If anyone's been keeping their ears close to the North American anime industry, there has been much a clamor concerning the state of how business is being conducted and the growth of digital distribution there. The Japanese side has grown more privy of what is going on across the Pacific, as more companies have looked towards there for production financing and licensing deals and more have become aware of the presence, and influence, of fansubs on the market.
Famed animation studio GONZO has undoubtedly been the most outspoken   and active of these, working closely with frequent licensor FUNimation in sending out "cease & desist" letters to unauthorized distributors of their content (i.e. the fansubbers)   and speaking upfront about such matters. Now, they have become the first to extensively make an effort to counteract their activities, as they announced on Friday their intention to webcast two of its upcoming shows, the heavily-hyped The Tower of DRUAGA -the Aegis of URUK- and BLASSREITER, for audiences outside of Japan. The episodes, which will be accompanied by English subtitles, will be available for view on the same day the shows air in Japan on sites YouTube and BOST TV (either in free streaming or fee-based, high-quality downloadable video, depending on the service). These will not be the only ones that will recieve such a treatment from GDH, the studio's parent company, as they expect to follow suit with future shows.
One would be remiss to not point out a bit of hypocrisy in these very plans set out by them. As they have, as previously mentioned and in their own press release, been quite vocal about "illegal file-sharing" and "fansubbed pirated footage", it is very puzzling to see them not only join up with YouTube, a prevelant spot for fansubs and other such "footage", but also another site mentioned that will not be so here. This particular one has made waves in the community as it, apparently hosting the largest collection of fansubbed content on the web, recently received a capital investment of around $4 million. Combining this with the fact that said site sells some of these fansubs (essentially making them "bootleggers") and the various troubles in the industry, GDH/GONZO could easily be said to be contributing to the problem now than trying to outright solve it. In all fairness, however, the site has mentioned that it has been making an effort to offer authorized content by working with other Japanese companies, and YouTube is a legitimate spot used by many companies and organizations (such as GONZO's YouTube Japan channel GONZO DOGA), despite their other hosted videos. Since both are very large and have very large communities, they would make prime spots for distributing their work and getting the attention out there.
I am very glad to see that there are more companies working to make changes to the industry and how it operates on a business-level. But when you align yourself with a something that is contributing to the very thing you are preaching against, it certainly does feel like "two steps forward, one step back". Well, at least BOST TV and their nicely-done service has a good chance at gaining some more exposure with their deal.