< Piro >
Wednesday - April 30, 2003
I don't know why, but there is something very weird and depressing about throwing three big garbage bags of VHS tapes in the trash dumpster.
Last week, Seraphim was on vacation and one of the first things we did was clean out the 'office'. Unlike the rest of our place, the office tends to suffer from my organizational technique known as 'dump and pile'. Access to the closet had been blocked for months by boxes and other junk dumped there when i cleaned out my desk at my old office. The blockage has grown substantially since then, and subsequent pilings of various paperwork, magazines, bags, stuff from recent trips and the jumbled mess known as my CD collection was threatening to block the door leading to the rest of the apartment.
The goal of this cleaning exercise was to get the rather sizeable boxes for my new computer into the closet and pare down the junk. It turned out to be a massive challenge. At one point I was ready to see if i could commandeer the bobcat skid steer loader that the landscape guys have parked outside and use it to shovel the whole mess into some dark corner of the apartment that we could just agree to avoid. In the end, and after a lot of hard work, civilization and exposed carpet have returned to the Fredart Studios landscape.
Cleaning up your work area is always both a physical and a mental exercise. There is nothing more liberating than to be able to walk from your desk to the door in a straight line without running a slalom course of papers, boxes and other things. Now, things weren't quite as bad as i make them sound here, but straightening the physical things around you actually does help you get things straight in your mind as well - and i need all the help with that I can get.
Another thing you have to deal with when cleaning is the 'do i really need this, can i give it away, or is it just garbage?' question about things. Ever since Seraphim and I met one of the most mind boggling things she's had to deal with was my fansubs collection. Her first reaction years ago to the four bookshelves of VHS tapes was "you have got to be kidding me."
I first started collecting fansubs and tapes of raw off-tv anime many years ago, long before people were spoiled by the easy ability of digisubs (digital fansubs). At it's height, my fansubs collection - which was about half subs and half raw untranslated anime - totaled over 500 vhs tapes. That took a lot of shelf space. :) I stopped collecting fansubs about six years ago (for various reasons, expense mostly). The size of this 'static' collection has been getting smaller and smaller as I cull it occasionally. Several years ago i threw away almost 300 tapes. The remaining 200 have been culled here and there, but it still took up most of an entire shelf unit
The first things to go were tapes that I knew i'd never watch. I knew that i'd never actually sit and watch the entire season of Revolutionary Girl Utena or VS Lamune and 40 Fire in raw japanese (no offense to Utena or Lamune fans ^^;;). Some shows i'd never sit thru again, like Ganbaristo Shun! or YAT Anshin. These all went in the bin years ago. I still had a core group of tapes that I was reluctant to let go.
Now, Fansub ethics is pretty straight forward, at least for old school fansubber types like myself. Anime is *not* a free hobby, fansubs are NOT a cheap alternative to getting the real thing. The idea behind fansubbing was to translate and subtitle a series so fans could promote awareness of it and have access to shows that were unavailable outside of Japan. Once the rights to a series are purchased, you are supposed to stop distribution and delete or destroy the subs. In it's purest form, you were supposed to buy the american release when it came out as well, if you watched it.
Real life has few true black and whites, most things have various shades of grey. The fansub debate has been so horribly beat to death that it's almost a joke. Fansubbing's current form, Digisubbing, is tolerated by anime companies as long as it stays a lighter shade of grey.
I took a hard look at some of my favorite fansubs which were now out on DVD and decided it was time that they had to go. Technically, i haven't broken any fansub codes because i haven't WATCHED any of the damn things in years. I kept the tapes more out of habit, in case i felt like watching them again. After all, replacing all of these with DVDs would be expensive. Of course, I haven't exactly been in a position where i could just go out and do that. The 'i don't have enough money, its too expensive!' excuse, right? Old as the hills. Heard it a zillion times. Doesn't make it right.
Honestly, the old fansubbing days are truly gone. Most anime that is decent at all WILL come out domestically these days (like Haibane Renmei, which Pioneer announced recently - be good little boys and girls and buy the dvds when they come out, people ^_^), and in most cases the DVDs are well done and well produced. What most of you don't realise is just how incredibly fsking cool it is that so much is available these days. Back when I started watching anime, it was just one rack of tapes at the local Suncoast. There were so many shows that I would have bought on the spot, but the only way to get them was find the fansubs. Anime fans don't have that problem anymore. Fansubbing and the fansub community did its job, and did it well. Anime is more popular than ever, and enough so that even many obscure anime series are available on DVD. It's what we all wanted years ago.
Digisubbing has it's own place in todays anime culture. Some good, some bad - It relies more heavily than ever on the ethics of fans. If it wasn't for digisubs, how many people who know the story behind Kanon? Even so, you must remember, it's not free entertainment. There are people just like me who sweat blood and tears and who's livelihood increasingly relies on a series to not only doing well in Japan, but here in the states as well. That's the future of anime on the global scale, and this is a good thing.
I get asked about the possibilities of a Megatokyo anime all the time. Lets say Megatokyo came out in Japanese first, but was coming out in english two months later. Would YOU download a fansub, or would you wait for the english release?
I don't understand some fansub groups these days. It's a huge rush to sub and finish a new show as soon as it airs and try to do so desperately before the rights to the series are purchased and announced. It always amazes me when people get DEPRESSED when a series is picked up in the states. What the hell? I think that fansubbers these days would better serve the community by subbing more obscure, lesser known shows that may never see english release without more exposure. But that's just me.
Weird things to be thinking about when cleaning your office. I guess in the end, my fansub ethics made it easier to throw out three bags worth of VHS tapes and clear off some shelf space. I threw out everything that is either now or soon going to be available on DVD. I haven't watched any of them in a long time anyway - If i want to watch them again, i will buy the DVDs. DVDs take up less shelf space anyway.
I did keep some tapes - two shelves worth. I somehow doubt that Kero Kero Chime will ever find its way to the states, or Mizuiro Jidai, Hime-chan no Ribbon, or Miracle Girls... but then again, i never thought that the Saint Tail series would come out on DVD here either. I think it would be a good thing if I had a reason to clear of the rest of those shelves.
Oh, I threw out my beloved Saint Tail subs too... all except one. It is the one that I worked on with my friends Craig and Yutaka under the Project Genki! fansub group label so many years ago. I think it's ok - i own the TokyoPop DVD for it now.
A quick update on my convention schedule. In a few weeks we will all be at Anime Central from May 16th thru the 18th in Chicago. This will be the first of two official Naze Nani Megatokyo shows this year, so be sure and come if you can. Acen has given us da big main programming room, and this will be the first appearance of Dom this year. More info in the coming weeks.
Unfortunately, Seraphim and i will not be attending Project A-Kon this year (May 29th thru June 1st in Dallas, Texas) Hopefully we can go next year.
Then, we get a little break, and Seraphim and I will be exhibiting at San Diego Comic Con(July 17th thru 20th in San Diego, California) with Greg Dean over at Real Life Comics. Everything is all set up now, and we will have a nice little 10x10 booth to play with. More information on this as we get closer to the show.
Then it's on to Baltimore, Maryland for Otakon from August 7th thru the 10th. Once again, this will be show #2 for Naze Nani Megatokyo, and once again, they are finally listening - we got the big room! What will make this year's otakon particularly exciting is that both Tycho and Gabe from Penny Arcade will be guests as well as those crazy european dudes from Little Gamers. It promises to be... an interesting con. :)
As usual, i would really love to overwhelm the staff at these cons with the huge numbers of MT fans, so be sure and come if you can. I'd like to continue being as big a pain as possible, and we here at Megatokyo can't do it without your help your help :) Cosplaying as MT characters is, of course, encouraged.