The Fansub Viewer’s Hypocritical Oath?

I’ve seen writings by DrmChsr0 on fansubbing VS buying DVDs before, and a recent one is titled, “Addressing hypocrisy in regards to the fansub issue“. I’m not sure there’s all the kinds of hypocracy DrmChsr0 says, but there’s also a lot more out there which wasn’t said, so it must even out somehow.

This portion stood out for me:

[The pro-industry anime fans’] stand is admirable, and is not just morally correct, but also economically correct. Why is that?

For one thing, supporting the creators has always been the right thing to do. Like how Christians/Jews/Muslims give thanks to God for everything in any way they can (prayer, tithes, just to name two), we should honor the creators of our animated TV shows by buying the DVDs, etc. I know everyone has issued with religion and all, but if there’s one thing we should learn from them, it would be giving thanks to the creator.

The Chinese knew this concept well, and had an idiom for it, 饮水思源. It means simply, remembering where something came from. Taken in this context, it pretty much means we should honor the creators of a given work and give him his or her due honor, and payment, if need be.

This is my view, generally. I’m sure there are many fansub watchers who simply want an easy and affordable way to get what they want and to pay for it. Even when there’s something of an option available, it’s not always easy. As I wrote in My Dream for the Future of Japanese Animation (and yet this portion is about a Korean animated series):

When I tried watching Janggeum’s Dream, series two, via MBC’s VOD (video on demand) service, I encountered one problem after another. My final solution, after many hours taking me long into the night and toward the following morning, was to download the whole series from their site, use my 24 hour VOD subscription to get the keys for each episode, and strip the DRM.

And this was for episodes at roughly 320×240 pixel resolution, many with the opening theme song portion cut out, and all with the last few seconds of the ending theme cut off.

MBC doesn’t give me what I want (episodes I can download to watch later, rather than a time-based service), nor what I need (episodes I can download to watch on my one to one and a half hour work commutes, where I have no Internet connection), so I haven’t used their service since. I don’t download their content freely, either. I’m still waiting for a DVD release with English subtitles of that second series to buy.

People will get things the easiest way possible. They’ll pay for iTunes music if it’s easier than installing file sharing software, especially if it’s someone who doesn’t know how to use a computer very well. This is probably why I’m always finding anime streaming websites as nine out of every 10 anime sites in StumbleUpon.

That said, I left the following comment in reply to DrmChsr0:

I’m not sure how much of this post may have been tongue-in-cheek, so I’d better be careful on how I reply here =P

I’ve seen some fansubs in the past, but don’t watch them now. I mostly bought those series on DVD so I’ve paid for what I’ve seen. Consider it like taking an apple from someone’s over-abundant apple tree, knowing full and well that they’ll never miss it, then going back when you have a job and paying for the apple you took two summers ago. Wait, that doesn’t make sense, because I’m left with a DVD I can now watch dubbed into English if I want to… I don’t like analogies for just this reason…

Everything I watch right now is bought on DVDs. I follow a number of blogs with posts on the latest raws and fansubs, but there’s only been one series I’ve thought would interest me, and that would be Shugo Chara!. Maybe I’ll pick up the first manga release here in the States by Del Ray, but I try to avoid un-finished series.

I suppose I can be placed as “The exploitable fan”, as I’ve bought the Japanese remastered release of Cardcaptor Sakura, and I’m considering starting to save up for the Japanese releases of Ojamajo Doremi next year. And I have to see if I can get my paws on the Japanese releases of Saint Tail, hoping beyond all hope the video quality will be superior to Tokyo Pop’s region one release. Well, so long as I have a job and only spend a relatively small fraction of my income on it all, I should be all right (not that I have any issues with eating instant ramen for a few months ;)

Personally, when I buy a DVD, I’d like to know where my money’s going. It would be nice if ADV (for example) would come out and said, “When you buy this overpriced DVD box set (which is actually 20% [the price] of the Japanese region two equivalent, which lacks English subtitles and an English dub), $X.00 goes to the price of the DVD and packaging, $X.00 is for shipping to stores and warehouses, ADV pockets $XX.00 for its own expenses, and the rights holding company takes the last $XX.00.”

The way I look at Japanese companies producing anime and American companies subtitling and dubbing them is this: they’re taking out a reverse loan. Rather than getting money, they’ll paying money (for the artist[s], voice actors, etc.) Now that they’re in the hole [for that one series, not as a company], they need to get that money back (via DVDs sales as you wrote).

As I’ve learned more about the pricing of Japanese DVDs, I’ve come to see how difficult they make it on someone who wants to casually watch a series and move on. If I ever decide to go around personally chastising fansub watches for not supporting the company (assuming they don’t support in any way that will pay the company back for its watched production), I’ll wait until one can buy, download, and watch anime in a way comparable to torrent downloading the latest episode of Minami-ke, or what have you. I’m still waiting to see fansubbers release copies of the subtitles that one can modify to play alongside a DVD, so someone who wants to “support the industry” and buy the DVDs in raw Japanese can still enjoy the fruits of the fansubbers’ labor. Any fansub group I’ve contacted about this hasn’t gotten back to me, though =(

Hm, I wonder how I can move from “The exploitable fan” to “The greedy businessman”. If I can work that into “The greedy capitalist”, then I might run with it. …except, I can’t make that pertain to anime with me personally in any way.

Comments are closed.