State of Filipino fandom: why we cannot stop watching fansubs
Jeff Lawson wrote a wonderful post with regard to the state of the anime industry. He states pertinent points; in fact, he even linked to relevant material. He does not offer answers: in a post-modern way, he organizes and asks the relevant questions. I do not know much about the industry, and I also cannot offer much when it comes to solutions to the problem. However, in this post I hope to be able to describe and explain why fansubs, particularly in the Filipino fandom scene, is a necessity. (I wanted to comment, but judged against it: at best, this post is tangential to the matter at hand that he discussed.)
I do not live in the United States, or in any of the first-world countries. Philippines is a third-world country and I do not deny this. The minimum wage for a Filipino worker is roughly $7.25 a day. If a DVD episode was worth $3 at the very least, that would almost be half of a regular workerâ€™s salary. Importation would add some more expense to original DVDs, and from the original DVDs available, there were none that possessed all the volumes of a single series. Often times, these DVDs are placed on a premium during anime conventions, and only one volume of an obscure series is sold at about $15 (in some, not all anime conventions). I would agree, that would be cheap for many Americans, but for us Filipinos that would be more than two days of work. To further put things into perspective, it is only in our anime conventions that one sells a 15-year old Newtype magazine for $18 (and I am not even kidding). Aside from the lack of choice, only incomplete volumes can be availed of. Under these circumstances, even the most avid anime fan would have difficulty wanting to purchase these available DVDs. I can shell out the $15, and I will, if by purchasing the said volume I know that I can purchase the other volumes at the same price and if the volume belongs to a series that has endeared itself to me. Even I will not buy a volume of Honey and Clover if the only volume that was offered to me was the fourth one. And that is the state of the anime industry here in the Philippines.
The only other alternative is fansubs. In fact, I am going as far as arguing that it is the only thing that allows Filipino fans to congregate as well as to keep themselves up to date with the new anime series. Without these fansubs there will be no Filipino anime fandom. In fact, anime conventions are replete with converted-to-DVD fansubbed series. Fellow fans of this country will attest to this.
For my part, I rarely purchase these DVDs. If I had to spend money, I will honor the company who produced the series by shelling my money out only to them. I watch the series, burn them for later (personal) use, and that stops there.
If ever the anime industry implodes, I definitely will not be happy, but I guess it would give me time to spend on reading the classics that I still have not discovered or read. I believe, however, that fansubs are the keystones of the Filipino anime fandom, that without them anime appreciation would totally dissipate or would never have flourished in the first place.
I may not understand the goings-on within the declining anime industry, whether in Japan or the United States, but I believe that if one disenfranchises the Filipino fandom of its fansubs, our anime appreciation will totally go down the drain. I do not know which will be best for us and for the industry, but I hope the anime industry gets back on its feet. There is great zeal in hope, and I will hope for the best.