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mattfabb
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"PhD on scanlation: final advice" , posted Sun 2 Feb 09:11post reply

dear all,
I'm on my final year of a phd in translation and about to finish my last paper on the topic of amateur translation. so, I'm here asking for opinions. What do you think about manga scanlation? Good, bad, don't care?






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"Re(1):PhD on scanlation: final advice" , posted Sun 2 Feb 18:34post reply

quote:
dear all,
I'm on my final year of a phd in translation and about to finish my last paper on the topic of amateur translation. so, I'm here asking for opinions. What do you think about manga scanlation? Good, bad, don't care?

I would not be a JoJo fan without scanlations. Sure, some of them can be pretty bad, (as this infamous line from JoJo Part IV would attest to). And it may totally ruin the original work. But if you're vigilant and careful about listening to people's impressions and reviews about the translation quality, you can find a good translation group, like this one for Part IV, even if they take many long months to translate each volume. But I like to imagine that it's sort of the same wait as when the Japanese issues themselves were being published, so it's kind of an authentic experience in itself, to ruminate on your own and think about what will happen in the next volume as you wait for it to get translated.

There's also the legal part of it, which is that it's not technically very legal for readers like me, who I must admit never purchased a JoJo manga. I would love to buy the original Japanese volumes, even in digital form. But it's not a possibility for me (given where I'm from, it's sort of an unconsidered region for a lot of entertainment products, including Manga and Anime). On the other hand, I have bought the Capcom XBLA JoJo game and will definitely be buying the upcoming CyberConnect2 JoJo game on PS3, which would definitely not be the case if I hadn't read the scanlations. So Hirohaki Araki is at least getting my money in some form thanks to scanlations of his manga.

Actually, rather than anime fan subs, I think scanlations are more analogous to rom-hack fan-translations of old video games. They're not as instantaneous as anime subs and they seem to require more formatting and design that would match the original Japanese text, rather than the simple subtitle time-signiture stuff in subs. I don't know but you may look for that for some references I suppose. Anyway, good luck on your PhD.





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"Re(1):PhD on scanlation: final advice" , posted Sun 2 Feb 20:26post reply

quote:
dear all,
I'm on my final year of a phd in translation and about to finish my last paper on the topic of amateur translation. so, I'm here asking for opinions. What do you think about manga scanlation? Good, bad, don't care?



If your are looking for brownie points there are always some light novels that qualify as decent to guys that aren't into anime culture and are "literarily" stronger than manga (some very few are like, no loli, no panties all over the place, no gropping, no harem and no senseless stripping and stuff). Sadly works like that are an oddity, but they are easy to trace once you realize an author is weird enough (Who knows? Natsuki Mamiya comes to mind, though the plot architecture is not usually smooth; there is also stuff like oregairu).

"Sadly" translating light novels is a lot more work than working in manga, though if one is actually good the biggest drag is typing the text and double checking spelling.






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"Re(2):PhD on scanlation: final advice" , posted Sun 2 Feb 21:48post reply

quote:
dear all,
I'm on my final year of a phd in translation and about to finish my last paper on the topic of amateur translation. so, I'm here asking for opinions. What do you think about manga scanlation? Good, bad, don't care?


If your are looking for brownie points there are always some light novels that qualify as decent to guys that aren't into anime culture and are "literarily" stronger than manga (some very few are like, no loli, no panties all over the place, no gropping, no harem and no senseless stripping and stuff). Sadly works like that are an oddity, but they are easy to trace once you realize an author is weird enough (Who knows? Natsuki Mamiya comes to mind, though the plot architecture is not usually smooth; there is also stuff like oregairu).

"Sadly" translating light novels is a lot more work than working in manga, though if one is actually good the biggest drag is typing the text and double checking spelling.



I'm interested in light novels but I have difficulties in understanding what makes a light novel different from a novel,
When I was in japan I noticed a lot of smaller books with manga art in the cover, but I never read one, so I have no idea,
Any place where I can find light novels translated by fans?

Also, would it not be easier to just write fan fiction?





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"Re(2):PhD on scanlation: final advice" , posted Mon 3 Feb 01:53:post reply

quote:
no panties all over the place, no gropping, no harem and no senseless stripping

D-d-deal-breaker! Seriously though, light novels don't have a really tight definition other than having anime-styled covers and inserts, and being aimed at younger readers, with simpler writing styles. Some good things can come out of this: I seem to recall that the wonderful Slayers was originally one.

Topic at hand: scanslations? I don't know anything about scanslations. But Badoor just offered a perfect example of positive things that can happen, especially when there's little chance of the original work gaining attention. Actually, animation and comics in general were like that abroad: a few exceptions aside, it was the ranks of the fansubbers that built the industry outside of its native shores. In any event, it's all great at the early stages before creators can/know they should sell their stuff abroad, and creators should be happy for the publicity that can even lead to people buying JoJo video games. Think of it like sharing mix tapes and albums or what have you, in the days before massive music industry overreach on who's entitled to share what they have bought.





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"Re(3):PhD on scanlation: final advice" , posted Mon 3 Feb 03:56post reply

quote:

I'm interested in light novels but I have difficulties in understanding what makes a light novel different from a novel,
When I was in japan I noticed a lot of smaller books with manga art in the cover, but I never read one, so I have no idea,
Any place where I can find light novels translated by fans?



Light novels usually are more lax about translation since they take a lot of time. There are some places that follow a "wiki" format (aka, one guy edits what he wants and when he wants, and other people can edit on top of it freely). There are places like Baka tsuki...... And while I mentioned "alternative" works without popular characteristic, "be careful" that roughly 80%~90% of the popular stuff is otaku pandering fantasies (soft core porn harem with chuunibyou storyline). There is "soft" stuff that was made popular recently, like Hyouka or Iris on Rainy Days or Kokoro Connect or Biblia Koshodou or stuff by Takemiya Yuyuko; though personally I usually prefer war / adventure themed stuff (like rakuin no monshou or rokka no yuusha).

Speaking off, there are some Jojo light novels. I wonder if they eventually become movies after been tweaked by Araki.






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"Re(4):PhD on scanlation: final advice" , posted Mon 3 Feb 08:52post reply

quote:

I'm interested in light novels but I have difficulties in understanding what makes a light novel different from a novel,
When I was in japan I noticed a lot of smaller books with manga art in the cover, but I never read one, so I have no idea,
Any place where I can find light novels translated by fans?


Light novels usually are more lax about translation since they take a lot of time. There are some places that follow a "wiki" format (aka, one guy edits what he wants and when he wants, and other people can edit on top of it freely). There are places like Baka tsuki...... And while I mentioned "alternative" works without popular characteristic, "be careful" that roughly 80%~90% of the popular stuff is otaku pandering fantasies (soft core porn harem with chuunibyou storyline). There is "soft" stuff that was made popular recently, like Hyouka or Iris on Rainy Days or Kokoro Connect or Biblia Koshodou or stuff by Takemiya Yuyuko; though personally I usually prefer war / adventure themed stuff (like rakuin no monshou or rokka no yuusha).

Speaking off, there are some Jojo light novels. I wonder if they eventually become movies after been tweaked by Araki.



Thanks for the link,
As i am new to the light novel scene can you tell me how you got into it and what is the Appel for you? Btw, I have on one of jojo light novels! The purple haze one, but it takes me forever to read it as I have to constantly check the dictionary.





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"Re(4):PhD on scanlation: final advice" , posted Mon 3 Feb 09:19post reply

The problem isn't that there are amateur translations, but that those translations come with an illegal version of the product itself. Before the scanlation boom, people would post text translations of books so that you could purchase the comic and read along with it. Now there are countless numbers of fans that don't own a single copy of any of their "favorites" and probably read manga at websites that make money off of other people's work with ad revenue. This is a different situation than when people would post their obscure favorites on personal sites and every other title wasn't translated into English officially. The period where scanlations raised awareness has passed. Now they have replaced the product for many people.

Fansubs in America are even worse, because there are easy and affordable (or even free) ways to watch anime legally as soon as it comes out in Japan. Even if you somehow "had" to watch every show that came out, at worst, you would only "have" to pirate a few.

Still, I don't condemn pirates as individuals (it's not like I've never pirated anything) so much as I condemn the culture that has normalized it. It's upsetting to me that even industry people will post links to pirated works on their blogs because the idea is "you can watch or read anything you want for free." Some younger people have completely grown up in this system. It's just "how they get things," so there's no thought of legality or consequences. Because of that, it's speaking about piracy publicly and normalizing the practice that bothers me more than piracy itself. Certainly, the temptation to acquire something easily and freely will be indulged from time to time, but I think it should be accompanied with something like a bit of shame or the thought of "I should buy this if I like it so much."

I do think that scanlations served and sometimes serve a valuable purpose in raising awareness and that sometimes the biggest pirates are also the biggest purchasers. Also, unlike with anime, there is no cheap, accessible way to view a large number of titles translated legally. That does not justify piracy ("Well, I HAD to have it"), but when there's no legal alternative to a system that people have grown used to, it certainly explains it.

Again, I don't think that any individual act of piracy is necessarily bad in the big picture...just the culture. People who don't know anything but "give me this now" and "why did you take this down?" Even scanlators who put out their favorite series out of love are victims of scanlation supersites that take their "work" without permission, post it in a way that it wasn't intended to be posted and keep it up after the original scanlator has intentionally taken it down.





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"Re(5):PhD on scanlation: final advice" , posted Mon 3 Feb 20:15post reply

quote:

Thanks for the link,
As i am new to the light novel scene can you tell me how you got into it and what is the Appel for you? Btw, I have on one of jojo light novels! The purple haze one, but it takes me forever to read it as I have to constantly check the dictionary.


When I knew nothing I used to "take lightly" light novels. Of course they are more "literature like" compared to manga, but most of the ones that I knew about were pretty shallow, they never kinda "went for thier own thing", so I was always fine with just getting into an adaptation or something. It was actually when I started paying attention to single volume stories.

In manga, when a new series by a new author doesn't hit it off, it has to deal with a very limited life span and amount of pages and stuff. In a light novel "even in the worst case scenario", the author has a whole book to go for the setting; furthermore due to the number of pages usually authors can go out of their way to better build the "free time" of their characters (hobbies or usage personal space and other stuff that aren't "directly related to the plot"; some authors do nice things with that extra space). Speaking of titles, the first one that caught my eye is Gekkou, it's pretty simple and amateurish, but that in itself adds an extra charm.

I'm not saying that light novels are like "superior" to manga (most of the stuff featured in the taisho awards is just excellent); but I have to say that that original purpose of light novels of "being harder to read than manga and easier to read than novels" has indeed helped me some with the language.

quote:
Again, I don't think that any individual act of piracy is necessarily bad in the big picture...just the culture.


Hmm, these points definitely took me through the memory lane. Depending on the media things are more terrible than others (like, I can't recall any of the folks that I know to actually having "bought" music in years). Fortunately gaming it's kinda more transparent now, but for anime / manga / light novels it's pretty much impossible to get the material in the stores (I don't have any "full series", always some thomes missing; since there is no official provider here the only thing that you can buy is actually second hand releases from other countries; ergo you can't even convince people that the stuff exists outside a free digital release).






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"Re(6):PhD on scanlation: final advice" , posted Mon 3 Feb 22:05post reply

Toxico made me realize that I should've had a disclaimer with my post. I am speaking from a strictly American perspective, because that's the industry I work with and the fans that I know. I have had some contact with international publishers, but the number of countries I'm even vaguely familiar with are only a fraction of what is represented here at the cafe.

That being said, both Amazon and Amazon Japan do ship to a huge number of countries, so things are much more accessible for purchase than they were in the past.





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"Re(7):PhD on scanlation: final advice" , posted Tue 4 Feb 01:02post reply

As Badoor and others implied with their statements, I also find it difficult to condemn piracy, for I see it as a "necessary evil" of sorts: There are a lot of obscure literary works (be it manga or light novels...) that would have never got the attention they deserved, were it not for devoted fans willing to spend their free time on making those works available to a wider audience.

I'm no advocate of the "free for all" culture many youngsters sport nowadays, either. Although I resort to dubious ways to acquire most of the entertainment media I consume, I also spend tons of money on articles and merchandise of those very same IPs I discovered via scanlations or DVD rips, if they ever become available to me by any legal means. In the end, I think scanlations act as a new channel for artists to see their work promoted and distributed that may yield great results, and help artists to get indirect revenues for their work.

Plus, there are tons of material that remain untranslated/ unreleased in English (not to mention other languages), for which fan translation is the only way to take a glimpse of what they really look like. Hong Kong manhua and Chinese classic wuxia novels are great examples of the latter.

In the end, it's just a matter of market regulation, pretty much what discographics had to undergo in recent years: once publishing companies stablish a decent and fair-priced digital market Š la iTunes, Google Play, Amazon et al. most of people will shift to them eventually. Right now, it's up to them to create the alternative and make it affordable for everyone, otherwise fans will get their fix by other means...





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"Re(3):PhD on scanlation: final advice" , posted Tue 4 Feb 01:04post reply

quote:
I'm interested in light novels but I have difficulties in understanding what makes a light novel different from a novel

Light novels was originally supposed to be a format with easier language use than traditional novels, but recently it has just become more of a novel format that doesn't follow traditions and is targeted more towards people aged 14~30 who are familiar with otaku culture.

For example, the books are more likely to make references to anime or manga tropes as opposed to having references to traditional literature. Or if they make references non-otaku culture they make a point to explain it properly instead of assuming it's common knowledge to the reader.

The original concept was to be easy to read and understand for high school students, but language usage nowadays can range from easy to artistic and difficult depending on the book you pick

They also tend to be more relaxed on what a "novel" is supposed to be like and they have weird stuff that goes against everything you'd expect from a novel

Also because of the target market (otaku culture, target age group), the covers almost always have a cute heroine, aspiring writers with stories that don't have a cute girl appearing in the first book are frequently asked to write one in so they can have a girl on the cover (true story)

Next lesson we'll talk about net novels and how they're overrunning the light novel market

(I think I've rambled enough)





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"Re(7):PhD on scanlation: final advice" , posted Tue 4 Feb 01:08post reply

I subscribe to everything Polly said and even more. And the French perspective is even worse, as we have many more things available in France than the US ever had because of our particular period in the 80s that keeps going strong today.

Only one little tiny egoistic detail:
Lack of easily available fansubs pushed a lot of people of my generation to start learning Japanese to have access to good stuff. Once we were there, we started fansubbing/scanlating for some, and/or becoming official translators and working within the industry. We are quite many.

The thing with the overwhelming accessibility of pirate translations is that nowadays there is little reason to learn Japanese "just to read my favourite author". So while young people of today think they are expanding their horizons by reading stuff they couldn't read if they didn't pirate, they are actually narrowing their horizon of possibilities by barring themselves from the Japanese language, actual japanese culture, and (real paid) work opportunities.
Moreover, by doing that, they assure that people from my generation will keep getting work for a long time before being replaced by pesky youngsters, so: their loss, the industry's loss, but professional translators' gain.





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"Re(8):PhD on scanlation: final advice" , posted Tue 4 Feb 01:41post reply

quote:
I subscribe to everything Polly said and even more. And the French perspective is even worse, as we have many more things available in France than the US ever had because of our particular period in the 80s that keeps going strong today.

Only one little tiny egoistic detail:
Lack of easily available fansubs pushed a lot of people of my generation to start learning Japanese to have access to good stuff. Once we were there, we started fansubbing/scanlating for some, and/or becoming official translators and working within the industry. We are quite many.

The thing with the overwhelming accessibility of pirate translations is that nowadays there is little reason to learn Japanese "just to read my favourite author". So while young people of today think they are expanding their horizons by reading stuff they couldn't read if they didn't pirate, they are actually narrowing their horizon of possibilities by barring themselves from the Japanese language, actual japanese culture, and (real paid) work opportunities.
Moreover, by doing that, they assure that people from my generation will keep getting work for a long time before being replaced by pesky youngsters, so: their loss, the industry's loss, but professional translators' gain.



What do you mean by actual Japanese culture? I though manga were full of Japanese culture...I mean, there is more to Japanese culture than tea ceremony and flower arrangement...





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"Re(9):PhD on scanlation: final advice" , posted Tue 4 Feb 02:57post reply

quote:
What do you mean by actual Japanese culture? I though manga were full of Japanese culture...I mean, there is more to Japanese culture than tea ceremony and flower arrangement...


Ah.
Eh...
What can I say....

Imagine someone who thinks he understands American culture even though the only thing he knows from the US are Beyonce and Jay-Z's music videos and Call of Duty, and nothing more.

That's more or less where most people who consume manga, anime and nothing else stand.

PS: This video is not funny because it is frightfully accurate.





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"Re(10):PhD on scanlation: final advice" , posted Tue 4 Feb 03:32:post reply

quote:
What do you mean by actual Japanese culture? I though manga were full of Japanese culture...I mean, there is more to Japanese culture than tea ceremony and flower arrangement...

Ah.
Eh...
What can I say....

Imagine someone who thinks he understands American culture even though the only thing he knows from the US are Beyonce and Jay-Z's music videos and Call of Duty, and nothing more.

That's more or less where most people who consume manga, anime and nothing else stand.

PS: This video is not funny because it is frightfully accurate.



Surely though there is a lot to be said about mainstream comic books and alternative comics in terms of how they relate to American life. They may represent reality through the filter of an author's pen/imagination, but they are not disconnected from it. Especially as fandom is a big part of people's lives, both in japan and US.





[this message was edited by mattfabb on Tue 4 Feb 03:34]

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"Re(10):PhD on scanlation: final advice" , posted Tue 4 Feb 06:55post reply

quote:


Ah.
Eh...
What can I say....




That was wonderfuru!! Domo arigato, Iggy-san!


I completely agree with you in that youngsters these days lack the drive to learn new languages. In fact, being able to play English-intensive Megadrive games was what kept me interested in my language studies and, as you said, this determination to gain access to a whole new ocean of knowledge by mastering a foreing language appears to be absent in newer generations. But for once, I'll play the optimistic chap and give them the benefit of the doubt: you know, there's always hope that, by barring themselves from learning Japanese they use their time and strenght to learn other prominent languages, such as Chinese, Arabic or, who knows, even almighty Spanish...





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"Re(2):Re(10):PhD on scanlation: final advice" , posted Tue 4 Feb 08:34post reply

quote:
So while young people of today think they are expanding their horizons by reading stuff they couldn't read if they didn't pirate, they are actually narrowing their horizon of possibilities by barring themselves from the Japanese language, actual japanese culture, and (real paid) work opportunities.

Although I'm far from fluent in Japanese, what I do know has helped me get a foot in the door with my work, so yes, I really relate to this. When people today say they "can't" in terms of importing and playing/reading in another language, it's upsetting to me, because I did when I was poor and young and I'm very glad I did. "Can't" just means "can't be bothered."

So that I'm not taking undue credit here, I'll say that it might be for the best that an unlimited amount of translated material was not made available to me at an early age, because who knows how things would've turned out. I do tend to try and push myself out of my language comfort zone and still import a lot of untranslated Japanese manga, but that may be the product of early habits as much as personal character.

Hayato:
Some of the things you're saying are very troubling to me.

This is particular:
quote:
if they ever become available to me by any legal means

implies that you cannot legally acquire a game that you pirate, for example.

And this:
quote:
Right now, it's up to them to create the alternative and make it affordable for everyone, otherwise fans will get their fix by other means...


Follows the line of thinking that, "If it's not cheap enough and it's not in my language, then it's free."

I absolutely agree with what you said about obscure works getting an audience through word of mouth, but that's apples and oranges to the rest of what you're saying. If you buy a localized version of a product that you pirated before, then good for you, but that doesn't justify the initial piracy. "I don't want to import it" isn't an excuse to not pay for it. I see "I'll buy the domestic version if it ever happens" a lot...and when it does, people are already sick of the game/manga/anime or forgot about it, or downplay how much they like it or nitpick some translation issue or say it didn't come out soon enough or whatever. It's "if it isn't absolutely perfect, I'm not going to buy it, and even then, just maybe."

The reason that I'm bothering to go on about this is because it looks bad (to me) saying things like this in same breath as praising scanlations. It makes it look like pirating things out of convenience or selfishness is justifiable.

I'll put it in personal terms, because I can't speak for other people, but it's like this:
I will sometimes pirate something because I can't be bothered to purchase it. Because it's accessible and I'm being selfish. Because the consequences are not easy to see. Because I can get it for free instead of paying for it.

These are reasons for pirating things, but none of them are justifiable. Keep in mind that I never pirate anything readily available in English and for years the games that I've spoken about here have all been legally purchased. So this isn't coming from someone who pirates most of the media they own, for what it's worth.

Let me apologize in advance if you were not trying to justify, merely explain. I'm picking at your words, but I don't know the intent behind them. There is no implied good or bad in "if it's not cheap and easily available, fans will get it by other means" after all. This is a reality. Piracy is so convenient that I can't blame people for taking advantage of it. Justifying it or encouraging it is different, though.





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"Re(2):Re(10):PhD on scanlation: final advice" , posted Tue 4 Feb 09:16post reply

quote:
Surely though there is a lot to be said about mainstream comic books and alternative comics in terms of how they relate to American life. They may represent reality through the filter of an author's pen/imagination, but they are not disconnected from it. Especially as fandom is a big part of people's lives, both in japan and US.


Allow me to be blunt.
People who think they have learnt some Japanese culture by playing Persona or reading Yotsubato are at the same level as someone thinking he learnt American culture because he saw women dressed as prostitutes thrusting themselves at a fat sports car in some hip-hop video, or barebones 'Murica patriotism, shameless xenophobia and fetishism for weaponry in CoD.

Which is not to say what either saw was wrong.
There is a lot to learn from how an entertainment industry chooses to represent its culture in products for the interior market.

But I think we are veering away from the initial topic.
What's the plan/analysis of the PhD? Where do you start from, where do you aim to end up to, what's the path to go from A to B? That could help us give more accurate or helpful answers.





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"Re(3):Re(10):PhD on scanlation: final advice" , posted Tue 4 Feb 15:16post reply

This is a touchy subject indeed... I think it was here on the Cafe where I once read that piracy was a lot like masturbation: pretty much everybody does it, but nobody likes to talk about it!

Now, no matter how you try to look at them, scanlations are a form of piracy. There's no other way around it. I would never try to justify it. That being said, sometimes fan translations are pretty much the only way certain people could enjoy certain works.

While it would be indeed plausible that I spend several years and a hefty part of my resources learning Cantonese on the sole purpose of being fluent enough to read the Condor Heroes trilogy on its original language, the other option would be to download a pdf version of its English fan translation, by the way the only English version available of these novels. I guess it's a no brainer. I can see some people thinking the same for whatever obscure Japanese manga or light novel with near to zero possibilities of seeing a Western release.





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"Re(4):Re(10):PhD on scanlation: final advice" , posted Tue 4 Feb 16:56post reply

quote:
This is a touchy subject indeed... I think it was here on the Cafe where I once read that piracy was a lot like masturbation: pretty much everybody does it, but nobody likes to talk about it!

Now, no matter how you try to look at them, scanlations are a form of piracy. There's no other way around it. I would never try to justify it. That being said, sometimes fan translations are pretty much the only way certain people could enjoy certain works.

While it would be indeed plausible that I spend several years and a hefty part of my resources learning Cantonese on the sole purpose of being fluent enough to read the Condor Heroes trilogy on its original language, the other option would be to download a pdf version of its English fan translation, by the way the only English version available of these novels. I guess it's a no brainer. I can see some people thinking the same for whatever obscure Japanese manga or light novel with near to zero possibilities of seeing a Western release.



Polly:

Maese's reply sums up pretty much what I was trying to express in my usual convoluted, train wreck of a writing style: it's not that I support or encourage piracy, but I think it may be the only viable option in some particular cases.

I won't condemn it either: given my particular record, it would be akin to Phillip Seymour Hoffman telling kids that "Winners don't use drugs", so I'll save you any hypocritical remark that may offend your intelligence. I know it's a practice much derided amongst certain circles, but I think my overall entertainment expenditure makes up more than enough for my piracy antics, so I don't feel like I should be ashamed of being a pirate, that's all.





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"Re(5):Re(10):PhD on scanlation: final advice" , posted Tue 4 Feb 17:44post reply

Hayato:

I really appreciate the level-headed response, despite me being so opinionated on the issue. I'm very happy to agree to disagree.

That being said, I can definitely relate to the idea of being "comfortable" (as in not feeling guilty) pirating certain things and understand that everyone has a different "comfort zone."





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"Re(3):Re(10):PhD on scanlation: final advice" , posted Tue 4 Feb 18:17:post reply

quote:
Surely though there is a lot to be said about mainstream comic books and alternative comics in terms of how they relate to American life. They may represent reality through the filter of an author's pen/imagination, but they are not disconnected from it. Especially as fandom is a big part of people's lives, both in japan and US.

Allow me to be blunt.
People who think they have learnt some Japanese culture by playing Persona or reading Yotsubato are at the same level as someone thinking he learnt American culture because he saw women dressed as prostitutes thrusting themselves at a fat sports car in some hip-hop video, or barebones 'Murica patriotism, shameless xenophobia and fetishism for weaponry in CoD.

Which is not to say what either saw was wrong.
There is a lot to learn from how an entertainment industry chooses to represent its culture in products for the interior market.

But I think we are veering away from the initial topic.
What's the plan/analysis of the PhD? Where do you start from, where do you aim to end up to, what's the path to go from A to B? That could help us give more accurate or helpful answers.



The PhD is about the evolution of the practice of translation, in light of non-professional translators carrying out a practice that traditionally has been the domain of institutions such as the church, publishers, the state, etc. which meant that what gets translated and how it gets translated is in large part determined by these institutions. Now, scanlation and other forms of un-authorised translation station form what is essentially an unregulated public sphere.

My research shows how scanlation functions as a system and puts forward some ideas about why it does what it does. Curiosity toward Japanese culture is part of it.

In fact, I object to your metaphors, as you compare manga to video games or music videos, which are not the same thing. Manga are a more basic form of expression, cheaper and faster, so they are more attuned to trends and events in Japanese society. Videogames on the other hand are created by huge teams over a period of years, and they are financially risky unlike manga, so they may fall back on familiar conventions to manage that risk. Manga tend to be less constrained by economic consideration, as the cost of producing manga are always the same, while video games are determined by evolving technology in large part.





[this message was edited by mattfabb on Tue 4 Feb 18:40]

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"Re(4):Re(10):PhD on scanlation: final advice" , posted Wed 5 Feb 01:38post reply

quote:
The PhD is about the evolution of the practice of translation, in light of non-professional translators carrying out a practice that traditionally has been the domain of institutions such as the church, publishers, the state, etc. which meant that what gets translated and how it gets translated is in large part determined by these institutions. Now, scanlation and other forms of un-authorised translation station form what is essentially an unregulated public sphere.

That's a very interesting angle! I have never thought of that that way. So it's not at all about the actual act of translation, but the institutions, the ideological then economic logic behind it? And scanlation allowing to go out of the system, not as a mere form of piracy like copied VCR, but with a sort of added effort, a new accessibility, in line with the "everything is free, everything is available" from the early Internet days...
I like it! Wish you all the best for the diploma!
And yes, now I understand much more where you are going with it.

quote:
My research shows how scanlation functions as a system and puts forward some ideas about why it does what it does. Curiosity toward Japanese culture is part of it.

In fact, I object to your metaphors, as you compare manga to video games or music videos, which are not the same thing. Manga are a more basic form of expression, cheaper and faster, so they are more attuned to trends and events in Japanese society. Videogames on the other hand are created by huge teams over a period of years, and they are financially risky unlike manga, so they may fall back on familiar conventions to manage that risk. Manga tend to be less constrained by economic consideration, as the cost of producing manga are always the same, while video games are determined by evolving technology in large part.

OK, I see. But I still stand by my point, albeit by changing the terms of it.
Manga is a huge industry, driven by massive economic forces, which have repercussions on other medias when the title is thought from the get-go as mediamix (every title in Jump, and almost every title in other major magazines is also envisioned that way at some point). If it's not, the publisher can and will often try to format the series to become popular enough to get adapted in anime (which leads to the trope "any regular shonen can become a martial arts tournament at any moment").
Indeed, it's faster than other media, but because of that, the pressure on the workforce is massive (producing 20 pages of clean material every week is a huge work for several people working permanent extra-hours being paid almost nothing). The economic pressure makes these kind of manga not extremely prone to personal experimentation.

But indeed, such personal manga exist. The question would be "are they the one being scanlated"? And "what do they convey on Japanese culture"?
Even a manga dealing with a very personal experience such as Shingeki no Kyojin/Attack on Titan has the japanese setting entirely removed in favour of a fantasy setting. Stuff like NichijŰ or Sayonara ZetsubŰ Sensei indeed happen in a "regular" contemporary setting, but with highly irregular characters and events... I'd say they are more or less an equivalent of South Park (and again, let's imagine someone who would think he understands American culture via South Park... In that case, if he researches all the references, he would understand the pop culture, but massive elements of general culture and American's everyday life would be lost).
Moreover, these manga (NichijŰ, ZetsubŰ, a lot of manga happening in regular high school settings) often entirely evacuate some elements such as the very problematic way men and women interact (or rather, fail to).
And I don't think many mangas happening in a regular contemporary Japan that don't involve teenagers are regularly translated... I'd wager even if they are, they serve for most people as a sort of alibi for reading more Naruto.
But then, I'm not sure if your angle is "what is offered by scanlation" (in which case there are two issues, lack of Japanese material that do not deal with teenagers, and lack of awareness for these even when they exist) or "how the scanlations are consumed by readers" (in which case, the issue would be about how many scanlations of One Piece are created and read vs how many scanlations of Itsudemo Yumewo are created and read).





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"Re(4):Re(10):PhD on scanlation: final advice" , posted Wed 5 Feb 02:06post reply

quote:
This is a touchy subject indeed... I think it was here on the Cafe where I once read that piracy was a lot like masturbation: pretty much everybody does it, but nobody likes to talk about it!

Now, no matter how you try to look at them, scanlations are a form of piracy. There's no other way around it. I would never try to justify it. That being said, sometimes fan translations are pretty much the only way certain people could enjoy certain works.

While it would be indeed plausible that I spend several years and a hefty part of my resources learning Cantonese on the sole purpose of being fluent enough to read the Condor Heroes trilogy on its original language, the other option would be to download a pdf version of its English fan translation, by the way the only English version available of these novels. I guess it's a no brainer. I can see some people thinking the same for whatever obscure Japanese manga or light novel with near to zero possibilities of seeing a Western release.


I've had a few friendships get severely strained over this issue in the past few years, so yes, 'touchy subject' is totally correct! The two friends in question are both intractable pirates of all kinds of media, and both have bottomless excuses to explain it away (the old favorites "the artists themselves don't make any money off of this stuff anyway because of how bad the music/game/manga industries are, so pirating the works is actually a political statement" and "I wouldn't buy any of this stuff anyway if I couldn't get it for free, so it doesn't impact the artists at all"), and my stance is basically that everyone pirates at least sometimes, but let's not try and assign some moral high ground to it or make it sound somehow okay. Even my biggest reason for reading scanlations, that I don't want paper copies of all that manga lying around, is just that: an excuse, since I could easily buy them and sell them second-hand online. The Japanese originals are hardly expensive in most cases-- even through online import shops I think most One Piece tankobon are something like $4 US, much cheaper that the US translated ones.

As far as scanlations themselves go, it was easier to feel they were justified when they were tiny, grainy, poorly lit images of a decade ago, not the meticulously lettered, high-res beauties that are out there today. I'd like to hope that their quality might pressure legitimately licensed translators to step up their game, get things made available more quickly, and make obscure, older, or out of print titles available, but like the music industry's response to piracy, I think it's much more likely to encourage them to clamp down.






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"Re(1):PhD on scanlation: final advice" , posted Wed 5 Feb 08:13:post reply

quote:
dear all,
I'm on my final year of a phd in translation and about to finish my last paper on the topic of amateur translation. so, I'm here asking for opinions. What do you think about manga scanlation? Good, bad, don't care?



Lots of interesting points brought up. I hope you will make your final paper available for us to read.

Here's my two cents on the issue of scanlation, which in my case starts long before the advent of the internet (i hope this helps)

I spent the earliest years of my life in Thailand where Manga was incredibly popular (and continues to be) and almost everything available was bootlegged. You could get 300+ page tomes of all kinds of manga for a less than a buck. These comics were in every news stand right next to all the legit magazines and newspapers.

Those are some of my happiest childhood memories. Every week my dad would take us to the book store and we'd each pick out a couple volumes of comics. And man, they had everything, shonen, seinen, shoujo and even historic greats like stuff from Tezuka and Ishinomori. I read all the Shonen Jump greats of the time (goddamn, Dragonball, Slam Dunk, Hokuto no Ken, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, Blues, Dragon Quest--so much good manga at one time!). I also read a lot of random Otomo stuff and I remember falling in love with GUNM and finding it years later in the US as Battle Angel Alita. I also read A TON of stuff that maybe a little kid shouldn't read (Crying Freeman, Mad Bull, Riki Oh etc).

Interesting side note: most bootleggers would actually censor the nudity in manga even more than the original in order to make them comply with Thai anti pornography laws since they were still being distributed like mainstream books. I'm sure people were printing hentai somewhere, but I never saw it

Anyway, even as a kid, I somehow understood that these were unofficial fan translations. It was obvious from the poor print quality and sometimes arbitrary combinations of comics you might find in each tome (for instance, some asshole once stuck an ABSOLUTELY TERRIFYING horror manga in the back of YuYu Hakusho that scared me so much as a kid that I ripped the pages out, shredded them up and threw them away--god i wish i could find that comic again as an adult).

There were also Japanese bookstores around at that time with the real versions of the comics which looked so beautiful and pristine and unattainable. For the cost of 1 official volume of manga, i could literally buy 10 bootlegs. Once in a while i would actually try to save up and buy the "real thing" though. They were like an aspirational product, the equivalent of Louis Vuitton bags for kids.

I never felt guilty for buying bootlegs. That's all that was available (save for trips to specialty Japanese shops) and in fact, knowing how much money I was saving made my childish brain feel like I was making shrewd business decisions.

As an adult, I continue to read scanlations, but I also actually buy the print editions of the comics I like. There are lots of series where I just wait for the US edition to come out instead of reading scanlations. I'm also addicted to merchandise, especially toys. I absolutely cannot resist buying a great action figure from a series I love (I have so many Revoltechs now). So eventually, once I got some spending power, I become a good little spender bee. Of course there were countless comics I read as a kid that I'll never really get to support directly because their time is long gone.

I think I'm in the minority with my spending habits though. Most of the people I know who read scanlations hardly ever buy the real thing.

As for all that bootlegging in Thailand, there's a happy ending. At some point in the mid 90s the government started to crack down on the bootleggers and the Japanese publishers must have gotten wind of how crazy Thai people were for manga so nowadays most of what you find in Thailand is legally translated (with much better translations and print quality) and people still gobble it up just the same.

Now, this is purely anecdotal on my part, but if I recall correctly a lot of the big manga publishers in Thailand today started off as bootleggers.

The biggest one is Vibulkij and I'm 80% certain that they bootlegged all the shonen jump stuff I read in my childhood.

Here's their facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/vibulkij.fanclub


This is my personal experience. But maybe you could talk to more people throughout mainland Asia, because that's a very mature market for manga that grew up primarily with bootlegs. I guess it's not exactly the same thing as scanlations since they were still physical goods that were purchased with money, as opposed to scanlations being free and immaterial.

But anyway, I hope this helps!






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[this message was edited by nobinobita on Wed 5 Feb 08:24]

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"Rumbling with scan translations" , posted Wed 5 Feb 10:17:post reply

quote:
dear all,
I'm on my final year of a phd in translation and about to finish my last paper on the topic of amateur translation. so, I'm here asking for opinions. What do you think about manga scanlation? Good, bad, don't care?


I have not read a scan translation since what? I was still in college? My, it has been too long.

Oh, the question. I get that I obtain the source early and I become a fan quickly. I also get that in a good amount of cases, fan translations are way better than official ones. I get that certain manga and anime series will not get a translation as well.

With that being typed, scan translations are obviously a form of piracy. I have read a good amount of series from scans, but I have bought the entire tankoubon set of a good amount of them also. Now that I think about it, "Love Hina" is the only series in which I bought the entire set & 1 or 2 volumes of the bilingual set. Koudansha stopped at 7 if I recall, though I forget why. (I know it's not because that wasn't selling.) Not everyone is like that.

Oh yeah. I don't know why people just stop at scans. Learning Japanese or any other language for that matter is fun. My Japanese isn't the best in the world, but I try to get by.

Why have I stopped reading scans and stopped watching fan subs? I guess that's what age does for you. The last series I watched a fan sub of, I watched it just to know who Inoue Marina-san is and how she sounds like. (She does a good amount of angry roles more or less like Hidaka Noriko-san from what I'm told.) That was only for a short burst. Nothing more.





[this message was edited by Seizya on Wed 5 Feb 10:39]

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"Re(5):Re(10):PhD on scanlation: final advice" , posted Wed 5 Feb 11:36post reply

quote:
As far as scanlations themselves go, it was easier to feel they were justified when they were tiny, grainy, poorly lit images of a decade ago, not the meticulously lettered, high-res beauties that are out there today. I'd like to hope that their quality might pressure legitimately licensed translators to step up their game, get things made available more quickly, and make obscure, older, or out of print titles available, but like the music industry's response to piracy, I think it's much more likely to encourage them to clamp down.

Although I don't have anything to say in response, your manga life story was a fantastic read.

Anyway, I do very much think that licensed translators have stepped up their game considerably. There are tons of offbeat titles released these days that I never expected to see in English. Also, for popular series, companies will expedite release schedules to catch up with Japan ASAP. We'll probably never be in the realm of simultaneous release, but compared to the old way, they've really improved and really embraced the idea that people want it fast and people who read online can be consumers as well.

I buy a lot of Japanese manga...a whole lot, but I'm finding myself picking up a much larger handful of English titles than I used to, partially thanks to the release of more classics (there are a lot of Tezuka books available now) and nice hardcover editions (Sunny, Gundam). Take a look and you might be surprised at what's coming out.

On a side note...

I don't want to harp on the morality of piracy anymore, but mentioning "quality" does bring up an interesting point, especially with anime. In the past, I would watch VHS fansubs or (more often) raws recorded straight off of TV, commercials intact. If a show got licensed and released, the product would be of a completely different quality than the fansub. Today, there's certainly a sense of "I already have it in 1080p, why would I buy it?"

So even though it has its problems, I'm glad that there are sites like Crunchyroll that (essentially) simulcast most shows in HD for a reasonable price. I mentioned before, if you somehow "had" to watch every show, every season, you could watch most of them online, many in HD, LEGALLY for either free or cheap. What you pirate after that in my opinion, would be fairly negligible. No such thing exists for manga, though I want to believe that things will improve in the future, as what we're seeing in terms of streaming anime would've been inconceivable only a few years ago.

Seizya:
quote:
I also get that in a good amount of cases, fan translations are way better than official ones.

I think this is a gross misconception, depending on how you would define a "good" amount of cases. This is coming from someone who works with English translations side-by-side with fan translations. In most cases where fans complain about official translations, they are either used to the unofficial ones and don't like change or don't care for how one particular thing was translated. Since you don't indulge in fan translations yourself, I can only assume that you've inherited this belief from people with a biased viewpoint.

I like to think that I'm fairly neutral because I work with official translations, but when they aren't good it makes my life genuinely awful. I have indeed worked with "professional" translations that are worse than fan ones, but that's not the norm by any means. Fan translations so often just "give up" on lines and make something up. The errors that I see in professional translations are usually of the contextual nature. For example, a line will be technically accurate, but grossly inaccurate based on the situation. These sorts of problems almost always come up among translators that are native Japanese speakers, probably because they aren't interested in the material. In other words, they're simply translating the words, because that is their job, instead of actually taking interest in the story itself. Although this does come up depressingly frequently, it's not the norm and is usually ironed out by an editor.

However, I can see where fans might prefer fan translations in some cases, because they're coming from the same place as the readers. Meaning that their choices on adaptation are going to naturally be more in line with what the fans would enjoy. There certainly are plenty of very skilled fan translators out there that put out high-quality work, but in terms of overall accuracy, the fan community loses out to professionals by a significant margin.





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"Re(2):PhD on scanlation: final advice" , posted Wed 5 Feb 11:56:post reply

quote:
dear all,
I'm on my final year of a phd in translation and about to finish my last paper on the topic of amateur translation. so, I'm here asking for opinions. What do you think about manga scanlation? Good, bad, don't care?


Lots of interesting points brought up. I hope you will make your final paper available for us to read.

Here's my two cents on the issue of scanlation, which in my case starts long before the advent of the internet (i hope this helps)

I spent the earliest years of my life in Thailand where Manga was incredibly popular (and continues to be) and almost everything available was bootlegged. You could get 300+ page tomes of all kinds of manga for a less than a buck. These comics were in every news stand right next to all the legit magazines and newspapers.

Those are some of my happiest childhood memories. Every week my dad would take us to the book store and we'd each pick out a couple volumes of comics. And man, they had everything, shonen, seinen, shoujo and even historic greats like stuff from Tezuka and Ishinomori. I read all the Shonen Jump greats of the time (goddamn, Dragonball, Slam Dunk, Hokuto no Ken, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, Blues, Dragon Quest--so much good manga at one time!). I also read a lot of random Otomo stuff and I remember falling in love with GUNM and finding it years later in the US as Battle Angel Alita. I also read A TON of stuff that maybe a little kid shouldn't read (Crying Freeman, Mad Bull, Riki Oh etc).

-- Message too long, Autoquote has been Snipped --



Thanks for this interesting post!

Was the scary manga gegege no kitaro, or perhaps yokai ningen bem?

PS: I am interested in the issue of quality of translation, and about cultural footnotes. On the issue of piracy there is one amazing piece of research out there:


http://piracy.americanassembly.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/MPEE-PDF-1.0.4.pdf





[this message was edited by mattfabb on Wed 5 Feb 11:57]

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"Re(6):Re(10):PhD on scanlation: final advice" , posted Wed 5 Feb 15:11:post reply

quote:
I think this is a gross misconception, depending on how you would define a "good" amount of cases. This is coming from someone who works with English translations side-by-side with fan translations. In most cases where fans complain about official translations, they are either used to the unofficial ones and don't like change or don't care for how one particular thing was translated. Since you don't indulge in fan translations yourself, I can only assume that you've inherited this belief from people with a biased viewpoint.


Generally, I want my translations to be as accurate as possible. There will be times a dead on accurate translation will not work in regards of being sensible to say. In that case, putting a tiny spin to it will be needed.

To respond to your moment of wondering, I'll give an example. I hate the dropping of suffixes in translations. Some people don't care. I do because how can I type this? Dropping the suffixes no longer will give you the initial feeling of the dialogue. English doesn't have the suffixes equivalent batch Japanese does. (I hope that the last sentence there made sense.)

On a side note, I hate the southern route or any other route regarding the Kansai accent. Just keep it normal. There's no foreign equivalent in my opinion.

The former scenario is shown in early official translations of manga. However, companies now get the point. What time can do.

quote:
I like to think that I'm fairly neutral because I work with official translations, but when they aren't good it makes my life genuinely awful. I have indeed worked with "professional" translations that are worse than fan ones, but that's not the norm by any means. Fan translations so often just "give up" on lines and make something up. The errors that I see in professional translations are usually of the contextual nature. For example, a line will be technically accurate, but grossly inaccurate based on the situation. These sorts of problems almost always come up among translators that are native Japanese speakers, probably because they aren't interested in the material. In other words, they're simply translating the words, because that is their job, instead of actually taking interest in the story itself. Although this does come up depressingly frequently, it's not the norm and is usually ironed out by an editor.


Yeah, you brought up another concern. Professional translators need advisers regarding certain series. Translating a game based manga without playing it prior is not a good idea.

quote:
However, I can see where fans might prefer fan translations in some cases, because they're coming from the same place as the readers. Meaning that their choices on adaptation are going to naturally be more in line with what the fans would enjoy. There certainly are plenty of very skilled fan translators out there that put out high-quality work, but in terms of overall accuracy, the fan community loses out to professionals by a significant margin.


If only all translations carry the accuracy of a professional translator and the side details of a fan one. Having worked briefly with fan subs and having an opportunity to get to know the industry (Crunchyroll staff members really are good people), having this mix would be grand. Oh well.





[this message was edited by Seizya on Wed 5 Feb 15:20]

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"Re(3):PhD on scanlation: final advice" , posted Wed 5 Feb 16:34:post reply

quote:
Although I don't have anything to say in response, your manga life story was a fantastic read.


quote:
Thanks for this interesting post!


Aw thanks! It was my pleasure! Thanks for allowing me this pleasant trip down memory lane.

quote:
Was the scary manga gegege no kitaro, or perhaps yokai ningen bem?



BEM! Oh man Bem! I wish it was BEM or Gegege no Kitaro. Freaky as they are, they're still stories with a shonen heart about monsters who wish to be recognized for their humanity. The comic I read was made expressly for the purpose of giving children nightmares, more along the lines of something from Hideshi Hino or Junji Ito, but drawn much much more realistically. It's burnt into my memory. It's about a little kid (Oh hey! He's my age!) who has an imaginary friend that of course, no one else can see. The odd thing is that his imaginary friend is a very mundane looking old man. He seems friendly enough at first, like an affable grandpa, but as the story progresses he starts asking the kind to do stuff that makes him uncomfortable and as the kid resists his appearance slowly changes, his expressions become more perverse, his mood grows darker and then it culminates in a scene where his neck starts distending and spiraling around the room (while his body compresses and contorts grotesquely) and that's where I stopped reading and literally tore the pages out of the book in fear lol. Man if anyone can help me track down that comic I'd be eternally grateful!

On the topic of cultural footnotes ...
I think Manga (along with anime and videogames and Sentai shows) really helped promote a positive view of Japan in Thailand. I'm always really surprised when I talk to people from Japan and they don't realize this, but Japanese pop culture wields at least as much influence throughout Asia as American pop culture. For instance, I seriously don't think it's an understatement to say that Slam Dunk actually made basketball more popular throughout Asia.

The interesting thing is that when you contrast Japanese pop culture (anime, manga, games etc) with American pop culture (Hollywood), they spread very differently. Hollywood spreads through marketing and very official means while Manga/Anime/Games, at least in the cultures I'm familiar with (Chinese/Taiwanese, American, Thai) initially spread through more grass roots means (including piracy).

I'm not excusing piracy in any way. It's just something I've noted over the years. I remember years ago, back when people were still using Yahoo, Dragon Ball Z was one of the most popular search terms of the year beating out Brittany Spears. Brittany probably had millions of dollars pumped into growing her brand while Dragon Ball spread mostly through word of mouth.

I think Japanese publishers and content creators have gotten a lot better at figuring out how to make money in Asia in the last decade, but that's because they're incredibly mainstream there. It's a different story in America where manga and anime (and shoot, comics in general) are still super niche.

TLDR
Japanese publishers and content creators were able to cash in on their properties in Thailand because they reached critical mass there. It is harder to direct people to an official product over a pirated edition in places where that product is not mainstream (like in the US). Unfortunately, as far as I can tell, it's the little guys that suffer the most from scanlations and piracy.






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[this message was edited by nobinobita on Wed 5 Feb 17:18]

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"Re(4):PhD on scanlation: final advice" , posted Thu 6 Feb 02:58:post reply

quote:
The comic I read was made expressly for the purpose of giving children nightmares, more along the lines of something from Hideshi Hino or Junji Ito, but drawn much much more realistically. It's burnt into my memory. It's about a little kid (Oh hey! He's my age!) who has an imaginary friend that of course, no one else can see. The odd thing is that his imaginary friend is a very mundane looking old man. He seems friendly enough at first, like an affable grandpa, but as the story progresses he starts asking the kind to do stuff that makes him uncomfortable and as the kid resists his appearance slowly changes, his expressions become more perverse, his mood grows darker and then it culminates in a scene where his neck starts distending and spiraling around the room

Hey Nobi, I'm hardly an expert regarding horror manga, but I have some weird suspicion that it may have been something by Junji Ito, who's I think most famous for Uzumaki and Gyo. His Tomie has the distinction of creeping the shit out of me about a decade ago when I first came across it. I'm slightly embarrassed to admit that I was almost unable to finish reading Gyo, as I was alone at my work during a thunderstorm while I read it.

I kinda hope he made the story you're talking about since his work is pretty easily available-- and by that I mean legitimately, in English translation. His work has a certain odd realism to it even as he's drawing disgusting and disturbing stuff. Even if the manga you mentioned isn't by him I hope you'll consider reading some of his stuff. It's truly exquisite horror!






www.secret-arts.com

[this message was edited by karasu on Thu 6 Feb 03:00]