Lelouch LamperougeA continuation from my previous post about the Japanese government submitting a request to the US government for the crackdown of illegal online anime downloads.

Several forums are already buzzing with people who are yet again debating on whether fansubs are hurting the anime industry. As usual, there are those who agree that fansubs actually promote anime outside Japan, and there are those that say that its killing the industry. I think I’ve made it quite clear that I belong to the former group.

There’s an interesting point that no one seem to have brought up ever. Perhaps it’s just my way of thinking, but as people, we are naturally protective of what we like. So it’s only natural that fans who download anime online would argue that it does have its benefits, despite the fact that we all know it’s still considered illegal.

What really amuses me sometimes is how some of “fans” can proudly claim that they would not pay a single cent for anime and that if they can’t download it for free, they won’t even bother watching it. Now, wouldn’t you agree that these group of people aren’t really fans after all? And if they aren’t fans in the first place, do their opinions really matter to the industry?

Hitachiin Brothers - Ouran Host Club

Are you ready? Then listen up!

Imagine this. (Should be easy since it happened and is still happening!).

A group of people knew absolutely nothing about anime were given a bunch for free and they watched some out of curiosity. Some of them totally disliked it, shoved the rest of it aside and never came back. The rest were intrigued and continued watching for free.

Let’s be conservative and say that a small number of the group became so interested in anime and they began actively seek out for more. Most are free, but some are paid – either in DVDs or other merchandises. This is, of course, one of the most common argument why fansubs helps the growth of anime.

But the majority decided that they would only go for the free ones and avoid having to pay for anything related to anime. They would rather abandon it than to fork out their cash. This is the most common argument that fansubs hurts the industry.

Gundam Seed

We’re going to a better place…

Hypothetically, if it weren’t for fansubs…

Anime as we know it might not have existed…

Cardcaptor SakuraSure, you’ve watched the occasional anime on the local TV channel that has been dubbed. But if fansubs didn’t exist, would you call it anime? I highly doubt it. We’ll call it is we see it – it’s a cartoon, plain and simple.

To the Japanese, anime simply means animation. To them, Mickey Mouse, Scooby-Doo and even the Flintstones are anime. We would be calling anime as cartoons if it weren’t for the influence of fansubs.

You may be asking, so what? Just because the term “anime” might not have existed doesn’t mean it would not grow into the phenomenon it is today, right? Actually, I believe the answer is no, that might have been the reason why anime caught on so fast. Why? Because it’s a type of branding.

When it comes down to it, Japanese animation is still cartoon. If someone said “cartoon”, the first thing you would probably think of is children’s animated show. Most people who watches cartoons are (I would estimate) 15 years old and below. On the flip side, many anime viewers are 15 and above. My point is, if anime were called cartoon, chances are you wouldn’t be watching it anymore (and I’m assuming many of you are 15 and above).

So if fansubs didn’t exist, the term anime might not have existed, therefore the number of fans would only be a fraction of what we have today.

Hypothetically, if it weren’t for fansubs…

Anime distributors like Viz and Odex would not exist.

Why do anime distributors exist? To serve the anime crowd. Why do anime crowd exist? Refer to previous hypothesis. Personally though, Odex shouldn’t exist 😛 It’s amusing how they are blaming fansubs for their bad business when it is fansubs which gave their business life in the first place. It’s pretty obvious why Odex isn’t doing well, but that’s not the topic here, at least not today.

Hypothetically, if it weren’t for fansubs…

Anime would not have been such a huge market.

Admittedly, fansubs might have caused drop in DVD sales. But majority of downloaders wouldn’t have given a hoot anyway even if they couldn’t download their weekly doses. There are also many fans who bought the DVD because they liked the fansubs. It’s not something that can easily be proven to be one or the other.

However, there is no denying that anime merchandise are doing well outside Japan because of the exposure from fansubs. Would you have bothered with that Haruhi poster or Mikuru figure in a maid uniform if you hadn’t caught The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi on fansubs? I doubt it.

Suzumiya Haruhi - Hare Hare Yukai

Would Haruhiism had spread if not for fansubs?

In fact, I would even go as far to say that you wouldn’t even go anywhere near the series if it weren’t for fansubs. Honestly, would you have paid good money to watch episode 2 if it weren’t free in the first place? (I would now of course, but not when I watched the first episode for the very first time). But the series became a huge phenomenon, thanks to fansubs.

Now then…

Back to the 2 groups who had continued to watch anime. The first group was willing to spend on their favourite anime, either in the form of official DVDs or merchandise. The second group refused to spend a single cent on anime, since they can get it for free anyway.

Strike Freedom

Give me all you’ve got, I dare ya!

Some would see that as losing money because thousands of people are watching anime outside Japan for free. They fail to see the other side of the coin. Think about it. Fansubs spread anime outside Japan (free promotion), anime gains better recognition (free branding) and many people started spending money on anime related products (extra profits). Then came along companies such as Viz to feed the hungry market that was created by fansubs (Yes, I know fansubs was not the first to spread anime outside Japan, but refer to hypothesis one again).

From where I stand, all these companies are actually leaving money on the table by chasing after copyright issues with online downloads. Fansubs works because its meant to serve the fans. Most anime distributors and license holders are trying to get the fans to serve them. I think that’s the wrong way to go about it, don’t you agree?

What should be done, then?

Josh had left this comment in my previous post:

I personally think the best solution would be to set up some website that streams episodes like the day after they air in Japan subbed in English and translated by professional translators, for some monthly fee.

Of course, there will be people who will never pay for it ever, but if you got it faster, and at a higher quality, or a monthly subscription cost, I think you could get a lot of people to sign up for that.

I couldn’t agree more with Josh. That, I believe, is one of the best ways to prevent more illegal anime downloads. It’s even possible to create a win-win-win situation here. Anime distributors, fansub groups and anime fans can all benefit from this.

It’s quite obvious how distributors and fans can benefit from this arrangement, but you might be wondering about the fansub groups part. This has actually been suggested in forums quite frequently as well, that is having distributors with anime license to outsource their translating and subbing to fansub groups.

The anime distributors can get more work done cheaper, fansub groups gets to continue doing what they’ve always been doing (only now they are getting paid) and fans can continue to enjoy anime with quality video and quality sub.

While it will not completely stomp out illegal downloads, it does bring benefits to all those involved (and the magic word of $profits$ to respective companies). Isn’t that so much better than trying to chase down downloaders and creating a PR disaster?

Times change. The Internet changes how business is done. You can either fight against it and lag behind, or go with the flow and continue moving forward. It’s no longer the issue of legality alone, but also making use of what you’ve got. And we definitely have something really good going on here.

Quote from GoddessCarlie, taken from this comment:

I do think that people need to move forward with the times. One example is music. For years they tried to stop people from downloading music. Now they are going with the flow. I believe people don’t illegally download music much anymore in america because of Itunes and the like offering really cheap music downloads, and now there a bands who are offering their albums up for download from their site asking for a donation.

(I hope you guys don’t mind me quoting your comments here 😀 )

Naruto and Yondaime Minato

Do you think we’ll ever see anything like that being implemented in the future and finally put the issue to rest, or will we be debating about this for years to come with no new development whatsoever? Personally, I’m hoping for the best. It doesn’t look like things will be changing for the better anytime soon, but who knows 😛

Update 29th November 2008 – It seems that the industry is finally taking a step forward that we, as fans, have been calling out for years. Starting with GONZO who began streaming their latest anime for free earlier this year and very soon TV Tokyo will also be streaming Naruto Shippuuden online, along with Viz Media.

Related posts:

  1. Japan wants N. America to stop anime downloads

46 Comments to “Fansubs Killing the Anime Industry? Yeah, Right!”

  1. Daelin | October 28th, 2007 at 10:14 am

    Fansubs FTW.

  2. Josh | October 30th, 2007 at 6:49 am

    By the way, I assume people are smart enough to figure this out, but I meant to write “…but if you got it faster, and at a higher quality, for a monthly subscription cost…”

    Just making sure.

    The only problem with my plan, of course, is whether they could get enough subscribers (and ad revenue!) to pay the server and translating costs, and that’s the big risk in starting something like that. They could also include raws as well or something and that way they could get perhaps some Japanese subscribers as well.

    And you could always do something like the Netflix online video thing where it is effectively a $1 an hour to watch, so like $20 to watch 20 hours a month. That’d at least be enough to watch 5 different shows at least. (That could change too. I’m just throwing out an example).

    Someone might worry about the “day after” remark and wonder if a good translation could be turned in that time, but I kind of feel that if a fansubber can churn out a reasonably good translation in less than a week, a professional translator could churn out a translation by the next day, especially given the fact that, I’d imagine, they could get the script ahead of time.

    Heck, the production studios themselves could do the translation if they turn a profit by using the service. And guess what. They could put that sub on the Japanese version of the DVDs too (I don’t know how many people would actually be willing to pay the money to buy those, but if you’re a sub-only person and you want your DVD now…well there you go).

    Of course, distributors may be worried that such a site could hurt DVD sales, though I think there are already some Japanese sites that sell episodes online anyway, and anime DVD sales in Japan are still booming.

    I think there are two things one could do to offset this worry, though. The first is, as I said in my first post: stream the video – ie, you don’t actually “download” it, so you don’t get to keep a copy – it’s kind of like video on demand over the internet.

    Secondly, one could always have a hierarchical pricing system where newer episodes are priced cheaper than older ones, or perhaps do something where episodes are only on the site for a month or two months, then they come down.

    If one is truly only wanting to watch a series for purposes of seeing whether you like it and want to buy it when it comes out in the US, I don’t see this as an unreasonable set-up. If you still demand an actual copy of the episodes anyway, then I have a feeling that the person is one who is probably going to just watch fansubs in place of buying or renting the DVD release of it anyway.

  3. Drew | October 31st, 2007 at 12:44 am

    I like fansubs so much better than released subtitles mostly because the people doing the fansubs speak both languages fluently. Many of the anime that i like to watch comes in a series, and to save money i buy the boxed sets shipped out of china. Sadly, the subtitles are almost always horrible. And good english dubbed anime is extremely rare. And it’s not worth it to me to spend $20 for 3 or 4 episodes of a 300 episode series.

  4. Josh | October 31st, 2007 at 3:18 am

    “Many of the anime that i like to watch comes in a series, and to save money i buy the boxed sets shipped out of china. Sadly, the subtitles are almost always horrible.”

    That’s probably because odds on they’re bootlegs.

    I agree that if one is going to buy a 300 episode series will cost $$$ but I mean…it’s a 300 episode series, of course it’s gonna cost a lot is kind of my feeling on that. Even if it was a buck an episode, that’s still $300.

    “I like fansubs so much better than released subtitles mostly because the people doing the fansubs speak both languages fluently.”

    It was my impression that most translators that translate shows – at least in the US – are professional and thus are fluent in both languages. I don’t know Japanese, so can cant compare for myself the actual correctness in translation between fan subs and official dvd releases, but I’ve never really known DVD subs to be bad.

    However, while I know of a lot of good fansub groups where the person doing the translation is fluent in both languages, it isn’t always the case (and if it isn’t, and they don’t have a good QCer who is at least fluent in the language they are releasing the sub in, then it often really shows)

  5. L4nce | October 31st, 2007 at 8:15 am

    Okay sure. some people will be exposed to anime, few will purchase anything over a 3 dollar keychain. Whoo anime industry wins? Sorry, no. I know an abundance of people with plenty of money to spend on anime, now do they? of course not, its free online! If it wasn’t free online, if there wasn’t a surplus substitutes for any series free online, the sales would increase. Countries such as the US provide a lot of anime income especially since one can pick up Naruto sesion 3 at Bestbuy, Target, Walmart, etc. With that, then DvD sales should be up, right?

    Not according to a survey of major anime studios conducted by the Japanese newspaper Nikkei. They found that there is a slowdown in DVD sales leading to low profit forecasts. Toei Animation for sees drop in profits by as much as 28% to 2.7 billion yen (about US$22 million). Bandai Visual says its profits will drop about 3%, to 4.8 billion yen (US$40 billion), although this is attributed primarily to decreasing music sales. Credits to Nikkei though this news story has been plagiarized in many places.

    I guess everyone is downloading the tracks as well. It is quite apparent that fansubs are having a major impact if during a surge of popularity, anime companies are seeing less sales. Though other companies such as G.D.H.are cutting costs rather than relying on DVD sales.

    If you want more people to become exposed to an anime, then get more anime ON TV. Anime industry gets paid via advertising. What is the more high selling anime out there? I’ll give you a hint, they all played on the anime hating network, cartoon network. Oh, guess what,

    Fan subs don’t pay companies at all, 0 nada zilch, nothing at all the the producer. I really don’t need to say this, but the commercials left in some fansub don’t count, well unless you some how credit the original broadcast with your viewing. Exposed viewers via fansubs that continue to pirate just plain do not give anything to the company. At most they will make 20% off that keychain.. for something that should have brought in 30 times that amount.

    So you need it faster? Good thing a large majority are being released in Japan and the US at the same time, such as Grrl Power!. Why are they doing this? Lets say an anime is a very popular fan sub, Its going to sell great when it comes to DVD right? Well, doesn’t sell, at all. This isn’t 2002 anymore, there are very few series that have you wait 3 years, or even 6 months. If they do then that anime will be a complete loss of effort.

    Don’t kid yourself, get a job, and support anime if you like it. If you don’t like it enough to pay for it or even to rally some support for more TV broadcastes, then why would you watch it? I have a job, it took me less then a days pay at minimum wage to afford Eva platinum. I’m sure any of you can handle the responcibility attached to being a true anime fan.

  6. Neko Kyou | October 31st, 2007 at 10:27 am

    @Josh: Hmm.. Yeah I thought that was pretty clear. Maybe I should have made it more clearer just in case. Some people just don’t get it. Like, I know there are a few who actually thought that this post is condemning fansubs.

    I would be one of those who would grab the DVDs from Japan if they had subs, but that might kill the licensing fees they get for releases outside the country. Then again, it never stopped Ace Attorney: Phoenix Wright games on the DS that had both Japan and English version. In fact, the US release recorded more sales due to the wide spread of the Japanese version.

    It’s really not something that can be easily predicted, but I think it’s worth it if the studios and distributors do their homework and appease the fans.

    There is also something “rewarding” about owning a physical copy of something. I’m sure anyone would be happy to receive their new DVDs on their favourite anime that they’ve watched before, and some might never even open it up. So I think DVD sales won’t exactly die off anytime soon even if they provided online downloads.

    @Drew: Yeah, those are bootlegs. The company that bootlegged them is keeping 100% profits and the production studios and distributors gets nothing.

    @L4nce: I’ll reply to your comment in a while.

  7. Neko Kyou | October 31st, 2007 at 11:08 am

    I was actually thinking whether to turn this comment into a post by itself since its quite lengthy, but decided not to 😛

    @L4nce: You have to realize that not all downloaders are from US or UK where there is a standard, reasonable minimal wage. A regular DVD boxset costs about half or more of a family’s income in many countries, especially those in the 3rd world. So saying that a job at minimum wage is enough to pay for anime isn’t a very good call unless you’re living in the US/UK. But its a valid point that there are still many who doesn’t take this route. However, the numbers of people willing to pay for their anime needs is increasing.

    Unfortunately in this time and age, 1-2 weeks is the most anyone could and would wait for what they want. Even in business, if they want it now, they want it *now*. People seldom uses snail mail anymore except for documents, and even those would be using courier services that would have the documents delivered within days.

    Obviously fansubs don’t pay companies. But neither do they get paid. What I posted was that these two can actually work together for the benefit for both sides and for the fans.

    As you can tell from my post, I’m not exactly saying that illegal downloads should continue either. As shown in the music industry, you can’t kill online downloads, but you can make use of it.

    Since you’ve brought up the figures from Nikkei (and I applaud you for being able to get those figures), let me bring up another point from another perspective.

    I think the closest comparison we have to illegal online anime download is the illegal music downloads. So I’ll use the music industry as an example here.

    When cassette tapes first appeared in the 1980s, many companies argued that recording music on tapes off the radio will kill the music industry. That didn’t happen, but instead helped the industry bloom.

    Then during the age of Napster, many started to argue that mp3s will bring about the downfall of the music industry once again. Sure, it’s still a problem now, but those who had taken advantage of it have become very successful, leaving behind those who did not. It even spawned an entirely new industry – the mp3 player industry.

    Speaking of which, Apple with their iPod and iTunes were one of the first few to realize the potential and they bounced back from the brink of bankruptcy to become one of the most successful companies around.

    Again, my POV is that we should move forward, not backwards.

    FYI: I actually spent a lot on anime stuff (and I know many others who do as well), especially on merchandise.

    A local manga publication here actually have caught up with many of the manga released in Japan. They are only 2-3 chapters behind on Naruto compared to the latest releases with decent translations. And they’re doing really, really well because of it. This goes to show that if you give fans what they want, they will give you what you want.

  8. L4nce | October 31st, 2007 at 4:40 pm

    Its kinda interesting, that my IP seems banned. Plenty o’ way around that. =/

    If your in a country that does not sell anime or wages of said country are too low, then I can believe it to be acceptable.
    That is a bit out of the scope according to..
    So the 50++ million out of 1.2 billion or 1/10th of the US + UK internet users.

    I would also like to point out that napster was in the begining phases in September of 1999.However the first mass-produced hardware MP3 player/DAP was created in 1997 by SaeHan Information Systems of South Korea which sold its “MPMan” player in Asia starting in the late spring of 1998. Then the wonderful RIO was released in September 1998. Not quite the starting point.

    I strongly disagree with the fan subs don’t get payed. Aside from donations, what is given? Respect, pride, not to mention experience. Course again their not getting paid, clue about their qualifications. People go to huge lengths to feel important, its human nature. Their pay is greater than mine.

    I am very glad to hear that you support your anime by the way.

  9. Neko Kyou | October 31st, 2007 at 6:19 pm

    You might have triggered one of my blacklisted IP numbers or keywords. I get a lot of spambots trying to spam my comments lol.

    Good call on the MPMan and Rio series. Although they eventually died out (mainly due to Apple, who’s really the only one making a nice profit in the mp3 player industry), they did make a good name for themselves as well as profit at the initial stages.

    You’re also right on the fansubbers part. I mainly took personal monetary gain into consideration. While most of the donation usually goes to server maintenance, respect and pride is a huge.

  10. L4nce | November 1st, 2007 at 12:52 am

    I remember my first Rio, it broke the first week. =o

  11. Neko Kyou | November 1st, 2007 at 11:02 pm

    lol I’ve never really owned a real mp3 player before :(

  12. Shadowlite | November 4th, 2007 at 2:10 am

    Well, it seems like the companies never get into their heads, that freeloaders will always be freeloaders,no matter if there are fansubs or not. they seem to have this unbelievable optimistic mindset / belief that the freeloaders will buy their goods once they clamp down on fansubs. don’t know if it is me being ultra pessimistic , or they are ultra optimistic.
    Will the number of people buying the animes due to the stopping of fansubs justify the loss of the number of fans due to the clampdown? That remains to be seen.

  13. Forbes | November 6th, 2007 at 7:09 am

    I pay for what I can simply because I believe in the support of anime and manga.

    but a lot of it is hard to attain, however if there was such a site that had all anime titles listed, and subbed for streaming at a monthly fee I believe a lot more then people assume would be paying for it, especially i f it was faster at streaming, at a better quality and available at reasonable times after releases.

    the majority of my anime/manga is probably 20% payed for 80% free.

    I can see this switching themselves for me personally if not for many others if what you say were to happen.

    a really good idea.

  14. Neko Kyou | November 6th, 2007 at 3:36 pm

    @Shadowlite: Freeloaders will always be freeloaders, how very true. And it’s also true that many of these freeloaders eventually starts taking out money for anime/manga thanks to the influence of fansubs and the anime/manga community. Which is why I said that studios and distributors have more to gain by picking up the trend here :)

    @Forbes: One advantage that major companies have over fansubs are their ability to obtain higher quality video and faster servers. So I can definitely see a reason for many people to pay a reasonable price for that kind of service. Heck, many people are paying to access those kind of servers for fansubs/scanlations.

  15. B-Kun | November 10th, 2007 at 3:10 pm

    Well, I believe that there needs to be some kind of balancing between fansubs and DVDs. Obviously, fansubs don’t contribute to the industry at all, but DVDs are kinda high (33$ for a 3 episode DVD where I live), plus there are plenty of series that never get licensed, so if it wern’t for fansubs, we would never get to watch (and understand) the series at all. I believe that DVDs and fansubs work with each other to some extent. Plus, once a series is licensed, distribution of the fansub is stopped.

  16. bratkitty | November 11th, 2007 at 8:14 am

    The whole downloading thing has been an issue since we’ve had computers that hold more than a couple of gigs and internet faster than dialup. It’s becoming more and more apparent that cd’s and dvd’s are becoming obsolete (I read an article recently that Blockbuster is doomed for that very reason). And the internet is vast and extremely difficult (one might say. . .impossible?) to keep piracy from running rampant.

    If companies were smart, they’d let people keep downloading fansubs and invest in merchandise. Anime has an insanely dedicated fandom. So much that they buy bootleg merchandise whether they know it or not (either at cons or from China). So anime companies, I think, should capitalize on merchandise to keep the money coming in to keep them going. And we’ll keep watching anime. :)

    Plushies FTW.

  17. Pythonite | November 12th, 2007 at 1:19 pm

    While I certainly agree that there are many people who would not pay for anime, regardless of whether or not they can get it for free (and would rather not watch than pay to watch), I also feel that there are a great deal of people who simply will not shell out the amount of money many companies ask for. Assuming the show is even out in the US, unless it gets picked up by a television station, you will probably be stuck getting DVDs. Now, most people cannot afford to pay the $40+ out of pocket every time a new anime comes out in America they enjoy. So they turn to the internet to watch shows. However, those same people would generally gladly watch shows with ads in them, as long as it means they can access the show without clearing their bank account. If VIZ and other companies released the shows on the internet with ads in them, much like how the television channels are funded, I am sure they could keep their profits up without removing subs from the internet.

  18. Neko Kyou | November 12th, 2007 at 2:14 pm

    Pythonite, that’s also an excellent idea. Instead of just focusing on a single market (i.e. US market) the ads could be targeted for other demographics as well. Not only would it benefit offline companies, but online as well such as Amazon or RightStuf.

  19. Ez | January 15th, 2008 at 11:54 pm

    Nicely Done.

  20. Pat | March 7th, 2008 at 3:27 am

    I personally think this is why DeathNote and other popular anime were licensed in the first place. They probably wouldn’t have much of a business without fansubs in the first place.

  21. watch free anime | March 17th, 2008 at 1:37 am

    Fansubs definitely promote the anime industry. Fansubs allow the rest of the world to enjoy the show. Without fansubs, we’d be watching we’d be watching cartoons like… arthur O_o

  22. eskribo | April 4th, 2008 at 4:20 pm

    Fansubs are much better at promoting Anime. In my opinion Anime is more enjoyable in Japanese,subbed and uncut. The licensed series that are released and shown here in the US are directed at younger audiences, are horribly dubbed and lack the personality the creator intended. Take for example Naruto, Trigun and Bleach. The voices and translations are mediocre at best on these shows. The adult language and content is neutered and replaced with crappy adolescent banter that dull the story and deter character build up. This is harmful because it only seem to annoy and frustrate viewers to shy away from spending money on purchasing “American” licensed versions. Some have seen the light and have recently included the uncut, Japanese subbed versions on their DVD releases but even those subs are lackluster at best. The quality needs to be top notch to attract revenue from all fans.

    Lets face it Anime was never mainstream here and has become popular recently because of sattelite, cable and fansubbing. The internet and fansubbing are an asset to the Anime industry. Fansubs allow you to sample and view different genres of Anime that would normaly be impossible outside of the Japanese Market. I am gratefull for fansubbing. They do no more harm to Anime than a vcr or dvd recorder would do to “Battle Star Galactica”, “Smallville”, “Heroes”, “CSI” etc.

    If the demand is there it will sell…. this is what “quality” in a product can generate. “Family Guy” and “Futurama” anyone!……………

  23. Naruto Memorabilia | April 28th, 2008 at 10:17 pm

    ugh.. without fansub I doubt I would watch anime again (because I don’t understand nihongo!) XD

  24. Bradders | May 15th, 2008 at 8:29 pm

    The fansub is an essential part of anime. In the same way that scanlations help reveal manga that would otherwise be unknown outside Japan. Even the God Osamu Tezuka’s manga was hard to find in English until recently. His first full-length manga series to be fully translated was “Adolf” in 1995, 10 years after it was written! (I known he wrote a hell of a lot, but still…)

    Perhaps fans are better at being faithful to the original. The original dub of Akira left out a lot of “themes”. Fortunately, they were put back in years later. A fan probably would have done the story justice from the beginning.

  25. f_w | June 17th, 2008 at 1:38 am

    They could also go the way of a donation button.
    I personally would like to donate to the great makers of good stuff, but don’t want a hardcopy or such for it.
    Thankfully crunchyroll and gonzo are doing something smart like that. 😀
    Now if only i could donate to all the series i really liked this and last year.

    Then again, they always want us to pay for crap in a box, it is cheaper for them that way, they think.

  26. noshit | June 27th, 2008 at 9:04 pm

    I, for one, have a different solution in mind.

    I’m a fansubber myself. Why don’t we do it for a fee? Because we’re anime fans that sub for anime fans. It’s like giving money to your little sister because she’s your little sister. We want to share

    Fansubbing isn’t easy, it’s hard stuff. But we prefer to do it for free and without a fee. If legal companies are subbing anime for anime fans, why do they ask for a fee? Because it’s business, and fansubbers aren’t doing business. We’re sharing

    Fansub is illegal.

    Why? That’s BS. Our raw cappers subscribe to the Japan channels with a fee, they have a right to record those and share it. Then fansubbers sub it for free for the public. For free. If we did ask for money when we got our products for free, then that’s illegal.

    Now, any violent reactions?

  27. Neko Kyou | June 28th, 2008 at 1:48 am

    Rather than looking at whether or not fansubs are making money (in reality they’re losing money on servers, etc), they are looking at how much money they are potentially losing out by NOT selling to you.

    We can only hope that Gonzo’s initiative will start a whole new trend with the other studios and companies 😉

    If they can continue producing series like Tower of Druaga for free, simultaneous online streaming, it might just work out well.

  28. firewallfail | November 23rd, 2008 at 11:06 am

    Personally I choose fan subs because they get released faster. If you download a fun sub and you like it then you should go out and buy the show after. When I used to watch Bleach I would download the episodes as they were released then I went and bought the seasons when they were available. Fan subbing is fine but you have to put money back into the industry.

  29. Eric | November 28th, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    OK, I have to call BS on you. As someone who got into anime before the internet was capable of such things as free streaming I can guarantee you that we still got anime just as readily but we paid. I would order VHS tapes, rent whatever blockbuster had and was fortunate enough to have a store a few towns over that rented it out. And I paid through the nose because I had NO OTHER OPTION. these days I love anime just as much but because I don’t want to spend money and bus 2 towns over I just download it for free because it’s cheaper and easier, sure I buy a few series I like at cons once a year but that’s it. And as for the subs will bring in new fans? that’s crap too. Nobody goes online and finds anime streams unless they’re looking for them and are already into anime, sure you’ll find a few new series you wouldn’t have had before but from the sites websites and reviews and blogs you would know about those anyway and still want them even without the streams. The numbers show that the industry is losing money due to streaming and they are.

  30. skirty | November 29th, 2008 at 9:08 am


    sure, a lot of us did the same. We did what we could and paid all we did to get the anime we wanted to watch because there was no other way.

    But that doesn’t change the fact that without fansubs there are tons and tons of people who would never have been exposed to the entire phenomenon.

    The situation is extremely simple: television shows that are aired in other countries can only become popular in three ways.

    1. They can be found on the internet and downloaded for free.
    2. You can buy the DVD.
    3. The company can license it overseas and expand their market.

    The fact of the matter is that the anime market doesn’t officially exist in the western world because (outside of 4kids entertainment garbage dubs), the production companies don’t sell the rights. How can their sales take a hit from a market that doesn’t really exist?

    No matter what they say, music downloads help the music industry. Movie downloads help the film industry, and why should that trend be any different for the overseas television production companies?

  31. Eric | November 29th, 2008 at 12:43 pm


    You failed to address the important difference that I mentioned, which is that unlike music and movies, which advertise themselves, the only people who are going to find fansubs online are people who are already interested in anime. And don’t say that they don’t license to North America because the place I rented from had a WALL of legitimate anime VHS ceiling to floor. It existed, it was just harder to get.

  32. Neko Kyou | November 29th, 2008 at 2:55 pm


    It’s true that people were forced to pay for anime back then, and they did. I was one of them as well.

    However, there were very limited numbers of series available. In your case, you seem to have plenty of choices. But in my case, I had to import most of what I wanted to watch. There were very little choices locally.

    The local TV stations do show some anime as well, which is where I got started.

    There are 2 types of “new fans” as I see it. The first is someone who has never before been exposed to anime, and the second is someone who already enjoys anime but have yet to stumble across a particular series.

    For the first type, I’ve actually managed to get a lot of friends to start watching anime, simply by giving them a few series they might be interested in. Most usually ended up enjoying it, and became anime fans in general.

    But just because you are already an anime fan, doesn’t mean you are a fan of every anime out there. Series like Gurren Lagann would not become what it is today if not for the spread of fansubs.

    To be honest, me and many of my friends found Gurren Lagann to be rather lame in the beginning. But because its there, many other people just continued to watch it and begin to realize just how great it is. This created a buzz, and sparks interest in others to continue watching it.

    The result is the series getting more and more fans, which in turn generates more sales – especially in the form of merchandise.

    But with the industry seemingly moving to the online streaming format for free or a small fee, fansubs might be slowly replaced, although probably not anytime soon.

  33. Jeremy | February 5th, 2009 at 10:03 am

    If some entity from Japan created a website to offer anime streaming for say.. 5$ a month.. hell, I’d jump on it.. why not? Honestly, if it weren’t for fansubs and streaming I wouldn’t known even a handful of the anime I’ve come to know over the past few years. Just as you have said.

    Look at NarutoFan.com.. it’s banking off of its monthly subscription service. Is it not? Surely this should be getting more attention than those sites/torrents releasing them for free.

    Like I said, Japan just needs to implement its own monthly subscription service much like NarutoFan.com or NetFlix. Strictly for anime.

    Hell, they could even produce a true anime station over here in America and I’m sure it would receive some activity. That is, on cable. I’m tired of being exposed to Americanized versions of anime, simply because.. they aren’t as good. Any person who has watched fansubs compared to dubbed versions by companies such as Funimation can admit to this.


    Yeah, I can see your point on Gurren Lagann. Despite its oddities and such, it’s definitely on the top of my list for most favorite anime though.

  34. Dan | February 6th, 2009 at 9:47 am

    I’m 14 atm and i can say that i WOULD buy a lot of the anime releases/figures/posters if i COULD, i don’t get any sort of allowance and it is an odd request to ask your parents to import posters from japan because you watch an online show, especially when your parents are not very good with the computer
    I will in the future, once im 18 (so i can obtain a credit card) probably buy most of the dvd releases of the anime that i truly liked, and probably posters and such if i didnt like it enough to actually buy the dvd releases. However i do like having fansubs to see what you are buying, i would never consider buying anime or manga if i hadn’t seen fansubs online of anime thats really interesting/fun
    i do like the proposal of a website that streams quality fansubs with a monthly charge, however that may be abused with screen recorders and such

  35. itsalljustaride | February 16th, 2009 at 6:11 am

    The problem with the “fansubs create a market where there was none” idea is that the IS a self-sustaining market for anime in America now. Fansubs helped create that, but their time has passed if we’re talking about keeping that market sustainable. If series are translated and released by fansubbers online within a few days of them being released in japan, before the licensed releases come out, then it kills the domestic market. This is undeniable economics. The first provider to market will get the lions share of profits from the demanding public as long as the product meets that demand. Fansubs generally do a fine job of meeting demand, often times better than commercial releases, but they generate no income for the people who make those series to keep making them.

    I think if fansubbers really wanted to contribute to the anime market in the U.S. or elsewhere then they would do a few episodes of a series only.

    I have never bought legitimate copies of old VHS fansubs that I have. The only ones I ever even thought about buying were those that I had incomplete collections of.

    Does this make me less of a fan? Ok, whatever, I still spent a truckload of my income on legit copies of anime that I had never seen before, so whichever way you want to slice it, go ahead.

    I get that people want to see anime. I get that it’s nice that you can see it for free and that there are people dedicated enough and devoted enough to bring it to you, and that’s wonderful, but it has reached a critical mass where it has started to do harm. When people had to know someone with copies of copies of copies of a VHS fansub, or “order” a copy through trade or donation, then it made you at least work in some way to get what you wanted. Online streaming of free and fast media that does not create a revenue stream for the content creators is not a good situation if you want to keep seeing new and innovative material.

    No one I know buys anime anymore. They watch it online if they can, and if they have to they’ll rent it, but buying is a last-ditch, only for the brave, affair.

    Yes, part of this is because companies aren’t providing content in the way you want it. If anime companies released a site where you could pay a subscription for fast streaming episodes with english subs, I’m sure it would be at least mildly profitable, and it may have to come to that, but until then, fansubs probably aren’t helping anymore, which is sad, because they DID help create the U.S. market. It’s just that their time as a force for good has passed.

  36. Neko Kyou | February 16th, 2009 at 8:03 pm

    Thankfully, Crunchyroll is doing just that, although they still need to work on the quality of streaming. Many fans are complaining at how slow CR loads, especially with popular series like Naruto Shippuuden.

    But hey, that’s a good start. And that’s exactly what the majority of fans wanted.

  37. Yeriaj | May 20th, 2009 at 9:25 pm

    I know this is quite late for a last year post but…. it made me realize that “yeah your right” this made my mind clear about this thing… But I still wish to stream for free… I cant really afford to buy anime DVD’s if ever i can buy one it’s already a 2 year old or more since its releas…

  38. Quick post | May 24th, 2009 at 5:29 pm

    Right now the standard is about $2 per 30 minute TV show on sites such as Amazon. Since fansub services can’t make money (without purchasing the rights to distribute in the US), how hard would it be to charge $2-$3 per anime episode, giving the proceeds to the purchaser of the rights (and a share of that to the creators of the anime by nature of the contract) and credit to the fansub group (which is all they ever get, really).

    To me, it’s the best of all worlds. The business end of it is taken care of, the creators get money for their work and fansub services are allowed to flourish.

  39. Qaara | July 5th, 2009 at 7:16 am

    It’s simple:

    There are two kinds of fansubbing groups:
    The first take up the risk of working on a new and unknown anime on jp tv, without guarantees for how the show will turn out or how popular it will be and will probably leave it after it’s licensed. They work sorely to make something they like more popular. Borderline legal but ethical.

    The second will only work on well known and 99% of the time licensed anime, no risks and less effort required. Likely to work with anime streaming sites and servers that require “donations”. In this kind are also included the ones who will use u.s. released anime dvds, which is simple thievery. Illegal and unethical.

  40. David | December 23rd, 2011 at 3:47 pm

    I read alot of posts on this article and I can’t believe this asshole actually gives any credit to fansubs. I bet its great to live in a world where you lie and don’t feel any guilt for it. Complete bullshit. Voice actors and manga artiests don’t agree with any of this because they realize what anyone with half a brain realizes and its that fansubs haven’t done any of the shit. Its people like Neko Kyou that make me sick to my stomach and I don’t call anyone who watches fansubs a fan nor do I consider them a fan. They are leeches who just keep sucking out the lifeblood of the industry and then call themselves fans. TokyoPop, Geneon, ADV all gone and Shonen Jump has gone completely digital. Gee I wonder whats going on. And now anime companies are listening to fans and giving people what they want and what do fans do. Spit in the faces of the companies and keep going back and watching illegal free shit. And the translations aren’t even that accurate alot of times and sometimes even on some pages of scans the people say they don’t know what some stuff means so they just put something in its place. And the grammer is off sometimes even. My friend said he got pissed off watching a fansub because he had seen dubs that were more accurate. I wish people would stop lying and open their damn eyes to the truth and stop acting like fansubs help the industry. Also all that shit about what fansubs have done is complete and utter bullshit. Its a huge pile of stinking bullshit. I’m just so fucking tired of people like Neko Kyou saying what fansubs have done for the industry. That taste test thing doesn’t really fly with me because their are other ways to find out what is in an anime besides watching a shitty fansub that is probably not even accurate. Plus not ever single anime I have watched is on cable. Godanner, Gantz, and even Jing the Bandit King (hopefully I got that title correct). Need I even point to Elven Lied? I think you people get the point that their are others way to watch anime that isn’t illegal and well if you want to keep watching fansubs and reading scans I just have one thing left to say to you. Thank you for helping kill the anime and manga industry some more jackasses!!!

  41. David | December 23rd, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    Also I would like to say I don’t even call fansubs that anymore. I call them what I see fansubbers, scanlators, and their group of supporters as. Scumsubs because I see all those people as scum. Do I feel bad for calling people scum? No not really. Why should I care how a criminal feels or if I hurt their feelings? Also I became a fan when I was little kid and I have been a fan ever since and now I’m an adult. I found anime without fansubs and I found more and more shows without their help either. My cousin was the first person to bring scans and those scumsubs to my attention. I unfortunatly watched some but then when I saw Greg Ayres’s panel on fansubs from Sogencon 2007 I quit right there and you don’t know how depressed I was. I was depressed for weeks on end when I found out what kind of damage I had been doing. Now I have vowed to do my part to end this illness, this cancer that is killing the industry. If anyone watns to argue my points go watch Greg Ayres’s panel from Sogencon 2007 and Anime Detour 2008 first and absorb what he has to say. He’ll prove you wrong better than me.

  42. Thatanimeguy | October 8th, 2013 at 5:08 pm

    I am a long time anime fan of about 15 years, being more than half my life now. While I enjoy watching free fan-subs on a near daily basis, when I find an anime that I truly enjoy I purchase the whole season. I have the collector’s edition of blue gender, I have angel beats, I have spice and wolf seasons 1 and 2. I have eden of the east, several trigun dvd’s, and thats just naming a few that I own I am also in the process of ordering more online, I’m really looking forward to owning S.A.O. My point here is that while I do watch anime for free at first, if it’s any good at all I generally end up buying the dvd/blu-ray of the entire show. Just my two-cents but I highly doubt i’m the only one who does this. My only regret at this point is reading all the retarded comments on here by the ignorant “fake” anime fans that are posting on here bashing fan-subs. A big chunk of the anime I own I purchased solely because I had watched a fan-subbed version of it on a website and enjoyed it. Saying that fan-dubbers and fan-subbers are just scum is retarded, you have no idea the amount of work it takes to fansub an anime. You also have no idea how many otaku’s exist today due to “fan-subbed” anime and how much revenue has been brought in due to fan-subbers. It really pains me to read comments bashing fan-subbers especially considering that 99.999999999999% of fansubs encourage you that if you enjoyed the show to go out and buy the retail copy and show your support for the creator. I wish that people would actually pay attention and so some research before posting their retardation on the web.


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