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Anime Exec Responds To Fansubber Complaints

from the talking-to-your-fans,-what-a-concept dept

You may recall that we recently had a post about executives in the anime industry blaming fansubs for ruining the business (even as we'd also heard others report that it was the interest from fansubs that had created the US market in the first place. The post was based on an editorial piece written by someone within the fansubber community, basically saying that the blame was misplaced and the real problem was that the anime industry wasn't giving fans what they wanted. This is a familiar refrain, of course, heard from fans and customers across the entertainment industry. However, normally, the big copyright firms respond either by ignoring the complaints of fans, or brushing them all off as "pirates." Apparently, that's not true with everyone in the anime industry. Petréa Mitchell writes in to point out that the president of one US anime distributor, Bandai Visual USA, has responded to the complaints on his own blog. He basically says that the company recognizes the complaints and has been thinking about solutions (including simultaneous release of titles in both the US and Japan, rather than waiting a while for the US release). He also notes that they're trying to decrease their prices, but Mitchell notes that Bandai's prices seem quite high, even compared to it competitors. Still, considering that most industry execs seem to completely ignore fan complaints, it's nice to see one (even if in a much smaller industry) take notice and respond.


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(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Sarah, Dec 11th, 2007 @ 4:49pm

    Good to hear someone is looking into solutions

    Because I'm an anime fan but have not been keeping up any of my favorite series because the length of time to get new episodes takes too long and the prices to buy them on DVD is expensive and if you go with the pirated versions with horrible subbing, you really lose interest. My sister has gone so far as to learn to read Japanese but not everyone has the time to do that.

     

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  2.  
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    Hen, Dec 11th, 2007 @ 5:12pm

    Quality is also an issue

    Is it just me or are the fansubs higher quality? Ive had quite a few purchased anime that have enough odd words and poor translations where even after purchasing, I end up grabbing the fansub so im not constantly jarred out of the viewing experience by the oddities.

     

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  3.  
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    Paul, Dec 11th, 2007 @ 5:16pm

    Flip Flop

    Wow the first 2 comments are nearly completely the opposite opinion. One thinks fan subs are horrible and the other thinks they are better than the official subs.

     

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  4.  
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    Hen, Dec 11th, 2007 @ 5:24pm

    Anime Quality

    Maybe it depends on which anime you're grabbing / which language it is fansubbed into. My friend's site http://www.anime-planet.com/ shows that there are a lot more out there than Naruto. I really don't know what channels people go through to grab their fan-subs but there are groups known for higher quality. I know the bad ones and avoid them, but the good groups have been great. Ive watched 80 series and have something like 3 months of anime hours logged haha. /internet cred, but as the owner of quite a few, I find the good groups do outstanding work while the standard US release is plain and poorly done.

    my 2c

     

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  5.  
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    err, Dec 11th, 2007 @ 5:31pm

    Re: Flip Flop

    Flip flopping would require one person to hold both opinions...

     

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  6.  
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    Gunnar, Dec 11th, 2007 @ 5:49pm

    In my experience, which lacks about a year and a half of current anime, fansubs are usually great quality. Though for popular releases, the first release was always an admitted rush job, with the better releases coming out a few days later.

    Some fansubbers clearly do better jobs than others, but the quality of the writing isn't terribly important. You have the actors voice giving you emotion, all you need is the meaning, which all fansubers do better some licensed distributors. With fansubs you get no editing for things Americans wouldn't understand or might find offensive (like taking the cigarettes away from Sanji and Smoker in One Piece).

    I mean, the subbing/dubbing for Crouching Tiger/Hidden Dragon was terrible, what do you expect from anime companies?

     

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  7.  
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    Izzy84075, Dec 11th, 2007 @ 6:24pm

    My opinion

    I, myself, prefer fansubs(Or licensed subs, if available(most of the time I'll watch dubbed DVDs with the Japanese audio and English subtitles(I've gotten good at translating Engrish...), if available)), because of the voices chosen for the dubbed version, the price of buying the DVDs, and the quality of the translations.

    Most of the time, the voices don't fit the character, and many times hurt my ears.

    In my understanding, the authors work together with the animation people to choose voice actors and other stuff for the original Japanese version, so the voices are chosen to fit the author's vision of the character, rather than chosen by someone who has probably only seen/read/listened to a small portion of the series for the English version. I may be wrong on this, but this is my understanding on the way things work, and please correct me if I'm wrong.

    There are a few times where the voices fit(Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu(The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya) comes to mind, although there are occasions where Haruhi's English voice doesn't fit...), but in my experience these are few and far apart.

    And there's also the fact that, if the translating crew doesn't remove it, there is extra lip movement after the English actor is done with the line, so you end up annoying phrases that are repeated over and over again...(Dubbed Naruto, anyone? Yes, I know he has extra stuff in the Japanese version, too, but that's not noticeable to me.)

    As to the price issue, this is because of the fact that I don't have enough money to spend $20-$50+ on a few episodes, and then wait a month or two to buy the next DVD in the series for another $20-$50+. If you multiply this by a few series, it starts to add up extremely quickly. When you're a kid with no job, you tend to look for the cheapest way to do things.

    In my experience with fansubs and licensed DVDs, the translations on good fansubs end up better, because the people who do fansubs are also fans of the series and want to see the translation stay as true to the original as possible.

    Because of these things, I prefer fansubs for their quality, in audio, video(as compared to the original), and translation clarity.


    Keep in mind, this is all my opinion and is in no way the definitive answer.

    -Izzy

     

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  8.  
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    ScaryFast, Dec 11th, 2007 @ 6:38pm

    These subbing groups are so fast that they often easily sub new shows and release them online the same day they air in Japan. Now, if Bandai could come up with an agreement with Japanese studios to let them air shows right away, and then hired those fansub groups, they could have them subbed and playing on the Bandai Anime Network within days of release.

    Of course, some might argue that it would cut into DVD sales down the road, but I don't buy it. Tons of people buy North American TV series on DVD now, and if the prices for these Anime dvd's weren't stupid they would sell a lot more of them as well.

    Hollywood writers are on strike right now because everyone is making money off of DVD sales of TV series except them, so it's obviously doing better than everyone expected.

    Also, some people prefer Dubbed anime, so they could release subbed anime on the Bandai Anime Network and take their time doing dubs and cleaning up the subs for the DVD release. An Anime DVD release with good subs AND dubs? that would be amazing.

     

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  9.  
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    Izzy84075, Dec 11th, 2007 @ 6:49pm

    Re:

    Ah! That's another thing I missed! Speed of release! Why would I wait several months to pay for a lower quality translation when I can go online the day after(or sometimes sooner) and watch a better version for free?

    If they aired subbed anime anywhere on American TV, with good quality subs and fairly quickly after the Japanese airing... Cable, satellite, anywhere... I would pay for it. I don't know how, but I would pay for it, and I would gladly pay for the DVDs of the show if I wanted to go back and watch it again without waiting for reruns.

     

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  10.  
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    B, Dec 11th, 2007 @ 7:21pm

    Man the Keyboard

    Maybe to satisfy the needs of their fans, anime companies could start airing subbed series over the web. Charge a small subscription fee and then release lower-priced DVDs with higher video quality.
    Just a thought - it's not like their audience isn't already on the internet.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 11th, 2007 @ 9:10pm

    CHIBI HUMANS!

     

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  12.  
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    Just Anonymous, Dec 12th, 2007 @ 2:54am

    Re: My opinion

    All valid points.

    I'll be adding one thing though: In my personal experience, every time an anime has been localized and dubbed, there's always been something lost from the original. Plus I've seen a good deal of anime that simply won't make it to the west because of western censors.

    After I got into the habit of watching anime in its original japanese and untouched by wester censors, I found there was some good stuff out there that I'd never see.

    I generally hate almost all dubs with rare but notable exceptions (Azumanga Daio). The only way for me to purchase the anime in the form I want would be to import it from Japan if by some miracle the DVD has english subtitles which they usually don't.

    I can safely say that most of the fansubbed anime I have archived still hasn't had a western release and most of them probably won't anytime soon.

    My two cents.

     

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  13.  
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    mkam, Dec 12th, 2007 @ 4:28am

    fansub vs dub

    fansubbing is better and dubbing anyday. I got hooked on the fansubbed Naruto and Bleach episodes quite a while ago. I tried to watch the US dubbed version and it is terrible. The voices completely change the feeling of the characters even if the translation may be a little better. US actors don't accentuate the same words or syllables and some Japanese words don't have exact translations due to culture or Asian History. Give me a fansub anyday.

     

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  14.  
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    bshock, Dec 12th, 2007 @ 7:40am

    Poor Parasites

    Sounds like tapeworms are complaining that potential hosts prefer to have calories leeched out by exercise.

    I have no sympathy for distribution companies. So they're stupid enough to buy "rights" to distribute content that was given away (or nearly so) in Japan. Why should I have to suffer for their poor business model?

     

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  15.  
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    Eric the Grey, Dec 12th, 2007 @ 3:15pm

    Re: My opinion

    I have to agree with you. My main problem with Anime purchased here in the US is the choice of voice actors.

    I don't dislike any of them, but when you have a character who's 7 or 8 years old, speaking with a voice that belongs on an adult, or older-teen, it just ruins the effect.

    Really, that's my only complaint, as most of the rest, I can overlook, including the price issue. I simply have to pick and choose which Anime I purchase.


    EtG

     

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  16.  
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    Robert The Addled, Dec 12th, 2007 @ 7:26pm

    Fansubbed vs Dubbed

    First - I concur with the above where inappropriate voice actors (adult or teen for a pre-teen characters) are all too common and with the other writer complaining about the distortion of the original themes/concepts when dubbed. Fansubbing (and there are usually multiple subs for each anime series) tend to better translate the cultural idioms - some of the EARLY Anime imports used completely different scripts and plots for the same animation. The Tenchi variations come to mind for that flaw.

    Second IMHO there are at least two MAJOR obstructions to the penetration of legal anime into the US market: Primus is the availability for TV viewing to determine if it is something a viewer would wish to follow up on. Secondus is definately pricing - an example is something I was pricing for an xmas gift - the 1st 20 half hour episodes of Bleach - NOT even a full season by most television standards - The store prices found were in the $60 to $80 range. A typical US TV series of hour long episodes runs a third to half that price and has 20% more episodes.

     

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  17.  
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    Michael Evans, Dec 13th, 2007 @ 6:06am

    Digital Distribution - Patent woes the blame?

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20071126/182202.shtml (Look at comment #41)

    I was late then, and very long, but it boils down to the exact same things said here, and I also point out the biggest obstacle on this. Digital content naturally wants to trend towards a very low cost per unit due to the extreme ease of distribution. Barriers to that are greed from many parties. However the biggest nightmare are the Lawyers and Lobbyists.

    Yes, our nemesis, out of control Patents. Communications standards, the very languages we use to exchange information content, must be developed somehow. Yes, people deserve to eat, but once that has been figured out, and the fixed research cost paid for, the cost of duplicating the idea is practically nothing with modern technology.

    Patents might best be rectified by sourcing their cost of development, and applying a short (maybe 5 year?) time frame on monetary recovery, along with a cap of some multiplier or simple formula over the development cost. Within that 5 years/capped value, any additional 'licenses' would pay back to prior licensees and the innovators based on a pro-rated division of time relative to the remainder of the patent. (That is, whoever literally buys in to using the patent first would get the most back each time the increasingly standard method is used.)

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Neil, Mar 9th, 2009 @ 11:53am

    fan subbing fuels the market

    If it wasnt for fan subbing in the first place there would hardly be a market for Anime in the west. Series like Bleach have become so popular over this way through consumers downloading and watching the fansubs that they have now bought bleach over, if there were no subs then there would not be such a high demand for it. If you have a look at http://www.animeoxide.com/ you will see loads of anime that hasnt made its way to these shores yet but it will only be a matter of time do to the fansubbing.

     

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