Anime’s “Abusive” Relationship With Piracy, And Why They Won’t Break Up

ken kaneki tokyo ghoul

Anime is in an abusive relationship with piracy. And that abuse is domestic for real.

It happens on anime’s home turf: Japan. And beyond Japanese borders.

When anime tries to make money, it’s abusive partner called piracy steps in and STEALS a portion of that money… Aggressively. And by force.

It then takes that stolen money and funds itself for personal gain. And throws its middle fingers up high without any f*cks to give.

Mocking anime while it’s at it.

And when anime tries to fight back against this abuse? Piracy laughs and takes advantage of the situation.

THEN piracy comes up with all kinds of strategies to avoid trouble.

It’s these strategies that allow piracy to keep getting away with it, even if there’s clearly blood on its hands.

 

kissanime logos

One of those “abusive” relationships it’s with KissAnime.

Kiss Anime started back in 2012, according to “whois” information.

First it was the DOT com site. But after being pursued by “authorities” they escaped like Dr Robotnik in his spaceship.

Ever since they’ve been low-key, behind the scenes, and strengthening their:

  • Servers
  • Websites
  • Security
  • Sophistication

And everything else they can to continue profiting off anime WITHOUT giving a penny back to the industry.

In the pirate’s eyes they’re doing nothing wrong and they’re getting away with it so no f*cks are given.

But that doesn’t change the relationship KissAnime (and pirates) are in with the anime industry.

 

How did this toxic relationship start?

 

1. The internet made everything free

free anime everywhere meme

One of the GREATEST inventions of our time is the internet. The “real” internet didn’t start until the 2000’s.

It was during this time where the internet:

  • Made music free
  • Videos and films free

And of course – anime joined the free party. It had no choice in the matter. No negotiations, no leg room, nothing.

Anime was forced because anime fans demanded it once the internet presented it.

It’s like holding a cake in front of a sugar addict. You can’t expect them to turn it down.

anime cake save me lolipop e1593628173886

Once this “trend” was normalized by early pirate sites (Crunchyroll was one of them back in the day), it was too late by then.

Anime settled into its new home, relaxing on the couch provided by the power of piracy. It’s been laying back ever since and no amount of “shaming” pirates has stopped it.

If anything it’s made pirates stronger, but it’s not the only reason for it….

 

2. Waiting months for a DVD release

lucky star dvd anime

Anime dvd’s have been declining for years at this point. It’s 2020 and we’re not too fussed about it.

In the beginning though – DVD’S were bigger. And anime fans cared more about the DVD releases than they do today.

Imagine an anime drops in Japan, and then YOU as an anime fan are forced to wait for the DVD release in your country…. Months later.

Instead of waiting for the DVD release you can bypass it by using pirate sites. And watch the anime literally the same hour it drops.

For FREE.

The internet gives you everything instantly. And this trained us to be impatient.

That’s why piracy exists.

 

3. Region blocking

region blocking japan anime 1

Region blocking started BECAUSE of the internet. Well, I should say the region blocking we know of today started when things went digital.

It’s no good watching an anime on a website ONLY to be blocked in that region…. For reasons that aren’t even your own fault.

It’s collateral damage. For the fault of the industry you end up being inconvenienced by it.

This is one of the major culprits of piracy and how it started.

 

4. Licensing issues

Anime licensing is almost as bad as region blocking. In fact the two go hand in hand.

With licensing, the issue isn’t created by the fans or the consumer, but the industry and how it’s structured.

When companies like Funimation or Crunchyroll license an anime:

  • They hold that license for lets say, 5 years or so.
  • The license is never permanent.

Just like with a car license or any license, it’s designed to be “renewed, as long as you’re willing to pay the price when it’s time to renew the license.

Not every company is willing to do that.

The reason is:

  • Licensing costs.
  • New anime airing.
  • Old anime losing their relevance.

And the list goes on.

As a result, you can’t:

  • Watch ALL the anime you want on a single platform.
  • And it’s hard to watch older shows compared to new.

And that’s where piracy jumps into the picture..

It’s the only place you can watch anime 24/7, forever. Without worrying about licensing or any of that nonsense.

Relevant: Anime Pirate Sites, And WHY They Continue To Thrive In The Anime Community

 

5. Convenience 

ida tenya glasses mha

And to wrap up all the other points – convenience is why piracy is dominant, even in 2020.

It’s also the reason why fans run to pirate sites in the 100’s of millions all across the world.

It’s hard to beat free, available, easy, cheap and almost zero headache.

 

Why anime and piracy won’t break up:

 

Piracy is anime’s marketing machine

Companies like Funimation have pushed the anime industry to NEW levels. The kind of levels that wouldn’t be possible without them.

They’re one of the reasons Dragon Ball Z and anime like it made it to the west and became so famous.

The legendary dub for DBZ and Funimation’s clout can’t be denied, regardless of how you feel about them.

The same is true for Crunchyroll (a partner) who managed to accelerate their business at a much faster rate. And other anime companies all over the world who played their role.

 

But let’s not act like piracy isn’t a legit factor

anime piracy markeiting google trends

The anime industry (online) has been growing non stop since 2004, according to Google. A company that processes trillions of requests per year.

Piracy played an indirect role in making this happen.

As I said earlier, 100’s of millions of anime fans visit pirate sites all over the world.

That “free” promotion is why so many of those fans pay for:

  • Anime merchandise
  • Figurines
  • Accessories
  • Streaming subscriptions

And so on.

Piracy’s free promotion and insane level of organic marketing pushed the industry in ways anime companies couldn’t have done by themselves.

kissanime similar web traffic

In May 2020 KissAnime reached 98 MILLION visitors. A number no legal site could ever claim to have reached.

It’s an unfair comparison but a relevant one. And it shows piracy’s ironic role in helping the anime industry grow at the expense of it losing out on money.

At least in the short term.

naruto shippuden views kissanime 1

Another brutal example is Naruto Shippuden. 

On KissAnime the anime has over 183 MILLION views for this one single series.

Think about how insane that is. Not even YouTube anime videos reach those kinds of numbers.

Legal sites don’t hit these numbers because of the direct competition (an unfair competition), but also because of the reasons I mentioned like licensing.

That’s not the point though.

The point is THIS is why anime’s abusive relationship with piracy is still going on to this day.

marika kato pirate anime girl

Piracy has become a necessary evil that helps:

  • Promote
  • Market
  • Draw attention

And helps NEW fans come into the anime industry and later on start investing it.

Not to say every fan does that, but a good portion do. Because no one willingly wants to f*ck over the anime industry, it’s just the industry itself is a bit f*cked.

Hence pirate sites and the convenience of it.

Until that relationship changes and using legal sites outweighs piracy (as far as pros vs cons), this necessary evil won’t stop.

Like a real abusive relationship time will only make it worse.

Recommended Next:

Japan’s Attempt To Stop Piracy By Creating Anti-Piracy Manga Is Counterproductive

An Open Letter To The Anime Industry About PIRACY

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John Wangonim
John Wangonim

I got into Anime through bootleg videotapes in the late 90’s and moved on to streaming sites in the oughts. These days I have enough disposable income to buy the shows I pirated back then.

Ifeanyi Oraelosi
Ifeanyi Oraelosi

Even Crunchyroll was a pirate site before they went ‘legit’. Anime piracy will not lessen until there’s a platform similar to Steam for anime.

Alice Harcourt
Alice Harcourt

I’ve said it before, & I’ll say it again, whenever they decide to make a legal streaming site as good or better than Kissanime, I’ll sign up immediately! As it is, the whole piracy issue is as tired & worn out as the old sub vs dub debate. Pirated anime, unfortunately, is presently the best way to watch anime – PERIOD! And there nothing we as viewers can do about that. That’s entirely up to the Japanese, & they don’t seem all that worried about it. Maybe what we would call an “abusive” relationship is just an unconventional, by our… Read more »