From Fantasy To Fansubs: How Pirating Went Mainstream

Allow me to chime in on something I knew nothing about until last night...this is the internet, after all, where people make a living spouting opinions disguised as fact. The topic is that Bandai Entertainment will be ceasing distribution of anime and manga in North America, and what it means to the rest of us.

First off, I'd like to say that I don't follow the anime and manga scene much, especially not in America. But I was a pretty big otaku back in the 1990s, so I was there for the anime boom. I was there for the beginning of fansubs appearing on the internet, and I was personally instrumental in the price of dojinshi skyrocketing on eBay.

When I got into anime, Project A-ko had just been released in the States. That puts the time period at around 1993. At that time, if you wanted anime you had very few options. You could buy the stuff that was released commercially, but it was very limited in scope and releases were few and far between, and even if something was released sometimes it could be a pain finding what you were looking for. Anime was carried by Suncoast Motion Picture Company and independent comic book stores.

Your only other option was to get anime that had been translated and subtitled by fans. In order to get those you first had to find a place that distributed them; ads for these could usually be found in the backs of magazines like Mangajin (at least, that's where I got my information). Once you found a place, you had to send off for a catalogue, which were just laundry lists of titles xeroxed and stapled in the corner. Usually how it worked was one tape was $US4.00. Each tape could hold 120 minutes of programming, and you could pick up to 4 titles per tape up to a maximum of 4 tapes. You'd pick your titles, fill out the form, get a money order, fill out return address labels, send it all off and then wait for the tapes to arrive.

The unwritten rule at the time was, once a title was picked up for domestic distribution, it was taken out of circulation by the fansubbers. Fansubbing was really a labour of love back then. At $US4 a tape, no one was really making money off the deal, and the fansub community would get pissed at stores that would order fansubs and then sell them for profit. ADV Films got its start selling fansubs for a profit.

Then came the dawn of the internet. Back then we had something called "dial up". It took forever to download anything. I mean forever. One day I stumbled upon some information that you could download fansubbed anime. That was a new concept at the time. Turns out that a digital anime distribution service was being run off the back of a major video game website's servers. You had to have the specific IP and a password. Once you were in, the sky was the limit. It was a real revelation in quality.

The unwritten rule at the time was, once a title was picked up for domestic distribution, it was taken out of circulation by the fansubbers.

See, VHS and even SVHS fansubs were usually two or three generation copies, so the quality could be described as iffy at best. These were crystal clear (for the time) and people were posting shows the same week they aired in Japan. It was a sea change for anime fans.

At the time I don't think anyone thought this could have any negative effects on the industry. It seemed that the unified mindset was that the more exposure anime got, the greater its popularity would be and the more it would become available. Looking back, it was a very selfish way of thinking; but nobody could have predicted the way the internet would explode over the coming decade and how media would shape the face of the world wide web.

The dream of fans of Japanese animation and manga was that it would become an accepted thing in America, easy to get at a reasonable price. Remember Project A-ko? I had to work all summer to be able to afford that VHS tape -- it cost $US40.00. The digital distribution of fansubs didn't really increase awareness of the genre. Mainstream exposure on popular television networks did that.

What digital distribution did do was create a beast that demanded that content be available on demand, without cost. It created a situation where fans no longer supported the actual companies and the people who worked to secure rights, translate, redesign packaging, and get it to market. Why pay for something when you could get the same product with pristine quality for free on your computer? So what if it was just a digital file? If you wanted to, you just create a compilation DVD.

Many American anime distribution companies have come and gone since 1993: Animeigo, US Renditions, US Manga Corps, and others. Now Bandai Entertainment joins the list. But the shuttering of Bandai offers a little more insight into the fragility of the anime market in America right now and we can expand that to reflect on the market for entertainment as a whole, including video games, movies, and music. You see, Bandai Entertainment was more than just a redistributor of content, they were a content creator, and as a content creator myself through Happy Chicken Group and Studio Happy Chicken, I totally get where they're coming from. Digital distribution, or piracy as it should be more accurately called, is destroying the entertainment industry. The fallacy that most fans follow is that media companies are the giant, evil corporations hell-bent on sucking every last dime from the consumer while giving them little or nothing in return, and that's just not true. I don't think fans realise how expensive it is to create professional media.

Let me break it down for you a little bit. To create an original anime, someone has to come up with a scenario and write a script. This script has to be edited and then each action and scene is drawn out individually as storyboards. Animators have to draw the major action in the anime, and then separate people called in-betweeners come in and add more movement to the animation. Finishers then take this rough animation and trace it so that rough pencil sketches become smooth lines. In today's world these finished scenes are scanned into a computer one by one and then individually coloured. When I started watching anime the rough sketches were traced over to acetate and painted by hand. Voice actors watch the animation and read the script providing the voices of the characters. Backgrounds have to be painted. A separate group of people called folly artists record sound effects. A composer writes the music and then records it with a hired band or orchestra. The voices, sound effects, and music are then synched with the action. It's then reviewed and edited down to fit a certain time frame. A lot of time and money has already been spent, and the final product still isn't out the door yet. Packages and package inserts have to be designed, the animation has to be mastered and sent off for replication, and then the finished product has to be shipped to the distributor who sends it to stores. Still more artwork has to be created and magazine ads and posters have to be designed so that people know the product exists.

All of that is just to get the anime out in Japan. To release it in America, licensing rights have to be negotiated, packages redesigned, the entire script has to be translated and re-written; then re-timed and re-recorded by English speaking voice actors. Subtitles have to be written and timed to match what's happening on the screen. Then the product has to be re-mastered again and sent to a manufacturer again so it can be sent to a different distributor that can get it into stores. It's a lengthy and costly process. Video game production is very similar, but scripts are infinitely more vast than that of anime. It's actually more costly to translate and re-release a video game in North America than an animated title.

From comments I read on the internet, it seems that fans believe that the entertainment products they hold so dear just spring into existence with the wave of the hand of a Hideki Anno, Shigeru Miyamoto, or Keiji Inafune. Consumers have become selfish monsters who are strangling an industry that is already on its knees. Just because something is called a multi-billion dollar industry in the press doesn't mean that the people involved in making things are all rich. Every year in Japan more and more manga artists, animators, directors, and game designers are hanging up their hats because they can't make ends meet.

More often than not these new faces will continue to feed on free pirated content because that's how they were turned on to it in the first place.

Bandai Entertainment isn't going out of business. They're a pretty big company and have a market far beyond that of the United States; but their actions do serve as a red flag as to what's on the horizon unless the fan community stops it's selfish and destructive behaviour. If we examine the actions of the last 20 years, and put our own selfish desires to the side we can see that the only thing fan translated anime, manga, and games serve to advance is our own desire of want. It does not help the industry, it does not call positive attention to our hobbies, and while it may attract a small number of new consumers, more often than not these new faces will continue to feed on free pirated content because that's how they were turned on to it in the first place.

People gnash their teeth and moan about the SOPA legislation that is snaking its way through the American Congress, but we have no one to blame for this but ourselves. We created the beast, and we continue to feed it. We've reached the point that it's not uncommon for major websites to publish links to pirated content. Pirating has gone mainstream, and unless we as consumers have the fortitude to reverse our actions, allow the market to work as it should, and develop the patience to wait for new products to become available in our region, or even not become available, the face of the internet and digital media will change. It's inevitable.

Charlie Maib is the force behind pink movie company, Studio Happy Chicken , best known for its forthcoming Catherine parody. Follow Charlie on Twitter at @HCKPink.


Comments

    This is what I firmly believe when it comes down to Internet piracy:

    It really doesn't matter. People go on and on about how piracy hurts the industries. But that is based on the assumption that a pirated copy is a lost sale, which is incorrect. People who pirate don't have the money to throw around and purchase everything they want. It's not like they're hoarding their money away, people always spend their disposable income. There are no loss of sales because the potential consumer didn't have the money to spend on that product in the first place.

    I remember when I was young, I would share my games with my friends and family. And that is very healthy for the industry. None of those companies have disappeared. In fact it made them stronger. If we hadn't shared our games with each other then I never would've been introduced to them in the first place, and the companies would have really lost out on money then. I see no functional difference between sharing games or other media and pirating said media.

    Ps: I did read your article

      IphStich - your view on piracy has completely changed my perspective on the matter.

      Thank you.

        I'll start buying anime, when they stop putting 3 episodes on a on a fucking 40gb bluray.

          On a, on a, lol rage.

            They really do that? I've seen like half-season on a BD; but always assumed it was 13 episodes.

          What I hate the most is when they are finally released in english and they region lock them to america. America isn't the only english speaking country, why limit sales?

            Exactly Gorzilla happens a lot now with blu rays :(

              Protip: The Gamera Trilogy BluRays aren't region locked.

              They're also pretty damn awesome.

          You sir are mistaking the ye olde DVD with BD =P

    TBH it comes down to this:

    Price
    Wait Time
    Who has it

    I really believe anime fans don't want english voices so its waste time = people going looking on the internet to find said product. For the main series like Bleach, One Piece and Naruto people aren't going to buy filler so that could also say why sales are down.

    Give people what they want a great product in HD with great subs not some shitty english voices that no one gives a flying fuck over.

      Also lets not forget how they cut the product for the kiddies....

        Ohhh and lets not even talk about Jdrama and Kdrama you know the stuff not available to us. If it is available it will have shitty english subs translated from japanese to chinese and then chinse to english.... Im not kidding about this either they have some really horrible subs. TBH i wish i could buy JMovies and Jdrama with good subs because if i could i so would.... I emailed madman about this and say said they are looking into it and then i heard nothing back so obviously i got the run around....

          If i could i would of legally purchased 1 litre of tears with good subs as i really want to support the product. It was probably the saddest show i have ever watched...

        One Piece anyone?

          Ohhh yeah didn't they cock up one piece and totally miss episodes and so on????

            Ohhhh and lets never forget they usually region lock the item into siberia so people in Australia usually misses out.....

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K5UfIRmkv28

        I hear this is how the anime, Higurashi no naku koro ni was dumbed down for kiddies.

        :P

          Thats another thing Nick NO one has mentioned apart from you. Its also very very true they do cut the anime to drive it towards kids = more $$$$$$. It pisses me off...

      +1

      The local distributors treat their customer base like crap. Giving shitty dubs, cutting scenes, dumbing down, delayed wait time, region locking, etc.

      Why would I pay for an anime series that I have to wait ages until its released in my country with crap dubs when I can download it for free over the net as soon as it comes out without all the stupid dumbing down?

    Starts from a faulty premise. The vast bulk of anime is not produced to make money off video sales, it's produced to market other products. Merchandise, books, games, stuff that's advertised during the show... That's why so much of it runs in low-cost timeslots at 2am. Japanese TV works on a different system, where a company buys a timeslot on a channel or channels and then puts their own material in that slot. Gundam, for example, is all about pushing model kit sales. Novel adaptions are usually done to sell more copies of those novels, and so on.

    The US anime home video market has been on its knees for years, and very little of that has to do with fansubs and most of it has to do with them licensing everything they possibly could, putting expensive dubs on it all and releasing a single season over six to eight expensive discs. The main thing that fansubs allowed was timely access to material that might take two or more years to be available in the US, and once people had access to a lot of it they realised that it wasn't worth actually buying. Several companies folded because of that, they over-extended and flooded the market with stuff that wouldn't sell. Then they turned to doing cheap box sets, and that's been a race to the bottom. Nowadays just about everything released has an english-subtitled simulcast available online (legitimately) within a few days and you can get access to most of it for about $7-8 a month. But Bandai were continuing to target the bottom end with cheap, no-frills multi-installment releases of shows from years ago so it's no wonder they've decided it's not worth the trouble any more.

    Incidentally one of the better performing companies in the market of late has been Aniplex USA. They're a division of one of the major Japanese publishers and they do limited-release low-volume Bluray and DVD releases, online only and usually just taking the Japanese release (which is subtitled often already) and inserting a translated booklet. They charge Japanese release prices and go the whole hog with premium packaging, extras and so on, exactly the same as the Japanese releases as well. Extremely expensive but the demographic they target will happily fork over almost any price to own their favourites.

      Exactly no one wants some shitty english voices..... They want good quality english subs IMHO.

        True. I want to watch all my anime the same way the Japanese do!

        With text at the bottom of the screen that I have to read that stops me watching the actual show!

        Wait...

          Really..... Must be hard to do 2 things at the same time :-)

          Herp Derp

          I think the main reason most fans say they want subs rather then dubs is because they are trained to expect a piss poor job on the dubs as has often been the case.

          Personally I can watch it either way but the first time I watch I tend to use subs for the above reasons, often with dubs they change the words used to make them better fit the mouth movements of the characters and it can often give a completely different meaning. I do like having the option for dubs though as then I can do the dishes or play a game whilst the show is on and still know what's happening.

          I think most shows i'd buy with just the subs if they'd done a good job and it was at a reasonable price though.

      Good points. Bandai was the last of the old guard in the US for single disc, insanely expensive releases. Banda released boxsets for Cowboy Bebop in the US back in the day for US$200. Dude.

      Agreed 100%, I already preordered Aniplex's Fate/Zero release even if it's 13 episodes for ~$350. Pretty much every foreign anime fan in-the-know relies on fansubs but we're not greedy children. Give me a quality release I care about that's not sub par to the original product offered over there and I'll throw the money your way.
      I don't want to sound elitist, but why would I use services like Crunchyroll and Nico Nico simulcasts when I can get a beautifully encoded .mkv file with pleasing subs that are well thought out for the fans in question. It feels like companies refuse to acknowledge what we want as fans and when the shit hits the fan they vent it out on fansubs. We're not idiots, we know the amount of work and effort it takes to create anime..there's plenty of rational articles on the web that explain the process (again, made by fans). In the mean time I will continue to use and thank fansubs for their charity and buy quality releases I'm looking forward to once they're available. There's so much to say to this author but it's been said before countless times and we're not even touching upon the almost criminal region-policing they do.

    So I just about stopped reading at:

    "Digital distribution, or piracy as it should be more accurately called, is destroying the entertainment industry."

    NO. No. Digital distribution is -not a service that is offered- by the anime industry, barely offered in Australia by the commercial TV industry, and where it is offered, the quality is appalling and the availability time-restricted.

    I will pay a fair amount of money for the ability to download a 1080p .mkv file with subtitles that have a high level of accuracy, enthusiasm, and look nice. And can be turned off if I want. English dubbing is a nice bonus, but far from a priority. I will pay $400 AU a year to get an unlimited license for that. I will -not- pay more than a dollar a minute for DVD quality footage.

    So, until you offer the product I want, I'm not a customer.

      Thats exactly what i was thinking. I would gladly pay for a service that gave me access to a 1080p file that lets me watch it on my big tv in my room but like you said its not around. The only thing that comes close is crunchy roll and that is streaming.... I watch all my shows in bed on my big tv not infront of my pc so yeah Im not a customer as well

      Heck I'd pay retail to buy some of these quality 10bit 1080p torrents some groups are making these days. I mean places like Elysium are making 600mb 10bit files which are 10times the quality of your average pirated movie just for 24mins of video.

        The problem with Crunchy Roll though is they really don't match up to the labour of love that is fan subbing.

        What we need though is a fan subbed Crunchy Roll in the past fansubber have tried to get their subs on CR (DatteBayo comes to mind) but have never succeed. If they could bring us fan subbing speed and quality heck you wouldn't even have to worry about speed if they got sources early like CR. But if they could bring us the same quality on a legal website with licences that'd be a big win for many of us.

        At the moment anime is a very unique thing that's pirated. Sure it's illegal but it most cases it's the only option and in almost all cases theres no better option.

    i could wait 2 years or so for something to be localised and released on dvd here and pay $50 for 6 episodes of the series. i can download each episode as they come out subbed each week and watch it a day after it aired.

    ill stick with the second option

    The only thing that's different about pirating shows and watching them on TV is the fact that you get to watch it on your own time and keep the content for later. This is also the difference between buying a DVD and watching TV. Of course many would argue that in the spirit of this article that the downloaders of fansubs are full on pirates in lieu of buying the DVD, but when it comes to the actual viewing of the content the distinction cannot be made.

    When I watch fansubs I don't think of it as free content over DVDs. I don't even care whether it's dubbed or subbed (although subbed is usually better, not because the 'acting' is better in Japanese, but simply because we can't detect bad acting in a foreign language) I consider my watching of fansubs to be me watching the anime as comes out on TV in Japan, with the added benefit of somebody translating it for me. Yes I can keep it but it doesn't matter, I haven't really even watched any of them more than once.

    Agreed, I also don't think the "piracy" problem is that simple. But i guess he only had so many words to use. I definitely disagreed with this statement:

    "...Digital distribution, or piracy as it should be more accurately called..."

    Mr Maib was completely correct in calling it Digital Distribution. "Piracy" is a buzz word the content industries came up with to try and give it a bad name. It infers that theft of physical property is occurring which is not true at all. I think it's important to remember that while something illegal is happening when someone "pirates", people need to know the difference between physical theft and copyright infringement. When people refer to "piracy" they're actually talking about copyright infringement. Over the years the people doing these acts have taken the word and use it as some kind of twisted badge of pride.

    Anyway, an interesting article, especially the beginning detailing the history behind fansubs. I used to be a bit of an anime fan, but the stuff was either too hard to get or the limited options i had at the time (late 90's) was too expensive on my student budget. So I gave up. Not really interested in anime anymore. Even when the internet kicked in and "piracy" made the shows I used to watch available, I just couldn't get back into.

    I realise production and licensing and all the rest detailed in Mr Maub's article can be costly for content creators, but surely there's options for content creators to get their products into the marketplace and into fans hands at a reasonable cost. This is the digital age.

    Mr Maub also hit on one aspect that I think everyone can agree on: Consumers want content and they want it now. I want to expand on that, consumers want content, they want it now, and they want to watch it when they want wherever they want. Who's going to step in and give the consumers what they want? Crying about "piracy" and giving up isn't going to help anyone. And neither is introducing new laws for that matter. Does the content industry really think SOPA is going to end or severely dent piracy? it may make it more difficult, but people will just see it as a challenge...like cracking DRM. And no, we can blame legacy industries not keeping up with the digital age for the impending disaster that is SOPA, not the consumers.

      Actually wanted to write this reply on the USA site but it wouldn't let me. Oh well.

        I really think you said it well

        "Consumers want content and they want it now. I want to expand on that, consumers want content, they want it now, and they want to watch it when they want wherever they want. Who’s going to step in and give the consumers what they want? "

        I really don't see a problem with charging a small fee per episode to get a 1080p mkv file with good subs. Least they are getting money that way. Also the MAJOR problem will be Australian viewers as we have a really shit law that won't allow us seeing shows on other stations so it might affect this.. It is the reason why we have no cool content for tv shows on 360 or the ps3.

          That law is pretty much the main driver of piracy in this country, I would guess.

    This article is good, however some time back I read an equally good article on arstechnica about why FanSubs were still required and the gist of the article was that the direct releases have terrible subtitles with incorrect translations and a lot of the story is lost in translation. In comparison, apparently, the FanSubs are much better. Why don't the studio's start hiring the fansubbers instead of dumping the releases?

    I remember watching to see a stream last year of Panty and Stocking, crunchy roll website or something, only to be told it wasn't available in my region.

    I ended up downloading copies of the same simulcast subtitled version.

    At the moment, still looking at a possible dvd release in the US in 2012. Who knows about Australia.

    I'm not a fan of regional licensing....Y U NOT TAKE MY MONEY?

    My friends and I used to download anime to watch and share. It was great, most of them bought merchandise and went to conventions.

    None of us could afford the cost of purchasing content... So in my opnion they've made more money off me and my friends than they would have without the fansubs.

    Fansub communities have had a very interesting, and respectful, relationship with content producers and distributors both domestic and international. During my university years in Australia I helped run a relatively popular Anime club where we screened fan subbed content and had a close relationship with Madman Entertainment, the domestic distributor of the majority of The 'legitimate' anime product. They let us screen unlicensed material and, on the occasions that a screened show was licensed mid season, they let us show the remainder of that seasons episodes. They even provided us with merchandise for club giveaways and we gave our members information on their products. And this wasn't an enormous club with hundreds of members either.

    My point is that WE ARE NOT THE ENEMY. We are the audience. We are the market. The fragility of the market is not caused by illegal downloads. It's caused by the low quality, high priced, two year old content that's distributed to us. IF it is even made available to us. It took two years after screening in Japan for Ouran High School Host Club and Lucky Star to be released in Australia. And those shows popular enough for a quick release risk the One Piece effect: low quality translations and cut to shreds episodes.

    I'm still waiting for an Australian release of Revoltionary Girl Utena. I'm not holding my breath.

      Tell me about it! Lucky star came out in my second year of Uni. The DVDs weren't released until I'd completed my degree and even then I wasn't paying $55 dollars for 7 episodes. I waited for the box set and got 26 episodes for $60.
      It takes too long to distribute it. I would love it if I could buy anime via the net like steam.

    Fansub communities have had a very interesting, and respectful, relationship with content producers and distributors both domestic and international. During my university years in Australia I helped run a relatively popular Anime club where we screened fan subbed content and had a close relationship with Madman Entertainment, the domestic distributor of the majority of The 'legitimate' anime product. They let us screen unlicensed material and, on the occasions that a screened show was licensed mid season, they let us show the remainder of that seasons episodes. They even provided us with merchandise for club giveaways and we gave our members information on their products. And this wasn't an enormous club with hundreds of members either.

    My point is that WE ARE NOT THE ENEMY. We are the audience. We are the customers. So companies need to stop treating us like criminals. The fragility of the market is not caused by illegal downloads. It's caused by the low quality, high priced, two year old content that's distributed to us. IF it is even made available to us. It took two years after screening in Japan for Ouran High School Host Club and Lucky Star to be released in Australia. And those shows popular enough for a quick release risk the One Piece effect: low quality translations and cut to shreds episodes.

    I'm still waiting for an Australian release of Revoltionary Girl Utena. I'm not holding my breath.

    Fansubs are the only way to watch any Macross series since Harmony Gold owns the US rights to the original Macross (Robotech) and don't allow any Macross games to come out in the west etc.

    I would gladly buy the blurays of Macross Frontier series and movies, but they are only released in Japan, at a very expensive price, and with no English subs.

    Instead I bought a few figures and models from Japan. So they got my money in some form :)

      I loved Robotech, it was one of my favourite cartoons as a kid. I've even got the Masterpiece Models. But i didn't even know much about Macross until many years later when i had (relatively) decent internet access. Much less that there were several sequels to Macross. And then to find out that because Harmony Gold had the rights outside of Japan, they were never coming to Australia.

      I download subs for personal enjoyment, never re-sale. And i am more than happy to buy them on DVD/Bluray when they are released. But when it takes 2+ years for even a crappy episodic release to even appear, my conscience does not bother me.

      I buy Kamen Rider CDs since they're reasonably priced, but stuff like DVDs are way outside what any sane person would be willing to purchase.

    Fansubs are all well and good. They certainly have a place in the anime community. I think the real issue the article is pointing out is that someone has to pay for this stuff at some point.

    When they air these shows on Japanese TV they at least get Ad money. Fansubs are pretty much a no-return situation. Which in itself isn't bad, unless the people watching fansubs refuse to contribute any money at all back to the creators.

    Then again as people say if it wasn't for fansubs they wouldn't be watching it in the first place, therefore the creators wouldn't be getting any money from them. Money that could be spent on bigger budget productions or chances on less known or risky licenses. Then again things are fine at the moment its not like the anime industry is declining...oh wait.

      TBH it needs to go digital distribution some how where if you want a episode in 1080p good subs you pay say $3 per episode. I would be happy to do so as long as i can take that episode and play it on my device for my big screen tv and not some sort of streaming...... TBH they have themselves to blame for cutting anime removing episodes having shit subs/dubs and then charging full rrp and finally region locking hahah.

      "When they air these shows on Japanese TV they at least get Ad money. " that's right, and the subbing itself is a free service. The Japanese TV ads are aimed at Japanese speaking locals, their revenue would be moot on the fansub audience even if these people were in Japan watching it legitimately!

      What fansub watchers are doing is comparable to time-recording a VHS or TIVO recording a tv show and fast-forwading through the ads.

    I got hooked on anime after watching Samurai Pizza Cats on Agro's Cartoon Connection way back when.
    This was an anime which didn't have the original script and no-one to translate so they just subbed over in english according to what happened.
    As a result it was chock full of pop culture referrences and extremely enjoyable.
    Also on at the time were episodes of Sailor Moon.
    None of the episodes, either the english dub or original, are commercially available.
    In the mid-90s anime like Bubblegum Crisis, Evangellion and Trigun surfaced alongside Pokemon and DragonballZ.
    It was at this time I got heavily involved in anime but the prohibitive cost of the individual dvds, with only as many episodes as a VHS tape, made it difficult to really embrace.
    In the early noughties I found an episode of Ranma 1/2 online and went hunting for real world copies. Couldn't find any so I started downloading fansubs.
    I now own every season of Ranma 1/2 on DVD, purchased since they were released by madman.
    While I still balk at buying extended series, I own shorter series which are watched on a regular basis.
    Fansubbers should be seen as an emplyment pool, not the enemy.
    And don't get me started on the english monstrosities that are Naruto and One Piece.

    My anime / tokusatsu collection mostly consists of stuff I have no way of legally purchasing.

    Truth be told, not all of us are interested in K-On or Naruto or Dragon Ball Z-re-re-releases.

    hmm, some anime's I don't mind or prefer in english, Dragon Ball Z/GT for instance I don't think it really matters what language it's in.

    But with Cowboy Bebop I just can't stand the child-like voices used in the Japanese versions, I guess it's ok when you are used to your manly men sounding like that, but as a westerner the deeper voices in the English dubs helped me get into the series.

    I pay for the things I want to watch and / or play. Maybe anime is just really fucking terrible crap for manchildren?

    As I read this articke, he has few points especially on fansubs. I'm aware on people saying that fansubs are killing the anime industry yet there is a survey that says it does the opposite.

    It all comes down to this: no matter it was a Japanese Blu-ray or a US-licensed release, you're still supporting the anime industry. Bandai Entertainment has shut down (they will still distribute to TV stations, etc.) but Funimation, Aniplex USA and Sentai Filmworks are 3 of the top licensing companies (not to mention Viz). I really commend Aniplex on Fate/Zero and Madoka Magica (with dubs) and on the fact of how they were handled (me hoping for an official Fate/Zero dub).

    I tend to disagree with the author, I buy the things I like. In the day I had a mix of fan subbed and legitimate releases on VHS.
    The internet came along and I had a lot more fan subs. Maybe my experience differs as I live in Australia and we get to wait longer for releases, if they are released at all.
    My collection on DVD is quite resonable and I have been upgrading some of my favorites to bluray when they are released.

    That said there is some anime I would buy in a second, if it were released over here. I am a big fan of Macross, Madman released the original on DVD and I picked it up on release day, I owned Macross Plus on VHS and now own it on DVD, But there are no signs of a release of DYRL over here so I have a fan sub, if it were available I'd buy it. I have bought dubious "Official" Malaysian DVDs with it (they have english subs), but would love an official australian release. Same goes for Macross 7, Macross Zero, and Macross Frontier, but this will likely never happen. (in truth they still get money from me for Macross as the toys are awesome and there are Japanese sites that ship worldwide)

    I would also LOVE to see Itsumo Hale Nochi Guu released over here, but doub't that'll ever happen.

    Long story short: We want it, if they won't resease it, then the fan-subbers will, and most fans will still buy it if it is released, because we are fans.

    Madman almost had a sale to me with $1-2 episodes on PSN, but the lack of subtitles is a deal breaker. Why should I be paying for a product I don't want to watch? Anime needs to be available subtitled, at a reasonable price, e.g $1-2/episode.

    For starters, digital distribution and piracy are not the same thing.

    If media companies would actually embrace digital distribution, we wouldn't be in this situation.

    If anime companies would give us a quality translation in a reasonable timeframe at a reasonable price, we wouldn't be in this situation.

    As with everyone jumping on the SOPA bandwagon, they have noone but themselves to blame.

    I have bought several thousand dollars worth of anime over the past couple of decades (I even still have a whole bunch of VHS originals), but I rarely buy any more because I either can't get the shows I want, can't get it in HD (where appropriate), its terribly voiced/translated, cut to ribbons, or its so outrageously overpriced that its just not affordable.

    If fans can turn out excellent translations virtually overnight, in their spare time no less, there's nothing stopping the original IP holders from providing their own digital download services and charging a dollar or two per episode within a week of it airing in Japan. When you consider that most anime series will never be sold outside of Japan anyway, and that anything popular enough to be shown on TV outside Japan will need to be dubbed, there's no cannibalising of market share - lets be real here, the market for mainstream anime on TV and the market for fansubs are almost mutually exclusive: fans want something new and cool and they want it subbed, TV wants something old and proven and dubbed.

    These companies, even more so than Hollywood, could be giving everyone what they want and making more money than ever, but its just sooooo much easier to blame the boogieman, isn't it.

    "The digital distribution of fansubs didn’t really increase awareness of the genre. Mainstream exposure on popular television networks did that."

    This is incorrect and just a factoid created to demerit the role that fansubbing had in the maturation of the anime fandom in western countries. TV networks only picked up the ball of the anime phenomenon after it created a noticeable (read "marketable") subculture. Sure, back in the 80's there were one or two anime series in TV. Moreover, it was fansubbing the force that pushed up the bar, so american distributors started looking beyond ultra-kid-friendly titles, and leave such loathsome practices as heavy editing.

    Nowadays, the fansubbing community is no much different than it was then and far beyond the selfish, anti-establishment monster this article tries to paint it as: a group of people releasing anime that hasn't been translated or released overseas, allowing people to fall in love with titles that they will want to add to their collections once it's released locally. Sure, some cheap people will keep downloading them once they are available, but it's pretty common sense that people that wouldn't want to own a title even after watching it and enjoying it, wouldn't either purchase it if they didn't know they'd really enjoy it. Cheap people are cheap, shock.

    What's more embarrassing about the whole issue is that time after time, unpaid fansubbers put more love and work into their releases than the official releases that expect to be purchased: Animated karaoke for the OP and ED songs, translated signs and text, notes explaining some obscure japanese tradition that puts a certain scene in perspective, explanations of word puns that work only in japanese (as opposed to replacing it with a lame english joke that makes little sense in context,) etc. The official releases seem to add subs as an afterthought, focusing on releasing dubs to be able to catch as many kids as possible. It would seem that fansubbers know better their "market" even though they don't profit from it.

    Wow you almost made it half way through the article without resorting to pirates are evil, fansubbing killing industry etc. Bandai had the rights to the most popular titles around, and some of the highest selling. They stop their business and others don't which means either they had gross mismanagement or simply wanted to move out of the business. You show some amazing bias when you go from "Publisher decides to stop business" to "fansubbers must be to blame".

    Also Bandai are hardly a content creator as youve suggested. Almost everything the american publisher arm was selling was not done by Bandai or sunrise but hey don't let facts get in the way of a good bashing.

    I could go on about your hypocrisies for as long as your article reads but again can't let facts or thinking get in the way of these things.

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