The Infinite Zenith

Where insights on anime, games, academia and life dare to converge

Egoist or misinformed? Insights into DarkMirage’s thoughts on fansubs.

In the respite reading week has offered me, I think it’s time I directed some of the blog posts at some decidely ‘serious’ topics; for this particular post, it is the matter of how some individuals view the matter of fansubs. This post is not going to concern their legality (a contentious point which could fill several novels), but instead, focus on a reflection of why other anime bloggers are in no position to back their own claims of why fansubbing is illegal. In particular, I will consider DarkMirage’s “In Defence of Bandai”, a post dating back to 2006, a period when hypocritical, pretentious posts about anime fansubs were apparently all the rage.

  • Not all of these general discussion pages will have relevant images, which are here to provide some juxtaposition to the harsh tones of some of these discussions. I oppose copyright infringements as well, but I draw the line at telling people how to live their lives.

DarkMirage’s post argues that fansubs are illegal (naturally, they are, but I won’t say any more about known facts). Unfortunately for him, this contradicts the fact that his entire anime consumption is from fansubs. This is an interesting point to make, especially when one considers that he consumes fansubs, and so, is himself violating copyright. However, he nonetheless continued to download and watch fansubs in full knowledge of this, while persistently maintaining that they were illegal and should not be permitted in North America. Such a claim is easily seen as patronising and elitist in that the article is simply conveying the idea that “only [DarkMirage] is worthy of watching anime, and everyone else does not”.

DarkMirage goes on to contend that most of the motivations behind consuming fansubs are unjustifiable. For instance, he claims that fans who justify their consumption as sampling the show to see whether it is worth purchasing or not imply that a marketable source of anime exists within the market, and as such, those individuals have easy access to them. This is utterly false: anime (especially the more obscure ones) cannot be easily purchased in most markets, and do not even exist in online dealers. It is outright impossible to obtain these series via conventional means, and fansubs have existed to rectify that. DarkMirage makes a fundamental mistake here: correlation does not imply causation. In this case, just because people are claiming to watch a series to try it out does not necessarily mean that they can access the media within their own market.

In response to the individuals who believe in the ‘try-before-buying’ paradigm, DarkMirage asserts that anime is easily accessible on cable TV. As before, this is false; I leaf through the television programming schedule, and see…that’s correct…zero anime on the channels that extended cable gives. Regardless of whether it is the morning block, or prime time on any animation channel, I see nothing. These two bullet points, taken together, show me that anime fans do not simply walk into a video store and ask the clerk for anime like K-On! or Five Centimetres per Second. Saying that one can buy Neon Genesis Evanganlion, Akira or Ghost in the Shell is insufficient: these anime, while possessing admirable merits in their own right (they are classics, after all!), may not necessarily suit all fans.

As such, I conclude that DarkMirage does not genuinely support copyright laws, but rather, is merely trying to promote his ego by asserting that other individuals do not deserve to consume and enjoy anime. If this is not the case, then DarkMirage is sadly misinformed about the staus of anime in North America: there simply is no market for it here, and it is unprofitable to cater to a niche market, hence the absence of anime.

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