Bootleg Info Guide – Basics

Official Release VS Bootleg – How to spot the differences in DVD’s, plushies, and more

Originally posted on HAC’s meetup site, Posted Jul 3, 2010 8:49 AM.  Additional information has been added to this article since then and it is constantly evolving.

Definition of bootlegs:

Items (dvd/cds/other goods) produced for sale from companies that do not legally hold the copyrights authority to produce these. In instances when the Anime/Asian drama series were produced by companies outside of their country of origin, the manufacturer must hold a legally binding agreement with the original producer of the series.

I think it may be a good idea to use a lot of that info on that live journal to pass out as an information guide to those participating to help educate about bootlegs.

Official products in Japan are nearly all released in limited quantities and can double, triple and even quadruple in value within 6 months of their release. Only a certain amount of figures are made from each mould, which is why there price goes up so fast, and is also the reason why the figure you like seems to be out of stock everywhere you look.



There is also a way of spotting genuine figures from fakes by the copyright information. Most fakes don’t have any markings on them whereas genuine figures always do have a copyright stamp from the manufacturer. Check that the company name is spelled correctly and always look for the ©. When looking at the small print always look at the spellings of company names.

Some companies have started to use licensing marks to help in the fight against fakes. Usually this is a holographic or coloured square with the company or series details in it. Toei Animation for example use a gold sticker with their Puss in Boots mascot on it, whilst Studio Ghibli use a round green and white sticker depicting the smallest of the Totoro from the film My Neighbour Totoro



So what are the main differences? Fake toys are by and large poorer in quality and even in rare cases poisonous materials are used in paints or plastics. There are different levels of fakes, the higher the price the better the quality of the fake. Telltale signs of fakes are poor painting, bad moulding, warped or ill-fitting parts and incorrect details or painting colours. Basically, the official companies know what the characters look like, and they won’t get something like the colour of a character’s clothing or the number of markings on Totoro’s chest wrong. Suffice to say, official products are higher in quality than fakes and are put through rigorous health and safety checks.

Genuine goods are expensive to buy and import from Japan due to shipping and tax. For example, take the Sailor Moon box sets. When the first 2 seasons were originally released by ADV, they ran around $100 per box set for each season from Best Buy. Now, the real ones still run in that neighborhood of $100 and can sometimes climb as high as $200 per season 1 or 2. Seasons 3 and 4 were released in box sets by a different company, Pioneer/Geneon. They first came out as singles and then later as a thin pack box set. The number of discs did not change between the singles compared to the box sets. Season 5 was never distributed in the US and can only be gotten from Japan. over 90% of the Sailor Moon Sailor Stars box sets are bootlegs from Hong Kong. If they have region 2 coding on them, they are the originals from Japan. Much of the artwork from the 3rd season, S (super) has been used on the knockoff box sets. You can sometimes get the bootlegs with all 200 episodes, 3 movies, and the few specials all for around $80-$150, but the quality is not that great nor is the subtitling.

They don’t just fake the goods themselves; they fake the box, the instructions and the tags. Some are done really well because they are copied from the originals, some are poor and are written by non-Japanese with only a basic understanding of Hiragana and Katakana. Only Japanese natives and people who can read the Japanese language can notice inconsistencies.

Fortunately there are others ways to tell the difference, official goods are known for their high quality packages, you can check the quality of the printing of the pictures on the box and are the photographs sharp and in focus. Look for bad printing and blurry text and also colours that don’t match to what the original characters usually wear in your favourite anime. Most genuine merchandise colour the figures clothing exactly the same as in the anime itself in the box art. Also the boxes that have been faked are more than likely to be a lot thinner then the originals.

Japan always produces its figures and packaging in China, so for fake companies getting all the information they need is quite simple. What they can’t do however is put on a seal or official authenticity sticker.

Always check that the name on the packaging matches the name of the character in the box, this can sometimes differ with fake products.


Some guides on how to spot the fakes and tell the difference. More are listed at the bottom of this article in the resources/references section.


Known OFFICIAL Figure and Model Companies

S.H.Figuarts / Bandai
Jakks Pacific
Tomy / Takara
Good Smile Company (makes Nendoroids) / Crypton Future Media
Griffon Enterprises
Max Factory
Wave / Wave Corportation
Orchid Seed
Daiki Kogyo
Alpha Max
Character and Anime Dot Com

Which figure company….. –


Known Offical Plushie Companies

Sun Arrow for Studio Ghibil and they are not UFO’s : ‘Sun Arrow, Designed by Studio Ghibli.’ The paper tag has a little orange sticker of authenticity on it with a small Totoro.

– will see on the pokemon/pocket monster tags a blue oval that is actually a sticker of authenticity.

– Sony pictures for ruroni kenshin will also have a sticker on the inside of the tush tag for authentication.

– look for licensing stickers!!!


Known OFFICIAL Companies/Licensors/Distributors:

TV Tokyo
Dentsu Inc.
Studio Pierrot
FUNimation Entertainment
Bandai Entertainment
Bandai Visual USA (U.S., previously a subsidiary of Bandai Visual Japan and not affiliated with Bandai Entertainment, now folded into Bandai Entertainment)
Sentai Filmworks
Harmony Gold
Viz Media aka: ViZ
Toei Animation
Kadokawa Pictures
ADV Films
Pioneer (defunct)
Geneon (defunct)
The Right Stuf International
4kids Entertainment
AN Entertainment
Central Park Media (US Manga Corps) (defunct)
Media Factory Incorportated
Columbia Tristar
Sony Pictures Entertainment
NIS America
Media Blasters (Anime Works)
Urban Vision
Walt Disney Pictures (distributes Studio Ghibli) aka: Disney or Miramax Films

Manga Entertainment (UK) – Region 2
Beez Entertainment (UK) – Region 2
ILC Prime (UK) – Region 2
Kiseki (UK) – Region 2
MVM Entertainment< (UK) – Region 2
Optimum Releasing (UK) – Region 2
Revelation Films (UK) – Region 2

Hero TV (asia) – Region 3 (Subsidiary of ABS-CBN)
Odex (asia) – Region 3

Madman Entertainment Pty. Ltd (Australia/New Zealand) – region 4 coding
Siren Visual (Australia/New Zealand) – region 4 coding
AkaHana (Australia/New Zealand) – region 4 coding

Animax – region 2 Europe, region 3 Asia, and also for other regions like south america, africa, etc

Defunct [: no longer living, existing, or functioning <that firm is now defunct>]

Central Park Media (de facto defunct since mid-2007 when new DVD releases ceased, even though they continued to license their titles for TV and VOD, they entered a state of limbo.[3] Officially declared bankruptcy and assets liquidated in mid-2009 [4]).

US Manga Corps (U.S., part of Central Park Media)

Family Home Entertainment (U.S., renamed Artisan Entertainment) in the 1990s, then acquired by Lions Gate Entertainment in 2003).

Geneon Entertainment (U.S. branch “Geneon USA” (formerly “Pioneer Entertainment”) defunct September 2007. Parent Japanese company ceased in-house distribution of its own titles, many of which have been re-licensed by Funimation.[5][6] Parent company “Geneon Entertainment” then sold off its own ownership to NBC Universal subsidiary UPI, which then merged Geneon with its own “Universal Pictures Japan” division on February 1, 2009, renaming the new company “Geneon Universal Entertainment Japan”).[7][8]

Streamline Pictures (U.S., Canada: stopped producing new anime releases in 1996, folding into Orion Pictures, which in turn folded into Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer one year later, in 1997. The Streamline brand name officially went defunct in 2002).

U.S. Renditions (U.S., A subsidiary of Books Nippan, defunct mid-1990’s)


** Many eBay accounts and shops from China, Malaysia, Thailand and Taiwan sell fake goods. It’s not to say that all do but you really need to take extra care if you are dealing with anime sellers from these places. Use caution when purchasing from ANY online shop/retailer, including Amazon.


Resources/References Links: – Bootleg Free campaign

http://www.animenewsnetwork.c….. – definition of bootleg…. – A Guide to Fake Anime Goods by Tokyo 15

http://www.otakunews.c…. – Otaku News: The pirate anime faq

http://inside.anime-expo.o… – Inside Anime Expo

http://www.tomopop.c…. – tomopop Bootleg Hell – tomopop Figure Reviews and more – How A Girl Figures – figure reviews

http://goodsmilecompanyus.tum…..– Good Smile Company Tumbler in English….. – How to spot a fake Nendoroid… – Mainichi Anime Yume

http://www.ufocatcher.c… – plushie info

http://www.ufocatcher.c… – plushie info

http://reviews.ebay.c… – on ebay a ‘Buying Authentic Japanese UFO Catcher Plush’

http://reviews.ebay.c…. – on eBay a ‘Japanese anime cell collecting 101’


http://en.wikipedia.o… – List of Anime Companies

http://en.wikipedia.o… – Anime Industry

http://en.wikipedia.o… – DVD Region Coding

http://www.otakunews.c…. – Images of logos for pirated dvds & liscensing stickers

http://en.anime-wiki.o…. – Bootleg Info

http://www.anime-planet.c… – Bootleg Info

http://www.jazzmess.c… – Bootleg Info


http://www.animecornerstore.c… – manufactures to watch out for by Robert’s Anime Corner Store… – Accessories with Lead in them…..



http://www.endlessrage.n….. – bootleg guide

http://fyeahbootlegs.tumblr.c…/ – bootleg guide

http://animizzi.wordpress.c…. – how to spot bootleg anime figures

http://www.animeonsen.c…– fake pvc figures – fake Sakura Miku article from deviantart… – how to spot bootlegs… – bootlegs vs official dvd releases

http://www.gigaventure.c… – avoiding bootleg figure collecting

http://blog.animeinstrumentality.n…. – Anime Music bootleg guide…. – video blog on their experience with bootlegs

http://mangatoanime.c…. – How to spot bootlegs for n00bs


smile Feel free to add to this list as more information becomes available. I hope this will help many of you guys out. I know it did for me. I found out that I do own a bootleg set myself and I had no clue.
Please post here your info you have to share,


Online Communities:

Anime Fans Against Bootlegs – – a page on facebook

Bootleg Finders from – discussion “Boycott Bootleg Anime” –

Anime News Network discussion “Bootlegs” – discussion “Bootleg Crap” –