World The Invisible Labor Economy Behind Pirated Japanese Comics

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  1. tom_mai78101

    tom_mai78101 The Helper Connoisseur / Ex-MineCraft Host Staff Member

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    Against the backdrop of shrieking demons rallying for battle against human forces, Mune entered text into the comic's empty speech bubbles. "Originally they were but men," he wrote. "By virtue of uncommon tenacity were they reborn through causality."

    No one turns piracy into poetry quite like Mune. Eight years of rendering the blockbuster manga Berserk's Japanese dialogue into English has lent Mune respect in the underground digital landscape of otaku, the Japanese term for a manga and anime fanatic. His prose, admirers say, is vivid yet linguistically accurate. He can translate florid, archaic kanji into lyrical English dialogue. The digital Berserk pages bearing his words are clean with deep, black lines.

    Mune, 26, is a scanlator, an underground manga-lover who scans, translates, edits, and disseminates Japanese comics to overseas audiences, unofficially and without publishers' consent. His brand of piracy is more time-consuming than most; immediately after a Berserk chapter's release, he and his team of five scanlators begin to slave hours away over Photoshop with a Japanese dictionary. Scanlating one manga chapter can take them over 30 hours. In the past, Mune, who heads up the EvilGenius scanlation group, has stayed up for the duration of a project. He has never been paid for this work. Also, it's illegal.

    Since the mid-90s, when manga was just entering Westerners' consciousness, factions of scanlators have been illicitly editing and circulating Japanese manga abroad. Manga's epic storylines, ranging from cavity-sweet to torture porn, appealed to freaks, art geeks, and literature lovers alike. Tight-knit fan communities formed around manga, an exotic cultural pocket whose occasional godless gore and panty shots would make any suburban mom queasy. But since few series were released in English, Americans had no pipeline to the goods.

    The painstaking art of scanlation rose out of the desire for American fans to read Japanese manga without waiting—possibly forever—for publishers to release official translations of their favorite comics.

    Read more here. (Motherboard)

    Very long, very interesting to read.

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