For many years, pirate activity off the coast of Somalia has rendered the region dangerous for commercial vessels. As security measures have increased, the capture and ransoming of ships has become a less viable venture and physical piracy has diminished in the area. Many Somali pirates have resorted to more effective tactics, evolving their trade for the modern era.
Over the past several months, there have been multiple instances of pirates boarding cargo ships carrying physical media, copying their contents, and then leaving without a trace. The copied media would later appear online. Anime Blu-ray discs, which often retail for absurdly high prices, are popular targets of this new form of Somali piracy.
Armed with Acer laptops and bags of portable hard drives, pirates board unsuspecting vessels and aim to confuse and delay the crew to give their other members enough time to rip the discs.
“We thought it was strange at first when this guy in a small skiff approached our vessel and began asking for the Wi-Fi password,” recalled cargo operator Robert Harrison, whose ship was boarded by pirates last month.
“As we started to tell him that he wouldn’t find any Wi-Fi out at sea, the guy began telling me how he was trying to stream Psycho-Pass 2 and how much he loved the first season. I just started to argue with this clearly delusional man and didn’t even notice the other guys with him going through all the Blu-ray cases.”
Though piracy in all forms represents a threat to the shipping industry as well as to crews, the illegal activity has had a positive effect on the local economy. Previously destitute villages on the Somali coast are busy translating, timing, and quality checking subtitles before they are released to anime fans worldwide.
The speed of the pirate activity is impressive, with discs being ripped and encoded in full 1080p video formats within hours of their release.
“We don’t even get many official anime releases over here,” stated Indian anime fan Ninad Amir. “And even when they do get released the quality of the official subs can leave a lot to be desired. I find myself just waiting for the Somali release most of the time now.”
While piracy countermeasures have been discussed, no action has yet had significant effect. The general consensus from fans has been indifferent on the issue, but most agree that downloading subtitles from Somali servers is still a better alternative to subscribing to Anime Strike.