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subCulture - Winter Anime Slump

by Zac Bertschy,
Well, it looks like winter is upon us. Traditionally, winter is the season when fansub activities in general slow to a halt. Most people running fansub operations are college or high school students, so somewhere around 90 percent of VHS fansub distribution sites shut down for a few weeks. Heck, even Kodocha Anime, the most respected fansub site on the 'net, hasn't updated since the 10th of this month. This year, though, things have changed, and what we should really be concerned about is the digital fansubbing front. Will it follow the same seasonal trends as the VHS fansub community? Or will it prove to be a year-round ordeal? So far, it seems to be following VHS's lead to an extent. Most “official” digital fansubbing pages haven't updated in at least 3 weeks. Otaku no Anime Digital and AnimeFactory have both been very quiet; I wonder if they're simply waiting for these shows to get picked up, or they've succumbed to the Winter fansub curse like the others? For those of you who still have free time come November, the hotbeds of digital fansubbing – IRC and Usenet – are still overflowing with activity. The first episodes of the new series by the creators of Serial Experiments Lain, NIEA_7, were posted within the last few days to alt.binaries.multimedia.anime. Since this series hasn't been picked up, this is surely an event for any Lain fan, although I've heard the show differs greatly from it's predecessor.

Meanwhile, Love Hina continues to spread across the Internet, skyrocketing in popularity and quickly becoming the most-requested series. The key factor here is that every episode of Love Hina is available subtitled. With most digital fansubs, you're lucky if you can even get 4 episodes in sequential order; things tend to be scattered and difficult to find. Since there's so much Love Hina available, newbies to the scene can easily go about collecting the show without much difficulty. It also happens to be an excellent show; this one looks like a shoo-in for ADV Films, and it comes as a surprise to me that they haven't announced it yet. Also on the horizon are subtitled versions of the Mamotte Shugogetten OVA series that made its debut back in September. OVA series are amazingly expensive, so it's easy to understand why it's taken so long to release this series. Vandread, more Inu-Yasha, and Kazemakaze Tsukigake Ran are all seeing subtitled releases this month, continuing the trend of subtitling things directly off television and spreading them around the 'net. In all, it looks like Digital fansubbing is alive and well, brimming with activity even in this traditionally slow season. Perhaps this will be the final winter for VHS fansubbing. It'll be very interesting to see if spring resurrects the format or sees its inevitable death.

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