While KissAnime’s users aren’t strangers to hearing that the massive piracy site might be taken down temporarily or have to change its url slightly, when they heard it on the night of August 14th, it was different. Likely a result of Japan’s more strict anti-piracy laws coming into effect and their enforcement by CODA, KissAnime has suddenly been removed permanently.
While the anime industry at large celebrated this victory, KissAnime’s users took to Twitter to mourn the loss of what many believe is the most-visited anime piracy website. Several other members of the piracy community, however, joined the anime industry in celebrating its loss, as it was widely hated even within the piracy community for being a greedy, Malware-ridden dystopia; a last resort option that should be avoided as much as possible.
KissAnime wasn’t always like that, of course; when the site first launched in 2012, it wasn’t anything unique in the realm of anime piracy. Its turning point was in 2013, when they introduced KPoints and Premium memberships that would allow users to download in bulk and not see any ads. Originally, you could get KPoints (which you could spend on a Premium membership) simply by hanging around the site long enough and introducing new sign-ups. In early 2014, both KPoints and Premium memberships became purchasable commodities. And these were commodities that many people wanted not only because some wanted to show support for their favorite non-supportive website, but also because the ads of KissAnime were notoriously annoying.
Clickbait ads with anime girls and slogans like, “CLOSE YOUR DOOR BEFORE PLAYING THIS” plastered the walls of KissAnime. At some point before September 2015, KissAnime started temporarily banning IPs that they detected were using an AdBlock on the site, thereby forcing users to either turn off their AdBlock, get a Premium membership, or to simply go elsewhere. In other words, they were forcing users to either look at their ads (which generated revenue), or to pay them directly. Either way, this site that was built on piracy–the idea of “free” anime–was now making money hand over fist.
While it’s unclear precisely how much money KissAnime was making, based on how many thousands of daily users it had, it’s widely believed they would’ve had to have been making at least a few thousands of dollars per day, and millions per year. The site was nonetheless managed by (unpaid) volunteers.
KissAnime stood at the apex of greed, and frankly, shouldn’t be missed by pirates, non-pirates, and sometimes-pirates alike. Their site, while it did have a large library of anime, was dangerous to its non-paying users. And also wouldn’t let the volunteer staff benefit from its paid users despite the massive profit the site was making.
Many have pointed out that torrenting is the obvious better way to pirate anime, not only because of the better visual quality, but also because it steers traffic away from KissAnime-esque sites for longer periods of time (which, by extension, demotivates more from being made, and makes the ones that do exist less monetizable). This is all to say nothing of the obvious fact that there’s countless other anime streaming platforms on the internet, both legal and not.