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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Madman's AnimeLab is going to be one of the best streaming services in Australia

Review by Matt S.

As we announced yesterday, Madman Entertainment in Australia has just launched a streaming service for its extensive anime catalogue. AnimeLab is its name, and after playing around with it in Beta, I'm convinced that the company is on to a true winner.

Unlike other anime streaming services - CrunchyRoll being the most obvious example - AnimeLab runs off a browser in HTML. This means no apps need to be downloaded in order to run in - all you need is a decent Web browsers.

So I've tested this on my Wii U, PlayStation 4, iPad, PC and Nintendo 3DS. The only device which it would not work on was the 3DS. On all other platforms I was able to get into HD anime watching quickly and easily. This is more platforms than I can access CrunchyRoll on (PC, iPad, and Apple TV), and, critically, it's the platforms that I spend more time using; console access is a big bonus for me. Facebook logins make the signup and signin process a snap (and there's a conventional non-Facebook signin for people that don't want to use that as well). A simple, elegant interface allows you to create favourites and genre categories list shows you might be interested in for easy discovery.

Madman has a near-monopoly on anime in Australia, and for the purposes of this service this is a really good thing. The catalogue that the publisher has access to is massive and impressive. You'll want to hang on to that CrunchyRoll subscription for the shows that Madman doesn't have access to but CrunchyRoll and AnimeLab work quite well together, though; I can steam Danganronpa and Persona 4 animes now, which I don't have access to on CrunchyRoll, for instance.

Persona 4 anime

Episodes load very quickly and remain stable in HD from start to finish. I've watched a dozen or so episodes today, and not once have I been bumped down to low resolution footage, which happens reasonably often on my CrunchyRoll apps, despite having a fast WiFi connection at home. I'm assuming that's the benefit of having local servers, which I assume Madman has and CrunchyRoll does not.

Because AnimeLab is only in Beta I am going to forgive its lack of features outside of watching anime for now. CrunchyRoll has done a good job of building up a culture around the service, with discussion forums and social features and the like. AnimeLab allows me to share what I'm currently watching to my Facebook wall and the like, but it's something that Madman will want to upgrade the social features by the time it transitions to paid subscription models.

But I'm sure Madman has plenty more to AnimeLab. I'm certainly going to continue using it once it moves out of Beta and into a full payment model (or advertising-supported service, whichever Madman opts for), because I am truly enjoying the range of content that is on offer here, and I love how quick and easy it is to use. I also love that I don't need a dedicated app to enjoy this one - as long as I can access a computer I can catch up on my favourite anime.

You can check out AnimeLab here.

- Matt S.
Find me on Twitter: @digitallydownld
Madman's AnimeLab is going to be one of the best streaming services in Australia
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