You had some of the interesting fansub "houses" like Nexus and the others. Then, as there were professional producers of anime, the fansubbing movement fell back. A combination of factors, such as legal issues, the difference in quality of prosubs vs. fansubs, that you could watch it at home without meeting the interesting people, and that it tended to be popular/interesting titles. This was the case, as anime grew more popular, studios that used to be good about posting liner notes (like AnimEigo, whom were always good about including cultural notes and full lyrics for the opening and ending songs) went to the wayside, and when DVDs came out, the liner notes for them got...skimpy.
Even for a massively popular series like Eureka Seven, the DVDs come with no liner notes at all...the last time I saw a good set of liner notes was in FLCL, which has utterly awesome liner notes-interviews with the production staff, cultural notes, "why we used this in the dub" translation...
And, let's not get started on dubs. I'm jaded...the first dubs came out, they were awful, a torture to the ears to listen to. And, I liked my subtites. I will freely admit that they have gotten better-I just don't think they have gotten good, especially with the polished quality that Japanese Seiyu have with the sheer number and training that they can find and get.
But, the Internet saved fansubbing-with the advent of easy-to-use and easy-to-buy video editing software (you could probably build a TV station, minus brodcast gear, that would be the envy of any early '80s studio, for less than $100,000 in terms of gear), high-speed internet connections, and that anime has grown so very popular outside of Japan. What is fansubbed these days? Well-
- Series too weird for American audiences. I dare to say that it'll be a while before The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya comes to the United States. It is just too strange/surreal for most audiences.
- Series that have controversial material. While Genesis of Aquarion doesn't start out too odd, it does get into deep surreality that is very...squishy at a certian point.
- Series with too small a potential audience. I don't think there isn't much of a market for Judo anime out there...
- Series that are "too old", or have too many episodes to really be practical to create. Legend of the Galactic Heroes is nearly thirty hours of material, produced in the late '80s to mid-'90s. Which is to say that it was made before and a bit during the switch-over from tradtional cell animation to mostly-digital prodcution (even pseudo-cell work). So, it's jerky (by modern standareds), recycles frames, and other artifacts of the time. It's not like Gundam, which is a deep "classic" to look at.
- Newer series that are not licensed yet by American or other overseas distributors. This is a definite legal "grey area"-most "reputable" fansubbers will take series off that are licensed overseas...usually. The fight between fansubbers and 4Kids, whom the fansubbers have...issues with how 4Kids dubs and cuts the anime they purchase. There isn't an option of getting the "original" and the "TV" version...you get the chopped TV version.