Robot 6

Has pirated manga become ‘property of the internet’?

Akamatsu's legit manga download site

A blog called Welcome Datacomp has translated a discussion of manga piracy between manga creators Ken Akamatsu (Love Hina, Negima), Minako Uchida, and Kazumi Tojo that took place on the Japanese social media site Togetter about the prevalence of scanned and fan-translated manga on the internet. Akamatsu is experimenting with his own free manga site, but even so, he sounds pessimistic: “Am I too late? I get the feeling that [my project to release free manga PDFs] won’t be enough at this point.” He goes on to say

Hasn’t illegally scanned manga, propagated so casually like this, fallen into the category of “property of the Internet”? You won’t be able to eliminate it. The only thing we can do at this point is [launch our own free websites with the] “advertising model”. (Because charging people would be difficult.)

The most recent illegal scans are very high quality, and the translations are exceedingly accurate. (^^;) If there’s no respect for original authors on the net, then obviously the official versions will lose out.

The creators express dismay that people who would not shoplift from a physical store have no compunction about reading pirated manga; as Tojo says, “It seems like people will pay for things they can touch like vegetables, but they think it’s a waste to pay for intangible data.”

It seems like the creators are talking about both scans in Japanese, which are read locally, and fan-translated manga for other markets; they cite one example of a publisher being told by fans to change a name to the one selected by a scanlator. And there’s an interesting side discussion on the decline of the cell phone, which was once a popular platform for yaoi and erotic manga. As people switch to smart phones, the options dwindle: Apple doesn’t allow adult manga in the iTunes store, and Akamatsu says Kindle doesn’t either (I’m not so sure about that), but the fans reassure him that Android allows it, making that the platform of choice for ero manga fans.

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One of the artists links to a manga piracy site hosted on Facebook. So I guess it’s pretty clear they know [and are saddened by] what fans are up to in the english-speaking manga world. Hope eventually things work out, and a way to deal with this is worked out. Manga artists speaking out more about it like this certainly puts a lot of the reasoning scan-fans use into question.

The thing about the English speaking world (and anywhere outside of Japan) is that it is exceedingly hard to get a hold of some anime/manga. The last time someone even attempts to bring Elfen Lied to public, the cops got all insane and shut down the shop, then started a 3 years long crusade to censor other manga as well.

Also, I happen to hate waiting for years to get read my manga. We still don’t have properly localized Toradora in Thailand. I’ll be nabbing a copy before I head home from college..hopefully they have one in Aus. Cowboy Bebop never saw a release there either. We only have the official version of Suzumiya Haruhi manga late last year. And they still haven’t re-released Lucky Man–I did spend a sizeable amount of cash buying up used copy (in Japanese, nonetheless) as well as illegally translated Lucky Man just because I really want to add it to my collection. If they had released it, then yes, I would snap it up in a heartbeat.

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