Anime Vice News

NONSENSE FROM THE NOOB: What's Wrong with Flipping Manga?

To flip or not to flip? It'd certainly make it easier for me.

 In baseball terms, it's like trying to pitch right-handed when you're a southpaw.
 In baseball terms, it's like trying to pitch right-handed when you're a southpaw.

Yesterday, I received a review copy of DIAMOND GIRL in the mail. So far, it seems to be about a teen girl with some serious baseball skills, but I haven’t gotten that far into it. I might be farther into it if this thing were “flipped”, but its layout been kept the way it was in Japan, so I have to read it left-to-right. Perhaps I’ve stumbled on manga’s equivalent of the anime sub/dub issue, here, because this feels needlessly troublesome.

I do understand the thinking behind this - - the effort to preserve the mangaka’s original intent - - but it makes the whole thing more difficult to follow than it needs to be, in my eyes. The Japanese characters have been replaced, so you’re reading the word balloons right-to-left.  At the same time, however, you’re “reading” the page left-to-right. I’m getting such bad “wire-crossing” in my visual-narrative preceptors that I’m drawn out of what I’m reading with almost every panel.  It almost feels like opposing forces are tugging my brain in different directions, and I think that’s unfortunate, because it seems like this would be such a breezy read if only it were flipped.

What’s the fans’ thinking on this? Do you really lose anything out of the artist’s original vision by flipping the pages? I really couldn’t imagine what. It’s not like any of the details on your face change just because you’re looking in a mirror. Isn't the original intent already technically diluted by replacing the characters?  Do you feel like those “dynamic audio” versions  of movies that theaters exhibit compromise the director’s original vision by putting text up over the frame for the deaf? I feel like the same principles apply here.  I’d really hope that anything presented like this would also have a flipped version offered. 

I’m sure some people have mastered the art of reading backwards, but I’m having the hardest time, myself.  Perhaps I’m too set in my ways? Where you do you lunatics in the Anime Vice community stand on this?

-- Tom Pinchuk is the writer of UNIMAGINABLE for Arcana Studios and HYBRID BASTARDS! for Archaia. Pre-order the HYBRID BASTARDS! hardcover now on Amazon.com.

agila61on May 18, 2010 at 1:14 p.m.
In many ways, it is the same as the dub/sub anime. Its a hurdle until you get used to it, then its not. 
 
It might be possible to make a reader app to auto-flip files (just as DVD settled the hottest Sub-vs-Dub fights of VHS days), but for published manga, selling both flipped and unflipped print editions is an awfully big demand when manga publishers seem to be dying like flies - DC just announced it is shutting down its CMX line, for instance. 
taotasticon May 18, 2010 at 1:14 p.m.

Yes, keeping it unflipped is important.  Yes, you do lose some of the creator's intent when you flip it.  Japanese cars drive on the right side of the road as opposed to the left in the US.  Don't flip such a silly thing.  Don't make a girl's shirt go from "MAY" to "YAM".  What if being left-handed was a plot point in a mystery series?  Then we'd have people complaining about dialogue edits.

 
And really, don't confuse government mandated close captioning with a change to the format of an artist's intention.  A director [should] know from the very beginning that she will have to yield to certain laws.   And those details in the mirror may not change for you, but for some people who use make up, especially intricate designs for shows or intentionally have a part scarred/masked, yeah, it is a big deal.

Just keep trying, noob.  You'll learn how to read manga the way it's supposed to be read, someday.   
 
I just...*shakes head*

sora_thekey moderator on May 18, 2010 at 1:15 p.m.
I like reading it from right to left... 
Since I watch/read/listen everything in their original language I watch Anime in Japanese... of course I don't speak Japanese which is why i can't read Manga in it's original form, so reading it right to left makes me feel I am at lease enjoying it as a person from Japan would...
 
You get used to it after a while... It's like trying to watch Phantom of the Opera in English.... No no! It's way better to see it in French as it is originally meant to be...
We live in a world of complete diversity which does allow all of us to enjoy different cultures...
 
I don't read Japanese but I do read Manga as the Japanese do!
Ryuku_Ryosakeon May 18, 2010 at 1:17 p.m.
It really just a matter of consistency. If they just mirror the image you run into all sorts of problems. Say like a there is manga based on Journey to the West. However since they mirror all the images then it would become Journey to the East. Also since most manga become animes. You'll be confused when your favorite character's robot arm in one the other side in the anime. Maybe a said character is special because there the only left hand character in a manga. Then have them say I'm special because I'm right handed would just not make any sense unless you realized everyone is left handed in the manga. Also you can run into cases where the dialogue is translated but not accounting for the mirror flip. So every direction spoken in the manga is just plain wrong.
ShadowKnight508 moderator on May 18, 2010 at 1:22 p.m.
Reading right to left does not bother me much (took a little getting used to, but now I am pretty good at it)...Been practicing it on my last two issues of Shonen Jump that I have gotten the past 2 months so when my order of the Rosario + Vampire manga series arrives (all 10 volumes), I will be pro at it.
sotyfan16on May 18, 2010 at 1:32 p.m.

I don't mind reading right to left. I get confused sometimes on which panel to read next though. I find it just as enjoyable, however, when I read manga from left to right.

sickVisionz moderator on May 18, 2010 at 1:34 p.m.
@agila61 said:
" Its a hurdle until you get used to it, then its not. "
This.  The first time I encountered it I just figured that it was Japanese so it was different and that was the start and end of my issue with it.
ninjadude853on May 18, 2010 at 1:35 p.m.
it was somewhat hard to get used to at first, but eventually i just stopped noticing, whenever i read manga, i just switch directions
ethan staff on May 18, 2010 at 2:32 p.m.
Hahah, ohhhh Tom. 
FekketCantenelon May 18, 2010 at 2:40 p.m.
Back when I was a manga translator, I used to occasionally edit scanlations; the one time I tried to 'flip' an issue experimentally, I discovered that it's a huge hassle and ultimately not worth it.
 
An example we used to work on was Parasyte, in which the titular character is called Migi (Japanese for 'right') because it's latched to the main character's right hand. Later on, I heard that the English adaptation flipped the pages and called the alien 'Lefty'.
 
My mom didn't want to see The Ring because she doesn't like horror movies, but she noticed that I owned a volume of the manga version and asked to check it out. She reported that it only took her a few pages to get used to reading it 'backward'. If my lame-o mom (j/k) can figure it out, anyone can.
Krison May 18, 2010 at 2:52 p.m.
@sora_thekey said:
". It's like trying to watch Phantom of the Opera in English.... No no! It's way better to see it in French as it is originally meant to be... "
Huzzah-wha?  What version of Phantom are you watching that's originally meant to be in French?  The silent film version?  That's an American film.  Claude Rains's version?  American film. Phantom of the Paradise?  Crazy ass American rock musical.  The musical?  Brittish.  The movie of the musical?  American/Brittish film.  Unless you mean it should be watched in French because it's set in France...which is entirely different from flipping the images in a manga.
 
Someone mentioned issues like, if a character's main hand was a story element.  That's a good reason.  Also, the word bubbles would flow differently, and the dialog might not make sense if you didn't read it from right to left (meaning to get it going left to right, dialog might have to be placed in the incorrect bubbles, so the wrong character would be speaking).  I don't find it that difficult anymore, though I did a bit when I first started reading manga.  Now my problem is making my brain switch back when I read American comics.  I keep trying to follow the dialog backwards and have to remind myself of what I'm reading.  
But really, just keep at it, and you'll get use to it.  It'll feel totally natural after a while.
OmegaChosenon May 18, 2010 at 3 p.m.
Most people who read manga tend to read it in the original style, English or not. I don't really see flipped manga that often either, at least in the genres I pay attention to. I find it rather strange that you're having so much trouble adjusting. Yeah, for everyone it's an adjustment at first but after a few chapters (or perhaps a volume or two if they're really set in their ways) you stop noticing it and eventually it becomes second nature to flip your natural reading tendencies, like a reading "japanese-english" switch in your head.
 
Whether it matters if it's flipped or not, my mindset is that why bother? I usually speak in terms of "probably" and "most" but in this case I feel that I can say in no uncertain terms that everyone, yes including you Tom, can learn to read in the japanese style after a bit of practice. This isn't really a dub vs. sub type of thing since the initial strangeness is usually mitigated fairly quickly with enough experience with the material. Just keep at it Tom, you'll forget about the awekwardness in time.
Mikenon May 18, 2010 at 3:01 p.m.
Because I end up reading the plot backwards.
 By now, my instant reaction to picking up manga is to turn it to the right cover and read from there. The times that I ended up reading a flipped manga, I had to keep reminding myself not to start on the right hand page. Ultimately, it's a big hassle when a publisher insists on flipping it when the market norm (and what readers are used to) is pretty much right-to-left. However, I do see why they flip it sometimes...like when they want to appeal to a larger audience.
 
As touched on before with issues like dominant hands -- there are also small details that would probably get messed up to. For example: what if there was a stack of western-formatted books on a table? By flipping that, the books then look out of place.
Oishi_47on May 18, 2010 at 3:54 p.m.
Flipping manga used to be the way to do it cause the publishers wanted to make it more accessible. When they stopped, they figured out that people got used to it, which was good cause flipping it was a time consuming and costly process. 
lizcaton May 18, 2010 at 4:10 p.m.
Sometimes art just doesn't look as good flipped (among all the other reasons that have already been mentioned)... and I'd much rather that companies spend their time and money making quality releases rather than painstakingly flipping every page. It's really not a hassle to read "backwards," either, once you get used to it.  I gave my grandmother (yes, really) a volume of Emma (RIP CMX) and she read it without much confusion. It eventually becomes completely natural. Actually, when I read American newspaper comics I often read the last panel first on accident then wonder why the conversation doesn't make sense. Whoops. 
sora_thekey moderator on May 18, 2010 at 6:17 p.m.
@Kris: Sorry... I meant reading the original novel... which was written in French!
Gozertcon May 18, 2010 at 10:48 p.m.
I just have to point out Gunsmith Cats.  One of my favorite Manga's was Flipped when I first read it.  (I don't know if the newer stuff is I haven't bought anything in a while) At first I had no problems with it then I started noticing some weird things.  The story is set in Chicago so everyone should be sitting and driving like I'm used to but they're not.  Wrong side of cars, wrong side of road, etc.   
 
Then there was the dialogue which was translated verbatim basically and left out the fact that it was mirrored.  So they'd mention things like "he lost his left hand" or something when every scene you see of the character is the RIGHT hand. (or vice versa)   
 
So yeah it's the sub/dub debate all over again, but I think in this one I'm firmly in the "Original" version land.  Hey at least Korean comics are left to right. :)  
Count_Zeroon May 19, 2010 at 1:16 a.m.
As far as the flipping debate goes, I'm in favor of the unflipped side. It took me a little bit to get used to unflipped manga, but after that it worked just fine for me. As it is, unflipped manga is actually less expensive for publishers to release than flipped manga, so if not flipping manga allows publishers to save money that they can then use to license new titles, then I'm all for that.
 
Oh, and as far as DC dropping their CMX line goes, frankly, because of how heavily (and how poorly) DC censored some of the titles they released, they lost some good will with the fans. So while I'm not going to say good riddance, I'm not surprised DC is closing CMX's doors either.
okandon May 19, 2010 at 4:43 a.m.

but its layout been kept the way it was in Japan, so I have to read it left-to-right.


I think you need to flip this whole article. English is read left to right, not right to left, here you're saying that it's been left as in Japan and therefore read left to right just as English already is, yet you say it's the wrong way. 
 
 
<-- left 
--> right
Gaffon May 19, 2010 at 5:37 a.m.
@agila61 said:
" In many ways, it is the same as the dub/sub anime. Its a hurdle until you get used to it, then its not."
This. 
 
And in all fairness, it all depends on the American publisher whether it happens or not. I distinctly remember the Battle Angel Alita paperback collection: there's a point when someone grabs his right arm in pain, screaming something about his left arm (or something to that effect, my memories are vague). That's an example of how things were done in the past and why it doesn't necessarily work. Fastforward 10 years or so and in comes Blade of the Immortal TPB: in the translation notes in the back the translators mention that the original artist requested that Dark Horse didn't flip the pages, and instead they cut out the panels and rearranged them. 
 
I think nowadays, the publishers don't bother flipping everything anymore. Also, fanboy rage (OMG ITS FLIPPD FFUUUUUU) 
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