100 Questions About Anime & Manga Overseas Special Issue: Fansubs and the Gloom of the Anime Industry - Part 3

imgJapanese anime news site AnimeAnime has released a 2-part follow-up to their previous report on fansubs and the anime industry." In Part 1 and Part 2, Romi (the writer) talked about the history and problems of fansubs. In Part 3, Romi (the writer) talks about the future of the anime industry, and why the companies are having a hard time dealing with fansubs.

Fansubs and the Gloom of the Anime Industry - Part 3
- by Romi

In 2006, rumors spread about anime distributor Central Park Media's bankruptcy (which did not happen). Also, a friend of mine was fired by a major anime distributor he worked for; he was involved with many well-known titles, so I was shocked. The fact that even major distributors need to dismiss its capable staffs proves that the anime industry is getting worse.

The cause is simple: the reduction of DVD sales is affecting the revenue of anime-related companies.

My friend who was fired by the major anime distributor told me about the effect of fansubs on the anime industry in North America and the reason behind the decline of the anime companies.

In the past, anime distributors were always able to send warnings to the distributors of pirated anime and their websites; however, fansubs are harder to deal with, because the fansubbed files are distributed on IRC or websites that are hard to pinpoint.

Chasing after the fansubbers takes time and makes no profit. We can't demand compensation from fansubbers because they don't make fansubs for money. Moreover, restricting such activities on the internet is very difficult.

The formal statement from the anime industry to fansubs is: fansubs are illegal and harmful for the anime industry. Fansubbers insist that if the fansubbed titles are licensed, they’d stop distributing the fansubbed files; however, many fansubbers don't follow such rule. For example, Ghost in the Shell S.A.C was announced as a collaboration work between Japanese and U.S. companies, but fansubs of it were distributed nonetheless. If all the fansubbers respect the code of ethics some declared, the fansub of Ghost in the Shell wouldn't have existed.

Some fans would buy the DVD of fansubbed title, but they are far less than the number of fansub watchers.

The decline of anime DVD sales has many causes, such as the decline of DVD sales in all movie-related industries, too many titles being released each month, and the price being higher than other movies. I don't think fansub is the only cause behind the decline of anime DVD sales, but it must play an important part.

Licensor must not be about the reduction in DVD sales, and I think they need to take more aggressive actions to protect their own products. They have the right to their products and they also have the responsibility to protect their rights.

I think his opinion should be respected, and I found an article that can prove my friend's argument:

"American Information Company Beginning to Record Top Fansub Titles" (10/24)

According to the report, "The fansubbers say they have a rule that licensed title can't be distributed; however, the Top 50 Anime Torrents chart contains Naruto, Bleach, One Piece, Dragon Ball and The Vision of Escaflowne."

The Effect on Anime DVD Sales

I have mentioned three reasons other than fansubs that are responsible for the decline of anime DVD sales, now we'll go through them, one by one.

1. The Declining of All DVD Sales, Including Anime

Until now, DVD sales have always been increasing, but recently it's starting to change.

"End of the DVD Party?"

This article is more than one year old, BusinessWeek Online published this article because it's not only about anime DVD, as DVD sales, including anime, was already stalling more than a year ago.

ICv2 had an article about this in early 2005 as well

"Home Video Sales Drop In 2005"

And the follow article predicts a grim future for the movie business in 2007:

"Analyst Sees DVD Sales Decline by 2007"
2. Too Many DVDs on Sale

The DVD market is being flooded with over stocking; too many old and new titles are being sold. Consumers don't know what they should buy, and sellers tend to sell only the popular titles to avoid overstock and limited shelf space. The separation between popular and unpopular titles is progressing.

3. Anime DVDs are More Expensive than Other Mainstream Movies

Japanese people think that the DVD in the U.S is cheaper. However, the set price of anime DVDs is expensive, and it's hard to compete with Disney and others due to the number of copies being shipped.

For example, "The Incredibles" is priced at $20.99 (tax-excluded) on Disney's website. On Amazon.com, it's being sold at $29.99 -> $19.99. The difference in price is $8.89. DVDs are cheap in the U.S, especially at Costco and other discount stores. "Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence" costs $29.98 -> $26.99 (tax-excluded) on Amazon.com. On the other hand, "Full Metal Alchemist" is cheaper than Disney's titles, $29.98 -> $17.99. This is an aggressive price setting. However, I believe the number of published copies of "Full metal Alchemist" is far fewer than "The Incredibles." Anime fans would wonder, "Why can't anime DVD be sold cheaper than the other titles?"

Nowadays, discount competition is heating up and the profits of companies are declining.

100 Questions About Anime & Manga Overseas Special Issue: Fansubs and the Gloom of the Anime Industry - Part 1
100 Questions About Anime & Manga Overseas Special Issue: Fansubs and the Gloom of the Anime Industry - Part 2

- Translated by T. Ohara
- Original article by Romi
*The article was originally posted on AnimeAnime, and does not necessarily reflect the views of ComiPress or its staff.

- Italian translation by AnimeClick

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The Big Picture!

Hey Guys

I understand where you are coming from. Although I can't fully support fan sub's at least not yet. I personally much prefer to watch my anime on a big screen TV then on my computer screen. Don't get me wrong Fan sub's is s great way to get exposure to new titles. I completely support that and feel both can exist. What I don't want to see is an industry collapse which would end up hurting everyone.

I have been a fan for the past 18 years. Being in my 30's cost really isn't really an issue. Although I can sympathize with many of you. It is still much cheaper to buy Anime in the US then in Japan by a long shot though. While Fan sub's have their place until I learn Japanese I do prefer the dubs as a general rule. I usually will watch dubbed then in Japanese. It is just easier to follow and i spend more time enjoying it then trying to translate. Having both options is nice in that you have the choice to choose.

Granted understanding the language would help but until then this is the next best thing. In closing I do feel that the fan sub community are real fans not the fake ones you usually come across. It is our responsibility to bring anime into the forum with an open mind but more importantly to insure it's future. After all in the end I would like to believe we don't want anything but the best for anime and it's future. I only hope there can be an compromise at some point and the fan community be able to work together. This isn't Hollywood and doesn't have the budget to weather the storm if the industry goes south.

The anime industry is one of the few out there that is totally dependent on the fans. They don't have a lot of other outside things to back them up like the big studios do. Please understand guys I totally support you in the since of your love of anime like myself. Everyone has their preference and my goal is just that as many options are available to the fans as possible. Sure more anime is always preferable but without an industry to support it. It will be much more difficult to acquire new titles and producers of the shows themselves may stop making them altogether as it is no longer profitable in doing so. I am all ears if you guys have suggestions as to how we can handle this without destroying the industry.


I'll admit, I enjoy watching fansubs. The only time I watch them is if the series doesn't exist with an english dub. ^^; I really want to buy sets of some of my favorite subbed shows; I'm not sure how, but I want to. Like Full Moon wo Sagashite, Chaos;Head, and Vampire Knight. Those are some of my favorites.

I always try to buy the DVDs of anime that I like, because I want to make certain that I have a copy for when I get older. I like the extras and the fact that its always there and all I have to do is pop it into my PS2, PS3, 360 or my computer and enjoy it. The quality is much better than that of those episodes released on the internet, and I get to keep it. Not to mention the sets come in CUTE boxes a lot of times. :]