Over on MangaBlog Brigid posted of an interview where scanlations are once again held up as the great evil destroying the world. What followed was discussion between me and Simon Jones of Icarus Publishing. Quick confession, I only just now realised he was from Icarus Publishing when I was looking for the link to his site hehe. Then JohnT added his comment which really threw me for six.

The sad thing is, I agree in essence with a lot of what Simon saying, and on paper he’s perfectly right. However paper and real life rarely go well together.

The problem with scanlations is that they’re always going to be around. Sure, you may be able to take down places like Lurk, but that won’t last for very long, it’ll be a matter of weeks if not days before another rises to take it’s place.

The question of how publishers can rival scanlations is simple to answer. Make their releases better than the scanlations.

Sadly for a lot the releases we see these days this isn’t the case. Especially for releases by the Likes of Viz and Tokyopop. Both of who are guilty of the most horrendous rewrites I’ve ever seen in a series.

A lot of fans have lost respect for Viz and TP, including myself. Tokyopop lost my respect with their release of Psychic Academy. It was like buying a copy of say Robin Hood, his merry men and Maid Marion, getting home and finding inside it’s really Robin Hood, the doped out hippies and the hooker Marion.

Now, while it’s true that Psychic Academy is one of the more extreme re-writes, it does however show what I’m trying to say perfectly. A lot of the other recent releases have had subtler re-writes, usually in the form of removing the more violent wording. Though I have to wonder at the reasoning behind the times they do it in the titles they rate as Mature 18+. There’s no reason for re-writes at all, they only do it so as to make a square peg round. The end result though is something that’s neither round nor square.

JohnT’s comments had me staring wide mouthed at the screen for a good five minutes. I was shocked anyone could believe what he wrote.

I think two misconceptions here are that 1) the manga industry is crashing, and 2) there is something wrong with professional manga translations.

No one said the manga market was crashing, it’s slowing down, just as all markets are at the moment. Yes some publishers have seen an increase in sales, but most have seen a slow down over the past six months and are expecting it to continue. As for the translations, you’re kidding me right. Sheesh. Both Viz and TP have freely admitted to doing rewrites on their releases, and will continue to do so. So I wonder how he can say there’s nothing wrong, when the publishers themselves are admitting it hehe

There are examples of both, but in my experience I’ll take the pro over the amateur. Publishers have heard loud and clear from fans they want no alterations, and by and large that is what publishers are doing. 10 years ago, sure, but for modern titles I think this part of the argument is almost if not completely outdated.

Yes they have heard us, only took them what? Fifteen years to stop flipping their releases. And Viz still has several titles it flips, though they do plan to re-release them un-flipped eventually. Translations wise, as I said, since they admit to the rewrites and will carry on doing them, that argument is still solid and applicable.

I think this “I don’t want to wait” argument also falls a little flat. I don’t want to wait to see The Dark Knight on DVD, so I that’s an excuse to buy a pirated copy? Listen, if you really can’t wait, learn Japanese and go buy the manga and read it in Japanese.

Sorry but that just doesn’t fly. Dark Knight was released to the movies, so you can go see it. It usually then gets released to DVD within a few months. The difference here is that you’ve already had the chance to view it at the cinema. There’s no option for that for sort of thing with manga.

Also, when it is released on DVD, usually that’s it. It’s rare to get a trilogy of movies such as Lord of the Rings, or the Matrix. So after you own it there’s no real waiting for the next one. However even if there is another in the series, it’s the same format again, cinema to DVD.

Manga is completely different. Lets use Glass Mask as an example. Currently it’s up to volume twenty-six in scanlations. Lets say a licensor picks it up, we’re talking 5-7 years to get the series released just up to the current volume of twenty six. Does John seriously expect people to wait that long just to catch up to the scans? Let alone closer to fifteen years for it to catch up to the volumes available in Japan. It’s just not going to happen. I don’t mind a bit of a wait, but there’s no way in hell I’m waiting fifteen years. I’ll get the scans and the releases.

As for learning Japanese, I love it when people throw that crap out. Sure, lets all learn Japanese, and we’ll all send John the £6000 bill that accompanies learning. Lets be realistic here. In the UK wanting to learn anything but a few European languages are next to impossible. No college in the UK offers Japanese as a language course, and so far as I’ve found only three universities offer it as an option module.

To really learn it you have to go to the specialist schools, who charge astronomical fees. I worked it out a few months ago, to go through all the grades on offer would end up costing close to £20k, and that’s not including accommodation costs, or trips to japan. Factor those in and you’re looking at closer to £30k.

Good for John if he has that amount of free cash lying around, I don’t know anyone who does. Self study is an option, but even there you’re looking at close to £2k in costs, and working on your own has a lot of downsides involved.

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