Another huge weekend will pass – online events such as Canada’s Otakuthon, ReedPop’s MetaVerse, Lumica Obon Night are on my notifications as of this writing, plus the reveal of Hololive’s 5th Generation and the debut of Ars Almal’s 3D model are also trending.
All of them are enjoyed by fans worldwide – so was KissAnime, the website anime fans flock for the latest. That is until this weekend, when its servers have been taken down.
KissAnime’s sudden demise
Just this Saturday (August 15), AniRadio+ has reported that KissAnime and its manga site KissManga has been taken down, sharing a circulated screenshot from KissAnime’s support on Discord stating the cause:
“Our beta server have been taken down, this could lead to the closure of the website. We will make more announcement after we have the decision” (7:19am)
“All files are taken down by copyright owners. KissManga and KissAnime will be closed forever. Thank you for your supports… Thank you to those years.” (11:20am)
AniRadio+ and even Anime News Network has added that this happened in light of the enactment of Japan’s revised Copyright Law last June, penalizing “those who knowingly download illegally uploaded or pirated manga, magazines and academic works” by January 1, 2021.
Even aggregators or “leech sites” which provide links to pirated media are no exemption, as these will be banned starting October 1 this year.
The ANN story provides a summary of the act’s roadmap, and AniRadio+ has summarized the details in a post:
Prior to this, ABS-CBN has taken action against its another sister site KissAsian with a US$8 Million lawsuit.
To give a perspective, as you browse KissAnime, you are either welcomed with CAPTCHA verification and/or tricky ads about questionable content.
Anime fans’ FOMO culture
The sudden takedown of KissAnime riled up anime fans, posting their reactions on social media.
My social media feed has been filled with people either rejoicing or grieving the site’s sudden demise. Most of them are looking for alternatives.
Yes, FOMO. Fear of missing out. Sites such as KissAnime has promoted this FOMO culture, but it’s not entirely their fault.
When legal subscription services such as Netflix or Crunchyroll doesn’t have the titles the fans want, they will prefer any site who streams it regardless if it’s legal or otherwise.
On Crunchyroll, the only simulcast available in the Philippines is Boruto. On Netflix, there are much more choices, but it will take a while if we want to see the latest titles from this season.
I can assume that the casual anime fan want to watch the latest Sword Art Online: War of the Underworld, which was fantastic if we are to look at all the tweets popping up.
The question is: Where?
This is where the FOMO kicks in: The casual fan looks for any available website to watch it. It won’t matter to such casual anime fans if it’s legal or illegal, the end-all, be-all in the anime-viewing journey is that the casual fan has watched the latest SAO.
As long as it satiates their FOMO, casual anime fans will cross even all the risky ads and repetitive captcha to watch it. After a few runs, this will become the norm for them.
If they want to watch the latest SAO in better quality, they’ll go to the common torrent site to download the episode hours after it gets aired using a torrent client. For the casual anime fan with limited resources, this is still a hassle.
As of this writing, Netflix has the first part of Alicization. We have yet to see the latest part on the platform, which is a problem for those who have FOMO, which is in a sense a form of entitlement. Netflix doesn’t simulcast, taking into account this Answerman post from 2017.
Sense of Entitlement
When confronted with the fact that the anime industry is not supported through these illegal streams (including those on Facebook), they will either pick the following scripts:
- Pirate sites helped popularized the anime scene by streaming their favorite anime which is not available through any other legal means;
- Pirate sites give an idea for legal distributors to put their attention to;
- Legal distributors are capitalists who just care about money and not the fans;
- I don’t have money so I don’t have choice;
- We just want to watch anime, don’t be a spoilsport, back off, etc.
While the internet has provided a lot of benefits, a downside of this is the development of a culture of entitlement. They don’t have the money to subscribe to a monthly plan, and so they watch through illegal means.
This turns the casual anime fan to a bad anime “fan.”
The bad “fans” can be aware that these illegal sites just earn off other people’s money and not pay back the original creators, but this just fall into deaf ears.
Some of these bad anime “fans” won’t even care if the anime industry is in the verge of collapse, mind you; they just want their anime.
We now go to Scene Two: Distributors and producers will go chase after the pirates, taking them down one by one. Should the plan be successful, there would be no other means to watch the latest anime without subscribing to a plan.
Beggars can’t choose. They cry foul. Tantrums are imminent. That’s a pain point already.
Sure, I can safely say that piracy will be imminent until a better alternative comes. Netflix is doing its best by getting the most anime titles so far, but for the low-income casual anime fan, it’s a fortune.
Anime as a hobby is a privilege, it seems.
What are the other better, legal options?
Even before this, we already have Gundaminfo providing the Gundam fans’ anime fix – this is perhaps the reason why I don’t see anyone complaining about the lack of legit Gundam anime streaming!
Variety also reported that anime companies banded together to have a dedicated YouTube channel:
Toei Animation, Kodansha and other anime content providers have banded together to start a channel on YouTube. The goal is to have 30 companies providing 3,000 anime titles by 2022, with the number of views per month reaching 300 million.
Called Animelog, or Anilog, the channel was launched Friday by Analyzelog, a company that supports corporate digital strategies. The target audience for the channel is currently local, but there are also plans to add sub-titled content in English and Chinese for overseas fans.
(I’m going to link the actual, official Anilog YouTube channel here because there’s now a lot of bogus YouTube channels with the same name who are baiting fans into believing that they are the legit one. Good job piggybacking into a huge project, idiots.)
One of the names that popped up in Variety’s report is Toei Animation, which has seen the positive reception of this distribution model with its Toei Tokusatsu World YouTube channel.
I do attribute the development of Anilog with the success of lots of distributors who have posted the latest anime legally on YouTube, which also includes Bushiroad (Cardfight!! Vanguard / Bang Dream!).
We still have a long way to go regarding this issue on piracy and how anime culture can be spread through legal means. Some distributors are already getting a hang of it, but the rest needs to follow.
It’s pretty evident that YouTube has monetization features which distributors can also make good use of. Imagine sending a super chat in that one moment where the protagonist gets his/her time to shine after falling down. There goes another way to earn revenue.
Distributing anime simultaneously is really not an easy task – and in the same manner, we just can’t expect the bad anime “fans” to change themselves, be mature, et cetera. There’s a pain point that needs a solution.
We can’t remove the culture of entitlement that we are seeing right now unless we change their ways and cultivate it to a better kind of culture. These things will take time, and supporters of legal anime distribution need to take more notes because good case studies are about to come from these developments.
I’m glad to say that we’re doing well – on my end, I now frequent Muse Asia and Ani-One for the latest titles. Netflix has their mobile-only plan which gives fans access to the Netflix library through the mobile app.
Other providers such as China-based iQIYI has a growing library of titles, and there are plans to compete with Netflix together with Tencent in a merger, although this has not yet been confirmed.
Did I mention that SAO is on iQIYI too – with English subtitles?
This is quite unrelated to the issue at hand, but we also need to address the issue of animators not getting the due pay they need to receive as raised by character designer Terumi Nishii in an interview with Japan’s ITMedia.
That puts into mind how bad middlemen are earning from all of their work compared to the painstaking work of animating a series frame-by-frame.
Share your thoughts on these ideas in the comments below.
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