Forum - View topic
Answerman - What Were VHS Fansubs Like?


Goto page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7  Next

Note: this is the discussion thread for this article

Anime News Network Forum Index -> Site-related -> Talkback
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message
CatSword



Joined: 01 Jul 2014
Posts: 355
PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 12:16 pm Reply with quote
Really fascinating read. People were really willing to put in a lot of effort for fansubs back then, even losing money in the process. Now any schmoe can download Aegisub.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
revolutionotaku



Joined: 19 May 2011
Posts: 622
PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 12:33 pm Reply with quote
Did anime fandom in America begin with the underground bootleg fansubs?
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
MarshalBanana



Joined: 31 Aug 2014
Posts: 1645
PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 12:45 pm Reply with quote
In years to come you will have to answer, "What was fansubbing like?" Because I'm sure Simulcasting is going to kill it one day.

So what sort of shows were big back then? I assume so shows that were later dubbed most of been popular.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message My Anime My Manga
samuelp



Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 1914
Location: Tokyo, Japan
PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 12:47 pm Reply with quote
revolutionotaku wrote:
Did anime fandom in America begin with the underground bootleg fansubs?


No, I think it's more accurate to say that the anime fandom created bootleg fansubs.

The original "anime fans" were college clubs who watched UNSUBBED VHS copies of shows brought over from Japan, and then at some point these clubs tried subtitling themselves for their own clubs and then different clubs started sharing copies to each other (to get a wider variety of things to watch) and it all exploded from there.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
mgosdin



Joined: 17 Jul 2011
Posts: 1066
Location: Kissimmee, Florida, USA
PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 12:58 pm Reply with quote
We had one of the character generators in the mid 70's at the School District's TV station. It was a challenge to get it to work correctly even with the fairly good studio equipment that we had.

In the 90's I remember one of the Mom & Pop Video Stores had fan subbed tapes to rent to the local Junior College crowd. Yep, it was a long time ago.

Mark Gosdin
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
NeoStrayCat



Joined: 14 Sep 2011
Posts: 371
PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 1:04 pm Reply with quote
Man, the wonderful world of fansubbers back in the day, lol. Now times have changed, surprisingly.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Lord Geo



Joined: 18 Sep 2005
Posts: 1349
PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 1:13 pm Reply with quote
I got into anime during the "digisub" era of fandom, but I've heard & read a bit about the VHS days. In fact, I once found & bought a VHS fansub for B't X at a (pretty terrible) retro game store over a decade ago, but didn't really give it a watch until a couple of months ago, when I recorded it to DVD for posterity.

And, really, that's probably the most depressing thing about the VHS fansub days: Most of it is apparently lost to time. I actually came across a digital "rip" of an old VHS fansub for the first few episodes of the 2nd season of Virtua Fighter (the part of the show Media Blasters never released), but all it really was was someone filming their CRT TV as they played the VHS fansub on it. Until then, I had no idea that Virtua Fighter Season 2 had ever been translated into English at all, let alone was a VHS fansub. I've also heard that the Fuma no Kojirou OVAs were translated during the VHS fansub days, yet almost no one will ever be able to see them now, unless they were to get ripped digitally one day (but if it didn't happen already, I doubt it will ever happen).

This is simply from the perspective of some old & forgotten fansubs now being "lost", but it can really apply to just the overall idea that anime fandom essentially keeps moving forward, but with little to no effort & foresight to try to preserve what came before it. I get that the idea of preserving what's essentially illegal activity might sound odd, but as someone who likes history I enjoy articles like this (or over at the Let's Anime blog, for example) that go over what it was like back in the day, & what came from it, and I don't think there's all too much out there now about it.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
John Thacker



Joined: 28 Oct 2013
Posts: 427
PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 1:36 pm Reply with quote
samuelp wrote:
revolutionotaku wrote:
Did anime fandom in America begin with the underground bootleg fansubs?


No, I think it's more accurate to say that the anime fandom created bootleg fansubs.

The original "anime fans" were college clubs who watched UNSUBBED VHS copies of shows brought over from Japan,


Sometimes with printed out translated scripts to follow along with while watching, before the technology (genlocks, etc.) mentioned in the article became available for fansubs to be common.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
ParkerALx



Joined: 09 Apr 2014
Posts: 185
PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 1:45 pm Reply with quote
I don't know how common this was, but Anime Labs, famous for its profanity-filled Dragon Ball Z fansubs, would call out and insult its competitors in the episode credits.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Zalis116
Moderator


Joined: 31 Mar 2005
Posts: 6134
Location: Kazune City
PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 2:01 pm Reply with quote
You can still see relics of the VHS fansubbing era if you download certain series from the 80s and 90s that never got licensed for official distribution, and never got revisited and re-released by modern/digital fansubbing groups. People still wish those Kodocha Translation Project VHS subs had been digitized though, as the only version of the second half of the series out there is an HK bootleg DVD-rip. And curiously, it seems that people were surprisingly okay with yellow subtitles back then, even though many call them "eyecancer" when they encounter them today. Either there's been a really rapid evolutionary shift in the human eye over the last 20 years, or the worst subtitle colors are whatever official subs happen to use.

I recall hearing that the development of digital fansubbing was regarded as a positive in the anti-bootlegging front, as the mass-duplication/mailing VHS distributors were looking a little too profitable for comfort. There were even VHS distributors copying digital fansubs to tapes, at least as late as 2003. I should know Embarassed

revolutionotaku wrote:
Did anime fandom in America begin with the underground bootleg fansubs?
I would say no. There were anime being broadcast on US TV as early as the 60s and 70s, like Astro Boy, Kimba the White Lion, Speed Racer, Space Battleship Yamato, and Gatchaman -- before VHS was even a thing. Even during the 80s and 90s, shows like Robotech, Voltron, Dragonball Z, Sailor Moon, and Pokemon reached a lot more people on TV than underground tape-trading ever did


Last edited by Zalis116 on Fri Apr 21, 2017 2:34 pm; edited 1 time in total
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message My Anime My Manga
Mr. sickVisionz



Joined: 28 Oct 2007
Posts: 1758
PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 2:05 pm Reply with quote
Were they doing all of this for fun or was there some hope of and we'll sell the copies we make or something like that? The raw equipment required would make this a pretty pricey hobby to get into and there's a physical product with cost attached for every copy you want to give out.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
John Thacker



Joined: 28 Oct 2013
Posts: 427
PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 2:21 pm Reply with quote
Mr. sickVisionz wrote:
Were they doing all of this for fun or was there some hope of and we'll sell the copies we make or something like that?


Generally for fun, though there were exceptions. There was an intense spirit of amateurism to it, and people who considered themselves "legit" fansubbers like Kodocha stressed (as mentioned in the article) that the tapes were not intended for sale or rent, but maybe a small amount of money for expenses. ("Expenses" here meant the cost of tapes and postage; people just ate the cost of the equipment as the cost of being a fan, only earning some fame in the process.) "Bootleggers" were looked upon with disdain by the "real fansubbers" for attempting to make a profit almost as much as for continuing to circulate tapes of licensed shows. Many people also went as far as pledging to buy legitimate copies of shows that they had on fansub (though fansubbers themselves had often imported Japanese LDs; even for shows that they started out subbing with broadcast TV source, as they would often remaster the tapes based on LD source.)

It was a mix of both the amateur spirit and a very real fear that while Japanese companies and US licensors would generally turn a blind eye to fansubbers who followed ethics (similar to doujinshi ethics; note that doujinshi are only questionably legal in Japan, but copyright infringement has to be brought by the copyright owner as an offense), but might crack down on the whole scene instead of just bootleggers if bootleggers became too prominent.

As noted in the article, the time-consuming nature of getting fansubs as well as their tendency to degrade over time and with every generation of copying (even SVHS) made them feel different than the digisubs of the present with their pristine copies and rapid and easy delivery over torrents. With nearly everything available in a licensed, legal format these days, a lot of former VHS fansub aficionados (me included) haven't even watched fansubs at all in the last few years.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Dop.L



Joined: 23 Mar 2007
Posts: 527
Location: London
PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 2:24 pm Reply with quote
John Thacker wrote:
samuelp wrote:
revolutionotaku wrote:
Did anime fandom in America begin with the underground bootleg fansubs?


No, I think it's more accurate to say that the anime fandom created bootleg fansubs.

The original "anime fans" were college clubs who watched UNSUBBED VHS copies of shows brought over from Japan,


Sometimes with printed out translated scripts to follow along with while watching, before the technology (genlocks, etc.) mentioned in the article became available for fansubs to be common.


First time I encountered anime was a small science fiction con in the 80s where someone had an n'th generation VHS, and duplicated copies of a transcript we were expected to read along to find out what people were saying. Wonder I wasn't put off for life, really!
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
R. Kasahara



Joined: 19 Feb 2013
Posts: 66
PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 2:25 pm Reply with quote
Great answer (and question!). I knew about some of that stuff, but it's really nice to get a more fleshed-out overview of that era.

I was one of those people who would buy fansub copies from certain unscrupulous stores >_>; One of these series was FLCL, and I'm pretty sure the group that released it used the subtitles already on the Japanese DVDs which had them. I was never able to compare the two, but it makes sense to do it that way. Later on, the one fansub-selling store which I still visited every once in awhile had largely moved on to Chinese bootleg DVDs. I've since learnt better, thankfully. IIRC, the only tape I still have left from that era is A.LI.CE, which I was never able to get an official copy of.

I also remember fansub websites. There were some groups that still apparently did tape trading in the early '00s (can't be sure, though; I only ever browsed those sites). One thing I remember was seeing listings for Marmalade Boy and being baffled by how long of a series it was. It also seemed to be on every such site. When Tokyopop licensed the manga, I picked up the first issue because of the curiosity that was ingrained in me by all those fansub listings. Turned out it wasn't my thing. I wonder if that license acquisition would've been considered at all without fansubs, but that's probably true for a lot of series.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
grooven



Joined: 16 Aug 2006
Posts: 1157
Location: Canada
PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 2:29 pm Reply with quote
Yep this post made me feel old Anime hyper. I never really thought about how much work was put into these things! Crazy.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Display posts from previous:   
Reply to topic    Anime News Network Forum Index -> Site-related -> Talkback All times are GMT - 5 Hours
Goto page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7  Next
Page 1 of 7

 


Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2005 phpBB Group