NarutoWow, now there’s a major surprise announcement. Dattebayo fansubs, arguably the most known Naruto and Bleach fansubbing groups out there, have come out saying that they are finally to stop subbing Naruto, effective January 15th 2009.

Now I must admit that I used to be a big fan of Naruto, after first being introduced to it via Masashi Kishimoto’s original manga and then quickly made the jump to the anime release which at that stage was predominately being handled by the TW and AONE fansubbing groups, with AONE being the preferred choice thanks to their high quality translations.

But then came a speed-subbing group that seemed just to get it right from the start. Dattebayo Subs, or DB as they are more affectionately known, were releasing their subs literally a couple of hours after the show aired in Japan, instantly making them the favourite speed-subbers around. And as they got more to grip with their tools, so their quality of releases quickly rose and they soon became the number one distribution point for Naruto.

Honestly, I eventually stopped watching Naruto after the absolutely pointless and rubbish filler episodes that they kept insisting on stuffing in became so unbearable that it actually sucked all the fun right out of the show, and that was that. I was finished with Naruto. Yes, I still ensure that I catch all the movie releases, and every now and then I take a peek at the far more enjoyable Naruto Shippuuden, but for all intents and purposes, I can no longer call myself a Naruto fan.

But the point is that there are literally still millions and millions of viewers that do.

So why has Dattebayo decided to stop subbing the series? Well firstly, they’ve been in the game for a very, very long time now. Even I would have gotten tired of subbing the same old thing by now. Secondly, and the primary reason for their decision, Viz, the US licensor of Naruto, seems to have finally got its online act together enough to make it a viable, and more importantly, legal option to the fan-produced fansubs.

Remember, despite what anyone tries to tell you, fansubbing is illegal.

So to be honest, it is sad to see an icon like Dattebayo drop Naruto, but their reasons for doing so are good and I’m pretty sure that Viz will be more than pleased by this news. It’s like Dattebayo says:

“If we continued to sub Naruto, it would be a direct affront to Viz, a company that, for the most part, has been pretty amazing to us as fans. Sure, you can say that their dub sucks, or whatever other axe you have to grind, but never once did they ask us to stop subbing Naruto or Bleach, something that is well within their rights and power to do. We have episodes that have gotten almost a million downloads. We’ve had episodes that have gotten more downloads in their their first 24 hours than they had viewers when they showed on Cartoon Network.

I’ve often asked people I know in the anime industry why they think Viz never asked us to stop, and they say, “Well, Viz isn’t really into the whole C&D thing, they just don’t do that.” That may be true to some extent, but I’ve always liked to think it was because we had a silent symbiotic relationship. We only did things that helped the popularity of their shows, and they turned a blind eye to us.

But like any symbiosis, you have to know when its time to move on. That time has come. Viz and Crunchyroll have gotten their acts together and are trying something new, with one of the most popular shows in anime today. I, and the rest of the staff, know that if we continue to subtitle it, they will have to ask us to stop. That’s something they probably don’t want to have to do, because it will most likely make all of you very mad at them. That’s something they really don’t deserve.”

So hats off to you Dattebayo and thanks for the excellent work you have put in over the years for one of the premier and most enjoyed anime series around.

We look forward to seeing whichever project you guys next pickup!

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