September 23, 2002
12:57 AM   Subscribe

Kodocha calls it quits. Kodocha Anime, one of the best known and most reliable anime fansub tape distributors, is closing down operations. Why? Because everything's going digital. [more inside]
posted by Slithy_Tove (3 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Background: anime fansubs are Japanese animation, most often TV shows, translated and subtitled by fans (chiefly in the US and Canada) and distributed on VHS tape at cost, typically US$5-7. Fansubs are illegal in countries that have signed the Berne Convention, which includes the US and Japan. However, fansubbing is never prosecuted, as long as it involves shows that no company has licensed for North American distribution. Some anime licensees will grudgingly admit that fansubbing benefits them by providing free publicity.

Fansubbing to VHS tape, using PC's and genlocks,   has been going on for 20 years or so. But in the past few years, faster CPU's and larger hard disks have made editing and subtitling in the digital domain practical for hobbyists, and increasingly ubiquitous flat-rate broadband connections make downloading 100-200 megabyte Divx-encoded digisubs reasonable. The result has been an explosion of fansubbing groups who distribute only digisubs, mainly on IRC.

VHS fansubs, on the other hand, like analog media in general, seem to be disappearing rapidly. Kodocha closing up shop is shocking, they're one of the most prominent fansub distros. Even the Techno-Girls, boutique shoujo (girls') anime fansubbers, who are so meticulous they take 7 years to subtitle a 38 episode show, and have heretofore sneered at digisubs, are now starting to release their fansubs on DVD-R.

It's interesting that the paradigm shift from analog to digital media is affecting all players, from George Lucas' massive Star Wars franchise all the way down to ragged-edge outlaw media, "the mice in the walls of global village," like anime fansubs.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 1:07 AM on September 23, 2002

And the other side of the coin is that digital media is allowing scores of people who previously would never have had the opportunity to make and distribute their own film work. I know your post wasn't intended to be a slag of the digital revolution, but I thought it was worth pointing out that there's definitely a positive side.
posted by toddshot at 1:11 AM on September 23, 2002

I'm very much going to miss the wonderfully solid barney-purple Kodocha tapes. I definitely prefer DVDs now for licensed anime, but I still prefer tapes for fansubs.

But hey, if they do start coming out on DVD-R I can probably work with that. I've never had any interest in VCDs, which some people seem to accumulate by the pound.

I would like to be able to complete Kodomo No Omocha and Onisama E on tape though.
posted by ursus_comiter at 8:18 PM on September 23, 2002

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