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Reconciling my desire to scanlate and my love for buying manga

I’ve spent a lot of time lately trying to figure out if my loathing of the present state of manga piracy would conflict with my desire to scanlate some specific manga. There are a couple properties out there that I know are exceptionally unlikely to ever find their way over here, so the actual damage to the North American manga industry would be slim to none, thus making me want to share some of what will likely never make it over. (You know you’re a business guy when you refer to anime and manga titles as “properties.” =P ) However, this runs up against the reality of the scanlation fandom in general, which has become a hive of piracy and ungrateful asshats looking for a free lunch with whatever excuse they can conjure.

This goes into the one excuse that I WILL accept, that being there is no translated alternative (and will unlikely ever will be, due to the cultural differences, not counting technological/geopolitical issues like the start of openmanga.org and similar services), and it is the primary reason for why I want to scanlate stuff. I was particularly thinking of doing Comic Studio, Mao Marimo, potentially some Utawarerumono stuff and a couple other projects if I ever get good enough (like Mishakuji-Otoshi), but given the recent legal climate, is it worthwhile to even try? What’s the likelihood that the fist of an angry god comes down upon me from corporate entities? Not likely from American companies, since they have no skin in the game unless they either strike a deal to do enforcement for the Japanese corporations or have a license for the properties. On the Japanese side of things, the likelihood is more like so-so, depending on a number of factors, like the marketability of a property in the US and Europe, the spread of a brand name and how anal they are about protecting their license.

There’s also been a lot of talk in the fandom of the morality of even doing scanlations. Erica Friedman, of Yuricon and ALC fame, as well as the Okazu yuri blog (it’s one of the few I keep in my RSS aggregator), has written about how she used to be into it, but after much observation and thinking, she’s come to the conclusion that scanlation is not exactly a practice that she can personally condone anymore, for reasons that include the harming of mangakas and such. I strongly agree with her in that I think a lot of what goes on in the scanlation underground really does cause harm to the mangakas bottom line. Just read my previous post on how Yana Toboso, the mangaka for Black Butler (aka Kuroshitsuji) was basically hammered by a bunch of people for being pissed at the fact that she was complaining about her work being read for free. You know, the stuff she spends her working moments making. I fear of contributing to this, which is why I don’t even want to consider translating anything that has a chance of making it to US or European shores through more commercial means. With stuff like Mao Marimo and Comic Studio, these two don’t have the same appeal as your Naruto, Bleach, Dragon Ball, etc., as only a small set of fans would even give a damn about stories like these (the former being about a guy who gets turned into a girl through a town ritual and the latter being about how a guy gets to work for his favorite mangaka of action manga (of which only a manly man could have put together), only to find out a cute and moe-looking girl is the mangaka). Thus, I feel in my somewhat idealistic heart that I could contribute to the spread of manga in general by scanlating these properties. Sure, the cynical part of me (which is honestly a good majority of me) tells me that it’s gonna be misused and reappropriated for other people’s profit (via scanlation aggregators like MangaFox and the like). Then I go back to the idealistic part of me that says that I shouldn’t not do it because a bunch of asshats are going to take advantage of it, because there are a greater majority of people who WILL enjoy it for what it is, thus spreading the manga love.

I think I will go ahead and do it, and keep my ear to the ground and see what comes out of it. If it gets bad, and I end up bitter and angry over it, then that will be the time to call it quits. And maybe openmanga.org will finally open for business and this will be a thing of the past.

On a side note, would it be unconservative of me to actually scanlate a manga with moe elements?

Black Butler/Kuroshitsuji Author and the Entitlement Complex in Piracy

Rant time! So recently, I saw mention in a couple of places about how the author of Black Butler, Yana Toboso, wrote a blog posting about how people, supposedly fans, are writing her and telling her that they liked her stuff so much that they went and watched the series on an illegal streaming site…

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