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Happy Holidays

December 25, 2013



The team at Manga Underground
is wishing you all: Peace, Love and the Warmest Wishes for the New Year !

May your Holidays be filled with
joyful noise!


and some more songs

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Thoughts: China's Sexual Revolution

March 3, 2009



I just watched this documentary and had several thoughts. Although the documentary is one-sided on some aspects it has some interesting points. What are you thoughts about it? Why does the gov. starts to recognize the need for sexuality? Declining birth rate? Cultural revolution?


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Make Database Backups The Right Way! (for UTF-8)

February 20, 2009



My website provides Japanese literature, especially manga, and thanks to utf-8 the database is fluent in Japanese and many other languages. Website owners all over the world have adopted the utf8 standard. So if your database relies on utf-8 and you are planning to move away to another server or webhost you have to secure your database and make backups. If this happens MySql comes with a big surprise! MySQL 5.27+ has the tendency to convert international characters to ghibberish when you use

mysqldump -uDBUSER -pDBPASS DATABASE > database.sql

When you use this command chances are high that all international characters like German Umlaute, Traditional Chinese or Furigana are incorrectly encoded. Your blog entries and forum posts become unreadable! This tutorial shows a way to prevent double encoding and makes databse backup with MySql childsplay. You won’t lose your precious utf8 sets!

All you need is PhpMyAdmin (if not avaible, ssh will do the trick). Let’s begin with a problem explanation. Because losing data is bad, but not knowing why it happend and how to prevent it from happening again is even worse.

1. The MySQL Bug

It starts with the mysqldump command (MySQL bug report #28969) which seems to have a weird bug …

If your database tables are encoded in utf8 and one asks mysql to dump (export) the database in utf8 what occurs is double encoding!

e.g. If you enforce utf-8 output with

mysqldump -uUSER -pPASS –default-character-set=utf8 DATABASE > database.sql

the character “ë”, that is represented in utf8 with the bytes C3 AB, is double encoded into C3 83 C2 AB and ë becomes Ã!!

So your “Account manager België” becomes “Account manager België”.

Very frustrating!


To prevent double encoding from destryong your database this workaround has proven very effective: Simply dump the utf-8 database in latin1. latin1 lets MySqlDump export the whole utf-8 database as raw, providing you with the ORIGINAL utf-8 database!. If you use PhpMyAdmin simply export the utf-8 database as latin1. If you have only ssh, type the following command:

mysqldump DATABASE -uDBUSER -pDBPASS –default-character-set=latin1 -r database.sql

The next step is to open the fake latin1 database and to manually correct the database coding by replacing this line somewhere at the beginning:

Replace this line

/*!40101 SET NAMES latin1 */;

with the correct line:

/*!40101 SET NAMES utf8 */;

I use Notepad++ to edit databases, because it can handle large databases and parses much faster than the original windows notepad. You can download this freeware here.

3. Restore the database

If you use PhpMyAdmin simply import the fixed database.sql file using the import tool. If you have ssh enter the following command:

mysql -uDBUSER -pDBPASS NEWDATABASE < database.sql

Note: database.sql is the backup file, which will be imported into NEWDATABASE. DBUSER and DBPASS belong to NEWDATABASE.


Upon further research, the real solution seems to be to add the following in the /etc/mysql/my.cnf file:


default-collation = utf8_general_ci

and execute a

# /etc/init.d/mysql restart


Restart a mysql client instance and then check these variables:

mysql> SHOW VARIABLES LIKE ‘character_set%’;
| Variable_name | Value |
| character_set_client | utf8 |
| character_set_connection | utf8 |
| character_set_database | utf8 |
| character_set_filesystem | binary |
| character_set_results | utf8 |
| character_set_server | utf8 |
| character_set_system | utf8 |
| character_sets_dir | /usr/share/mysql/charsets/ |
8 rows in set (0.00 sec)

All is utf-8 now and a mysqldump command now seems to spit out proper utf-8 (without the dirty trick of specifying –default-character-set=latin1).

Before the addition of the utf-8 lines in the my.cnf file, the results of above query was:

mysql> SHOW VARIABLES LIKE ‘character_set%’;
| Variable_name | Value |
| character_set_client | latin1 |
| character_set_connection | latin1 |
| character_set_database | utf8 |
| character_set_filesystem | binary |
| character_set_results | latin1 |
| character_set_server | latin1 |
| character_set_system | utf8 |
| character_sets_dir | /usr/share/mysql/charsets/ |
8 rows in set (0.00 sec)

Note: Some php and ruby scripts can be configurated to encode in utf8. If you see this option you should definitely activate this line:


After all the hard work a man needs enjoyment:

I hope this will help you to keep your data safe!


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1st April’s Fool: jCafe’s End – Shocking Truth Revealed!

February 18, 2009



In times of crunching stock markets and failing safety bank deposits one would think that the big business CEOs have finally learnt their lesson. That they would stop living in luxurious apartments, flying in private jets or gambling in royal casinos. But it seems that some Administrators will have to learn it the hard way.

So what does silverado, founder of the Chevrolet car series, writer of several western movies and owner of several blogs and gold mines in the world has to say about this?

silverado: “jCafe was one of our greatest blessings, but also a high-risk, high return investment. I never believed we would be able to stay online for so long and still be undetected from the authorities. It was all a bluff! We never had any raw manga to begin with. We eliminated free posting with our forum rules and used spoiler tags to hide the truth. The whole system was based on broken links, dead uploads and spam posts. It was just a matter of time until the users find out that THERE WERE NO HIDDEN MANGA UPLOADS.”

This exclusive report was witnessed by an anonymous user, who happend to be in the same chat room when this live chat occured. Read the following excerpt provided by a reliable, authentic source:

# silverado was added to this conversation.
manita: O_O
silverado: huh? what am i doing here?
Manita: hi there
cface: i forced you here >=D
silverado: who are you guys?
Cface: >.>
silverado: Ever since jcafe got closed I finally got freetime.
Cface: no! you’re our slave now!
silverado: freedom, where are thou?
cface: so this was your plan all along?
Cface: he closed jcafe to get some free time!
Manita: ?.? huh
cface: he said it
manita: lol i don’t know much since I’m still sleepy z.z
cface: yeah silv you never told me what you think about obama
cface: wrath he hates him cuz he black 0.o
silverado: oh i didn’t?
Cface: did you?
Manita: very? well guess i didn’t hear bout it yet
cface: any convos we had was before you vanished
silverado: i think hes a good for nothing drug addict who wants to make up for his past
cface: that dosnt sound like silvy
manita: can i go back to sleep :X
silverado: besides that he should really gain some general knowledge about economics and learn the difference between fiscal and monetary policy if he wants to run a country.
silverado: on the other hand I’ve to compliment him since these seem to be his only fault. I’ve seen by far worse presidents.
Manita: o.0
silverado: you wanna know about the status of jcafe?
cface: yeah
manita: lol and @cface was you talking bout obama before ???
cface: silvy not in the mod to talk about stuff like that atm
silverado: alright, all data of jcafe…
cface: is deleted? o,0


silverado: well, it’s just an idea, but what’d ya think about a COMPLETE RESTART?
Manita: ugh,…D;
manita: i guess what silver said is right
cface: fine but i still want “Special Agent C” userlevel!
Silverado: huh
cface: a complete new start would suck though
silverado: we could start all over
cface: but i guess you could redo the whole forums
silverado: and i will create a complete new platform
silverado: where you all can make groups
manita: yeah that would be much better
silverado: get your own myspace like blog
silverado: etc
manita: < .<
cface: hmm but what about all the post/ links/ ect?
Manita: don't make it like myspace lolz
silverado: there is this amazing site I found yesterday where everybody can create blogs, have a gallery etc.
cface: yeah im not interested in a blog page for each person
manita: what's the site?
Silverado: it's called FACEBOOK
cface: >.> silvy on crack
silverado: I will buy the facebook software and create a new platform. think of it as jcafe’s new home
manita: just start the forum over but don’t make it like facebook or myspace plzs >___________< silverado: just with the new features
silverado: to add your friends
silverado: pm each other
manita: ahh i see
silverado: and an extended profile
manita: didn't we already had private messages on the old board ?.?
silverado: where all your friends can write
silverado: you can create clubs
manita: hmm.....
silverado: and write news on your clubpage
silverado: invite members
silverado: and make funny votes
silverado: and display images
manita: this is interesting now
silverado: (tries to cover for the lost forum data)
manita: @silver oh lol
silverado: hahaha, it sounds great doesnt it?
manita: myspace and facebook are both lame <<
silverado: yep
silverado: i agree
cface: >=( think we sould kill silvy
silverado: that’s why it will be called “Silverado’s Frogface Empire”
silverado: instead of facebook
silverado: cuz otherwise they could sue us for name similiarity
cface: ah frog face good one cuz everyone will be pisst and have a frog face -_-
silverado: the domain: is even available!
Manita: o.O ugh
silverado: a really .com domain isn’t it great?
Silverado: so now nothing stands in our way to revive jcafe
cface: tsk that name sucks and you know it
silverado: hm
cface: silvs drunk >.>
manita: no comment from the girl …..:X
silverado: maybe we should take the „face“ out
silverado: makes it easier to type
cface: lmao
silverado: or
cface: >.> *dosnt take kindly to your trolling*
silverado: hey, im trying to help yeah
silverado: the recession hit me hard
silverado: no donations
manita: i know and hah i dont’ very mind the name xD
cface: lmao
cface: dont agree with him!
silverado: or maybe ?
Manita: k but if i feel like killing someone it would be wat haha
silverado: yeah, silverfrog sounds good
cface: i guess this is the end of jcafe
cface: i guess those statistics will rise even more
cface: *hangs himself*
manita: lolz i don’t think he saw it yet
cface: he did
BoneCraKeR: so its not gonna be called jcafe no longer?
Cface: silvs just messing with us
manita: i guess so bon
cface: he knows not to mess with us like that
cface: well hunt him down!
Cface: and linch him
silverado: hm ok, ok
cface: and poke his dangling body with sticks
silverado: how about then?

BoneCraKeR has left the conversation.

silverado: ok, here is the truth
silverado: (starts politician mode)
manita: O_O
cface: finally
silverado: the data of jcafe24, some images
silverado: and some posts
cface: some = a lot
silverado: were lost in a fire, when terrorists attacked the datacenter of in chicago
cface: >.>
silverado: the whole house is a wreckage.
manita: great one silver
silverado: the 90 stories of the house crashed after the fire got out of control
silverado: we think it was an air raid using a passenger airplane
silverado: we couldnt find the blackbox
silverado: it melted or vaporized…
silverado: in the vulcano, which happend to be nearby.
cface: wait? the backup was sent to the server in the us instead of somewhere you could control?
silverado: we never had such a thing like a backup plan
silverado: so anyway, we couldn’t find the vaporized blackbox
silverado: neither could we find the airplane
cface: wtf? you said you had a script that back up the forums everyday?
Silverado: just a black pit hole, breathing masks and hull pieces with the airline logo
cface: silv sold the data for crack money
cface: m****r f***r
silverado: but no worries!
Silverado: we know the culprit
cface: columbian mobsters?
Silverado: it was
manita: >.< ?
silverado: why we know it?
Silverado: because we found his passport on the scene!
Manita: AHHH......
cface: tsk you always blame NA
silverado: you heard right
silverado: we found his passport, now we know his identity! which is err....
silverado: firstname: National
silverado: lastname: Anime
cface: jimmy carter?
Silverado: we know its an awkward name. we think its a foreigner!
manita: wasn't jimmy carter ready dead??
silverado: our intelligence assume he has strong ties to talibans in afghanistan!
silverado: and al quaida
silverado: and north korea
silverado: did i forgot cuba?
Silverado: yeah, he has also ties to cuba! it's the evil alliance!
cface: >.>
silverado: well, the unofficial report is…
silverado: I lost all money in gambling and couldn’t pay the server rent.
manita: WHAT?!!!


silverado: and they kicked me out
cface: >.>
silverado: ok now, before you start lynching me
silverado: im just kidding!
Silverado: all data is sound and safe
silverado: stored on multiple servers in the world
manita just sent you a nudge.
Silverado: the script makes regular backups every hour, every day
silverado: so as long as i dont die or get caught
cface: i thought terroist attacked those servers?
manita: i ready know it was joke and thanks you silver for making my days
silverado: you can expect to be back very soon
silverado: *knock knock*, wait, somebody is knocking the door
silverado: it’s strange why in horror movies the culprit always knocks on the door
silverado: It’s so much easier to ring a bell! And much louder!
cface: damn we have to depend on whether you die or not?
silverado: dont worry, if the worst happens and the nasa get me, my hacker friends will avenge me.
cface: i think bone alredy went over there to hunt you down
manita: i’m going to die from laughing this early in the moring lolz
cface: lmao
silverado: *knock* *knock*
silverado: well someone is knocking…
silverado: Wait a moment!
Manita: me duno lolz
silverado: AH
silverado: THEY ARE HRERE!!!
silverado: …FOUND ME!!!
manita: …
cface: i guess hes dead
cface: he better have had a backup plan for him dying -.-’ *kicks silvy body*
manita: but i don’ think he’s dead yet
cface: think hes dead. god bless his zombie bones
manita: very …but hmm i still think he lives somehow…
manita: < .< oh well maybe I'm just hearing him laughing from the underworld...*shrugs*

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jCafe24 suicide rates higher than ever!

February 17, 2009


Shocking news! We have received new figures that show the number of jCafeists who committed suicide in February could top the number of jCafeists who committed suicide in last 12 months.

Yesterday, jCafe moderators said its suicide rates were at their highest ever.
In a rare move, the jCafe24 staff released monthly suicide data today to highlight the growing problem.
Last year, 128 jCafeists committed suicide and another 15 suspected cases are pending. Last month, jCafe24 moderators believe that 24 jCafeists killed themselves – compared with just four in January 2009.
If those cases are confirmed as suicides – and moderators said they usually are – that rate would be higher than the 16 noob-kills reported last month.

“The trend and trajectory seen this month further heightens the seriousness and urgency that all of us must have in preventing suicides,” jCafe24 admin Senbonzakura said.

Veterans advocates said the new figures were “staggering” but also part of a larger problem. They said the numbers don’t take into account how many jCafeists commit suicide after leaving jCafe24.
The jCafe brass said they would hold suicide prevention training for all jCafeists from March 15 to March 25.

We spoke with the Admin of Jcafe24 to hear what he had to say about the growing problem.
“In February, we lost more jCafeists to suicide than to moderators,” said Silverado, Admin of jCafe24.

The cause for this sudden growth of suicides? Experts undoubtedly believe it’s because jCafe24 is down.

Stay With us As we Uncover more on this ever growing problem.

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Neon Genesis for Fansubs

January 26, 2009



The first era of fansubs seem to end as a few anime publishers have changed their strategy to release instant anime subs. “Dattebayo Stops Fansubbing Naruto”, “Crunchyroll Launches Major New Digital Distribution Partnership” are just two of the headlines that are travelling through the webspace. Crunchyroll is one of the largest anime social networks with video content. They released a press release announcing that they would start offering the latest subtitled Naruto episode one hour after broadcast in Japan. This service is of course not free. Only paying subscribers will be able to enjoy the instant subs by VIZ Media. Viz also made a press release on November 17 stating that the episodes will be shown for FREE one week later on, Hulu, and Joost, with a new English-subtitled episode offered every Thursday.

So this time the competitor comes from outside and wears a well known but long forgotten face: anime publishers. It must have been quite difficult for Crunchyroll to convince Japanese companies to enter the American market this drastically. Releasing scripts and footage for Pre-release work will open new holes for theft and even industry espionage. But money is the universal language and just as Obama’s promised to improve US’ broadband internet – new TVs with internet support will appear and create a new demand for real time content. But that’s not all. The market for portable video devices shows impressive signs of growth, thanks to companies like Apple and mobile-phone-hybrids. Streaming sites like Crunchyroll and Hulu who show whole movie episodes will surely gain more market as those little devices makes it possible to watch tv anywhere at anytime. It’s only a question of time when streaming website owners finally understand and start to match their content to the hardware requirements of video phones. One way or another DVD sales of anime shows will continue in the next years, but there is little doubt where the anime market is moving: the online market. The stone is rolling and maybe soon the term “free” might become another synonym for less available. Will this eventually lead to a new monopoly? Or will this stuck where it began, because one just cannot change consumers who have been downloading anime for years without paying anything. Time will show if VIZ’s step to online distribution is a good investment.


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America through Manga's Eyes

January 15, 2009


This one is an old article that I wrote for an anime awareness club and published it in my blog.

Manga (or Japanese comics) are a very hot source of entertainment and enjoyment among teenagers all around the world today. Even in this age of the television and the Internet, manga remains a very popular source of pleasure for teens of the 21st century. But manga is often much more than just a means of enjoyment. Sometimes, manga may have deeper, more profound meanings. This essay will attempt to uncover just one facet of these interpretations: America, as seen through manga’s – and thus Japan’s – eyes.

Now, firstly one must consider the fact that America has historically been very important to Japan. It was Matthew Perry, a citizen of the USA, who opened Japan after nearly 200 years of complete isolation from all external interference. After this, America and Japan continued to be the very best of friends. Except for the period of the Second World War, this warm relationship was maintained by both sides.

But there was also a reason for Japan to follow the US this way. That reason lay in the coming of Perry’s fleet. The Americans were the first foreigners that the Japanese had seen (other than the cloistered Dutch on Deshima). These men impressed the Japanese by their physical strength and seemingly insurmountable power. It is not surprising that they were regarded almost as gods from another realm, gods who would liberate Japan from the crutch of backwardness.
Here we will be examining only three manga for an illustration of the above premise. First, let us lookat a Masamune Shirow classic manga, Appleseed.

The general story line of the manga follows a post-apocalypse world where numerous terrorists strive to survive and soldiers attempt to keep the peace. A great agency called Aegis is created after nuclear warfare wipes out many nations, to keep the peace. Run by a genetically-manufactured race of super-humans called bioroids, the only mission Aegis has is keeping the peace. To do this, they have begun recruiting super-warriors from “the badside” as they call it. Among them are the main protagonists of the story: Deunan Knute, a female super-soldier and her cyborg companion Briareos. From there, the story moves on to document many social and philosophical that ring very true, even in today’s age of imperfect states.

However, Appleseed is unique in the fact that it is a truly international manga, and attempts to be cosmopolitan in its scope. This is where we find allusions to America as the Other Great Nation. Throughout the manga, we find allusions to “Imperial Americana” which seems to occupy enough territory to qualify as an empire. Aegis is shown to be supporting this state (or the other way round; there is little evidence to support either contention). In between long statements about the geopolitical condition of the world, we find the protagonists speaking of Imperial Americana that reminds one of the times during the Cold War, when the West saw America as the savior of humanity. Sure, some characters do criticize Americana’s policies, but these become just sidetracked threads by the time Volume 3 of the series comes around. We see in the very beginning the devastated New York City, where a battle has recently been fought. In fact, one of the characters comments on this very fact:
“So this is the Big Apple…You’d never think the Federated USSR
and Imperial Americana were slugging it out in Baltimore.”
Apparently the USA and USSR have returned to their long-standing war. Here the tone is one of “Oh-no-Russia-is-up-to-it-again”. Again, in Volume 4 we find allusions to the new Imperial capital at Los Angeles and its huge bureaucratic system. Here again, the US is popularized, though in a subtle way.

Now let us look at another Masamune masterpiece: Ghost in the Shell. This tale also bears some similarity to Appleseed in that this too is a cautionary tale set in the future, where World War III has been fought, and nuclear holocaust has wiped out almost half of the world. Very few humans survive; most nations now depend on cyborgs for regular functioning. It is through the eyes of a crack team of counter-terrorists, led by the dynamic and seemingly immortal Major Motoko Kusanagi, that the story has been narrated. Now, many have complained that GitS (as it is lovingly called by fans) is politically sterile. However, one finds no evidence that it is. Here, too, the common thread is the presence of Imperial Americana which seems to be the friend and protector of Japan (the only nation which has survived the holocaust). In the second season of the anime series, we see Imperial submarines heading toward Japan to prevent cyber-terrorists from taking over the reins of power.

My last example of America as seen through manga shall be Mai the Psychic Girl, the highly popular manga from the 90s. This manga is unique in that for the first time we have a negative portrayal of an American character. This is personified by the wicked scantily-clad psychic Turm, called in specially from the US to find and defeat Mai. Throughout the series we see Turm become more and more evil, performing deeds so heinous that she cannot be loved by any reader, much less any character in the manga. Tall, blond, and deadly, she is every hero’s nightmare: a ruthless foe that never lets up, and gives no quarter. Thus Turm becomes the first American portrayed in a negative light by a Japanese, all the more surprising because an American character is always an observer, or at least a lawgiver, reflecting Japan’s psychological indebtedness to the US.

There is no doubt that in all these instances, an American character has, in some way, been the pivotal character (except perhaps Masamune’s mangas). There have also, however, been many portrayals of Americans in supporting roles, so to speak. For example, Lucy Winrad’s character in the Midori no Hibi manga series plays a small but quite meaningful role, pushing Midori and her love Seiji together. Another example is Yakitate! Japan’s Monica Adenauer, who becomes so enamored of Kai Suabara that she agrees to leave everything behind in order to help him. These instances, though perhaps not large enough to justify a paragraph, nevertheless justify the view of America through manga – and thus Japan’s – eyes.

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The Demise Of Quality Scanlations Approaching?

July 10, 2008


Introduction: A new era commenced in the world of scanlations. The old scanlation groups are in tatters. Few have remained to fight the uphill battle against the vicious demons…a threat to the world order, the speed scanlation groups have appeared!

Branded by the righteous hate of of the highly skilled, the speed scanlator only meet disgust on the wide fields of IRC. This phenomenon has taken over the world of scanlations and fansubbing. A cleavage between the two belief systems, or if you want to call them so ideologies, has been created and the gap between these two paths has yet to be closed.

After this very colourful introduction I will – much to my disappointment – not talk about ideologies, belief systems and cleavages (I will have to write about them on my exam). Instead I will focus this …rant on the metamorphosis in the scanlation scene that is still ongoing; it does not look like the system will revert back in the future.

History and Facts: I used to be an avid hater of speed scanlations. I had a few heated discussions with other members of the community in the past, discussing why speed scanlations are stupid, why they are damaging the community overall, and so on. All these discussions were held subjectively and very few made an effort to not let their belief take over their argumentation.

Of course, one can hardly expect an objective discussion taking place on IRC, where most of the users are not only overestimating their IQ and language skills, but also their anonymity, easily falling into their usual behavioural pattern, meaning flaming and “trolling”.

With this text I first want to give a short overview over the not-so-recent discussion first, talk very briefly about the history second, and then finally address the Pros and Cons of speed scanlations. In my conclusion, I’ll state my personal opinion on the matter and try to weigh the Pros and Cons against each other to find a satisfying result. I will try and emulate this bulk of text as a scientific article on manga scanlations, despite knowing that it will not meet the criteria for one. I hope to give the discussion a new, more mature basis of debate. I’m not really sure where my motivation to write this text derives from, maybe because it helps me procrastinate from exam studies? Very likely!

I think the debate about speed scanlations sporadically emerged back in 2006, with its height being in the consecutive year. The discussion has been re-appeared several times in 2008, usually when a series started to get the “speed scanlation” treatment like Saru Lock or Sekirei. (ed note: Oh, come now, do we need discussion on such plebeian titles?)

Like a harbinger of doom, speed scanlations appeared first for Naruto. Not surprising, considering its widespread appeal outside of Japan. Even at the beginning of 2004, there were three groups scanlating Naruto, all of them now defunct. As I was not reading Naruto back then, I don’t know if one group did the magazine RAWs, while the others the tankobons, or if they all competed for the fastest release. I don’t know if critical opinions of these procedures were voiced, or if people thought of it as a healthy competition. Inform me in the comments!

The big buzz about speed scanlations probably started in the late summer 2007, peaking October 2007, when Naruto (I’m using Naruto as an example, because it is one of the more obvious series exposed to speed scans) chapter 376 was scanlated by thirteen different “groups”, including “one-man teams” (maybe there is a correlation with VIZ’s Naruto deal?!), but has now dropped to four groups in May/June 2008.

Similar to Naruto in October 2007 Bleach had eight groups scanlating one chapter, while at the start it had been two, and now it also back to around four releases per chapter. The development for other shounen manga has been similar. Meaning: usually two groups start to scanlate the manga, then a peak with many groups releasing their version of a chapter in fall 2007, followed a consolidation phase in late 2007/early 2008 (i.e. Mangashare’s merge with Binktopia). As a result most shounen manga get around two to three different versions for each new chapter (Naruto, Bleach, D. Gray-man, Claymore, Reborn!, etc.).

There have been other factors, which contributed to the cancerous and fast-paced development of speed scanlations than just the rise of manga popularity. It is true that with the rise of manga popularity all over the world an increased the pool of potential helpers; alas, looking at the current situation, leechers instead of helpers seem to make up the majority. More and more people are able to use the internet with sufficient bandwidth and therefore gain the opportunity to get their hands on scanlations, compared to outdated methods like the black markets in their respective countries, where they sell scanlations on CDs! Also, more children in their teens are able to use the internet, causing the creation of a new wave of “weeaboism” and Naruto and Naruto-like series lovers, fuelling the already-raging fire for Naruto and other shounen/shoujo titles. (ed note: And we ALL know they’re all crap!)

Aside from the new quantity of internet users and their average age, one should not forget the original characteristic of the internet: its rapid speed. The internet is fast flowing, quickly changing and rarely long lasting. This characteristic also allows popular manga to become exponentially more popular within a short amount of time. Due to word to mouth propaganda in real life, as well as in the virtual life, a manga series can become known to people who fundamentally had nothing to do with manga. One manga fan posts links to scanlations of Naruto on a board about rabbit breeding, gets some people interested, who then themselves might make further threads in other forums.

New scanning technologies and faster internet make RAWs available sooner and with better quality. Mangahelpers and Ritual Scan Forge (RSF) have given easy, free, and uncomplicated access to many RAWs, which in the past have been secret in monopolizing scanlation projects. Mangahelpers also plays an important role in the actual translation process, as it provides an independent source for translations for certain series. Most series, where the translations are not reserved and hence available for public use, have more than one speed scanlation group working on them, and are rarely joined by a quality scanlation group.

Pros & Cons: After I talked about some of the obvious factors to why speed scanlations exist as they do today, I want to point out some Pros and Cons of speed scanlation, starting with the latter. I, by no means, think this list is complete; however I do hope I mentioned the important points. Please feel free to provide input in the comments.

Group members of established and respected groups have said that one of the negative effects is that the quality of speed scans plainly sucks, to be blunt. It therefore soils and taints the work of the mangaka and thus shows no respect for the original work. However, speed scanlations never claim nor try to do quality releases. Furthermore, no matter how much effort you put into a scanlation, the mangaka will simply not care. It doesn’t matter if your release is LQ or HQ; you have stolen property from the mangaka and it doesn’t show your respect for his work. You lost that respect when you started to scanlate his work without any agreement or allowance to do so. To argue that you provide advertisement, creating higher chances for a potential license and/or increase his fanbase is being hypocritical. Believing this is for the greater good only sooths your guilty consciousness, similar to linking to English translated manga on Amazon from a website where downloads for exactly the same manga are provided, available for free. (ed note: But let’s not argue about validity of scanlations here, ok-nyan?)

A more valid argument might be that speed scanlations kill the established group or makes them drop the project (TEA-Scans, Kefi), which they have been working on for so long. Some say that the speed scanlation group don’t have any effect on them, because the labour organization is clear: one or more speed groups are doing the low quality releases, while the HQ-group does the high quality (tankobon) releases. This conception is purely myth. Having a speed group release faster than you has an effect on your pride and motivation. Slower releases means less people come into your channel to download, say thank you, or simply stay and idle. You may wonder why do these groups even care about “attention” or “praise”; aren’t they doing this of their own free will?

Partly yes and partly no. Scanlating manga so the only ones reading the chapter is your own group and a motley few defeats the purpose of spreading an author’s work. Naturally, you want to get credit for your work to some extent; downloads or an occasional bit of recognition within the scene is some sort of payback for the hard work you’ve been putting in. This obviously doesn’t mean that when a speed group or another group picks up your project and scanlates faster than you, your group will disband. Dissolution is the last step and until now, hasn’t been happening just because of speed scanlating; however projects have been dropped as the result of it being scanlated by another quality group at a faster pace.

As you can see, this argument is not totally valid either. Groups don’t just disband because of other groups taking their projects; they might shift their priorities over to other projects and pick up a new one. This can increase the variety of manga released and therefore would be a positive effect, while a negative side-effect might be that loyal readers who prefer the older group’s version have to either a) wait longer b) stop reading the manga or c) be forced to read the speed scanlations. A minority might suffer for the good of the masses. (ed note: And you can thank the masses for populist hogwash and horse spit!)

Another negative of speed scanlation groups could be that these groups drain resources from the older groups. New member mostly want to join the group who releases the fastest. As a counter argument, one could say that those people, applying for positions in speed scanlation groups, don’t possess the abilities to work in a HQ-group to begin with and therefore no resources are drained. Yet one should not forget that many of these old groups can train their new applicants and with time develop them into fine cleaner. Just the sheer amount of speed scanlation group causes a “brain drain”, as some of these applicants might actually have the skills and time to do a good job on quality releases. Some of the applicants at speed scanlation groups might also find it easier to work there than for an established quality group. The quality criteria are more lenient and the pressure and group structure is not as strong. It’s easier to please their readers than to please the quality readers.

One has to wonder if the appearance of the new impatient lecher is a result of the speed scanlations or if it’s the other way around. While we should not exchange cause and effect here, since the impatient and anonymous leechers have existed for a long time, back then they had no choice but to wait for the release, or had step up from the shadows and start their own group. Recently with the rise in internet users and decline of their average age, more of them have swarmed the scene, most of them being even more impatient and demanding for faster releases. The response was speed scanlations. What does that have to do with Pros and Cons you might ask?

I think the speed scanlation will never satiate the impatient leecher. These impatient leechers had no choice but to wait in the past, but now can act up all they want, as some group will definitely release their manga, no matter how they behave. This, however, does not have any negative effects for the established groups, as most of them will just kickban any annoying person or simply ignore them.

But the most discussed and heated point would be so called “project-theft”. Project-theft was widely considered as a lack of etiquette, a sign of no respect towards the group doing the project in the past. By now, project-theft has become an everyday appearance. Sekirei and recently Saru Lock are probably one of the best known cases but I can at least name a few dozen others that have been getting low quality treatment under the argumentation that the past group was too slow, even when they were releasing chapters at a consistent rate and proofed to be a reliable scanlation team in the past (Fairy Tail, Reborn!). Often these speed groups don’t even ask for joints (by now a joint with HQ-groups is unlikely as the fronts have become entrenched and some HQ-groups take a certain pride in not working with speed scanlation groups), but even when they did most of them don’t have the required skills to meet up with the HQ-groups’ standards.

This loss of etiquette is going hand in hand with the change of the scanlation mentality. The original purpose for scanlation was to bring Japanese manga to the world, to show off their unique art and story-telling. Manga at the time was unknown and unlicensed; if one was licensed it would be dropped by the group to support the local industry. Today most of the new groups and also several of the established ones do scanlate licensed material (here meaning licensed in the US) and refuse to stop even when the licensed version makes it to print. This recent development certainly doesn’t have a positive effect on manga sale figures, yet there are still people who claim otherwise. The old groups accuse these newly founded ones (not only speed scanlations) to have no working morals, damaging the very own industry they had hoped to create and causing backlashes in the market.

After I discussed the validity of the Con arguments, one has to see the positive result of speed scanlation too. Even if it comes with a setback on quality, speedy releases for the masses are not “bad” per se. I have to admit, I never cared much about the quality of a release for series like Naruto. I’m fine with some hardly levelled RAW, white squares as bubbles, typeset with an ugly pixel font (ed note: I’m not! Quality or death!). As speed is the only criteria to differentiate between the LQ releases, I’ll go with the quickest available. I used to stay faithful for the main group’s release, but lately have given up on that (i.e. Vinland Saga). (ed note: But Vinland is addictive, classy rawk.)

With speed groups doing all the shounen manga, the established groups have more time and resources to spend on unknown and unlicensed projects. Therefore speed groups disburden the HQ-groups, thus creating greater diversity in manga being released, which is then good for the readers. One could also see the other way around. As the HQ-groups tend not to work on licensed material, the speed scanlation groups take over. In the end both clearly are positive effects for the community, albeit not for the industry, which is an entirely different matter.

Concerning that is that fact that speed groups’ are practically immune to Cease & Desist letters by publishers. They often don’t possess a set structure or a leader; sometimes they only consist of one person and are therefore a) hard to track and to “hunt” down and b) can always be replaced, which makes sending these letters totally useless, as they would just reappear under a different name the next day. With their flexibility and mobility they can ensure that the scanlation scene will exist, even if not like it used to be, in the future. (ed note: Postive or negative, we leave for you to pick your poison!)

Conclusion: There are valid arguments for and against speed scanlations, and with the recent consolidation phase, it seems that the phenomenon has been on halt and is not as apparent as before. Speed scanlation groups themselves have been reorganizing their structure and picked up other works, although still stealing manga occasionally. The phase of many one-man-groups doing releases for shounen appears to be over, and instead a new phase has been occurring: community-building.

The newer groups try to establish and create a community within the manga scene to share their scanlations, as well as talk about their hobby. They try and imitate Mangahelpers; they also happen scanlate their own series too (Mangashare & Franky-House). They use these scanlations as a way of promoting their community while using their community as a way to promote their series…a clever method of acquiring new recruits to keep up their speedy releases. Sometimes they use their releases to force people to register and then bolster their community in the short run.

My personal critique of these new groups would be that they sometimes make it unnecessarily hard for the user to download their releases such as uploading them on terrible file sharing sites, forcing you to register, or no user friendly layouts. This policy contradicts their original goal to bring manga to the public as fast as possible, “fast” including making it easy and simple; both luxuries which are not provided in many cases.

The established groups either have an easy to use IRC channel (!list and triggers or links in the topic), while also providing DDL links. I agree that an IRC-only release is not something that makes downloading uncomplicated or faster, however most of the HQ-groups never intended to do that. For their quality releases they demand certain cooperation by the leecher and if it’s only forcing him to join the IRC channel. In contrast, speed scanlation groups try to get praise and attention, which stands in no connection to the actual quality. They, however, often get more praise and attention as many HQ-groups, simply because they decide to only pick up popular series. The HQ-groups themselves don’t care much about praise anymore compared to the new blood.

Another reason why I dislike the speed scanlations is that if you don’t download their releases within a particular time frame most of the links don’t work anymore. This means you have to click through ad-heavy sites with an ugly layout to get some direct download link if you want them, since Lurk doesn’t update as fast as they release. Note: this is not meant as a critique towards Lurk! Alternative links are often available, but only Rapidshare (which I despise) and Megaupload seem to store them long enough (there’s also Mediafire), while providing decent speed and page layouts.

What has been annoying me lately is their different ways of formatting their release names. I know this isn’t very important to many of you and neither is it important for speed or quality, but it’s a bother to rename tons of the releases so that it’s lined up correctly in my MangaMeeyaCE and does not first show chapter xx and then chapter xx+2. (ed note: Don’t sweat the small stuff! Burn the big stuff!)

Overall, one can conclude that even if speed scanlations initiate heated debates, their actual negative effects on the scene might not be as bad as one might believe. Most of the negative effects about quality and resource draining are overestimated and the demise of quality scanlation doesn’t seem near, and even then, the speed scanlation is just one of many factors to cause its downfall. The ongoing project-theft and the lack of etiquette is still an issue that remains thorny. It seems that many people have forgotten about morals and manners, but also respect towards each others work. Many speed scanlation groups lack scruples and boastfully scanlate licensed material, which in the long run only will have negative effects on the situation of manga in the whole world. Denying this fact is like saying years of chain-smoking won’t have any effect on your health. I really do hope that the newly founded groups find their place in the scanlation world and maybe even develop into HQ-groups, so we can get some more quality releases of not-so popular manga, like Agharta, Freesia, and Leviathan. SOMEONE PICK UP THE LAST ONE, PLEASE!

About yal: yal has translated XS for Manga Underground, King of Thorns for Strays, and currently is translating Karasuma Kyouko for Nibo. He studies political science and loves politics even more than manga. His favourite series include: Eden, Berserk, Astral Project, Old Boy, and many, many, many more. Currently doubts that anybody will read this whole thing.

About the editor: Is a fey enigma involved within the scanlation scene in a number of ways. Frolics in amore, ambiguity, antagonism, and the absurd. Favourite activities include: flirting with feisty friends, fever fantasies, fighting the True Enemy, and having fun. Currently draws yaoi and shota 4-koma of Tegami Bachi inside random books.

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