June 07, 2018

Streaming Japanese

While waiting for Family Gekijyo to become more watchable, I expanded my Japanese media options with a Roku.

At minimum, switching to DirecTV (the new home of TV Japan) would run another ten dollars a month (at least $46/month plus tax), on top a new set-top box ($60) and a 24-month commitment (ugh).

A Roku Express costs less than $30 and nobody has to commit to anything. Hey, I'm already saving money! And except for the occasional buffering, the picture quality on my 720p screen is better than I expected, almost as good as a solid OTA signal (the gold standard).

Here are the Japan-specific channels I've added so far.

NHK World is a remarkably complete news and information service. Many of the features are original NHK productions with English voice-overs or subtitles, including the all-important highlights during sumo tournaments. Frankly, NHK World alone justifies the cost of the Roku.

The NHK World stream is not optimized for motion, which lowers the quality of sports coverage. Maybe they'll fix that when they graduate to a public channel.

J1 Radio is a Japanese music station with four channels: J1 (top-40), Xtra (80s and 90s), A-Chan (anime OPs and EDs), Gold (classics from the 60s and 70s). In keeping with my old fogeyness, I mostly stick with Gold.

NHK World and J1 Radio are both free. NHK World is currently a Roku private channel, so use the code "nhk" under Manage Account to add the app.

The other big draw for me is Crunchyroll. The annoying ads can be removed for $6.95 a month, a great deal for the biggest source of anime anywhere. They've got a few live-action dramas worth watching too.

An ad-supported Roku channel worth adding is Tubi. The anime section compares well with content providers like Netflix and Amazon. It carries a handful of exclusive titles and some Japanese movies.

HIDIVE and dLibrary Japan are currently disqualified for not having Roku apps. HIDIVE has a smaller library than Crunchyroll but carries anime and live-action exclusives from Sentai Filmworks for $4.99 a month. A serious contender once the Roku app arrives.

At $9.95 a month, dLibrary Japan is too expensive and has too little new content. If it carried the full slate of NHK programming from TV Japan (its media partner), it might be worth it. Another wait and see.

Labels: , , , ,

Comments: