As a Generation Y, I grew up with manga for a long time. I became disinterested in the ongoing back log of stories within the US, simply because after 40 years of Wolverine, I found him to be nothing more than the penultimate Mary Sue.
The trip to Japan didn’t help matters all that much. After learning Japanese, I got to enjoy a new type of comic. It was one that actually ended! Think about it, a story that I can pick up, read, then move to the artist’s newest imaginings. It was quite revolutionary a concept. I’d yet to hear about some of the comics that actually had these concepts like Watchmen or Wanted. That would come later. My young adult life was all about Marvel and DC. Let me tell you, both were absolutely boring to me.
Enter that trip to Japan as I began in my second paragraph. I would sit at a cafe, learning new hiragana that I would ask my teacher about just to have the chance to read it. I would take time out of my schedule to pick up a Japanese- English dictionary to try out some of the older manga and decipher these damned kanji impeding progress. I’d sit down for hours, sometimes in a cafe, discussing a few kanjis and what they meant with friends of mine, sometimes alone deciphering the things.
I got better at it and my Japanese is quite fluent. Then I heard about the online communities. The droves of people that came together to learn about these fascinating new worlds. Of course there were the older generation with their Dragonballs, and their Atom Boys. But there were new stories being told, not the same stories about mutants having to deal with the same tired villains. Who knew that someone could craft a story about pirates that is not only fantastical in nature but downright entertaining? Who knew about the world of Soul Eaters or the insanity of Ranma Saotome and Akane Tendo? Who knew these things existed?
And so I joined quite a few. Toriyama’s World was one such community that has changed and become quite small. Eventually choosing to read the manga online, I stopped learning Japanese as much. I probably should have done better but why? I’m no longer in Japan and I may not be able to go back in the next 4 years. As it turns out, more people are studying and better at Japanese than I was.
Eventually, this all is coming crashing down. As it stands, most of the “professional” manga translators have decided that these communities are destroying their profit.
Here’s where I rant and rave about online piracy:
First, I used to buy One Piece almost religiously. My problem was twofold. Money that could be used to eat and sheer volume. Let’s forget the fact that I have yet to watch the anime because it was botched by 4Kids (this has since been corrected by Funimation). Let’s see what’s going on with anime and manga in general and is it really killing the industry.
First, you have a lot of people learning Japanese, Korean or whatever language the comic is in. These people are doing it for free. This is always a good thing because it allows people to figure out a way to communicate.
Second, people have to buy the books. It boggles my mind how people believe that online sites are destroying the industry when they’re actually helping it! It allows people to see if a manga actually appeals to them. Young children can’t necessarily go to Viz, pay $5 for a pdf file (which I truly don’t agree with but hey, it’s their business decision) and then they get a license to read the thing. Or, the other option is to put up one chapter in a series with 500 chapters.
Somehow, I don’t believe the fancy Business Degrees and corporatism are understanding what they’re doing. People come to enjoy these stories. Taking down one site isn’t going to just stop people from reading online manga. Rather, the practice will more than likely go underground. Not only that, but it becomes that much harder for the ones translating a manga to gauge which ones are good to bring from Japan and which ones are more niche.
And yet, that’s exactly what these people are doing. Driving the art of loving manga underground:
I recently saw the CNN expose on anime piracy. Supposedly some of the smaller anime makers are hurting because of the internet. “We’ve been doing it (animation) this way for 30 years, and we don’t want to change.” I may not be the smartest apple out of the bunch, but don’t you think it’s time for a change? “But we have Koreans we’ve worked with for X amount of years!”
Ok, work with them, but why not make new friends? Why not make your own community and put up your vids and stop relying so much on a publisher? Why not figure out how to be your own middlemen instead of relying so much on tradition to carry you through the day? Good gracious gravy grain, get up and DO something other than depend on stopping your fans!
In such an interactive world that we live in, it’s depressing that we have so many people looking to set back the time on the clock to the 1980s. Taking down all of these manga scanlation site won’t kill the industry. But it will set it back as more likely negative press of the takedowns will result in less sales.