Home / News Articles / Masakazu Kubo, Executive Producer of Pocket Monsters, praises fansubbers
Masakazu Kubo is well known to Pocket Monsters fans as the Executive producer of the series and movies. He is also the director of Shogakukan's Character Business Center.

Anime is currently a large market worldwide, but according to recent statistics, Anime sales are in decline. Recently Masakazu Kubo posted his proposal to help the currently floundering animation industry. In his proposal, he praises fansubbers and suggests that ways should be devised to officially make use of their abilities.

Pokemon doesn't seem to be one of the 'affected' shows though. Pocket Monsters Movie 10 was the 'Top Grossing Anime Movie of 2007' in the Japanese box office, while the Pocket Monsters Movie 9 DVD places 18th in total sales in Japan. The English dubbed version of Movie 10 was announced earlier this week and will air on Cartoon Network on February 24th. The movie is expected to do quite well in North America.

Pocket Monsters Diamond and Pearl's Japanese ratings have been fairly consistent, while Pokemon Diamond and Pearl in the United States is one of the highest rated shows in the 'boys 6-11 and boys 2-11' demographic.

Shogakukan has been very vigilant in removing episodes of their animated series off video websites like YouTube. Many users posting copyrighted episodes have had their accounts suspended and their uploaded content deleted at the request of Shogakukan. Many fans are disappointed that Pokemon related AMV's are also removed.

There are many reasons why Pokemon fans in particular are drawn to fansubbed episodes of the series. Many of the episodes have a lot of edits, especially earlier in the series when 4Kids was responsible for the English Dubbing. The recent voice actor change in the English dub has also disappointed long time fans of the show who had grown accustom to the original voice actors. With the availability of the Japanese episodes online, it gives fans an alternative to the dub that they didn't have in the past.

Pokemon producer's advisory group suggests dealing with pro-level fansubbers

The Japanese government's Task Force on Media Content Business and Japanese Brands published the fourth series of proposals from its content-planning working group on February 1. The proposals discussed "a comprehensive policy for promoting content in the digital age" particularly, how to eventually legalize the content on Nico Nico Douga, YouTube, and other video-sharing sites. The working group suggested that it may be necessary to approach the illegal uploaders directly, so that Japan can formally approve these sites.

One of the committee members, Tokyo Anime Center executive producer Masakazu Kubo, submitted a document that dealt with three specific issues, including fansubbers. Kubo is the executive producer of the Pokemon anime and the director of Shogakukan's Character Business Center. He is also involved with the Tokyo International Film Festival, the Tokyo International Anime Fair, and China's Beijing Film Academy. The business news website Bloomberg.com recently quoted Kubo in an article about the manga industry. The second of three sections in Kubo's document is translated below:

2) Dealing with Fansubs (Fun-Subtitle) and Other "P to P" Pirated Copies (*1)

Because "Fansubs" are works, such as television animation, on which fans have added subtitles, they are usually made without authorization. Currently, 6 million copies of illegal, English-subtitled Japanese animated videos are said to be downloaded from BitTorrent each week (http://animeanime.jp/biz/archives/2007/12/bittorrent600.html). This has affected the DVD sales of Japanese animation in North America, which have dropped dramatically. As a result, the overseas prices for animation programs have fallen considerably. After the April 2008 television program schedules [in Japan] are laid out (*2), the drop in the number of animated programs will be clearly seen. In short, the Japanese animation business has fallen into a great crisis.

About 10 fans (whose translation abilities are high compared to professionals!) (*3) are said to put animated videos with foreign-language subtitles on YouTube, BitTorrent, and other file-sharing sites. If our country is to formally deal with YouTube and other services, it will be necessary to have some sort of approach to dealing with these individuals. Personally, I hope to resolve this by officially making use of their abilities.

*1 The "Fun-Subtitle" spelling is in the original document. "P to P" refers to peer-to-peer file-sharing.
*2 April is the beginning of the financial and academic year in Japan, so usually, more television series premiere in this month than in any other month.
*3 The exclamation point is in the original document.

Shogakukan seems to understand that there is a growing fansubbing community on the Internet and unlike the American motion picture companies, they are looking at alternatives to suing their fanbase. It will be interesting to see what they do in the future and how they decide to adapt to online distribution of their shows.

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Sources: http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/ & Mainichi Communications' MyCom Journal