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Chicks On Anime
Fansubs (Pt 1 - page 2)

by B. Dong, C. Brienza, S. Pocock,
getfresh: I for one love AnimEigo. They have really done a good job and have attempted to bring the fans what they want. The main issue is they are hitting many roadblocks on just what they can or cannot do, due to old licenses and such.
Bamboo: I hear you on AnimEigo. I love the shows they release. I love Yawara, and I'm not ashamed to say that the first time I watched it was on old VHS fansub tapes. I feel like the market is different now. The hardcore fans are getting older now. The fansub-consuming generation isn't the same generation that ever bought AnimEigo releases.

Casey, you mentioned something to me earlier about how the general "interest" in anime is going down. Can you expand on that?

Casey: As you may or may not know, Google's got this fascinating public service called "Google Trends," where you see relative map search volume data over time. Since about 2005, global search volume on the word "anime" has been declining. It's the same if you confine the search data just to the United States. I honestly don't know enough about anime fandom to purpose a hypothesis as to why this is happening.
Bamboo: Do you think it's declining because people don't care anymore? Or because everyone already knows what it is? I mean, why search for "anime" when you can Google "Fullmetal Alchemist?"
Casey: Well, Bamboo, I have absolutely no evidence to suggest any conclusions about why this seems to be happening. Assuming Google is right. But I can't help but wonder if that naturalization thing I mentioned earlier isn't already happening. That Fullmetal Alchemist, say, has ceased to be a foreign category and just a show on its own terms.
Sara: I don't know how naturalized anime can really be. Part of its appeal is its "otherness." And plenty of anime-haters out there will give you a list of 100 reasons why anime is inferior to American animation and other media. A lot of people still have the knee-jerk reaction to typical anime character design.
Bamboo: That, and who searches for "anime" besides parents? People already know what anime is. It's like Googling "food" instead of a particular dish.
Casey: Well, the food metaphor is telling. Everybody eats, but not everybody's a foodie. Perhaps now everybody's watching anime, and there are only a relative handful of "anime fans."
Bamboo: getfresh, from a fansubber's perspective, do you feel like your consumer demographic has changed? I know you mostly do older shows, but are your requests changing? Are you getting younger fans asking for newer stuff?
getfresh: The market is getting older. That is actually a good thing since let's face it. Younger fans are more likely to pirate DVDs where as older fans are more likely to buy them.
Sara: I have the heart and soul of a collector, so I'll always be prone to buying physical DVD and Blu-ray (and future format) releases. I'm actually harboring a little bit of fear that this new All-anime-All-the-time-All-online will leave media disk collectors like myself out in the cold.
getfresh: The reason I do older shows is because I want to mainly sub what I like and I do not personally care what the majority of the fanbase wants to see. Honestly, they are rude for the most part. Why I sub a new show is mostly out of the joy of subbing in general, and also because I have to play a game of sorts to get my shows done. If a translator wants to do a show, and I help them on it, perhaps they will be more open to help me on my older projects. For instance I have been begging translators for months to do Dr. Slump, to no avail mind you. But I still have hope!
Casey: How can the market getting older be a good thing over the long run? In the long run, we're all dead, and if you can't attract fresh blood, you won't have a market forever.
getfresh: Casey, older fans are "collectors." Just like with comics and such.
Casey: That doesn't answer my question, getfresh. What happens if you don't ever have any new blood? The American comics industry and the horrors associated with it are not something anime wants to emulate.
Bamboo: I find it hard to dislike fansubbers when chaps like you are around. But the fact of the matter is, we're not representative of the current fansub-consuming "market." The current consumers don't want Macross: DYRL. They don't want Dr. Slump. They want the newest season of Naruto, or the next big loli show. Shows that are going to be released in half a year anyway.
getfresh: Thanks, and I agree. The newer generation of fansubbers have forgotten the whole "purpose" of fansubbing and it has become a way to get fame online. Hopefully as they get older they will put aside this glory factor, but in the end it is their life and I do not want to overly tread on it.
Sara: Casey, I'm not sure how fansubbing fits into getting new blood into fandom. It seems to me more like catering to existing fandom. And, in getfresh's case, catering to old-school fandom.
Casey: Isn't that a contradiction? You just said older fans are more likely to buy DVDs and younger fans are more likely to pirate.
Bamboo: How is that a contradiction? Younger fans can't even afford DVDs. They don't have jobs.
Casey: It seems like a contradiction to me. I'm losing track of who said what, so bear with me. Fansubs cater to existing fans, but it's the younger generation that pirates the most avidly. If the latter is true, then actually fansubs are being consumed more by younger fans.
getfresh: It is fairly grey. It depends on the group and what they primarily subtitle. A group like mine for instance has a very small fanbase, and that fanbase mostly consists of fansubbers.
Bamboo: Fansubs cater to people who are already anime fans—who may or may not be young. However, you're not going to get any fresh mainstream viewers—those who watch anime casually on Cartoon Network. Likewise, kids who watch anime on TV and ask their parents to buy them DVDs for Christmas. I think there's a difference between young viewers who pirate and young viewers who are just getting into anime via TV and the internet.
getfresh: The world turns and things change. Perhaps my time has come and gone and I missed the boat, but I do hope that it will return to true fans enjoying anime for the fact that they are reflecting on their childhood. I personally remember "Robotech" airing on TV in the early 1980's, that is how I feel when I watch anime. It is a reliving of my childhood, and that is how many of my personal friends see it.
Sara: If Macross: DYRL was released on DVD here, I'd buy it in a second. I guess getfresh fits into a fansub category I'm more comfortable with. One that coincides with supporting artists and celebrating the work.
Bamboo: On the opposite side of the DYRL fence, though, I'd argue that if you really liked the show, you could just buy the R2 releases. Or if you want it in English, you can get the UK release.
Sara: I agree with you, Bamboo, to an extent. I have Mind Game on R2, after all.
Bamboo: Question for you, getfresh. Suppose an analogous site like Crunchyroll started streaming old, classic anime for free. Would you stop fansubbing?
getfresh: Yes, once they do it to a point where I am satisfied. But remember, most of the older content becomes noticed because of fansubbers creating a fanbase. CR will not be truly successful unless they add a hardcopy format for these shows. Older anime fans generally run clubs and use projectors. This means they need to have a hardcopy format.
Sara: Fansubs of new Naruto episodes, for sure. But what 14-year-old is looking for Dr. Slump and Heidi? In a broader sense, I can't speak for everyone, but my introduction to anime was through U.S. distribution means, not through fansubs. Those are something I discovered after the fact.

Stay tuned for the conclusion of the conversation next week.

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