How to spot fake anime DVDs

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There are many fake and bootleg anime DVDs being sold on eBay.  It is always quite a shame when you think you've found a good deal, only to discover it's just a cheap knockoff.  Here's a small guide of things to look out for when purchasing anime DVDs:
  • Many bootleg DVDs, anime or otherwise, come from Hong Kong. I'm in no way saying that all sellers from Hong Kong are peddling fake merchandise, but you should bear this in mind.
  • A good giveaway that the DVD is a Hong Kong bootleg is the languages available. Most legitimate DVDs have Japanese or English audio with English subtitles. If the DVD states it is just Japanese with English or Chinese subtitles, it is most likely a bootleg.
  • If the DVD is quite cheap for the amount of episodes offered (e.g. a box set of a complete 51-episode for a tenner), this might seem reason for suspicion.
  • Region coding is another contributing factor. Anime bootlegs are almost always region free. It's more likely to be legit if it's coded for the country it was released in.
This is not a definitive list of things to look out for, but it's a very good indication. Also, if a DVD has a couple of these characteristics, it does not automatically mean it is a bootleg. However, if the DVD has many or all of these characteristics, it may be a cause for alarm bells to start ringing.

Because of their cheap price tag and region free coding, anime DVD bootlegs may often seem more appealing than their legal counterparts. However, aside from cheating the creators of the anime out of money, there are several downsides to bootlegs. You may be lucky and get a high quality fake, but more often than not, anime bootlegs are characterised by the following things:

  • Poor picture and audio quality, often recorded straight from television, complete with the logo of the broadcasting TV station on all episodes.
  • Very bad translation in the subtitles, often too literal, as if an online translator was used.
  • If there is English writing on the packaging, there is sometimes typing/spelling/grammar errors.
  • Overall bad packing, poor quality printing or even incorrect artwork used.
I hope this guide proves useful to those looking to complete their anime DVD collections through the use of eBay.
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