Why Does The Movie Industry Shut Down Fansub Sites?

from the it-makes-no-sense dept

In the anime world, while there have been occasional clashes, it seems that many anime creators have learned that "fansubs," videos where fans translate the content into other languages and provide the subtitles, are a great way to learn what other markets want. Yet, it seems like other parts of the movie industry are having a lot of trouble understanding this, as recent efforts around the globe have forced the closure of a number of fansub sites -- even ones that don't provide the actual movies to download at all, just the subtitles. Yet movie studios an the courts are ruling that just creating translated subtitles is infringing. In one case, it appears that a site was shut down just for linking to such an "unauthorized subtitles." These are fans trying to help build up a bigger audience for a movie, where the movie studios have failed to provide the product. They're helping the movie gain a bigger following. The studios should be thanking these people for providing free labor. And, instead, they're dragging them into court, shutting down their sites and demanding compensation. The world is a mixed up place sometimes.


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  1.  
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    Weird Harold, Mar 5th, 2009 @ 3:39pm

    Perhaps the movie studios intend to release the movie in the future in that market? Perhaps they already have, but rather with voice overs instead of subtitling. If the movie gets too much into the marketplace ahead of time, the box office or DVD sales of real copies would likely suffer, or potentially licensing fees to a local distributor would be lower.

    Anime creators are tolerant of this mostly because in the past, they have had little or no hope of getting into those markets. Until a very short time ago, Anime had absolutely no distribution in North America, beyond asian bookstores. It's only recently that they have begun to distribute books and movies on a more commercial level. The real key is that those products are often entirely translated into english.

    The link you provide is US movies sub titled into Hebrew. That is a very different thing from a small market anime company in Japan getting free access to the huge US market. The entire market in Israel is very small, so subtitling and free distribution could in fact kill a movies entire market.

     

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    Kyros, Mar 5th, 2009 @ 4:33pm

    Anime Fansubs are better

    I've been an Anime lover for a longtime. I've been in many situations where I've had a choice between the official translation of a series or a fansub - and I've always chosen the fansub. It is in my experience that the fansubs are a better translation, that provide much more of the deep side storylines of a series, as opposed to crappy american translations which would make one think we're a bunch of retarded 5th graders.

    Fansubs are better then studio translations in many cases. The movie studios would do best to HIRE the people doing fansubs.

     

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    NullOp, Mar 5th, 2009 @ 4:46pm

    FanSubs

    Fansub sites are great! BUT, movie studios are of the mind that the content is their 'sandbox' and only they are going to play in it. It also translates into an ego trip for the companies involved. WE provide the OFFICIAL version that contains EVERYTHING it should. Sort of a God thingy...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2009 @ 4:47pm

    One show can sum up my view of the corporate translation efforts: One Piece.

    They ripped out the beautiful score, tossed out subplots, and added in new ones that barely make sense. The fansubbed original doesn't do any of that - it stays true to the original. This isn't just about getting something for free - most of the fans I know would gladly buy a DVD of their favorite sub instead of the (badly mangled) official version.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2009 @ 4:58pm

    Re:

    Yeah, I watched an official version of naruto once and it made me cry

     

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    some old guy, Mar 5th, 2009 @ 5:02pm

    Re: Re:

    neither one piece nor naruto ever really made any sense to me... Maybe I should check into these fansubs...

     

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    Scott Atkinson, Mar 5th, 2009 @ 5:31pm

    you're right, it's insane

    Shutting down fansub sites is, as you point out, dirt stupid.

    But I think there may be something even deeper at work here than just the usual sloth, greed and avarice - I think part of it may be the same angry impulse some writers have when fans extend their stories.

    s.

     

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    Kaitishiara, Mar 5th, 2009 @ 5:31pm

    ...wow.. they really are doing a number on themselves... I have heard about this though when it comes to watching the anime Soul Eater... I think it was 4kids ( oh god.. D: ) That was going after fan subbers... and.. as I've heard they got the rights so that they can make the english dubbed eps.. but.. knowing 4kids.. they will screw it up.. so badly.. D: fansubs > english version

     

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    icepick314, Mar 5th, 2009 @ 6:36pm

    Re: Anime Fansubs are better

    "It is in my experience that the fansubs are a better translation, that provide much more of the deep side storylines of a series, as opposed to crappy american translations which would make one think we're a bunch of retarded 5th graders."

    I've heard THIS excuse for soooo many years it's not even funny anymore...

    Fansubs are from people who does the translation for hobby. For most part yes they understand the words but not the language. Japanese has so many subtle meanings and other cultural differences that are hard to translate unless you've experienced them yourself. The translators from studios done years of study AND lived in Japan for this kind of work.

    If the translators of fansubs are THAT good, why aren't they working for companies to translate and make money instead?!?!

    That whole "fansubs are better than commercial releases" are just excuses for people who doesn't want to support the industry by taking the free route instead of paying for the DVDs or whatever media it's out there.

    If you actually love watching anime, do buy few DVDs and blu-ray out there once in awhile. Stop being a cheap ass and make that same excuses over and over.

     

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    PaulB, Mar 5th, 2009 @ 7:08pm

    icepick is wrong

    "It is in my experience that the fansubs are a better translation, that provide much more of the deep side storylines of a series, as opposed to crappy american translations which would make one think we're a bunch of retarded 5th graders."

    I couldnt agree more

    Example- ong bak, offical english subtitles give very little, fan made subtitles more in depth

    Another great thing about fan made subtitles are you can always find subtitles. Some movies have small non english speaking parts, and offical subtitles aren't available, probably because it wasn't extremely important what the non english speakers said. But instead of always scratching my head wondering wtf was just said, you can just look up subtitles.

     

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    LS, Mar 5th, 2009 @ 7:30pm

    Re: Re: Anime Fansubs are better

    "That whole "fansubs are better than commercial releases" are just excuses for people who doesn't want to support the industry by taking the free route instead of paying for the DVDs or whatever media it's out there.

    If you actually love watching anime, do buy few DVDs and blu-ray out there once in awhile. Stop being a cheap ass and make that same excuses over and over."

    Do you realize that animes are showed in Japan before they become DVDs, right? And it probably takes a year or two to add translations for the foreign markets. Fansub is a solution to this long wait. It may not be perfect, but it's good enough.

    "Fansubs are from people who does the translation for hobby. For most part yes they understand the words but not the language. Japanese has so many subtle meanings and other cultural differences that are hard to translate unless you've experienced them yourself. The translators from studios done years of study AND lived in Japan for this kind of work."

    You don't know how competitive fansubbing actually is. If an anime is very popular, there could be about four fansub groups working on it at the same time. It can get competitive.

    Also, how do you think these fansubs obtain anime episodes before they are released into DVDs anyway? That's because they have supporters in Japan who record the shows for them. And they probably have some Japanese translators helping them as well. I don't think you have even watch a single fansubbed anime to say this.

    "If the translators of fansubs are THAT good, why aren't they working for companies to translate and make money instead?!?!"

    Not everyone works for money. In fact, those who work with financial interest are generally less competitive than those who with their passion.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2009 @ 7:35pm

    Not being much of an anime fan beyond a few programmes which had fansubs, I can't really comment on the quality of them. In my experience, crappy English dubs are a hundred times worse.

    I remember watching Kiki's Delivery Service when I was a kid and loving it, so when the DVD came out I immediately went and bought it. First off, I went and bought it in America, and as such it wouldn't work on my usual DVD player when I brought it back home to the UK. It worked on the dodgy Chinese DVD player I had, though, so that was okay. The updated English version made me want to cry. I imagine the producers thinking,

    "So this film has a talking cat, but it doesn't talk enough. Let's make it spew an endless stream of bullshit that is not relevant to anything else happening in the film."

    The extra speech is painfully obvious even to a child because nobody ever responds to the cat's babblings. Thankfully, the DVD had the option of listening to the original Japanese audio with passable subtitles.

     

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    hegemon13, Mar 5th, 2009 @ 7:37pm

    Re:

    If the movie gets into the marketplace ahead of time, it will almost certainly have dramatically increased sales. Let's face it, the market for subtitled movies/shows is a niche market. But, the fans of such material tend to be pretty rabid, loyal fans, which is evident from the ability to sell three-episode anime discs for $30. When the official disc is released with professional subs or dubs, the fans flock to it to get the best experience and see the movie/show as it is intended to be seen.

    The fact is, statistically, anime shows with heavy interest in fansubs are those that sell the most. The fansub sites provide a priceless service by showing the studios where the market is and generating a fanbase prior to release.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2009 @ 8:49pm

    cause they are clueless losers!

     

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    yogi, Mar 5th, 2009 @ 9:39pm

    Fansub=better translation

    "If the translators of fansubs are THAT good, why aren't they working for companies to translate and make money instead?!?!"

    Because the companies are paying peanuts for the subtitling translations which is why the subtitles of the official DVDs , at least in Hebrew, are so bad. Many times they miss parts of the text or important points.

    That's one reason why fansubs are important and popular.

     

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    Rekrul, Mar 5th, 2009 @ 10:10pm

    Re:

    "Perhaps the movie studios intend to release the movie in the future in that market?"

    The problem is that the studios and networks can take literally YEARS to release an official DVD, if they release one at all. There's no guarantee that any given movie or show will ever be released in your country.

    They don't just plan a world-wide release, they release it in a few markets and sit back to see how well it sells. If it does well, they'll translate it for more parts of the world. If it sells poorly, any plans for additional translations get flushed down the toilet.

    "Perhaps they already have, but rather with voice overs instead of subtitling."

    I know there are people who hate subtitles and who prefer to watch dubbed versions, no matter how badly done they are (my friend is like that), but there are also some people who dislike badly dubbed movies and shows.

    I haven't watched a ton of Anime, but I can't help noticing that in virtually every dubbed one that I've seen, there's always at least one character who talks a mile-a-minute, running all their sentences together like they're in a speed-talking contest. Then there's what I like to call the grunter. Usually a male character who basically grunts before almost every line of dialog. It's sort of a gutteral "Ooh" that sounds kind of like a cough, as in "Ooh, they're coming!" or "Ooh, we have to get there first!" This is more common in live-action films, but it happens in Anime occasionally too.

     

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  17.  
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    Azrael, Mar 6th, 2009 @ 12:26am

    Re:

    Here i Romania less than 10% of the movies released in US get on the local screens (usually just the blockbusters) and less than one in five of them get a DVD release. My mother has last seen one of her favorite mushy movies without a fansub 10(ten) years ago.
    It's either pirated movies with fansubs or nothing at all.

     

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  18.  
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    R. Miles, Mar 6th, 2009 @ 4:30am

    America is destroying its own Anime market.

    They're helping the movie gain a bigger following. The studios should be thanking these people for providing free labor.
    100% agreed. I wish anime distributors would read this blog, because I'm about to say something that will shock the hell out of them.

    If it wasn't for fansub sites, I wouldn't own the many DVDs I PURCHASED.

    Bandai, ADV, FUNimation, Sunrise, and others: Read that bolded line again, you twits.

    I can't think why American distributors think just because there's a cute anime girl on the box art, we're going to be suckers in purchasing the product. Screw that! I'm not going to shell out $50+ dollars for a show I know nothing about.

    Enter the fansub sites. Here, not only do I get to review the show, but I also get community feedback to determine if the show is good or not.

    Weird Harold: This is another example against your defense free doesn't work, you idiot.

    There's also the other advantage to fansub sites:
    Translation. Done much better. Yes, there are a few times it's bad, but I'll take fansub translation over studio translation any day.

    Studios actually rescript the entire show! When they do this, they swap out Japanese culture references for American culture references, which takes away much of the entire scene setup! Granted, Americans unfamiliar with Japanese culture won't get it, but why punish us that do?

    I buy the DVDs to contribute my portion to the studios who produce them because there are no direct-buy places. This means for every $50 I spend, the Japanese production studio probably gets $10. WHAT A DAMN SHAME.

    On a personal note (pay attention Harold): I purchased the season collection of "The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya" (great show, btw) and was watching the extras. I was fucking shocked to see Bandai tell its fans that fansub sites were bad because it takes away from the studios producing the work.
    What a crock of shit. If anything, it takes away from lining Bandai's pockets, especially when that entire $50 isn't given to the studios. Such assholes!
    I want my $50 back for this propaganda bullshit statement insertion, Bandai.

    Weird Harold: Since you've opened your big mouth again, here's your chance to educate yourself.
    "Shakugan no Shana" is a fantastic anime series. There's now a second series. It's your job to watch just how long it's going to take this show to hit the US when the entire second season is now available online at many fansub sites.

    Your second task is to educate yourself on the distributor "Geneon". Do it.

    Until you do this, please shut the hell up. After your education, I think you'll understand why anime fans are upset at US distributors and seek to fill a need by viewing fansub sites.

    This entire fansub debate is over American greed by capitalizing on a market starving for shows.

    I just wish there were other options for me to pay the studios directly, especially after the shit Bandai pulled.

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 6th, 2009 @ 5:00am

    Re:

    Until a very short time ago, Anime had absolutely no distribution in North America, beyond asian bookstores.

    What do you think precipitated the change? Is it possible that the free anime and manga out there has created a market?

    Are you admitting that Japan (typically nationalistic) has expanded its markets because of piracy?

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 6th, 2009 @ 7:00am

    Re: Re: Re: Anime Fansubs are better

    "Do you realize that animes are showed in Japan before they become DVDs, right? And it probably takes a year or two to add translations for the foreign markets. Fansub is a solution to this long wait. It may not be perfect, but it's good enough."

    I watch fansubs too but when it's released on DVD in US and I like the series, I buy them. I didn't say don't watch fansub anime. Support the industry by buying DVD.

    "Also, how do you think these fansubs obtain anime episodes before they are released into DVDs anyway? That's because they have supporters in Japan who record the shows for them. And they probably have some Japanese translators helping them as well. I don't think you have even watch a single fansubbed anime to say this."

    http://www.japanator.com//elephant/post.phtml?pk=8421

    Again...I personally prefer paid translators who does translating for work than hobby.

    "Not everyone works for money. In fact, those who work with financial interest are generally less competitive than those who with their passion."

    Uhhmmm...because you get paid and might get fired, people are less competitive?

    Anime fans in Japan do buy DVDs and blu-ray too. Just because they air on TV for free, well...some are not free because certain series only come on cable or satellite channels, they do buy DVDs and blu-ray. They also support the industry by purchasing related merchandises.

    Anime fans in foreign countries are exception because fansubs are sometimes the only way to watch certain series. However I don't buy any excuse when DVDs are released and they still spew that "fansubs are superior" crap. Again it's just non-sense way to say that they don't want to spend money to money. If no one pays for anything, then nothing gets made, unless you're living in Star Trek universe where money doesn't exist.

    This arguement has been going on and on for years but truth of the matter is, people want everything for free and think stuffs are made out of thin air.

     

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  21.  
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    R. Miles, Mar 6th, 2009 @ 7:30am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Anime Fansubs are better

    Again it's just non-sense way to say that they don't want to spend money to money.
    No, you're missing the point about the popularity of fansub sites.

    It isn't about getting stuff for free. It's about enjoying the anime in the way it's supposed to be.

    When I buy the DVDs, I feel shorted my money because the version I watched on a fansub site IS better than the DVD version.

    Doesn't mean I won't buy them, of course, but there are people out there who would rather pay the studio than the distributor who goes out of their way to screw up the show.

    If distributors can't get this, then the loss of profits is their problem because they're not supplying the value consumers demand for the price the distributor is charging.

     

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  22.  
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    R. Miles, Mar 6th, 2009 @ 7:33am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Maybe I should check into these fansubs...
    Be careful doing this. You'll end up like me wishing the fansub sites offered the DVDs instead of current distributors.
    ;)

     

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  23.  
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    bshock, Mar 6th, 2009 @ 8:30am

    uh oh

    I learned Japanese so that I could watch Japanese films without subtitles. Does mean my brain is infringing? What if they try to shut down my brain?

     

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  24.  
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    Kirk, Mar 6th, 2009 @ 9:06am

    Hey Distributors

    Dear foreign film distributors:

    Your “Cease and Desist” letters should be made into “Increase and Persist” letters. Some hard feelings might linger, but I’m betting you wouldn’t have much trouble getting permission to include Fansubs in your DVD releases. Now THAT’s adding value, and no one is pissed off. You could put EVERY Fansub, from a variety of languages on there. No more remastering for each market, since Anime fans want the authentic experience anyway. Aren’t you tired of trying to make your releases more American or “better” and failing? Miserably?
    Of course, by your reckoning, the work these sites produce is your property anyway.

     

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  25.  
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    CrushU, Mar 6th, 2009 @ 9:43am

    Ahem

    Believe It!!

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 9th, 2009 @ 1:11pm

    Re: Re: Anime Fansubs are better

    I watch both fansubs and the professionally done Subs/Dubs and with few exceptions the fansub is a lot more accurate and faithful translation. I understand japanese language and culture enough that I rarely need subtitles but I'm always watching stuff with friends and I constantly notice mis-translations. not to mention that there are a lot of american companies that offer extremely terrible translations on purpose or in the case of popular anime, they mis-translate it to remove "offending" material like in Sailor moon where the two lesbians were changed into cousins.

    I pay money and support the actual anime but then I usually go and get the fansub and watch that instead.

    oh and I also watch a lot of Live-action stuff, damn impossible to find anywhere in america and once you factor in the timeliness of the fansubbers (which lets you watch within a week of the show coming out), well it becomes about the only option.

     

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  27.  
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    Franssu, Mar 10th, 2009 @ 11:34am

    Re: Re:

    Japanese anime producers expanded their markets because it's basically free money for them. When an anime hits non-Japanese shelves, their contents have already made a profit on the Japanese market. Maybe the unauthorized copies made by rabid fans abroad have helped them understand the existence of this market, anyway you don't see much Japanese studios sue and harass their customers and fans like the Hollywood majors do.

     

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  28.  
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    Dennis Andraschko, Apr 29th, 2009 @ 5:01pm

    to this

    Hi,

    I watch US and UK Series with an german subtitle, japanese series with german subtitle too.

    the reasons why i watch em with an subtitle? its easy:

    US: when i watch these series on the german tv, i got angry and disappointed cause of very bad and shitty SYNCHRONISATION voices and the CUTTING OF SCENES CAUSE OF USK!!!
    UK: the same!
    Japanese: i watch em with german subtitle, because the animes on german tv are ALL CUT, ive never watched an uncut anime on german tv!
    and the second thing is, the synchronisation voices(or whatever it seems to be what i meant)are too bad and the most disappionting!

    Besides, the fansubs are much more better than the licensecompanies does, the timings of the licensecompanies are very crappy too!
    i never mentioned the style of the subs from the lic.....*hust*

    buy an randomly licensed anime dvd and compare the timings and the quality of the subs.
    you believe me, if you do, trust me!

    ~~~~~

    And i cry, because everytime i buy an blueray in germany, i NEVER get an german subtitle with the movie i buyed.
    and everytime i have to give the blueray back and take the money-.-

    very shitty market what we have here..

     

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  29.  
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    Kuri, May 1st, 2009 @ 7:28am

    Re: Re: Anime Fansubs are better

    "I've heard THIS excuse for soooo many years it's not even funny anymore...

    Fansubs are from people who does the translation for hobby. For most part yes they understand the words but not the language. Japanese has so many subtle meanings and other cultural differences that are hard to translate unless you've experienced them yourself. The translators from studios done years of study AND lived in Japan for this kind of work.

    If the translators of fansubs are THAT good, why aren't they working for companies to translate and make money instead?!?!

    That whole "fansubs are better than commercial releases" are just excuses for people who doesn't want to support the industry by taking the free route instead of paying for the DVDs or whatever media it's out there.

    If you actually love watching anime, do buy few DVDs and blu-ray out there once in awhile. Stop being a cheap ass and make that same excuses over and over."

    My first question, which era do you belong to? Have you seen really good fansubs where the subbers actually take the pains to research on the background of any topic mentioned in animes, that foreigners might not get? Eg. Any cultural topics, or some jokes that only the Japanese may understand, are all explained thoroughly, be it during the scene, or after the episode as a Translator Note. I won't be mentioning groups, but if you really do like anime, you should have an idea which are the fansubs that currently dominate the fansubbing community.

    You mentioned fansubs are from people who do it for a hobby. Yes, you're probably right for some of the lower scale ones. There are plenty of fansubs out there who take it seriously, and they do respect liscenses as well. Also, fansub groups also have people who've studied Japanese, and/or lived in Japan long enough to understand the subtle meanings and cultural differences. Also, when it comes to phrasing subtitles, commercial subbers and fansubbers are clearly on a different level. Not to mention that, the studios can't employ native Japanese to sub animes, since most don't have a solid grasp on English.

    Eg. The use of the honorary -san. Generally speaking, it means somewhere along the lines of Mr, Ms, and is used in common or polite speech. However, When commercial subbers do it, they sub sentences like "Good Morning, Mr Yamazaki". Now, the important point about subtitles is that, if the subs were used as scripts for dubs, they have to sound right. Nobody goes to school and asks their classmate, "Ah... Miss Yuuki, can I have...".

    Basically, what I mean about this -san issue is that, there's no need to translate the -san literally. Going to school, or outings with friends, while addressing them as Mr and Miss all the time sounds stupid. What commercial subbers tend to do is that, they sub things too literally, which leaves out the essence of the speech/culture and so on. Seeing commercial subs as "Good afternoon, Miss so-and-so" completely puts me, and I believe other fans as well, off completely. Plus, there are quite a number of fansubs that actually do touch-ups, like add karaoke to OPs/EDs, and lyrics, be it in Japanese, English, or both.

    About your point on purchases. Yes, I agree with you that many out there don't pay for anime. But have you thought properly who the general audience for anime's are? Generally teens, and young adults. Majority would not have a large enough or stable income to own a credit card such that they can make purchases of anime goods, be it DVDs, or other products. If you're talking about teens, all the more its near impossible. There are many parents out there who disapprove of animes, and chances are, most teens can't ask their parents to pay for the anime goods.

     

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  30.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 14th, 2009 @ 10:01pm

    Re: Re: Anime Fansubs are better

    icepick314 I have to argue with you on one point.

    If you actually love watching anime, do buy few DVDs and blu-ray out there once in awhile. Stop being a cheap ass and make that same excuses over and over.

    considering that on a tpyical anime DVD theres three episodes. and the price when I was going out to get naruto was 24$ per DVD.

    Im not paying that much for so little content.

     

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    Tudor Gonzales, Aug 20th, 2010 @ 2:57pm

    Re: Re: Anime Fansubs are better

    I bet you have never be an anime fan with your shallow thinking that really surprise me with your comment. Fansub - "For Fan" FUNimation -"Commercial Licensor" With your comment: "If the translators of fansubs are THAT good, why aren't they working for companies to translate and make money instead?!?!" Because they are doing it for anime fans and not for those licensor company. I do agree fansub subs sometimes much better than the commercial sub. They do explain why the word are you and why some word cannot be replaced eg: "nakama" from One Piece while in commercial DVD they simply replace it with friends etc. Why dont those commercial licensor "subber" didn't alert about this? Are they simply just translating without being a in deep how the story goes? This is where fansub are much better than commercial subs and there are a few fansub you can choose instead of going for one option. Those commercial licensor should be grateful to fansub. I have been a fan since I was 12 which about 17 years ago and at that time nobody even craze over anime (there is but the number is small) and I even buy a dvd because if you are true fans a CD or DVD collection is like a treasure. But yet I still download fansub release because those commercial cd or dvd wont keep up with the latest update every week. Who want to buy 1 episode of anime on single dvd?

     

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