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.