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Kotegawa Yui from Motto To Love-Ru. One of the rare screenshots of her actually smiling.

Streaming videos has become so easy with the access of broadband connections, to the point where you rarely need to wait longer than a couple of seconds for a video to buffer. Long gone are the days where you had to dial a connection using your home phone line and hog any incoming or outgoing calls with the telephone. With internet streaming becoming so popular thanks to YouTube and other Online Video websites, how does that compare to Downloading your favourite Anime?

Of course there are very obvious reasons why you would rather download an anime. For one, the quality is much better (That is if you’re downloading “good” quality encoding) with the release of Blu-Ray discs and DVDs even. Another reason could be because you want to watch at a later time, and maybe when you’re in a location that doesn’t have Wi-Fi. I’m sure there are many reasons that vary with each individual, but I’ll provide two last ones why people may download Anime: for archiving and the sake of “owning” a good copy of your favourite Anime, as well as watching it on your full screen without any advertisements or possible interruptions.

So naturally that takes us to the benefits of streaming over downloading. It’s true that it saves you a lot of bandwidth, especially if you’re downloading Blu-Rays like myself. A small example would be my Angel Beats! Blu-rays that recently finished from Coalgirls. The entire batch (meaning all episodes including specials) came to 32 Gibabytes. So basically streaming means you never have to store anything on your computer, and you have the ability to do an internet search for the Anime of your choice. You don’t have to wait for downloading, at least not very long for the buffering, and with a good internet connection you will most likely see no interruptions in your viewing.


Yuki Nagato from Suzumiya Haruhi. Amazing quality from Coalgirls.

Now it comes down to personal preference. I take screenshots of my favourite characters, scenery (or more accurately Anime Art), funny expressions, and pretty anything that I find interesting. Storing anime on my HDD lets me do this any time, and allows me to re-watch all my anime. With Blu-Rays of course it takes more than just one night of downloading, but it always resumes from where it left off during the previous night. You get amazing, glorious 1080p or 720p usually depending on your preference (and fansubbers to a latter extent), and screenshots just look so much more appealing when they’re high quality. Being a photoshopper and web designer, I need high quality pictures to edit and play around with, and pretty much all the images that you see on this website are screenshots and not scans or downloaded online.

So this takes me to my second topic: Fansubs!

So since all my anime is downloaded with Japanese audio, and I obviously don’t know enough Japanese to pick up on the dialogue, there exists groups out there that are called fansubs, which basically mean Fan Subtitles. These groups (and there are hundreds, maybe even thousands of them) not only take your favourite Anime and translate it, but have to encode, quality check, animate the subtitles, and typeset them so they are viewable by us. This is why I don’t really care what people say about Coalgirls or any other fansub group, because honestly they are providing a free service for those that can’t read/understand Japanese, and they’re doing it pretty much out of their own time and money.

Anyway, here is my list for the Top 5 favourite fansubs, though they are not in any particular order as I like all of them and don’t really favour one over the other (at least not by a large margin):

1. Coalgirls (http://coalgirls.nyaatorrents.org) has always been a top favourite of mine, and they are generally very efficient with speed and quality. Their downloads and filesize tend to be on the larger end of the spectrum, but again that is largely attributed to FLAC audio. I don’t know too much about the encoding process, so if anyone wants to enlighten me that would be fine. A couple of favourites done by them are: Angel Beats!, Bakemonogatari, Clannad, Clannad ~After Story~, Highschool of the Dead, Ga-Rei Zero, Phantom – Requiem for the Phantom, Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva, and Seitokai Yakuindomo. Thanks Coalgirls!


Haru—I mean Yurippe from Angel Beats.


Tenshi on the piano. One of my favourite things about this series.

2. Chihiro (http://www.chihiro-subs.com/) subs does not only currently airing anime, but also encodes Blu-Rays as well. For someone like myself who is a “completionist”, I usually download both the speedsubbed (or I guess “currently airing” anime) from them, as well as their Blu-Rays. Kristen is one of my favourite users/entity for the Anime community, and I think she/he (could be a he, I don’t know) does a good job explaining and helping out with how fansubbing works. While this doesn’t directly affect the anime that I watch, I like when there are people out there that know what they’re doing, and makes sure it’s done right. I depend solely on Chihiro for subbing Kami Nomi zo Shiru Sekai (The World God Only Knows), and they also subbed Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Thank you!

3. Doki (http://doki.hologfx.com/) subs are extremely versatile in that they are handling A LOT of shows this season, and I don’t know how they are doing it, but they are managing to keep up with all their “currently airing” shows. Doki’s quality is very good and on par with Coalgirls, and generally speaking they are fast and efficient. One thing that I wish could be done better is if they finished some of their older series that are due for completion, such as Asobi no Iku Yo! Blu-Rays (which I’m still waiting for episodes 11 and 12 from them), and Seikon no Qwaser Blu-Rays (forcing me to download from Kira Fansubs). Overall, I monitor their website daily for any new releases. Doki doki!


Peke from Motto To Love-Ru, reading Mayoi Neko Overrun.

4. Mazui (http://mazuisubs.com/). I can’t remember if Mazui does Blu-Ray as they are currently doing only one series this Spring season 2011, and that’s Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko. The big thing about Mazui is their speed, and many people rely on them for fast, quality subs. I myself haven’t downloaded too many series, but some notable ones are Ore no Imouto ga konna ni kawaii wake ga nai, and Katanagatari (though they aren’t doing the Blu-Rays).

5. Unlimited Translation Works (UTW) (http://utw.me/) is my final choice. I really like their speed with currently airing anime, and they do a good job in my eyes on Blu-Rays. I solely relied on them for Amagami SS Blu-Rays, and they never failed to disappoint me when they finally released the batch for it.


Junichi and Kaoru from Amagami SS. My favourite Arc!

So those are my top 5 favourite fansub groups. If you have any you would like to recommend, feel free to do so! I tagged THORA as a fansub group as well because they would have made the list if they didn’t randomly go AWOL early 2011. There’s no explanation on their website as to where they’ve gone to, and they stopped in between finishing a couple of series, most notably K-On!! season two, and Bakemonogatari (which resulted in me downloading from Coalgirls). Again, feel free to leave a comment if you like these ones, or have other ones that you want to suggest as a good fansub group.