So, I have been downloading anime for 10 years now. From mIRC to the inception of Bit Torrent, I have used it all. The hours I used to spend downloading 4 episodes of anime, encode it, then burn it on DVD for RECCA meetings were never good memories. But, I had to make sure my group had the latest and greatest anime available. At that time, downloading it was the best way to assure this.
Today, I went to visit Crunchroll.com. What ever issues you may have about this site, you have to understand how easy they make getting anime to the masses. Streaming anime is the easiest way ever to get your anime fix. Bar none. The fact that Crunchyroll even organizes the anime according to seasonal release? Are you kidding? Up to date, the latest and the greatest, at your fingertips. It makes me feel like I wasted years of my life when it is so easy now.
So, the question is, are you still using bit torrent to get your anime? Really? I mean, don’t get me wrong, I am a collector at heart. Having all those episodes at your disposal, at the highest quality possible, to watch it when you want to. Not to mention, the prestige of having such a large collection! ”Dude, you want to watch episode 3 of season 4? Oh yeah, got that!”. That is such a powerful feeling. However, is all that time worth it?
Let’s consider the .mkv for a moment. The .mkv is an awesome evolution of digital media. It is high resolution, it is capable of 1080p resolution, it carries subtitles both soft and hard, and you get all of this in 700 mb. It is an awesome piece of programming. Now, how many hours are you wasting downloading these? If you downloaded Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu!, you had 13 episodes, each at 700 mb for a total of 8.9 gigabytes. If you are a good bit torrenter, you had to spend about a week to upload 17.8 gb to pay back for the original download. To accomplish this, think of the hours of interrupted network time, the energy dedicated to keeping your computer on to accomplish this goal, and the stress of knowing that you will soon be doing this all over again! Soon!
Now, let’s consider Crunchyroll again…search, point, click, watch. That is it! No muss, no fuss! Okay, let’s be fair. Streaming tends to suck even over the best connections. Yes, there is a cost, watching anime with commercials or paying for the service. And yes, Crunchyroll is not going to keep these episodes up forever. However, one thing is very clear, your favorite Japanese animation studios are getting PAID! This is very important because we like anime, some of us live and breath it. Well, with so many people getting “free” anime using Bit Torrent, those studios don’t get squat. How important is this? Ask ADV, Pioneer, Central Park Media, and now Bandai America how important getting paid is. Because, arguably, if we all paid for our anime, those companies would still be in business. At least with Crunchyroll, even if we are paying for our anime by watching commercials, those commercials mean I do not have to shell out money. Let’s face it, the 5 minutes I watch commercials is far and away less time I would have to devote to getting my anime over Bit Torrent. Those commercials also assure that I will have more anime to watch in the future.
I know Bit Torrenting will never stop. For some of us, it is a matter of principal because Japanese Animation was always free. Many of us grew up on fansubs, a grass roots type of distribution that both Bit Torrenting and Crunchyroll are built on. But, if we don’t start giving back to the studios that are responsible for all this delicious anime we love to watch, there will soon be less or, one day, none. Think I am kidding? Look at the Asian film market (Korean and Hong Kong specifically) and how Bit Torrenting and flat out piracy killed that market. In the end, Crunchyroll and streaming media in general could save the very medium that I have feared is on its death bed. The next step? Why doesn’t every anime convention in America stream their anime instead of have video rooms? Think of how much more dynamic programming could be!
Streaming media is good, studios get paid, and paying for your anime can boil down to you watching commercials. So, I ask you, are you still Bit Torrenting? Really?