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 worker’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.

13 Responses to “State of Filipino fandom: why we cannot stop watching fansubs”

  1. tj han Says:

    Well said, particularly the part where you mentioned using them lol. For a good wank perhaps? But in all seriousness, the Japanese managers and marketing execs probably do not care for countries which do not generate income such as yours (though you might have Animax). Though the creators themselves, like mangaka, are always pleasantly surprised when they arrive in foreign lands and still are recognised or loved.

  2. jpmeyer Says:

    I was really hoping that someone would post about this from a non-American, non-European perspective. I wonder honestly how much anime companies would be able to do about international fansubbers. What would they do about a bunch of say, Filipinos that made English fansubs of a show?

  3. meganeshounen Says:

    You can pretty much blame the Internet for the sudden increase of updated otaku in our country. I mean, a normal person doesn’t know nor care about the ending of School Days, how Kamina and Nia finally got together, or even how will Keiichi and the rest survive through Matsuribayashi-hen… if they aren’t familiar with the online scene. Heck, we’ve only had School Rumble just recently (in local television, I think it was already aired in cable TV).

    Besides, the act of merely DLing/torrenting the episodes themselves then burning them onto DVDs is far cheaper than buying the originals… sadly enough. Let’s face it. We’re pretty cheap when it comes to these things. Or at least some of us. :3

    Last thing… it does feel odd when you see a fansub or a scanlation being sold right in front of you in a convention or something similar… especially when you helped create that work… D:

  4. usagijen Says:

    without fansubs, we’ll be relying on the cheap pirated made-in-china DVDs being sold here with the sucky subs (most of the time) for more dose of anime looool. and well, there’s also Animax (and Hero) on cable tv XD

    imported authentic DVDs are a tad expensive indeed, which is why most of us resort to downloading instead. I wouldn’t mind buying DVDs of a certain series which I will never get tired of, even after watching it for N times – the shows that are really “for keeps.” But of course animes like those are hard to come by, or so that’s what I’ve ingrained in my mind, in order to avoid buying them =P

    I’m less picky in terms of buying mangas, but I still choose the ones “for keeps” as much as possible.

    now about that $18 Newtype magazine… goodness o__O I remember buying Newtype JP from our local stores at about $10-$15 each issue, but now that they no longer sell them, the only way to get it is through online stores, which is just roughly the same price.

  5. Michael Says:

    @tj

    I am very sure that the anime companies do not give a damn about our country. However, if the industry implodes, or if the production of fansubs is stopped, we will still get affected as anime viewers. Worse for us is that there is no other better alternative than fansubs. As I have stated, we have no original DVDs. If ever they are sold, they are sold incompletely. I am not going all emo and crying foul. I can’t even do anything but hope.

    @jp

    I really do not know. It would take long before fansub production in countries like ours become penalized, though. The companies have to go through all the bureaucratic red tape, and I assure you, we have tons of that to go all around the world.

    Frankly, I wrote this post not because of going with the trend. I was moved by Jeff’s post, but it seemed so American, so Western that I felt I had to present our side: the side of a third-world country mired in debt and corruption. I don’t blame the companies, and I don’t blame the fansubbers. It is not drama I want to produce, I really just wanted to present our own predicaments as to why we *need* fansubs if anime will remain appreciated in this country.

    @meganeshounen

    “Besides, the act of merely DLing/torrenting the episodes themselves then burning them onto DVDs is far cheaper than buying the originals… sadly enough. Let’s face it. We’re pretty cheap when it comes to these things. Or at least some of us.”

    I am not cheap. I will buy original DVDs if they will assure me of a complete series. But I agree, simply burning the episodes themselves is a lot cheaper than buying the originals. And because we *are* in a third-world country, what seems a good deal for Westerners is an exorbitant price for us.

    It is alienating when one sees what is supposedly free work sold as pirated material INSIDE an anime convention. Especially when you’ve worked on the series.

    @usagijen

    Worse, without fansubs, we won’t watch anime. And this is a fact. With the rehashes on TV, the umpteenth time Slam Dunk is airing AGAIN, we would simply lose interest in anime.

    Hero is a channel that isn’t updated when it comes to anime. Worse, the dubs of the series are atrocious, and they piss me off more than entertain me when I watch them.

    Note that that was a 1991 Newtype manga for about $18. I was all WTF, this should even be worth less than a dollar!

  6. usagijen Says:

    @mike: despite how horrible the dubs are in Hero (even in Animax, especially when you keep hearing the same voice actors), me and my brothers can actually stand watching it… lol. I actually watch Hero for the other “forgotten” or obscure animes. If I find it interesting, then I’ll look for fansubs, if any.

    now that 1991 Newtype magazine… the only way people would buy that is for the “freebie” that will be included, which will still not justify that price, ever. It’s supposed to depreciate, for goodness’ sake! (I guess they’re trying to trick people who have never ever seen Newtype o__O)

  7. Ryan A Says:

    Yaay, fun stuff here!

    Internetz and updates… well, it sucks everywhere in this respect (the delay that is). Whether a channel licenses a decent series or even the DVD companies, the delay is too long. Of course, if we (fans) were so oblivious to the uses of the Internet it would make the stuff seem new. OMG its NEWWW!

    Similar to NEWs. When we want news we can get it, the updated stuff. We aren’t waiting for some company to license it and publish it in a translated manner.

    So, currently, I’m on the verge of ordering direct from JP the recent Shugo Tokumaru album. This album is going to be released globally sometime in 2008, but why wait, the distributor ships Int’l. Without delays, I can attain a media of choice. Anime has an extremely different way about it, and it isn’t possible to have this buying power; it is serialized.

    The delay from a first episode airing to a DVD release has become reasonable in Japan, but taking the first episode airing to a Western DVD release it becomes very unreasonable. The information is out of date. In this Age of Information, this sort of bottleneck will not do. I could contrast the uselessness to that of having 100Mbps NICS and a 10Mbps non-switching hub… it hurts the information.

    Thinking about it this way, what is the relevance of that 1991 Newtype? Aside from archival qualities (if any), it does not provide anything new (information). Some things grow money as they age, like the newspaper prints of the first KSC Orbiter space launch… or even the Apollo launches, they are antiques, documenting historically important details of our humanity. Many, if not most, things pass in time without growing a value, instead they depreciate. What is the cost of that licensed, depreciated N.American DVD?

    I feel you’re position in this matter is reasonable. Yes. 🙂

  8. Atticus Says:

    Is the anime industry really that dangerously close to imploding? I never knew. Its one of those things that I never gave too much thought about. Anime is expensive, and that is why I don’t buy it from the true manufactureres. I make no excuses for being cheap, I just know what I will and won’t do. Fansubs are great because without them I would not be as deep into anime as I am now. More than likely I would have given up anime long ago because I stopped looking for it on television. Nice post.

  9. anime|otaku » Blog Archive » My first foray into Hero: the biggest anime convention in the Philippines Says:

    […] anime|otaku hopefully incisive and intellectual disquisitions on anime « State of Filipino fandom: why we cannot stop watching fansubs […]

  10. korosora Says:

    hmm… remind me what truly brought this issue back up on the blogosphere. Was it ODEX? Was it Geneon? Or has the industry truly neared its breaking point?

  11. Michael Says:

    It was Justin Sevakis, korosora.

    Geneon imploded in America was among other things, but it was primarily Justin Sevakis. 😀

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