So, Japan has decided it wants the U.S.’s help is putting down fan-subs. I am actually a little surprised. Japan hasn’t really taken an interest in it even though it has been going on for years and years. I guess I never really thought about the effects of fan-subs on the Japanese industry. I don’t know if anything can really be done about it though. Besides if the U.S. anime industry isn’t making the plea is doesn’t seem like it’ll hold water.
Maybe that is why Japan is making the plea. If the U.S. industry won’t make a fuss then the Japanese are going to make sure that someone is going to protect their intellectual property. A good number of anime are now made with the idea that some of the projected profits will come from international distribution. So they seem to think they have two choices. Make less anime without the support of the U.S. anime industry or get someone in the U.S. to crack down on fan-subs. The real question is even if they get someone to crack down hard on fan-subs will it really do anything positive for the U.S. or the Japanese anime industry.
I feel that fan-subs have their uses and positive impact on the anime industry but they also doing harm to the anime industry. The problem is as long as there is some possibility of ruining it for everyone some jerk is going to go out there and make sure that he ruins it for everyone (And often times they are quite proud of it.) There are going to be people who watch fan-subs and the minute a title they watched get licensed they go and buy it in stores. Then there are people who will watch everything they can get their hands on and not bay a slim dime on anything in the U.S. or Japan and act like they are the heroes on the modern age. Most people fall somewhere in the middle but it’s hard to see which end of the spectrum most people all under. Do most fans buy the shows they really like that they watch on fan-subs or do they only buy a fraction of what they watch fan-subbed? A thread on Anime Jump makes me think people are not buying anywhere as much as they say they are.
And there is now this reverse backlash of people in Japan downloading fan-subs because of the sky-high DVD prices in Japan. Although, they have the opportunity to watch it on television that we don’t. So that’s where the ruining it for us kind of comes in. I mean fan-subbing has been going on for a quite a while with some complaint from the industry but very little action.
The problem is that up until recently most of the time fan-subs were inferior to legitimate releases. In the old days the video quality was almost always better on a legitimate release. Now if most fan-subs might be of lesser quality but only hard core video freaks can tell the difference. The only real draw that legitimate releases have are extras like DVD bonus features and exclusive items included with DVDs. I mean the Japanese CD market keeps itself alive despite outrageously high prices by including exclusive tacks on their CDs to prevent people running to reverse imports or downloading American CDs. I guess that DVD extras are less valuable then the actual content of extra tracks on a CD.
The thing is fan-subs are not going away any time soon. They were an integral part of the formation of an American anime fan-base so it’s hard to separate them from fandom. They actually have their positive benefits even today, despite what some company reps might tell you. Whether the benefits outweigh the costs are another story. I think as much as some people would argue against it we would not have anywhere the current U.S. fanbase without fan-subs.
There are those few examples where it seemed like everyone watched in on fan-sub and then decided not to buy it. So that really damaged the persona I think. There was Love Hina and then more recently it was seen with Rozen Maiden (that’s really weird that I dislike both of these shows, but I digress). But fan-subs are the only way some niche shows are even a thought in the heads of company reps. They have an insight in to what people are actually watching. They have a leg up on other media! Fan-subbers are working for free and the industry gets to look in on what fans think is good.
But I think that fan-subs can also give a very wrong impression of the market. Geneon assumed that since so many people were downloading and talking about niche shows like Rozen Maiden that it was worth the high price to license Rozen Maiden and they would make their money back. But it seems places like 4chan and the rest of the Internet was willing to watch Rozen Maiden for free but they were not willing to buy it on DVD and anyone who did not see it fan-subed was in no rush to buy such a show on DVD either.
Well, I wish fan-subbers were less worried about their e-penises and worked a little more on obscure and older shows. Do you really need 10 groups working on one show? (the answer BTW is no). I understand that subbing is in some ways almost an art form so you can have more than one translation that are both correct but have different subtleties. The thing is, after 2 groups are working on something, it is almost assured that most of the extra subbers are either adding nothing new or are sub-par to other groups doing the subs. A lot of times they are just a bunch a speed subbers trying to out do each other and just giving in to a fast translation with a horrible grammar and spelling.
I sort of agree. In fact, when there is more than one group I usually stick with the one I think has the best sub…not the fastest sub. For example with D.Gray Man, I always wait for the Black Order sub, even though they are a couple episodes behind. I think people should lose the pride thing and do more shows! More is better, the more we see the richer the anime community is. But can I really complain when people actually do this out of the goodness of their fanboy/fangirl hearts? Not really. Besides there are so many shows available there is no way I could watch all of them.
I have to admit I’m on the fence with this issue. Selling is not cool but when it is completely free it is harder to say. Especially since the shows aren’t licensed in the U.S. I can understand Japan’s problem and quite frankly they don’t owe us anything. I mean if I could never watch another fan-sub again I would be upset. But I would still be buying anime. My disappointment would come from all the shows that will never make it to the U.S. But I have to say if the prices of DVDs were not so high in Japan, I wonder if they would be seeing such problems?
I think if DVD prices were lower in Japan we would still have the same problems we have in the U.S. The only changes would be that Japanese consumers might buy more DVDs and American might import more Region 2 DVDs. The only people who can change the situation in America is Americans. Either U.S. fans have to suck it up and support the industry or the U.S. industry has to break some heads and hearts and crack down on the bad boys of fan-subbing. I’m not saying they should try to take down everybody who downloaded Monster but maybe you can take down some of the mega download sites that have half the licensed shows out in the U.S. Something is going to change and I hope it does not hurt either industry too much on either side of the Pacific. But I also don’t want to hurt the U.S. fan base either. It’s sort of nice that you can run into several anime fans at work or school and not be outrageously shocked.