DISCLAIMER: I’m neither educated nor experienced in the workings of the anime industry, but let a guy have his rant every once in a while ok?
So it seems that the fansubs vs DVDs debate has died down a little, to be replaced with the “omg community” dorama. It’s only a matter of time before it rises again like some retarded phoenix that turns into shit instead of ash, but I don’t know if I’ll remember what I want to say here when that time comes. So, despite the fact that no one really gives a shit anymore (except the self-righteous fansubbers and money-mongering corporations), I’m going to write down some thoughts I had while I was taking a shit and reading Full Metal Panic.
This post is not guaranteed to be original, researched, or even comprehensible or make any sense at all, but hey, blogs-not-newspaper and all that jazz, amirite.
Ok, let’s start with some basic stuff. In Japan, anime is aired on TV, so it’s basically free (barring the cost of a TV, electricity, a house in which to place said TV and intelligence to connect said electricity to said TV). In America, and the rest of the English speaking world, we get some anime aired on TV, but not stuff that any sane adult would waste time watching. So when we think of DVDs in Japan and DVDs in America, we need to realise that they are very different things that fulfill different purposes. In Japan, DVDs are collectibles for the fans, whereas in America DVDs are the original product and the only means of access to most anime.
That above paragraph left out something very important, and can you guess what that is? No, it’s not the ironic screaming of “LOL NARUTO/BLEACH/YUGIOH SUCKS I HATE NARU/BLEACH/YUGI-TARDS”, it’s fansubs. In America there are no way for anime fans to watch a series legally without shelling out some serious cash, which just isn’t possible for the majority of people. In my home country of Australia, each anime DVD costs around $30, which is the equivalent of about 8 Big Macs (the true universal currency). Very few people are willing to shell out that sort of money for something they’ve never seen before.
Now this is where I believe fansubs come into the picture. In a perfect world, fansubs would act like the broadcast anime in Japan and give people a taste of what the show is like. If you like a show, you go out and buy the DVDs at reasonable prices and get some bonus material in the bargain. That’s how anime works in Japan, and that’s how TV shows work in America. I think most readers would’ve noticed at some point, while browsing the DVD sections at their local shops, that you can buy a whole season of any TV series for roughly the same cost of 2 to 3 anime DVDs, and an anime boxset can cost 2 to 3 times more than a single season of your average television drama series.
Why is that? Because TV series are first aired on TV, and as such they get another source of revenue: advertising. So when DVDs are released, they don’t require you to sell a kidney to some dying news tycoon in order to afford them. Anime licensees in America though, only have the DVDs as their sole source of revenue, meaning that they must put the price up in order to survive. It’s not a viable business model, you can’t expect people to pay a lot to buy something that they don’t know if they’ll like or not – to have things succeed in a direct-to-DVD format requires either intense marketing, a well known brand (Disney’s numerous shitty sequels to Lion King and Aladdin, for example), or porn. That is why DVDs are always targeted at collectors.
Getting back to fansubs, we all know this world isn’t perfect. If it was no one would be reading this and we would all be having multiple orgasms while having sex with 72 virgins. But in a perfect world, America would also get anime aired on TV, as fast as fansubbers can put out their work. They don’t necessarily have to be dubbed – dubs can be part of the special bonus you get on DVDs, so fansubbers (who would become paidsubbers) can work together with the licensees to make this happen. But no, that’s not feasible because of 1) negotiating licensing deals take time (which is an unavoidable hurdle) and 2) fansubbers and anime licensees hate each other.
Then you only leave space to discriminate
And to discriminate only generates hate
And if you hatin you’re bound to get irate
Yeah madness is what you demonstrate
And that’s exactly how anger works and operates
You gotta have love just to set it straight
Take control of your mind and meditate
Let your soul gravitate to the love y’all
Sorry, I got sidetracked. Where was I? Right, fansubbers and licensees tearing at each others’ throats. Why can’t the two co-exist? The ingrained belief is that fansubbers reduce DVD sales. I don’t believe that’s exactly true. In fact, would the anime DVD market even exist if not for the fansubbing community? Fansub is what created the awareness of anime in America in the first place. It is the best free advertising there is. Additionally, the way it’s working now, it’s no different than when television shows are aired for free on TV. Do you ever hear the television companies screaming that the TV broadcast are stealing their DVD sales (admittedly, they get advertising revenue from showing their shit on TV)? The only reason this line of reasoning is even justifiable is because the only channel of anime delivery is through DVDs, which, as I have previously mentioned, is retarded.
Why then do anime licensees continue to rely on this business model? Why can’t they negotiate deals with TV stations to air anime on TV? Time slots shouldn’t be a problem – even in Japan, a lot of anime are aired at late night. Is it because of a cultural problem that awaits to be overcome? Or is it just because the anime companies are simply too set in their way and fear change?
Once again, I must stress that these are all my own thoughts, and I have not done any research as to their truthfulness. Impz said something about Media Economics when I showed him this post, so look forward to his reply regarding where I made a fool of myself.
Anyway, that’s all. Now back to squatting, sexy Chidori and gar Sousuke.