Who remembers the days when anime was in very short supply? There were mainly two, possibly three channels that showed a couple of shows. These were anime that were rather poorly translated with misplaced voice acting because this was a new form of entertainment being brought to the states.
But people loved it anyway.
Children in particular gravitated towards the adventures with Sailor Moon, even though her voice actress changed almost every single episode and the dialogue was laughable. Each Saturday, kids would tune in to see what the Digi-Destined in Digimon were doing despite the sometimes eye rolling puns or lack of any subtle writing. I could go on and on with examples, but the point here is not to bash old content. A lot of them have very special places in our hearts, mine included. We wouldn’t be the fans we were today if not for the ones that came first.
Now, it’s natural that as we grow in our interests, we do expect the quality of what we enjoy to mature with us.
The anime industry has exploded over the past five years, let alone since when most of us were children. As a result, there has been much more care and attention when it comes to providing the states with anime. For so many people, this industry has played such a pivotal role in defining their passions and their interests. So it’s understandable that there are many fans that have a very passionate opinion about anime.
However, there are times when I feel fans get a little out of control. Recently, as part of Funimation’s broadcast line up, there have been a few delays with a couple of their shows. I decided to try and keep up with the news on their twitter page so I would know when the shows I was interested about was up were available. As I looked through Funimation’s feed, there were quite a few comments calling out Funimation about their “shoddy service” or how they were holding out on distributing episodes. The one argument that stuck out to me was when someone said “Well, this website has been able to get it up already so why can’t you?”
When we were younger, there was no mainstream service that provided new shows as they aired in Japan. Naturally, we defaulted to fansub sites where fans would translate and provide subtitles for new anime that we couldn’t get here in the states. Once anime started showing up on tv stations more frequently, distribution companies decided to partner with anime studios to provide fans with more options. This was a service not only for fans who wanted to see what was new in Japan, but even fans who may not enjoy English dubs. From there, distributors worked to get content to fans even faster. Crunchyroll’s business boasts that it brings anime to fans as little as one hour after the show airs in Japan, pretty much making content available in the states instantaneous as it releases over half a world away.
This is where the problem has started to arise.
As I stated before, fans have been accusing Funimation of not managing their content or holding out on their fans. What many fans don’t seem to understand, at least from what I can see, is that Funimation is a legal partner with the company in Japan. They cannot pull the video from any other source but the company. That is illegal. When you watch from a site that is not in a partnership with any company overseas or who rips episodes from these sites, you are supporting an illegal site. Period. There is no gray area to that. But fans don’t seem to see that definitive line between the two.
It almost seems as though nothing the stateside companies do any more is even good enough because these fans, some how, know better than the company who is working in direct partnership with Japanese distributors. They demand instant gratification and expect things to never go wrong. And when things do go wrong, it’s because of incompetence, not because of unforeseen issues or heaven forbid something tragic has happened to the distribution company and they can’t deliver the product on time.
I understand this is a minority in the community, but this is becoming a louder minority and it’s one of the faces that many people think of when they think of a typical anime fan.
I know that I won’t be changing many opinions about what the perception of the anime industry is. There are flaws in the system and I won’t say that any one distributor is perfect. But I will say this. These companies are working as hard as they can to provide us with the content that we have, honestly, demanded. Many of them are fans, the same as we are, who are excited to bring this content to us. However, they are sometimes met with aggression, hostility, and out right insulting behavior from those who claim to support them.
If things continue this way, who is to say how long we will continue to have these services?