Monopolistic, Inconsistent Fansub Group Does Affects Series Popularity

Remember how DarkMirage stage a one-man (and fans) crusade against Nyoron for poor subbing? He can do that because Gundam 00 is subbed by three different groups and people have a choice of which product to consume. In the case of my favourite series Gintama, however, this is not the case.

The only fansub group translating this to English is Rumbel fansubs, and because they are the one and only, people rely on them 100 percent. While I should praise them for actually bothering to sub this fantastic show, the fact remains that their translations are about 35 percent wrong or poorly worded such that the jokes are lost.

I’m at episode 80 already and Rumbel just released the 42th episode, which was almost over a year ago. Ignoring the speed issues, I bring you this piece of evidence, Exhibit A.

The name of the ice sculpture Gin-chan and Kagura built is the Neo Armstrong Cyclone Jet Armstrong Cannon and the main punchline is Shinpachi’s tsukkomi, where he says, "OI YOU USED ARMSTRONG TWICE!" and it’s funny because it’s glaringly obvious. But Rumbel translated it as "Armstrong was a fake". Now I’m no moon landing conspiracist but surely that’s not what he said!

Besides this glaringly obvious one which I chanced upon, there are plenty of omissions in the details which make the dialogue of Gintama so awesome. This and the lack of consistent subbing are probably why Gintama isn’t as popular as it should be in the English anime fan community. And this shows just how important fansubs are to the promotion of an anime.

Gintama is freakin’ popular in Japan btw. And absolutely everybody who I recommended the show to and watched beyond episode 18 (when the good part starts) had the same sentiments as me with regard to the shining briliance of the series. The anime is superior to the manga because of anime-exclusive episodes that are actually really good.

I would like to encourage everyone to see Gintama but I know it’s not possible because of the above-mentioned problems, so too bad. You guys are missing out! Stick to your rotten autumn season where Kaiji is the only good show!

25 Responses to “Monopolistic, Inconsistent Fansub Group Does Affects Series Popularity”


  • Kaiji is getting draggy.
    They should have ended the first arc at episode 6 and move on to the second one.
    Minami-ke is the most entertaining show now.

  • While I do agree that inconsistent/slow fansubbing of a series does have that effect on people, it’s not the fansubbers that should be blamed here. Rumbel actually made an effort to pick it up when others dropped it, so I don’t see where you’re coming up with adjectives like “monopolistic”. If Gintama were truly awesome, you’d have more groups working on it from the start. But this is not the case. What we have is a show that doesn’t stand out in any particular way, is probably enjoyable, but also very long. The show’s length, it’s awesomeness etc. have all been assigned different values, and it seems Gintama’s current perceived value isn’t high enough to warrant consistent subbing and more groups. Yakitate!! Japan was a long show, but it had maintained its awesomeness and its viewers, and the subbers finished it, even with a delay! The popularity Gintama enjoys in the English fansubbing community just reflects the notion that it’s not awesome _enough_ to be followed.

  • Well, it is kinda a hard series to sub, with all the references to other tv-shows/old movies/other anime and the historical timeframe. It’s not a fantastic sub by rumbel, but I find it utterly watchable at least.

  • That’s true. Shinsen-subs seems to have dropped it at episode 24, though it’s still on their ‘Active’ projects list. Rumbel picked up at approximately where they left off.

    Still, thanks for pointing it out, since many are rather reliant on fansubs, after all, if they weren’t they wouldn’t be waiting for Rumbel to sub it.

  • Huh… I don’t see why I can’t nitpick just because only one group is subbing something.

    I mean, I did it for Doremi.

  • If the series only gets really good at episode 18, perhaps a lot of groups aren’t picking it up because they’re not watching up to that point?

  • I had a NACJAC in my house a few years back but the CIA said that the NACJAC shouldn’t be placed on the balcony and confiscated it.

  • OKAY I’LL GO DOWNLOAD THE CHINESE SUBS RIGHT NOW!

    Oh wait a second… I can’t!

  • The number of groups fansubbing a series doesn’t really serve as an indicator of the awesomeness factor of a show. It just so happens that the people enjoying this series would rather enjoy it for themselves and/or do not really have the leisure of fansubbing this show, which is indeed quite hard to sub. It’s just really under-rated.

  • Is there some kind of Japanese thing to that joke? I can’t possibly be the only one who doesn’t think that neither the proper translation nor the bad translation is funny.

  • Definitely. Take Sayanora Zetsubo Sensei. It’s an addicting, hilarious show, yet its popularity is seriously undermined by the slow subbers!
    Granted, afk is a fantastic subbing group that really makes an effort to produce hq subs, but their speed is one of the reasons why this fantastic show isn’t as popular in the English speaking anime otaku club.

    I’m dependent on subs too, so often times I’ll hold off on shows that I want to watch unless I know for sure that a group is consistently subbing the episode. Granted, I have no idea whether or not the group is making an effort to sub correctly, but because of this assurance of a weekly episode I will follow the series. Example: ef ~ a tale of memories: For me, one of the most anticipated series this season. Luckily, Conclave and Mendoi picked it up and is consistently and speedily releasing the series.

  • @Anya: ironic how your post perfectly illustrates the point of the article, that the subtitles do not do the series justice. how would you know if the show really were a flop, unless you actually understand japanese and weren’t relying on subtitles to follow the series? the show, as portrayed by the subtitles, isn’t awesome, is what your post told me, and that’s exactly what the article is trying to show.

  • @Anya: Oh, you must be one of those retarded, blindly-defending-fansubbers-and-their-rights idiots. Good job at missing the point entirely! All this post needs now is more idiots like you clogging up the comments with dumb replies to make this a Typical Fansubber DORAMA™ post.

    Protip: Fansub groups do not require you to come to their defence at all. I don’t get why huge portions of the community make it a taboo to talk negatively about fansubbers, but you stupid twats can blow me.

  • I curse everyone who doesn’t say Gintama is fantastic, to bear sons with only 2 penises.

    Anyway for those who think fansubbers pick good shows, you must be blind. Fansubbers base their choices upon 3 factors: Ease of translation, projected popularity and personal preference, in that order.

    Most subbers just do shows they think are easy or will have lots of downloads. Think why Gundam 00 has so many subbers, both in the English and Chinese world. Particularly the latter, where at least 10 groups are subbing it. Look at the shit which are being subbed regularly: Rental Magica, Shana II etc. You think these are better than the likes of Keroro Gunsou, Gintama and other unsubbed shows?

  • I´m having two sets of mind here.

    I´m happy if someone subs the show I want to watch, but at the same time I want the translation to be mainly correct.

    But then again, for easier shows like Da Capo 2 I´ve started to watch them raw, it´s amazing how close you can get to the actual translation just by hearing the words.

    Think back on why Gundam 00 has subbers? Because of one thing: It´s a New Gundam series. Setsuna beats Kira and Shinn for first place emo-kid anyday and all the talking is starting to bore me out and then we finish with a 2second fight…
    Not to mention the stupid placements, a sniper going frontline? yuck. And if you want to catch one, aim for the legs…

    Wether a shows number of fansubs decide it´s popularity I don´t know. I´d love for Hidamari Sketch to have more subbers, but then again, the number of subbers doesn´t change the fact that I find it awesome and soathing. And sometimes terribly irritating because of how Shaft do their work…

    Owen S: I think that mainly because the fansubbers do the subbing for free you shouldn´t bitch about them… even if they translate the whole thing wrong you shouldn´t get angry at them…
    But then again, most people to get angry at a group who does poorly or wrong translations. The proglem is to find them.

  • I never watched Gintama except for the raw of episode 50, which was totally awesome.

  • by usagijen: “The number of groups fansubbing a series doesn’t really serve as an indicator of the awesomeness factor of a show”
    example 1: Eureka SeveN
    example 2: School Rumble (S1)
    example 3: Haruhi
    and i’m sure there are more.

    Gintama is a funny show that i don’t mind watching once a month or so (at 18 atm)
    although there are many cultural references i don’t understand there are many think a normal non-japanese person can laugh his ass off.

  • Thanks for the post, it reminds again me that I should start watching Gintama real soon.

    I am not sure but could the undetermined length of the series deters subbers from engaging in a project? Gundam, Rental Magica and the likes have a known number of episodes, giving subbers a concrete time frame where they know when their projects will end, while things like Gintama is on-going forever. I mean, assuming that fansubbers do want to complete a series if the ever start one, would they prefer a long commitment or short one. (it could be a false hypothesis that I’m making, since some fansubbers do drop a series half way while others just jump in midway)

    @tj_han:
    Think why Gundam 00 has so many subbers, both in the English and Chinese world. Particularly the latter, where at least 10 groups are subbing it.

    Chinese side always amazes me with the number of subbers (not that I’m against it, in fact I’m more than happy to see so many subbers for I have more choices). If I’m not wrong, Gundam 00 has 17 subbers to start with, but the thing that really amuses me this season is that ef has the same number of fansubbers too, and last check, at least 14 of them have reached ep 4. I would have thought that Gundam 00 would be times more popular than ef. On the other hand, D.C.II, a series that falls in the same genre as ef, but ought to be more popular than ef due to historical factor, has less than 10 subbers. Of course, all these could just be isolated cases, but I’m just amuse that so many subbers are picking ef this season. Heck, even Minami-ke has 15 subbers to start with, beating Clannad’s 13.

    ps: the number of Chinese subbers quoted above include both simplified and formal Chinese (a factor which one may want to take into account for the number of Chinese subbers)

  • I’d rather read the manga if the subs are taking that long.

    It IS similiar, right?

  • I think it’s more of a “haves and haves-not” problem: a lot of bloggers have raised (hyped) awareness on a good show, but there are not enough subbers for the rest of the English-speaking (or whatever language) world to bother a translation. It still means nothing to anyone: granted you have totally missed out on one very good series (I still loved the DragonBleaPiece joke!), but otherwise it does not harm you in any fashion whatsoever.

    Like many have said here, fansubbers have their own preferences, schedules and constraints to hold on, and it does not mean that less fansubbed shows means the shows are less popular. Like I said, it takes people like DarkMirage to not only translate the shows effectively, but to do it in a manner that’s presentable to an English-speaking audience (looks like fansubbing is serious business!). Unfortunately, not many people on the Internet possess “JLPT1 special skills.”

    So what is left for us non-Japanese-speaking, ravid animé fanatics? Unfortunately, it’s called “victims of circumstances”, and there are no “deus ex machina” to lift you up from this quagmire of “not enough fansub group / insert complain here”.

    Let’s be honest, I know Gintama is damn popular, but since we’re not Japanese, we can’t speak even basic Japanese (that includes remembering 750 individual Japanese characters, you non-Oriental folks), pray and hope that somebody listens to you and notch up a gear.

  • The irony of this is that “monopolistic” is absolutely inappropriate to describe fansubs. X.x

    And I know 3 people who agree with me that Gintama has lost its shine.(Maybe due to bad subs?) Whatever the reason is, you don’t sound as if you are out to flame……

  • Please tell me where you got the chinese subs! >

  • I just stumbled on this while trying to see if there were any other subbers at all for this show. I LOVE Gintama. It quickly became my favorite show that’s currently airing and it’s definitely among my all time favorites too. I find it disappointing that there’s a lack of sub groups out there for it since it’s so hilarious and on the rare occasion it gets serious they still throw in jokes. I’ve hooked one of my friends on it and I keep advertising it to anime fans I run across.

    One of the major problems I have with Rumbel, other than their lackluster subbing job, is that they’re releasing more Bleach than Gintama. This bothers me because everyone subs Bleach. Bleach is one of the most popular shows, there’s not a lack of people out there releasing it, why are they releasing more of that than the obscure show? Why are they releasing it at all? Especially when there are fansub groups who do infinitely better jobs at it.

  • You know, most people who do fansubs do them so they can share an art they enjoy with others. That anyone wastes a great deal of time to satify what turns out to be a lot of whiney anime fans astounds me. Be greatful there is anyone subbing shows at all.

    Does that mean that all fansubs are great, or even tolerable? No. I do admit there are certain groups that I like over others, and even with the very, very, very limited amount of japanese I can understand, I can tell when a translation is wayyyyyy off.

    I personally like the other show by rumbel. I have never watched gintama, and probably never will. What I do like about rumbel is that they attempt to make the translations make sense in english. Not all japanese sayings make sense when directly translated. If you don’t like groups that translate that way, that’s your problem, not theirs.

    If only one group is subbing a show I want to watch, and I am not particularly fond of their translations, I will still watch it, without complaint. Why? Because it is free. I can’t really criticize someone who put a good deal of time and effort into doing something so I can watch it for free. I just can’t believe how much people complain about fansubs when it is a FREE service. I also can’t stand it when people can’t be patient enough to just wait for the people doing the subs to get to it. There have been a few things I have watched that took a long time between episodes now and again. I just did something else in the meantime instead of checking all the websites every hour.

    So stop being so critical and just be happy that anyone subs any of this stuff. Otherwise you would be paying hundreds of dollars to buy the little that gets licienced at all.

  • Often times, a bad and/or subpar sub just steals all the brilliance out of a show. I personally loved Shinsen’s subs for Gintama – usually I’ll prefer their subs over anyone else’s when there’s a choice. As such, when they stopped at episode 24, I was worried – and with good reason. Rumbel’s subs are interesting, but from episode 25 on up, there’s a really sharp difference to be noted. Gintama either completely looses a lot of its funny from that episode on or Rumble just completely forgets to be more humorous with their wording.

    @Del:
    I understand that there are people who feel as though we should be grateful that anyone chooses to sub Gintama at all – but, I’m a firm believer in *not* lowering your standards. I appreciate the fact that they sub it, but their wording makes the show seem average. It’s great that we get a better grasp on what the characters are talking about, but it’s not great at all when all the little funny moments are actually glossed over and presented in ways that make them lose the funny. It’s a comedic show – if the subs tend to miss the funny, what is the point of watching it? Without appropriate subs, this show becomes average because you are not being hit by one joke/pun after another but, watered down versions of those jokes/puns. And personally, it’s all the little cultural references and mini-jokes that really make Gintama glorious – all the small puns and little jabs at each other that Rumble doesn’t really nail are what really makes this show so grand for me. If those aren’t captured near-perfectly, then the show just feels watered down.

    Gintama isn’t like Bleach or Naruto (where wording really doesn’t matter much at all, to be honest) – you can completely miss the significance of a line just by using inappropriate wording in this show. Wording is everything in this show; which is probably why there’s only one fansub group that does it – you’d have to word many lines of dialogue almost perfectly in order to really make the audience laugh. And really – because I understand how truly demanding this show would be on any fansub group, I also realize the hard work it takes for them to bring us each and every episode. However, since I understand this very same concept, I’m also harsh on them because honestly if you choose to pick up a show, you are choosing to “bring this show to life” to the viewers – if you can’t do that 100%, then you must either try harder or drop the show entirely. With Rumble’s subs, in many episodes I’ll sit there and think, “Now, I KNOW I’m supposed to be laughing here, but the words on the screen aren’t funny at all” and it simply shouldn’t be that way, imo.

    With that said, Rumbel is stuck at episode 67; but there *are* individual people out there now that do slightly more enjoyable fansubs.

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