It’s no secret that a large chunk of anime and manga fans visit pirate sites to consume content. Fans will give you a variety of reasons for their actions, with lacking disposable income, no official releases in their county, and wanting to consume as much as possible being the leading explanations.
For years, Japanese consumers seemed reluctant to visit pirate sites, but their numbers have been steadily increasing over the past year. The Japan Cartoonists Association (JCA), issued a statement condemning the practice, saying, “The fact is their [creators] position is being taken by pirate sites that have no connection to the effort that goes into creating those works and covet monetary gain.”
The JCA argues that pirate sites are severing the connections between creators and fans, which is not only limited to manga. Creators can’t get reliable feedback from fans to write stories they want to read and publishers are forced to make cuts since they are losing money. The JCA believes, “If the current situation continues, it will grind down the resilience of various aspects of Japanese culture, and ultimately they will perish.”
Ashita no Joe creator Tetsuya Chiba, who heads the JCA, spoke to NHK News in a separate report about piracy. He believes young creators are “steadily dying” due to piracy, which makes it difficult for new talent to cultivate a fanbase. Chiba says, “Even if they have good ideas, good characters, and produce interesting stories, it’s actually happening that manga creators can’t continue.”
In both separate statements, Chiba and the JCA emphasize that they are thankful that digital content reaches fans, but there needs to be due diligence to avoid pirate sites and to support creators.
It’s a contrast from mangaka Takashi Yoshida’s earlier comments. Yoshida believes that publishers could learn new business practices by observing pirate sites and attempt to convert pirate readers into paying fans.