Just when the legal anime ecosystem found its legs with the happy cooperation of Funimation and Crunchyroll, along comes Amazon’s Anime Strike service to muddy the waters. While Hulu and Netflix have flirted with the anime game, Anime Strike has thrown itself into the pool with little regard for the tidal wave its bellyflop has unleashed.
I’ve never been the world’s biggest fan of Hulu and Netflix anime exclusives, but the entrance of a third player to further splinter the anime viewing experience bothers me for more than just the inconvenience of using yet another service to get my fix of the latest shows.
It’d be one thing if you could just ignore Anime Strike because all its shows were crap, but that’s just not true: Scum’s Wish , a highlight from the winter season, is on the service exclusively now, while this season’s Sagrada Reset is exclusive to Anime Strike. Anime Strike is also filling out its back catalog with hits like No Game No Life ( available on Crunchyroll ), Ergo Proxy ( available on Funimation ), Darker than Black ( available on Funimation ), Cowboy Bebop ( available on Crunchyroll and Funimation ) and Chi’s Sweet Adventure , as well as top-notch anime movies like Paprika, Akira, Appleseed and Tekkonkinkreet .
Filling out its back catalog isn’t a big deal, since Funimation and Crunchyroll already have many of those titles (and Blu-Ray/DVDs of many of them are also available). These titles have also been out for years; odds are good that if you want to see Ouran High School Host Club, you already have.
Splintering the current anime season across Crunchyroll, Funimation and now Anime Strike is a problem for anime fans because Anime Strike is flagrantly expensive in a way Hulu and Netflix simply aren’t.
Crunchyroll is $6.95 a month for a premium membership, meaning an annual investment of $83.40 per year. (There’s also a Premium+ option for $11.95 a month, or $143.40 a year.) Funimation’s premium service is $5.99 a month, or $71.88 a year, with an annual plan option of $59.99 if you’d rather skip monthly payments and pay in full up front. Netflix is $119.88 a year if you do the $9.99 a month plan, while Hulu is $7.99 per month or $95.88 per year.
Compare to Anime Strike. First of all, you need to have Amazon Prime to even access Anime Strike. Prime is an incredibly useful service for many reasons beyond anime streaming, but at $99 annually, it ain’t cheap. Amazon Prime automatically includes Amazon Video, which has a really good basic library. You can also “enhance” Amazon Video by subscribing to channels such as Anime Strike, which will run you $4.99 a month ($59.88 a year) on top of Amazon Prime’s $99 annual price and any other Amazon services you may subscribe to such as Kindle Unlimited.
So just to watch one or two shows from the current season on Anime Strike, you have to pay $158.88 a year. I could swallow having to watch Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress or Ronia the Robber’s Daughter on Amazon Video because they were included with Amazon Prime, which is a useful service with tons of other benefits I was already paying for.
But if I want to watch every single show in an anime season legally, I’ll need to subscribe to Crunchyroll, Funimation, Amazon Strike, Hulu, Netflix… Tally it up: all of those services are $518.03 combined, for guaranteed access to all of the anime you can legally get your hands on.
And this comes just when Crunchyroll and Funimation had between them made efforts to stabilize the anime ecosystem, since they carry the vast heft of each season’s anime.
At least Netflix and Hulu have a lot of value beyond anime, but just for Anime Strike , you have to pay $158.88 a year. Uncool! If you could at least pay just for Anime Strike, the price would be in line with the other anime services, but being forced to pay for Amazon Prime just to be able to access Anime Strike is money-grubbing of the lowest order, consumer-unfriendly and very likely to drive people to piracy, since they only a handful of exclusives anyway. (Don’t forget: you can rent or buy just one show if you want your wallet pounded to tripe by those abusive prices.)
Are you down with Anime Strike? Do you welcome the entry of a new player in the anime ecosystem? Feel free to let us know in the comments section below.