Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Geek Rant Topic 07: One Manga

When All Else Fails, You call Mousa the 14, that one ranting geek.

And I told myself I wasn't going to cry. It's finally happened. One Manga is finally dead. From a legal stand point it's about damn time. From a geek's standpoint it's a sad sad day.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Japanese comics and cartoons or many aspects of the geeky livelihood, One Manga was a website where scanlators (People who took time and money to scan and translate numerous Japanese comics to distribute on the net, mostly for free) uploaded translated versions of Japanese comics on a chapter-by-chapter basis for the general public to read for free. And immediately you can see the legal problems concerning copyright and the fact that the artist/writer is not making money off his product. I fully understand this viewpoint however I get the feeling that the argument against the take down of our precious free online graphic novels has not been well articulated.

That's why I'm here.

Look I know I'm basically endorsing something illegal here, but hear me out.

According to an axiom formulated by Theodore Sturgeon; "90% of everything is crud." 90% of movies made every year are bad, 90% of YouTube videos suck, 90% of conservatives are Tea Partiers or Glenn Beck/Rush Limbaugh, 90% of liberals are... Tree hugging, human rights advocating... uh... I dunno, Baby killers? Okay I suck at negatively straw manning my own party, but you get the point. I'm basically saying 90% of Manga and Anime also suck. Which means there is a 10% that was made by Jesus Christ himself. However not everything good gets popular so only the best of the best or the most popular of the best are taken up by Western translating studios because they have proven themselves to be able to make money in japan? So what about the 10% that didn't make the cut because nobody looked at it? or the 90% that isn't really that bad but enjoyable nonetheless? Those get shafted.

Scanlation hosting sites helped change that. People translated what they like and with such a wide variety of interests, the 90% and the 10% all got translated for people to read. I mean there are hundreds of manga that go through weekly/monthly magazines all the time in japan but only a small portion become popular enough to get an anime and e noticed by western companies. When yo think about it, sites like one manga are giving the smaller lesser known manga a chance for popularity and recognition. Unfortunately this has the downside that the artist is still getting nil but hype can help bring things to prominence all you have to do is believe.

Now that I think about it, I think I've just been posed with a wee bit of a conundrum. Nobody is winning here. Western companies will only import what sells so the low tier stuff that's actually good is ignored. Which means the artists are making less cash. Their sales in the their locality may or may not be fine. the people in the west are getting stuff later and they're not getting everything, good or bad. If we maintain scanlation sites we're basically endorsing stealing, which is not good. But then all the lesser guys aren't getting noticed which isn't necessarily fair. But they're not getting anything form their work anyway so why bother? Too many complications, too many variables...

What's more, we have to wait a long time for something that comes out in Japan to make it o the U.S. usually about 1-2 years if we're lucky and the anime or manga is popular enough, usually longer though. Scanlators practically have the stuff coming out at a similar time from the chapters are coming out monthly/weekly in Japan. If we had this in the west on a pay for subscription basis we wouldn't have this problem as much. Because while we're waiting for the final chapter of a story arc in the west, the next three story arcs are practically already finished i Japan. It's a hyperbole but that's how it is. We basically get into things almost after it's all over and it sucks.

The solution is for the translating companies like Funimation to keep doing what One Manga and other scanlation websites do but we have to pay a small fee to see the content, probably in the form of monthly payments and only through the official translating companies so that the money gets funneled to the artists.

There is one minor problem with that. Most geeks and anime fans are teens we tend not to have disposable income.

Oh the simple things. We can't fix everything I suppose.

I still miss One Manga though... Anybody know what happened next in One Piece and Soul Eater? I'm dying to find out here...

EDIT: Some things I forgot to cover. Obviously One Manga is not the end all to free online manga reading websites. Mangafox and Manga Reader still exist. While One Manga had less than the other two, it's Great to Goof ratio was higher on the Great side. what's more, One Manga was loved for it's simple and easy to use interface, while the other sites were a little clunky. It will probably not help much because of geeks' sense of entitlement I'll cover another day. While reading online is simplier and we are getting stuff immediately, we lack disposable income and more often than not we believe "Internet=Free." So official websites following scanlator's model is a good idea, especially if it's paid for, but like everything, has it's flaws. There is no simple solution or perhaps a solution at all.

-Good Bye, Good Luck, and Imagination is Your Greatest Power
Mousa the 14


  1. To the extent that One Manga continues to update-just not host the actual manga on their site-you can always just watch their updates and then go to the individual scanalator's sites.

  2. That's bullshit. First scanlation has been eating at the share of the western market, setting inhuman expectations, and has little objective quality control and DOMINATED the anime/manga fandom. Companies that BUILT the AM industry have gone under due to the lethargy and entitlement its a thousand times worse than Game Piracy as it forces companies to go with the insanely popular, stuff from publishers they are already inbed with, and fighting an unturnable tide of criticism based on 'fan-accurate' lore and idealogy.

    Now that said I know about those rare diamond in the rough titles. Know something else. One, maybe TWO groups is translating them. Where's Mad Bull 34 after breaking out loud in 2007? Ressentement a four volume COMPLETED series has taken over two years to be released. Tough and many MANY MANY other titles that aren't completed and would get proffessional or quality jobs if not for Dark Horse, DP, and the Viz Signature line.

    Scanlators aren't giving us the good stuff they are always trying to deliver the next Naruto or Bleach. That said YES they are used to see what's popular but Viz and Shugakkukan (sp?) deserve money for their product and MANGA One knew it had the option but dared not pursue a mutually beneficial arrangement.

    I know its hard but the authority is right here and scanlators aren't heroes. Even gangsters work. Hard Work isn't purifying virtue of itself...shonen jump lied to you.