The Anime Industry Mafia

April 6th, 2010 by Author

In a fit multi-Twittering (1,2,3,4,5), Chris Beveridge made the following statement:

I have no problems with ignorant fans who download and view shows because it’s all they know and they don’t get the harm or the right way. But those who fansub, or more specifically, fansub shows that are being streamed legally and freely 99% of the time, they should be sued into the ground. The companies have made the mistake of being too friendly with fans. This is business. Just like my family, you don’t screw with them. You screw with them, I’ll hurt you.

I find this attitude despicable. I wish I could call it “astonishing”, but over the years the fans (who also pay for the whole industry) came to expect this kind of rhetoric. Still, due to its laconic and unvarnished expression, it’s a remarkable admission, from many angles.

Firstlly, the level of the buy-in and mental association with the industry is seriously unhealthy. Chris is equating a bunch of soulless corporations run by avowed fan-haters like Kadokawa (in Japan) and Ledford (in America) to his family. Unreal.

Secondly, you know who else conflates business and family and then promises to hurt those who cross “the family”? The mafia, of course. They are very cool on the silver screen, but in real life I know whom I choose between to sympathise between gangsters and their victims.

Finally, the fig leafs of “99%” and “streamed” that barely cover the main point: pure streaming is not acceptable. Remember that Betamax case? The losers want a rematch now: they want to cut you off the possession of material using the new technologies. Look, but not hold. This the sort of reactionary attack on hard-won consumer rights that must be fought even if one never buys any overpriced downloads.

The whole diatribe rests on the attempt to split the fans from the evil fansubbers, who hurt the poor, defenseless industry. But the reality is entirely different. Do they just sue fansubbers as Chris implies? Of course not. They sue everyone equally, hate everyone equally. They hate our resistance. They hate how bitter fans cling to their downloads and paraphernalia. And fansubbers simply serve as the lightning rod for the controversy. They industry think that isolating and destroying fansubbers will decapitate the consumer movement and make us roll under the stream-only, subscription-fee-forever regime.

I am all for paying for my anime, but I am strictly against living under the iron foot of mafia. I am not wealthy enough to buy out Kadokawa, and there is not much I can do alone. But Chris can bet his sweet bottom that I will make a note of the mafioso talk. Any time there is a way out, I will take it. Undermine existing studios by buying upstarts first? Check (Chinka!). Downloading obsolete releases, releases that never been released? Of course. And in general, any kind of option to pay directly to creators instead of the incumbent rights owners will be welcomed.

And don’t forget: if everything else fails and anime goes stream-only, I will quit. There is more to life than paying to bloated monopolies.

UPDATE: Chris replies: “@relentlessflame @zaitcev And no I am not equating any company to a family in the sense that he is in his piece. Completely missed the point”. I suppose this is why we have the lead quote: everyone is free to read it and draw the conclusions.

UPDATE: Beta-waffle.