J.P. on fansubing and its panel

June 22nd, 2008 by Author

I heard of it first as Scott twittered it:

#: I’ve got to say, I really respect Greg Ayres for putting up with all the shit that people say about him.
#: I didn’t believe it when he was telling me about it, but reading through Anime Nano now, I can see that he does get blasted pretty badly.

Seemed like nothing interesting, just another industry insider being silly enough to pay attention to trolls at forums. Right?

Now, check what J.P. Meyer posted (it’s long, but worth reading):

We wanted to go to that panel for some kind of a debate or discussion about the perilous situation that the American anime industry is in, and ask questions about things like streaming video or raws. Instead, the thing was basically a big straw man circle jerk. The “arguments” that people were giving for downloading were so specious that I couldn’t believe that people actually used them to try to justify their actions. We’re talking about things like preferring subtitles to dubs or purposely trying to “hurt” ADV because it’s so big and bad. []

I had sticky, nuanced issues that I wanted to discuss but basically got shouted down after asking some of them and gave up. I tried to ask how Tivoing Code Geass and not watching the commercials was different from watching a fansub of Code Geass when some guy in the audience started babbling on about timesharing. After I said “I’m familiar with the legal decision in Sony vs. Universal (I learned about when I did my MASTERS in TV AND FILM and needed to brief my boss about AT MY JOB IN TV LICENSING)”, the guy kind of waddled out of the room. Additionally, I believe that Greg Ayers had said something about how anime lost its advertising 2 months ago or something. This was news to us, and we said amongst ourselves “Whoa, what’s this? I hadn’t heard about this”, to which the dude in front of us was like “THERE’S NO MORE ANIME IN THE ANIME BLOCK IN JAPAN NOW!” Again, this was also news to me so I was like “Whoa, which one? I just saw the ratings last week and the big blocks like Sunday night and Thursday morning were still there. Do you mean like the late-night shows that air at like 2:30am?” to which he just babbled on again about how there’s no more anime.

Here’s the problem: that discussion is fundamentally about how to get anime without paying for it. The shame argument for buying DVDs is centered around saying “You didn’t spend $30 for everything you ever watched, and now Suncoast video died and that’s your fault and now anime will die too because people won’t be able to buy anime at the mall because you killed Suncoast.” Yet now we’re getting told how to buy DVDs for less than $30 even though that’s what you just said was bad! Similarly, we were also just told how the anime industry can’t afford to price DVDs like Hollywood can, but now we’re going to get told how to be able to buy the DVDs for prices like what Hollywood charges for that season of Lost! If everyone did these practices, the industry WILL STILL DIE. []

This is the same event they’re talking about, right?

Obviously J.P. was rather naive. The only way he would be able to discuss anything “sticky” and “nuanced” is if a) he was sitting on the panel, and b) having moderator actually moderating. So, his frustration was preordained. But still, my sympathies.

Once agitated, J.P. goes on a roll for many paragraphs. Too many to quote in fact, so just read it. The only other thing I want to note is this:

The best, most nuanced, and most intelligent approach to piracy that I’ve seen is from the computer game company Stardock.

That sounds familiar to me, because Shamus mentioned it many times. Still, the fact that Stardock is not a powerhouse like EA hints at certain problems. Why haven’t they swallowed their competitors yet?

Speaking of small underdogs doing The Right Thing and being creamed, BOST will not show Strike Witches next season, yet Crunchyroll will (pox upon their house).

UPDATE: J.P. e-mailed with the following:

Also, I totally forgot to mention in my post how fansubs are a hell of a lot more than just the US until a Spanish dude brought up how he watches fansubs and he’s obviously not going to be going around buying R1 DVDs. Like these:

http://www.minaidehazukashii.com/?p=119
http://www.minaidehazukashii.com/?p=199

I loved comments like “I’d rather translate XYZ into English because it’d be pointless to fansub it in my native language since almost nobody here cares about anime.”

Also, I didn’t realize this until DS mentioned it to me in an email just now, but a big part of the “problem” with streaming (the three of us groaned after that part in the video because Japan most certainly IS streaming anime to America, and we watched some of it!) is that it cuts out the American middleman. If everything’s just going to end up on the internet anyway (not in terms of piracy, but I mean in terms of a paradigm shift), the American industry will shrivel up since the American (and most likely international, unless of course they use IP lockouts so that the ads will remain relevant) viewers will just be paying them for the stream or providing eyeballs for their advertisers.

Not sure how right he is. Someone has to do the work, middleman or not. GEICO did not put Progressive out of business in all these years, ditto Dell vs. IBM. I suppose we’ll see in a couple of years.