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-   -   What is the point of fansubbing? (http://forums.animesuki.com/showthread.php?t=62620)

False Dawn 2008-02-20 09:47

What is the point of fansubbing?
 
This is something that spawned in my mind from Pichu's typesetting thread, as a lot of different arguments were coming out about the reason behind fansubbing. And I suppose the title of this thread is a bit simple in context: what it should read is "In the current climate, with more and more shows being licensed in America, and anime becoming a more popular media around the world enjoying large audiences in several countries (France, etc); in what way has the original motivation for fansubbing moved away from allowing potential fans to watch series that wouldn't receive an international release?" As you can see, not a very snappy title.

But my point is this; most series nowadays, at some point, get licensed. Yes, admittedly it may take a couple of years before international releases to reach our stores, but the point is, if the series is good, there will be legal opportunities to buy it. So why is fansubbing still, by and large, a popular pursuit? It seems to have achieved what it set out to do (bring anime to the larger world) so what is it's new reason for existing?

Not to say that there is a single reason, or even that it's an important one: everyone has a different reason for fansubbing, after all. I was just curious when I read someone rebuffing Pichu for "being elitist" and for "not understanding the reason behind fansubbing." While I disagreed with a lot of his points, I found this argument puzzling and thought I'd open up a topic on it.

Very few groups nowadays embody the original spirit of fansubbing (we're talking VHS days here) and perhaps that's why there's a disparity between the amount of translators that are active on the scene and the demand for them. A few do - like Doremi, for example - but it seems that more and more people are joining the scene for some kind of "fame" or self-satisfaction.

So, in effect, I suppose what I'm asking is, is fansubbing a purely mastabatory hobby or is there actually some overriding motive that moves us all to sub shows we think we (and others) may like?

Lanner Falcon 2008-02-20 10:34

People want what they want, when they want it.

And to put it bluntly, I think (know) there are some who wouldn't mind if it didn't get licensed. The really devoted ones would learn Japanese, and the other would be fine with a fansub. Well, I would.

The reasons aside, some people just really seem to enjoy helping the community. Remember, for some of the smaller bits of work that are translated, there isn't much fame to be made. So I'd say maybe 25% fameseekers, and 75% people who just want to help.

pichu 2008-02-20 10:44

Here's a mission statement of what's fansubbing that I came up with in one sentence.

"Fansubbing is an amateur business for serious hobbyists, who help promoting the donation of properly translated foreign shows with great motivations through exploiting their own talents and skills for the general public."

[Explanation]

I see fansubbing as a business, decided by amateurs (i.e., unprofessionals). By business, fansubbing has to follow the code of honor and other business tactics used in the professional world. Furthermore, they are being sported as hobbies and are being distributed in free community. I believe that every hobbyists (fansubbers) are serious when they are doing their work as part of the fansubbing in order to achieve for the best. Isn't this a good reason to fansub?

The only problem with that Typesetting thread is that I lack of visuals, because people are more visuals than abstraction; they can't see anything beyond pictures - it seems. Therefore, we will have to include some screenshots and video clips to support our claims why good typesetting (pay attention to: signs) is important as part of the fansub release.

Access 2008-02-20 11:02

Quote:

Originally Posted by False Dawn (Post 1411117)
"In the current climate, with more and more shows being licensed in America, and anime becoming a more popular media around the world enjoying large audiences in several countries (France, etc); in what way has the original motivation for fansubbing moved away from allowing potential fans to watch series that wouldn't receive an international release?"

This might have been true 2, 3 years ago, but look at how things are today. The market is contracting. Businesses are dropping out left and right and licenses are being 'lost'. Overcommercialism has come and gone. In the end, we all have to have something to fall back on. Someone to pick up the pieces and keep things moving forward as companies that once seemed unstoppable continue to fall. Groups that can defy the cycles of growth and market saturation, of economic ups and downs, being able to move the hobby forward in spite of all these things.

sangofe 2008-02-20 11:13

The only point with fansubbing as I see it, is to sub series that are almost certain not to be licensed, or are not getting released legally because of issues...
Series such as Ashita no Joe.

Apart that... I only sub because it's a habit and something to do in my sparetime, plus it's fun when you work well together with other people.

Slice of Life 2008-02-20 11:14

Quote:

Originally Posted by False Dawn (Post 1411117)
if the series is good, there will be legal opportunities to buy it.

I must conclude that your and my understanding of 'good' differ.

False Dawn 2008-02-20 11:31

Quote:

Originally Posted by Slice of Life (Post 1411225)
I must conclude that your and my understanding of 'good' differ.


Really? There are very few "good" shows that remain unlicensed after they've aired. Admittedly, they might not be licensed straight away, but they become licensed over time. Look at Air, for example. I can only think of a handful of decent series that have finished up to a year ago that haven't been licensed.


EDIT: I guess that's true in a way, Access, but I don't feel the current crisis faced by anime licensors has affected the fansubbing community yet. I haven't noticed a sudden increase in groups (though there are a lot more "new" groups rather than groups who look to establish themselves) nor in people willing to join the community. So, has fansubbing maybe peaked and is going into decline, in the way that anime licensing companies seem to be doing?

tripperazn 2008-02-20 11:32

Quote:

Originally Posted by False Dawn (Post 1411117)
Yes, admittedly it may take a couple of years before international releases to reach our stores

From what I see on various forums, most of the community cringe at a series getting stalled for a couple of weeks (hayate no gotoku), who's going to wait a couple of YEARS? Besides, while the number of R1 releases is fairly high, there are always series that everyone knows would never make an official release outside of Japan, what about those?

Fansubbing to me seems to be a self-perpetuating phenomenon. Most of us here have an active interest in learning Japanese, a few of us have been inclined enough to actually attain some level of proficiency in the language. I'm sure all of us feel indebted to the fansubbing community to some degree. Those with the skills to contribute to fansubs are few, but they generally feel compelled to use them for one reason or another. At least that has been my personal experience with the issue. While I don't fansub, I still put in many hours translating and editing a considerable amount of Japanese text for the sake of giving back to the community in some way.

With recent events, the change in the nature of fansubs as a substitute for R1 anime may have become a necessity. As Access mentions, companies like Geneon and pulling out left and right. Whether this was caused by fansubs to begin with is a subject of debate, but the ultimate consequence is not.

bayoab 2008-02-20 12:01

Quote:

Originally Posted by Lanner Falcon (Post 1411184)
People want what they want, when they want it.

This nailed it. The majority of new fansubbing groups are satisfying the desire for instantaneous gratification. We have two groups that sub (what was likely to be licensed before ADV went into limbo) Clannad within 24 hours of its first airing. We have a number of groups that sub the "it is not if but when it is announced" Gundam 00. I'm not saying they all aren't fans of the shows, but the rush to finish it as fast as possible has taken over.

Quote:

Originally Posted by pichus (Post 1411192)
By business, fansubbing has to follow the code of honor and other business tactics used in the professional world. Furthermore, they are being sported as hobbies and are being distributed in free community. I believe that every hobbyists (fansubbers) are serious when they are doing their work as part of the fansubbing in order to achieve for the best. Isn't this a good reason to fansub?

The OP has nailed that fansubbing as it was originally meant is pretty much dead with very few groups still following professional ethics that originally existed. Fansubbers now are anything but professional. No matter how hard they try, they move further and further away from professional. And what does it matter if it is distributed for free? Warez is distributed for free too.

Likewise, while many fans try to do their best, their best is something that would never be able to sold if it was a business. It is like the knockoff purse sellers on the streets in NYC. Would you be able to sell bags of that quality if they weren't knockoffs of expensive bags? No you wouldn't.

Access 2008-02-20 12:04

Quote:

Originally Posted by False Dawn (Post 1411246)
So, has fansubbing maybe peaked and is going into decline, in the way that anime licensing companies seem to be doing?

I think it's just levelled out. Been that way for a few years. Fansubbing, or even 'digital fansubbing' has gone through several stages or evolutions over the years. Covering the hole left by recent events (and events yet to come) could well be the next stage. In the far future, if the industry as a whole collapses, you might even see things like fan-made 'anime' to replace what once was. But that is probably still a long ways off.

It might seem somewhat ironic, but you can spend your time placing blame or you can deal with the problems you have at hand, a reasonable and practical person prefers the latter.

Tofusensei 2008-02-20 12:28

Don't most people fansub as a hobby? Like playing video games or sports or what have you? The act of fansubbing is the goal of fansubbing. Just like you don't play WOW for some greater good, it's just a hobby.

It lost its purpose for "promoting anime and shows that will never come out in the US" over a decade ago, even though I still do a great deal of that, it's more of a hobby than anything. Also, I'm not even sure the old VHS scene was all about "promoting shows that will never come out in the US" either. Just as large a percentage of those guys were doing it as a hobby more than any other reason.

-Tofu

jfs 2008-02-20 12:38

Isn't the real question: Is fansubbing really a good idea any longer? Some people say that everyone's downloading anime now and just watching fansubs and/or DVD rips (mostly fansubs!) and never actually buying the DVD's. Download numbers have risen and DVD sales fallen, isn't something wrong there? (If you can come up with a good explanation on why falling DVD sales are not correlated with rising download numbers do tell. There's not much licensed digital distribution apart from DVD sales.)

If "ethical fansubbing" means anything it has to mean "being a positive influence for everyone who's actually making money from this" and certainly not causing lost sales. Trying to stop distribution of a fansub after a license has been announced is only fooling yourself, AnimeSuki as a BT indexing site fails severely on this point. (Yes, this is direct criticism. Yes, I think that if AnimeSuki wants to continue labelling itself as "ethical fansubs only" there has to be some policy change, which will probably involve arbitrary per-series judgements.)


To me, the point of fansubbing today is not making people aware of good series, it's not translating anime for people who don't understand Japanese. The point is purely for the joy of the subbers themselves, or that's what I feel.
Fansubbing is for the enjoyment of the subbers. (Understand that, ungrateful leechers.)


In the following I'd like people to ignore things about copyright or not. Animation studios in Japan are spending thousands of man-hours on producing an anime title. Originally one of the purposes of fansubbing was (supposedly) to bring that work into public view by publishing it in the international market and hoping someone would make a commercial release available. Controlling distribution was rather easy because getting high quality VHS (or Beta?) masters was hard and high-quality reproduction was hard, it actually made a lot of sense replacing fansubs with commercial releases.
Today, fansubbers produce high quality subs that can be spread all over the world in a matter of hours without any loss of quality, buying a commercial relaese suddenly seems like a bad idea because you can get the same thing for free.
Those thousands of man-hours spent producing a series have suddenly become worthless. Is that really fair?

I want people to think about this.

You having fun with your hobby, fansubbing, might actually cause people to lose their jobs because they can't be paid, because their work has suddenly can't be sold and thus has lost its value. Is this really fair?


(And I'm still not talking about legal issues here, the same issues would apply no matter how copyright law was implemented, if it was even implemented at all.)

martino 2008-02-20 12:44

Personally I completely agree with you view jfs, however then it makes you ask "Where does it go wrong?" Fault of fansubbers... or fault of people who download (EDIT: or DVD rippers)? Even though this is slightly offtopic, I'd be quite interested in seeing answers on this point and see what others think. I didn't answer, because I don't really have a concrete one... perhaps somewhere in the "middle?"

Tofusensei 2008-02-20 13:00

Access alluded to it, but the status quo in the fansub community IS not changing and WILL not change on its own. We could stop fansubbing [insert popular unlicensed title] tomorrow and within a couple months it'll be picked up by someone else. That is true for basically every group subtitling a show that will probably get licensed.

The industry, both in the US and Japan, needs to come up with systems to make traditional fansubbing obsolete and to monetize the fanbase who watch them. They've so far failed on all fronts so far to do this and have made next to zero effort to reach out to the fansub scene in this regard.

The fansub scene, being deregulated and independent, will continue to be around from here on out. It's up to the industry to come up with a feasible method to rectify the situation. Funimation's CEO Fukunaga Gen recently said in an interview on Anime Today that he is forced to put anime streaming online as a compromise to deal with digital fansubbing (he uses the term "illegal downloads" I think).

Arguing whether it is ethical or not to continue as we've been doing is a moot point. There have been "vulture subbers" picking up dropped shows going back to the early 1990s. The scene will not change in any substantial way. The ball is in the industry's court to address this.

There is an effort being done by one of the original digisub pioneers to put up a site to better facilitate any sorts of communication between the fansub scene and the industry. I wish him luck.

It could be as simple as offering paid assignments to the top ten most productive translators in the scene to fill their time instead of doing fansubs. You get the ten of them disappearing and you'd see a good drop in the # of fansubs being released online. The industry should have done that years ago instead of playing "ignore the fansub world".

-Tofu

pichu 2008-02-20 13:14

I don't see why people have to say Japanese to English, rather than something more general... I can still apply the same fansubbing tactics to Korean to French. It doesn't matter.

Fansubbing is business, so I sometimes compare between business in companies and business in fansubbing groups... They actually have their common.

I don't think licensing matters much anyways in english fansubbing of japanese anime, as we are already violating anything that's done by others for profit. I don't think I'm going to discuss about copyright laws here and reference to those laws (including Foreign countries' like Japan copyrights laws)... If we are so afraid of US licenses, we should also be fear of and consider JP licenses/copyrights/intellectual properties as well as many other factors, as it sounds so wrong to say US license is license but to trash all of the Japanese copyrights. I don't think that people here realize that it's not about the morality to do license stuff... it's the law suit that fansubbers fear of because americans like to sue people.

jfs 2008-02-20 13:21

I'm not going to blame DVD rippers actually, because there's high quality can-easily-replace-DVD's fansubs from DTV source from the last several years and they just aren't disappearing. You could probably kill the entire anime DVD rip scene off and have nobody complain, because they can still get the same products.


I agree with Tofu, the only solution is offering a commercial and viable solution that's more convenient than fansubs. If you want to stop people from downloading fansubs you have to make your alternative to them more convenient. YouTube and family already is about the top reach of convenience, I really can't imagine any way to do it easier Online streaming is the correct approach. Personally I'd prefer a system based on monthly subscription, either a per-series basis or a "open buffet" subscription. But that's not really the topic of this thread.


</thread> ?

Schneizel 2008-02-20 13:26

<late> The point of fansubbing is 42.

Tofusensei 2008-02-20 13:26

I'm thinking that speed would be the most important thing. Simultaneous or very near simultaneous subtitled streams with the TV release in Japan. That is the only way to make fansubbing obsolete.

Monetizing this (cross promotion of DVDs? web advertising? pay subscriptions? merchandising?) is the hard part. Also convincing the Japanese of such a paradigm shift.

Whether or not you'll see a whole new scene of pirated subtitled streams going up on bit torrent is still a possibility of course.

-Tofu

Dark Shikari 2008-02-20 14:07

Quote:

Originally Posted by Tofusensei (Post 1411398)
Whether or not you'll see a whole new scene of pirated subtitled streams going up on bit torrent is still a possibility of course.

-Tofu

Of course you would. If its in demand, the rips will come.

Tofusensei 2008-02-20 14:14

Quote:

Originally Posted by Dark Shikari (Post 1411469)
Of course you would. If its in demand, the rips will come.

Not necessarily, though. You're assuming it's a pay service. If it was free to the end user (think cross marketing or unobtrusive web ads) AND out before the fansubs 'm not so sure you'd see it being pirated.

Whether or not that would be profitable is the question.

-Tofu


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