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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.
ethan staff on March 5, 2010 at 9:25 p.m.
@CharredKnight: Your opinion is noted.  But it is a community site and this is how we run it.  Sorry.
Mikayashaon March 5, 2010 at 10:27 p.m.
Re-reading this I feel that this is getting a little off the topic, and I'm guilty of this too with my debate turned argument with John_Thomas (And again I'm sorry that it sounded like I was attacking you in the first message.  It was not meant to be an attack.)  So this is going to be more on the topic, and I'll try to keep it that way from now on when I post on this topic.

"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."    

And an excellent example of this is when they dubbed the second movie of Detective Conan. The second movie is a play off of their names. You change the names you have to change the reason why the criminal was targeting the 13 people that were targeted in that movie.

"When VIZ made those changes they were basically telling me and the entire online audience that they didn't want us as readers."

Maybe they were hoping that people have never read Detective Conan on the net. Though I don't see how they would hope for that. Some people like to read the scanlation that is out and when the next volume of what they are reading is out in America they buy it and read it again. I wouldn't buy Detective-wait Case Closed and read it over again because the reason behind some of the murders are different, and in one case a woman said that she was pregnant and had an abortion in English when in Japanese she wasn't pregnant and therefor didn't have an abortion. If it was just the name change I wouldn't have minded so much (Well that would have been until the second movie then I would mind) and bought them.   


 "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."

What if they're purposely doing what they're doing for that reason?  I think it's a clever and devious plan to either get more money, or is  completely thoughtless of the consideration between cultures and REAL translations.  I also think it's a greedy move to not have to pay for an accurate English version.  But that really only benefits them.  Sure they get more monay to get more titles over here to the U.S. but then the people who are re-buying Detective Conan wont have the money to buy the new titles.

.    

Konandaon March 5, 2010 at 10:42 p.m.
 @taotastic:    
  
     

 Your dedication is most commendable and I find it truely awe inspiring. Thank you for also calling this guy out on his silly excuses to try to ease his guilt for stealing someones content.                     
@CharredKnight
said:

"@FoxxFireArt:    Your using BS excuses ... when those name changes where forced upon Funimation by TMS and where part of the dub that aired on Adult Swim. "
 
 
 

 I suspect he was ignorant to the fact that it was the original Japanese anime studio of Detective Conan who was behind the name changes. I mean he's been pretty ignorant of many many other things about this so far what's one more fact that he seemed to miss when he pulled out      

this.
this.


 

 @paploo:

"Or was this some kind of bizarro attempt to educate this guy by having us all get mad at him? Having studied Japanese in an academic environment (ie- classes, not just me repeating what I think I heard in an anime), I can solidy say that fans claim to know what's more accurate, speak/read no japanese, and only read bootlegged materials have no idea at all what they're talking about. Though CharredKnight's and John's posts clarify that pretty well. "

   

   
I kind of suspected this at first because the actual article isn't even that good to begin with. It's essentially a rant that FoxxFireArt has done time and time again about why he hates VIZ with some shameless self-promotion at the end for another shoddy article he wrote about Funimation. Although sadly when it comes to user submitted articles sometimes you get something great like Baku_Sensei's article and sometimes you get something terrible like this. 
 
I don't think he will ever realize that what he is doing is theft and that if he really wants to read it as it was originally he should import the originals and be motivated enough to learn Japanese instead of saying "but it's hard". In all honesty he's become a characture of himself as that guy who whines about VIZ in every other post.  
 
I sometimes wonder if it's just a massive troll on everybody and some day he'll go "Ah ha ha got ya. I was just doing it for the lulz."              
 

John_Thomason March 5, 2010 at 11:26 p.m.
@Mikayasha said:

Maybe they were hoping that people have never read Detective Conan on the net. Though I don't see how they would hope for that. 

Most people do NOT read scanlations on the net, so yes, I would guess this is a safe assumption.  
 
@Mikayasha
said:
What if they're purposely doing what they're doing for that reason?  I think it's a clever and devious plan to either get more money, or is  completely thoughtless of the consideration between cultures and REAL translations.  I also think it's a greedy move to not have to pay for an accurate English version.  But that really only benefits them.  Sure they get more monay to get more titles over here to the U.S. but then the people who are re-buying Detective Conan wont have the money to buy the new titles.


Or maybe we can reel this back into business and publishing reality and not the conspiracy theory universe. You really can't sensibly think VIZ, or any publisher would realistically try and get people to buy the same series twice by changing the names...getting them to buy it once is hard enough.  
 
I won't repeat the more realistic reasons why I (and others) have written about why VIZ was forced to change the names of the characters...but I will ask are you reading those posts? 
  
And what is a "real translation?" 
CharredKnighton March 6, 2010 at 12:09 a.m.

@Konanda:  Okay, so this is nothing new for him, as I remember seeing his avatar around, but nothing like this.  I have seen people like that on the internet where they could have the entire message board screaming at them to stop being so delusional, but they claim that their opinion is a fact.  Hell I have been like that myself, one of the reasons why I have been in so many flame wars.

Something that I have been meaning to say is, when has the most accurate translation automatically mean the best translation.  With comedies a lot of times the jokes are only going to be funny to the japanese, Sgt. Frog's dub is much better than the original Japanese, because you really only need to know about gundam now. 
 
One of the main things a translator needs to do is change the language not only from Japanese to English, but also change it so that it reads more easily to a person who speaks english.  English's origin is from latin, and Japanese's origin is from China, they aren 't even remotely similar.
Konandaon March 6, 2010 at 12:29 p.m.
@CharredKnight said:

"
@Konanda: English's origin is from latin, and Japanese's origin is from China, they aren 't even remotely similar. "

Well if you are talking about the writing system than yes English uses a Latin derived alphabet and Japanese uses a combination of Chinese characters and Chinese derived characters.  
 
However if you are talking about actual origins of the language than you are wrong. English belongs to the Germanic language family having it's origins primarly from Anglo-Saxons that came to Great Britain in the 5th century settling in England and southern Scotland. The various dialects they spoke is what is known as Old English, it was further influenced by the Vikings who spoke an older Germanic language called Old Norse. After the Norman invasion quite a bit of Romance language vocabulary (primarly French) further influenced English but the syntax and grammar still has it's roots in the Germanic language family. Latin and Greek also have an influence in vocabulary by way of technical and scientific terms. Many other languages from across the world have also added in bits in pieces of vocabulary because of the way English has become the dominant language in trade, communication, science and diplomacy and it will probably continue to be influenced in the future.
 
Japanese however is mainly a language isolate belonging to the the Japonic language family but many of the words they use in their vocabulary have Chinese origins and now in the modern day an increasing presence of English words to go along with Portugese and Dutch words that were introduced during the fairly exclusive trade relations they had with them in the 16th and 17th century respectfully. The way the language itself is structured though it not from Chinese origins. 
 
However that's mainly trivia and the point that some phrases just don't directly translate well is true.
taotasticon March 6, 2010 at 8:36 p.m.
@Konanda: That video was pretty amusing, thanks! XD 
 It'd be nice if any of this was getting through to him.  But then again, at least my fingers are getting a nice workout.
giaon March 7, 2010 at 8:07 a.m.
@Konanda: Amusing anecdote: I've known several Japanese people who believed that their word for bread, "pan," came from English somehow, when in fact it came from the Portuguese :)
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