Anime Vice News

The Truth about the Manga Blogger Conspiracy

It's time to come out of the closet on this one.


 I have a confession to make...
 I have a confession to make...
The ongoing discussions about plagiarism, fanart, and scanlations continue on Twitter, and have taken a remarkable turn: one blogger, Melinda Beasi, noted that a reader and LiveJournal user had made the accusation that all the discussion is, in fact, a "blog/twitter campaign" originating with the licensors (I'm not sure if the author is using this in the correct way to refer to Japanese publishers or the incorrect way to refer to localizers). But the main accusation is that bloggers are somehow involved in a conspiracy with manga publishers to argue against scanlations.

And I'm here to tell you that this accusation is absolutely 100% TRUE FACT.

Manga bloggers and publishers actually have monthly meetings at the Big Sight event hall in Tokyo (the city where we are all secretly located), and that's where we decide that Vampire Knight is going to nestle up against Naruto on the sales charts, while Black Jack has to remain critically acclaimed, but can't sell TOO well, because if Black Jack was too popular then we couldn't keep writing posts asking you to go out and buy it, which would cut our content by about 15%.

Additionally, we have this really coo stealth jet. Whenever we get names and addresses for a scanlation group we go out, knock them unconscious with tasers, and introduce a ton of bad sectors into their hard drives so they fry in a seemingly spontaneous manner while the scanlators are in the middle of scanning or lettering.

And of course, manga publishers pay for the jet, and our cool uniforms. (I can't reveal the designs to you, but they're pretty freakin' sweet, and bulletproof.) They pay our secretly seven-figure salaries, too.

...THIS IS COMPLETELY 100% TRUE GUYS.

But seriously: the very simple fact of the matter is: once you start to know the people who are impacted drops in sales and by the inability to fight the tide of piracy-- once people you know have been laid off from a company that's downsizing or shutting down --it stops looking like such a minor or victimless issue and a bit more like a problem. So, yes, bloggers who start to know industry members and publishers may become less forgiving of scanlations as time wears on, and yes, that relationship often begins when a blogger requests or is offered free review copies. Whether that's a conspiracy or a conscience is your own decision to make. 

 Apologies to All About Manga for making you Jubilee. It had to be someone.
 Apologies to All About Manga for making you Jubilee. It had to be someone.
lyson March 4, 2010 at 8:31 p.m.
I don't want to get too far into the debate, but to FoxxFireArt or anyone else who has specific reasons for not wanting to support a US release of a book, I've also been studying Japanese for a couple years, and I find it's a great incentive for me to learn by reading something I'm interested in, so I've bought a number of Japanese manga titles even though I can't fluently read them.  For a title from a shounen magazine like Meitantei Conan, I imagine the kanji all have furigana, which tells you how to pronounce them (as long as you know hiragana) and makes them super easy to look up in a dictionary or online.  And you can compare the Japanese books to the scans you read, and that may give you a better understanding of how the Japanese translates. 
 
(I also believe that even if you can't actually read the books, you still have an obligation to buy them in some form (like Japanese) if you truly want to justify continuing to read scans.) 
 
I'll add that Sasuga Books and YesAsia offer FREE shipping in the US for orders over $40, and it looks like the Japanese Meitantei Conan books are listed for around $7.50 on Sasuga (if you can't find the specific volume you're looking for, try searching with the isbn listed on Amazon Japan (link is for a search of Conan volumes)).  So, totally cheaper than buying the English books, if you don't wish to support that edition!
giaon March 4, 2010 at 8:50 p.m.
@lys: Did NOT know that about Sasuga Books. That would definitely make it (slightly) cheaper to order the Japanese volumes than even buying the English versions (which are $7.95 per book on Amazon, before shipping). And the site's in English, so it's not really any more difficult than buying off of Amazon either. Great suggestion! :)
lyson March 4, 2010 at 9:06 p.m.
Glad to help!  When I look on amazon it says 9.99, although there is the 4-for-3 discount... whatever price it is, yeah, Japanese volumes are still a good deal :D  And I do recommend anyone looking for specific books to find the ISBN, because searching with keywords didn't always give me the best results (sometimes the author wasn't listed, etc).  I just learned the site offered free shipping a couple weeks ago, so I thought I'd pass the knowledge on!
Konandaon March 4, 2010 at 9:33 p.m.

Animevice as Gambit just makes me smile.

FoxxFireArt moderator on March 4, 2010 at 9:52 p.m.
@lys: 
I appreciate you taking the time finding that and passing that information along to me. Honestly and wholeheartedly.
 
There is just one problem with that circular logic people keep presenting me with.
I'm being told that for others to take my argument seriously for why they should publish the manga I want to buy in English without alterations. I must first be buying the series in Japanese before they will even take anything I say seriously about VIZ publishing the series in English for me to then buy........... EH?
 
You are saying that before you will listen to my ideas about just having the option to buy the series in English unaltered. I have to buy the Japanese version in my attempt to have the option to buy in English unaltered.
 
That would mean I am buying the series twice. Once in Japanese and again in English. Otherwise you all claim you wont even listen to what I have to say about finding a middle ground.
I just want the bloody option to be able to buy it in English unaltered.
Arjunaon March 5, 2010 at 2:20 a.m.
I had to wikipedia what a "scanlation" is...  Clearly, I'm such an innocent and beautiful little angel... 
 
People are reading manga on a computer screen!?  I can understand if it hasn't been released in English, or in an unedited form...  and you have to...  but otherwise, why? 
 
Someone once gave me a CD of what I now realize is called a "scanlation".  It was Gantz...  Never watched it...  Just waited for the translation.  I can't be bothered to read long narratives on a computer screen.  Blogs, essays, comments, tweets, etc., sure!  But not a book or manga!  Wow!  What a way to just destroy your eye-sight!  Reading content on a computer is only good in small, bite-size pieces. 
 
oh, and if you read your favourite manga on a computer screen because you can't afford it, then...  I truly feel sorry for you...  You must be crazy broke!  I don't know off-hand, but I think the suggested retail price for a manga at the comic store I go to is just over 5 bucks(Canadian)...  One issue per week seems reasonable to me...  5 bucks a week....  20 bucks a month...  Please, at least buy yourself a new pair of underwear...  I don't have a problem with poor people, but nothing's worse than poor people who can't even buy themselves new underwear...
FoxxFireArt moderator on March 5, 2010 at 2:40 a.m.
@Arjuna: 
For me it's not an issue of not affording it. It's just that when the series I want most of all was released in the US. They took away the Japanese names of the entire reappearing cast. Some art was altered or edited, and there are incorrect translations in scenes.
 
I'm trying to find a way to bring about the option of purchasing the series unaltered in English. Currently, scanlations is the only place I can find the series without those edits and alterations. I want to find another option.
I also don't want to have to buy the same volume twice.
Lydian_Selon March 5, 2010 at 3:28 a.m.
@John_Martone said:
" duh, of course we're Gambit "
Anime Vice is Gambit because Gambit is the best X-Men.
OGTon March 5, 2010 at 5:23 a.m.
I have sentries posted at every Foucault pendulum in the world. Your conspiracy is doomed to failure!
 
On a slightly more serious note, I can't really stand reading much of anything on a computer (manga and intensive prose especially), so I don't even read manga unless it's in a print, bound volume. And then I buy it and promptly fail to read it for a year (I just now read Black Jack v1, a year after I bought it, for class). On the other other hand, I don't own that much manga, at least compared to books sans pictures, so...
yuriconon March 5, 2010 at 6:18 a.m.
 @  FoxxFireArt
 
The argument about changes to names and titles gets very tired as a justification when you acknowledge that 90% it's the artists or the Japanese publishing company that requests the change. 
  
You, the reader, think it's cooler to have the original names, because you, the reader ,are not a legal department faced with having to pay fees to use names. Viz changes Zoro to Zolo because someone *owns* the name Zoro. Same with Edogawa Rampo, and Conan Doyle. Those are people's names and someone owns the right to use them. (And let's be honest, where Japanese sounds cooler and more exotic to you, English sounds cooler and more exotic to the Japanese, so duh!)
 
I remember Media Blasters talking about how the fans were livid when the logo for one of their BL videos was different than the original logo. They tried explaining over and over that the Japanese company demanded they use this other logo. This was their "overseas" logo, and it didn't much matter that the fans wanted the "real" logo. 
 
Subs and scans are free, because they cut out all the legal and monetary ramifications of IP. They steal work from the creator, the publisher, the distributor and give no thought to the wishes or needs of any of these. Doesn't matter that the Case Closed artist want the names changed for the overseas edition - you don't like that, so your desires are more important than the actual wishes of the mangaka.
 
"Jump through hoops?" No, it's not asking you to "jump through hoops" to actually support the manga artist. Amazon JP is as easy as Amazon. Or conversely - yes, we are asking you to jump through a massive hoop made from your own delusion, and *actually support* the series you claim to love. Too much like work? Sure - because stealing is way easier.
lyson March 5, 2010 at 7:37 a.m.
FFA- I wasn't trying to be dismissive of your point—for a crazy-long series like Detective Conan I wouldn't dare suggest anyone ought to buy it twice over.  I understand your reasons for not wanting to support the current US release.  But I honestly don't see how it would be practical for Viz to go back and revise the entire Conan series any time soon (they did it for DBZ, it's true, but I can imagine that was and still is a strong seller for them, and I'm just guessing that Conan doesn't have quite the same number of sales here in the US).  So my suggestion was with the idea that buying the Japanese editions, and continuing to read the scans, would be instead of buying the English editions (since I don't think Viz will ever produce English editions in the way that you want.  I do think this is unfortunate, and I'm sorry it's happened to a series you love).  But if you are reading scans based on the hope that Viz will one day change their mind, so that THEN you can go ahead and buy all the new un-altered editions, I guess you just have to keep waiting for that to happen.   (Still, as an aid to your Japanese language learning, you might still consider buying a few JP volumes just to practice reading in Japanese with the bonus incentive of reading a story you enjoy.  I've done this myself, and it really is great practice!)
 
My opinion is that anyone (not just you) who wants to justify reading free/illegal scans should show, by their actions, that they are willing to pay for the product in some form (FFA, I do recall that you buy US editions of non-Viz titles, and I am glad for that).  Otherwise, they are reading it illegally, and whatever reasons they may have for it, it's still wrong and unfair to the original creator, and fans shouldn't try to pretend otherwise.
mangawidgeton March 5, 2010 at 10:30 a.m.
I'm glad that my cover wasn't blown.
 
Gia, the Council will have words with you. ;-)
John_Thomason March 5, 2010 at 11:22 a.m.
The moment a translator types the first word of the first word balloon of the first frame of the first page...the original language is "edited" or "altered".   
Fans all have their opinions about how things should be translated, but there is no unified voice, and ultimately the final edit is in the hands of the creator. 
 
I have worked on legitimate translations for publishers, and it is an intense and often difficult process where there is no right answer.  
 
Take Gin Tama for example. A hilarious series in Japanese full of very up-to-the minute pop culture references that 99% of non-Japanese readers are not going to understand. Does the publisher 1) leave them in with many pages of translation explanations at the end or 2) alter the joke so it makes sense to an English speaking audience? 
 
You would argue 2 is not authentic, but if the idea of the book is to make readers laugh, then 1 doesn't work either. Neither a publisher nor a scanlation translator can promise an authentic experience when bringing a title to English. If they do, I would be very suspicious. As I said on the other thread, the only way to get a 100% authentic experience reading a manga is to eliminate the middle man and read it yourself in Japanese. I know that isn't a popular notion among those who like to have excuses to download someone's life's work for free, but on the other hand, there are thousands of true manga fans who do it every day. 
FoxxFireArt moderator on March 5, 2010 at 12:26 p.m.
@yuricon said:

"  @  FoxxFireArt Doesn't matter that the Case Closed artist want the names changed for the overseas edition - you don't like that, so your desires are more important than the actual wishes of the mangaka.  "

I say you are lying. I have never seen any proof that Gosho Aoyama made any such demand.
 
@lys said:
" My opinion is that anyone (not just you) who wants to justify reading free/illegal scans should show, by their actions, that they are willing to pay for the product in some form (FFA, I do recall that you buy US editions of non-Viz titles, and I am glad for that).  Otherwise, they are reading it illegally, and whatever reasons they may have for it, it's still wrong and unfair to the original creator, and fans shouldn't try to pretend otherwise. "
The story I want as a consumer is the way the author wrote it. With the Japanese names. It's VIZ that doesn't want me to read scanlations, but wont provide the product I want to read.
 
Actually, no. I USED to buy VIZ versions of the mangas they didn't alter. I boycott all VIZ merchandise now. I don't buy any of them in an act of protest. If I can't buy the one manga I want the most from them. I wont buy anything from them.
What is wrong and unfair is that series like Naruto, Bleach, One Piece, and Shakugan no Shana all get to keep their titles and original names.
John_Thomason March 5, 2010 at 1:15 p.m.
@FoxxFireArt said:
The story I want as a consumer is the way the author wrote it. With the Japanese names. It's VIZ that doesn't want me to read scanlations, but wont provide the product I want to read.
 
Actually, no. I USED to buy VIZ versions of the mangas they didn't alter. I boycott all VIZ merchandise now. I don't buy any of them in an act of protest. If I can't buy the one manga I want the most from them. I wont buy anything from them.
What is wrong and unfair is that series like Naruto, Bleach, One Piece, and Shakugan no Shana all get to keep their titles and original names. "
You are creating this  "us vs. them" scenerio, and I don't think that is exactly fair.  
 
What vested interest does VIZ have in changing the names of characters? None. But they did. For "legal reasons". Unfortunate, yes, but sometimes unavoidable. Also, this is probably a nice way of covering the Japanese publisher's desire to have the names changed in English.  
 
So VIZ has two choices: 1) reject the Japanese publisher's demand for certain name changes and allow a very popular title to get away and be published by someone else or 2) bow down to the Japanese publisher's demand, knowing you are going to piss off a few fans?  
 
I think you are barking up the wrong tree in terms of your "act of protest" which ultimately means you justify reading illegal scanlations for free. 
FoxxFireArt moderator on March 5, 2010 at 1:40 p.m.
@John_Thomas: 
Because they don't want people to read scanlations, but wont provide the product that those who use scanlations want. No one is scanning and passing around the series with the altered names. That's because it's not wanted.
VIZ wants me to buy the product, but wont provide the product that I wanted. I've tried presenting ideas for alternatives, but everyone is so far up their own rear about being anti-scanlations that no one even wants to try and listen to me about these  ideas that I think might help.
 
When you choose to alter content. The risk you take is that people wont want it altered.
 
What "Legal Reasons" did they have for changing the characters names? I think you are just making that up as an excuse to try and make it seem that VIZ isn't at fault where they are. I think you are lying when you say that the Japanese publishers demanded those changes. Do you have any proof that is what they did?
John_Thomason March 5, 2010 at 2:21 p.m.
@FoxxFireArt:  
 
You are big on calling people liars, and that doesn't really help the discussion.  
 
Again, you didn't answer my question. Why would VIZ change character names in the manga unless they were forced to? The only reasonable explanation is that the Japanese publisher (who gets final approval) forced them too, out of fear of some kind of legal action. This happens all the time in publishing. If I had proof of it in this case, someone would be revealing insider secrets and would lose their job, so no I do not have proof. But do you have proof that isn't why? Give me another reason they would change something so important, besides the "heads up the asses" argument. 
 
Let me tell you a quick story. I translated a sci-fi book for an American publisher. Japanese publisher has final approval, and after submitting the translation they came back and said "You cannot use the name of this alien race for this character!" The author had lifted the name of a particular race from an English sci-fi novel written in the 50s or 60s. In the Japanese book it is stated clearly that the usage of the name had come from this particular book, etc and thanked the author. However, they never had permission to use that name, so they feared being sued if the publication were to be released in English. Therefore we had to go back and change the race name....did it affect the reader's enjoyment of the book? No, no one was likely any wiser. Do I wish we didn't have to change it? Sure. But that is part of doing business with international companies. I don't expect you to understand that, but it is not about an effort to piss off fans...much the opposite. VIZ can't come out and say why they had to make the change (which makes me think it is the Japanese publisher's fault) but that doesn't make them the bad guy. They are trying to bring us the comics we want from Japan as best they can.  
 
That isn't up to your standard, I understand that, but I think your standard is also an excuse to steal something for free. You can act like you are on a moral high ground and ignore the economics and contracts of the publishing business, but you cannot ignore the illegality of what it is you are doing. Are you at the very least purchasing the new Japanese originals?
FoxxFireArt moderator on March 5, 2010 at 2:37 p.m.
@John_Thomas: 
I call them liars because they are making statements that VIZ was forced to do something without any proof that they were. Even you say that's why you think it must me. You don't actually know, do you? Where is your proof?
 
They could of changed the names because they didn't think the audience they wanted to target could understand the Japanese names. I don't know for sure.
 
Gia once told me that someone from VIZ told her that they changed the names, because FUNimation was changing the names for the anime version. They were following the lead of FUNimation. How do you explain that? I have no reason to think she lied to me.
 
Stop acting as if I am demanding it to be gold plated and printed on the Dead Sea Scrolls.
I'm not asking for the impossible. All I am asking and have ever asked for is to have the same experience that the readers of Naruto, Bleach, Evangelion, Fullmetal Alchemist, Shakugan no Shana, and One Piece get to read. The story with the original names.
In One Piece they edit one letter of one person's name. Zoro to Zolo. Even that minor edit I understand.
John_Thomason March 5, 2010 at 2:50 p.m.
@FoxxFireArt said:

" @John_Thomas: 
I call them liars because they are making statements that VIZ was forced to do something without any proof that they were. Even you say that's why you think it must me. You don't actually know, do you? Where is your proof?
 
They could of changed the names because they didn't think the audience they wanted to target could understand the Japanese names. I don't know for sure.
 
Gia once told me that someone from VIZ told her that they changed the names, because FUNimation was changing the names for the anime version. They were following the lead of FUNimation. How do you explain that? I have no reason to think she lied to me.
 
Stop acting as if I am demanding it to be gold plated and printed on the Dead Sea Scrolls.
I'm not asking for the impossible. All I am asking and have ever asked for is to have the same experience that the readers of Naruto, Bleach, Evangelion, Fullmetal Alchemist, Shakugan no Shana, and One Piece get to read. The story with the original names.
In One Piece they edit one letter of one person's name. Zoro to Zolo. Even that minor edit I understand. "

The publisher in Japan is going to want the names in the anime to be the same as the names in the manga.  
 
http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/news/2004-02-05/funimation-renames-conan  
 
The proof is here:  Due to legal considerations, this highly anticipated series will be released in the United States as . Working closely with our Japanese partners, was chosen as the name best suited for the U.S. market.  
  
Until you offer up an alternative reason, I think you have to take the statements of the publishers for what they say. They say for legal reasons they and the Japanese publishers have changed the names. I imagine the Japanese publisher said "FUNimation is using these names, so if you want to publish it, so will you?" So if you are VIZ what do you do? (You never answered that question before) 
 
VIZ cannot release an "unaltered" version contractually. 
FoxxFireArt moderator on March 5, 2010 at 3:26 p.m.
@John_Thomas: 
Seeing how you are confusing and misrepresenting my position. Here it is as simply as possible.
 
I don't care about the TITLE change. I understand why they have to change the title to Case Closed. While, thanks for the link. It doesn't address the character name changes. Just the title of the series.
 
You claim there is some sort of contractual obligation. The name changes between FUNimation and VIZ don't match. In the FUNimation anime. They change every single name no matter how minor. 
In VIZ's publication, they only change reappearing cast members. Suspects and minor appearing characters keep their Japanese names.
One Example-
FUNimation: Amy Yeager
VIZ: Amy Yoshida

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