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I am talking about watching those shows in websites that provide them for free. I could of course afford to subscribe to paid websites such as Crunchyroll and the likes, but often I couldn't find the series I wanted to watch there. The free ones usually host a load of anime and drama titles.

Is watching free anime and Japanese drama in Japan considered safe?

  • i call that entire list you posted a load of crap. first link's description reads like clickbait and the first few sites just redirect you to another site when you try and watch a video. while not illegal it's makes them quite questionable. first site just sends you to another which which their legal information link just redirect you back to the home page. – Memor-X Aug 3 '16 at 8:34
  • the animeshow website in the list is illegal. first episode of bleach initally can't find the file until i switch to another mirror which shows a still splash screen at the start of an episode which include an irc url and a website url that takes you to a site which lists lunaranime as a fansub group which since the series has been licensed in english you shouldn't be watching – Memor-X Aug 3 '16 at 8:36
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    The cops will send ninjas to hunt down those who watch anime from illegal sites in Japan. lol – 絢瀬絵里 Aug 3 '16 at 8:38
  • I rephrased your sentence a bit to no longer require a link to illegal providers. Please also take a look at how we deal with copyrighted materials – Dimitri mx Aug 3 '16 at 8:51
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In Japan or not, sites other than official sites that provides streaming for copyrighted/law protected contents are illegal and against the law. Thus, the answer to your question is no, it is not safe, it is against the law, it is a crime.

From IT (information tech) point of view, many such sites are actually crap sites that is full of ads, click baits, and links that will only redirect you around without showing the content if any. Such sites might also send adwares, malwares and the like to your computer. It might also be used to stole your identity. Thus it is also not safe from IT point of view.

If you are in Japan, however, you can watch the anime when it was broadcasted. This is perfectly legal. In fact, you can also record it if you want to watch later. AFAIK from anime that I watched, this is also legal. Some anime shows that recording a broadcasted show is okay. For example, in Futsuu no Joshikousei ga [Locodol] Yattemita., Yukari recorded a show that is being broadcasted. In Doraemon, Doraemon and Nobita would often record a show since it is being broadcasted at the same time as a baseball match that the father likes to watch.

Of course since it is limited to broad-casted anime only, you won't be able to watch older animes.

  • I know it's illegal everywhere but I am more concerned with the question of whether there have been cases of people got thrown into jail for watching anime online for free (only watching, no downloading). I don't know which one is stricter to copyright laws between Germany or Japan but the thing is I have lived in Germany for more than 2 years and I always watched anime, but never download it, basically everyday yet I never got trouble related to copyright violation. I am just wondering if the situation is different in Japan since it's the mother country of those anime. – nougako Aug 3 '16 at 11:15
  • If I were to mention "legal" websites that host some anime of complete episodes, there is the famous YouTube. Although relatively scarce to find full episodes in this site, can people actually be arrested for watching YouTube videos? – nougako Aug 3 '16 at 11:15
  • I think there hasn't been such case since it'd be far more effective to stop the source, that is the site than the watcher. The watcher might use fake IP or fake MAC which makes detecting their whereabouts hard if not impossible. The site however definitely have static IP. They can detect its traffic and arrest the owner of the site. As for youtube, they will delete videos that infringe copyright. – 絢瀬絵里 Aug 3 '16 at 11:26
  • That's rather relieving I must admit. It's not like I like violating copyrighted items though, it's just that I still like watching old animes from 3-5 years ago and as you said it's difficult to find them in legal websites. In Germany, watching online is considered safe but downloading it can lead to a life in the jail - I know some people who did. I guess watching online is still in the safe zone, but downloading it is a nope. – nougako Aug 3 '16 at 11:39
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    Whenever you do this, as well as it being technically illegal, you're also hurting the Company who made the series, by not providing them funds for watching. the funds for Anime don't come from nowhere, they need the money. they only get that if people buy their series. your best bet would be to subscribe, rather than streaming on a potentially unsafe site. – ObviouslyJake Aug 3 '16 at 20:03
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TL;DR: Yes. It is safe but with a catch.

Streaming services that have a license to broadcast content within Japan such as Niconico are ideal.

Streaming services meant to distribute anime abroad such as Crunchyroll and Hulu are also legal to view in Japan. That said, both sites have region filters because they are not licensed to show many series within Japan. When I visited Japan in April, 2016 the Crunchyroll's massive catalog was reduced to less than 20 items that were licensed for viewing.

Other unlicensed methods are both illegal and dangerous. The Japanese authorities take piracy very seriously. Illegal viewing could land you in prison for two years, even as a tourist. This includes content posted on sites without a license to broadcast that content in Japan, YouTube, downloads/file sharing, screen sharing (RabbitMQ), and using a VPN to get around region locking on sites with a license to broadcast elsewhere.

Related: How does online anime streaming work within Japan?

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Unless the site you wish to watch on is sponsored and endorsed by the producers themselves, you can assume they are not safe. Though if you wish to do a little background check on the website, for example searching "is GenericAnimeStreamingSite.com legal" will do the job (in most cases).

No company wants their content, which could earn them money (like anime is intended to do) to be pirated. If you're watching on a third-party site which doesn't give money to the producers (or however they transfer funds to gain rights to anime), that is exactly what you're doing.

If you wish to be safe, the best thing to do is to subscribe to an official site, like Crunchyroll, as you said. Of course (as Memor-X reminded me), Crunchyroll as well as some others do offer free options, though those aren't optimal due to the ads. If you wish for the most hassle free and legal viewing experience, your best bet is simply to subscribe to a site like Crunchyroll. If affording it is no problem, then that's one of your options.

The other of course, would be to buy the Blu-Ray version, though that's more expensive.

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    should point out that a legal site can still have anime that you can watch for free but like crunchyroll it's limited and/or coupled with alot of ads which you can get around if you pay for the subscription – Memor-X Aug 3 '16 at 8:42
  • Since the OP is interested in older anime, buying BDs or DVDs may not be quite as expensive as usual. Whereas a new limited edition BD may cost up to 9000 yen per volume (typically with 6 volumes for 12 episodes), within a few years one can typically find the full set used for a fraction of the price, often below 10000 yen. Still a substantial purchase, but it can work if you don't watch a lot. International releases are cheaper still (and AFAIK legal to import to Japan though producers try to stop this from happening). – Logan M Apr 2 '18 at 17:28

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