Other One Piece fans on this forum (or am I the only one here? :P) might have heard of FUNimation’s plans to start ‘simulcasting’ the show. They were going to air, for free, fully subtitled episodes of the series ONE HOUR after they air in Japan instead of days later which is normally the case for most streams. The fact that there is a HUGE gap between the released dubbed episodes and the current broadcast in Japan meant that this was really something for the fans of the show. Episode 403, which would have been the first simulcasted episode, is in the middle (or rather, near the end) of a fairly important arc and anyone who hasn’t followed the series completely would have a hard time figuring out what was going on. So really, this was something FUNimation obviously planned to do to try and combat online fan subtitlers without alienating the very fans they’re trying to attract.
And then someone goes and screws it all up.
Yesterday a leak of episode 403, stolen from FUNi’s servers somehow, hit the internet well over a day it was supposed to be broadcast in Japan. I imagine Toei animation and Fuji Tv were livid, but the bigger thing here is that FUNimation has canceled its simulcast of One Piece. Hopefully just for now, we’ll have to wait and see.
It’s funny that a lot of fans say they only get fansubs because the episodes just aren’t available otherwise. And here comes an attempt to actually MAKE them available, virtually immediately no less, but that’s not good enough.
I really think the culture of entitlement among many fandoms is a huge problem. This has always been the case, but now it’s just more obvious. Sure, I watch fansubs, but I buy the legit product when I can (I’ve certainly been buying FUNi’s OP releases) and I’ve long abandoned ‘hording’ episodes. But still, I do all this with the knowledge that the service of fansubs could be taken away at any point for legal reasons, and I wouldn’t complain about it when that happens.
It’s just a shame that an honest effort by a major localizer to reach out to fans who have grown accustomed to immediate and free episodes is essentially spat upon by people who think it’s still not good enough. Honestly, I was looking forward to checking the official site every week for the new episode, I really hope this doesn’t stop it for good. But realistically it is probably Toei Animation’s call now, if they think they can’t trust FUNimation to securely simulcast the series now it’s probably gone for good.