Anime for Legal Download

Viz recently made a surprising press release regarding their license of the anime Death Note. It wasn’t surprising that Viz would license the anime since they’ve licensed the manga. Still, Viz deciding to enter the online download market with subtitled releases of the anime while it is still on air in Japan is what is so stunning.

The manga, according to Viz, is doing pretty well and is popular. OK, I’ll take their word for it. But will this online legal “fansub” attempt on Viz’s part truly work?

Why do people download fansubs? Well for the most part, English-speaking fans want to watch an anime title that’s currently airing in Japan. Others want to be able to check out an anime completely before they decide to buy the title. A large number of folks who download fansubs from so-called “good” groups do so because these groups’ subtitles are accurate with Japanese honorific usage, non-domesticated, readable, and include translator notes. And of course, fansubs are free.

Whether Viz admits it or not, they are very aware of the fansub market and I’m sure want to cash in. More power to them I say. However, will they take any cues from these good fansub groups? Will they try to win over those who enjoy fansubs beyond the fact that they are free?

Certainly, there will be a percentage of folks interested in Death Note that will pay to download these official subtitled versions from Viz. These are the same fans that will buy the R1 DVD’s and not really have a problem with mild to moderate domestication, lack of Japanese honorifics, lack of translator notes, etc. As long as they are entertained, that’s all that matters.

Still, in order to get a maximum number of folks to buy from Viz, I believe they will need to do the following:

  1. Ensure accurate but readable subtitles. That means don’t domesticate the jokes or other elements because you think people won’t understand. There is a means of explaining things that fansubbers use all the time.
  2. Include translator notes. Seriously, is it too much to ask for this? Some of us would actually like to learn more about our Japanese cousin’s culture.
  3. Include ALL Japanese honorifics. Honorifics add spice and richness to the subtitles and help the audience see things from a more Japanese perspective than an American one.
  4. Don’t kill us with DRM requirements! Actually, this one is the most important because it will hit a greater number of fans. If I can’t watch the files I download when and where
    I want to, then what’s the point of having it?

Somehow, I doubt that Viz will do very much on any of these points. I’m sure they’ll sell a few downloads, but if they want to sell more, they’ll do what I suggest.

Just my opinion.

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One Response to “Anime for Legal Download”

  1. Anime Like says:

    I have seen some horrible subs that are prominent in anime subs when they air right away.

    I am a big fan of death note and most of the subs I have seen are decent.

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