Akemi's Anime World

Unlicensed Anime Company

A bit of info about Unlicensed.

Company Overview

These anime aren't licensed for distribution in North America and never have been. An increasingly small percentage of anime falls into this category, but a number of very old shows, less-popular new ones, and a few inexplicable ones still haven't seen commercial release. A surprisingly large percentage, however, have been fansubbed.

What this means both in terms of legality and for the future of the animation industry is still an open question, but the bottom line is that "not officially licensed" is rarely a barrier to finding, watching, and enjoying anime.

Their Catalog


What Their Releases Are Like

While unlicensed anime isn't legally or officially available in the US and elsewhere, fansubs exist for nearly every newer show and quite a few older ones as well. The quality ranges from awful, with sloppy, inaccurate subtitles and poor video, to on par with professional translations--accurate, acceptably written, and with beautiful high-def video files. The majority of new (and even older) shows fall into the latter category these days.

Way back when, fansubs were rare things distributed by mail or hand--you would mail or give a tape to someone else, who would then copy it and send it back to you. The quality of these videos was, for obvious reasons, usually atrocious--even in the cases the translation was ok and the subtitling system was professional grade, it was a second or higher generation VHS copy, so it was almost always a blurry mess.

By the time DVD-Rs were cheap and common enough to replace tapes in this role, broadband had already become so widespread that physical distribution was unnecessary. First on Hotline and the replacements that sprang up when it died, through the modern Bittorrent era, fansubs spread so fast and wide that almost anything one could want is easy to find, usually in DVD (or better, now that HDTV is near-universal for anime broadcast) quality.

Then there are bootlegs--usually originating from Taiwan or China, with their loose copyright laws, these apparently-legit-looking box sets are cheap and easy enough to find, but provide nothing in the way of compensation to the creators of the anime. Even if the quality were impeccable, it makes little sense to pay money for something effectively illegal, and certainly dishonest, when you could just as easily get it for free in fansubbed form, which certainly is no worse for the creators, and at least doesn't give money to the bootleggers. As for quality, the range is again from professional to poor, with something of a slant toward the lower end--in particular, translations are often weak, sometimes hilariously bad, since the translators often don't have Japanese or English as their first language.