It Was 10 Years Ago

I was going through an old external hard drive the other day for a half-remembered song, finding the CD I’d ripped it from would have been a more labor-intensive process, when I stumbled on a file that made me realize I was coming up to anniversary. An important anniversary.

It was on May 11, 2005 that I downloaded my first anime fansub.

I’d been an anime fan for a few years before then, having been brought in by Toonami’s broadcasting of Ruroni Kenshin and Yu Yu Hakusho. At that time American television had been taking over by reality series and I pined for good scripted series that told a story and anime seemed to fit that need. After a few years, however, I started to notice there was a lot of dead weight in my anime DVD collection.

I was never that person who thought all anime was awesome. I was careful in what I bought; but, no matter how many reviews I read, I kept ending up with anime series I hated. The most often fault in these anime series was the ending and this was a costly mistake to make. Remember, this was the bad old days when one had to pay $20-$25 for 3-5 episodes of an anime. The two most egregious examples, Evangelion and the first Full Metal Alchemist, combined soaked me for about $300 ($372 in 2015 dollars).

So, by May 2005, my love of anime was starting to cool. The desire was there but the wallet was starting to notice more surefire entertainment options. At this time the manga I was most into was Bleach because it had so much style and coolness. I started noticing in my Bleach manga mentions to an anime that was going to be made. I first scoured the anime DVD section at various stores for this Bleach anime (remember, this was 2005) because I could not believe the decision to license a manga would be made without also bringing over the anime as well. Synergy and all that. I then turned to the internet and eventually discovered that, yes, there is an anime and, what’s more, there’s fans who would translate these unlicensed shows into various languages for free.

So, there I was on May 11, 2005 entering a brave new world of anime fansubs.

In hindsight, it’s clear if I hadn’t discovered fansubs I would not be an anime fan today. Yes, it’s possible I would have discovered Crunchyroll and the other streaming services who in the last few years have made it possible to watch most shows before deciding to buy them or not; but, I would not – could not – be the same anime fan. Besides, I also would probably have eventually decided to start a blog focused on print science fiction or politics or religion and wouldn’t have been interested in Crunchyroll when it became an viable option.

It’s funny how small decisions one makes can effect a person’s life for years to come in ways that are impossible to anticipate.


7 thoughts on “It Was 10 Years Ago”

  1. This was the same for me. I watched anime initially on Adult Swim. Then my boyfriend at the time introduced me to more anime via fansubs. Thank goodness for them. I wouldn’t have been able to know what was out there.

    Fun fact: Crunchyroll wouldn’t be here today without fansubs as that’s what it was initially. It just was successful becoming legal.


  2. Awww what a wonderful anniversary! This post made me so happy! I love reading people’s stories of how anime has impacted their lives; it’s such a precious thing how fictional stories can truly touch our very real and personal journey! 🙂


  3. @GoodbyeNavi: Thanks for reminding me of that.

    I’ve often thought I’d like to see fans that used to look down their noses at people who watched fansubs because “they don’t support the industry” either publicly give up Crunchyroll and the other free legal streaming sites or thank fansubbers for pushing the industry into adopting a more reasonable model that allows many more people the chance to become fans.

    @Jamie: Thanks. Glad you liked it.

    It feels weird, though that’s not quite the right word, when I think back those 10 years to before I had the chance to watch all the really great anime series I’ve seen since then and before discovering so many anime blogs and interesting people. The me from back then is me, but a different, less complete me.


  4. It really sounds cool that you’d been there to see all the transition in the anime consumption habits of fans. Plus, you were already reading BLEACH manga even before the anime was made? I think that is really cool. You were there when BLEACH was basking in its glory, and quite literally.

    My real dive into fansubbed anime was when I decided to watch the entirety of Elemental Gelade series. Back then, I could watch them on YouTube. So YouTube was my ‘streaming’ site before the others and download became known to me. I think the first fansubbed series I downloaded (i.e. not streamed–streaming was eyecancer back then) was Kannagi.


  5. Japan is essentially exporting a version of cultural imperialism. Because art is the foundation of one’s culture, along with the emotions attached to things like patriotism, holidays, and the fundamental precepts of one’s culture and language.

    Originally, Japan thought they had to “localize” things to the NA market because that’s how the playstation games are. What priorities their drama and entertainment art beyond that of the Chinese and Koreans, is the Japanese culture and language.


  6. @miharusshi: Sorry about the slow reply.

    If I had been a little slower discovering fansubs I might started out on Youtube as well (Youtube wasn’t launched until November 2005), though, the low quality of the vids – 320×240 – probably would have pushed me to fansubs anyways.

    Actually, it’s weird to think of the internet without Youtube.

    @ymarsakar: Sorry about the slow reply.

    That is true about how art if the foundation of one’s culture but In the case of Japan, I sometimes think there’s a strong echo of American culture (particularly as it was in the middle of the 20th century and as viewed by the Japanese) to be found in anime.


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