Monthly Archives: February 2014

Anime and the internet: the impact of fansubbing

by Alicia Wurm

While Japanese anime has experienced a boom in recent decades, its history is longer than you might think. The anime industry flourished in Japan in the late 1910’s with pieces such as Kitayama Seitaro’s short Momotaro (1918) and Chikara To Onna No Yononaka (1932), influenced by Disney shorts and the increasingly explosive and animated nature of Japanese manga (illustrated books). While anime itself grew more popular than ever domestically, and began to achieve international fame through collaboration with Disney in the mid 1950’s, there were many televised anime series that never would have made it overseas if it hadn’t been for dedicated fan communities. In order to address the current gap in extant scholarship on animated film, this article will present a comprehensive account of fan involvement in bringing Japanese anime to wider audiences.

A fansubber is generally an anime fan, or otaku, who spends a vast amount of time and effort putting translated subtitles onto anime episodes and then making them available to the general public, mostly through use of p2p (peer to peer) programs. Fansubbers advertise their work on forums or their own websites created especially for the purpose. In the past, fansubbing was a grueling process that involved a lot of expensive equipment, and a dedication that bordered obsessive behaviour. A fansubber would edit VCR copies of anime, and due to the reduced quality of said copies, only 4 or 5 at a time were really viable. They would then be physically mailed to waiting fans around the world. Often a shipping fee was charged through PayPal or some other such online service, but apart from this fee fansubbing was nearly always a free service, done for the love of the series and the desire to spread it to other fans.It was also common to have a standing arrangement where episodes would be swapped, an episode of Star Trek, say, in exchange for one of a popular anime series from Japan.

Fansubbing is a lengthy and involved process even now with the advent of DVDs, which make the amount of copies possible infinite, and the equipment required to edit the episodes digitalized and reduced to software. While fansubbing can be done by just one person, this is unusual;more often than not there will be a team of many people. Their roles are as follows Continue reading Anime and the internet: the impact of fansubbing