Oh boy, this post is going to be loaded…
Pirating is one of those minor crimes that almost everyone’s been guilty of at some point. Whether it’s music, TV shows, movies, or anime, it’s been pirated and many of us have indulged it before.
But recently streaming services have taken the world by storm, giving widespread access to movies, TV shows, and music legally. As you can imagine, the pirating of these entertainment mediums have declined over the past few years.
Why is this?
People are willing to pay their hard earned cash for good services. While piracy can never be completely stopped, high-quality services help reduce it.
So why does the anime community pirate content so frequently and not want to stop?
#1 It’s Free
I know, I know. This is the most obvious answer but it does apply and for more reasons than one.
How many times have you asked a friend to give your favorite show a chance? Well, if someone wanted to get into anime, they can’t just change the channel. Sure, AdultSwim will show maybe a grand TWO shows a day, but you’re really not getting much choice when it comes to tuning in for your favorite show.
Think of it this way, if you wanted to give a specific show a chance, if it’s not anime and it’s currently airing, you most likely have it included with your TV package.
We anime fans don’t have that luxury. So for the many low-income people and honestly, most people already paying for their entertainment monthly, this comes at a great inconvenience for anyone wanting to find anime.
#2 Free (Legal) Anime Streaming Is Terrible
The number one thing people bring up in the comments (YouTube, forums, etc.) is;
“There are several free legal streaming sites you could be using. You’re just making excuses at this point.”
Uh huh, but have you tried Crunchyroll or Funimation? Yeah, it really isn’t very good. The video players are complete trash. It takes forever to load, glitches all the time, and the ads are RAMPANT.
And Crunchyroll is the worst offender.
Now, I can understand having ads on free streaming. It makes sense, you gotta make the money somewhere. But if you ever watch their free streaming, the ads are for their own website and have 4 – 5 of them in one episode!
Why is this a bad thing?
THEY AREN’T MAKING MONEY FROM THE ADS and it will take you almost 45 minutes just to get through one episode! This means they’re just throwing them in there to waste your time and patience.
Say what you will about the pirating site’s, but even they aren’t that invasive. Why is Crunchyroll screwing everyone over? I’ll never know. Funimation is better but not by enough. With the way the free streaming is handled, why is anyone surprised?
As soon as a video starts glitching taking MINUTES to load, you can bet that they’re going to go right back to pirating.
#3 Anime Is Expensive, and Sometimes, Unavailible
Here’s an unusual example: If you wanted to buy Fat/Zero for your library, you’d better be rich or starve that month, because the only legal release is over $300. Not kidding, and something as simple as this will turn anyone towards piracy.
$300 is far too much to pay. Even the “reasonably priced” anime costs $45 for part 1 of a whole season, so if you wanted to own season 1, it’s going to cost you a pretty $65 – $90.
A normal season from any other type of show would cost around $45. Pricing like this is unreasonable. Luckily, this is slowly changing and you can find some shows for $45 on Amazon, but this pricing is varied greatly.
Also, you’re pretty much out of luck if you live outside of the US and Japan, because a lot of anime isn’t licensed for overseas. When you back that many people into a corner you’re leading them directly towards those pirating sites you hate. Honestly, can we really blame them?
Anime isn’t a genre, it’s its own entertainment medium.
This is like telling the majority of the world that they can’t watch the new Marvel film or a popular TV show. It’s cutting off too many people from something that they should have access to. Believe it or not, most people that are pirating right now would love to pay for anime, but this is making it downright impossible for millions.
If an anime isn’t in your corner of the world, piracy is practically your only choice.
#4 Anime Streaming Isn’t Worth The Money
What if there was a way we could have all the anime we want in one place for a reasonable price?
Okay, okay. But what if there was? Would you pay for it?
I think pretty much everyone with a job would, and piracy would be a bit less common. Unfortunately, this isn’t an option that exists and most won’t pay for a streaming service.
– No one service has the shows you want
This seems reasonable at first, but when you realize that ONLY Amazon has Made in Abyss… you’re going to be frustrated that you have to pay two companies to get the shows you want.
– Very few people can afford to pay for every subscription
As mentioned, no subscription has all the shows on your watchlist, so most people say; “Well unless you want to be a criminal, you’re going to pay for all of your shows!” If someone could afford it they might. But seriously, this is beyond ridiculous to ask of the average viewer.
If you paid for every mainstream service this is what you’ll be billed monthly:
Crunchyroll – $6.95
Funimation – $5.99
Hulu – $7.99 + $4.99 if you want it ad free
Anime Strike – $4.99
Assuming you want this all ad-free, that’d be a grand total of:
Yeah, a lot of people aren’t going to want to pay that just to have their anime needs met. Suddenly pirating is starting to make sense.
This is the problem.
If people want it legally, they’re paying $31 for their anime and it’s not even in one place! Most of these services aren’t even that good. Remember what I mentioned in #2? It gets better when you pay but the user experience is still deplorable, and it’s for that reason many are unsubscribing. They’re paying hard earned money for weak services. While I don’t condone the act of piracy, you must admit it makes sense that it’s happening so frequently.
So please, to anyone who’s considering making a proper anime streaming service, you will have the customers if your service is good.
In fact, we’re all dying to pay for one. But until the right one comes around, I’m afraid that most anime fans are going to keep doing what they’re doing, and pirating will continue on extreme levels.
Thanks for reading, guys!
Man… I haven’t even gotten around to Crunchyroll’s recent controversy, but that’s a post for another time 😉
What do you think about anime pirating? Is it justified, or should it be condemned? Do you think the pirates would be willing to pay for anime if the right service was available?
Let me know in the comments!
[Originally posted for a client on “Anime and Manga Life”]
I’m a freelancer 😉