Head Hurting Time – More on Fansubs and the Industry

Right on the heels of reading about the Comcast/Odex snafu, I came across this interview with Arthur Smith, the president of G.D.H Int’l on activeanime.com. Part of me wants to agree with him. I mean, he’s right. People who download fansubs and don’t buy the DVDs hurt the market. As HardCheese pointed out in a recent post, it’s simple econimics.

But something bothers me… What could it possibly ever be? Oh yeah, we don’t actually have any real numbers. Well except for this part:

“…why the overall DVD market in US is down 15% and anime DVD market, even though interest in anime is GROWING much faster than other types of programming, is down 30%!! How can that be, if not through the impact of file sharing!?!”

Besides the extreme overuse of exclamation points (I mean how do you yell more than yelling), I’m curious about these percentages. So the DVD market overall is down 15 percent? What does that mean really? If 100 DVDs were sold last year then this year 85 DVDs are sold? Or does it mean that if the company made $100 last year on DVD sales, they made $85 this year on those same sales?

I tell you those percentages are tricky. And can you really compare a relatively small niche market to a larger mass audience market at all? It seems to me that these are alarmist tactics at best. At worst, they’re downright fabrications.

On top of that, I’m having a really hard time feeling bad for Mr. Smith. It’s really easy to blame the fansubs. He even says “What other reason could there be?” And then turns around an points out one of the top reasons – There’s a two year gap between when the show is released in Japan and when it’s released in the United States.

Let me give you another one, Mr. Smith. I just spent $30 filling up a 12 gallon tank of gas. My electricity, cable and rent are all going up, but my paycheck isn’t. Oh, here’s another one – the quality of your shows have gone so far downhill in the last couple of years that your company has officially been branded a laughingstock.

Oh wait. But see you can’t attack those. So it has to be those naughty fansubbers that are doing it to you. For goodness sake, lay off the semantics. Yes, people who do not buy the anime DVDs (or at least rent them) are hurting the industry. But to simply throw some meaningless numbers up there and expect the rest of us to run around like Chicken Little screaming, “The sky is falling.”

Well, that’s just dirty.



  1. Hey, all the anime DVDs I bought I, um, “may” have seen part of the show first. (Hello, fansubs.)

    If he’s honestly stupid enough to think that kind of incredible free advertising and word of mouth is bad, I see no reason not to honor what he wants and to stop ever watching shows his company produces, effective now. He gets what he wants, and to be blunt, it’s not like there is no other sources of entertainment available.

    I hope others do the same.

  2. I just think everything he said was so grossly oversimplified that it was ridiculous.

    I won’t stop watching anime, but he was so inflamatory that even I had my hackles up.

  3. There’s a reason why Kyoto Animation isn’t crying foul for fansubs. Gonzo’s stuff stinks of late. Suzumiya Haruhi DVDs sold damn well due to fansubs. I don’t think fansubs are the primarily problem.

  4. Well, well, not everything that Gonzo made is bad. I mean, they did produce Bokura no.

  5. @psgels

    And not everything that they’ve produced over the course of their history has been bad. But if you look at this last years offerings (Speed Grapher, Trinity Blood, Basilisk) generally they’ve all started really strong and have faded off. It’s gotten so bad that it’s become sort of a short-hand.

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