"We are not involved in the actual transaction between buyers and sellers. As a result, we have no control over the quality, safety or legality of the items advertised, the truth or accuracy of the listings, the ability of sellers to sell items or the ability of buyers to pay for items. We cannot ensure that a buyer or seller will actually complete a transaction." [User Agreement Section 3.1 - http://pages.ebay.com/help/policies/user-agreement.html]This is a pretty standard disclaimer, but one you should remember when purchasing things from eBay and similar auction sites. Anime Conventions, expos, festivals and similar geeky events are a great place to pick up merchandise. However just like going to a shop, you need to be cautious. The key thing to ask is does the event have a pirate goods policy? Also is it actively enforced? Some events have a strict dealers policy and will only allow dealers which also have a good stance against pirate goods. The dealer liaison at the event will know which dealers sell pirate goods and ensure they are not allowed at their events. New dealers will also be vetted. These events are great as you can shop in confidence.
Some examples of licensing stickersContrary to some beliefs anime and manga products with English that is either strange, doesn't make sense or is just plain nonsense is not a clue to spotting unlicensed goods. In Japan English is cool, characters yell in English for special attacks, moves and magic. Although English is taught across Japan, few Japanese people have spent enough time in an English speaking country to write proper English. Rather than hire a translator, sentences are thrown together, and checked to see if they seem right (but not by anyone qualified). This strange form of English is sometimes referred to as Japlish or Engrish and is often heard in J-Pop and can be read in Japanese music magazines. I have seen all sorts of things with this on, varying from underlays that call Lina Inverse's ultimate spell (Dragu/Dragon Slave) "Drug Slave" (which is a funnier spell if you ask me), to sentences that use vocabulary that is just bizarre.
The SM logo appears on the cardboard sleeve, back of the CD case and on the CD itself. The colour varies to match the design of the CD. Older Son May CDs have a fax number and e-mail address. More recent ones have telephone number, fax number, e-mail address and their website URL.
The Ever Anime logo can be found on the cardboard sleeve and on the back of the CD. The CD does not have the logo, it does have EVER ANIME written on it. Being bootleg CDs they don't have copyright information but strangely enough some do have the standard blurb about unauthorised copying, lending etc...
Note the low quality of the printing.
Below is an example of the Miya Records Logo.
Below are two examples of the Alion Logo. Apart from the low print quality look at the slight variations in design and colour used to match the CD packaging.
Below is a sample of the Smile Face / Smiley Face Records Logo
Here is the Yuanding / Top Cirlce LogoBootleg messenger style bags have started to become a more common occurrence. They are fairly easy to spot. Look for the common signs, poor graphic design, images being badly cropped, colours being off or washed out, or not fitting with the series in question. Additionally the quality of these bags tend to be poor. The bags often lack any kind of tags from the series or the bag manufacturer. The more popular the series, the more likely you are to find a bootleg variant of the bag. The most common designs are Bleach, Naruto and One Piece.
Notice with the bags below they are all the same type of bag, just with a different image printed on. In most cases the images on the bags below have either been scanned from another source or taken from the internet and printed on the bags.These are not to be confused with Cosplay (fancy dress) clothes, which are not mass-produced. Like all unlicensed goods, some clothes are produced without the license holder's permission. Unlicensed clothes are not that hard to spot, commonly sold in unknowing Sci-Fi / Comic Book Shops, Skateboard Boutiques, Market Stalls and shops that sell clothes for clubbing.
For one reason or another bootleg all over print T-Shirts of Multi from To Heart are common. Often Multi's hair has been changed to orange. Left is an image from the show, note how good the image quality is compared to the T-shirt right.This digital format is proving more popular all over the world with both licensed and unlicensed titles. DVD pirates used to sell VCDs claiming they are DVDs (as they will work in most DVD players anyway), however with more affordable DVD replication equipment this practice is now less common and pirate DVDs are sold instead. Your best bet to find out which DVDs have licensed English language versions is to check a dedicated anime DVD site such as Anime on DVD.
Episode to Disc RatioIf you do want be certain you are getting official import Anime DVDs, purchase them from reputable companies, such as CDJapan.co.jp, Amazon.co.jp and AMOTokyo.com
When buying anime DVDs, remember the episode to disc ratio.
Anime episodes are normally 25 minutes. Companies, generally put 2 to 5, 25 minute episodes on each DVD, depending on the total number of episodes in a series. So a 26 episode series is normally spread across 6 DVD to 8 DVDs and a 13 episode series (such as Hellsing and Serial Experiments Lain) is spread across 4 DVDs. 26 Episode series are never spread across 3 DVDs. If purchasing import DVDs check the US Region 1 edition too, if the Region 1 edition has 6 or 8 while the "import" edition only has 3 DVDs, then the "import" edition is not legitimate.
DVD Ani are a Korean based DVD company, they own the Korean licenses for the titles they sell. However they have some very bad habits, for example with several titles they own the Korean rights, but not the English audio or subtitle rights. For example with Galaxy Express 999 instead of purchasing the English audio track and extra features from ADV, DVD Ani just extracted them from another DVD illegally and put it on their edition. As a result we have classified DVD Ani as pirates, since they stole content they did not pay for from another company.
Archives of Studio Ghibli Bootleg DVD Set
This is the more recent edition of the bootleg Anime Cartoon International DVD set "Archives of Studio Ghibli".
Previous editions of this bootleg DVD set looked less authentic, making it easier to spot as a fake. Recently bootleggers have realised this and given their pirated goods a more official look. Anime Cartoon International has paid close attention to small detail such as the holographic sticker similar to a licensing sticker.
Pirate DVD LogosBecause Fansubs are unlicensed they have been included in this guide.
Below are examples of Pirate DVD Company Logos. The designs do change now and again, and vary to match the packaging of the DVD.
Anime Cartoon and Video Animation Logos look remarkably similar, despite some research, I am uncertain if they are the same company or two separate ones trying to play off each others image.Below is the logo of Manga International who also produce pirate DVDs, they should not be confused with Manga Entertainment, who legally distribute titles.
Here are two examples logos of pirates Anime Studio, with different colours used to match different packaging.
Below is the fx company logo, this group of pirates often make DVD boxsets.Below are two examples of the MAC Logo.This isn't always the case with pirate DVDs, but it is often true: Look for the DVD logo on the back, front and/or spine of the DVD case sleeve. They are not always on all three of these places for graphic design reasons, but offical DVDs normally have this logo appearing on the packaging as black or white or grey to match the packing design. Pirate DVDs often have the DVD logo with a printed gold effect which looks rather 1980's.
Below are examples of Xinzhida bootleg figures. These are Nendoroid Hatsune Miku figures.The more popular the trading cards the higher the chances are you will come across fakes. Fake Pokemon cards are probably the most common, some are easy to spot others are harder. Check the material they are printed on, is it the same as the other Pokemon cards you have? Does it flex when bent slightly? Look at the back of the card, counterfeit Pokemon cards often aren't the same shade of blue as official Pokemon Cards, often it is too dark or looks washed out. On the front of the card the copyright information could be incorrect with Nintendo and the other copyright holders names spelt wrongly. Check for the artists name, it could be spelt wrong or even have the wrong name. The card may be completely holographic/shiny on the front, or have a funny pattern on the hologram. Another give away is packaging if they are in the original foil wrap check if the ends have been crimped, official Pokemon card packs always have the silver ends of the foil crimped. If it is just in a plastic wallet, take the card out and have a look. After all the rarer cards are expensive and you don't want to spend money on a fake.
It is hard to tell the quality of a wallscroll if it is packaged up, so you may have difficulty looking at the product. Both licensed and unlicensed wallscrolls use the same plastic mounting. Print quality on the other hand is often a lot worse, colours are often very speckly. Again look for copyright information at the bottom or a corner of the wallscroll.