More than a decade ago, anime-focused site HorribleSubs launched with a mission to provide subtitles for anime. In a Reddit AMA eight years ago, the site’s operator put a little more meat on the bones.
“We mainly do it to piss off CrunchyRoll, as stated in our mission statement. Philosophically, however, we started off disliking how CR fucked fansubbers up in the ass,” the site’s ‘Great Leader’ wrote.
It Began With Subtitles and Then Grew….and Grew
Over the years, HorribleSubs spread its wings way beyond its original mission, eventually distributing vast volumes of not only subtitles but also full copies of anime shows using BitTorrent. This supply of media made the site a favorite among fans and according to SimilarWeb stats, the platform enjoyed in excess of 11 million visits in August alone.
Clearly, both rules 2 and 5 of the site, dictating that no one should “talk about HorribleSubs” were widely ignored. Soon, however, it seems this banned topic of conversation will die out on its own. In a farewell message posted just a few hours ago, the site’s operator reveals that HorribleSubs has shut down, with immediate effect.
“We have grown way beyond what was originally imagined. But… as the cliché saying goes, all good things must eventually come to an end,” the announcement reads.
“This was a hard decision to make for the team, but the truth is, our real life responsibilities have been growing, especially in the times of COVID-19. COVID-19 has really impacted us in various ways, but ultimately it negatively affected how much time we were able to frequently contribute.
“After some reflection and evaluation, we realized moving on was the best way forward. You could technically say COVID killed HorribleSubs.”
HorribleSubs Didn’t Go Unnoticed By Copyright Holders
Given the scale of the platform and its userbase, it’s no surprise that copyright holders used various tactics to take the site down or render it less accessible.
In January 2019, for example, HorribleSubs was targeted in an Australian blocking injunction filed by Village Roadshow, Disney, Twentieth Century Fox, Paramount, Columbia, Universal, Warner and local anime distributor Madman Entertainment. The order was handed down in June that year, with many local ISPs blocking HorribleSubs along with dozens of other sites.
Just over a year later in July 2020, Disney Enterprises took similar action in India, obtaining an injunction from the High Court in Delhi compelling local ISPs to block 118 ‘pirate’ domains. Among them were several anime-focused platforms including Kisscartoon/Kimcartoon, Wcostream/watchcartoononline, kissanime, gogoanime, and 9anime. And, of course, HorribleSubs.
The Future Without HorribleSubs
While HorribleSubs itself is officially no more, anime fans will probably seek to fill the gap by using alternative platforms such as NYAA, which at last count was the fifth most-popular torrent site on the entire Internet.
While it’s not a direct replacement, NYAA carries huge amounts of content released by HorribleSubs. Indeed, if stats produced by NYAA are correct, it currently has in excess of 68,260 HorribleSubs torrents in its index.
In its parting message, HorribleSubs adds that it will keep its Discord up and may even post additional information about the shut down sometime in the future. At the time of writing, thousands of people are in the channel discussing the unexpected news.