With the last weeks of the year fast upon us, it's time for our next look back over our shoulder at what the year's had to offer us: our roundup of the best newly-premiered shows on DVD and Blu-ray Disc for 2011.
The criteria for this list is simple: these are the best shows released this year to physical media (and possibly also given streaming-media releases at the same time) for the first time in 2011. Reissues of previously-released shows will be rounded up in a follow-up post, so stay tuned for that as well.
I've had speculative discussions with friends about whether 2012 will be the year streaming overtakes physical media as far as anime is concerned. I don't think anything will ever completely replace physical media for certain applications -- Blu-ray Disc sales on the whole are still climbing, so there's clearly a market there. I do see streaming eating into all the low-hanging fruit, though -- mainly the rental market, where a lot of people choose to experience a show without having to shell out full price for it.
The real issue, as always, is licensing. Streamed shows are not licensed in perpetuity, and once the stream is gone, that's it. Likewise, there's only a limited licensing window for pressing discs, but a disc has an inherent longevity that a stream does not. I'd rather have at least one pressing of a really rare and interesting show or movie, just so that the people who truly care about it can get a shot at owning it once and for all.
Check out our list of the best new releases, and be sure to chime in with your comments below. Note that a couple of titles I really wanted to add to the list -- like RED LINE -- weren't able to sneak in due to the fact that they only played in theaters and didn't actually have a physical release yet.
Also be sure to check out our previous list of Best New Anime Premieres of 2011, which covers streaming-only releases.
Image: Arakawa Under the Bridge. © Hikaru Nakamura / SQUARE ENIX, ArakawaUB Project. Image courtesy NIS America.