September 19, 2020 Meet Ashen, Our New Hashing Service
Anime: Evangelion

For a while now, one of the main concerns of the Shoko team is our current reliance on select metadata providers to the point where if a crucial metadata provider like AniDB or TvDB were to cut off access, Shoko itself would lose critical functions. To remedy this situation, we’ve been looking into alternative metadata sources and are happy to announce our partnership with animeshon, an upcoming anime & manga metadata provider and their perceptual hashing service Ashen.

What is Ashen?

Ashen is a perceptual image hashing service aimed to provide users with another hashing method to speed up the importing and identifying process. It’s important to note that Ashen is not meant to replace AniDB, instead both hashing services will work together in Shoko to give our users the best of both worlds. It’s no secret AniDB’s ban system can be overzealous and cause huge time delays when importing new files into your collection and when this happens, Shoko is forced to stop importing for an unknown arbitrary time while it waits out the ban.

So Ashen is better than AniDB?

Both providers have their strengths and weaknesses, so it’s not fair to definitely say one is better than the other. AniDB’s database and userbase means the file you’re currently hashing has probably already been dumped, allowing Shoko to find a match. Where AniDB uses file hashes to compare in a one-to-one method, Ashen uses image hashing from specific frames meaning a single frame from any release can return a match.

Ashen also benefits from newer technology, and a design philosophy where speed is paramount. With AniDB, it takes around 20-25 seconds for the file to be hashed, data to be sent, compared internally and then sent back to Shoko. With Ashen, the same file only takes 2 seconds allowing Shoko to import 10-12 files in the same timeframe.

How does animeshon benefit from this?

One of the founding members of animeshon, Christian Roggia, is a former contributor to Shoko, so when he approached the Shoko team about a potential partnership, we knew he would be honest with us and not shy away from any difficult questions. We made it clear that we would not allow any identifiable information to be collected or sent by Ashen or any service we use, which they agreed to. All data collected and sent is related to the video (the source or release group is not identifiable) being hashed by Ashen. That is even less than the data collected and received by AniDB.

So how do they benefit then? Our userbase is helping to populate* and test their anime indexing service, which can be used by other services, as Ashen is free to use. Our partnership with them will provide us with less restricted use of their API and the ability to exceed some of the posted rate limits.

* Only certain, invite only members are sending that data, as it is more data and processing than the average user sends.

So when will Ashen be available in Shoko?

Soon!

Our team has been beta testing it, and we while we don’t have a date at the moment, we’re aiming to have it within Shoko by the end of the year, assuming we don’t run into any unforeseen issues.

Common Questions

We’ve complied what we believe to be some common questions that will come up as well as questions we had ourselves that were answered by the animeshon team.

Do I have to use Ashen?

No, users will be able to disable Ashen if they prefer to stick with just AniDB for file hashing.

Can I only use Ashen?

For hashing, yes, but AniDB provides other information that Shoko still needs, for now.

How does the Shoko Team know additional data won’t be collected?

That’s simple, our very own da3dsoul is part of the animeshon team and built Ashen.

So animeshon will profit from the results of our data?

Animeshon is free to do whatever they want with their service and their database, like any other metadata provider. This is not new and every single metadata provider you’ve ever contributed to is the same way. We’ve made sure that only anime related data is sent via Ashen to protect our users and avoid legal issues that could arise.

Ashen is a perceptual hashing system. The video file has a few frames extracted at intelligently selected spots at only 144p (removing a lot of detail that might be a watermark, for example), then they are locally run through a utility to generate a hash. This hash cannot be used to reconstruct the image, and the images are not sent to the server. It’s not just that animeshon, or us at Shoko for that matter, don’t care if you are scurvy-ridden pirate, which we don’t, but we can’t even tell! This protects everyone involved, as it’s easier to sue a company that enables piracy than 50,000 people that save for 5 years to buy a hard drive.

Where Can I Go To Learn More

The following links were provided to us by the Animeshon team.


General Shoko | Animeshon