From the “almost two years old but news to me” department:
Via the comments section at Neojaponisme, we have this series of videos decrying modern anime fansubbers as cliquey, Japanese language-worshiping elitists who offer “Japanese lessons” instead of actual translations. Their refusal to create plain, easily digested subtitles and refusal to translate culturally specific Japanese (instead offering copious on-screen liner notes) scares away potential new fans and is generally useless, he argues.
On a basic level, he is absolutely right that for a general audience, translations should be very clear and nearly invisible. It’s what I strive for in my job and on this blog, for sure. But from my (admittedly limited) experience with fansubbed anime, it’s clear enough that fansubbers are not in it for the benefit of a general audience. In the era of Wikipedia, BitTorrent, and Youtube where esoteric cultural knowledge is rapidly becoming obsolete, being an elite fansubber is one of the few sure-fire ways left to secure King Geek status. Maybe having an insular subculture makes it harder for good anime titles to break through into the mainstream (as has been fansubbing’s most often-cited benefit), but isn’t that kind of the whole point?