Rant: Hyouge Mono and the failure of fansubbing

September 16, 2011

Ninja Attack.

Without a doubt, the greatest disappointment of 2011 is the lack of fan subbed episodes of Hyouge Mono. This historical dramatic-comedy is extremely ambitious in several senses. It is a longer, more involved story than most recent series (covering 39 episodes). It tells the story of adults doing adult things (like political treachery and collecting ceramics). It also has complex dialogue — in part a feature of its historical setting, and in part a reflection of a mature target audience.

Unfortunately, despite its uniqueness, and despite critical acclaim from those who are able to follow the anime in Japanese, Hyouge Mono has been abandoned by the fan sub community. This is a terrible shame, because this is precisely the series that needs fan sub support. Some series are so vapid that translations are not needed to follow along, but they get subbed and this one, in which the dialogue is critical to following the plot doesn’t. Some series are already slated for commercial release, so they will get official translations (in fact many are simulcast online with official translations already), but this one will likely never see release outside of Japan.

One of the best arguments for fansubs is that they provide what the market is unwilling to, and Hyouge Mono is a perfect example of a show fansubbers should be jumping on. The fact that only 5 episodes ever got released as fansubs (episode 22 is available raw) shows that fan subbing isn’t achieving what it should be. Every ecchi Rom-Com gets a fansub, and almost all get commercial releases. Fansubs should be supplementing the anime available to those who can’t follow the Japanese, by providing translations of series that commercial interests are too timid to provide. Instead the recent trend is for multiple groups to translate the same series that are available from a licensed commercial provider.

I just want to leave you with a comment by someone who was able to follow the show in Japanese:

The characterization was again as rock-solid as ever, far beyond all of the other stuff this season.

Psgels

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22 Responses to “Rant: Hyouge Mono and the failure of fansubbing”

  1. animekritik Says:

    The problem is fansubs have their own market, based on expectations of what the demand will be for this and that (and that’s why you get several groups doing the same, popular series).

    I was pretty upset (and I’m being totally serious when I say this) to note that Jewelpet didn’t receive any love from the fansubbers either, despite being a solid show.

    • Joojoobees Says:

      That’s an interesting take. I was kind of wondering if it wasn’t a sign of laziness, as sometimes fansubs are either ripped from the official translations on Crunchyroll, or are based on translations done for the manga source material.

      At any rate, I’m pretty disappointed that good series get jilted while those that are garbage (or shows that will become commercially available anyways) get multiple releases. I want to believe in fansubs as a way that volunteers are trying to spread culture.

  2. Karry Says:

    “despite critical acclaim from those who are able to follow the anime in Japanese”

    Hahaha, i wouldnt depend on THAT guy’s sound judgement when it comes to having good tastes. Also, he may know Japanese, but he sure is shit with numbers.

    Anyway, fansubs are one of those rare, really rare cases, when the principle “dont like it – do it yourself” is actually applicable in full.

    • Joojoobees Says:

      I completely disagree with your assessment of Psgel’s taste. I think he knows what he is talking about, and I respect his opinion AT LEAST as much as any other aniblogger out there.

      RE “dont like it – do it yourself”: This obviously makes no sense. If I want to watch Hyouge Mono and there is no fansub available, the solution isn’t for me to release my own fansub. I obviously don’t know Japanese, or I wouldn’t be relying on fansubs. If I do know Japanese, I could just watch the show in the original.

  3. temperus Says:

    I’ll wager there aren’t many fansubbers who CAN translate Hyouge Mono, and they know it. Besides that, most fansubbing groups have proven themselves to only be interested in one-upping the other groups on popular series to gain notoriety with the kiddies.

    There are very few actual “fansubbers” anymore, as far as I’m concerned. All I see these days is kids tweaking HDTV encodings and making slight edits to Crunchyroll (and real fansubbers) efforts to do inane stuff like add honorifics. I guess they want to win an award for out-fanning the other groups?

    • Joojoobees Says:

      I think you are probably correct about Hyouge Mono being difficult to translate, and as such I was willing to cut Huzzah some slack as they were by no means providing timely releases. It has since become clear, however, that the project has been abandoned entirely.

      “There are very few actual “fansubbers” anymore, as far as I’m concerned. All I see these days is kids tweaking HDTV encodings and making slight edits to Crunchyroll (and real fansubbers) efforts to do inane stuff like add honorifics. I guess they want to win an award for out-fanning the other groups?”

      Sadly I think you are correct. I see too much of this, and very little real fansubbing any more.

  4. Aera Says:

    I agree with animekritic. Fansubbers want to sub what they perceive the community wishes to see, so as to be a fansub group that wins acclaim and popularity by having those titles to their credit. Its really not about what the actual best show is but rather what is mainstream and has the most clamor to be seen. You then occasionally get those odd little side projects of shows that make you wonder why they were subtitled in the first place, but these seem most of the time to be pet projects. Unfortunately, Hyouge Mono is neither of these right now. At least that’s my take on it.

    Its really too bad, too, because it is, without a doubt, one of the best shows of 2011. Its very disappointing, especially when one considers some of the crap that actually does get subtitled – and by multiple groups, as you mention. Very frustrating. Who watches that stuff?

    I’m holding out hope that someone in the fansub community comes to their senses and actually sets aside perceived demand and subtitles Hyouge Mono on merit alone. It deserves it. The bonus to whoever does this is that they would also be the only ones with that particular title to their credit and, a very good show at that.

    • Joojoobees Says:

      “Its very disappointing, especially when one considers some of the crap that actually does get subtitled”. This is what drove me to write this post. How many torrents do I see each day for utter crap shows, while a real gem is COMPLETELY ignored.

      I don’t begrudge groups working on whatever they want. If they want to provide their own personal subs for Manyuu Hikenchou, that is their choice. It troubles me however that NOBODY is willing to cover an actual quality show. Further there is cause and effect to be considered: if the subs don’t exist, how can there possibly be any viewers? This is an exact mirror of the problem with commercial production of anime in general. We often hear that companies make slight variants of the same crappy shows over and over because they know they will sell. When nothing else is produced, people are forced to watch the crap that is available. Those who would have watched the other shows are never cultivated as consumers and the whole thing is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

  5. draggle Says:

    Agreed, I really wish this show would get the love it deserves. I’ve only seen the first six episodes as well, but they were jaw-dropping awesome.

    I bet that someone will get around to subbing it eventually, although that’s a small comfort now. Mouryou no Hako also took a long time to get subbed, if I remember, as did Simoun. And Simoun at least ended up with one of the best subbing jobs of all time. Hopefully Hyouge Mono will also receive its due.

    • Joojoobees Says:

      It would be great if it did eventually get a complete sub. I guess, even more than just ranting, my real aim here is to remind people that this show exists. :shakes fist:

  6. ajthefourth Says:

    I’ll agree with what’s been said that the majority of fansubbers want to win acclaim/popularity, or just want to sub something that they themselves want to watch (and unfortunately it’s not Hyouge Mono).

    I’d like to add; however, that the types of fansub groups who would pick up Hyouge Mono are also, more than likely, the same groups that will take a lot more time and put more consideration into their releases because they are not subbing to be first, or to beat other groups. They, presumably, are subbing for their own enjoyment. For example, I’m watching Ace wo Nerae! (a Dezaki shoujo from the 70s) which is being subbed by Blue Fixer, I think. They take a great deal of time in between episodes, but I’ve never been disappointed with a release. This also plays into my own expectations of what I expect to see released when. I don’t expect things like Ace wo Nerae! or Hyouge Mono to be released immediately, like Boring Harem RomCom #4097, which perhaps is part of the problem more than the solution? I don’t know.

    Yes, it really sucks that fansub groups don’t give series like Hyouge Mono a chance immediately; however, I think someone will pick it up eventually, it’s just a matter of time.

    As an aside, to get the community kickstarted into thinking about Hyouge Mono, my blogging partner was thinking of writing a post on it. If you bug him, maybe he’ll write it faster. ^ ^

    • Joojoobees Says:

      I hope someone does pick it up eventually. I’m not as bothered by the idea of having to wait, as I am bothered by the idea that good quality shows, that people put a lot of effort into won’t get seen. The way I think of it, people put a lot of effort in to creating cultural products (like anime series), and that effort goes to waste if corporations tie up those products so that they can’t be enjoyed. I view fansubs as the mechanism for freeing some cultural products up from the shackles that corporations have placed upon them which prevents them from being enjoyed by people around the world. I hate to think of fansubbers perpetuating the same stupid restrictions that greedy corporations created.


  7. I think there are actually a number of groups that want to pick this up… but they just don’t have the resource or it’s beyond the translator’s capability (in other words, they don’t think they can do it justice). As you already know, you don’t need to know Japanese to realize how difficult translating Hyouge Mono is.

    Sadly, those who CAN don’t have the time or aren’t interested in it.

    To be honest, I’m not really a fan of Hyouge Mono (simply not my type), but I do acknowledge that it’s GOOD. And I understand the frustration of seeing promising series being ignored while others get too much attention. Ugh.

    I can understand official ones not licensing shows that they think won’t sell, but multiple fansubbers doing the same crap is pretty infuriating.

    “One of the best arguments for fansubs is that they provide what the market is unwilling to”
    = *sigh* I think people have forgotten about this (or didn’t even think of that, because they started watching when there’s already a boom! of multiple fansub groups) when they enjoyed the popularity of becoming fansubbers, and when they instilled the “fansubbers do better than official ones” mentality onto themselves.

  8. Mushyrulez Says:

    Derp, the problem is with translators – there just aren’t enough translators to go around. There are groups that don’t even have translators (Nameless Subs, maybe even HorribleSubs since they don’t even watch the anime they release :P)…

    Anyways, at least we do have fansubbers. Imagine if we were Russians and wanted to watch anime… nobody subs anime in Russian :(

  9. kluxorious Says:

    obviously you need to rant more often ;)

    • Joojoobees Says:

      That’s right, I’ll take full credit for whatever good other people do in this world. If it weren’t for this blog, and my tweets, all of humanity would COLLAPSE!


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