The reasons behind why nobody should buy a bootleg are easy to explain. For one, when you buy one, you are not supporting the anime industry. Instead, you are supporting a pirate who downloaded something illegally from the internet and put it on a disc for their own profit. Also, the quality of the disc is not guaranteed in anyway. There are some looking nice bootlegs out there, but most of them are terrible. The menu could be just plain and uninteresting and the subtitles could also be completely off the screen, not large enough to be seen on your tv screen, or any number of terrible things. Also, the cover art could be a picture that the person sending it to you found on google and not in any way be an official one. There are countless other things, but I’m sure the point is being made here. Now moving on to tips.
I realize that these are online tips, but if you ever go into a store that possibly sells bootlegs, because they are out there, then some of these will be extremely helpful as well. Especially in the age of smart phones.
1) Check Wikipedia to see if the show is currently licensed for release in your region.
This may seem like an obvious one, but it will get you to a point where the chance of buying a bootleg has now become minimal. Assuming that you haven’t just followed an announcement of a show’s release and are preordering it, if a show has a current release in your region, you can go on amazon, rightstuff, or other sites that sell things through official companies, and buy it. No harm done. If it’s not, then it gets more complicated.
2) Check The Price
This is the start of what to do when scouring the depths of sites like ebay for what you want. There is a possibility that a company no longer has the rights to sell a show or what you are looking for has just gone out of print. The rule I live by is the more expensive a disc set, the more likely it is to be legitimate. This is the “too good to be true idea”, though this isn’t true 100% of the time. There are some legitimate series that sell for a cheap price. It’s good to keep your eye out though.
3) Check the Cover Art
A quick google search should bring up the cover art of a previous release. If it doesn’t and you know the series, does the cover art match the show? Seriously, this is a thing. Look below. While this is a Code Geass series, it’s not from R1 or R2. It’s the new OVA that came out recently.
Also, look at the cover out to see if an official licensing company’s logo (funimation, sentai film work, viz media, and so on) on it and look at the font. It should only have English or whatever country you are from’s text. Of course, this doesn’t hold up when you are buying imports directly from Japan.
4) Check the region code.
Is the disc region zero? If it is, the chance that it’s a bootleg is 100%. If it’s your region code, then it’s most likely legitimate.
5) Is it from Malaysia?
For me, this is the final step. Malaysia is famous for pirating. If it’s not, then it’s more likely that it’s legitimate then bootleg. Still, there are people out there who have copied previous editions of discs before so nothing is perfect.
Following this guide will not be 100% accurate, but it’s more likely to help a newbie buy a disc online for the first time with a higher success rate. Have fun with your anime buying experience and let me know if I need to update this in anyway or you have some tips that I can add.