On Manga & This New Age

And now for a soapbox aimed at the Manga fans out there since you’re more likely to read it here than my blog! Because no one reads it! XD I’m not sure how many of you this actually affects, but as an avid manga reader myself I’m sure a few of you out there are, too.

Also, agree or not, I’m not here to argue with you and am unlikely to really discuss this in the comments–I just want you to be aware of alternatives & my opinion on the entire thing. This topic has been bothering me lately and I just need to get it out there.

Please do not use Manga Aggravators (online manga/comic readers or mass download sites that run on pirated material & ads). Don’t even visit them.

Once upon a time, Scanlations were pretty much the only way to get manga that wasn’t super mainstream like One Piece or Naruto (aka anything Viz or Tokyopop picked up). To everyone’s delight–publishers listened/noticed what fans wanted and started to print smaller run one-shot manga that were popular with Scanlators (Like DMP Books & the Blu Division of Tokyopop)–and that was awesome. The anime/manga industry is one of the few entertainment industries doing things the right way and listening to fans (which you can also see with Simulcasts on sites like Funimation & Crunchyroll).

I’ve got shelves of books I’ve purchased–ridiculously happy to have legal copies of titles that I loved in English. The best part? Scanlation groups & associated forums were/are very good about removing scanlations and stopping distribution once titles were licensed & available–even for stuff like doujinshi when the authors asked–encouraging us to buy the legal copies (and I did–I think I spent too much if I’m being honest–I’ve even got the original Japanese imports for a good chunk of them that I bought before titles were licensed). It was win-win all around for fans and publishers alike.

And then Manga Aggregators showed up. I didn’t think too much of them at first, they were just a place to put a bunch of scanlations in one place, at first just for download, and later to read online. They seemed harmless–I was naive. These aren’t groups out to support the manga publishing industry–they want to make money off content that is not theirs in any sense. Not only do they often post outright scans of English published manga, they post scanlations without permission. Many outright refuse to remove titles when asked, including both licensed titles and unlicensed titles the scanlators don’t want mirrored (so as to better control its take-down it in the event the title is licensed) or be associated with groups that host licensed work. They make a ton of money off advertising for a service that is hurting the industry and are flat out spurning the wishes of the people who translated the manga in the first place.

Need proof? I hate to break it to you folks–but Tokyopop went out of business. Out of everyone printing manga, I bought the most from Tokyopop–so you can understand how the issue would hit close to home. To make it all worse, this situation appears far worse than game or movie piracy that’s making the news–flatly, the scope of it baffles me.

When I search for a manga title (by itself without download or some other pirate keyword) on Google and three or four illegal aggravators shows up higher on the list than a legitimate, legal site–something is wrong. I know Piracy is never going to go away completely, but this isn’t right and it’s not what the original scanlation groups intended. These sites are a legitimate problem that’s threatening an industry that I love–so please, please, don’t visit them. Don’t support their ads and please do not donate.

Most importantly–this problem isn’t a service issue that the games, movies, and book companies are suffering from at the moment with ACTA and SOPA. The manga & anime industry listened and they’ve got a TON of legal venues to get manga & anime that’s hosting both old and new stuff–and they’re all very open to hearing what you want to see.  JManga is even making a move to go international soon–which is great! (On the JManga note, I know that the site launch was a bit of a mess and made a bunch of fans angry–but at the moment it looks like they’ve turned things around. I’m really happy with them right now, and if the publisher lists are anything to go by, they’ll have a ton of desired titles in the near future–new ones uploaded every Tuesday).

Thank you for your time, and just in case you didn’t know–here’s four legal sites to get Digital Manga from. So take your pick and make it legal! :D

Jmanga - Emanga - Viz Manga - Square Enix

8 Comments


Thank you for the links. This is the level that piracy needs to be addressed at, because when people support these thieves they will thrive. Stop visiting sites that steel revenue from the legitimate content creators and providers so they will be able to continue to create awesome products like WaM!

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>>service issue
One of those site will be international in the ‘near future’. Anime has it even worse.
I agree that creators should be compensated for their works, but there is absolutely a service issue when it comes to the international market.

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Thank you for referring me to JManga! I hadn’t heard of it before, since I’ve not been actively reading manga for several years. I might get a digital subscription to Jump. That would be exciting.

(On a side note, wouldn’t it be interesting if the American comics industry tried a weekly or di-weekly magazine? That would be something.)

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I would totally agree with you on all this, since I adored Tokyopop and I’m pretty miffed right now about Shonen Jump’s current decision to end it’s magazine publication and go online, but there are still mangas that can’t be found on ANY of those sites. Ever heard of En Passant? It’s a pretty good manga, gets a little confusing but I love it. What about Franken Fran which is a little disturbing but a great series that really touches on some interesting concepts. Neither is on any of those four sites currently. And buying a copy would be difficult when I have to save every cent I have for bus fare and college tuition. ^^; So unfortunately the pirates will continue their existence as long as there are those tiny little gems that you can’t find on the legal sites. Yeah publishers are listening but unfortunately they’re still only hearing the louder voices of the fans. I love the manga publishing industry, as an aspiring author I am against the fact so many sites post scanlations which take away money from the mangaka(who really do need a break if you’ve ever read Bakuman or know the story behind Le Bioux’s weird ending), but unfortunately as a lover of manga and someone who reads Television Tropes and the like, I can’t resist the stuff that isn’t well known but is amazing and that means still having to read the sites(though I really only use one site ever and avoid others like the plague). I wish it didn’t have to be. I wish there weren’t problems with piracy. I wish there were legal sites for reading stuff that did make sure the mangaka were paid. But as I said, that’s still a pipe dream for now. Sorry to burst any bubbles or anything; if you disagree with me go ahead and say so but this is how I see it and this is how the web still works unfortunately.

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I think my big point is not to get these titles from the aggregators hosting licensed content. If you absolutely can’t be swayed from the scanlation route, at least get it at least straight from the scanlators and not from the obvious pirate sites. ^^;;

As far as not being able to afford it–you get to wait like the rest of us. I have a ton of manga, but that’s from waiting patiently for sales, and well–until I got a job. ^^;; All of my manga purchases in college were either titles I saved up for or got really cheap in bargin bins and second-hand. Sometimes you just have to wait. :)

But if it’s a good series, I’d recommend dropping the title at JManga in their feedback, or the new Digital Manga Guild (http://www.digitalmangaguild.com/) or any of the other sites in their forums and seeing if they can’t get it since there’s an obvious interest. (Or even Square Enix’s own site, since they published En Passant originally in Japan. XD)

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I do have to admit to going to sites to read the latest chapters RIGHT as they come out. However, I make it a point to buy whatever I read online as soon as an official version comes out in English, as well as only buying some titles (as opposed to reading it online) and buying merchandise from official sites. That probably doesn’t make up for it, but it’s how I justify it.

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