Okay, I finally will discuss this topic. I had been really hoping to put it off due to its controversial nature and the fact that there are points I could rant on and on about.
To ease my burden, prevent myself from ranting, and to really cover the bases, I suggest you, dear reader, watch the Extra Credits episode in Piracy.
First, they do an amazing job of discussing the topic. Yes, they are a games show. Just listen, then come back and continue reading this.
First off, that video was related. Scans are, in essence, piracy. You are taking work that doesn’t belong to you thanks to the action of another party putting said work up for free on the internet.
Let’s talk differences. Most games that get put up for piracy are usually games that have absolutely awful DRM. And, as the video said, the pirated basically offer a free version without the bugs and DRM. Basically, why buy when you can get the better version for nothing? Now, scans (and fansubs, by extension) are still piracy. So, let’s really examine how they are different. Most scans and fansubs are shows released in Japan, and that will either make it to English speaking markets ‘eventually’ or never. Most fansubs are up shortly after the show airs-which is a lot faster than many streaming sites will have it. Why pay a monthly fee for a streaming site when you can watch the same show with subs for free only hours after it airs, instead of a couple weeks (at the worst.)
In short, fansubs and scans are a faster way of getting media, and in some cases, the only way.
So, why not just go with subs and scans? Well, fansubs and scans are usually of poor quality. International Copyright Law is also a bit of an interested party here. Pirating games may be a federal crime if you pirate games from a U.S. company. But scans are different-they violate an international law. You get prosecuted under terms set forth in international treaties, and will pay a very hefty fine and jail time, assuming someone does something. Scans and subs are also inconsistent and poorly translated.
Okazu had an article on translating manga and anime, I suggest you read it.
Read it? Okay, basically, you need an experienced team of people to make a good translation. They aren’t cheap. In addition, am official release is in line with what the author envisions for the series. Meaning, the character names will be how the author feels best, the items, plot points, places, etc are all as close as possible to how the author wrote, or their intentions of, the origional series.
Now, my opinion. I agree with Extra Credits. I myself have written a few short stories, and I am working on a game. I don’t speak Japanese, nor Chinese, nor Vietnamese, nor Korean. If I actually finish that game, yes, I would like to make money off of it.
But, I can’t translate it, not can I afford translators. I would rather people download it and play it then them not having access to it. Same goes for manga-especially older manga-there simply may be no other way to access a good work.
Which is the problem-many worthwhile manags and animes will never see an English release. Which is rather unfortunate, as many are as I just said, worthwhile. Maybe not the greatest, but certainly worht reading, and worth buying.
TO sum up, scans and fansubs are in some cases the only option for what you want to read. I just find a chapter of Fuusuke on the manga reader app on Android. It was a scan. If you would like to object to that fact, tell me where I can actually buy a manga written in the 1960’s. It wasn’t very good, but it was the only way I could find it. And believe me, I searched for it. I would rather buy than scan or fansub. And I have read other scan series, which I will precede to discuss below (the mini-reviews!)
I also have somehting I suggest you do after this section, so please bear with me. And if you do look at any of those, or even if you don’t, please take said action and have friends take said action.
#1: Super-Dreadnought Girl 4946-an amusing series about a giant girl who fights monsters, many of which are also giant. It is a silly story with some romance thrown in, and worthreading
#2: Sora No Otoshimo-this series does have many fans, although I personally detest it. But, some elements are things many others will be fans of, so I suggest at least taking a look
#3: Boku No Futatsu No Tsubasa-it is adult, and ecchi, but not fully H. A mature person who is under 18 could handle it. basically, there is a main character who is different, because she is a
H manga fetish character alien-human mix, who then proceeds to try to find love and friends. It is worth reading, due to the fact the author did take a fetish character and make a very good manga out of them that isn’t fetishy (well, the ecchi moments might be a little bit) overall
#4: School Shock-I was rather surprised by this one. I wasn’t too sure about it, due to it being mecha and all. But it provides a very unique new twist on the mecha genre, which lovers of giant robots will hate, but everyone else will see actually does a good job of being mecha(nical.) It actually manages to take all the good elements of Evangelion, and wrap them up in a new story that also manages to have none of the bad of Evangelion. Plus, it is a little bit harder sci-fi (mohs scale of sci-fi hardness) and it doesn’t seem to violate the square/cube law. Being a series with few chapters, we will see where it goes, but at the moment, it is quite good. perhaps it may even be the next Evangelion. None of the over the top characters that people hated, none of the things one would call faults. Yet. It is in its infancy, so we will have to wait and see if it can develop the plot depth and grey on grey morality and intrigue that Evangelion managed. I highly recommend it (despite one little bit I count rant about for a couple paragraphs.)
Well, I don’t think I made it to obvious which of those I found to be my favorite.
They are all manga that are worth reading (for most), yet as of now, have no plans for an English release.
So, here is what I request of you, and what I do myself when I find a good manga series that is only in scans due to no english version planned. Write a letter or send an email to the company that publishes/owns the manga.
Say you loved it as a scan, kindly request they put it into english, and offer to buy it if they do. then, if they eventually do, carry out your word and buy it.
Look, if a fraction of the people who read scans or watched fansubs took a moment to send in a letter saying ‘This series is great. Please make it available in my country. If you do, I’ll gladly buy it. Heck, I’d pre-order it.’
Afternote: I am wrapping up my reviews for this year, as winter is moving into where I live, which results in bad storms, several feet of snow, power loss lasting up to a week, and tree limbs (and entire trees) falling.
I cannot guarantee how much I can review for your benefit through the rest of this year, dear reader, so I will most likely award some awards to some good and some bad series in my next post and call it an end for 2011, unless I can get more reviews posted.
I mentioned four series above, and gave a short little tidbit about them. If you would like me to actually do a full review when I can manage, please say so.