08 May 2007

The lack of literature on Fansubbing is disturbing.

So, I was bored one day (4chan banning me didn't help one bit, although the ban is now removed. Probably my ISP switching my IP around or something), and I decided to type "fansub" in google scholar, and see what the actual, "educated" community thinks about fansubbing.

And while I didn't expect much, I was sorely disappointed.

There were only 14 articles, and most of them talk about how fansubs infringe copyright laws and stuff. Another batch talks about how people can use animes, with the help of fansubs, to know the Japanese culture better.

Maybe that's the reason why so many people are saying "senpai" and using Japanese wrongly.

Alright, I give that it can give the Japanese culture, to a very very limited extent, some attention.

But, if animes such as Lucky Star, Gundam, Code Geass (CC's ass!) and Nanoha are an indication of Japanese culture, I think those who think so will be sorely disappointed if they ever move to Japan.

I find it amusing that probably the people who wrote the articles have probably never been in a fansub group before. There is one which states how a fansub group works (Cintas J.D. & Sanchez P.M., 2006), but they only state what a fansub product is, something all of us can see by spending minutes/hours to download an episode.

Which brings this question:

Have any of them know what fansubbing truly is?

Fansubbing is something that most people said is "enjoyable" and that they are "doing it for fun". While it is true that that can be possible (I do), some people treat it like a world/inter-galactic war. DDoSing, flaming (via IRC and their websites) etc, they have done it all.

This is why I am surprised why no one has wrote anything about fansubbing being something equivalent to a company. Let's face it, in fansubbing, if you want your epenis to be long, you need to get the most fans. Of course, if your benefit (Psychic income) comes from producing your own work, not caring if there's only 13 peers on that torrent, then you won't fall in this category. However, most fansubs either produce at the highest quality, at the fastest speed, or both (DB, Eclipse... Us? Haha. Nah...). This is to get the fans to come into their IRC so everyone can feel good or something. This can be seen in the enthusiasm some of the team members I've worked in when we've "beaten" team X to a release.

So, what is that?


What fansubs have effectively done is to select a market concept to use, as well as the segment of the audience they wish to target.

Kotler et al. (2003), stated that there are 5 concepts which companies may conduct their marketing activities: Production, product, selling, marketing and societal marketing concept. Speedsubs obviously goes for the "Production concept", where the company focuses on improving production and distribution efficiency. "Quality subs" will go for the "Product concept", where the product has the most quality, performance and innovative features (Kotler et al., 2003). Some teams use the marketing concept, where they decide what the target wants first. In this case, it is "Can you please sub anime X", the team has a look at it, and decides to sub it if there is sufficient interest in anime X.

Another feature fansub groups have done is to segment their target audience. Who do they want to download their subs? Speedsubs will go for those who are "I just want to watch the damned thing". Quality subs will be all for the people who want "Perfection, with a karaoke and 0 grammar mistakes (because I want to burn it into my DVD to show my grandchildren etc)". Fansub groups must also decide if they want to go for quality at the sacrifice for time, and vice versa. They have to think where they are in the position of their consumer, the fans, relative to others.

As you can see, Your-Mom is perceived to be of low quality (XD), but I have done many attempts to move it upwards (But I guess I'll never succeed... Ayako has done pretty well under SpiegelEiXXL though). So, as you can see, fansubs do have to decide who their target audience is, and after evaluating the competition, if they do want to actually sub that anime, or leave it for someone else.

Fansubbing is also, a rather perfectly competitive market. It is a market which is rather impossible, if not impossible, to find in the real world. Yet, Fansubbing comes pretty close to it. Frank and Bernanke (2007),stated that four conditions are required for markets to be perfectly competitive:

-All firms sell the same standarized product.
That's not too hard. A fansub is a fansub is a fansub.

-The market has many buyers and sellers, each of which buys or sells only a small fraction of the total quantity exchanged.
Again, not too hard. For now, fansubs are still free. In this case, we shall assume everyone downloads every single anime.

-Productive resources are mobile.
Again, easy. You want to fansub? Get a translator, a timer, editor, typesetter, encoder. Or even better, learn to do it yourself!

-Buyers and sellers are well informed.
Everyone sees the same preview. Everyone watches the same episode 1 raw, unless you happen to be in Japan, then you watch it a little earlier than the cappers who will need to encode it and chuck it on Share/Winny.

Hence, fansubbing is a perfectly competitive market! In fact, it is right down to the paper, to the point that fansubbing has ZERO barriers to entry and exit, something which is very very impossible to happen in this world today.

Staying with economics, when there is cash on the table (Demand > supply), there will be people entering the market. This is the basis of vulture subs, (ie us, but I assure you that we don't do it for economic benefits, except for cz). A perfect monopoly can never occur in the fansubbing world because, simply, someone, sooner or later, will come in and become a substitute product, hence taking one's leechers away.

In conclusion, fansubbing itself is like a whole organisation by itself. I think it actually gives the 13 year olds (or around that age) a good chance to manage a group full of people who wants to increase their epenis and emos and whatever. Of course, you can't compare it to the real world, because in the real world, you can't hide behind your fake IRC nick, however, it cannot be denied that fansubbing is like a corporation itself. It is extremely disturbing that there is a lack of literature on this, given that this is much harder than trying to lead a guild in WoW or whatever other game there is. It would be nice for more research to be done in this area, and eventually, for more literature to be published. Yes, it is digital infringement, but, at the same time, it is an experience which is taking over the world.

(No, this is not my homework/PhD thesis)


Cintas, DJ & Sanchez PM, 2006, 'Fansubs: Audiovisual Translation
in an Amateur Environment', The Journal of Specialised Translation, July 2006, no2.

Frank RH & Bernanke BS, 2007, Principles of Microeconomics, 3rd edn, McGraw-Hill Irwin, New York.

Kotler P, Adam S, Brown L & Armstrong G, 2003, Principles of Marketing, 2nd edn, Pearson Education Australia, Australia.


Blogger greeneyes said...

As always I enjoyed your thoughts. It gives me a little insight into a world I know nothing of. I figured there would be competiveness throughout different groups but I never realized just how much. I suppose if I went into a few irc’s I would probably find out but well I just don’t really have the time. When I do have a few minutes I’ll check to see if you’ve put up something random like today which will give something to wonder about instead of paying attention to my algebra professor. Anyways I don’t quite understand why you (or others) seem to think your subs aren’t of high quality? So you might have one grammar mistake every 5 episodes, who cares? It’s not like I couldn’t tell what was meant. I don’t care if it makes me sound old-fashioned but common-sense and civility today are seriously lacking. Sorry for the rambling, but the point was thank you. :)

10:21 AM  
Blogger Kakiray said...

Very scholarly but i think the reason why there is very little literature on it is because it is not very widespread expect within the hordes of otaku out there. Also from personal experience i.e. all the otaku I know (mainly leechers) are extremely lazy.
But thanks for writing that interesting bit of info ^_^


3:04 PM  
Blogger Dantman said...


Interesting enough to make me wish copyright laws would let me use it as a base to combine and improve the Fansub article the Wikia Graphical Entertainment Project will probably be making using Wikipedia's as a base.

That one has the history, the economics, but it lacks the background your post makes.

9:59 PM  
Blogger David said...

There's no money!

12:11 PM  
Blogger Mr.Boy said...

Wow such coherent ramblings, interesting read. Thanks!

9:33 AM  
Blogger Mr.Boy said...

Wow such coherent ramblings, very interesting reading. Thanks!

9:34 AM  
Blogger Steven said...

Interesting, though your grammar leaves quite a bit wanting :P. I'm gonna download your fansubs for Heroic Age because I can't wait for other groups, but given your comment and what I've read about he quality of your subs I'm a little bit skeptical. I don't know Japanese and can't fansub, so I really am in no position to bitch(which I'm not doing), but maybe you could use some editors/QC personnel to double check your writing?

11:51 PM  
Blogger Senthin said...

This is my first time posting, but I check this site somewhat regularly, not only for the awesome song on "Kimi ga Tame", but also for posts like this.
Another post that was enjoyable to read. At no point was I bored, and it was nice to learn even more about something that I should be well acquainted with by now, heh. As far as "steven"'s comment goes, it's pretty funny to be skeptical about grammar not only before watching any of your material, but with several grammatical and spelling mistakes in the post, it make me giggle a little lol. Anyway, I don't have much to go off of for your Anime subs, the only one I watched was "Yoake mae yori ruriro na – Crescent Love". And despite the nonsensical major fanservice ending at episode 12(which of course has nothing to do with your work), it was a very enjoyable experience, and not once during the anime was I ever unsatisfied with what I read.

5:55 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home