This summer, FUNimation and Good Game Productions will release a Fullmetal Alchemist turn based RPG. Entitled Fullmetal Battle, players will be able to access the game via iOS, Android, and Facebook. They hope to capture long time fans of the series and newcomers to the world with the game’s fast paced group battles. Players will be able to create their own state licensed alchemist complete with abilities inspired by the Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood series. They can also challenge characters from the series such as the main two, the Elric brothers. Although the press release says you will be given helpful hints from Col. Roy Mustang, any fan knows that Mustang’s hints are generally not very helpful. The most interesting aspect seems to be the group battles. Players have to fight together in 3 vs 3 battles, but the experience and leveling will take place separately through the special abilities each player selected. I can say that I am excited to see this when it arrives.
Ever since there has existed an interest in anime outside of the language bounds of Japanese-speaking locales there has existed a fansubbing scene. Short for “fan subtitling”, fansubbing typically involves the translation of Japanese animation episodes into target languages and overlaying said titles into a distributable video format.
The practice of fansubbing dates back to the late 1970s and early 1980s when outside interest in the anime phenomenon drove the importing of programs in various formats for viewing at a growing number of anime clubs. As many did not know the Japanese language hardcore fans sough to increase the accessibility of the programming through the process of subtitling the episodes for further distribution. The initially extensive and expensive process of subtitling an episode required first acquiring raw episodes in Betamax, VHS, or Laserdisc format then extracting the audio to text via manual or paid translation. The next assigned task involved timing the subtitle’s appearance to the audio through a process dubbed (no pun intended) timing which may or may not have the use of custom software or professional hardware. Finally, a master of the episode was created by feeding the timed script and raw video feed through a genlock to a high quality medium. Finally the episode was copied from the master and distributed to anime groups through the use of distribution runners or postal mail.
Modern technology has vastly increased the quality and decreased the time-to-distribution of fansubs. Raw video acquisition has moved to digital capture direct from television signals and ripping from DVD or Blu-ray for internet transmission directly to fansubbing groups. Translation may be performed by oversea team members, and timing, styling, and encoding occur through more modern software equivalents of the once expensive hardware and genlocks. Finally, distribution has moved to much more accessible and reliable methods such as IRC and Bittorent.
The recent history of fansubbing has expanded the practice beyond merely the anime genre and into other foreign language programming including animation, television episodes, and movies. While the legality of fansubbing still remains a hot topic of debate amongst the community the rapid increase in the level of technical sophistication and friendly global collaboration serves as one of the most successful examples of what can be accomplished by the passion of true fans uniting with a common goal.
Now you know!