FUNimation’s new take on fansubbing

Fansubbing is a big part of the anime community and one that, like all other forms of online media sharing, has been a persistant headache (and source of cease and desist letters) for the media industry. Although many fansubbers are altruistic and stop releasing fansubs and seeding torrents once a title is licensed in NA, this of course does not limit the distribution of the title even once the dub is on the air (to be fair- my impression of dubs is less than glowing and I see the appeal in wanting to watch with the original audio without waiting for a DVD release).  Although there isn’t a huge excuse for widely distributed titles such as Bleach and Naruto, fansubs have traditionally been a haven for lesser known titles that never see their way to American soil (see my review on Ghost Hound which, if not imported, will not see the light of day in the states).

Well, FUNimation is taking a different approach to the entire situation. With the new version of Fullmetal Alchemist (AKA can’t wait can’t wait can’t wait!), they will be releasing free professional subs on their website less than a week after the initial episode airs in Japan. This is positively brilliant. The home company will be providing quality subs at almost the same speed as any fansubber and will be drawing in traffic to their website on a high attention release. Unless they absolutely butcher the subs, there is no real reason for any fansub group to pick up the title, and even if they do it will be easier to find the actual release than the fansub. The only drawback is the lack of downloads (to which I chuckle quietly since within two weeks people will have that figured out) but nonetheless, bravo FUNimation. I love to see a company work with the fan base instead of against it.


6 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    LG said,

    Yes, I love what FUNimation is doing and hope they will continue to do it with other series. I keep wondering what the catch is – other than not being able to download the episodes, which will hurt worse if they decide to take older episodes down before the series has completely wrapped up (one of my complaints about Toonami Jetstream).

  2. 2

    LG said,

    Oh, and your “can’t wait can’t wait can’t wait” should be “it’s here it’s here it’s here.” :o) Well, a little bit of it anyway. I’m impatient, I wish the episodes could be released faster. I also wonder, if they really do plan to follow the manga more closely this time around, how many episodes this is going to turn out to be – even 51 and a movie won’t be enough for all the stuff that has happened in the manga so far.

  3. 3

    D said,

    I don’t know how much you follow anime news over on ANN, but it seems that more and more companies are releasing subs a mere week or so after initial release on tv in Japan. I think this is great.

    I am NOT a fan of fansubbers in any way, so anything to legitimately cut down on their “reasons” for breaking the law is great in my eyes.

    Second, I am finding that I don’t need to “own” all the anime I watch. Whether on dvd or computer file, I only have so much room and streaming works great for that. To be honest, most animes really aren’t worth owning anyway 🙂

    Finally, considering that this type of legal digital release has helped clean up sites like Crunchyroll, I am hoping that more anime gets streamed digitally…

    • 4

      LG said,

      Which companies besides FUNimation have been doing this, D? Apparently, I’ve been missing out – my main legal sources of online anime have been FUNimation’s website (and they don’t necessarily stream everything, or even every episode of the shows they do stream), Hulu, Joost, the Adult Swim site, and Toonami Jetstream (not so much any more, since I wasn’t happy with the idea that you were out of luck if you didn’t catch the earlier episodes while they were still up). As far as I knew, FUNimation’s thing with the new Fullmetal Alchemist anime was the first time this (streaming subtitled episodes only a week or so after they aired in Japan) had been done.

      Personally, I like fansubbers – I never knew how good subtitles could be until I saw some of the work by the better fansubbers. I’m not just talking about spelling, grammar, and timing here – that should be basic, and, unfortunately, it isn’t, not even for companies (I’m thinking of the legal release of Loveless here – the company should be embarrassed by how bad their subs were, especially since it was a “sub only” release). I love some of the ways fansubbers have handled opening and closing themes, multiple characters talking over each other, cultural and linguistic notes, etc. Besides, there’s anime I would never even have bought if I hadn’t been introduced to them through fansubbed episodes – I don’t get any TV channels, much less anything that airs anime, so fansubs have for years been the easiest way for me to try out new anime.

      If companies start streaming more shows, I’ll probably end up sampling more anime through them than through fansubbers, but I doubt I’ll ever completely stop watching fansubs. The main reason for that? Like Otaku Librarian said, there are titles that, for a variety of reasons, may never make it to America. The anime that makes it over here is a fraction of what is produced in Japan, and the anime that gets legally streamed is only a fraction of what’s released here.

      • 5

        I’ll go with you there… I have watched shows with both fan and regular subs and sometimes just the difference in language and quality of the subs is astounding. A lot of fansubbers have more of an attachment to the show and really try to preserve the character voices and attitudes better than the “professionals”.

        And yes, it should have been can’t wait can’t wait can’t wait for the next episode. 😛 I’m loving it so far!

  4. 6

    D said,

    Well, to be honest, there isn’t much more THAN Funi anymore. Geneon falling, ADV crashing, Funi swooped in and became the defacto King of the Hill.

    I’m not up on the details of other companies, but with Funi being the biggest, the others will have to follow in their footsteps, or continue to lose marketing.

    and I’ve heard enough fansubber reasonings about breaking the law, so I won’t say anything more than this one sentence in response to both your replies in that regard 🙂

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