KissAnime? I Think Your Affections Are Misplaced

In the wee hours of Saturday morning, KissAnime and KissManga, two major sites featuring illegal anime streams and manga scans, respectively, shut down, presumably forever. Stories attached to KissAnime’s closure state that it has to do with stricter Japanese copyright laws, though I haven’t seen any details that confirm as much. Whatever the reason, the deed is done, and a whole lot of anime fans are either rejoicing (in support of creators and the industry) or in mourning.

Some are also raging, particularly against those claiming some sort of victory, or at voice actors tweeting their approval. I jumped in the fray as well, making an observation from a Christian perspective:

I was surprised by the negative reaction to my tweets (with messages and replies coming in not only through Twitter, but via other platforms). Not so much from non-Christians, who will view KissAnime’s demise differently (and who have interesting points regarding the value of such sites), but from Christians—some confused, some bitter, and some even angry.

I understand the frustration. During my college years, when anime was hard to come by, I watched most of it through illegal means. But I also download thousands of mp3s, and music was most definitely not hard to access. I was finally convicted to do better when I became older, though even now, I’m not perfect.

But some of the vitriol, as well as the strength with which people justified their actions to me, was worrying. Christians should know their faith’s stance on following the law, particularly through verses sent to a church in the capitol of the empire that condemned and executed Christ (Romans 13:1-2). No, lack of knowledge doesn’t seem to a hindrance. Instead, the issue seems more to be where it is our affections lie. I’m not going to sit here and say that illegal streamers love anime more than Christ, but certainly our worship and our love is misplaced.

God deserves our ultimate and full praise. When we worship, we’re expressing that he is worthy of everything we have to give. But when we sin, when we veer from his ways, we’re not giving him worship. That devotion goes somewhere else. Blinded by easy entertainment and our own wisdom, we fail to see the real treasure right before us, and so miss out on enjoying God as all we need, and failing to ascribe to him that honor as well.

Thankfully, if it’s still too much for you right now to watch anime only by legal means, you’ve been given a gift. The closing of KissAnime is richness to you, because that’s one less temptation, one less path by which you would go astray. It’s a little harder now, a little less convenient, and maybe enough to push you toward doing right. The Japanese law or whatever else compelled the owners of KissAnime to shut down took the giant leap for you; all you need now is to shuffle your feet a little ways further.

Again, it may not be easy, and it may not come overnight. And as also evidenced by my life, it may be a sloppy and imperfect transition. But I hope you’re convicted to at least try, because every part our lives—our relationships, our careers, and yes, even our streaming habits—are about him and for him. And for those of us called by his name, if we’re going to stream anime, there really is no other choice: We ought to stream it right.


13 thoughts on “KissAnime? I Think Your Affections Are Misplaced

  1. Great post, thanks for sharing and giving conviction. Honestly I have streamed anime from that site and others, mainly because I couldn’t find that anime anywhere else (legally). That’s an excuse, but just being real. I’m glad the site is gone though, as it removes the temptation to go back.

  2. So where do you stand on the scanlation teams producing versions of manga in languages where it doesn’t exist, and probably / possibly never will exist? I mean pirating animé is just flat-out theft but the scanlation teams aren’t taking sales away from anything except a theoretical future that might never come to pass (and probably won’t ever come to pass if my experiences of buying translated manga are anything to go by).

    My take is that these are transformative artworks – what do you think?

    And as a by-the-by, the fan-translated animé is also very often produced to standards that the normal distributor fails to aspire to. I bought Ef – A Tale of Memories (and Melodies) on BluRay because I love the show, but my favourite version is the fan-translated one because they also translated all the printed stuff, signs, hand-written notes and more, that the official distribution simply didn’t bother to. Fan translators are doing important work in my opinion and what the distributors *ought* to do is pay them to put stuff on legitimate channels. The Kickstarter for Time Of Eve did just exactly that – and ended up with about 40 subtitle languages on the BluRay distribution as a result 🙂 Criminalising raw talent (pun intended) in order to lock away intellectual property in attempts to drive the price up doesn’t benefit the creators at all. Ask an author whose optioned book has languished in limbo because the optioner only bought it as an investment – there’s no shortage of them.

    1. Responding to your last point first—the system itself is of course imperfect, and there are plenty of legitimate points to support the importance of fandubbing, illegal streaming sites, etc. I don’t need to look beyond my own experience as one who grew to support the industry by legal means but grew most passionately in my fandom during a time I wasn’t. And yeah, a lot of the fandubs and scanalations are done very well!

      When it comes to scanalations…I don’t think they would count as transformative works. I’ve taken a course on copyright and listened to some lectures from experts (so of course that makes me an authority! :P), and though the line is gray for things like transformation, education, and satire, I don’t think it would encompass what you’re suggesting. However, it’s a lot of these “What’s the law?” kind of questions where we need to just use our best judgment, I think. It’s certainly where I feel most uncomfortable because it forces me to think a little deeply (or admit that I’m not thinking).

      1. I always try to buy – as you would hope – but if there is no translation available for sale (which is getting rarer with electronic distribution and Amazon, who hopefully aren’t exploiting their workers too much on the e-book side of the business) then I can’t see how reading a scanlation could ever be considered as theft. Obviously the best solution would be to have an app that allowed me to read any language – and Google translate is making big strides that way – or I could learn the language well enough to read it and get all the references and jokes of course. That’s an easy option 🙂 But until that is a reality – at which point scanlation will just disappear of course – then there is a need being fulfilled as I see it. How hard are publishers trying to stop scanlations? Quite hard for material that is for sale I would expect, but they should be looking very hard at downloads of material they do not (yet) sell and maybe (just maybe) licensing that content for sale legally?

        Unrelated (?) question – have you ever stood in a bookstore and read a whole manga? Did you buy it afterwards?

        Observation: I give a lot of my purchased manga to charity shops – we have a specialist Oxfam book store and it has a good manga selection (and light novels). You can’t do that with a Kindle book, sadly, but I am told it is possible to re-sell Kindle books, much to Amazon’s profit. Share and Enjoy!

  3. Here’s the problem… some mangas will never see the light of day, meaning, millions of fans all over the world will never get the chance to read wonderful mangas because they are not published in English. How about one-shots ? We really don’t expect publishing houses to put a 45 page one shot in book form. The solution I think, is for scanlation groups and manga agrregators to find a way to monetize their work and give authors their fair share. Cooperation is the word. Believe it or not some mangakas allow this to happen because they become famous and their works get read my millions who don’t know Japanese.

    I read Skip Beat on manga aggregators but I also buy the books once they are published.

    1. The system is far from perfect—as I said, there’s no lack of reason for readers and viewers to put forth for accessing manga outside of legal means. But for the Christian, which my post is aimed it, there really is no way around it: We are to follow the law, no matter how unfair it can be.

  4. As someone who’s used some shady websites in the past, but felt convicted on the use of them later in my Christian walk, I don’t really think there’s much reason to use shady sites in this day in age with Funimation and Crunchyroll having free versions for the majority of their catalogue. When it comes to the series not licensed, whether manga or anime, why does it not being able to obtain legally justification for obtaining illegally? There’s so many series available legally that there’s no lack of things to watch or read so why get hung over on the few things you can’t obtain. There’s no shame in waiting for series to get licensed focusing your attention on something else legally available.

    1. We always want what we cant have, right (and I include myself in this)? This situation is a whole lot like Eve in the Garden, except instead of reaching for the fruit, we’re reaching for that one unlicensed manga instead of reading from all the manga around us. 😆

      1. That’s a pretty fun comparison lol, in all honesty though I do understand the sting of not being able to watch a series (or multiple at that) due to licensing agreements and what not. I just don’t really see why so many people try to justify piracy.

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