Fansubbing is, broadly, a practice of amateur localization directed towards creating subtitles for foreign-language audiovisual media. Fansubbing is most often associated with Japanese cartoons, or anime, though there has certainly been a significant culture of fansubbing in other media spheres.

My personal experience has almost exclusively been with anime, though I have also recently worked on subtitles for fan-localized clips of Japanese "vtubers,"" a kind of video entertainer who uses a live motion-capture avatar, usually with significant kayfabe with regards to their identity.

Vtubers are a very young phenomenon, and many of the people interested in localizing their content are not experienced in any kind of subtitling. Instead of torrents or xdcc, distribution happens on youtube, which means that the vast majority of translated vtuber clips use so-called hardsubs (subtitles hard-coded into the video file). Furthermore, since most source videos are live-streamed content, it's largely accepted that vtuber fansubs will include cuts or other video editing not present in the original source. In sum, inexperienced people are using untested technology and unproven methods, with no hard-and-fast best practices.

In many ways, this is an amazingly vibrant community. Instead of being limited to mere subtitles, many vtuber translators also do significant edits, from cuts, to pans and scans, as well as compositing additional elements into the video in order to emphasize details, deliver, humour, etc. I personally don't enjoy edits that significantly alter the source material, but I also understand that I'm neither the target nor majority audience. However, the youth and inexperience of the scene means many fundamental and well-founded subtitling principles aren't well known. I have endeavoured to offer resources and to individually train certain new subtitlers.

It is my intention through this page to document my fansubbing practice, identify, extract, and expand upon fundamental principles, and to offer a resource for people learning subtitling. I should note that my specific experience in fansubbing is in timing subtitles and in editing English scripts, so I'll mostly be talking about technique and style with regards to those aspects.

If you want to talk to me specifically about subtitling, you can reach me in #AnarchistSubtitling on

a parable about timing

subtitles and captions