The Importance of Fansubbers


Recently, there have been many instances of companies suing, issuing letters of desist to fansubbers and downloaders. These companies do not care about the fans at all. I shall convey my opinions as to why fansubbers are important to the foreign Anime industry.

During the course of this article, you’ll notice that there are some screencaps of funny fansub moments. Be advised, there is bit of crude humor.

I know this article is slightly lengthy, but this is what I strongly feel about fansubbers.


What are Fansubbers?

Fansubbers are Anime fans’ main door to the Anime world. These people are exactly what their name states they are. Fans who subtitle Anime.

Companies over the years have been trying to get Anime properties across the borders of Japan to your own countries. What this means is that, more often than not Fansubbers will have to cease their subbing activities.

A problem that I have with licensing, is that companies, like all businesses care only about the money. They do very little with the fans in mind.


What fansubers are doing, is that they are doing the community a service.

First, fansubs are important if you are an Anime fan in a foreign country.

Fansubs allow one to enjoy that particular Anime as it comes so that they can communicate and discuss with the community. If everyone buys DVDs. Then, they wouldn’t have any cash to be fans of numerous Animes or to spend on Anime related merchandise. If I actually bought all the DVDs of all the Anime I have watched after a year of being a fan, I would have easily spent at least 10,000 – 20, 000 dollars, perhaps even more.

If we waited for the Anime DVDs to be released, the programs will become stale and the merchanise would be harder to obtain. Take the Geass DVDs for example. They have only released untill halfway through the series. (Set 2, just seeing a release last year).

By the time they released the complete R2 Season, it would be 2022.


Fansubs are also useful for those who legally buy Anime DVDs. Imagine picking up Anime DVDs just to try out new Animes, which is the ‘proper way’ to do things for foreign fans. Imagine buying a DVD of an Anime that turns out to be horrible.

Companies are also giving mixed messages. We just had a convention called AFA08. The main concert was a singer called May’n who sung songs for hit Anime Macross Frontier. Due to licensing issues with Harmony Gold, the Anime has not been brought to America or the rest of the world. Even in the Wikipedia article, the series popularity was attributed to Fansubbers. May’n wouldn’t have any fans in Singapore if it wasn’t for Fansubbers.

The convention would have not been that popular if it weren’t for fansubbers. Tons of Animes there do not have DVDs released in Singapore. Yet their merchandise was purchased. Why?

The Nanoha (first season) DVDs have beem released just recently. Years after the series aired on Japanese TV. What is that?


Original Japanese DVDs are also a no-no for fans who don’t fully grasp the language. They are also expensive.

However, do not forget that people in Japan can easily record Anime on their VCDs and Video Tapes to keep a copy while we can’t do that here.

One important thing that no one seems to mention is – What if fans both download fansubs and buy the official DVDs when they are released? Why should they get punished.

As for streaming, there have been complains by the community about quality issues. (Streams can be ripped as well…)


Whatever the case, I am in support of fansubers. But I also understand the point of supporting the Anime industry legally. A balance must be found. Either buy DVDs or figures. I’m sure that the Anime industry earns from the merchandise they sell.

Besides, when Anime is aired on TV stations in Japan. The TV stations already paid the companies a certain fee to air their programs.

– A compromise and balance must be found as I do understand the importance of supporting the industry legally as well.

Now, what Anime is this from? I'd like to know. (^o^)

Now, what Anime is this from? I'd like to know. (^o^)

Actually, why don’t companies make deals with fansubbers?

Place adverts at the end of the episodes and the cash that fansubbers receive go to the companies. That way, all parties are happy… but trust and cooperation is needed for this to work.

In the end, fansubbers are just fans. The fact that there are still fansubbers out there is a testament to Anime’s popularity. Anime is indeed a medium to spread and increase awareness of Japanese culture. Fansubbers should be thanked for creating Anime fans all over the world.




Well, those are just my 2 cents worth. This is a big issue that affects all of us Anime fans whether you like it or not. I would really love to hear your opinions on the matter. Do also tell me if my argument makes any sense. Do I make a logical argument? Or am I just ranting?


Also, do check out this panel discussion on Fansubs and the industry. A great discussion held at Otakon 2008. There is both a full recording of the panel and a written form on the page.

9 Responses to The Importance of Fansubbers

  1. strawberrybankai12 says:

    hey if you want to know what anime that pictures from its from pretty cure(not sure what season)

  2. ubiquitial says:

    First sentence:

    *cough*.*Soul Eater*. *cough*. *FUNimation*

  3. Shin says:

    Where was this post during last year’s subber shitstorm? That said, awesome choice of caps.

  4. J says:

    Hey Actar, how do you know if an anime released in America has been edited? thanks.

  5. crisisj0k3r says:

    Great view on the Subbing world. I to believe that these Fansubbers should be allowed to continue their work. One fine example is Tv-Nihon who have subbed a lot and are still going! Because of subbers we can appreciate the Japanese culture of anime, toku, otaku manga and other things. Those companies want their stuff to be left so they can sub em themselves which hardly happens anyway. Loved your statement that Subbers allowed stars to have fans all over the world and thats something I highly agree on. This has to be one of your greatest posts Actar!

  6. crisisj0k3r says:

    oops sorry for the double post. About companies subbing themselves.. So they can earn the extra dollar in releasing the DVD/VHS/DLC etc etc etc. And also Loved your statement about balancing the two by buying figures and downloading Episodes. Also wanted to mention Donations from people also encourage subbers work. Sorry for another space hogging post!

  7. Minaru says:

    I agree.

    While not ALL fansubbers are great at it, I think they are more focused than keeping the fans happy than the actual companies do. It’s not that the company doesn’t really care, but with all those legal issues it does take a while and they have other priorities.

    As for me, since I live in the Philippines, I really have no choice but to watch online since we don’t make DVD’s for Anime shows since we don’t love our language too well. It’s kinda a waste of money since not everyone can afford it.

    Fansubbers give popularity to the series. I bet if it weren’t for them a lot of shows would not be popular. I bet Death Note would not be as popular if it weren’t for them

  8. crisisj0k3r says:

    Minaru you are awesome :P. Yea maybe BECAUSE OF SUBBERS Dubs exist and merchandise and international DVD releases. Also I have bought a Kamen Rider Faiz Paradise Lost dvd and the subbing is.. HORRIBLE, Tv-Nihon did a much more accurate translation in terms of grammar and etc. This has led me to believe that companies use machines then people and im sorry if this is wrong.


  9. […] appreciate everything that fansubbers have done for the community, and you can read about that in one of my previous articles. Translating anything is a very arduous task and I hold great respect for the people who go out of […]

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