Practicing What I Preach

November 6, 2010 at 12:00 pm | Posted in Site Updates | 26 Comments
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Bakura introducing his favorite card, the Change of Heart, in episode 12

The availability of free, legal streams of television shows and movies has skyrocketed in the last two to three years. Free online anime content, too, has been a part of this boom. Numerous anime series and movies have taken root in well-established video websites like YouTube and Hulu, and many anime licensees have set up their own video websites as well. Legal anime streams have been gaining wider recognition and adoption within the fandom as the technology improves and the outlets increase, and the culture has continued to welcome the instant gratification that comes with video on demand.

Among anime licensing companies, 4Kids Entertainment, who owns the rights to the Yu-Gi-Oh! series outside of Asia, was one of the first to embrace video streaming, having set up their operations in 2005. Since then, 4Kids’ online library has grown to include every single title to which they own streaming rights. All of their shows can be watched at any time on 4Kids.TV (Toonzai), 4KidsTV.com, and YouTube, as well as on their recently unveiled anime video portal Toonzaki. There are few, if any, other entertainment production or distribution companies that can say they’ve done the same with all of their own properties.

I’ve been following 4Kids’ foray into the business of streaming uncut anime since the day they started in March 2009. Since then, I’ve continued to chronicle their online endeavors and encourage others to follow and support them. What began as a love for the Yu-Gi-Oh! anime had evolved and instilled in me a desire to follow and aid in its growth and the growth of its owners in these ever-changing times. Indeed, so many of my most notable posts have been devoted to historic events and firsts in 4Kids’ undertakings, from the arrival of their first subtitled test episode of Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters, to the unexpected demise of their Duel Monsters subtitling project, to the advent of their subtitled Sonic X streams, to the birth of Toonzaki and their uncut Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D’s streams. Smaller updates, like their regular uploads of Yu-Gi-Oh! dubs to YouTube, are no less significant in my eyes. All the while, my messages have been offhandedly mixed in with posts about fansubs and raws and whatnot. I have essentially been maintaining this website — a repository of links to illegally uploaded videos — while recognizing and claiming to support the growth of legal online anime.

No more. For nearly four years, 4Kids and the other owners of Yu-Gi-Oh! have turned a blind eye to this website. And even if they never contact me and demand that I remove the video links, it doesn’t take a genius to realize that my words don’t match my actions. I support 4Kids. I support the progress that they’ve made thus far with their subtitling initiatives. And I support their ongoing, good-faith efforts in expanding these subtitling initiatives. So, I have decided that In the Name of The Pharaoh will no longer be offering any links to any illegal downloads or streams. As of today, all such links have been removed and will not be returning.

The world of free and legal online video content, anime or otherwise, still has a long way to go before it can satisfy everyone. The limitations of region-restricted video streaming on an otherwise borderless Internet are all too common. Video expiration policies, as well as various shortcomings with streaming technology, are, to a lesser extent, also notable. These are all things that can be resolved. But innovation is never easy and it certainly does not come quickly. Fortunately, we the consumers can play a big part in getting the wheels to turn. For the culture and business of free streaming videos to grow, there need only be, at the very core, three things: support, education, and outspokenness.

How do we use these tools? Acknowledge that progress has been and continues to be made. Learn and help others learn about the ways of watching content on the web legally. Use and encourage the use of these options. Educate yourself about the inner workings of these businesses and why and how they can succeed and fail. Critique their shortcomings and offer up new ideas. In time, further innovation will take place, and when it does, lather, rinse, and repeat.

It is only through continued support, education, and outspokenness that legal options for watching the world’s video content on the Internet can emerge, expand, and thrive.

Please, don’t ask me where you can find unofficial downloads/streams and don’t offer up any such links. Don’t ask me about raws. Don’t ask me about fansubs. Remarks about these topics are no longer welcome. (And if you feel the need to voice your opinions, note that all comments are automatically passed through spam filters, which I can’t turn off, and are moderated before being displayed. As such, keep in mind what I’ve written in this post and try to keep your words noninflammatory and spam-free.)

And please, do support websites that offer free, legal ways to watch anime online. Do watch anime on television. Do purchase the licensed products that are released in your region. If the products you’re interested in aren’t available, consider saving your money and importing them. I hear Japan has everything. As someone who claims to be a fan of the Yu-Gi-Oh! anime series, I embarrassingly confess that I don’t own nearly as many Yu-Gi-Oh! items as perhaps I should. In the coming months and years, I hope to begin to atone for this.

I’m sure that many of you may not appreciate my decision. But at the very least, I hope that you understand it. I feel like I’ve addressed the issues in a broad enough manner while still highlighting some points that you can use to build your own perspectives and arguments. I am proud to be taking this step and am doing so without any reservations. This is a new chapter for In the Name of The Pharaoh.

Update (December 4, 2010): I think this post has reached many eyes during the four weeks that it’s sat atop this website. I’m unstickying this post now, but don’t let that discourage you from writing or emailing me any productive questions or comments.

26 Comments »

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  1. So where’s the legal uncut YGO Duel Monsters Subbed streaming at?

  2. Removing the eps was very noble, but you do realize that there aren’t any direct and HQ links for the legal versions? Fans can’t download those videos so they’re forced to watch them in poor quality and be online at the same time…

  3. @Craig McLeod
    Unfortunately, unless something changes on the side of the Japanese licensors, there won’t ever be any legal uncut YGO DM — streams, DVDs, or otherwise. Everyone else’s hands are tied.
     
    @Sara
    Fans aren’t “forced” to do that.

  4. Well said. Although I have many objections to 4Kids and to the way they and other companies stream videos, I think your decision to remove all illegal uploads is very noble.

  5. Thanks. And ultimately, business practices are just that — practices. Never forget that we, the little people, are pivotal in influencing the directions that businesses can take. They can resist change. Or they can embrace change. The only obstacle is time. (It’s one heck of an obstacle!)

  6. I’m thinking like you for the most part of the message, but illegality can be a good thing I think, sometimes at least.

    Without that, we wouldn’t get the abridged series and wouldn’t have laughed watching it :)

  7. I’m with Craig McLeod here. Am I expected to accept butchered and censored anime in this day and age? Get back to me when these ‘legal’ videos aren’t horrible.

  8. @Ouji-
    I enjoy YGOTAS a lot, too. I’d like to think that at some level, the use of copyrighted material in making mashups ought to be addressed differently than “typical” copyright infringement, though many content owners may disagree. Needless to say, there are mountains of discussions about this, and mixed messages abound. One of my more recent encounters with this topic came from a 2008 open source documentary called RiP!: A Remix Manifesto (also on Hulu). Anyone who’s interested in this topic should give it a watch!
     
    @Ryuuki
    Of course not. I can’t imagine anyone accepting “butchered and censored” shows, anime or otherwise, these days.

  9. Is that not what 4kids has done to Yugioh, though?

  10. 4Kids made edits to the show to allow it to air on broadcast television for their target audience. You can describe that however you want, though I’m personally not fond of subjective or loaded language. Regardless, their decision to make those edits has nothing to do with anything that I’ve written in this post.

  11. In regards to uncut Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters, yeah, the Japanese version won’t see a release for the foreseeable future, but that doesn’t mean 4Kids can’t provide an uncut version. They could potentially release an uncut dub (much like the short-lived 2004 dub).

    Now, this is a long shot now, but it’s much more likely to happen if we support their legal releases. If you live in the U.S., watch legal, subtitled Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D’s. Watch the upcoming legal subs for GX. If 4Kids sees that there’s a huge demand for them, an uncut dub (for all three series, in fact) may not be too far out of reach.

    Nice job with the blog, ravegrl. I don’t comment much, but I check this place several times a week to get Yu-Gi-Oh! updates. And I fully support the new direction you’re taking.

    Although, any chance you may extend your regular coverage to all three Duel Monsters series? Doesn’t seem like you’re much of a fan of GX or 5D’s (and I’m actually much the same way), but it’d be nice to get regular updates on those shows as well.

  12. Getting uncut dubs is a long shot for sure, even more so these days because money is so tight. But I agree that the possibility, however small, will be there as long as we continue to support the official uncut streams. If people like watching YGO in Japanese, there is absolutely no downside to supporting these uncut projects, and as you say, good things could come from doing so. You’re right that I’m not as big a fan of GX or 5D’s as I am of DM, so I’m less inclined to follow and write about them. What I do love, however, is progress and change in this fandom, and that’s what keeps me tuned in to all of 4Kids’ subtitling endeavors.

  13. Though it’s for a noble cause it’s kind of sad to see you’re not sharing episodes on your site anymore. I was watching episodes on here because I’m looking to watch my favorite animes in their original language, I find them much better that way. Except for the butchered subtitles in the YGO series, but I can forgive that. 4Kids is dedicated to dubbed anime. If that was what we wanted we wouldn’t be coming here to watch episodes. But you did mention something about their subtitling endeavors, do they really plan to subtitle the entire series? Where would you go to learn more about it?

  14. If legal subs are ever available to download, will you be putting links up here for them? I know it’s unlikely, but I’d hate to see all hope gone for people who want clips..

  15. @Raine
    Haha, yeah I did mention “something” about their subtitling endeavors. 4Kids isn’t dedicated strictly to dubbed anime anymore. While we won’t be seeing more subbed DM episodes again any time soon, Sonic X and 5D’s have been getting regular releases and work on GX is forthcoming. Keep an eye on Toonzaki and their Facebook page to get the latest updates!
     
    @Orange
    Sure thing, but as you say, the chances are slim for such a release. The download-to-own option doesn’t seem to be very popular among anime fans.

  16. …You do know you can’t even watch the dubbed episodes on 4kids youtube anymore, right? So, this entire site is pretty much pointless now.

  17. Yup, I reported on the episodes’ expiration when it first came to light, and continued to follow their channel’s updates in several subsequent posts, as usual. It’s too bad, really! If only there were some other websites where people could still watch the show!

  18. So there are no legal ways to watch or download Japanese subtitled episodes of Yugioh? And there are no plans to make them available in the future? This is really disappointing.

  19. You said it.

  20. Well I think it’s too bad you’ve done that because 4kids will never release english subbed YGO duel monster and you pretty much taken off the only way of anyone who desire to watch the originals.

  21. It’s too bad that you decided to take it down, since 4Kidz was forced to take their uncut original subs down… but I do thank you for this awesome website nonetheless ~

  22. Fair enough, but you should take down the page itself rather than still saying they are all for downloads. You’re basically tricking people onto your site so you can just get more visitors, in other words (Whether you intend to or not, meh). You should either change the name of the page, or stop misleading people into thinking they can download stuff.

  23. What a load of moral horse shit. Do you have any fucking idea how hard it is to find Jap Yu Gi Oh with Eng subs these days? By all means support the company that butchered this show to the point that I have to seek out a half-sensible subtitled version just to enjoy it in it’s full glory. There is absolutely nothing “rave” about this decision.

  24. Can you at least open up a torrent or something I’m stuck watching horribly subbed episodes and trying my best to understand the whole picture.
    I don’t understand why is it 4kids right to keep us from watching properly subbed material, its not like we’re the intended audience, I could not watch the dubbed version because its meant for kids not us anime fans.

  25. I agree with white. doing this in the way that you have is clearly a ploy to increase traffic to what is now essentially a pointless site. i’m aware this all went down years ago (hell, the site owner probably won’t even see this) but, i’m pissed that after god knows how long trying to find yuugiou in it’s non-shitty ass dubbed version i find this cock-tease of a site just to waste my time going from page to page discovering nothing but dead links, so please understand if i feel the need to vent. by the way, in the unlikely event that ravegirl does read this, i just want to say stop acting so goddamn high and mighty toward people that are simply bummed out about the loss of the only good version of this show. seriously, you’re not better than them just because you had a sudden change of heart after years of being a hypocrite. what happened, did 4kids call you up and threaten to break your thumbs or did they just pay you off? whatever. fuck this waste of web space and fuck you too. have a nice fuckin’ day. bitch. . .

  26. So I heard there’s gonna be a HD rerelease in Japan of DM. Do you think blurays will come out and we’ll finally get it subbed?


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