Recently I bought a copy of one of my favourite anime series Sora no Woto, a series I consider to be a classic and worthy of a permanent place on the shelf. Or rather would be if the DVD release hadn't been so damned terrible - I could list the various problems (bad encoding, naff opening sequence) but chief amongst the problems has been the subtitles. I wish I could say this is the only time I've encountered bad subtitles but it isn't, and given that there are scant reviews of UK subtitle releases it's always a gamble as to whether or not you're buying something decent.
Which is what brings me to the topic of this blog: if I'm given the option of a badly subtitled DVD which barely makes sense; or a fansub which makes perfect sense, has wonderfully formatted fonts and perfect timing - then there is no real choice at all. By this point you may as well not bother with the DVD purchase because it'll only be a deadweight on the shelf with no benefit to the viewer. Historically you could show your appreciation for a show by importing it (either from Japan for the extreme fan, or the US) but with UK customs this is increasingly impossible.
That in mind, I'm wondering why there isn't an honesty box or something like that which viewers of fansubs can throw money into and see flow back to the producers in Japan - it's a fair deal, and one which would give them more money than some hokey release in a backwater market like the UK. Sure there are streaming sites like Crunchyroll which you could throw money at if you were really inclined, but I'd take more satisfaction in seeing money flow straight back to the producers to reward them for perceived good work than to have it syphoned through a middleman who takes a cut for himself.
But all the same, I'd still like to own a good copy of a good show with a decent set of subtitles. Is that too much to ask for? As a consumer you at least expect some quality, not something which is hastily thrown together without bothering to check the quality. Whatever the case, I can at least take some satisfaction in the distributor or SNW going broke - bad business practice is not a sustainable one.