For the anime industry, the Internet changed everything. It was truly a golden ticket for fans and the industry alike. It took not time at all for fans of anime to begin setting up websites and begin talking to each other about their favorite hobby. Soon the internet was awash in sites devoted to specific programs, specific characters, theme music, magazines, toys, voice actors and more. The fans were hungry for anything they could get from Japan, and eager to share what they had. This was the early to mid 90's. The boom was tremendous. A few anime companies had been around for quite some time, and they were reaping the benefits of the communities growing interest and heightened awareness to their products. Many new companies jumped into the space to offer their unique-from-Japan-products. Meanwhile, in the background, the groups who were subtitling their own copies of their favorite programs, the fansubbers, began broadcasting their works on the web.
For anime fans there was no need for a software tool such as Napster to popularize their sharing. Fansubbers had discovered Usenet, FTP, and simple posting of files to webpages. Also unlike Napster, there was no swift and relentless backlash from the industry. Technology was also blooming that allowed the fansubbers to obtain and subtitle very clean-looking source programs. The quality of these rivaled the quality of the products coming out form the major studios. The majors didn't take notice at first because the fansubbers generally stayed away from the shows that the majors were bringing to the states. Eventually, however, the hunger of the fansubbers took over the the ability, or desire, of the industry to provide for them. In the end, the fansubbers simply stood up and left the table.
Today, there are tools like bittorrent; websites like Youtube, and other places on the internet where almost every anime serives is available. The anime industry has began to recognize the threat, but it's almost too late. Already a few companies have collapsed, and more are to follow. Some have compared the situation to what is happening to the music industry, but again, there is a large difference. If the music industry collapsed a band would have to find a way to get its music played on radio stations, release CDs and promote their shows. There are already artists doing this, and doing it successfully. Imagine though, if they all had to do that. If there was less than a year between the beginning and the end of the collapse of that industry? The same could happen to the anime industry in the U.S. but there would be no effect to the fansubbers. There would be only a small effect to even the mainstreme consumer.
The problem with the industry in the U.S. is that it is entirely dependant on Japan. The down side to the situation is that the industry and the fansubbers have access to the same material. The industry and the fansubbers are in the same business. The difference is that the fansubbers have almost no overhead. They are giving away the same thing that the anime industry is selling. High quality, English translated Japanese animation. If the final nail is put in the coffin of the U.S. anime industry the fansubbers, unlike music traders, won't need to skip a beat. They won't have to wait for a group of artists to recover and start producing again. Anime may disappear from TV and stores, but it will stay on the internet as long as the Japanese keep making it.
About Faking Normality
- ▼ 2008 (20)
- ► 2009 (11)