My thoughts on piracy on the PS Vita

DISCLAIMER: All the thoughts expressed in this article (and this blog of course) are my own, and is not affiliated or endorsed by any entities whatsoever. This post is a rant and will be disorganized and biased.

So I read an article on wololo just now that confirms that piracy is now a reality on the PS Vita. After like what, 5 years?

Well, I guess I’m sad, and a tad angry too. Sure, I used to pirate all my PC games during my teenage years (now I buy them on Steam, hurray for Steam). But that doesn’t mean I like piracy.

You know what, the PS Vita is a really niche kind of a platform; to me it’s one-of-a-kind. Even though I don’t dabble much in video game communities, but this much I can see.

I belong to one of the “rare”? people who actually loves the things present in the JP PSN store, and can consume those content. And you see, I like buying my games. Why? That feel-good factor that I’m supporting the devs. But wait, not your AAA games that potentially has a huge user base, pirated or not. These are the very niche ones based off maybe an anime, or a visual novel port.

Now, the thing is, the sales figures of these appear to be such that even a few thousand copies selling is considered good.

Does piracy really need to happen here? What happens if it does? Will the games still sell well? Will the devs make enough money off it to consider making a sequel? Or their next game? Or will they drop PS Vita releases altogether?

I don’t know, honestly. And I’m not inclined to think in a positive direction. But that’s just my thinking.

Now well, here are some refutations of arguments people come up with to “justify” piracy:

  1. I don’t wanna buy the expensive memory cards!!!

This is THE biggest complaint I hear, and it makes zero sense to me. As I have ranted in a previous post, THE MEMORY CARD IS LITERALLY A ONE-TIME INVESTMENT, DAMN IT! Just how many memory cards you need? You can back up your games to your PC just fine with QCMA. What’s the problem!?

2. The users are not to blame, Sony is to blame for letting the PS Vita rot like this!

Correction: Sony is partially to blame. A game console and its ecosystem are made up by both the company, the devs AND the users. Don’t forget that.

3. This will boost sales of the Vita!!

Hmm. I don’t have much idea of how the ecosystem works so correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t it like this: Many users will buy Vitas to run 3.60 FW plus their pirated stuff, so game console sales will see a (temporary) increase. What about the games? Will they sell as much? Will many people buy them?

4. I want to “try” the full game before I buy it!!

Uh, that’s what trial editions are for, and last time I checked, they don’t cost a dime. Unless by trying you mean you want to finish it first.

5. The PS Vita is dead, so piracy doesn’t matter anymore.

Well, it might be dead in your country, but not everywhere for sure. I see several people with the PS Vita on the trains here in Japan quite often.

 

Sigh, I don’t want the situation to worsen any further, and honestly, all the “claims” made by people (excluding homebrew flourishing, which is a good thing), seem just hogwash and people trying to justify themselves by saying piracy is a good thing. Nope, it never was, and it isn’t. It’s the game dev’s choice whether to use DRM or not. Not everyone can trust the gamers and take that risk. It earns them bread, y’know. It enables them to make a living.

As a commenter on the post aptly put it:

“What some of you don’t realize is that by pirating games on the Vita, you’re not stealing from Sony. Instead, you’re stealing from the developers, who typically aren’t Sony. What enabling piracy will do is just gimp the Vita’s potential library even more. Do you guys really want that?”

I want to see more games on the PS Vita, and this seems a step in the wrong direction. I just hope I’m proved wrong several months from now…

 

 

List of Anime I’m watching for Summer 2016 Part 1

Turns out I’m surprisingly watching a lot of anime this season. This was because I ended up picking up a lot of shows  to watch just because I was bored. And yesterday when I thought of actually listing them, turned out to be 12 shows. Wow.

So I thought of listing them here with their thoughts. I’ll be dividing those into tiers based on what I think of them.

Awesome Tier:

1. Joukamachi no Dandelion: This anime I didn’t see till a few days ago, but it easily tops the charts, blowing out almost every other show into the water for me. Family-themed? Yes. Each sibling having their unique character and interactions? Of course. Hanazawa Kana voicing the main girl? Aww yeah.

This is almost a slice-of-life show, and it is warm. Very warm. Just the kind of show I love. It fills all the requirements, and on top of that, it’s very rare to find family-themed anime nowadays.

Each of the characters is unique, be it the youngest kid Shiori, to the eldest, Aoi (or was it Kanade?). Each have their own thoughts and ways of doing things.

And I commend the king for thinking of sending his kids to a common school rather than a royal private academy or whatever. Ordinary is important, in my opinion.

Anyway, I’ll just keep on ranting so putting a stop to it. Still, it’s a warm show for me to watch at the end of a long day to warm myself up and bring a smile on my face.

Watching Doki who’re good with this one.

Encoding-wise, TBS seems fine enough, but I did check out CBC. CBC is good too. Dunno if it’s CR or Funi, don’t care.

2. Classroom Crisis: This would be the easy winner had there not being Joukamachi no Dandelion.

This is about a class full of geniuses and rather weirdo kind-of people who build spaceships. They’re all individually highly talented, and are literally employed while studying.

However, the organization they work for cuts their budget and all. See, this is the corporate world and R&D people like them has to face the music. How they overcome their struggle is what makes  this show awesome.

The characters are down-to-life people. Add to that corporate politics, and R&D people, literally scientists, getting caught on it, alongwith good execution, and you have a great show.

I especially love Sera Kaito a lot. He’s the homeroom teacher of this class, and having been sheltered for a long time, suddenly finds himself being responsible to handle the crisis that threatens free thinking and research of his beloved students. His struggles, alongwith the students’ feelings, are very humane indeed, and the actions taken by them under pressure, likewise.

The anime portrays very well how he struggles to stick to his ideals and ensure a good place to nurture the young minds that are his students.

Also, the relationship between him and the students, and the students themselves, and the brother-sister relationship especially in episode 4 secure winning points for me.

And the fact that I myself work at a company, the politics are not unheard of to me.

This just barely takes the 2nd place due to the slightly uneven pacing and interaction. Still, it’s very slight and should not distract the common viewer.

And forgot to mention, the OP is by Try-Sail and ED by ClariS, and both are damn awesome.

Subs-wise, it’ll most likely be DDY. The other groups don’t use honorifics, and the other fansub translates “forced entry” as “force-land” in episode 1 alongwith too-liberal editing.

Video-wise, CR is the clear winner. Almost no filtering required at all, except some debanding. And the line-art is thick, yes. But I’d keep that as it is.

3. Shokugeki no Souma: This is a heavy contender for the 1st place too. This anime is, in one word: great. Awesome.

The theme is cooking. And it’s about cooking good food in a short amount of time. It’s also about rat races in the society in a very explicit manner.

It’s also about growing up, adapting to challenges and new circumstances in a very quick manner. And it is very humane. It really resonates with me at times.

I think anyone who liked Masterchef will like this too. Probably.

Also, Tadokoro Megumi is my waifu. Nuff  said.

For the subs, the non-CR group doing this has a good encode, but some TL errors and three-liners and forgotten-to-remove things (Thank you—.) here and there that degrades the experience. Sigh.

3. The iDOLM@STER: Cinderella Girls: THIS. P-kun. One of the best characters in all of the anime I’ve watched. Stoic, expressionless, yet always thinking about the girls under him and trying his best for them. Damn it. It’s awesome.

And Season 2, as a continuation of Season 1, ramps up things to a new level. Again, it’s a fight for existence, just like Classroom Crisis. Also the girls are cute, and Shimamuu is the ANGEL.

Watching it raw.

4. GATE: This takes the 4th spot in the list. This is about the an otaku JSDF soldier and his unit, who are sent into a parallel world to set up base and explore there.

Actually, I don’t have much to say about this, except the anime portrays a very important theme: soldiers and their lives and how they silently do their part in everything, ranging from protecting against enemies to helping out citizens in various ways.

Add to that cute characters including a goth-loli, an elf and a mage, and we have awesomeness.

I’m watching CR for this.

I’ll write about the other shows later. This completes the awesome-tier shows. My hands hurt.

A Post on Fansubbing

The title is meh, I know. But I cannot come up with any better one right now. I’ll see if I can find something better later.

So, in 2 months, on 1st July, Oyatsu Fansubs will be turning 3 years old. And I have been fansubbing for 3.5 yrs now. I hope that counts as experience enough to write something about the fansubbing scene right now.

Oyatsu is doing a show called Seikoku no Dragonar this season. It’s a fantasy story about a boy and his dragon who takes the shape of a  young girl. While the show we expected to be good, it’s been average at best so far.

These facts aren’t actually confirmed to be true or not, but if it is, here are some statistics:

  • There are ~135 releases of ongoing anime this season thus far.
  • There are ~78 releases that are not Horriblesubs or any videos released by the simulcasters.
  • And there seem to be only ~33 releases that appear to be original translations.

I think this is wrong, really. But it does kind of tally with what I have been seeing in recent times: several groups use the Crunchyroll or any simulcast script as base. After that, they can take two routes:

  1. Slap them onto their own encode with minimal changes and release it.
  2. Go through it in detail, fix any errors and polish it and then release it.

Now, I have nothing against any of the above two categories, though I’d prefer people went down route #2. Even #1 is fine as long as the base script is top-notch, and adding karaoke, good typesetting etc adds to the visual value.

It’s just, they’re often several times less effort than manually translating from scratch, which we’ve been doing since we started. All of our scripts of TV anime we’ve done are our own translation. Now, in the present day and age, translating from scratch has its disadvantages:

  • If the translator’s English (and Japanese) are not very good, the translations may be inaccurate or be Engrish.
  • Now, the translator’s script forms the base for these releases, and if they’re Engrishy, the whole script has a higher chance of being inferior to than, say #2 or even #1 of above.
  • It also  takes more time and effort, and if the translator is busy for some reason, it incurs delays as well.

Now for the advantages:

  • It’s the group’s own script, and since it’s raw diamond, the editor can cut and polish it for an excellent end-product.
  • That feeling of making something with your own hands than building on someone else’s work is one of the great feelings in the world. Trust me on that.

I’m sorry to say that my translations belong to the Engrishy category to quite an extent, since hearing and understanding something and expressing them in English for others to understand are like Hell and Heaven: the latter is much, much harder, from what I’ve seen thus far. I believe this opinion will change in future as I hopefully get more proficient, but right now that’s the truth for me.

Fortunately, we have been blessed with excellent and dedicated translators like ZeroYuki, redtitan, and who I really like working with.

Anyway, I have been deviating from what I was trying to write about. Let’s talk about schedules and release timings. This information is thanks to to ZeroYuki and Kuzu, and all my Senseis and Senpais. Back in 2006-2007:

  • The norm was to release in 48+ hours after airing.
  • Anything released in 24 hours was deemed a “speedsub”, and were usually looked down upon, often correctly, as crap quality.
  • The fansubbing was oriented around anime, not fansubbers or whatever they are playing or stuff like that only.
  • The fans used to be nice and patient. Honestly, just looking at some of the posts back from 2007 gives me this warm feeling, which I am unable to find much in today’s scene.

I am sure there are fans like that even today, too, but I believe their numbers have declined.

Now, after 2008 or 2009, the scene began to change:

  • Eclipse and gg had been around, and they, mainly Eclipse, started a new era of fansubbing: speedsubbing with quality. I respect them even today.
  • This resulted in groups that took their time doing things gradually stop subbing. An example would be Lunar.
  • Sometime later, Crunchyroll came into the scene, and despite its history, started legally simulcasting some anime. This, I firmly believe, was the thing all fansubbers wanted.
  • This again resulted in changes of policies in many groups, Saizen included, not to touch anything that was simulcasted.

Now, I first got acquainted with the fansubbing scenario in late 2010when I joined Doki as a QC, having zero experience in IRC and everything. Even today, it’s my alma mater. Let’s see how things were in 2010, 2011 or so:

  • Crunchyroll and Funimation used to simulcast some shows that were available often as soon as airing ended in Japan. There is this famous group who ripped their releases if I remember right.
  • But the simulcasts were not very well-received, particularly due to bad quality back then.
  • As a result, the trend of using CR or other simulcast scripts as base were not in yet, and people used to wait for and appreciate original translated scripts. The scene was changing though.

Now I’m not sure when exactly this began, but let’s say sometime in late 2012:

  • Almost every show started getting simulcasted, and the scripts’ quality improved a lot.
  • The famous group has continued ripping CR and other simulcasters’ releases, allowing fans convenient and easy access to subs that were released consistently hours after an anime aired in Japan.
  • This easy access to translated anime spoilt both the fans and the fansubbers, in my opinion.

Let’s try and analyze what happened to the fans:

  • Many anime fans started ditching fansubs, and new anime fans would very likely get the first release that was out, and that was of the simulcasters.
  • What’s more, the “group” was the same who apparently did almost all shows in a season.
  • They could get any ongoing anime they wanted, translated and everything, hours after they aired in Japan.
  • This became a huge spoiling factor for them, with many people forgetting to appreciate how much effort fansubs used to put.

I know you might be thinking I’m being too harsh on the fans, but a comment I read somewhere was: “Waiting for X and Y to release uncensored subs is suffering. Or at least mildly annoying.” Please note that X and Y are two groups that release within 24 hours and 48 hours. The second sentence especially irks me, since it is in total disregard of the effort we put in to our releases. Well, most fansubbers put effort in to their releases, be it 2000 or be it 2014.

Still, there are some very few people out there who know the difference and appreciate what we do. Their numbers are seemingly on the decline, though.

And if we try and see what happened to the fansubbers:

  • Many subbers stopped doing original translations in order to survive by being fast.
  • All the wannabe subbers found it very easy to start up their own group, with softsubbed scripts and raws available freely. Some of them became good at what they did, and some didn’t survive.
  • Subbers started emphasizing more on speed and <24hours, and even 6-12hr releases, sometimes sacrificing quality.

Notice how this turns out into a downward spiral? Fans want faster releases, fansubbers try to give faster releases, often at the expense of quality.

However, I have nothing against my fellow fansubbers, and I hope none of this offends anyone. There are excellent groups out there even in May 2014 as I write this: groups who are very fast and are excellent. And there are quite a few groups out there who may not be as fast, but do a very good job on their scripts. These good groups are one of the few factors keeping fansubbing alive right now.

So, what does it mean to fansub right now, in 2014? From what I’ve seen:

  • You have to be fast.  Take more than 24 hours and you’re not a well-known big group with a huge fanbase, and no one’s gonna watch your subs.
  • Not many people care whether you do a CR edit or an own translation. The latter won’t give you any extra appreciation.
  • You have to be consistent. Unless you are a big group, delays are inexcusable. The reason’s simple. Everyone’s getting their fix of anime in a few hours after airing, and unless you’re consistent like everyone else is, you’re screwed.
  • Amount of appreciation you get will wildly vary. If you’re a big group with a good history, you’ll get lots of downloads and thank yous, though your release posts will be more cluttered with people asking when the next episode of another project you’re doing will be out, rather than saying thanks for the release and talking about the anime.

Isn’t this in stark contrast with a release post, say in 2007? To me, this current scene is harsh and competitive. I kind of don’t want to be in such a scene.

Also, if I say so myself, I see that fansubbing is dying. To me, anyway. Fansubbing is changing its definitions as the gears of time roll and eras change. But that won’t stop it from dying, in my opinion. That’s thanks to simulcasting and perhaps other reasons, such as a drastic decrease in the number of good shows a year etc too. My apologies for making such a huge statement, but I think I’m not wrong. Or maybe I’ll be proved wrong. We’ll see.

Anyway, if you’ve read till this far, thanks. Maybe I’ll rant about how the KoiKami VN is awesome next. 🙂 Please correct me if I’m wrong anywhere here in the facts or dates or stuff.

Random funny screenshots

The anime is “Yozakura Quartet”. The TV series that aired a few years ago. I watched it a while back and it was really funny, and good. Except for the ending, which was not the ending I wanted. Anyway:

[Chihiro-AonE]_Yozakura_Shijuusou_~Yozakura_Quartet~_07_[DVD][D65E5C05].mkv_snapshot_13.08_[2013.07.22_10.05.25][Chihiro-AonE]_Yozakura_Shijuusou_~Yozakura_Quartet~_07_[DVD][D65E5C05].mkv_snapshot_13.12_[2013.07.22_10.05.29][Chihiro-AonE]_Yozakura_Shijuusou_~Yozakura_Quartet~_07_[DVD][D65E5C05].mkv_snapshot_18.12_[2013.07.22_10.09.19]

Nice. I grin from ear-to-ear everytime I see the scene.

PS. The “Yozakura” comes from Yo from Yoru (夜) = Night, and Sakura (桜) aka Cherry Blossom. Hope I can understand the naming significance someday.

Working vs Studying

I’m almost at the end of my tenure of summer training aka internship at one of the best IT companies around here. Frankly speaking, it has been a very rewarding experience so far. In these two months:

  • I feel like I’ve learned about a semester’s worth in just two months.
  • I learnt about how to process”Internet-scale data”. And it’s more than just Terabytes; we’re talking of Petabytes here, aka thousands and thousands of Terabytes of data. That means, where the mankind is now in terms of technology of massive data processing. It has proved to be a very interesting and enlightening experience. I kind of now feel that I have a teensy slightly broader view of the world around me.
  • The second part of the internship involved web programming using cutting-edge Javascript technologies like node.js and Websockets. I had zero experience with ANYTHING related to web programming, and now I can atleast look at them. That’s an enormous plus.

In these few weeks, I have almost gotten used to this new lifestyle and brand new environment. However, college is going to open soon. So I need to force myself back to my old ways, taking this as a breath of fresh air. And I need to do that. I decided a while ago that I won’t take up a job after my graduation unless absolutely necessary. But this is quite alluring, in fact. Must not fall for that.

For work:

  • Finish your work for the day and go home.
  • Work doesn’t usually follow you home, except under rare circumstances. That means do what you want when you get home; no need to prepare for exams etc. (Uh oh, that’s a very tempting thing.)
  • For me, the commuting time got halved during this time… And I know that I’ll feel very irritated when I started commuting to university again…
  • For me, the project leaders have been very understanding and liberal. Thank you, Senpai and Sir!
  • You get even more breadth of knowledge rather than depth.

PS. There are other and perhaps not-so-good aspects too, which are not to be forgotten or ignored.

For uni:

  • You get more in-depth knowledge when you study more.
  • You can prepare better for the future. More knowledge means more preparedness for whatever comes your way. Knowledge is power.
  • You are bound by the routine classes.
  • For me, it takes ~3 hours every day to commute. And if I miss a class, I have a very hard time catching up…

Still, I would say one should study for as long as possible. Why? Simple. The more knowledge a person has, and the more varied it is, that person can have a larger view of the world around him. I kind of feel that Bachelor’s degrees are meant to give people breadth-first knowledge. And Masters and PhD are for depth. And both are important.

On a personal note, there was this subject called Humanities in our first semester, comprising of English and Social Science. All my batchmates were “Meh, WTF is this stupid subject!” Even the teacher was like “Oh well, these guys won’t have any use of it anyway…” I feel those subjects are important too. Why? Simple. Better perspective. They help in the long run. But most people seem to not realise that. Sad.

My little brother is going for such a thing too, a Maths-only-oriented course. I hope he’ll study other subjects too. I think I’ll make him do it. Simply because of the fact that wider perspective matters. A lot.

Now that I think about it, the post name is misleading. Oh well. Time to get back to studying for N3, and clearing the fansubbing backlog bit by bit.

A person’s thought on how fansubs’ scripts should be

Well, this and editing are quite related, so why not.

The two schools of thought regarding literal vs liberal subs have existed for a long time. To the extent people don’t debate about them much nowadays.

As for me, I think it doesn’t matter. Almost. What I feel fansub groups should strive for is to make sure that it is understandable to everyone in the world who knows English. The guidelines should be:

  • Use simple English. Flowery words are a no-no, even if the speaker speaks very formal language(Most people don’t know what “bombastic” or “precocious” mean).
  • Do not localize. There are above 190 countries in the world apart from the US, and English is spoken in many of those too. This means, assume that the audience is distributed worldwide, not only in America.
  • This does not mean write a plain and flat script that’s boring to read. If there are character quirks, show it in the subs to an extent.
  • Please please try not to lose any nuance than necessary. The purpose of the subtitles is to make viewers acquainted with another culture, not to spoonfeed them in terms of their own culture.
  • Avoid using any terms of phrases specific to a region. Why? Simple. No one other than the people of that culture would understand.

It might sound that I am contradicting myself. But the main thing is to make it both. It must not sound flat and plain, and should have some nice dialog which are simple to understand. A nice example would be from FFF’s Love Live! release. I found it very enjoyable due to the sheer simple yet witty language. For example,  lines were like “At last we have a member with a good head on her shoulders!”, “Keep your eyes to yourself.” They are simple to understand, yet witty.

And some personal thoughts on how quirks can be conveyed:

  • For maid and butler-speak, use a formal kind of language. But don’t use archaic English. “I beg to state that you have a flaw in your assumptions, Master.” is fine, but more than that is not.
  • Do not use contractions(I’m, You’re) for the formal characters (maids, butlers who speak like that etc). This might be perhaps the most notable way of showing the difference.
  • I am not quite unaware and unsure on how to show accent differences (Tokyo Japanese vs Kansai-ben) though. There are methods, I think.

Guess that’s all for now. But then again, I’m not an editor. I don’t know how to phrase a line so that it sounds nice and keeps to the features I mentioned. However, this is from my experience from QCing a few hundred scripts. Obviously, constructive comments, corrections, and alternate perspectives are more than welcome.

Of “accountability” in fansubbing

The other day, I was reading a “review” of our release of Leviathan. While some of the points were valid, the tone certainly wasn’t. It sounded like a reporter felt like writing a hate-article about us on a famous newspaper, no offense meant.

Nevertheless, I was a bit pissed off at first. I thought of explaining why we used something for a particular line, and being the group leader, the responsibility rested with me. Then I thought, “Why bother?” So I laughed and let it go.

Then I started thinking of the so-called “accountability” in fansubbing, aka doing what I was about to do. And I realised this: The only people fansubbers are even a bit accountable to are the fans. Why? They often wait for a fansubber’s release just because they like watching it. And they often cheer us on too. Very few people are like that, but I feel if fansubbers are accountable to anyone at all for their releases and the scripts and encodes they produce, it’ll be those few fans. Or the fans who watch their release at most. No one else.

Part 2 of this post will deal about what I, as a person, think of editing etc.