The debate over scanlations continued this week, coming out of the brouhaha over Nick Simmon’s “homage” (his words) to Bleach. It grew out of the post by Deb Aoki at Manga.about.com, where comments exploded, with readers of scanlations coming to scans defense, while anti-scans tried to convince them otherwise. This “debate” led to a post on Anime Vice by a guest writer who tried to defend his reason for reading scans. More debate continues in the comments there as well. Watching people’s reactions to the scanlation debate has been interesting to say the least. It’s like discussing religion, politics, or “dubs vs subs” in the anime community. There is no real debate going on, because there are two groups with a set of beliefs that they are a prepared to defend to the death it seems. It’s become a shouting match with both sides making points and counterpoints to each other’s arguments. So, it becomes like talking to a wall, with neither side gaining ground or able to claim victory. While it does appear to be a wasted effort, these debates can be useful. You don’t argue with a fanatic to change their mind, you argue in the hopes that a fence-sitter, or newbie who doesn’t know better will see your arguments and be persuaded by them. That’s what makes all the frustration and sometimes anger you feel worth it.
One Shall Stand, One Shall Fall
Last Friday night, news started coming in over twitter that Amazon had pulled the buy buttons from all of publisher MacMillian’s books from their website. The books could only be purchased there from 3rd party sellers, and this was for both print and digital books. This included all of their imprints such as First Second books, Tor, and Seven Seas Entertainment. The New York Times then broke the story that Amazon and MacMillian were arguing over Amazon’s $9.99 pricing for e-books. MacMillian, one of the 5 publishers who had signed on to Apple’s iBooks store with the tiered pricing plan, now wanted Amazon to do the same. Amazon’s reaction was to pull MacMillian’s books. You can get a lot of links to reactions here. By Sunday, Amazon had posted to their blog that they would have to give in to MacMillian’s demands, and as of this writing, the publisher’s books were being made available again. This has been brewing for quite some time, and it seems only with the advent of the Apple iPad and iBooks store that publishers seem to be embolden enough to push for the tiered pricing. While the iPad/iBooks is an alternative, I don’t think it’s going to be as definitive as they believe. But the fact that Amazon has admitted it will cave shows they knew this was inevitable, and held the line as long as they could. Whether readers will go along is another matter all together.
Some Advice for Bloggers and Reviewers
Brigid of Mangablog first lists some good tips on how to make you blog more user friendly and possibly improve your Google ranking! Many of them are the same that I’ve heard on the tech podcasts I listen to, so you can be sure the advice is sound. And then found via Twitter, Deb Aoki of About.Manga blog has some sound tips for manga reviewers:
- manga reviewing tip #1: “Did you like it or not? I should have some idea whether it’s worth buying or not after reading your review”
- manga reviewing tip #2: “grab my attention in the first 1-2 paragraphs & give me a reason to keep reading, or I’ll just click away.”
- manga reviewing tip #3: “write like you’re having fun, not writing a term paper.”
- manga reviewing tip #4: “yes, by all means tell me what the story is about — but can you skip the rehash of the entire book?”
Solicitations made the next day has brought the count from 4 to 19. You can check Deb’s twitter feed for them all. There are a lot of good suggestions, though not all are practical for a short review of a title. But I was glad to see that readers do want to see ratings on reviews. Other bloggers have professed an aversion to them, but as I reader I appreciate them, which is why I include them with my own. I hope people find my ratings consistant, as that is something I strive for.
Walk Down Memory Lane
With most of the Year-in-Reviews done, it’s time to move on to the Decade-in-Review. The first of these comes from a conversation that started on Twitter about the most important moments in manga over the decade. Deb Aoki of Manga.about.com collects the suggestions and posts them as 25 Manga Milestones. I jump on this bandwagon to, looking back at the past decade of manga through my eyes and experiences. It’s interesting to look back at something of these things and think it’s only been 10 years for things that seem like they’ve been around forever.
I’ve never written a “Best of ” list since I never thought I knew enough to make such choices, but I’ve decided to make the attempt this year. All of the titles on the list are books I’ve read at least one volume of, and most started this year. The few exceptions should be obvious.
More On Translation
Shannon Garrity over at The Comics Journal weighs in on the translation issue. She brings to focus the whole issue of literal vs literary, which is really a fan vs professional debate. Fans take a more literal approach, which can be claimed to be more authenitic, though it could also be that they don’t have the writing sense to make the translations smoother. Good writing isn’t something that comes naturally, as the internet has shown. But, then again, sometimes trying to make a title more “friendly” to western audiences can backfire. Whether too much or not enough, it’s still a no-win situation for publishers and professional translators who want to please both the current otaku fanbase and try to attract new readers. But here’s my concern. How will manga ever reach more general audiences if it continues to keep clunky translations? Who’s going to take it serious or for being more than a niche genre if it keeps catering to the niche fanbase? You’ve got to cut the cord someday. I’ll take a good read over a literal read any day. Just don’t westernize the names.
Tokyopop has been under fire a lot recently, some times rightfully so. But their catalog of titles shouldn’t be. For whatever reason, some of their really good and entertaining titles haven’t gotten the love and attention they deserve. I want to rectify some of that now. Unfortunately, some of the titles in this list are out of print, and incomplete. But they may still be available through online retailers and places like eBay or Half.com.
Getting to Know You
Manga Views, the website that brings manga reviews all together in one place has started a feature about the people putting up the reviews. They will be posting profiles of manga bloggers. Just answer a few questions and the whole world will know about you! The first has already gone up. It’s Ed Sizemore of the Manga Worth Reading Blog. Check it out and all the other great things going on there!
Yu* Must Go
The January 2010 issue of Shonen Jump USA marks another change in the magazine. Yu Yu Hakusho, one of the first 5 titles to debut with the magazine ends in this issue. This makes it the only other title from the debut line up to complete it’s full run. Sandland, a single volume title by Akira Toriyama was the other. Yu-Gi-Oh GX “graduates” from SJ this month as well, going graphic novel only now. So much for “there’ll always be a Yu-Gi-Oh title in Shonen Jump.” And of course, the long awaited One Piece jump starts in this issue. I haven’t cared for some of the changes to SJ in the past, but a natural end like Yu Yu Hakusho is the way it should be.
No Manga Love from the New York Times…Again
This week the New York Times released their holiday gift guide for graphic novels, and it should come as no surprise to anything that follows the NYT’s blog that manga doesn’t get any love from the writers in charge. This list was no different. David Welsh of the Precious Curmudgeon blog decided to take matters into his own hands. He announced on Twitter that he would be doing his own holiday gift guide for manga, and invited other manga bloggers to join him. Watch for David’s list on Thanksgiving, and other lists from Kuriostiy, Okazu and Manga Bookshelf blogs next week just to name a few.
Tokyopop Webinar staring Domo! (‘s creator)
Tokyopop’s Webinar was actually on 10/29/09, but posts about it didn’t go up until after 11/1/09. Lissa at Kuri-osity has a quick rundown of the webinar and questions for Tsuneo Goda. Deb Aoki of the About.Manga Blog has a full transcript. If you want to know more about Domo, this is a must read. I’m kind of disappointed that Domo isn’t interested in Global Domination. He certainly couldn’t do worse than the leaders we’ve had lately. And as my daughter would say, “He’s Domo!”
Recently over at Anime News Network, artist Bettina Kurkoski was featured in their The Gallery column. I read this, as I like Bettina’s work. I really enjoyed her OEL manga, My Cat Loki, buying the volumes after reading the first volume on line. Yes, I like it that much. In the article was of course links to Bettina’s home page and Deviant Art page. Of course I had to check those out. In the updates of the Deviant Art page at the time, Bettina was asking about KA-BLAM, a printer that specializes in comic books. She is doing this so her fans can finally get the rest of My Cat Loki.
I think this is so awesome, that Bettina is looking for ways to finish My Cat Loki for the fans. Even though Tokyopop is giving some fans a chance to read the end of their favorite titles with their Wednesday online comics, it’s even cooler when the creator does this. She’s already put out some MCL works with sketchbooks for sale at cons (that I can’t go to), but seeing this title complete would be the best. It’s such a wonderful and touching story that it really deserves a proper ending. It’s too bad that Tokyopop didn’t give it the time and attention it deserved.
I do hope the final volume of My Cat Loki sees the light of day somehow. Bettina has at least one guaranteed sale right here.