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  • Subtitle and Distribute The Mediation Policies of Brazilian Fansubbers in Digital Networks
  • Krystal Urbano (bio)

This essay originates from research developed while working on a Master's degree. The objective in that research was to investigate contemporary practices of anime fandom in Brazil associated with the broader sphere of digital networks. For that purpose, I opted to focus on the practice developed by fansubbers and their collaboration system, which consists of translation, subtitling, and the informal distribution of audiovisual products from East Asia-generally anime-in the universe of digital networks. 1

Emerging from a predigital era, the fansub groups that originated in anime clubs were communities of fans focused on the translation and subtitling of anime. These clubs appeared in the United States by the end of the 1970s with the intention of promoting and spreading anime and other Asian media texts to American fans due to their scarcity in mainstream U.S. media. 2 With videocassette and VHS technology, these clubs went from solely exhibiting videos to producing amateur subtitles. In Brazil, it is hard to give a precise date for the first fansub. As with American fans, Brazilian aficionados built an informal network to trade these animations among friends, acquaintances, and other individuals interested in anime in the 1990s, a network that expanded when it migrated to the internet at the turn of the century. Some fans conferred to BAC-Brasil Anima Club, a group from Brasília founded in 1996-and the title of first Brazilian fansub. The group initially distributed, subtitled, or dubbed material from North American fansubs but later decided to also create subtitles in Portuguese. In this way, fansubbing had evolved in the previous decades by following new technological developments in the reproduction and sharing of files, and has expanded among fans of other countries equally interested in Japanese media productions. 3

VHS technology made the first amateur subtitling productions possible to a limited degree. More recently, however, using the facilities of the internet and Peer-to-Peer (P2P) communication, fansubbing activity has expanded considerably in terms of mediation and in the use of these technologies. 4 Currently, [End Page 57] there are many fansub groups of different nationalities that translate anime into a plethora of languages, in many different versions, making it hard to be precise about the number of groups acting on the internet. Indeed, in recent years the fansubber community has gone from occupying a low visibility, low-impact position in the flux of the global cultural media landscape to a privileged position in the informal, free, and specialized distribution of Japanese serial productions for fans in many countries. 5 This is the case in Brazil, a country where television played an extremely relevant function in terms of diffusion of anime culture to Brazilian audiences. 6

Certainly, the presence of Japanese audiovisual products in Brazilian media since the 1960s and the migration context that marks the unique relationship between Japan and Brazil are relevant factors behind the emergence of a rising interest in anime among a certain niche of Brazilian consumers in the last two decades. In fact, Brazil is home to the largest Japanese population outside of Japan and Brazilians make up a significant portion of non- Japanese living in Japan (the fourth largest group after Chinese, Koreans, and Filipinos). Therefore, the interest in Japanese audiovisual products became so great in the country during the 1990s that the supply offered by the Brazilian market was not enough to satisfy the demand. From 2000 and onward, this supply of products in mainstream media effectively plummeted because of the new changes in the media landscape that came with the development of the internet in Brazil. 7 For this reason, Brazilian fans interested in Japanese material had to resort to other means to access it. Therefore, fans found other ways of distributing anime through fansubbing practices both physically within the country and in their transposition to the virtual universe. Naturally, the active involvement of these fans, along with the transformations that occurred in the 1990s in social, cultural, economic, and technological fields, created a receptive climate for the transnational distribution of anime, with its own fans as mediators and maintainers. 8

Considering...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2152-6648
Print ISSN
1934-2489
Pages
pp. 57-76
Launched on MUSE
2020-07-29
Open Access
No
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