Martin Billany is a name not many have heard of, but he has had a profound effect on YouTube and the entire anime scene worldwide. While many may not know Billany by his birth name, almost everybody in anime fandom have heard of his other moniker, LittleKuriboh.
In 2006, Billany posted the first episode of Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series to YouTube. A gag-dub, Billany’s series focused on making fun of the over the top nature of the anime (and anime in general), the ridiculous edits made to anime to get it on the air for western audiences and pop culture, all while loosely following the main story presented in the original show. Martin used the the term abridged because of the condensing of the story, yet the main plot was still followed. A great deal of energy was spent mocking Yu-Gi-Oh in every capacity, but an important distinction is that this was never done to spite the series or the overall property, but was a loving celebration of the franchise.
These videos became extremely popular, and soon others were creating their own “abridged series” with other anime by following the basic formula and spirit of Billany’s work. Billany is the first to admit he really didn’t create the form, as parody and satire of popular media properties has existed since right after media itself was created, but his work gave rise to this modern movement of the abridged series within anime and animation overall.
Abridging has proved controversial, with many people and companies claiming their properties are being plagiarized or their copyrights infringed upon. Billany and others see it as protected by fair use, and even if they occasionally cross the line, abridged series’ keep properties in the public eye, sometimes bringing in new fans that otherwise never would have experienced the show to begin with. To avoid legal issues, abridgers do not make money directly from their work, but many like Billany do make paid convention appearances, and sell novelty items that relate to or reference what they have made in their videos.
Not content with just his own abridged series, LittleKuriboh has provided voice work for other abridged series, most notably for Team Four Star and their popular show, DBZ Abridged. He’s also done video game let’s plays as his versions of characters from Yu-Gi-Oh , as well voice work for wholly original properties such as TOME.
Recently, LittleKuriboh went almost completely dark for an extended period of time. Such periods of downtime were not unheard of with Billany, but never to this degree of inactivity. When Billany returned, we were treated to two new series, one entitled The Mark Remark where he provides a satirical recap of the two main weekly WWE shows as well as wrestling in general…
…and the second, and the more shocking of the two, a weekly vlog covering his battle with depression entitled We’re Still Here.
Billany hopes We’re Still Here will not only to aid in his own recovery, but help others and raise awareness about depression. Bilany has spoken candidly about his struggles, time in therapy, thoughts of suicide and his ever supportive wife, (and talented voice actress in her own right) Marianne Miller. She too has gotten on camera to talk about her own depression after being raped in 2009. Reception for We’re Still Here has been mostly positive, with the sad exception of the episode where his wife spoke about her rape and views on rating systems for content, which brought a hail of negative comments to the point where Billany disabled comments for the video. The author of this piece would like to take a moment to apologize to both Billany and Miller on behalf of every decent human being on the internet for the trollish comments they received on that video.
Martin Billany has been entertaining people on the internet for almost a decade and his wit, humor, skill and courage have made the internet a better place. He truly is one of the internet’s good guys. If you are interested in Billany, you can view his works at TeamFourStar.com as well his YouTube channel, LittleKuriboh.