Crunchyroll Review

This review was requested by and is dedicated to @Luisjavier2896 from Twitter

Let’s talk about Streaming Video.  If you think about these kinds of services that allow you to stream video for Television Shows, Movies, Anime, and other media forms, you’ll think of a few right away.  There’s Netflix, Hulu Plus, Redbox Instant, and more.  Well, there are a lot of others as well, and some of them are more media-specific.  There are even services that are surrounded around media like Anime and Japanese Drama Shows.

The PlayStation Vita is about to get a lot of these services.  It already has Netflix and has had that for awhile.  It’s also about to get Hulu Plus and Redbox Instant.  Not even a week ago, though, it got a few new ones.  One of the lesser-known services, called Crunchy Roll.  This is a service that is specifically centered on Anime, Japanese Drama, and even Manga.  Vita users can now access this database from their system.  Here is our review of Crunchy Roll for the PlayStation Vita.

Functionality

The purpose of an app like this is to connect to a service that offers video-streaming and to allow the streaming of that content.  That part of the process this app does, and it does pretty well.  The app has a huge selection of Anime (Mostly in Japanese) and Japanese Drama shows, and it can load them with ease.  Actually getting to what you want is pretty good as well, at least assuming they have what you’re looking for.

When you first boot up the app, you’ll be asked to create an account.  Crunchy Roll normally has three different account types.  However, on the PlayStation Vita, only two of those types are available.  When you go to create an account, you either choose the Anime Membership or Combo Membership.  The difference here is how many ads you see, the price, and the content you have access to.  The Anime membership which is $6.95 per month has less content available than the $11.95 Combo Membership.

While there is a Free Samples section, it is very limited.  The Free Samples that don’t require an account is restricted to the first Episode of about a dozen anime series.  Just to give you an idea of what it’s like.  There is also a Free 30-Day Trial for any type of account, so you can use it and cancel it before you hit any of those monthly fees.

Once you have your membership set up and everything seems good to go, you’ll be taken to the home screen.  From there, you can find what you want, whether it be from your History, Queue, Searching, or just by cycling through each media type and genre.  From there, you can cycle through what episodes you want, and start streaming.  Ads may pop up if you chose the Anime Membership, though you shouldn’t have a hard time getting where you need to go.

Once you’re in the middle of watching, it progresses much like Netflix.  You watch an episode and then the next episode loads and automatically plays after the one you’re currently watching is over.  You can also add different shows to your “Queue”, which is something you can access from the Home Page, in case you don’t want to re-search for something you may want to start watching at a later time.

The service, itself, is nice, as the titles are updated very quickly.  You may notice that Netflix’s selection is limited to media a year or more old.  Crunchy Roll’s content, however, is not.  Some content on Crunchy Roll is updated a single day after it airs overseas.  That’s dedication and on-demand content, indeed.  However, you will need a Combo Membership to access everything.  The Anime Membership only allows you to access some content.

Interface

The design of an app is extremely important, especially for a review.  Our last review of a PlayStation Vita app more than proved that.  Its interface brought its score down a bit.  The Interface of this app is a bit more convenient.  You won’t be scrolling through a lot of stuff with the touchscreen.  Actually, you probably won’t be using the touchscreen at all, other than from keyboard input when you set up your account.

When you get to the Home Screen, you can scroll through My Queue and History.  This will bring up anything you have watched before, as well as anything you’ve put in your Queue to be watched.  You can navigate this with both the D-Pad and the L/R Buttons.  It’s pretty simplistic.  There is also a small indicator of the entire Main Menu, as well as a button symbol for how to get there.

Once you press Circle or Triangle to open the Main Menu, you are given six options.  Home, Anime, Drama, Search, Settings, and Help.  Home just takes you back to the home screen.  Anime and Drama, though, will take you to pages where you can cycle through the different videos you can stream.  You can also categorize these by Most Popular, Last Updated, Alphabetical, and more.  This is really interesting as when I looked through the content, there was content that was updated in as little as 20 minutes before I began writing this review.

The Search feature allows you to use the on-screen keyboard to type in what you want, and it will give you similar results for anything from Anime or Drama Shows.  As an example, I searched for Fairy Tale, and Fairy Musketeers came up as one of the results.  So, it doesn’t only give you results that are exactly what you write.  You can also restrict the results to specific genres, like Shoujo, Slice of Life, Science Fiction, or Ecchi.

The Settings Menu is pretty restricted, similar to that of the Live Tweet app.  The Settings section only has one section in it, called “Account”.  This will allow you to Log Out of your current account, and it also will tell you which account you’re logged in as.  The last section, called Help, is also relatively small.  It contains a diagram for the control scheme for the app as well as the Terms of Service.

All in all, the Interface is pretty easy to navigate, although there aren’t any touchscreen controls for it.  Everything is done with the buttons, savor on-screen keyboard input.

Performance

As far as performance goes, the app does well, for the most part.  It does, however, have some decent Load Times when you first open the app.  When you open it up, first off, you’ll have to close out of any game you’re playing.  This app doesn’t run in the background.  It registers as a game.  When it loads up, it will take about 20 seconds to get to the point where the Home Menu is loaded and you can actually start looking for shows to watch and start watching them.

Once you get it loaded, though, Load Times are short.  Loading up selections of anime normally take no more than 3-5 seconds and opening up a stream normally takes about the same.  Everything flows together pretty well, from the quality of the video being streamed to the transition between episodes.  The streaming never halted for me, and I partially had it running at the same time as Netflix on another device.  The content is offered and utilized very well.

One thing I will note as a drawback is that I was not able to find the Manga section of the app.  So, although you’re paying for everything, you may not be able to actually read through Manga using this version of the app.  It’s a minor thing, as this is mostly for watching anime, rather than reading Manga, but it is a downer, as there are apps on other devices that allow the reading of the Manga.

The Menus navigate well, for the most part.  There are some issues, though, with input lag.  Sometimes, you have to wait a few seconds after a screen is loaded before it will accept button input.  I found several instances where I had to press a button twice to get the command to go through.  I also had the app crash on me once, when looking at the Free Samples.

For the most part, it runs well, though there are a few little things that bring it down.

Overall

If you’re a fan of anime and want content that is new, then this is definitely the app for you.  While there isn’t much to do with a free account, hardcore anime fans will find this app is a must for the Vita.  There is a huge selection of anime here, from Digimon Xros Wars to Attack on Titan to Naruto Shippuden.  There are some inconveniences, like the initial Load Time, button lag, and occasional crashing, but for the most part, it’s a pretty solid app.

The PlayStation Vita Review Network Rates Crunchy Roll an 8/10.

 

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