Scanners live in vain ?

I recently had the opportunity to watch 3 Ghost in the Shell SAC (stand alone complex) OVA’s lent by friends, and have decided that the English dubbing deserves a bit more than the usual condemnation. Of course the dubs were awful: imagine a bunch of voice actors on thorazine whispering phrases from Postmodernism 101 into a microphone, and you will get some idea of the epic fail these sound tracks indulge in. The only thing worse would have been the kind of fake hillbilly accent that a certain dubbing company saddled New Dominion Tank Police with so many years ago.

scanners and others

Not the droids you are looking for…

Here’ my tip: Next time re-write the English dialogue into fake haiku/ tanka – you couldn’t do any worse! And get the voice actors to stand in the next room and yell their lines!

Of course we greedy heathen anime enthusiasts out here have a perfect solution to this – watch in the original Japanese and load amateur subtitles, made by enthusiasts. If they suck, pull out the free Subtitle Workshop or similar, and fix them yourself. No crime there, it’s just a text file that can be played over any video. Any Video. Whooo_Hah! Detorurnement time!

Meanwhile Cool Japan Inc. is off on one of its periodic crackdowns.

I fear that amateur fan-made scanlations are going to have to go the same way as movies with .srt files. Some kind of reader will be devised that will open jpeg images etc., and overlay text via position information. Nothing illegal with that: It’s a translation aid and learning guide for language students who are practicing with the tankubon they picked up on their last visit to Japan.

At this point, there is nothing to be gained by re-stating all the usual arguments about scanlations and scanlating. The mangaka made the stuff and needs to get some coin for it: his publishers have limited resources to try new distribution tricks and these take time to tweak into a working model. One such big try, JManga just failed, per coverage here – others have torn their hair out in fury over how badly the site behaved and that their purchased volumes will evaporate  (Google Chrome or the Cool Novo variant, context menu, inspect element, resources, images, view, save) and other new models seem to threaten established practices like foreign licensing. The “free advertising” argument falls on deaf ears, and Japan has enacted draconian punishments for downloaders – if the licensees initiate a complaint. Erica-sensei has a good, level-headed “pay for it” argument up on Okazu V2.

The comments lead me to wonder if the Comiket NPO should set up an anonymous guilt trust fund for wretches like moi, scanlators and aggregator sites to contribute to; something that would pay nominated artist’s dojin printing bills and provide lecture fees.

I fear that I will end up having to get my manga fix from the itunes store. (Have I mentioned my profound dislike of Steve Jobs lately?)

All this has recently hit close to the heart of this blog. A certain fannish group or individual that was tirelessly translating the newer bits of the Genshiken saga into English has recently attracted the ire of the publishing company that owns the rights to the manga, and might be looking to score a licensing deal now that a new Genshiken anime is in the works. They dropped the bomb, and I fear that it will be a long while before I get my next Genshiken fix to grind against random fujoshi-theory texts I find on the net. I hope Del Rey gets the licensing deal – their translators are fairly conscientious, and they have a nice head start with the work of the fans in hand.

Hey Big K! Here’s a thought: Your furreign licensors get a free benefit from fan scanlations. What if someone made an overlay program, as I ventured above? Then the overlaid translations’ texts would be copyright-able works of art, and your later official translations could end up in violation. Something like that would really hurt furreign licensing deals. Oh well, enough moral panic and I am sure a large industry group could buy a law making unauthorized translating of any kind a felony. Then with all those scanlators in jail, big K could use prison labor! Works for China, right?

Now I am just inserting random images into this post

In Korea, the Naver website has come up with a workable model for launching new manwha. English language agregator sites make boodles of ad money on the backs of fan work (hint: get a small fast browser used only for manga reading and disable java, javascript, cookies, popups, advertising, page colors, http referrers, etc.. K-Meleon beta 1.60+ works for me… ) With all the money that the Japanese gummint throws around, one could imagine that a savy group of Japanese bureaucrats could corral the industry and 15 English speaking web-hacks to come up with a legitimate model for releasing back issue content onto an “official” Cool Japan aggregation site.

Perhaps they could even design one that individuals in third world countries like Canada, with lousy net connections could actually get to load on their ancient hardware.  Tourism and sales and merchandising profits to ensue!

Sure the other aggregator sites would eat the content, but if Cool Japan wants to play in the big leagues, it is going to have to step outside its safe zone sooner or later

The aggregator sites already fear something like this: try reading manga on one of the larger sites, from within Japan. It will detect your country IP and display a fakee “has been licensed and removed” notice. Perhaps this is nothing more than good manners. After all, posting scanlations to filedump sites as “” instead of “Utah_budget_variances_2004_p84_xls.rar” was probably just asking for trouble.

If you live in the US of A, or France the following site lists legal ways to watch anime online.  If you live in Dover Beach Ontario and have crap for an internet connection, you are sol.

In the meantime, Just found a back issue of Image & Narrative on the net that burns much theory powder. More next post

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