Response to… a Response?

marzgurl | Jul 31 2010 | more 

I had basically been asked to respond to a blog post (located here) regarding my last Anime News Editorial. If you are at all interested, certainly go ahead and take a look at the well-formed blog post first. Following that, check out my response (located below):

I’d like to agree that most Japanese probably don’t consider a world market when it comes to their comics. So much manga is produced by mangaka who are just trying to get off the ground and are not yet ready to start thinking grand scale International release. I mean, think about it. Even American comic artists or web comic artists aren’t REALLY thinking about world domination with each one of their works, right? Usually, I mean, of course who doesn’t want to take over the world? But usually, you find a lot of web comic artists groping for success at their local anime convention, begging people to read their work, or stop and buy a comic sketch or what have you. Japanese artists are no different. It’s just that someone managed to get ahold of the comic or the scans and decided to translate it. Then, it gets put up on a manga aggregator site, and everyone thinks it’s huge and that they HAVE to read it. There’s so much manga that gets produced, it’s astounding. Sure, you get names like Tite Kubo or Akira Toriyama, whose names will surely sell a comic with very little work. But for anybody else? Well, they’re scraping and working long hours with a crew of a very small amount of people trying to make deadlines and ear whatever dough they can. And at that level of their career, I can almost 100% guarantee that they aren’t thinking about a world market yet.

I personally would far prefer to read a manga in paperback rather than on a monitor. Look at most manga aggregators, such as this week’s situation with One Manga. I’ve never read manga from that particular web site, but if it’s anything like others I’ve seen in the past, the entire page doesn’t fit on one screen, and you have to scroll down to read the whole thing, and SOMEtimes, the “Next Page” button is at the top of the page. So not only do you have to scroll down to read, but then you have to scroll back up in order to continue. I realize this really isn’t that much work, but I can control my eyes and my brain much faster than I can control my hands or how quickly a page full of images and advertisements and pop-ups load (who wants ads all over their manga, anyway?).

And I guess I want to make it clear (because it seems that it wasn’t from the video) that I had no intention of villainizing scanlation readers. I wish it hadn’t come off that way, but I suppose it did. Sure, if you read them then you probably are less likely to make a purchase (not in every situation, mind you), but that’s not the point. The point was that it’s the aggregators who are the source of the problem. Unless Japanese law has changed from when I last read up on it, it’s illegal to distribute copyrighted material, and thus far the only people arrested (which have been quite a lot lately, actually) have been distributors, not downloaders.

I still don’t think fansubs, scanlations, their distribution, or their viewing is correct (or at least that it isn’t legal), but either way, aren’t we all fans of the medium? Let’s just enjoy it. Whether you do it one way or another, you still watching anime and reading manga, and for that, we are the same kind of people. I’m happy to be an active member of the community.

  • anon

    Scanlations is the only reason why the manga market is bigger than before, but you will keep missing the point there

    • What point? (I guess your rightI don’t get the “point”, because your “point” is way off.) Whether the market has risen or fallen isn’t my point at all, and certainly wasn’t the point of this particular post. I guess you didn’t read where I said I wasn’t trying to villainize scanlation readers. The only point I make is that, either way, it’s illegal. That’s that. If you want to enjoy your manga illegally, it isn’t as though I can stop you. Do whatever you like. Whether it hurts or helps the industry, that was never the point of either my last video or this particular blog post. The point WAS, however, that manga artists aren’t all doing it for an international audience, and most likely don’t have you in mind. And so long as Japanese law and American law remains the way it is, it’ll be illegal.

      But there’s always been piracy, and there always will be piracy. Keep doing as you wish. It isn’t as though I could stop you, and I wouldn’t dare try.

      Edit: Also, since this isn’t any of the ‘chan, sage-ing my blog, unfortunately for you, won’t push it down into obscurity. You’ll have to do something differently. Like ignore me or something. If you and the rest of anon ignored me, I’d probably sooner disappear.

    • Hmm…so you’re (anon, not Marzgurl) arguing here that scanlations have been responsible for the widening of the manga market?

      You realise that this equates to saying: ‘”reproducing the material in numerous locations for absolutely free” has made the manga market bigger’. Of course it’s attracted more attention to the manga, and in that respect it’s somewhat similar to advertising. The problem is that it doesn’t help the actual manga market because it likely does, to some degree, take away incentive to buy manga. I know it may seem like I argue otherwise in my post above, but my point is that the damage may be lesser than imagined, not that it does not exist. I think that the effects of scanlations and piracy are up for debate and need to be researched properly using sales data etc., and not be based on mere conjecture.

      I think that Western people buying manga might easily become accustomed to it being free, since it’s not a strictly mainstream interest here (and I mean that as non-offensively as possible). This mentality, if it were to exist, would have nothing but a pernicious influence on the manga market, I’m sure you’ll agree.

      Sorry for such a long-winded reply. Before I leave it, though, I’d like to thank Marzgurl for so kindly linking my blog above and for her reply to my post.

      • ++Thanks for the long comment, since the first point is one I’d often make, and now I don’t have to make it, and the second is also a good point.

        Even when people get free manga on a legit ad-supported site, they get the idea that its worth something, and will also be exposed to which volumes are available for sale in print.

  • Actually, it WAS totally clear that you weren’t villainizing the readers. You never once said that they were horrible people for reading illegally, or anything even close. Basically the conversation over at TGWTG.com could be summed up as follows:

    You: “Scanlating is illegal and has been for some time, so nobody should be surprised that something’s being done about it. Also, the industry is flawed.”

    Several commentors: “Scans are the only way I can get manga! How dare they charge so much for it? I”M NOT A BAD PERSON!!!!”

    Me: ” . . . WTF?”

  • Mayora13

    I’m not going to try to defend One Manga, but just a quick point about the reading of manga on it’s site. Somewhat recently, they came out with an extension for Chrome (and probably Firefox as well) that did several things.

    1. It would display a chapter in its entirety on the screen all at once, allowing you to just continue scrolling down to read – no “next” button or arrow keys necessary.

    2. It would eliminate ads (I do not know what magic this was, but it worked).

    3. It kept a running record of all of the series were following on One Manga, and notify you when the series updated.

    The site is gone now, and I’m not really shedding any tears, but it’d be nice if that technology were utilized in the future in a legal manner – perhaps in a subscription-based online service?

  • Christy

    I do not think it would be to bad if maybe they only did like a few pages of the manga or maybe the first chapter let the person know that if they want to read more then to buy it(this obviously only counts towards the ones released in America or what ever country that person lives in)

    • Many of the publisher sites have sampler chapters like this. None of the big manga viewing sites do, because the big manga viewing sites are after hits to generate advertising money, and the ones that limit themselves do not hit the big leagues.

  • RevengeKiller

    Yeah, yeah. We get your point.

    I still say there is nothing wrong with the scanlations and fansubs of things that are likely to never come over here. The number of manga that comes out in Japan and not here is ridiculous.

    It’s not like I can buy them even if I wanted to, and I want to read them, so I might as well do it the only way I can.

    If I liked it and by some miracle it does come out here (like Bakuman is now doing a few years lateR), then I will buy it. If not, no harm done to anyone.

    • Except if it does come over, there is no way to take the scanlation down again. A decade back, maybe a scanlation group could take down scans from an ftp or IRC server and then it would become harder to find.

      Nowadays, the biggest source is not even the scanlation group itself, but instead the big bootleg manga viewer sites like OneManga.

      And in any event, the large majority of views at the big bootleg manga viewer sites are licensed manga anyway, so focusing on the unlicensed manga is looking at the minority of views, not the majority of views.

    • NightChime

      If people didn’t have access to free scanlations, I really doubt that people would buy *LESS* manga, except perhaps out of protest for having to obey the law. Rather, I think that free scanlations pull customers away from legal venues. Even if it were okay to scanlate manga that isn’t released internationally, people would just get their manga fix through the free methods, and pay little to nothing for the internationally released titles. I think people need to stop using flawed logic to defend actions they know to be wrong.

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