Reverse DVD pain

While all went well with purchasing that DVD set off eBay, all did not go well with watching it. The first disk didn't play correctly in either of our DVD players. Yet, oddly enough, it was fine in my PC. Isn't that the reverse of how it's supposed to work?

The DVD set is a Japanese release of the first season of Kyo Kara Maoh. It's an all-region disk that has both the Japanese and English dubs. I'd have preferred an American release, but they didn't have any boxed-sets available yet and buying the disks one at a time would have cost at least 6 times as much. The disks came in imaculate condition, with no visible scratches or defects, still in the factory shrink-wrap.

We have two stand-alone DVD players in the house, one for each TV. One is at least 5 years old, the other about 2 or three years old. Both of them displayed the same problem when playing the first disk in the set. During playback, I experienced random pauses, ranging in duration from just a moment to several seconds. The pauses seemed to become more frequent and longer lasting the longer than disk played. However, the pauses did not appear to be due to disk defects, because they never occurred in the same places. In addition, the entire third episode was completely unplayable. The video was garbled and the had frequent pauses and skips, eventually just hanging. And, of course, the menus are seriously messed up and only sort of work.

The weird thing is that when I put this same disk in the DVD-ROM drive on my PC, it plays perfectly. No pauses, no glitches, and both the third episode and the menus are fine. Normally, what with CSS and all, you'd expect it to work the other way, with the PC having problems while the stand-alone appliance works flawlessly. But not this time.

I'm still not sure exactly what the problem is. I've read that newer DVDs can expose bugs in older players. I do know that the DVD is a little wonky, what with having only 1 title, but 48 chapters, not to mention weird subtitle settings. But it seems odd that both players would have the same bug. So far, the all-seeing oracle, a.k.a. Google, has failed to turn up any answers. Does anyone else have any ideas?

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