Few days ago on the 15th of August, KissAnime – world’s most popular anime piracy site shut its doors for good. The Anime lovers were devastated. For many, KissAnime introduced them to the magical and wonderful world of the anime industry. It was a window that led to a universe of imagination and exploration. The site itself was a piece of childhood nostalgia. What remains of the site is the URL that opens to the message “All Files Are Taken Down by Copyright Owners. The Site Will Be Closed Forever. Thank You For Your Support [sic].” This brought tears to many peoples’ eyes. And rightfully so!! But there is reason to believe shutting down KissAnime was the right thing to do. Here’s why.
The closure probably came as a result of stricter cyber security and anti-piracy laws being enacted in Japan. KissAnime was one of the last bastions for anime fans to freely (and illegally) download and watch anime. Japan is currently on a warpath. The nation is attacking anything that is hindering their attempt to reinforce copyright laws. KissAnime’s demise was sudden but truth be told it was a long time coming.
Back in those days when Anime was strictly regulated in the American Mainland, the only source for an Otaku to get his or her share of entertainment were a few license and extremely edited copies of a few anime available in video retail stores and outlets. Most of the anime studios did not have a license to distribute their merchandise in America. Several other anime studios went the VHS route. Back in the days, a single VHS of an anime cost more than 20 bucks. As a result, anime never got that much of a foothold.
And then the internet happened. While anime was still unregulated and its distribution without a license illegal, fansubbers came to the rescue! Many popular fansubbers we know now have their origins shrouded in illegal trading. For example – Crunchyroll is a popular anime streaming site that was once an illegal fansubber source. It became legal in 2008 as an official online anime streaming outlet and became the legend that it is today.
But the anime industry is not what it used to be. It is a giant. Gone are the days when people had to wait too much like they did 20 or 30 years ago. The era of physical distribution is old news. Crunchyroll, HDIVE, FUNimation, and Netflix are leading the anime wave in the western world, their most powerful and wealthy client outside Japan. Most of the anime shows that release in Japan get an international release in days or at most weeks. The few shows that never see the light of an American Day are children’s shows and family genre based anime that frankly nobody is interested to watch. Most of the anime could be freely streamed in sites like Crunchyroll and FUNimation. Although there are ads in the free subscription categories, the anime is still there for everybody to feat their eyes with.
As a fellow Anime fan, I would personally really like the anime industry to grow by leaps and bounds. To do that we all need to support the anime industry. Like Netflix comes up with Original shows and movies to keep the revenue coming, the anime industry comes up with new and unique concepts for shows to keep the cogs running. You might be arguing that the anime industry sits atop a unique position. There are multiple shows and movies that will never be aired in American streaming sites and only a pirated site could allow us to take a look at those uncut gems. But trust us when we say this, KissAnime was no savior. It was even breaking the ethics and code on which platforms of piracy were established.
KissAnime did have a lot of those unlicensed shows that will never get a chance to make it to a legal platform. They only made up a tiny amount in the entire traffic that came KissAnime’s way. As of now, many fansubbers try and work on unlicensed anime. But what KissAnime was doing was proving to be catastrophic for the anime industry. They were stealing views from legal sources and when blamed for it, they were disregarding it blatantly.
They did not stop there. KissAnime was not here for the love of anime. They were not doing what they were doing out of passion. After stealing views from legal (and free) sources, they were using the traffic they were diverting to fill their site with ads. Those are the same ad based views you can watch freely and legally in sites like Crunchyroll. They were manipulating unwitting customers and milking money out of them. Legally licensed streaming sites at least had a report of their revenue to show where all their money went. KissAnime was illegal so it never had an annual report of any kind to worry about. Nobody knew where the money made by KissAnime was going. Nobody ever will.
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There were claims that the ads KissAnime was showing were not even proper ads to begin with. They were thinly veiled attempts an injecting viruses and malware into a person’s computer. There have been many cases of KissAnime being accused of cyber fraud. They were up to something. KissAnime never gave us a user-friendly environment. It was rife with flaws which were intentional and dangerous.
We are in no way saying the legal streaming platforms are doing everything right. Simul-Casting is still not available on Netflix. Crunchyroll needs to pay their translators more for better coverage. There has to be a way for the legal streaming platforms to increase their reach and cover other countries except East Asia and North America. Licensors need to be brought on board for this task. The road ahead for the anime industry is tough as nails. But KissAnime being shutting down is a blessing in disguise. That is exactly what the anime industry needs at the moment. As much as you would hate it, we are all better off not watching anime in an online piracy site wrought with viruses. So please trust us when we say this:
There has to be a better way. KissAnime was not.