Interview With The Fansubber
Page 4

by Zac Bertschy, Mar 11th 2008
That sort of goes back to this – and I wanted to get back to this for a moment – the whole “glory” aspect of it. It appears to me that Bittorrent kind of stole most of that away from the fansubbers doing this.  Because the work is just out there – they don't have to come to you to get it. Is there a sense of resentment toward Bittorrent?

[laughs] Well, there's a sense of resentment, but one, Bittorrent is a lifesaver for distribution. All you need is a DSL connection or a cable modem and you can get a file out. That's great, it's an excellent distribution protocol, but the fact that it's removed the community from where it should be is disheartening.

I mentioned that we're doing one show IRC-only – and we're going to do the entire show this way now – our IRC visitors doubled within one day. And it was great, it was more active than I've seen it in years. And I said we should do all of our releases this way, because it's fun.

There's a hardcore group of people that's always around but you do miss the numbers, the people thanking you for your work. You see 10,000 people have downloaded your show and you only hear from maybe 10 of them. That's no fun.

Winding down, I wanted to get your take on some general trends as a fansubber today. What's your take on the state of anime fandom in 2008?

I would say… more people appear to be watching anime than ever before, more people go to anime conventions than ever before.  And I've been around a while, so maybe it's just because of that, but people these days seem a little more spoiled. They're not really in to the fandom… take Otakon. There will be more people, but they're not really hardcore. It's become more mainstream and that's just the way it goes.
We're strong in numbers, but the heart of it is weak. The fact that fewer people are buying DVDs is disheartening; they're hardcore enough to go online and figure out how to download it but not buy a DVD.

Well, but wouldn't you say that Bittorrent has made it so simple that the notion that you have to be a hardcore fan or know anything about computers to download anime – or that the people downloading anime are anything more than your average kids - is kind of moot?

I don't know the numbers but if you take a any given title, it's probably getting just as many views on streaming sites these days as it's getting on Bittorrent, which are even more idiot proof.

The bulk of our fansub viewers don't know how to use IRC. That bugs me. It's just a new generation of people. It's fine as long as they evolve and grow up but I don't see that they're going to need to.

One last thing – do you have a message for the fans, the fansubbers, and the industry?

One, to the fans, and this is something I've been saying this since day one, ten years ago when I started doing this, is that if you don't buy anime, there will be no anime to buy. At the end of the day you need to support the industry, if you like a show, buy the DVD.
To the fansubbers, I would say at this juncture, please don't subtitle licensed anime. It gives us all a bad name. It's one thing to subtitle a show that isn't licensed, but it's another to keep going when it's coming out in America.

To the industry, guys, it's time to adapt. It's time to adopt a business model that will stop fansubbing. Fansubbing isn't going to stop no matter what anyone does unless you make it obsolete. The only way you can do it is to close the time gap, because that's the only reason fansubs exist for popular shows.

I would add that there is good that can come out of the fansub community and the fansubbing process, and to an objective mind, it's easy to see.
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