A series of reports published throughout the years have highlighted the ongoing problem of pirating in the Japanese anime industry. Many anime sites have highlighted the most pirated anime each year and the downsides of pirating anime to the industry. But, there is something about this controversy that few have addressed. Pirating anime has a lot of disadvantages. However, there are some arguments as to how it may actually benefit the anime community and industry.
Pirating anime has been done for quite some time now. The rise of the internet has contributed greatly to the growth of pirating in the anime industry. Due to this, Japanese animated series and movies became more accessible to the public.
It has been highlighted that the highest number that the industry lost to piracy was in 2022. Statista highlighted that the anime industry lost a whopping fifty-two million dollars last year due to piracy. In fact, Japanese animated series’ namely Chainsaw Man season one, followed by Bleach Season 1. Also, The Eminence in Shadow Season 1, Spy x Family Season 1, and The Rising of the Shield Hero season 2 were the most pirated anime of the year.
People who are against piracy and are affected by it resort to all the necessary measures that can be taken in order to abolish it. But, it became harder to get rid of it as time goes by. This is because of the fans that began to rely on them which pushes these illegal sites to always find their way through.
Why Is Piracy More of a Problem in the Anime Industry Than Non-anime Shows?
There is only one answer to that and it is because of the industry’s unexpected success. Pirating anime is more evident compared to non-anime shows because Japan might have not perceived the industry to take over the entertainment world in a span of just a few years. Let us not forget that almost a decade ago watching anime and readings manga was seen as less of a niche and more of a taboo. But, the tables turned quickly because it is now one of the main sources of entertainment in general society. According to pro basketball player Zion Williamson, about 80% of NBA players watch anime.
In addition, anime shows are more universal compared to traditional non-anime shows. Unlike western series and movies, animes offer more to their target market. In anime shows, the art style is unique compared to non-anime shows. The stories that the former conveys to the consumer cover a wider range of genres while offering more visual details of the characters. In general, animes are not repetitive. As a consumer, you can have plenty of options from romance to isekai.
When fans began to develop and realize their interest in anime, fandoms also started to spread worldwide. If compared to traditional non-anime shows, fandoms are very significant in the anime world in order to maintain the hype or popularity of a series.
Furthermore, piracy has become one of the foundations of the popularity that Japanese animated series have in the entertainment industry. It sparks a lot of opportunities for them to gain more people by offering shows that are not available in a specific country.
Unlike in Japan, most anime is not offered on televised networks that are free with ads for consumers at the time of airing. While streaming services have offered free tiers, they generally restrict the viewing experience in a meaningful way, such as airing weeks behind new episodes or limiting the number of episodes that can be watched. Many streaming services are also not available in some countries.
Is Pirating Anime Killing or Saving the Industry?
Piracy is gravely hurting many from the anime industry. Because of boldly taking the recognition that studios and creators rightfully should have. The popularity of Japanese animated series began to become globalized. This made it one of the biggest known entertainment industries in the world. However, the effect of piracy has made the efforts of the creators and studios go to waste at some points. How? Well, mainly for financial reasons.
As the anime industry flourished, so did the growth of various legal streaming sites like Crunchyroll and Funimation. Many streaming sites such as Netflix, HBO Max, Hulu, Disney+, and even YouTube have also included anime content providing fans with lesser reason to commit piracy. However, even with these conveniences and availability offered to the fans, piracy is still a problem.
Crunchyroll, the biggest anime streaming platform today, surprisingly started off as a site with pirated and unlicensed anime content. It is only during the years 2009 and 2010 that Crunchyroll began to legitimize the content that the site produces making them the most popular anime streaming platform today. The investment that Crunchyroll received massively helped in the company’s transition to becoming a legal streaming site.
Despite the convenience it brings, these legal streaming sites do not provide all the anime content that the fans want. Since subscribing to a single streaming site already consumes money, they resort to piracy to save them time and money from subscribing to other legal streaming sites.
Anime Senpai highlighted in 2020 the drastic effect of pirating anime in the industry. So based on the popularity of anime today, just imagine how much it is hurting the industry.
In conclusion, There are two underlying problems that instigate the access of pirating anime:
1) The unavailability of some anime content on legal streaming sites, mainly in foreign countries.
2) Consumers not having the financial means to afford a legal streaming subscription.
Thus, it may also be saving the anime industry, even in means that are not legally right, because of gaining more audience that is most likely will also be willing to subscribe to these legal sites.
Awareness: The Only Possible Solution to Abolish Piracy in the Anime Industry
The huge amount of fans accessing anime content on pirated sites can contribute to the distressingly low salaries of animators in the industry. But, the situation of the creators and studios working hard to provide these masterpieces should also be a top concern among fans.
How does the industry solve the pirating crisis? Taking down a pirating site is not enough because the demand from fans is too loud. A new site always pops up.
What are the solutions to the piracy issue? If fans acknowledge the harm caused by pirating when they have the means of paying for content, we may eventually reach the day when pirating becomes less of an issue.
Articles or posts that sheds light on this underlying problem should be spread across all media platforms to reach a wider range of audience. The most important thing to do right now is to continuously highlight to the fans the significance of promoting legal streaming sites and in protecting these shows. Through this simple actions, we, as consumers, can also protect the people who are behind the shows that entertains and inspires us.
Lastly, as the anime industry continues to thrive more streaming services are now being offered in most countries aside from Japan. If anime fans opt not to pay subscriptions from legal streaming sites there is always another option. One can still enjoy watching their favorite Japanese animated shows in sites like Crunchyroll without paying monthly or annually, thanks to ad-supported animes that are internationally available.
All you need to do is to sign-up for a free account and you will immediately enjoy streaming ad-supported shows. Yes, the accessibility is a little bit different to those who are signed up with premium accounts but this is much better than committing piracy if you ask me. Thus, solutions have been provided and it is now a matter of choice among fans whether to still commit piracy or to permanently abandon it.