Scanlations

Yeah, they kinda do suck when you think about it.

When people upload and read the online scans of a manga instead of buying it, it takes away from the artists, in the profits they would be making. Not only that, the scanned stuff often is either an amateur translation and poorly scanned.

HOWEVER.

I read scanlations. They aren’t that hard to find. I used to use onemanga until they shut down, but a bunch of sites are up and running which are the same thing. But here’s the thing: I’ll buy the volumes of manga if I liked it. I have a bunch of volumes of Naruto, which I stopped buying once it started getting kind of stupid. At the moment, I’m buying the volumes of Vampire Knight as they come out in English because, well, I love that series. However, I’m also reading the new chapters once they come out on the internet because I am incredibly impatient. Sometimes I buy particular volumes of manga because the action scenes are really hard to read (D.Gray-Man, I’m looking at you). But there are also a bunch of manga I read on the internet without paying money for because I am a bad person.

But scanlation can be seen as a good thing, if you really think about it. I mean, really, really think about it. For people living in an area that isn’t Japan, online scanlations open them up to new manga which they would ordinarily not have access to. I was introduced to many manga through the internet which I would probably not have noticed (or even found) in book stores. Scanlations introduced me to Vampire Knight, and I decided to support the manga-ka because I really enjoy the series. This leads me to a point I made in an earlier blog (for our media living class): if the work is good, the artist will reach fans through this free medium who will support them simply because the manga is good enough. Examples of this are webcomics, which are available for free, but people will often buy the actual, paperback volume when it is made available, to support the artist. It is true that not everyone thinks like that–and some people are just cheap freeloaders who don’t feel like buying the manga (myself included in some cases), but it is not necessarily the evil thing that is going to kill the manga industry (at least, I hope not). I do my best to support the manga that I like, but really, it can be hard; if I want the latest volume of Vampire Knight when it comes out, I’m probably going to have to buy it off of the internet. Luckily, Chapters’s website is amazing for buying books and, surprisingly, manga.

Lastly, people often turn to scanlations because the manga they want to read has not been translated to their language, and it probably never will be. An example of this is the manga based off the Persona series, which was seralized in a Japanese magazine which eventually got cancelled (do magazines get cancelled?). I’m not even sure if it ever even got made into volumes, so that’s something I’ll never get to see on my shelf (to my infinite sadness). Another example is the manga based off of the Kingdom Hearts video games, which have been translated up to volume 2, but that’s it. I was lucky enough to get a copy of that one in Halifax a few years ago, but I haven’t seen them anywhere else since then. It’s quite depressing, since the drawing style is rather nice. The next bunch of volumes have apparently been released in Japanese, which is great, unless you don’t read Japanese. So that sucks.

A random picture of the Persona 3 manga.

The cover of the second volume for the Kingdom Hearts 2 manga

So basically, we should support the artist if we get the chance.

It’s rather odd when you think about how easy it is to find manga on the internet, but it’s more difficult to find scanned comics. I remember when I started reading The Walking Dead and I went on the internet to look for scans of it or something, and I had a really hard time. So I just bought a bunch of them. They’re expensive though 😦 Turns out you can torrent the first like, 100 volumes, but I kind of like having a hard copy of it on my shelf. Also my computer doesn’t have that much room anymore.

Maybe it’s more difficult to find comics on the internet because Western society is pretty freakin’ paranoid and crazy when it comes to copyright and stuff like that. We learend that Japanese artists are less crazy than ours, so maybe that’s why we can find manga more easily. Though in all honestly, I’ve never really looked very hard for comics on the internet; maybe they’re easier to find than I think. But really, I think Western society’s extreme intolerance of “pirated” content makes it harder to find for free.

At the end of the day, it’s a good idea to support the artist/writer/manga-ka if you can (and most scanlation sites do encourage readers to go buy it, and that having it on the internet is just for the impatient folk) but having it online is nice so you don’t have to wait 6 months between volumes (damn you, Vampire Knight, and your addicting storyline and longgggg wait times).

A Manga About Manga

A friend of mine introduced me to a manga a while back called Bakuman.

It is a manga about manga (genuis, I know).

Basically, it’s about these two kids who meet in middle school and decide to become manga artists (or “mangaka). The story follows them as they write and draw various manga, some which are successful, some which are not. Their dream is to have a manga get turned into an anime.

It’s a pretty cool story, and it really outlines the manga creating process. It shows how the characters go to a big company (basically Shonen Jump) and have to meet with an editor, who assesses their work. If it’s good enough, they get to publish a one-shot (that is, a story with only one chapter) into a contest, and if it wins, the company hires them. Well, that’s the way it went in the manga, if I remember correctly.

It’s a really interesting process, where the editor is the center of it all: everything has to go through them. It’s kind of the same way for Western editors too, I suppose, but there is a much bigger emphasis on the editor in manga production. In weekly magazines, the editors decide which stories get cut, and which gets to continue. They generally make this decision based on votes from the audience, where those stories below a certain amount of votes usually get cut. So very tragic.

Also mentioned are the assistants which manga artists hire. They usually do things like shading, background, some colouring and other little things so that the artist has more time to draw the important stuff. This is simply a time saving process, since artists often must meet weekly deadlines for a 15 page chapter. Generally the need for assistants means that your manga is worthwhile; at least enough to have to hire extra help to meet grueling deadlines.

One of the other characters wants to be a voice actor, so there are some things mentioned about that, too: the need for an agent to get you auditions, making a demo reel type thing, auditioning in general…it’s pretty neat.

Overall, I don’t know if the process outlined in the manga is exactly the process in the real world, but I thought of this manga when we talked about production in class. It’s a cool manga with a good story, and I would recommend because it was awesome. It was a unique concept about manga within manga (manga-ception) and even if it isn’t completely accurate with the real world process, it’s still worth looking at.