Rant: Hyouge Mono and the failure of fansubbing
September 16, 2011
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.