation, Kino’s Journey (Vol. 1) will set me back about $30, which is more than it costs at Amazon or Rightstuf. And if I hadn’t liked the episode? Then I’d be out the money I spent on it because (let’s face it) the AniMini itself is no great prize. So, ADV is asking you to gamble $7 on a stand-alone episode you might not like, and they’re not really giving you a good bargain if you decide you do want to pick up the full-length DVD. It’s not really a solution to the neophyte’s dilemma at all. Geneon’s got a better idea, handing out discs with two dozen trailers and two full episodes (each from a different series) at Suncoast and at anime conventions for free.

Bottom-line: If you’re already into anime, you’re are better off renting a series or borrowing it from friend who owns it.

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