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.
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.