Author Topic: Early days of fansubbing post series  (Read 15913 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Sindobook

  • Moderator
  • Maetel Hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 660
    • View Profile
Early days of fansubbing post series
« on: August 16, 2006, 06:46:12 pm »
The purpose of this thread is simply to be an online placeholder for one of my own documents, please don't post to it or add commentary, if you want to do either of those things, make a new thread.

Offline Sindobook

  • Moderator
  • Maetel Hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 660
    • View Profile
Re: Early days of fansubbing post series
« Reply #1 on: August 16, 2006, 06:49:53 pm »
I wrote this document b'cos I wanted to share what the 'early days' were like.
I get asked this type of thing from time to time, so I figured I ought to
write it all down and just reference the document.

Bias:  Critical thinking teaches that any source, especially human ones, are
biased.  I do not pretend to be unbiased; certainly anyone who reads this will
with a critical eye will be aware.  At times, I was deep in the "Dirty War" of
the time, and my views reflect this. 

Personalities:  I find myself to be of the 'old-school' variety when it comes
to doing things online.  I never divulge any real-life information, I don't
particularly like to 'chat' and I don't seek real-life relationships online.
In this document I call people by their 'nicks' or 'psuedonyms' because I
know no other.  There's pleanty of negative stuff in this document because
that is the way it was back then.  For all I know these people could have been
okay people but I saw only their online personage.  Note that my long-term
memory is not perfect, sometimes I mis-capitalize or mis-spell people's nicks.
Please don't ask for private logs.  I talk of people who were, at the time,
in the public 'view', so it's not like I'm outing anyone.  What I found out
due to private conversations, when relevant I do my best to summarize what was
said, that's all I can do.  Recognize that providing logs doesn't necessarily
provide any more 'believeability'.  If you are to believe that what I am saying
is fake, than I don't think a log would change that, even a log can be faked.

Facts / Accuracy:  I can only gaurantee it from own perspective.  I've heard
numerous times people cite digisub groups that existed before what I call
first generation groups.  I don't doubt there were groups before own term
"first generation" groups, just that I wasn't involved in them or aware of
them, so I cannot comment.  Seriously, it's just one's own perspective. 

Own Nicks:  Please don't ask me, I don't even remember them all.  I used a lot.
For credits, I never used my own nick, I had a 'trademark' instead.  By
'trademark' I mean similar to something a criminal leaves at every crime
scene in order that the cops know it was their crime and not someone else's. 
These days, I think I have it down to just 3 or 4 unique ones. 

Own headers:  Sections are headed by titles, for reader convinience.  While
I spend a lot of time describing the war, it doesn't mean that it was the
highest priority at the time.  Just that such a thing takes more time to
explain, being unfamiliar territory to most people out there. 

Self-absorbed:  Pardon me if this document seems self-absorbed.  All I can
do is tell what happened from my own perspective.  I cannot tell another's
perspective, and I certainly cannot speak for everyone of the time.  If you
want to get a full, accurate view of the early history, you should read stuff
from a variety of sources, not just me. 

Offline Sindobook

  • Moderator
  • Maetel Hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 660
    • View Profile
Re: Early days of fansubbing post series
« Reply #2 on: August 16, 2006, 06:50:13 pm »
Part 1:  Pre-digisub (~1997 to early 2001)
Before digisubbing, I was involved in video capture of VHS tapes.  I worked
with many people to this end, in order to get our files out for free.  There
were few P2P sharing programs back then, and none that were reliable for
large video files.  So the main channel for free distribution was anon
FTP sites like  Another free channel was a weekly
site called Lunaarts run by Shulace.  But bandwidth was highly limited.  If
you wanted something back then, you generally had to be willing to trade or
get in some of the 'private groups' with their own private FTP servers. 

My own motives in doing this were quite simple.  I was in a VHS fansubbing
group myself and even participated in an occasional project (mainly providing
or transcribing scripts, timing, etc.)  We didn't like the distros out there
who were making money by distributing fansubs back then.  We figured out that
even 'reputable' distros were making profit on the side, often to the tune of
around $10K every 3 months or more.  Wanting to put a stop to this, I took
up free internet distribution with pleanty of other folks. 

This started around 1999 to 2000.  Digisubbing was in its infancy back then, I
remember adding subs to a few episodes of Minky Momo digitally.  It wasn't
distributed too far, though, I think an episode might have made it onto
Lunaarts but that's all I remember.

When I first started doing encoding everything I did was MPEG-1 (encoded
using LSX-MPEG or TMPGEnc) 352x240.  The files were designed to fit 4 per
CD-R.  For its time, the quality was top-notch (better than VCD since it was
variable-bitrate).  Filtering was done in VirtualDub only (no avisynth). 
When divx311alpha became avaliable, I switched over to that since it offered
somewhat comparable quality with significantly reduced filesize.  Most of the
public FTPs were pretty limited in terms of bandwidth.  Occasionally I would
find someone with an EDU account and pleanty of bandwidth to spare, but these
types of setups were temporary and rarely lasted more than a few months. 

Either way, my stuff was getting out there.  I would monitor the trading
site and others, checking 'for trade' lists to make sure it was
being spread around. 

Since I was creating high-quality video captures of shows that were otherwise
hard to acquire, I had an 'in' among traders and I could work myself into
private groups as necessary. 

One of these groups was a hotline site known as "animefactory", run by paQ. 
I remember it is little more than a trading ground and a place where encoders
could exchange information and techniques.  These were the early days of
"DivX" (divx311alpha, a hack of MS-MPEG3) and encoding was something of a
'secret art' back then.  The only other person I remember from this site
was Satoshi.

As far as equipment, I started out using a Pinnacle MP10 which captured
straight to MPEG-1.  While it was limited to 352x240 resolution, it could
capture realtime to 3mbit/sec MPEG-1 (DVD is about 9mbit/sec max) which meant
few detectable artifacts yet filesizes were manageable.  Eventually I wanted
more resolution so I got an ATI All-in-Wonder 128 capture card that could
capture 720x480 realtime uncompressed.  While space limited it to one or two
encodes at a time (each encode took up 20-30 gigs for a 23 minute video clip)
the quality was noticeably better.  VHS capture needs a lot of noise processing,
so in the case of the latter, I could do all the filtering on uncompressed
source which meant quality was about as good as you could expect from a VHS

At the time, the freely avaliable video out there was mostly pirated stuff
from local DVD releases, mostly in formats like .rm (40mb for an episode)
or .vivo.  These provided fair graphics quality, at least good enough to
read the subtitles, but very poor framerate (3-5fps if that) and a poor
perceptual resolution (160x120 was typical for a 320x240 resolution file).
Most of these formats required a propietary player that was, at minimum,
very annoying to use. 

Offline Sindobook

  • Moderator
  • Maetel Hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 660
    • View Profile
Re: Early days of fansubbing post series
« Reply #3 on: August 16, 2006, 06:50:48 pm »
Part 2:  First-generation Groups (up to early 2001)
Eventually paQ started an IRC channel and a digisub group.  So I was a
de-facto 'member' of that too, even if I did very little.  Back then, the
big thing was "love hina" and animefactory subbed that.  Other fansub groups
of the time included elite-fansubs (subbed vandread, others), animempeg,
etc.  I refer to these groups as 'first generation'.

First generation groups had a leader who generally ordered the other members
around, and made decisions regarding the group.  When a member in animefactory
subbed 'Risky and Safety', a rather girly shoujo anime, the leadership refused
to release it since he was afraid it would tarnish the animefactory name among
the fanbase of the time (primarily guys).  People like me found this attitude
disgusting and I quickly and silentlyleft their private IRC channel, not caring
to return.

Very few of the anime released by the 1st generation groups was of any
interest to me.  Shonen shows like vandread, love hina, etc.; these were
the norm.  'Risky and Safety' was later released by a VHS subber known as
Sachi's Distribution.  I captured and distributed it, just like everything
else I had access too (that hadn't been licensed). 

Other groups of the time were elite-fansubs, anime-fansubs, etc.  At the
time, I had no knowledge of them, other than their existance.

How were things different back then compared to current?

For one, all this took place on public IRC servers like efnet or others. 
Channels were protected by bots, and bots were only as good as the people
who owned and ran them.  From time to time a group's channel would get
'taken over', by an infiltrator from another group who had gained their
trust, another bot, a mistake, or a split in the group.  It would typically
take a few days to recover the channel.

As far as other types of attacks, like DDOS, 'script-kiddie exploits',
viruses / trojans, etc., I know people talked about them and feared them, but
to me it seemed like, just talk and threats.  I had heard of a few cases, but
the incedence of those cases was no greater than what happened on the IRC
networks of the time. 

Distro was mostly done through irc bots.  Groups would actively seek members
who could help with distro.  Many groups had private FTP dumps with all their
own stuff and other stuff too, access to the dump was a privilage of people
in the group and sometimes their close friends and/or high-bandwidth distros
on their public channel.

Many groups had only one member to fill each function.  Often, these people
were territorial and felt threatened if anyone else who could fill the
same function was allowed to join.  An encoder, for instance, insisted on
being the sole encoder in the group, and the group would use him to encode
all their shows. 

Some groups experimented with different structures, such as a project-
based structure with individual project leaders.  But even with these improved
structures, territory issues, political powergaming, and one-upmanship was
not uncommon.  Most groups had a delicate political balance, newer members
would have to tread lightly as to not make the old gaurd 'feel threatened'
since the old gaurd could expel them from the group.

Translations were often not from direct Japanese.  Often they were from
Korean or some other language that the shows had already been subbed in.
Some of the translations were notoriously bad, but, by and large no one cared.
Many translators insisted their translations were 'perfect' and would not
allow editing or QC'ing beyond simple gramatical fixes. 

One of the most annoying things some groups did with their encodes early
on was to add a constant logo or group animation in the corner.  It was,
to say the least, annoying.  Animefactory had some turning gears, I can't
remember what elite-fansubs had.  Fortunately this practice didn't really

It wasn't uncommon to find 'difficult' people around this time who were
regardless empowered by those around them.  I remember in my public encoding
discussions I would always have to deal with people who had attitude problems
or had some kind of 'axe to grind'.  For instance someone who would constantly
berate VirtualDub and Avisynth b'cos he disliked Avery Lee (VirtualDub author).
Despite their annoyances, these people were often enabled by groups and others
around them, sometimes 'just because' and other times they provided something
of value to the group like distro or expertise. 

Offline Sindobook

  • Moderator
  • Maetel Hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 660
    • View Profile
Re: Early days of fansubbing post series
« Reply #4 on: August 16, 2006, 06:51:33 pm »
Part 3:  Second-generation Groups (early 2001 to late 2001 and onward)


Around this time, I think it was late 2000, 2001, many of the 1st generation
groups started to fragment.  Not only were more people getting into digisubbing,
but internal to groups, members were leaving primarily b'cos they disliked the
leadership, or they were getting forced out by politics and 'old gaurd'
territorial issues.  One group that was formed around that time was AnimeCo. 
As a reaction to the first-generation groups that most of these people were
in, most of the second-generation groups had a much more relaxed atmosphere
and leadership without any real power. 

I don't know who the first 2nd-generation group was.  Once there were a few
second-generation groups, I think it started something of a 'snowball effect'
since people recognized that 2nd-generation groups could survive and anyone
that was disinfranchised or seeking to get 'in' to a first-generation group
but denied was welcomed by the 2nd-generation groups.  It was around the time
that bakamx was formed (by former members of cutemx).

Elite-fansubs had become the most notorious fansub group of the time.  Many
second-generation groups were formed primarily by people who had left or
become dissatisfied with them. 

Compared to the numbers of today, digisubbing was in its infancy.  Download
numbers were in the thousands, not the tens or hundred of thousands.  With
most distro taking place on public IRC channels, some of these channels would
be in the 1000+ member range. 

(Own Groups)

AnimeCo was subbing Momoiro Sisters and I happened to have the DVD raws for
it so naturally I joined.  AnimeCo was an open group, led by Stryker / Kei
mostly b'cos he was the only one who cared to handle the politics between
our group and others.  I took part in the Momoiro Sisters project and later
led the effort to get Kero Kero Chime subbed.  I took minor roles in numerous
other projects.  I also handled a lot of the 'cold war' effort for the hostile
environment of the time.  Important members in AnimeCo at the time included
satancow, patapi, recca, mashadar, ruzuka (probably a member in name only, but
important nonetheless), etc. 

Outside of subbing, AnimeCo also did things like play starcraft and other
online games.  Some members didn't even participate in the subbing at all,
being an open group you didn't need to be involved in the subbing in order to
be a member.  Also, when it came time to sub something, AnimeCo formed an
internal subgroup within the group to sub it.  You were pretty much free
to sub whatever you wanted, as long as you could gather the people to work
on it and it wasn't pornographic.

Probably the most distinct project I worked on was Kero Kero Chime.  This
was a cute, hyperactive shoujo anime that drove many poor translators and
other folks insane.  Every few episodes we would have to find a new translator,
editors, and the like.  One thing I remember using was a typesetting system
where the color of the character's hair matched the subtitle, for times
when everyone was talking at the same time.  Which happened quite often for a
hyperactive show like this.  To this day, Kero Kero Chime is still one of the
most popular shows among real-life friends, even ones who otherwise don't like

Socially, AnimeCo was largely a free-spirited, whimsical type group.  Some
people referred to themselves with sarcastic, self-proclaimed titles like the
"King of Poo".  More than one guy had "little sister complexes" and two
members were going out with each other in real life (or at least, we were made
to believe tha they were).  Some people were artists and could draw pretty

Early on, I remember some limited internal conflicts between own self and
some of the other people in the group.  Like when I criticized the animation
quality of Run=Dim, one of the shows another guy was subbing.  But these
things were largely dispelled by Stryker's leadership.  After that, people
pretty much agreed not to openly criticize the shows other people were
working on inside the group. 

The difference in a group like this was the 'empowerment' of the people who
did the subbing work.  For instance, not everyone in the group liked or even
approved of Kero Kero Chime, but regarless, even if someone was strongly
oppposed to subbing it, no one could stop it as long as people were willing
to work on it.  This 'indepent workgroup' mentality was often the norm in
newer groups, in contrast to the top-down command and territory mentality
that was the norm in older groups. 

Offline Sindobook

  • Moderator
  • Maetel Hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 660
    • View Profile
Re: Early days of fansubbing post series
« Reply #5 on: August 16, 2006, 06:52:14 pm »
(War - Words)

In explaining the 'cold war', it is best to start with some background.  Most
groups of the time were involved in a 'cold war' or 'dirty war' that was much
worse than anything going on between groups today.  I, or anyone at AnimeCo,
had little want to get involved in such a thing, but sadly being involved
and fighting became a necessity if the group was to stay alive. 

For us, the prime instigator of the dirty war was elite-fansubs member
devilray.  While most troublesome fellows online can simply be ignored,
devilray had access to a number of tools / techniques and people that made
ignoring him difficult to impossible.  He could change his IP address
seemingly 'at will', effectively evading bans and the like.

In hopes of finding a stable IRC server to host the group, AnimeCo was the
first group to go to an IRC gaming server known as ETG or "EnterTheGame".  One
of the members knew Whiz, one of the admins of ETG.  Whiz welcomed us to ETG,
but not all the admins felt that way.  They would rather not host what they
saw as a piracy group on their server.  Nonetheless, ETG worked out great for
us, as we had none of the problems the other groups had been having keeping
their own channels alive.  Many other groups followed.  We tried to warn Whiz
about elite-fansubs and devilray, but I assume he did not want to 'play
favorites' or the like. 

Devilray had already made enemies of most people in AnimeCo.  At the time,
there was a 'war of words' that went back and forth, like devilray calling
AnimeCo 'a bunch of commies' and own members saying nasty things about him,
etc.  I didn't think much of it at the time, I largely ignored this type of
thing.  Growing up, I was frequently bullied by other kids, and you learn to
ignore the things that are merely words.  More often than not, I would just
listen and laugh.

One of the more humorous instances I remember was in the 'war of words' when
Devilray called AnimeCo 'a bunch of communists'.  Web-radio was all the
craze back then, and some of the members had their own web-radio station.
One of them got on the air with his guitar and sung a song he called
'the devilray song', largely an attempt to poke fun at devilray.  We could
be assured that this type of thing would 'get back' to devilray, as I am pretty
sure Ruzuka and some other members had active contact with him.  We would often
hear stories of how devilray would explode in anger as he heard of our antics,
and I assume that only further encouraged us in the 'war of words'.

I'm not sure why devilray disliked us to begin with.  I'm told that when we
moved to ETG, he felt we were trying to 'split' the fanbase or pull fans away
from the elite-fansubs server of choice (it was a time when mIRC did not
support multiple servers per client, so some fans would use one server only). 
But that probably just further agitated him, he hates us even before we
moved to ETG. 

(War - Escalation)

To me, the war of words was rather pointless, if not occasionally humorous due
to its antics.  At some point, the war began to escalate beyond a simple
private matter.  Devilray would do things like join our public channel and
debase our group, we would ban him, and he would show up again with a
different ip address.  I had to build a special bot designed just for banning

I am told that many other groups were fighting 'wars' of their own, both within
and without.  Wars between first-generation and second-generation groups
were common, especially if a second-generation group was mostly composed of
members who were originally in the first-generation group.  The most common
accusation was theft, stealing people, stealing scripts, stealing encoding
techniques, etc. 

It was around this time that I learned a little more history.  Evidently
devilray's net presence went back to a time around 1999 when he was a member
of a IRC channel known as #animehelp.  This was not a digisub group, just a
general IRC channel where anime was discussed, traded, and distributed.
The channel leader was Kinkin, who pretended to be a girl online and "seduced"
certain male members in order to make them follow him.  Eventually the channel
started to collapse, b'cos Kinkin had been found out.  But when people told
devilray he still wanted to believe Kinkin was a genuine girl and stuck with
him.  Kinkin made many enemies within the community, as did devilray, by his
association and support of him.  Eventually, even devilray recognized what was
going on and left, but the ordeal had left him with lasting psychological
scars and tarnished his reputation among the community.

Devilray apparently recognized that some of the 'wars' of the time seemed
centered around him or fought because of him.  In an apparent attempt to put
an end to these conflicts, he proposed a larger coalition known as the
a-f-a or 'anime fansub alliance'.  This was to be a number of groups that
agreed on civil discourse and other things in their own relations.  The
document would be signed by the individual group leaders and then displayed
to the fan community by the groups that had signed it.  The catch is that
the document only included groups devilray deemed 'relevant', it didn't
include any of the second-generation groups of the time (like AnimeCo).  The
newer groups weren't allowed to sign the document or take part in the

While it attempted to exclude the second-generation groups out there, the a-f-a
itself was a non-starter and few groups took notice of it a few weeks after it
was announced.  It soon faded into obscurity.  However, the public document is
nonetheless of value since it documents the first-generation groups that were
around at that time.

While the largely irrelevant 'war of words' continued, I got word that elite-
fansubs (again, presumably devilray) was starting rumors about AnimeCo.  One
of the rumors said that we had 'stole scripts' for a sub of a show (Angelic
Layer, perhaps?)  Allegedly we had stole the scripts from another
second-generation group.  I don't even remember the group name.  The rumors
cited similar sounding lines and the like.  Fortunately, important members from
both groups (Stryker, DarkIncin, others) got together and discussed the matter
at length.  Apparently the rumors were causing 'problems' for some people in
the other group. By working together and combining the knowledge they knew,
both members were able to establish that the rumors themselves were baseless,
and that the origination of the rumors was again, devilray of elite-fansubs.

Offline Sindobook

  • Moderator
  • Maetel Hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 660
    • View Profile
Re: Early days of fansubbing post series
« Reply #6 on: August 16, 2006, 06:52:55 pm »
(War - Dirty War)

When this was reported to me, I decided it was time to strike back.  My initial
plan was simply to open up recruiting to elite-fansubs members, just advertise
that we were actively seeking to recruit members of elite-fansubs and that
any member of elite-fansubs could join, no-questions-asked.  They wouldn't even
have to leave elite-fansubs, though elite-fansubs would no doubt kick them
out.  But other people didn't want to go that far, and no official announcement
was made.

Instead I just started producing documents designed to fan paranoia and
insecurity at elite-fansubs.  "Secret" documents discussing plans to
"infiltrate" or "spy" on elite-fansubs through third parties or "independents",
etc.  We came up with the idea of a 'phantom', an organization that never
really existed but was designed simply to maximize paranoia within their
group.  Which was already very paranoid to begin with, so this wasn't very
difficult.  One of the best documents produced was a 'price list' detailing
the 'credits' (the currency of the phantom organization) that we would give
to third parties or individuals who could do acts of subterfuge to elite-fansubs
like steal their scripts, get their releases before they hit distro, or
get us private channel logs or internal information like upcoming releases and
which upcoming shows would be subbed.  These credits could then be redeemed
for anything from online bennies like channel ops/voice, private FTP access,
our own scripts, "ircsex", or other things.  Once we produced these documents,
we would 'leak' them through numerous sources to ensure they got back to
higher-ups in elite-fansubs.

(War - Conclusion)

Around this time, elite-fansubs was having its own internal problems.  It was
so bad that a group called 'NOT E-F' was formed I believe partly by ex-ef
members.  Their self-proclaimed purpose was to sub any show that elite-fansubs
subbed.  While I think they only subbed one or two episodes of Vandread-2, it
was still a major demoralizer for elite-fansubs. 

At this time, I remember deciding to take advantage of the moment and step
up my own efforts.  This was probably the height of our paranoia operation.
Using bits and pieces of Risky and Safety, the forementioned cute shoujo-ish
anime, I changed the subs and made the "evil" shinigami Risky into Devilray.
Basically the story I made was that Devilray had proclaimed that AnimeCo was
communist and tried to gather a huge army to launch an invasion of AnimeCo. 
It was only about 20 lines, and the story was complemented by the proper
scenes from the anime, cut, pasted, and recompiled.  In all, it was only
a few minutes long.  Once the video was created, it was leaked back to
devilray, along with a 'secret plan' to release the video in such a way
that it was faked as an elite-fansubs release (ie. that fans would think
they were downloading an elite-fansubs release like Vandread-2). 

Apparently upon seeing this, devilray went ballistic and posted the following
bit to the e-f website for all the public to see (see the .html capture of
elite-fansubs website front page).  Basically he lambasted 'NOT E-F' and then
went on to say that now he had received word of another plot to start faking
E-F releases.  He made some kind of odd comparison to the terror attacks of

I am told by insiders that devilray was not able to withstand the pressure
and threat of us releasing the video.  Shortly after, devilray met with
our group leader and sued for peace.  He would stop doing anything nasty to
and saying anything nasty about AnimeCo in hopes that AnimeCo members would
do the same toward him and his group.  The leader acknowledged that he could
not speak for everyone in his group, but that he would at least pass it on to
the relevant people.  After that, our operations against Devilray and
elite-fansubs concluded and, in my case, the 'dirty war' was ended.  The video
was never released to the public.

Offline Sindobook

  • Moderator
  • Maetel Hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 660
    • View Profile
Re: Early days of fansubbing post series
« Reply #7 on: August 16, 2006, 06:53:35 pm »
(The Tools)

Back then, encoding was in its relative infancy.  We had something called
divx311alpha, which was basically MS-MPEG4 V3 in a way that it could
coexist with microsoft's own tools.  At first, you were pretty much stuck
the encoder that was built in to "DivX high-motion", which locked the
quantitization at 5 and produced a variable bitrate encode.  In terms
of quality, it was just so-so.  Most groups were using 512x384 back then.

Some of my first encodes were done using this.  There were a few hacks that
could improve quality, but nothing too major.  Fortunately shortly after,
someone released a VirtualDub hack known as Nandub that was geared toward
encoding divx311alpha with better quality.  It allowed you to force better
quantitization values like 3 or 4, much better than 5.  And gave you features
like new-scene recognition.  With Nandub, groups could finally make
high-quality releases with a minimum of effort.

Typesetting tended toward the very simple back then.  No Karaoke and
not a lot of funny effects.  It was still not uncommon to translate from
Korean or some other language instead of the original japanese.  Even
to this date, when I work on a modern title, my typesetting stays the same as
it was doing this era, minimalist by today's standards. 

Distro had not really changed from before.  When it came to distro, the
'playing field' was far from level.  For the rarer stuff out there, you
either had to be very patient or you had to know people who knew people,
or belong to a group which had a good dump.  Some groups had access to
superior distro, like HnK's XDCC server known as Kira or Kirabot.  While
others just had to make do with public bots that served just about every
group out there.  Just to put the numbers in perspective, for HnK I could
show up on the channel the night of the release, begin the download in 15
minutes or less, often with no wait at all, and the download would finish in
another 10-15 minutes.  On the other hand, for a group without any real
quality distro of their own, I could spend days just trying to get in line
for a download and then another few days waiting for the actual download,
and so on.  Most bots had queues, but the queue itself had a limit (40 or
so), a spot would open up in the queue and whoever noticed the open spot and
was able to join the fastest got it.  So getting a spot in a crowded channel
could be something similar to a full-time job. 

Hence there were distro 'wars' and such, and good distro was often sought
after by a group.  If you follow the link and read chuchu's 'editorial', you
will see a part where devilray tries to work out a 3-tiered distro system
based on making more distros exclusive.  While this was later, these types of
things weren't that uncommon even in these days. 


Some of the newer groups consisted of members who wanted to sub at least some
shoujo anime, so this was the first time where a measurable (still small)
amount of the anime being subbed and released by groups.

(Summary of second-generation)

To this day, even while actively participating with AnimeCo, I helped out other
groups.  Mostly just as a raw provider, though, so I didn't really need to
stick around in those groups for long. 

The second-phase groups and the dirty-war period was, to me, the hardest time
for a group to exist in.  Without BT, newer groups had to keep distros happy
or they had trouble getting their stuff out.  The infighting between different
groups drove many people to paranoia or to take strange "countermeasures"
designed to keep secrecy that disrupted the group.  Since AnimeCo was a very
open group, we never had any of these problems except when it came to dealing
with other groups.  Fortunately, our de-facto leader was on good terms with
most other groups and could defuse just about any tension caused by
troublemakers, rumors, and the like. 

At this time, most of the first-generation groups still existed alongside
the second-generation groups.  The largest difference in the way these groups
was run was the leadership and the powers the leader had.  By and large, the
founders and members of the second-generation groups were reacting to their
displeasure with the way the first-generation groups were run.  Most
second-generation groups were more loosely organized and had leaders who did
not or could not wield power over their own members.  A leader was simply
a mere figurehead, he served to keep the team together, occasionally tried to
keep people in harmony and work out any personal problems that could not be
solved by the members alone, and talked with leaders of other groups to try
to prevent any misunderstandings where the need existed.  The latter was an
important task, and it would often fall upon the leader himself since no one
else wished to bother with it. 

But not many groups from this era survive, I think AnimeCo is one of the few
that did and can still actively produce a sub today.  You can include groups
like HnK, Live-eviL, and a few others here too. 

Offline Sindobook

  • Moderator
  • Maetel Hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 660
    • View Profile
Re: Early days of fansubbing post series
« Reply #8 on: August 16, 2006, 06:54:27 pm »
Part 4:  Early-Current Groups (late 2001 to 2003)

(Ethics, or the lack thereof)

By and large, the unspoken ethical rules of the time were publically followed
by the fansub groups.  Of course it wasn't unheard of for groups to provide
special bennies for members or their friends, like access to an FTP which
held all releases, licensed or not, or even post-licensed releases from
other groups and perhaps even pirated meteriel like mp3s or rips of
localized DVDs. 

Yet there were still a few groups around this time that were breaking the
unspoken ethical rules even in public.  Next to elite-fansubs, AnimeJunkies
was probably one of the most notorious groups primarily due to their 'low
quality' translations and poor editing (which spawned the 'mass naked child
events' debacle and others).  AnimeJunkies was one of the few groups to
openly break the rules when they released Ninja Scroll episodes after
licensing, on grounds that the episodes were already translated, in essence
'almost finished' and only had to be rushed-to-release. 

Of course, for every fansub group of the time, there were pleanty more
outright pirate groups and the like who distributed not only post-licensed
fansubs but also pirated copies of local commercial DVD releases (aka. DVD

(Own Groups)

Around this time, someone in AnimeCo told me of another group Live-eviL which
was planning on, or already started to sub Creamy Mami.  I joined shortly
after (mid-2002), again initially as a raw provider, but quickly ended up
being involved in Mami and a number of other projects.  I also remember working
on Magical Fairy Persia, Rose of Versailles, to mention a few others.  Some
of these titles continue being worked on to this day. 

(IRC servers)

By the beginning of 2002, I believe most groups were on ETG since the larger,
public networks like efnet or dalnet had become unstable.  From time to time,
other IRC servers would pop up and become popular among groups, aniverse,
mircx, etc.  But these servers tended to be short-lived, and would come and
go over the years.  Whereas ETG has been used continuosly for 5 years.


I believe this period was the one that laid the groundwork for the many groups
we have today.  Groups in this period came from all over the place,

(To current)

The end of this period and the only major thing that seperates it from current
is the heavy use of bittorrent.

Offline Sindobook

  • Moderator
  • Maetel Hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 660
    • View Profile
Re: Early days of fansubbing post series
« Reply #9 on: August 16, 2006, 06:54:48 pm »
Part 5:  Other changes to today (after 2003)


Prior to 2003, most public distribution took place over IRC using bots.  There
were some alternate distribution methods like hotline, usenet, public ftp and
http, etc., but these sources were far and few between.  The ease of
avaliability of getting a groups release was largely dependent on the quality
of their distro.  While there were many public distro bots that were not
affiliated with any group, other groups had their own high-speed distro bots
like HnK's Kirabot which alone could distro a full episode in 5-10 minutes or

It wasn't uncommon for groups to compete for limited distro resources.  At one
point, elite-fansubs tried to impose a tiered exclusivity system.  Many groups
would offer bennies to encourage anyone who had lots of extra bandwidth to join
and run bots.  Some groups had tried P2P distribution but with very limited
sucess since filesizes were simply too large and individual outgoing bandwidth
was just too small to make a difference. 

Sometime around 2002 Bittorrent started being used.  Rather than a client that
facilitated the sharing of any type of file over some [de-]centralized
network, Bittorrent was a set of P2P protocols which allowed P2P downloading of
a single file or set of files linked to a .torrent file.  By distributing the
.torrent file (which was very small) a group could gaurantee that all the
downloaders of that file were linked and could download from each other.
Bittorrent could distribute even very large files since it broke them up
into 'chunks' and then clients would trade chunks among themselves.  Bittorrent
was starting to be used to effectively distribute large files that were
otherwise problematic like Linux distributions or fan films. 

While the original Bittorrent client was far beyond the other P2P distribution
schemes of the time, it still had several problems like no ability to limit
outgoing bandwidth.  However, other clients were quick to appear and by 2003
Bittorrent had largely replaced IRC as the preferred distribution.  While
some detractors still exist even today, Bittorrent is the predominant
distribution scheme in use today, and for the forseeable future. 


With Bittorrent, groups are much less depedent on having large amounts of
bandwidth to distribute their releases.  This means that high-speed distro
became largely unnecessary in groups and that even a small, specialized group
with few releases can easily get it's releases out to the public.  Good distro
to 'seed' torrents can still be beneficial in helping get torrents 'out there'
quicker, but with many modern Bittorrent clients allowing for multiple torrents
to be downloaded at once, even torrents that are slow to start or have
limited number of seeds are not a problem for the general leecher to obtain.

Offline Sindobook

  • Moderator
  • Maetel Hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 660
    • View Profile
Re: Early days of fansubbing post series
« Reply #10 on: August 21, 2006, 08:47:35 pm »
Some of the documents mentioned above can be found in this thread.,1046.0.html

I'll add more as I find them.