There’s no denying that everyone here at VocalMimi is more or less a newbie to the whole world of anime and online anime communities. Personally for me, I may have been the first to have got into anime, back in 2011 (really, really recent), and there’s a lot of things that I still am, and always will be, unaware about.
So for that, I want to write this post to let all the new members of the anime community in and out of Singapore about a little story about the history of Otakus in Singapore. The incident which everyone called the Odex Saga was more or less the dark days in the history of Singaporean anime fans.
Back in 2007, Odex started taking legal action against people who BitTorrent their anime and demanding that these “pirates” compensated them for “business lost due to piracy”. So they sent a letter to these pirates and of course this whole matter blew up online.
So even now and after combing through a pile of articles online, generally people decided to pay the find as opposed to the more costly alternative of settling things in court. This led to the whole matter dying out quietly, except with one small problem. A lot of the general public had no idea what really transpired other than the little amount of news reported in the newspaper.
The really dirty background story is firstly, although Odex were the main distributor of anime in South-East Asia, their subs were terrible quality, so far as to contain spelling and grammatical errors in them. So people generally just did not buy from them because… they made crappy stuff and not so much from the fact that people were torrenting stuff. I mean, everyone torrents stuff. Plus hardly any of the stuff they released did people want. I mean look at that stuff.
As if Odex’s reputation was already not rock bottom enough, they were accused of copying fansubbers’s subs and claiming that as their own which makes them hypocrites. Which makes things all so ironic.
And it gets better, the people who received the letter demanding payment were not given any sort of warning and were immediately demanded to pay up, with children as young as 9 years old having to pay the fine. Or rather, their parents did.
Just when Odex couldn’t get hated any further, the boss of the company, Mr Stephen Sing said and I quote, on a forum page, “Hahahahah! I double-6-ed so many downloaders~ serve them right!” and the fact that most Odex employees get their anime from… you guessed it. Torrents. Can you hear that? The sound of irony is ringing in our ears.
Singapore’s government is known for stepping in in situations like these, and step in they did. After several Singaporeans decided to organize a protest in the form of a figure photo shoot, the riot police responded swiftly. They dispatched 4 Riot Police trucks to deal with… 8 teenagers and young adults taking photos of toys. *applause* And of course this was hardly seen in the mainstream news.
And these are just the bigger incidents that happened to be conviently found on the internet. I’m sure that there are a lot more unsaid stories about this. Complaints and dirty court action, but I want to move into something more important than this: the effects of this whole saga. For every action, there is an equal and opposing reaction.
Like I said at the start, I am new to this ani-blogging community, but according to a blogging senior of mine, the ani-blogging scene in Singapore was really shining back then. To the point that if one were to see an ani-blog, they would guess that it was either from Singapore of the U.S. But because of this saga, many ani-bloggers decided to quit for fear of getting sued and the number of Singaporean ani-blogs dropped severely.
During the period of the whole saga, people would not dare to torrent stuff for fear of getting sued, turning to alternatives like streaming anime or nico nico douga. Both having their own disadvantages. Thanks to one money minded company, what could be referred to as the “Golden Age” of Otakus in anime ended, to be replaced by a dull melancholy.
Just kidding, right now the anime community is on the growth again, becoming more and more popular with bigger events every year. But I hope that with this post, the newer Otakus will have a better idea on how lucky we are to be able to *cough* obtain our anime in a much more hassle free way.
Special thanks to Iso from Nabe! For telling me about this whole incident in the first place and DarkMirage for providing almost all the information I needed. And anyone else who persevered through that period.
For those who want to know more about this incident, feel free to check out the sites I used.