Dattebayo have just announced that they will be officially dropping Naruto Shippuuden effective 15th January, 2009. And for the first time ever, it’s not a troll. DB had decided to do this in respect of the joint effort between Viz and Crunchyroll to start airing the latest subtitled Naruto Shippuuden episodes on the same day as Japan’s airing.
This is the first time this has been done as far as I know, taking a currently running and popular series and start streaming (and presumably download) for a small fee, or free after a week. This is what many fans had been asking for when it comes to arguing the reason for fansubs to exist. While I am kinda sad that we won’t be getting DB’s sub anymore, I applaud them for their decision and Viz as well for their willingness to do what they did.
Whether or not Viz will succeed is still unknown, but judging by the responses from the free subbed anime on Crunchyroll so far, it will most likely be a success. Hopefully, this will then encourage more companies and studios to take up the online streaming/download model in the near future.
While fansubs will still be the biggest source of online anime, I strongly believe if done right, more people will switch to official channels, resulting in a win-win situation for everyone. Fans gets to watch their favourite anime for free or a small fee and not have to worry about getting in trouble with the law and the anime industry continues to thrive. Hopefully.