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Creator / Discotek Media

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Discotek Media (also known as Eastern Star) is an entertainment corporation in the business of licensing, translating, and releasing Japanese anime and live-action movies, adult anime, independent movies, and television series to home-video in the North American market. Despite being formed in 2005, they didn't become active in the anime business until around 2008 (their early output consisted mostly of samurai films with a couple of old Toei anime movies thrown into the mix). The crash of the North American anime industry in the late 2000'snote  probably aided the rise of Discotek – with other major distributors going out of business, drastically cutting back, or at least not renewing obscure vintage titles, this left the small startup Discotek free to carve out its own niche.

Since then, they have become quite well known for licensing a lot of vintage anime from the 1970s to the 1990s, along with re-releasing titles whose original licenses have lapsed, and also occasionally licensing more recent series. They are also known for being the current champions of the Lupin III franchise in North America.

Since they're a small company without a lot of resources, their policy originally was to never commission English dubs themselves, though they'll gladly use a preexisting dub if one exists and they can get it. Fans don't seem to care too much since their other policy is to release their titles completely uncutnote  and to use the highest-quality materials they can get their hands on. Basically, any announcement they make will cause underserved parts of the anime fandom to rejoice. In 2015, Discotek commissioned their first English dub; the Lupin III film, Gravestone of Daisuke Jigen.

They also announced a partnership with streaming site Crunchyroll to release a few select titles from Crunchyroll's catalogue for home video. In return, some titles from Discotek's catalogue became available on Crunchyroll for streaming. They also have deals with Retro Crush, a streaming service dedicated to older anime.

They have a YouTube channel where they upload trailers for their upcoming releases.

Compare The Criterion Collection, which fills a similar niche in film distribution, complete with noticeably high but still reasonable price tags, Shout! Factory, who is also known for rescuing obscure television shows (though Discotek focuses more on anime), and Rhino, which fills a similar niche in music.

Titles licensed by this company include:

Tropes relating to Discotek Media:

  • Adored by the Network: The entire Lupin III franchise is pretty much this for them, especially considering that they do a lot of license rescues for titles that have otherwise never been officially released in the US.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Done with the Project A-Ko released. They announced they were canceling their planned upscale of the original. Because they had found the long-thought-lost 35mm masters.
  • Better Export for You: A lot of their releases that either had subpar upscales in Japan or were never released on blu-ray in Japan either get released in native HD or a better upscale by this company. Examples include Street Fighter II, where the US got an HD blu-ray release, while Japan's stuck with an out of print DVD release from many years ago in terms of physical media. Another example is Digimon, where Discotek upscaled the SD masters, which, while showing slightly less picture than Japan's own HD master, has its details MUCH less washed out and more pronounced.
  • Bowdlerization:
    • Invoked with their release of The Castle of Cagliostro, which includes a "Family Friendly" version of the Manga dub that removes all of the Obligatory Swearing present in the original Manga dub. This dub was created specifically for this release, and according to Reed Nelson, it's intended to bring the movie closer in tone to the original Japanese script and the Miyazaki movies released by Disney. However, the "fifteened" version is still there too.
    • An example that was apparently unavoidable is their DVD release of Violence Jack. As pointed out on their website, the release is uncut for the most part, but contains mosaic censoring over certain scenes in the second episode.
      • Subverted with the upcoming (As of the time of writing) 2022 Blu-Ray release where it's been confirmed the series will be fully uncensored, sans the mosaic censoring, for the first time ever.
    • An unintentional example. When they released Blue Submarine No. 6, unbeknownst to them, the English dub they included was the censored version used when the series aired on Toonami. Fortunately, they've re-released it with the uncensored dub in 2016.
    • Subverted by their release of Angel Cop, which will be the first release to include uncensored English subtitles (along with the original censored subtitles by Manga Entertainment).
    • Played straight with their home release of Fighting Foodons, in which only the dubbed version was released. The company that originally dubbed it, 4Kids Entertainment, is rather infamous for applying this trope to the many anime they dubbed. There is no word on when or if an uncut subtitled version of the original version, Kakutō Ryōri Densetsu Bistro Recipe note , will ever be released. (Keep in mind that the anime still has no available unofficial fansubs or even raws ripped from the Japanese VHSes either).
  • Keep Circulating the Tapes: They're often an official version of this. A good number – probably a majority – of their acquisitions had, at some point in the past, been licensed by another company, but the properties then went into limbo for whatever reason (i.e. the license expired and/or the original company that held the US rights to the property went under). Sadly, however, even Discotek isn't safe from this, as most of their early anime and live-action movie licenses such as War in Space, Lupin III: Strange Psychokinetic Strategy, and Lupin III: The Fuma Conspiracy have gone out of print. In some cases, such as the initial four-volume releases of the Fist of the North Star anime, this is because Discotek put out a more recent rerelease.
    • We can add their release of D.N.Angel as well. Like The Fuma Conspiracy above, it was a series they rescued from this, only for it to go back some time later.
    • Some other notable examples include their releases of Project A-Ko and Angel Cop, which for the longest time, both titles had botched or low-quality releasesnote .
  • No Dub for You: Sort of. If there's no pre-existing English dub for a show or movie they plan on releasing, it almost definitely means they'll be putting it out sub-only. If there is a dub, odds are good they'll include it note . If there are Dueling Dubs, they might try to get all of them.
    • Apparently, even the existence of a pre-existing dub is still no guarantee they'll include it, as their release of Dallos demonstrates (though to be fair, the dub for that series wasn't particularly good quality). To a lesser extent, there's their release of the Space Adventure Cobra movie, which includes the Streamline dub, but not the Manga dub due to copyright issues with the licensed music soundtrack.
    • Averted with their release of Gravestone of Daisuke Jigen, which included a brand new English dub. Discotek would later follow this up with additional English dubs of other 2010's-era Lupin III productions, including Lupin III: The Italian Adventure. Discotek have since commissioned other dubs, including Hell's Angels and Kemono Friends. Many of those dubs were made courtesy of Sound Cadence Studios and Team Four Star.
    • They were open for a possible dubbed home video re-release of the first season of Free! after the initial sub-only release. Crunchyroll, who licensed and dubbed the second season, would produce a dub of the first season with the Funimation cast from and include it on a rerelease of the first season.
    • Possibly an inverted example is their DVD and SD Blu-Ray release of Sonic X, which only has the edited 4Kids English dub — and unlike with Samurai Pizza Cats and Monster Rancher, there are currently no plans for a separate release of the uncut version with subtitles. That's because 4Kids, when streaming the show subtitled on Hulu, did not provide TMS with the timed subtitle scripts. This means that a subtitled release (or even re-dubbed) would require a complete recreation of the subtitles from scratch, a feat that Discotek isn't sure is worth the time, effort, and cost.note  The uncut subtitled version was eventually released in April 2023.
    • Similarly to the Sonic X example, their re-release of Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust only has the English dub with no Japanese track included. However, unlike Sonic X, the English dub was actually recorded first due to the movie being released in America and Australia over a year before Japan got it, making this a straight example.
    • Their dedication to the Dub cause is evident with Ninja Robots, scouring archives for the dub, asking fans if they had copies and after exhausting all avenues and coming up with everything but a couple of minutes of audio, completed the dub themselves. Considering the "Mad Movie" like nature of Ninja Senshi Tobikage, this is probably the only series they could have gotten away with that move.

    • There are movies that Discotek has mentioned that they would have liked to dub, such as Neo Heroic Fantasia Arion and You Are Umasou, but are unable to because the music and effects tracks, which are required to make dubs, are lost.
  • No Export for You: Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust. Fans had been asking for years that the Japanese audio be included on any re-release, but when Discotek requested it, they were denied, the original rights-holder stating that the Japanese track was not to leave Japan.
    • Their main market is North America, the UK, West Europe and the Pacific. If you live outside of those regions, chances are any anime they release onto Crunchyroll will not be available to you.
  • Pastiche: The box art for their DVD releases of the Fatal Fury TV specials and movie recreates the style of the package design for the Neo-Geo home cartridges. Similarly, the box art for their release of the Mega Man cartoon imitates the style of the box art for the NES games (though without Bad Box Art Mega Man, for better or worse).
  • Sequel First: They released Diebuster (even doing so with the name Gunbuster 2) several years before acquiring the license to the original Gunbuster. Discotek has also licensed Tekkaman Blade II, but has yet to license the first Tekkaman Blade.
    • They released several Lupin III specials before they put out the original "Green Jacket" series. Had negotiations not fallen through, they would have released the third Lupin movie (Babylon) before the first (Mamo). But since this franchise runs on Negative Continuity, it's not too big a deal.
      • However, the Case Closed crossovers, which do share continuity with each other, were also released out of order: the movie was released before the TV special, but in this case the switcheroo was due to the video for the latter being... rather messy, so the movie wound up releasing first while the team went work fixing up the TV special.
  • Take That!: When asked if PDF files for Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo's subtitles would still need downloading, like in a previous release of the series, Discotek responded "We would never freaking do that."
  • Vanilla Edition: Usually averted, as their releases tend to include at least one extra. The only time this was played straight was with their second release of Lupin III (Green Jacket), which was cheaper than the previous release, but included none of the rather extensive special features.
    • The Blu Ray of the Green Jacket series has most of the extras restored, save for the pilot mentioned above.
    • Their upcoming box sets of the original Urusei Yatsura TV series are also a very notable case where Discotek played this trope straight. While you'd think that a release of one of the most important anime of the 1980s would have to include some sort of bonus feature, especially given that their releases of the films generally averted this trope by at least including a trailer or two, the reason it applies to these sets in particular is because Discotek were explicitly not allowed to include any extras at all.