Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The state of anime and my experience at various conventions

As most of you all know, I've been going to quite a few conventions recently, and it has been a bit of an eye-opener on the latest trends in the anime community, and the lessons that fansubbers of all kinds can learn about our target audience.

First off, I've attended these conferences as a fan.  I do not reveal that I'm a fansubber in any way (although what I was cosplaying, which I shall keep a secret, may have provided some clues for those people who knew who I was).

I'll try to divide my perspective on what I saw into several main categories.

Subs versus dubs

The quality of dubs versus watching a series with subtitles is often a source of contention between anime fans in the fansubbing community, with the vast majority of those in the fansubbing community believing subs are superior to dubs.  What I have noted talking to various folks at conventions is that for your average anime fan, that is often completely the opposite.  A lot of your regular anime fans in the United States would much prefer to watch dubs.  American anime voice actors are often very popular guests at conventions; there are very long lines just for autographs with them, and their panels are often packed to the gills.


Funimation and Crunchyroll have been pretty much hated names in the anime "fansubbing" community.  However, without them, most Americans would not have had the exposure to anime that allows for explosive growth of anime convention attendance.  This dovetails into the accessibility of anime; things like the streaming model, are very accessible to your regular person, and provides an effective means of getting anime to a potential audience.  For those who don't like Funimation or Crunchyroll and want them to curl up and collapse, I personally don't see that happening any time soon; they have tapped into a very explosive market and are doing very well.  In essence, I feel that with modern fansubbers only releasing HD encodes in 10-bit h.264 and not providing for the average fan who wants to watch their series with older hardware or with alternative means of playback that isn't a Windows machine is tantamount to shooting themselves in the foot.

Cosplay and older anime

First of all, I love just about every cosplay that happens at these conventions.  It's not easy to do it even for a simple costume.  Cosplay can be an effective vehicle in promoting older anime series that folks have not watched before.

Attitudes towards older anime

The modern anime fan in the United States at these conventions has not heard of many of the series that we grew up on, which is the focus of a lot of the series that we work on.  Of course, people have heard of the various Gundam series, Dragonball, Sailor Moon, Trigun, Cowboy Bebop, and most of the Studio Ghibli movies, but beyond that, most folks have not heard of the World Masterpiece Theater series, or some of the other series that most of the old-school fansubbers work on today.  However, I would like to stress that you cannot force anyone to watch a particular series; all you can really do is to promote them through discussion, cosplay, and other non-threatening or coercive means.


  1. You pretty much hit the nail on the head doll. I really have nothing else to add to it lol. Cosplaying and fandom and fansubs will always be around and are not going anywhere anytime soon. I have my opinions as well but you just go with the flow and do what you want or like or watch what you do or like. It goes both ways. ^_^

  2. 1. I prefer SUBS and avoid everything dubbed. Why? I want the original, how it is intended to be. (if my Japanese understanding were good enough I'd watch raws)
    Would you rather listen to music from the original artist or someone who sings translated lyrics in a foreign language?
    Well, I'm not from an English-speaking country, so I grew up with dubbed/translated media, and I can safely say that dubs suck. Or how can one praise an actor's performance when they don't even hear the actor's real voice? That's why I started watching movies and series in their original language. The original is how it's meant to be watched/read. If one doesn't understand the language, there are subs!
    And that has nothing to do with "weeaboo" or "hipster", like so many people insult others nowadays... it's just my personal opinion.
    2. I grew up with anime in the 90s and watched dubbed stuff till the mid-00s. Then I somehow stopped and only watched some "grownup" stuff like Elfen Lied, Evangelion or Escaflowne. In 2011 I was interested in the progress of One Piece and Naruto (hated my country's dub, but liked the settings) so I searched for current eps... and found them on CR! So CR got me back into anime, though I rather quickly switched to small re-encodes^^ The option to have CR is nice and they do a good translation job, though I'd like more "weeaboo" editing^^ What I dislike is subgroups not subbing BECAUSE CR does it...
    3. I wouldn't ever cosplay, but to each their own. It's not that I hate cosplay... I just never liked costuming myself.
    4. By growing up with old anime, I still tend to like them ("My Annette" was an awesome refresher, thanks). There's just something different about older anime that I love. That doesn't mean I like all older anime (I disliked KOR and Love Hina... and Yamato S1 was really mediocre IMO).
    Nowadays people call 2-4 year old anime "old stuff", which is simply disgusting -_-
    That's my lengthy opinion on the subject matter.

    1. I think our perspective and the perspective of your average anime fan in the United States is certainly different. We are definitely in the minority. It's not that I don't object to change (it happens); I'm merely being an observer here.

    2. Licca is correct. We, the people that love and prefer subs of anime versus dubs in whatever language, are minority in this community. The amount of people that drool over some voice actor I have never heard of is astonishing to me - this isn't exclusive to the US, but globally. There are popular anime voice actors in France, Spain, etc. It just shows you how many people there are, comparatively, who like that particular anime due to the way it is shown. Furthermore, on a national scale, many people just don't like subtitles. It's distracting and can make the show less entertaining.

  3. From my experience of conventions, anime voice actors are popular at these events because there aren't any guests present that would be more interesting. It's not like there are lots of Japanese animators at those events.

    1. Some conventions get lucky and manage to find Japanese guests (not necessarily voice actors, but maybe cosplayers or J-pop idols). In particular, Anime Weekend Atlanta (which was one of the conventions I attended) managed to snag ZUN. That alone probably accounted for at least several thousand people alone.

  4. dub vs sub

    I guess it depends _when_ you were introduced to dubbed anime. In the very begining they couldn't afford voice _actors_ and the result for anime beeing dubbed was that some people were reading down a script without any emotions or acting.
    Nowadays funny when it comes to the first hentais but it ruined the mood for any movie released in the early days.. Bleeding ears :-(

    When there was more budget and they got professional voice actors I can understand that fans prefer dubs.
    Readings subs is exhausting, at least for a fresh fan. You have to continuously shift focus from the picture to the subs which is pretty exhausting.

    Personally I prefer subs as I learned to enjoy the performance of the Japanese voice actors and I really would miss the "melody"

    1. I grew up on American dubbed Sailor Moon, which says a lot.

      Personally, I have no objection to watching either dubs or subs. I know certain folks have certain opinions about that, though.

  5. Your last point, Licca, is very important. Not only can you not force someone to watch something, but even if they do try it out, how do you know they will like it? This is where societal, political, and moral implications emerge. From a marketing standpoint, does it really make sense to target an anime about some popular western character from a western book or real life to the west? Not at all. And let's be honest, anime in the US (and Canada too), is simply a cartoon. There is nothing special about it. In many cases, if not all, a locally made cartoon or better yet, a live-action drama show of that Western character has or will be on television. That show would do much better than a cartoon any day because it will have real characters people can relate to - where as in an animation you cannot. Plus, people of all ages and genders can watch it, while most adults tend to associate cartoons with children.

    In addition, going back to my original comment and your observations, Licca, the anime subtitling community (people that watch anime subs exclusively) is so small that when something good for older anime emerge, they cannot help fund those shows at all - perhaps they have moved on with their lives (marriage, children, etc) or simply don't have time for it. Sam's business venture of for older anime has been both positive and negative. Yes, the initial strategy was bad, but almost all projects failed to date. There may not be another chance for one of those failed projects to appear in a similar fashion for people who like to or want to watch an anime with subtitles. I've also noticed people that watch subtitled old anime are diminishing over the last three years*. It's slowly losing interest and only a few hardcore people will soon be remaining unless someone can persuade the new generation of self-named otaku teens to get into old anime. *In comparison with the people who watch the latest anime.

  6. This comes late , but why are you looking at the US as the whole world?
    Your average anime fan, as you say , is certainly NOT an american - Japan has always been the main market for anime, but that's a no-brainer.
    As for WMS - I think most american fans don't know them because very little of these have been brought to the US , while in other parts of the world - Europe , the Middle East and Asia very are quite known and much-loved.
    Maybe you judge based on the situation in the US because you live there, but as someone who does not , I repeat - the US is not The entire world.

    1. I realize that what I was talking about is very US-centric, because that was what I could directly experience going to these conventions.