Friday, August 10, 2007

The rise and fall of Singapore anime blogs

The rise and fall of Singapore anime blogs

As viewed from Abao’s perspective

Background Information

About 1 year ago, a small group of 4 friends with 1 common interest decided to start blogging about their interests, Anime. Establishing websites such as animedesho, riuva, darkmirage and lolicontrol, they were widely popular and helped foster the tremendous growth of the Singapore Anime blogging scene.

However, with the recent actions by AVPAS, using high-handing methods of sending warning letters, the quad has since stopped their Anime blogging and online Anime viewing, even urging other people to do so for their safety. Why has the Singapore Anime blogging scene come down to this tragic end?

My aim is to give my take on this whole affair and archive it for future reference. Do note that this is never meant to be a credible source to be quoted.


Affordable Broadband


It was the year 1998, and the telecommunications company Starhub was formed in Singapore to grab a piece of the pie from Singapore's then telecom's monopoly, SingTel (Singapore Telecommunications) Originally into the mobile phones sector, Starhub rapidly expanded to include leased-lines and broadband internet plans, where it was dominated by Singnet also. As Singnet based plans were costly for the speed the provided, people warmed up to Starhub's broadband plans. With the addition of freebies thrown in, Starhub’s broadband sales improved and Singnet was forced to counter to maintain their share in the broadband sector.

With affordable broadband plans that even the lower-middle class can afford, Singapore
became rapidly connected to the World through the internet, with 70% of households having internet access.

Broadband penetration rate

http://www.ida.gov.sg/Publications/20070209134246.aspx


A PC for Every Household

OC ownership

In today’s Singapore, due to relatively cheap computer hardware and the increasing adoption of the computer as a form of working platform, has seen PC ownership rise throughout the years. It is quite safe to say that there is a PC for every household.


http://www.ida.gov.sg/doc/Publications/Publications_Level2/IDA_Corp_Brochure_2006_ENG.pdf

The Blogging Phenomenon

Blogs has started to become popular back in 2001, evolving from personal homepages and chat boards. In my opinion, this is can only happen after the above 2 points are realized. Singapore did both, and inevitably it has to happen. Just as diaries are written after the creation of paper, similarly blogs are created after people have access to the computer and the internet.

With the Blogosphere maturing in 2004 and becoming mainstream, different types of blogs has begun to surface, such as political blogs, video blogs, photo blogs. Blogs took on a different meaning and became the expression of one’s ideas and ideals, other than just a personal diary.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blog

The rise of Singapore’s Own Anime Blogs

Now the anime blogs such as Jason, and Garten or Kurogane has been around for sometime but there were literately no Singaporean based anime blogs. In order to create awareness on Singapore’s anime scene, 4 motivated youths named Tsubaki, Tjhan, kwok and darkmirage created their anime blogs.

With this and other help from the World’s anime community such as setting up animenano podcast, the first for anime; establishing Sganimebloggers on IRC, a popular internet chat messenger, and organizing meets at Singapore’s cosplay scenes, the number of traffic at their blogs exploded and also, the number of Singapore based anime blogs increased over the past year.

For a more concise explanation, you can refer to this blog http://that.animeblogger.net/2007/07/21/a-chronological-history-of-the-anime-blogging-community-where-do-i-belong/#more-3302

Bittorrent

The rise of anime blogs is dramatic, but without Bittorrent, it would have never become as rich as it had been.

Anime fansubs has been around in the World for sometime. It used to be a tedious process, needing to be imported from Japan and the few dedicated people will then sub it and share it with their friends through the old VCR. This was in America.

In Singapore and I believe most of Asia, we get our initial dose of anime through the state broadcasted televisions. Remember Dragonball Z in Chinese Subs and Dubs? Throughout 1997-2000, the state TV bought in anime series as a by effect of the Japanese Drama wave and thousands of kids were exposed to the signature drawing of anime. Also around this time, manga became more popular and this built up a core community of anime people.

As more of the Generation Y grew up, aided with the PC and broadband, begin to source for other methods of getting their anime. And this is where Bittorrent comes in handy.

Bittorrent, a file-sharing technology developed by Bram Cohen back in 2001 allows files to be shared easily without the troubles of a owning and maintaining servers. It allows each user to share what they are holding on to and allows users to act as a server (in this case a seed) once they have finished downloading. Thus Bittorrent allows data to be transferred easily around the World.

Share and Winny

Mirroring the rise of Bittorrent is the popularity of Share and Winny. These 2 programs are used near exclusively by the Japanese people, particularly the otaku community, for sharing files (anime included).

Being designed with security and privacy as the main concern, Share and Winny operated effectively for years until recent crackdowns by the Japanese police, leading to the arrest of the creator of Winny. However, they are still in frequent usage as of today.

Fansub Boom

With all technologies made available to people, followed the rapid adoption of online fansubbing.

Enter AVPAS

Alas, all good things must come to an end. AVPAS (Anti Video Piracy Association of Singapore), allegedly acting on behalf of its members, has started issuing threatening letters demanding compensation or fight a court battle. Its actions has seriously dented Singapore’s Anime blogs in general, with the quad posting their thoughts about the events and ultimately, to stop 1. Downloading Anime, 2. Stop Anime blogging in general. Due to their influential status, most of Singapore’s Anime Community followed suit and what follows next is what a call the death of Singapore’s Anime Blogs (RIP 2007)

From that I’ve gathered thus far, people who had not met ODEX (the main arm of AVPAS in Singapore) and their CEO had generally negative viewpoints on the company’s operating methods, questioning their methods of treating their customers and complaining about their video quality and poor sub quality.

For the few how has actually spoken to their CEO (aka Mr. Sing), however had a totally different opinion of ODEX and is extremely optimistic about the future of the anime industry in Singapore.

Epilogue for now

As for now, the community is dormant and many people have quit Anime altogether or reduced their share of illegal downloads. As for the richer ones, they import the DVDs from Japan. Until ODEX and/or AVPAS gives us a good answer, the community is likely to be dissatisfied with their actions.

I await tjhan’s post on his interview with the CEO of ODEX, to present his 5 part story on the entire story behind.

Abao.

(This was written on July 27 2007, early afternoon. Events occuring after the piece was written are not reflected in these thoughts. The article serves as the author's thought channel and information written may not be accurate. This article is not meant to be cited as a source or reproduced in anyform unless doubly verified and only after seeking my permission.)

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