Why “Piracy” Is Hurting The Anime Industry, And Helping It At The Same Time

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Written by Theo J Ellis

Kiss Anime. GoGo Anime. Anime Stream Online (US). 

You’ve probably heard of at least one of these anime sites before. Why? Because technically speaking, these anime sites pirate anime videos.

They upload them, allowing anime fans to stream almost any show for FREE.

It’s things like this that come up in conversation when talking about “piracy” in the anime industry.

So let’s dive into it, plus other things worth mentioning as to why piracy’s hurting the industry. And in a strange way, how anime piracy is HELPING the anime industry as well…


1. Pirates have 100X more anime shows than legal streaming sites

Why "Piracy" Is Hurting The Anime Industry, And Helping It At The Same Time

While sites like Crunchyroll have made lots of progress… In reality, their catalog of anime shows is seriously lacking.

Trying to deny this would be like denying the air that you’re breathing.

And it’s not just Crunchyroll either. Neither is it 100% their fault.

  • Netflix (though they’re beginners in comparison).
  • Hulu.
  • Funimation.
  • Animax.

All these companies have too little anime‘s sitting in their digital catalogs.

And the anime shows that are available? They’re full of commercial, popular, mega-successful shows.

You know, one’s like DBZ, Naruto, One Piece, SAO… The kind of shows we’re tired of seeing with legal streaming sites.

Because well, we’ve already watched all of them.

Outside of the “obvious” list of shows, there’s not much of anything. Except some of the latest.

And so – watching anime for FREE is the easier, more convenient option for anime fans.

Affordability and morals have little to do with it. Convenience is what matters.


2. Legal Streaming sites “block” content in many countries

Why "Piracy" Is Hurting The Anime Industry, And Helping It At The Same Time

You know what I’m talking about, right?

It doesn’t matter WHAT country you’re from… Or what the reason is…

Because Anime is blocked throughout the UK, Europe, some parts of Asia, and who knows where else.

Here’s a “live” example of what happens on a global scale.

You search for an anime show on a site like Funimation for example.

And then what do you know – this convenient message POPS UP on your screen…

Why "Piracy" Is Hurting The Anime Industry, And Helping It At The Same Time

This is important because of one reason: Piracy.

Is it any wonder pirate websites are so popular?

Who do you think is making these sites popular in the first place?

No it’s not the pirates. It’s anime fans who have no other options other than to watch FREE anime.

And in most cases, they don’t even know that the site their watching anime on is “illegal”.

When content is blocked in your country. that leaves you with few choices.

Related: Why Anime’s Not Popular In The UK Compared To USA & Japan


3. DVD’S are also hard to get hold of in most countries

Why "Piracy" Is Hurting The Anime Industry, And Helping It At The Same Time
See the image above? Getting your hands on anime dvd’s like this is a DREAM in most countries.

Most shops who sell this stuff are one of two things:

  1. Out of business.
  2. Low supply (not many shops with a wide range).

And the reason it’s hard to get a hold of anime dvd’s is because of licensing issues.

Licensing has the anime industry in a headlock outside of Japan.

And squeezing out of that headlock has proven difficult so far. Hence why Piracy exists.


4. Japan doesn’t care about anime in other countries

Why "Piracy" Is Hurting The Anime Industry, And Helping It At The Same Time
I’m obviously exaggerating a bit here. Japan DOES care, or else why bother at all?

But in some ways this is also true. Here’s why:

  • money in Japan. Which is obvious, but worth mentioning.
  • Anime is most profitable in Japan. Making “Japan” they’re key focus.
  • There are more “subs” than there are “dubbed” anime shows.
  • There are major challenges with distributing anime globally.

In some ways, Japan is lax about the issue with anime. That’s why they’re so “tight” with their licenses and regulations.

Plus Japan is a different culture of its own, so there’s a barrier there too.

I can’t say whether Piracy is a problem in Japan (doubtful), but around the world it is. And this adds to that problem, even if unintentionally.

Related: 5 Simple Reasons Why Anime Isn’t Aired On National TV


How Piracy (Ironically) Helps The Anime Industry:


1. Accessible to everyone

Mad, init? Think about this. As a result of piracy:

  • Anime shows are likely to go viral online. Social media and blogs plays a role here.
  • Fans like myself are exposed to limitless anime shows outside of Japan.
  • Exposure is a good thing over the long-term.

Shows like SAO, AOT and Fairy Tail are successful because of Piracy.

Is that the only reason? Of course not. But piracy plays a big role because of “mass” exposure to millions of fans worldwide.

Hence why SAO, AOT and Fairy Tail are so damn big, huge, profitable and famous.

This is true for many other anime shows, too. Even the one’s that aren’t “famous”.


2. Encourages anime fans to spend money on merchandise & figures

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Some anime fans become BIG spenders of anime merchandise, toys and figurines. I

t all starts with being exposed to FREE anime online. Provided by “pirates”. Others become moderate spenders of anime merch.

In both scenarios, more money is created in the economy of anime.

You buy a product from a retailer for example. More products are then bought from a distributor to serve you (customers).

Then the distributor imports more anime merch from the manufacturer (due to product sales). The manufacturer then creates more products to sell to us.

It’s a virtuous cycle. And everybody (ironically) wins. Even though it all started with piracy…

Related: Bootleg Vs Real Anime Figures


Piracy is a double-edged sword.

It’s a complex issue. Piracy is far from “killing” the anime industry. Not even close.

But it’s “hurting” the industry to an extent, even if it helps in other ways at the same time.

And yet – if this continues, how long will the anime industry be able to deal with it?



What Can Save The Anime Industry From Dying?