As long as untranslated Japanese works exist, there’s going to be fan subs. But years before Crunchyroll, or even before TV networks started properly picking up anime, the world of fan subs was a very different beast. Small, close communities subbing and swapping their subs for free. But as with any community, it had its drama.
The Dragon Ball fan sub community used to be one of the largest. @jetgreguar recently shared some finds hinting at some interesting drama and “lore” that we’d love to know a bit more about.
please god where is the netflix doc on early VHS fansubs and the lore within pic.twitter.com/jqDHvM2Jch
— greg (@jetgreguar) September 20, 2017
Here’s another couple of grabs filled with drama, including one that tells us that Anime Lab is finished, thanks to Travis Drake from Trunk’s Domain posing as the group.
It seems that having to deal with bad eggs in the community, and especially with people selling these intended-to-be-free subs for money, was pretty stressful. These images offer just glimpses at a whole story and drama lost to time, and only from one perspective — the fansubbers themselves. “History is written by the victors” has become “history is written by the fansubbers”.
With official translations being so easy to get your hands on these days, either legally, or via other means — the VHS fansub is more of a rarity these days than it used to be. And just like unravelling the history of civilizations long past, this look back at old geek communities is just as mysterious. James, Hank, Travis, “Miami Mike”. This is some Dark Souls level world building.
Just who is Miami Mike, and what did he do?