Every so often, you’ll come across some know-it-all jackass who will insist that Blu-Ray is just a gimmick and really no better than DVD, or a misguided person who believes anime can’t benefit from the HD presentation Blu-Ray is able to provide. In the specific case of K-On!, a reviewer at a renowned anime related website even went as far as to suggest K-On! looks better(!) on DVD. Such statements tend to fall flat on their own stupidity, but even so; I think it could be interesting to take a look at one of Bandai Entertainment’s DVD volumes – specifically, the most recently released volume 3 – and see how it compares to the Blu-Ray equivalent. Note that I am only comparing the US DVD to the US Blu-Ray here – for a look at the Japanese Blu-Ray, see the previously posted review.
Now – I won’t go into too much detail about the DVD packaging. It’s basically the same design as the Blu-Ray version, only formatted to fit a standard DVD case (resulting in the cover artwork being cropped for the DVD version). As with the BD version, there are no printed inserts or a reversible cover. The DVD itself features the same picture of Ritsu’s drums as the Blu-Ray disc, but differs in that where the BD label has a white background, the DVD doesn’t.
The DVD features the exact same episodes and extras as the Blu-Ray does, but (obviously) in SD video only. The menus, however, are different – where the Blu-Ray menu featured animated clips from the episodes contained on the disc, the DVD main menu only features a still image, as do the submenus.
Because the Blu-Ray release had lossy Dolby Digital audio, there’s not much point in comparing it to the DVD audio – it’s the same. Where the Blu-Ray truly makes a difference, as one might expect, is in the video quality. The difference in quality should be apparent to anyone with a functioning pair of eyes – it really is obvious.
In addition to the difference in quality due to the increased resolution of the HD picture of a Blu-Ray disc, DVDs are generally more prone to other problems such as visible compression noise. In this specific case, I also noticed occasional ugly interlacing when playing the DVD on my HD TV from an upscaling DVD player (though depending on equipment, this won’t be a problem for everyone).
The conclusion here is the obvious and expected one: The Blu-Ray version of K-On! is clearly far superior to the DVD. For anyone who’s in doubt over which version to buy – if you can get the Blu-Ray, do it.