According to a seven months old informal poll spread through the r/anime reddit board: of more than 10 000 individuals, 46% ONLY watch anime through illegal means, they don’t pay for it, nor do they access them through legitimate means. 39% access anime through a mixture of official and illegal means. And only 15% are confident that they watch anime only through legal means.
Just a few weeks ago, the director of Kemono Friends, the runaway success story, was removed from the production team by Kadokawa unceremoniously, resulting in a country-wide and international fandom-wide outrage. The lack of proper communication between the fan community, the corporate higher ups and the original production staff being left in the dark, means that this famed labour of love, might never see itself at the same heights of acclaim again.
Also earlier this year, the famed anime director Kazunori Mizuno, passed away at his workplace, with all possible causes of death pointing towards heart failure due to overwork and chronic sleep deprivation. This is hardly a rare event. Working in the anime industry is infamously difficult, with inhumane working hours, low pay and enormous pressure from deadlines.
A note, as this campaign comes to an end
While Binge & Feel Good was a campaign that committed fully to the promotion of positive fandom, and is optimistic about the community it’s operating for, we see fit to depart with a dose of reality to signal to our readers that we all should be aware: the work is not done, the issue of piracy is not yet solved, and it is not the only problem that is plaguing the industry that creates what we enjoy on a daily basis.
Piracy and the western anime fandom shares a complicated history: one of necessity, when devoted fans have no other option than to rely on fan subs and unofficial rips, and now…a stubborn adherence to habit and a culture that is increasingly addicted to instant availability and convenience. Solving this problem is never as simple as threatening arrests on anyone who watches a clip of anime without paying for it in some way.
This, along with the above-outlined issues of corporations who lack the nuanced understanding of the fandom, the industry it funds and the working conditions it neglects, all points to this team’s sentiment, that however powerless we as individual fans may feel, the best way to search for answers is to enhance our collective awareness.
Keep up to date with industry news. Read interviews with directors, producers and animators. Follow resources like The Sakuga Blog and The Canipa Effect. Follow these content creators, bloggers, individual creators on social media, showcase your curiosity by asking questions. To be the best fans of anime/manga we can be, we should strive to enhance this mutual relationship.
And with that, the team at Binge & Feel Good would like to thank you for your readership during the past two months. We hope that our efforts were able to at least help you navigate this chaotic fandom. If this campaign invigorated you to be a more active member of the community (i.e. joining in on cinema screenings, contributing to local events, etc), then all the more better!