In the airport yesterday, I grabbed a copy of Future Anime. Amusingly, there was an Editor’s Note on the state of anime since mid-2006 and how downloads have been hurting the industry as the progression of broadband has changed the world of media. With U.S. distributors closing shop and selling off their rights to others such as Geneon, you seriously have to wonder if the fans even want to bother with supporting the people that make their entertainment.
This goes beyond the movie industry; in the U.S., the movie industry has been very vigilant in fighting anyone that pirates, regardless of where you stand in the game. However, the anime industry has long since allowed fansubs to exist, based on a little known decree that if the series happens to finally be published here (eg. where you live), that people would stop watching it and get it based on those ethics. Funny thing is that most current anime viewers that I’ve spoken to actually say this but don’t mean it. Why? They’re happy to watch whatever series online or downloaded from bittorrent, but the moment it gets released here, they shirk from paying for those series because they’ve seen it already or what not.
It’s a classic justification rap, and it sucks for those of us that actually purchase what we watch. Some Japanese publishers are now looking to release a paid for version online with subtitles — hopefully that has some more luck although I’m personally thinking that Stateside anime is looking bleaker by the minute. What’s ironic about all of this is that many of the hardcore otaku from years before have long since supported both imports and fansubs. They have actually lived by the code where they would buy U.S. distributed when they were actually distributed.
So those bittorrent anime watchers, I got news for ya: Regardless of what your excuse is for doing what you do, you’re busting up the industry and making it worse for all of us. Those voice actors like Vic Mignogna (Edward Elric in Fullmetal Alchemist) depend on this support. This entire issue has been an ongoing problem for a couple years now, but it’s about time that people stood up and said enough is enough.