I've made a couple additions to the blog today that I should talk about. In the second column, there is a new collection of links, "Download These Fansubs." Long-time followers of this blog remember these links from the original site design, and I've finally brought it back to the new format.
If you're not familiar with the term, here's what a "fansub" is. Anime in America grew as an underground scene for many, many years. Long before anybody saw any commercial interest in importing Japanese anime - we're talking the days of "Japanimation" - fans were quietly trading tapes with one another. They imported anime titles and then translated the scripts themselves, creating their own subtitle tracks, so everyone not fluent in Japanese could follow. The anime fansub community has been an essential part of American anime culture ever since.
Today, anime is far more visable on tv and DVD. But there are still a lot of shows and movies that are unlicensed in the States, and many of these are unlikely to ever see commercial release. This includes older anime films and series, as well as more experimental works that fall outside of the mainstream. Movies like Belladonna, Night on the Galactic Railroad, Cat Soup, and Mind Game are definitely in the "experimental" category. The classic Toei Doga films of the 1958-1972, and television dramas like Heidi, Marco, and Anne are likewise passed up by publishers in favor of newer, flashier anime titles.
Because of this, the fansub community will continue to thrive for the forseeable future. They are essential to the community, and for many of us, remain the only outlet for some of Japan's greatest animation. Without the fansubs, Ghibli Freaks in the West would never have discovered Horus, Prince of the Sun, or any of the Toei films. We never would have discovered Future Boy Conan, or the original Lupin III television series. Heidi Marco Anne? Three of the greatest anime masterpieces of all, and arguably Isao Takahata and Hayao Miyazaki's finest work. If not for fansubs, all of these would be lost to us. Even the Studio Ghibli movies were once only available in the West as fansubs.
That is the rundown on fansubs. And that is why I am including fansub links, so you can download these films and television series and enjoy these masterworks for yourself. You will need a Bit Torrent program to download, but these are freely available online. The VLC Media Player is your best friend, since most fansubs offer their subtitles as a seperate file. VLC is also available for free download.
One note on the issue of copyrights, since it's a sensitive subject. It is standard practice in the fansub community to only support anime that is unlicensed in the US. Once a movie or series becomes licensed for commercial released, fansubs are greatly discouraged, and everyone is strongly enrouraged to buy those DVDs. This remains a small community of fans, after all, and we need to support those distributors, and animation studios, who invest the time and money for us.
If anyone has any questions or issues, feel free to comment on this thread. Consider this post the all-purpose "fansub thread" for the Ghibli Blog. And happy viewing!