Anime Fansubs, Fandubs and Scanlations

Although we don't know how to read, speak or understand Japanese much, anime fans still never give-up getting addicted to things with another following important definitions aside from fansite, fanclub, fanart and fanfiction in the world of Japanese animation. They're pretty common especially in the Internet days.


Literally, fansub is the combination of the words "fan" and "sub". The word fansub is the short word for fan-subtitled is a version of foreign video or film which has been translated by fans and subtitled into a language rather than original (much like you seen on watching subtitled Asian films on DVD).

Back in 1980's and 1990's, anime was very rare or hard to find in US and UK. Unlike in other Asian countries who got the license early of airing anime shows during those times, Western countries tend to be late of airing anime in many of their TV channels. The original series and videotapes were only available to Japan for Western consumers. Like Americans and Europeans, they also dream of seeing anime shows in their countries especially popular ones like Macross and Dragon Ball Z. Their solution? Translate the Japanese words by themselves and then subtitled on their VHS or MPEG's. That was the origin of fan-made subtitles which known as fansub. During that time, making fansubs cost a lot of money and effort, including a bunch of video tapes, wires and some dubbers. Sharing fansubs with other Internet users was the most difficult part especially there aren't any video sharing websites during that time.

In these days especially computers are more upgraded, fansubs can easily be shared with the help of existing video sharing websites like Youtube. Also, in anime there are lot of hosting fansubbed anime websites in order to enjoy viewers especially anime fans to watch their favorites. For downloads, you just need a downloadable subtitling programs and laptops for more viewing. Anyone can also fansub anime shows at least half an hour.

Like in the past, there are difficulties in translating anime. One of the most common problem among fansubs is making translations professional as possible. In translating an episode of an anime shows, translators usually need to learn Japanese language a lot in books and communication in Japanese people (in some cases, learning Japanese through schools who offer foreign language course would do). They do that in order not to be confused by viewers when they make fansubs. Some fansubbers like to add short Japanese words like "san" for respect. Not at all subtitles are in full English, instead they leave things in Japanese in order to feel the way being an anime viewer or fan. In some instances, those words are defined with explanation notes....or disturbing visual gags from anime character's explanation. Watching fansubs can be difficult for starters to watch their translated languages and notes especially the text are almost filled up on the screen. In other instances, Japanese can be a very deep and meaningful even trying to understand them.

Aside in anime, fansubs are also available in other Japanese media like Super Sentai, Kamen Rider series and Ultraman in fansubbed anime websites. J-Drama and Japanese live action series are also available these days much like similar in subtitled Asian movies. This doesn't mean that subtitled non-English movies like in French or Chinese isn't included...they are available also as fansubs.

Here are the pictures of random subtitled anime shows...plus few notes.

Sample of a subtitled sentence.

Japanese opening and closing lyrics still never escape in translating them into English.

Putting definitions of Japanese language mostly located at the top of the screen when an anime character mentions a Japanese word that leaves on the sub. Notice that the sentences inside that screen are almost filled up which seem to be difficult to read by some viewers.

Unlike this one is clear without notes on top. But, the anime character in the screen mentioned in a Japanese word "Yoshaaa". For starters, they cannot define what Yoshaaa means but for anime fans they know it.

Another clip from One Piece. This character mentioned "Robin-chan". In anime fansubs, if fansubbers think the words "brother", "sister", "friend" etc. they left them with (important)meaning. In the pic, the word "chan" literally means "friend" in Japanese as respect.


Another important part in Japanese anime and manga fans is scanlation. Like in fansubs, scanlations are combined with the words "scan" and "translation". The only difference is scanlations is distributed through in comics which translated by fans. The term is used in manga (Japanese), manhwa (Korean) and manhua (Chinese).

In the few decades, scanlations are made because of releasing of manga in many countries were likely to be few. The reason why manga fans did translating the content of the manga is because of the quantity of the manga available in stores. Even though it is very illegal to release many manga titles especially when they are not released in market, many readers and fans are still enjoy reading translated manga. Just like in fansubs, scanlations are required a lot of scan, translation and edit from original language to English. Scanlations were first used in Japanese manga but nowadays, other non-English comics like Korean manhwa and Chinese manhua are also used and spread across the globe. Since the popularity of scanlations in the Internet, many websites offers many manga scanlations and available to read online for free.

Similar to fansubbing, scanlations add short Japanese words and define them in some pages. They also need to correct the words in order not be mistaken what the characters say. In these technolgy days, scanlations are easy to edit the words but understanding Japanese can be very, very difficult.

Below the few examples of manga pages under scanlations. They're pretty random.


Fandubs are anime dubs that are made by fans or redub. Typically alternate but similar dialogues, story plots and characters are present to this element. The quality of fandub depends on the material and voice of dubbers used.

Currently, hearing dubbed characters from anime shows made by fans can be a good one too. Some instances, can be ridiculous and used in poops. Fandubs are not much popular unlike in fansubs and scanlations. Fandubs are usually copyrighted implicated except the different range.

"Legal Actions?"

Having watch fansubbed anime, reading scanlated manga, or redubbing of an anime can be fun but considered as an illegal action to fans who are responsible to translate anime or manga titles. In the past, copyright holders never requested or warn fans to stop translating Japanese media materials like in television or books. In the present, some publishers threaten the fans to stop their illegal action. Like any copyright material laws, fansubs, fandubs and scanlations are illegal. Since many translators of anime or manga stop relasing those, they also put an advice or disclaimer for readers or viewers to buy the original material. But I guess because of fansubs or scanlations the original media are less bought since they exist on the Internet. However, since doing things made by anime fans they still follow the "code of ethics" and the rules of uploading translated episodes or chapters. After all, they do that in order to continue and spread the world the popularity of Japanese manga and anime.

1 comment:

Radith Prawira said...

nice article. i've subcribed to this blog, keep posting. ^_^