Anime Vice News

Scanlations: The Pirate's Life for Me

AnimeVice member FoxxFireArt stops in to give his take on "scanlations" and why sometimes they're essential to staying current with your favorite manga.


 Publishers - VS - Scanlators
 Publishers - VS - Scanlators
The topic of scanlations (fan translated scans of original Japanese manga publications) has been a rather hot topic recently on Anime Vice. It played a rather large role in the article Required Reading: Plagiarism, Fanart, and Scanlations. I was a little confused. How was it that 'scanlations' were getting dragged into the topic of Nick Simmon's "alleged" plagiarism of Bleach? The question that was posed was if users can justify scanlations.

Localization or Accuracy?

 That's right. Conan is actually JAPANESE!
 That's right. Conan is actually JAPANESE!
I do justify scanlations. It's not something I prefer to do, but there are some cases when it's the only way to read the story properly. Such as in my case with the murder mystery manga, Detective Conan. I face the VIZ Media publisher that refuses to publish the series in the country without dramatic edits that alter story and events. Every reoccurring character in the manga had their Japanese names replaced with European style names. All the while they leave other series virtually alone. This wouldn't be the first time that VIZ has faced trouble over their alteration of mangas. They had to republish the entire Dragon Ballseries because they had altered and censored much of the art work. As reported by ICv2 back in a 2001 article. It always struck me as odd. What is the point in bringing a series to the US if all you are going to do is change it? Alterations hurt series. The best example is what 4Kids did to One Piece.

It's not about the change of title to Case Closed. Annoying as it is. That doesn't effect the story. The name changes do. Bleach and Naruto. These series all get to keep their original names. Do you honestly think these series would sell half as well in the US if they had changed the characters names? I seriously doubt it. They sell well, because they are closer to the Japanese product. The online audience, that follows scanlations, buys it. (Though, it always struck me as odd that in Naruto the manga they call the teachers "Master", but the anime it used "Sensei". Both are produced by VIZ.)

 Meitantei Conan Vol. 1
 Meitantei Conan Vol. 1
The Detective Conan series is my favorite manga series of them all. I have been following it for many years online. It's not just a series that you read. It's something you can experience. Your average case in the series ranges in three chapters, sometimes longer. The fun of the series is that they give you the chance to actually try and solve the case yourself before the solution chapter is produced. As I showed in this BLOG ENTRY of how I solved a mysterious code from the manga. There is just such a thrill to read the series and see that your deduction is right. It's like reading a modern day Sherlock Holmes story every week. 
 
When VIZ made those changes they were basically telling me and the entire online audience that they didn't want us as readers. We are not the target audience that they wanted to publish for. Yet, we want to read and enjoy that story. It would be different if VIZ offered some kind of alternative. For example, the ability to purchase unedited versions off their website. The way they started offering Dragon Ball either edited or unedited. Scanlation is the only way I can get the real story in English.

If VIZ wont change things back, or offer some alternative. I see no reason to have to pay for a flawed product that is filled with inaccuracies, contradictions, and incorrect translations while I wait for them to realize their mistake. People tell me that you need to support the series and maybe they will change things later. (VIZ is currently 30 volumes into what is nearing a 70 volume series.) Even if I was buying them and they did republish with the proper names eventually. That would mean I would have to buy the same volume twice. It's ridiculous for something they should be doing in the first place. 

FUNimation I think has the correct idea going right now, and should be applauded. They wanted people to stop pirating One Piece and other animes. Their solution was to give them the ability to watch those episodes on their website an hour after they air in Japan with subtitles and older episodes with the dub work. If you don't like the dub work. There are the Japanese versions to watch too. If only they would do the same thing for the Detective Conan anime.

 Negima! by Del Rey
 Negima! by Del Rey
I read scanations of many other series such as Negima! and Fairy Tail just to stay current, but I also buy every volume when they are published in the US. Their publisher, Del Rey, is dedicated to bringing the reader as close to the original story as possible. That's the kind of action that needs to be supported over a company that feels the need to alter content. Before my boycott on all VIZ products due to their butchering of the Detective Conan story. I was collecting Bleach, Naruto, Fullmetal Alchemist, Evangelion, and One Piece. Not anymore. I haven't purchased a single volume of those series in several years. Until they give me some option to have the realDetective Conan story. VIZ wont get a dime from me, and I do my best to try and convince others to avoid their products altogether.
 
If you are like me, and your local publisher wont produce a series in your country without drastic edits to the story. I say go where you have to in order to get the real story. In the mean time. Be sure to support publishers that strive to be as accurate as possible. Scanlations and Pirating shouldn't be our first choice, but in some rare cases it's the only one we are given.

- Kristoffer Remmell (FoxxFireArt) is a freelance graphic artist, writer, and over all mystery geek.  Guest posts are intended to encourage diversity of thought; the opinions represented within are not necessarily those of Anime Vice or its staff.
CharredKnighton March 4, 2010 at 12:10 a.m.

@FoxxFireArt:
If you write an insanely controversial point of course your going to get yelled at. If you didn't want to be yelled at then don't make an editorial that supports piracy.  The point is that your support comes off as hollow simply because you don't put your money where your mouth is.  You claim to like One Piece, than you tell everyone not to buy it.  Do you honestly not understand that one of the biggest problems effecting the anime industry is piracy?  Are you that blind that you can not see how much harm your doing advocating something that is killing the anime industry?   
 
Sure companies like Geneon made bad decisions but the fact of the matter is that Bandai continually liscensed some of the most popular series out their and everyone of them except Haruhi and Code Geass completely flopped and Haruhi and Code Geass topped out at number 8 on the best selling anime.  Gundam Seed, Gundam Seed Destiny, Mai Hime, Mai Otome, and Lucky Star where all popular with the fansub community but no one bought them. 
 
One Piece has the third largest following on the internet, it is in actually the third most popular manga in America, and its sales are a lot less than Mahou Sensei Negima which has a fraction of the audience. 
 The anime industry is dying in America, because people simply don't care about supporting what they like.  

Even after all that your telling people to Pirate, and then you wonder why people yell at you?

GodLen staff on March 4, 2010 at 12:19 a.m.
@CharredKnight: No, we just want to have a discussion on the issue. Problems do not get fixed without discussing them first. Just look into our encyclopedia, we have manga in there that all sorts of subjects in there, from muder to rape to sports, but does that mean our site supports those issues? Would you rather have a website that ignores and censors all this information because someone, somewhere might be offended by it? 
 
CharredKnighton March 4, 2010 at 12:22 a.m.
@GodLen:
It's kind of hard to have an intelligent discussion about fixing the industry when one side is basically telling us to kill the industry.   
 
I have no problem with Anime Vice putting in editorials as long as the editorials is well thought out, and gives me good reasons for why they wrote what they did.    Put together an editorial I thought poorly explained their position, or simply had a position that was indefensible, and I will tell you that you shouldn't have put up that editorial.
FoxxFireArt moderator on March 4, 2010 at 12:38 a.m.
@CharredKnight: 
If this was insanely controversial, why is it there is so much information on this site that comes from scanlation and fan subs?
When did I say I don't like being yelled at? If that were true I'd just delete posts that I didn't agree with. I am a Moderator on the site. I just have no problem with people disagreeing with me on something.
 
I'm just saying that people give mixed signals when they don't comment on posts that promote positive aspects of the industry, but comment like crazy on controversial topics.  If there is a topic that you feel positive about and agree. You should comment. Often times I see really nice and well done posts on Anime Vice and I'm one of the few commenting.
 
@GodLen said:
" @CharredKnight: No, we just want to have a discussion on the issue. Problems do not get fixed without discussing them first.  "
Bows before great wisdom.
CharredKnighton March 4, 2010 at 1:06 a.m.
@FoxxFireArt:   If Animevice makes an editorial and I see it (the key word being see it) and I agree with it, I will probably pop in and tell you I agree with it or something like that.  For exxample, most of my post in a foum about FMA is going to be positive because I love the manga and second series, I will argue about how great it is.   
 
The only reason why I saw this editorial is because you typed Fullmetal Alchemist, and Animenano picked up on it.
MrBooboon March 4, 2010 at 4:39 a.m.
@GodLen: Len I am not just talking about other people breaking the law I am talking about you a representative and paid writer for AV reading scans to write an article for the site. You are not getting a Japanese copy to write your article. You are not writing an article based upon the US releases.
 
Len if you were some random anime fan on this site posting your updates that would be fine but you are supposed to be one of the pros here not some fanboy.
 
Also this article is not here to fix the industry or to talk about how it, is here to drive posts and views.
 
 Len why not contact VIZ and write up and interview of your discussion with them on how you feel scans are ok and the reasons why and then their views on the issue.  You should also bring up how they have to change in order for you  not read and base your articles on scans. Also discuss other changes they need to make like give away their manga for free in order to satisfy the public. After all that was what a person said defines Funi as doing it write.
mbeasion March 4, 2010 at 5:56 a.m.
How was it that 'scanlations' were getting dragged into the topic of Nick Simmon's "alleged" plagiarism of Bleach?
 
People keep asking this question, but the answer seems kind of obvious. The people who made the case against Simmons were using scanlations to make their point. They brought it into the discussion themselves.  Was nobody supposed to notice? 
CharredKnighton March 4, 2010 at 6:46 a.m.
@MrBoobo:
Excellent post, I couldn't have  said it better myself.  I know because I tried.
sora_thekey moderator on March 4, 2010 at 11:45 a.m.
@FoxxFireArt:
Hey they put your article on the main news page... yay!
Ephidelon March 4, 2010 at 12:01 p.m.
Not really sure who to direct this to, I guess both CharredKnight and FoxxFireArt. And anyone else.
On the last page, there was all this discussion over the target audience for Case Closed, both in Japan and in the US. 
Theres all this talk over whether the content is suitable for x, y or z, with descriptions of violence and blood, all contrasted with Viz pushing the series to 9 year olds... followed by this "but its a kids series and it ran in a kids magazine" stuff.
 
I'm surprised that nobody has actually taken a step back and checked the ratings on the Viz books... because I did. I went and checked, starting at the latest volume listed, then checking v8 with its fountains of blood and statue impaling, and then I just gave in and scrolled through them all over on the Viz website .
Every single book, without exception, is tagged as "T+ For Older Teens"
 
So. Where exactly did this "targetted at  nine year olds" argument stem from in the first place? :|
FoxxFireArt moderator on March 4, 2010 at 12:08 p.m.
@MrBoobo said:
"Also this article is not here to fix the industry or to talk about how it, is here to drive posts and views.  "
So, how is it that you are the one that decides the purpose of the article just because you happen to not agree with it? Why the hell is it up to me to "fix the industry"? Are all the articles that you agree with there to "fix the industry" or push an opinion? I'm just trying to get people to talk about it.

It's getting people to talk. Whether they agree or disagree. Even the people I disagree with I do see have some valid points to make. You just don't want to admit that we might have some as well.
 
I clearly point out in my article a few alternatives that I would like to support in place of scanlations. Such as just having the option to purchase volumes in either edited or unedited forms. Even if unedited volumes cost more. How is that so radical? How is that being unreasonable? I'm just asking for options.

I pointed to how great it is for FUNimation to air One Piece the way they are now. I said the example should be applauded.  FUNimation isn't just giving it away for free. They have commercials on the episodes they are airing on the site. If anything. I think they could use more commercials.
I point to the Del Rey publisher that strives to be as accurate as possible as positive sides of the industry.
CharredKnighton March 4, 2010 at 2:55 p.m.
@Ephidel:  Thanks for checking out that what FoxxFireArt had to say  was more bullcrap. 
 
@FoxxFireArt:  Except your not trying to bring about change, your making excuses for why you don't buy stuff.  The reason people pirate is not for some great and noble cause, but because they don't want to buy stuff, and frankly think their entitled to it.  All you have done is reveal that your a thief who doesn't care about Gosho or Oda, stop pretending your a fan when your not.  When people say to boycott Wal-mart, they do not mean go into Wal-mart and steal a TV.  They mean don't get anything from Wal-mart.  What your doing is not boycotting so stop claiming that you are. 
Papasanon March 4, 2010 at 5:13 p.m.

I've got the solution! Buy the VIZ copy, then download and print the scanlation, and glue it into the spots where VIZ screwed the whole thing up!!! 
 
Problem Freakin' SOLVED
 
You're WELCOME.
FoxxFireArt moderator on March 4, 2010 at 5:48 p.m.
@CharredKnight: 
How am I not trying to bring about change when I am trying to suggest options? When I'm just asking for the opportunity to buy the series I enjoy in a way I can read.
 
In my case. No one is pirating the US series "Case Closed". No one is scanning that series and putting it online. Not in any English speaking site or forum I've ever been on. That's because the entire online audience doesn't want it.
 
Why don't you stop pretending to be a fan of manga? I can turn that childish complaint right back at you. You aren't advocating for it to be the best that it can be. For series to be published as close as possible to the way the author intended. You are just encouraging the status quo. That things should just remain as it is and not change.
 
Also, don't use foul language on the site. You can disagree with me day and night, but keep cursing like that and I will delete a post. Keep a civil tongue.

@Ephidel:
The VIZ needs to discuss that with Amazon.
 
This is the rating on Volume 1 that had the first murder on the roller coaster with a decapitation and a fountain of blood.
Ephidelon March 4, 2010 at 6:52 p.m.
I could be wrong, but I have a sneaky suspicion that may be a matter of terminology.
I don't think Reading Level and Age Rating are the same thing; reading level is a measure of readibility, age rating is a measure of suitability (and I'm wondering if I could refer to 'age rating' as 'content level' instead. I'm not sure)
So the book could be readable by a child of ages 9-12 (whats that, fourth and fifth grade?) but not necessarily suitable for them.
Its very misleading, yes, but possibly not technically wrong :|
FoxxFireArt moderator on March 4, 2010 at 7:24 p.m.
@Ephidel: 
Probably could be. Thanks for bringing up the points though.
 
Just what would be the point of saying a book is a reading level of those who shouldn't be reading it?  I found it funny how the DVD for the "Last Wizard of the Century" movie the description on Amazon says for 8 and up(FUNimation's site says 13+), but the rating on Amazon says "NOT RATED". When the anime was on TV it was only allowed to air on [adult swim] which is for 17 and up.
 
This is the mess the alterations have done. No one can keep it straight who it's for and not for.
CharredKnighton March 4, 2010 at 8:06 p.m.
@FoxxFireArt:
I buy my manga, I support Square Enix and Hiromu Arakawa by buying Fullmetal Alchemist, I support Kodansha, and Ken Akamatsu by buying Negima.  I plan on buying all of Soul Eater, and I have over 20 volumes of Rurouni Kenshin.  What I don't do is come up with lame excuses for why I don't buy Bleach, One Piece, or Naruto.  I don't read them simply because I don't buy them.
 
Also just because something is closer to the original intent does not mean that's a sign of quality.  There;s a reason why Final Fantasy VI is more popular in America than it is in Japan, and that's because Kefka's lines where re-written to put in dark comedy.  The english dub of Sergeant Frog is much better than the Japanese version simply because it was written for western audiences and makes the jokes accordingly, two episodes that where completely incomprehensible are now made funny. 
 
I already explained the problem with Detective Conan, the murders are bloody so it's too violent for kids, and the large amount of children in the cast turn off adults and teenagers.  That's why it flopped in America.   The average adult swim watcher isn't going to know that TMS forced Funimation to rename the entire cast in some idiotic attempt to make it popular.
Konandaon March 4, 2010 at 8:07 p.m.

@FoxxFireArt

said:

"@MrBoobo: I'm for GodLen's article. It's a nice place to discuss what is already being talked about anyways.  If they cancel his segment, then they need to remove all information from series on the site unless they are published in the US.. "

I disagree with removing information from the wiki since contrary to what you may think not every single person on here is from the U.S. and incapable of reading Japanese meaning that people could have either imported the material containing that information to their own country or live in the country where the content containing that information was published already. As for GodLen's article, while it does inadvertently encourage people to go to scanlation sites to steal the chapter that was just released I think it is still a good feature for those who either import Weekly Shounen Jump or purchase it in Japan. However I believe it should be relegated to his blog instead of being a news article and have a disclaimer explaining that scanalation is theft. I do wonder if GodLen imports Weekly Shounen Jump though or if he found out that information from scanalation sites.

@Guest_Author

said:

"It's not just a series that you read. It's something you can experience.  "

After crossing this sentance it took a massive amount of will power to slog through the rest of this rant about why you hate VIZ. Using the term "experience" when referring to any media is a very poor way of describing what that media entails. This is because it means nothing on it's own since every single event that happens to you is something you are experiencing and thus an experience. To illustrate this I will tell you about the experience I just had drinking a glass of water. 
 
The cool beverage is brought up to my chapped lips rejuvenating the skin as some of the cracks fuse back together as the moisture hits them. My oflactory neurons are singing as they send forth information to my brain of the slight metallic smell caused by a rusted filter that needs to be changed. I savour the rustic flavour as a hint of too much iron crosses my taste buds like a fine wine. As the muscles in my throat contract to force the liquid down my esophagus I can't help but let out a sigh of sheer delight. Indeed this is a splendid elixer and not just your ordinary tap water. I ponder for a few seconds on whether to take another sip or to set the glass down on the desk. My head still spinning from all the information it is receiving from my senses I put the glass down reflecting on the experience. 
 
That is an experience as well and I went into quite fine detail to say what it is instead of pulling some modern advertising fluff that in the end means nothing and does not offer any meaningful description of what this experience entails. It's just lazy writing that is aimed at a bunch of flakes that will be swayed by a large word.  
  
 
  An example of what I'm talking about. *I provided a direct link since embedding Giantbomb videos does not seem to be working well at the moment.

and an example of the people swayed by meaningless fluff and buzzwords.
and an example of the people swayed by meaningless fluff and buzzwords.
 As for the rest of that article I've already commented in depth before of how I'm baffled that you are unable to face the fact that scanalation is flat out theft. No matter how you justify your descision to steal to try to convince yourself that it is some noble depserate last ploy in the face of the tyranny of having to support VIZ or spend a ton of cash on importing the original and learning Japanese it still is theft. Don't try to elevate it beyond what it is. Personally I really don't care what you do to obtain the material that you want to observe but refuse to pay for, I just want you to know that by using methods such as fansubs and scanalations or even outright finding the raw anime/manga is stealing no matter how you spin it.
taotasticon March 4, 2010 at 8:17 p.m.
 I've been reluctantly silent whilst watching the shit storm rush through the "article" (I would call it more of a rant or "Justify my theift!"), and continuously shake my head at most of these comments. I might sound pompous here, which is something I try to avoid, but really, I can't take this bull crap anymore.

First: @papasan
If the American animanga industry dies, so does the Japanese animanga industry. The two are now so closely linked that one cannot survive without the other. American companies have funded MANY anime to be made and aired in Japan that they later release here in the states. Funimation's latest venture to have a more active role in funding series is further proof that this is what the industry needs to stay afloat. Simply put, wishing the death of the US industry is the same as wishing the death of the anime industry as a whole.



Now, you, FoxxFireArt. We need to talk. A lot.

First of all, I sympathize. I love Detective Conan as well. I hated to see the edits that were made to both the anime (which you haven't mentioned in your praise of Funimation...why?) and the manga. I hated "Jimmy Kudo" and "Rachel Moore". However, this is not grounds for stealing. Aoyama still put his blood, sweat, and tears into that manga, and it's really disrespectful for you to claim to be a fan and "boycott" Viz as a whole - even if you like some of their other releases - sending NOTHING back to the creator. How nice of you.

 
Me? I love Shaman King. Love it to pieces. Love it FAR too much. I hate edits. I want my beloved Ren to say "damn" and "hell" as much as he wants. However, Viz decided that they wanted "darn" and "heck" instead. THIS PISSED ME OFF SO MUCH I THREW VOLUME NINE AGAINST THE WALL AND SAID "NO MOAR VIZ!! NO! MOAR!"...Except I didn't. I faithfully buy each and every release, edits and all. I buy the Japanese volumes too. Why? Because I love this series, and I want to make sure Hiroyuki Takei gets his dues, no matter what happened to his work after it was licensed. It's the least I can do to thank him for creating the series that's brought me so much joy. Hell, I even met my boyfriend BECAUSE of Shaman King. Nothing I do can thank him for that.

 
I love the anime in all its campy, childish glory. 4Kids RUINED it. Just like they ruined One Piece; but unlike One Piece, Shaman King has yet to be rescued by Funimation, though I pray it will happen soon, seeing as how the 4Kids license expired along with 2009. But all that they put out were two DVDs with dubtitles. I bought them anyway. I haven't watched them, hell no. I wouldn't subject myself to that, but I bought them all the same. I bought the new Region 2 box sets when they came out in 2008. No subtitles, just Japanese, and I'm not fluent in it. I don't even own a region-free player. I bought them anyway. Why? I love this series. I will do anything and everything to support it. I'm a FAN.

 
I recognize that not everyone has my insanity to spend the amount of money I do on their favorite manga/anime. I allow that to slide minimally in my mind, since for many it's not by choice. "If I had the money, I would most definitely buy the Detective Conan/Case Closed manga." If you said that, I might pity you a little bit. But no, you are flat out saying, "I won't buy a single thing from Viz because localization gives me hives," or something. What a bratty stance to take, and then have the GALL to say, "I'm a huge fan" (I agree that your blunder with which serialization it's in counts against you, and weakens your case a bit more. Any good fan would know the magazine's name, as does your ignorance of Viz's rating of the manga itself. I wouldn't give a crap if Amazon really DID say it was for 9-12 year olds. Viz says Older Teen, so older teen it is. The same goes with your argument about The Last Wizard of the Century. That part of your argument is invalid.).

 
Appearance is so important to you that the minute it's not to your specifications, it's immediately deemed unworthy, and you treat it like some sort of bastard child. That's STILL Aoyama-sensei's work if you never noticed. Those gorey scenes you point out are STILL in those volumes, he STILL drew them. That's still HIS manga. For you to outwardly cast it out is pathetic, and your attempts to justify your theft are null and void.


I read scanlations, but I also buy the product. I keep the fansubs on my computer. I consider it a tradeoff for my purchasing the products I do. Unless you're doing some mean importing over there, you have nothing to stand on. At least come back at me with a picture of your stack of imported volumes. If you're doing NOTHING to support this series you supposedly "love", you're a fan in name only.

Quit whining and support Aoyama-sensei. That's the bottom line.

CharredKnighton March 4, 2010 at 9:30 p.m.
@taotastic:   Brilliant, your dedication to Shaman King is what the manga and anime community needs, people who care deeply for a product, and want not only the product but the company to succeed, if  more people where like you the crash would have never have happened, and anime and manga would still be the cool new thing in America.
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