Cowboy Bebop is the only anime I’ve seen that I’ve really enjoyed. It was a TV series in Japan that lasted 26 episodes. Cartoon Network plays an episode every Saturday night; that’s how I got hooked.

I’ve been looking all over for the six-DVD boxed set with all the episodes. The set was a limited edition though, and it’s now out of print. Also, it carried an MSRP of $199 – way too much money to spend on cartoons!

So I did what my instinct told me to do and I checked eBay. Sure, it was for sale there – for anywhere from $250 to $350! Again, not an option. However, I dug a little deeper and soon found someone selling all of the episodes on *three* DVDs for just $35. $35! I figured that after the success of the limited edition set, the publisher had decided to release an affordable version of the series ‘for the masses,’ and I jumped on it. I know nothing about anime, so it seemed plausible.

Less than a week later, the DVDs arrived. From Hong Kong. The gate-fold packaging was a remarkably high-quality, and the image quality of the DVDs themselves was very sharp. One thing caught my eye though…the DVDs contained all of the extra bonus material from the expensive limited edition version!

That seemed pretty strange to me, so I did some research. Guess what? I had a bootleg in my hot little hand! I soon learned that the DVD was produced by fX video, one of the three largest bootlegging operations in Hong Kong. They apparently copied the entire limited edition Region 1 six-DVD set, downsampled the video a little, and threw the entire content on to three fully-loaded Region 0 DVDs.

Let me tell you, they did a fan-freaking-tastic job with it. It fooled me! Both the Japanese and US Dolby Digital soundtracks were still intact, and the menus had been subtly altered to accommodate the extra episodes on each disc. This was a high-class bootleg, the likes of which I never knew existed.

Anyway, if you love anime but hate paying top dollar for it, I’d highly recommend searching Ebay for items being sold by ‘florachanxxx’ You’ll probably receive a bootleg, but if it looks as good as the Cowboy Bebop set that I wound up with, you won’t be disappointed!

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