Long time Naruto fansubbing group Dattebayo, whose torrent releases are downloaded hundreds of thousands of times each week, has announced that it will cease fansubbing Naruto come January.
In a detailed statement published on their website, the motive behind the drop is claimed to be to pre-empt pressures from the new online anime distribution ventures being launched shortly, and to save them the PR disaster of shutting down DB.
Naruto fans (at least those in the US; others are being left high and dry) may be heartened to hear that they will instead be given the chance to pay for their subs, and failing that to stream them for free, albeit with ads and a delayed release. Paid releases will be only minimally delayed over the Japanese TV broadcasts.
The episodes are to be distributed in various capacities by way of Crunchyroll, Joost and Hulu, starting in January. This also means that Shippuuden will now be officially released at the same time as the lagged English localised version.
The niggling details of resolution, downloads, DRM and similar seem not to be given much attention, but given the viewership and nature of the show such matters will likely be overlooked by most.
Additionally, the comments raise the exceedingly good point that this arrangement applies only to US users; something the US-centric anime media (and Dattebayo themselves) pass over.
As a result, it would seem the overall effect of DB’s withdrawal will be minimal, given that a successor will inevitably emerge to provide the subs to a worldwide audience.
This would appear to bode ill for fansubbing and non-American fans; what are the chances of US companies shutting down fansubs internationally whilst failing to provide a legal alternative to any but the US?
It seems DB’s job as Internet marketing arm for Naruto is at an end.
Unfortunate for them that they failed to profit from their success (or so it would appear) – YouTube, Nico and Crunchyroll clearly demonstrate that blithely ignoring copyright until reaching a level where dealing with the major IP cartels directly is possible is the way forward, for those of a commercial bent at any rate.