Category Archives: Random Convention

Weekend of Horrors 2011

To get me back into the writing mood for the several festival and concert reviews I still owe you, I thought I’ll write a bit about an event that transpired some years ago, to get back into the flow after my long break due to said festivals and traveling. Don’t worry you’ll get the reports and reviews later.

Of hidden Hotels and changed plans

This event was a convention, my very first ever at that and it wasn’t about Anime and Manga – which would have been the more likely thing to happen. No, it was a Horror-convention called the “Weekend of Horrors” (WoH) in Bottrop Germany.
The WoH claims to be the biggest convention for its genre in Europe and provides its visitors with tons of Horror-movie actors, merchandise and other stuff a Horror-movie fan would like to have.
Back in 2011 someone from the Marketing of the convention wrote a post in The Forum (the one I’ve mentioned so many times >_<) and it sounded interesting, especially as The Other – a pretty cool Horror-Punk band – where scheduled to play there. When I mentioned it to the colleague of mine – whom I’ll be calling “Black Kat” from now on – she found it interesting as well and we started to look into getting there.
It was in the middle of my semester back then so Kat had to come to Hamburg for me to be able to pick her up and on her way there she send me a pretty hilarious SMS about her status:

“No failure in the course of operation, no suicidal sheep on the tracks and no megalomaniac persons that are hopping in front of the train.”
(And yes, I still have it as I’m far too lazy to delete the old stuff, if I don’t need to.)

Anyway, after I’ve picked her up at the train station we made our way to Bottrop, which took us quite a while, as the motorway down there always has quite a bunch of construction sites and stuff.
So when we arrived we looked for a parking lot and our Hotel. We soon found both, though the lot seemed to be for short parking only and the hotel was quite hidden in the boulevard.

Our Hotel entrance hidden between different stores

Our Hotel entrance hidden between different clothing stores


Anyway, all the days before, we eagerly waited for the program to be released, but only after we arrived did we get a chance to look at it.
And to find out that the convention was already over for the day, as we had arrived more or less late (5-6pm and yes, already closed…).
What we also had noticed was that there would be a town’s fair right beside our Hotel…with horrible Schlager music (I won’t go into more detail here, just look it up if you want to know more, sorry)…so staying was not an option.
So we had to make some different plans for the evening.
We ran a search for Gothic or Metal bars, clubs etc. on the Internet and what we found was the Cage Club/Drachenlager (Dragon’s Lair) in Bottrop
On our arrival we had asked the receptionist for bus directions to the convention side, as we stayed a few towns/villages away from Bottrop and after figuring out which bus we would need to take and when, we made our way for it.
After searching for it and asking Kats „personal road atlas“ (aka her boyfriend) we even managed to find it.
As this trip was filled with mishearings we ended up creating the term “Keksboxen” (Cookieboxing) for the kind of dancing we saw on the dance floor that night. (The others were about freezers and tan somehow…)
It describes the way some people dance to quite electric Gothic music – which would be EBM and stuff if I’m not mistaken – it looks as if they are kickboxing against an invisible foe. And yes kick was misheard as “Keks” (cookie)…but we preferred the other term and still use it. 😀
Anyway, we stayed quite a while that evening, had a good time drinking and talking and when we returned to the Hotel the fair was already closed, so no disturbing music while trying to sleep.

Convention time!

As I said before I wasn’t sure whether my car was ok to be parked where it stood, so after waking up I stumbled down and checked again to find out, the place was free for parking at the weekend…
When I walked back I saw a coffee shop and asked Kat whether she’d like something from it. So I went back, again, waited for the thing to open and got us something to drink before the breakfast buffet of the hotel was opened. And let me tell you: I’m horrible at carrying full tea cups on saucers up the stairs…

The stamps we got for the days we've been at the comnvention

The stamps we got for the days we’ve been at the convention

Well, after we got ready for the day we went off to Bottrop again.
When we arrived at the convention we had a wonderful discussion with the employees as we only had a print out of a mail that said that we bought the tickets, as they  weren’t able to properly deliver them in time – just as they weren’t able to release a program in time… Let’s just say: At the end we even got the card for Friday and the stamp for the day. 😉

The convention itself was in an hall-thing and housed several meters full of DVD stands, well, basically each hall was stuffed with DVD booths, one ending into the other. Other than that were there booths for costume articles, one or two for jewellery, games, merchandise, an exhibition of Alien-masks and of course the autograph alley. I don’t know what it is like on big conventions but paying 5 Euro for one mere autograph and even more for a photo session felt pretty much like a rip off…
Across from their alley was the stand of The Incredible Blood Brothers and when we told the younger – looking – one of them that we had missed their show the day before he gave us a little show of what they did. He simply put a spoon and a nail into his nose and one of us hat to pull it out…
Afterwards he even gave us an autograph, for free. 😉
When we later returned and his brother was there we also got his. 😀
(By the way: As I mentioned in my Wacken 2012 Review, I even saw the brothers again walking around in the mud. 😉 )

The Spidey Bathrooms

The Spidey Bathrooms

I think we also chatted with the guys from the gaming booth and I might even have tried one of the games, but I can’t remember…too many zombie stuff anyway…
Ahh zombies! They had a zombie-walk! With the high amount of three zombies, but one of them was quite funny as he walked into a pole and did other ridiculous things and a zombie couple that looked more ridiculous than frightening…
Also more cuddly than frightening were the two Werewolfs that ran around the convention and with whom we even made photos.
And of course the decorations: Spider webs in the bathrooms, for example, to get the people into the right mood. Very Scary >_<

That evening was also the one were The Other would play, so we eagerly waited for that. The concert was pretty great, but having an indoor concert at about 16 o’clock with about 150 people was a really weird experience as well. It was my second concert of them, but with a friend a concert becomes way more funny. And if the band is giving out jelly eyes…well it gets messy, but fun nonetheless 😀
Before the concert we talked to a guy that just stood there and found out that he was the friend of the zombie-guy 😀 It also took them about the same amount of time to get there from – I think it was – Sweden as we did from Hamburg…it’s always sad to hear things like that…
There also was this other guy, weirdly dancing in the front the stage, wearing ear plugs – not quite Keksboxing, but close to it. We weren’t quite sure if he knew where he was though…
But the weirdest thing about this concert was when we left the darkened hall and walked into the brightness of the afternoon sun…
Bright daylight after a Horror Punk concert, just as weird as their Midday concert at Wacken 2010
Oh, and the convention ended that day after the concert. Really obvious decision to end a day of a Horror convention around 17 o’clock. Remember the bright sunlight I mentioned? Absolutely understandable…[/sarcasm]

The result of eating Jelly Eyes....

The result of eating Jelly Eyes….or rather being fed them…

On our way out of the hall we continued to talk to the zombie-guys friend, before they departed and we were stuck with an even weirder fellow. He was somehow keen on making his own Horror movies, meeting his stars and he talked a lot about smoking, and I don’t mean regular cigarettes…To get rid of him we decided to return to the hotel before returning to the club again later.
The only good thing about the fair was that we could get some food on our way „home“.
The second evening in the club wasn’t as fun as the night before. Even the other people we chatted with didn’t make it better, but it might have been the music that wasn’t as good as the day before.

Lady bugs and trains can make for scary stories…

Sunday was the last day of the convention and we only had one point left on our list: A reading session with Boris Koch and Michael Tillmann.
The day before I had talked to them at their book booth where they sold copies of a Anthology (Gothic – Dark Stories) that I had read some years ago – though I had to wait for the next day to actually get it alongside two others (Gothic – Darker Stories, Ein Gänsekiel aus Schwermetall [A Goose Quill made of Heavy Metal], all of them Anthologies). While talking I also mentioned The Forum and asked  them whether they would like to participate in a reading circle for one of their books. They seemed interested and I handed them a book mark with the URL.
Their reading session was then in the cafeteria of the building, only separated from it through a more or less thick, black curtain. So you heard the rustling and dulled noises from outside.
It still was fun as we were the only two attending their session and they read some quite interesting stories. I will never look at lady bugs the same way…will you after reading the summary below?
Boris read a story about a man that obsessively collected lady bugs to gain their „luck“:

To collect the luck the man ripped off the lady bugs‘ legs and wings and put their black bodies into bottles, jars and everything he could get a hold of. And it worked. He got riches, he got beautiful women and everything else he desired. When he died old and satisfied after a long and prosper life his coffin was led into the ground and crushed the last lady bug. Not long afterwards, the world ended.

And this is only the short version of it…
Let’s just say: It was weird to be the only ones there, but it was still fun. 🙂
(Besides we later did have a reading circle for Boris‘ „Der Königsschlüssel“ (The King’s Key). 🙂 )

With that ended an interesting convention and we returned to the hotel to watch one of the movies I’ve acquired. Which was obviously a Horror movie and an adaptation of one of the most disturbing books I own – and read: Clive Barker’s „The Books of Blood“ and its story: The Midnight Meat Train. A story that makes you reconsider taking the New York subway at night…
Well, watching this resulted in two funny things.
The first one being that when Ted Raimi appeared on screen I said: „Ha, we’ve seen that guy today!“ 😀
The other transpired after the movie:

It was warm in the room and we opened up some of the windows, but after getting ready for bed we soon closed them again as there were roof overhangs before them.
When every light was turned off, I saw a shimmer below the door and asked Kat whether she locked the door. She confidently replied with yes. Not three seconds had passed and she got up again to check the door. 😀

We weren’t afraid. No. We just did not want make the same mistakes all those people in the movies make. 😉

Final words

The next morning we had to get up far too early as I had to attend some lessons. Several traffic jams in Hamburg cause me to miss half of the first one…

Have a look at a building nearby the convention side for the closure....

Have a look at a building near the convention side for the closure….

But regardless of all the negative stuff I’ve mentioned throughout the text we still had a great weekend, that we wouldn’t mind repeating one day.
It was weird to have the Convention end so early and the only scary things being „shock“ moments during the movie and our own imagination, but it was still fun.

And mind you: All the above was in 2011. They had plenty of time and chances to work on all the things I’ve mentioned. I can’t say how it is “today”, all I know is how it was back then. By now they also changed locations (they are now in Oberhausen), so maybe they manage to stay open longer than before. Who knows…

And as The Other and some more bands were announced to play this year it has become interesting again and Kat and I shortly discussed attending again.
We’ll see if we actually do it or pass again.
Probably the later as they will also play at the Hell Nights that we at least have in mind to attend in November.

Stay scared 😉

PoiSonPaiNter

Manga & Scanlations

What you can read below is the basis of my presentation for an oral English exam.
I couldn’t cover everything in the short time frame we had, but at least you will be able to read the entire composition.
Would have been a waste to just stash it away.

Do you know this guy?
What about him?
Do you have any idea what the general difference between them is?
No?
Well, let me tell you: Thor is a comic, while Nura is a Manga.
And  I hope you will be able to tell the difference between them after you read this post.
According to my topic – Manga and Scanlation – I will not just talk about Manga, but also about Scanlations, what they are, how they are made and what is good and bad about them.

But let me begin by looking at the difference between Manga and comics.

As you might know Manga are the Japanes equivalents of Western Comics like Marvel’s Thor for example.

But what exactly is a Manga?

The word itself can be divided into the Japanese phrases Manaimless or whimsical and Gapicture or drawing, giving an impression of unplanned continuity as the term is originally used for both comics and cartooning.
Comic in turn is used for both Comic strips (or Cartoons) and Comic books of certain series.
As a result the word Manga mostly stands for Comics originally published in Japan.
An exception for this are „Comics“ that copy the style of the originals, but are from a different country like Germany for example.
Unlike the western versions Manga are not published page- or strip-wise, but as chapters.
Varying from series to series they are published in anthology magazines in a weekly, monthly or random rhythm – which I’ll return to later on – and in lower frequencies as volumes of collected chapters.

Prejudices and Genres

The most common prejudice regarding Manga is that every character has huge eyes and cute looks.
While this might have been the case with the first series that swapped over the ocean in the 1970s/1980s, it is no longer. Or at least only characters that are intended to be the cute ones (especially children and/or young girls) have this features.
Nowadays character designs have more harsh lines and look rather realistic, yet not as abstract as a western Character like Thor does.
The stories itself range in the same genres as their western counterparts.
You can find pretty much everything from mere Romance over Action up to pure Fantasy or SciFi.
This again is diverted into Manga for females (Shoujo) or males (Shounen) and those in turn into different age groups (children, young adults, adults).
But the way it is portrayed differs from the majority of Comics.
While having a tendency to using comic relief characters and scenes, they always have a serious narration.
Even Manga for children have certain morales within them, while wrapped in light-hearted stories suitable for the reader’s age.
Regardless of genre or anticipated reader-base Manga always teach you something about the culture and/or history of Japan.
For example the rather new series called „Nurarihyon No Mago“ (literally: „Nurarihyon’s Grandson“, translated: „Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan“/“Nura – Herr der Yokai“).
Like several other series this one centers around a young boy, Rikuo, who has a rather unusual heritage. He is the grandson of the leader of all Youkai (Japanese monsters from folklore) and Rikuo as quarter Youkai not only has to take over his grandfather’s position, but also has to cope with being human for the majority of the day and Youkai at night.
And while doing that you also learn about the different types of Youkai that are believed to exist on the Japanese isles.
Additionally, it criticizes the thoughts of excluding someone because he/she is different, which is one of the main topics of a lot of Manga.

In short: Manga are Japanese Comicbooks with a variety of genres for all ages.

Manga vs. Graphic Novel

Though some people – retailers even – claim Manga to be „Graphic Novels„, which by the common usage of the term is quite incorrect.
As I said at the beginning: Thor is a Comic.
It is full of colour pages, has either a concluded or ongoing plot and is read from front to back and from left to right.
This, can be considered Graphic Novel.
It also consists (mostly) of colour pages and is read the same way, but is sturdier than the Comic and potentially also contains short narrative texts.
And Nura thus is still a Manga.
It has usually black and white pages, occasionally colour pages and most importantly is read from back to front and from right to left.
And while Comics and Graphic Novels have glossy paper Manga usually have sturdy, yet still more paper like pages.

But regardless of those differences, let me digress a moment into the Japanese Manga market itself.

Contrary to the way Manga are usually published in Western countries (almost) everything in Japan starts with an anthology magazine.
Within each magazine – as the name would suggest – you have the newest chapter of several different Manga series.
Furthermore, these series are collected according to their topic and the magazines theme.
For example the most famous magazine – the Weekly Shounen Jump – only contains Manga series primarily aimed at boys (Shounen) with lots of action, fights and comedy.
Series which are published in one of the Jump magazines (Shounen, Monthly, V Jump for example) are most likely to become bestsellers, simply because these magazines attract a lot of people ranging from the youngsters up to adults who have bought these magazines in their youth.

You can imagine a magazine like this: The Weekly Shounen Jump for example has currently about 21 series. Every week the creator of the respective Manga writes, draws and simply finishes a new chapter of about twenty pages – with the help of his/her assistants.

The German and the American Manga publishers tried to adept this concept, but failed in both cases as the Western audience seems to prefer the collected Volumes instead of buying the anthologies and then buying the volume versions as well.
The American version „Shonen Jump“ was based on the Weekly Shounen Jump, but modified for an American audience including information on Japan itself and other gimmicks.
It lasted from 2002 until winter 2011.
The German versions BANZAI! for boys and Daisuki for girls had a similar demise. While BANZAI! only lasted from November 2001 to December 2005, due to a discontinued license for the published series, Daisuki managed to stay in business from February 2003 until June this year (2012), when the sales became too low the be bearable any more.
Two to three months after a Chapter is published in the magazines the original chapters are collected into a volume per series; the so called Tankoubon.
When this is released the official translators begin their work, causing a gap between the original and the translated versions (i.e. the series „One Piece„: current Japanese chapter: 685; current Japanese volume: 67 – until chapter 667; current German volume: 63 – until chapter 626) that the Scanlators wish to fill.
Therefore the Japanese magazines provide the basis needed for Scanlations.

But what is a Scanlation?

The word „Scanlation“ is a portmanteau of the words scan and translation. This way the meaning of the word lies within the word itself.
Basically a Scanlation is the process of scanning, editing and translating Manga/Comics from their original language into the translator’s language.
In most cases this is done by non-professionals, by fans who just want to provide a certain series for other fans/readers.

But before Scanlations had been even thought of there were the so called „FanSubs“, which provided fan-made subtitles for Anime (Japanese Cartoons) that aired at that time.
In the late 70s to early 80s fans started to send tapes with the translations from fan-group to fan-group, to share their work.
Coming from there people started to buy the Japanese magazines and/or Manga as well.
They bought the original and put a translation note inside it and send it off to whoever wanted to read it as well.
It was a small community at first, but „thanks“ to the Internet the whole process evolved.
People started to scan the pages, but still only enclosed the translation until the point when some of them started to include them in the scanned pages.

The Scanlation process

From that time on many Scanlation groups went by a simply yet effective process that can be seen in the following chart:

The Process of Scanlating a Manga chapter

What you also can see is that in each stage there are different people involved.
But it all starts with someone buying the magazines I mentioned before.
This magazine is then dismantled into single pages – either by cutting the spine of the book with a razor blade or putting it in a microwave causing the glue to melt.
The scanned pages are now called „Raw“s and are put online via different file sharing systems or send directly to the Translator and/or Cleaner.
This position can be hold by the same or different persons.
The work of a translator is what the name suggests, he/she translates everything in the chapter from sound effects, over thought- and speech-bubbles, to author’s comments, as close to the original meaning as possible.
The work of a Cleaner is a little less clear, it consist of cleaning up the scanned images (removing spots that shouldn’t be there as well as removing the original texts), converting them to black-and-white and adjusting the brightness and contrast levels until they look like the versions you see in published volumes – the scanned pages usually have a more grey colour instead of plain black and white.
When both the translation and the cleaning are done the Typesetter uses both things and puts them together.
Depending on how fast a Scanlation group wants their work to be published the finished chapter has to go through a Proofreader, who checks if everything is done correctly. Afterwards the result is right away posted online or send off to Aggregation websites, who basically are libraries for all the different series. With this the newly released Japanese chapter is scanlated and shortly afterwards available for the foreign audience.

Summarizing this into a few words: Scanlations are fan-made scans and translations of (mostly) Japanese Manga that are published online and (usually) available for everyone.
Yet scanlating and distributing any series is illegal.

Reasoning against Scanlations

I’d like to give you some of the reasoning of the publishers and retailers and show you why they are not that valid.

Demand and Prices

The main reason for publishers and retailers to claim that Scanlations are evil is that they ruin the sales. When people have a free version the companies do not see a reason why they should buy the official version.
But that is not really the case.
A lot of fans still buy the volumes and the merchandise accompanying them.
Of course there are still those who only read and not buy it, but the overall tenor in Germany is still positive.
Even though the sales for the anthologies I mentioned earlier dropped that far that their cancellation was necessary, the sales for Manga were and are still increasing.
It is a bit different in America though, where you can see the negative effect on the demand-supply curve.
The demand is still there and increasing, yet not that many people are willing to buy the volumes at their current price, still their non-buying causes the publishers to increase the prices again, so they will be able to cover their costs, which again leads to less people buying it and so forth.
But with the current prices it really is not that surprising that people stop buying the printed versions.
An average Volume in Germany costs around 7 Euro, while the American versions are around 10 Dollars, which adds up to quite a fortune with each bought series.
Besides it is quite a temptation if you have to pay for this when you could have this for free and just some days after the official release.
Manga fans want to stay up to date with their favourite series, explore new ones and simply want to try out things. Scanlations grand people access to these things without having to pay for them.
This gives people a chance to read them, not just when they are short on money, but also if they simply want to try it and are afraid to make a misinvestment.
This way of thinking is similar to what people think of libraries.
If you wish to try a book without having to buy it you go to your local library and take it from there.
The Aggregation websites I mentioned earlier are nothing different.
Like in every other scene as well: Those who want to buy them will buy them – regardless of the price.

Besides, not wanting to buy the Tankoubon volumes doesn’t mean a fan isn’t willing to buy other merchandise or special features, such as plush toys, figurines, special volumes, artbooks, novels and so forth.
Yet theses things are rarely sold in your local bookstores.
Though you might have the chance to buy them in a well-equipped Comic store it still is very unlikely.
The best chance fans have to buy additional stuff is by using the Internet or attending Conventions.

Just a small excursion on this before I continue with the next problem:

Conventions or Anime Conventions are meetings for fans from fans and/or supported by studios or publishers. For several days fans can indulge in their fandom: Buying the stuff I mentioned before, attending discussion panels, participating in workshops, while dressing up as their favourite Characters – called Cosplay. (There are all kind of other Conventions as well, but covering those does not serve the purpose here.)

Wrongful profit

The next problem with Scanlation is that some of the Aggregation websites try to make a profit of their work, by forcing readers to log in and pay a monthly fee (like libraries) to read (and/or download) as much Manga as they wish or simply gaining money from advertisement on their sides.
But this is in my opinion an even worse Copyright Infringement than hosting the Scanlations in the first place as the authors (and other people involved) don’t see a cent of this money (as they’d to through library fees).
In 2010 36 Japanese publishers and American publishers like VizMedia, TokyoPop and Yen Press formed a coalition to fight the “rampant and growing” problem of Scanlation.
They tried to force these sides into closing.
Though only the three biggest Aggregation websites at that time – OneManga, MangaHelper and MangaFox – are remembered to have closed their doors because of this.
Still from their ashes several other websites like MangaStream or MangaReader rose to popularity, as the readers looked for a substitution.
Afterwards not that much has been publicly heard of similar actions.
For a short period of time MangaStream had put down its releases of the Weekly Shounen Jump series due to VizMedia starting a new campaign, claiming that they will only host reviews and release notes for the chapters.
Only a few weeks later they started to publish the series again by saying, that they will be removed after 60 hours.
By now they stay longer in their directory but less than the amount of time on other sides where you can read them years after they were published.

Declining sales?

While it is good that the publishers and creators wish to protect their rights this might not been the best way to try this.
It is the same principle as with the movie or music industry.
Publishing without permission is forbidden, yet it is still practised – regardless of the consequences.

The Sales of the Weekly Shounen Jump magazine

In Addition to that did the sales of the anthology magazines in the Japanese Manga market decline in the recent years.
It is still higher compared to those in the western market; yet lower than their own former sales.

From 1995 to 2005 the sales of the Weekly Shounen Jump magazine halved, only having a slight increase again in 2005.
I would have liked to explore more on this graph, but the data it contains is slightly biased as it sometimes shows the circulation of New-Years‘ issue, the average circulation or the bestselling issue, but it gives a good overview over the situation.

Therefore I’d like to show you this graph here with the First Week Sales of the Manga series Bleach for its last ten volumes.
As the sales are cumulated from the day of their release until the Sunday of that week it is not always the same amount of days a volume has been available.

Bleach Sales per Volume in the first three days

For better comparison I calculated the amount of sold volumes for three days, as this was the number of days the most volumes had been published.

Seeing these sales figures would suggest a decline, but it is not as simple as that.
The story of a series is just as important as the overall popularity of it.
For example volume 48, which is the peak here, is the ending of the first major plot arc in the entire series, so everyone wanted to have it.
Volumes 49 to 54 are an interlude arc for the main character to regain the powers he had lost in the previous arc.
With 50 and 51 being the ones with the most progress and 53 being the one with the return of much anticipated side characters.
And even though it is the final arc the sales for volume 55 are still lower than those of the previous arc.
When this volume was released in June 2012 the story had just begun and it wasn’t clear where it would lead, so people might have wanted to look at what will happen before they bought the volume, besides they probably were still disappointed at the interlude arc, which wasn’t that good.
Looking at the complete sales figures this volume would have been the second bestselling one beside volume 46.
My prediction for volume 57 is that the sales will rise again, as the story this time is pretty cool.

You see a decrease in sales in this field is not only because of general reasons like lack of money or interest, it also depends on what the volume contains that the buyer wishes to read over and over again.
Regarding Scanlations this can be done on the Aggregation websites as well, but it is always a different feeling if you hold the volume in your hands and turn page by page than simply clicking a button on your keyboard to do the same.

But not everything is bad with Scanlations

Thanks to Scanlations a lot of series made their way into peoples mind.
Scanlation groups came across series they would enjoy reading and translating, thus creating a fan base for series that none of the official publishers would have thought of.
And this effect can be seen in both the German and the American market.
For example the series Ao No Exorcist (Blue Exorcist), which is a huge success in Japan, had its first Cosplayers long before it was even licensed in Germany.
The new(!) German publisher „Kazé“ then took it into their repertoire to give in to their needs.
As well as the series „Maid-Sama„.
If I remember correctly some girls suggested this series to be published when representatives of „CarlsenComics“ and „TokyoPop“ held a panel at the Hina Matsuri – a Japanese cultural feast in Hamburg.
And what happens if publishers do not comply to their readers wishes can be seen by the American branch of TokyoPop, which had to close because they diverted that much from their main aspect – selling Manga – that they weren’t able to uphold their business.

Another reason for fans to prefer the Scanlations is that these translators put more heart into their work, they translate what is said – unlike some publishers who translate what they wish it to say – and try to keep it as close to the original as possible, even including some of the Japanese words.
Official translators try to translate everything, only recently did they start to include words like „-sama„, „-san„, etc. simply because they noticed the audience know these words and a formal translation wouldn’t work.
Though you feel kind of stupid when you read the translators note still in the 50th volume as if you still don’t know what it means.
Often the official translators change the names to become such the western audience are more familiar with or translating it with the wrong pronunciation – especially with names that contain an „R“ – (Luffy  -> Ruffy – One Piece).
Sometimes they try to include the pun intended with the name to be in the translated version as well (Usopp -> Lysop – One Piece).
Scanlation translators simply leave the names as they are and do the same with catchphrases and speeches.
They look at the tone of the conversation and translate it that way, while the professionals create a rather unemotional translation.
This, beside the fast and free availability, is one of the reasons readers tend to use Scanlations.

Anyway, to summarize this:

Publishers do not like Scanlations and try/tried to stop them, yet at the same time they use them to gauge peoples interest in certain series to see whether or not it would be profitable to sell them.
Yet with the prices they are selling them for, they consequently force their readers to look for alternatives, thus supporting the Scanlation market – if you want to call it that way.
With the current way of thinking and the lack of money within the reader’s hands it is most likely that Scanlations might exceed the printed volumes, thus causing the downfall of the print media.
Yet there still will be people who wish to buy these things – either to collect them or simply to read them as book.
If both Scanlation groups/Aggregation websites and publisher would find a compromise for their readers that would be affordable and have at least the same standards the Scanlations already provide they would be able to stop this conflict.

But let’s recap what I told you today:

I talked about Manga and how to distinguish them from Comics and Graphic Novels.
Then I talked about Scanlations and the process of making them.
Additionally, I explored a bit on how Manga are generally published in Japan.
At the end I looked at the pros and cons of Scanlations, leaving you with the thought that both parties – publisher and scanlators/readers – have to change their minds on this „problem“, so they might be able to solve it.

And I hope you can now look through the links above and are able to tell the difference between Comics, Graphic Novels, Manga and Scanlations.

References:

Other interesting things to read:

© I own none of the above mentioned Comics or Manga, though I do own issues of them, but no Copyright at all. They all belong to their respective creators. The pictures provided here, were simply used for visualization.
The Chart for the Jump Sales was taken from „The Rise and Fall of Jump„, as well as the data for the Scanlation process chart and the Bleach volume Sales were taken from „Scanlators tell their Stories“ and „Bleach Volume Sales„.
No Copyright Infringement is intended by any of this.
If you would like to use my graphs (Scanlation Process and Bleach Sales) or any of my conclusions please send me a note as I’d like to know how you interpret (and use) them.

Mittelalterlich Phantasie Spectaculum 2012

I’m going medieval this time, as I’d like to introduce  a series of events that take place throughout Germany every year. Their known under the name of „Mittelalterlich Phantasie Spectaculum“ (Medieval Phantasy Spectacle, MPS for short). They’re events that do not wish to show an authentic version of the Middle Ages, but a phantastic one (According to their own advertisement). 😉

The phantastic Middle Ages

And that is basically it.
You see people in medieval-like clothings (in German I would say „Gewandung“, but I haven’t found an English-equivalent for that word so far…), Orcs, Elves, Pirates and other stuff that is pretty much unlikely to have existed in that period of time.
Besides that you have all kinds of artists: Ranging from simple Jesters and fire-eaters (and variations of that), over people in beautiful and phantastic costumes performing incredible shows, up to all kind of different medieval bands.
Next to all the entertainment you also have the chance to buy more-or-less authentic clothings and supplies, like drinking horns, armour and what not.
On the festival-side you can even see how people might have lived back then in the camps of LARPer or even reenactment people – not sure which group they belong to, so to not offend any of them I give you both terms. It is quite interesting, though a bit creepy if you stand there and look at their camp sides. It’s kind of like standing in front of someone’s living room window and watching them.
By the way: The booths aren’t allowed to use electric lights, which is somewhat ridiculous seeing as it would help them in the dark. Yet it would also kind of ruin the atmosphere at night, when all kind of bonfires are lightened, but they seem to manage without functioning light bulbs. 🙂

Spontaneous Camping

This year I’ve been at two „MPS“ – as it is commonly shortened.
The first one was in Sierhagen [Edit: As it is no longer a station for the MPS I had to take out the link], which is in the north-east of Schleswig-Holstein. Beside going to that place for the first time it also was my first time camping at such an event, ,hough it wasn’t the medieval camp, but the mere tent-camp. Well, it was supposed to be one. We kind of used our cars as tents…*cough*
Anyway, in Sierhagen the area includes an old manor/castle-complex that gave the whole thing a different atmosphere than what you experience at the other one I was at. The whole manor-complex is surrounded by a moat and even a small lake as more or less natural defences. Going from the outside into the court and out towards the lime tree park you have to cross bridges, where you can follow the stream. Within the court were booths and the fool’s-stage. In the lime tree park they had booths, the smaller stage and the medieval camp. It was kind of beautiful. Just to see that again I would return to that place. Regardless of whom I might have to drag with me. XD

A look into the Court in Sierhagen


The guys I’ve been with this time were rather funny company. For example: Two of them bought an Ocarina and while one was quite capable of playing it right away, the other failed at it, horribly. I’m kind of curious whether they have played ever since…(and if they’ve improved). Interesting was also that we had eggs for breakfast. I mean „grilled“ eggs, like in: Putting a pan on the grill and putting (scrambled) eggs into it and then waiting for them to be ready. Or…I don’t know…far too many things to remember, let alone explain.
Concert-wise we looked into Faun – and decided they were too creepy – and watched the night shows of Rapalje and Saltatio Mortis.
The funniest thing about Rapalje probably was how the guys danced or clapped to it. That was more entertainment than what the band itself created.
Previous to watching Saltatio Mortis I talked with one of the guys about the song „Prometheus“ – a song that DarkFairy and I were looking for its interpreter, but couldn’t decide/remember whom it was. Unfortunately he didn’t knew either, but in the middle of the concert, we both realized: It’s one of SaMo’s most brilliant songs and DarkFairy and I forgot it, shame on us.
Beside the realization that the song was by them, it also became clear to me, that they simply are a band for small stages. DarkFairy and I have seen them on the amphitheatre stage of the Metalfest Loreley and that was quite a bad/boring concert, if I might say so…
The atmosphere they created on that small stage in Sierhagen was way better than the whole thing in St. Goarshausen. Remember: If you ever have the chance to see Saltatio Mortis live, make sure they play on a small stage!

The lime tree park in Sierhagen


Still the best thing that happened in Sierhagen: The radio of my car got fixed! It now works like it should have from the beginning. It’s a good thing to have some capable people with you once in a while. 🙂
Oh and you can have a look at the official Gallery (click „Veranstaltungsrückblicke“, „2012“ and then „Sierhagen“).

So much green and many funny looking people…

The other MPS I was at this year was Hamburg – Öjendorf. That date had been in my schedule for almost a year beforehand. It was my second time there and a chance to see some people that I hadn’t seen for more than a month. It was great seeing them again, though I did not manage to meet all of them…
The area is within the Öjendorfer Park, so in difference to Sierhagen everything was on meadows instead of court-yards (Though Sierhagen includes meadows as well). And even if it isn’t too large, the thing you are doing the most, is calling each other to find the others location…
Surprisingly the first meeting I had went rather smoothly. My colleague told me were they sat and it didn’t take me too long to find them as I had parked pretty close to the entrance that was closest to their position. As I sat with them it didn’t take long till the next few people of the group walked by, coincidentally meeting us.
This MPS was funny and expensive….oh dear, it was…why, oh why did I listen to myself when I had the thought of finally getting my own „Gewandung“? I don’t regret it though and according to the people who saw it, it doesn’t look too shabby. (They used different words, but I’m more a friend of modesty. ;))

Some of the Elven-creatures in Öjendorf


Regardless of that Öjendorf is quite a bit larger then Sierhagen, so you had some more attractions there. Like fire-shows, acrobats, a knight-tournament, more bands and more stages (four instead of „just“ two). The tournament is most fascinating as night-knight-tournament (couldn’t resist that one, sorry…). I’ve seen that last year and it was great. This year we saw it by daylight and it seemed a bit slow and somewhat annoying – especially the herald, but his role probably was made that way. Ok, I admit, I like fire, so riders with fire is like way more interesting than a „simple“ tournament to me.

A Troll-thing from Öjendorf


Afterwards IronEve – whom had accompanied me on my quest for clothes – and I headed back to the fire-spectacle stage for the evening concert of „Feuerschwanz„. A horde of perverts, but totally hilarious ones at that. When we arrived they just started playing „Hurra Hurra die Pest ist da“ (Hurray Hurray the Plague is here). A song about a village that gets the diagnosis plague and just drinks and parties away everything they got and do some pretty kinky things, only to realize the chaos after the predicted three days had passed. Simply too ridiculous to be taken serious., but fun nevertheless.
After that we picked up Eve’s chain amour for her Gimli costume, which she will be wearing at the premiere of „The Hobbit„. I don’t want to swap with her wearing that thing. Together with the axe and the helmet she should better start working out before she gets struck down by the weight…
When she rejoined with her boyfriend and their part of the group I departed to watch the fire show with a common pal of us and another colleague of mine. After catching up during the rather uneventful show they left for the night-tournament. I stayed to see the first few songs of that SaMo-night concert on my own before they returned to watch the rest of the concert. And yet again they did not play the „Drunken Sailor„… I was looking forward to that, but they did not do me the favour in both of their concerts… 🙁
However, that concludes my most interesting MPS experiences for this year.
I’m not sure which one(s) and with whom I’ll be attending next year, but I’d like to include at least one in my schedule. It’s fun (and I still need the other half of my clothings…) and always a great time and atmosphere.
I wouldn’t mind seeing some more of those.
PoiSonPaiNter

Hina Matsuri

or „Japanese Doll Festival“ (or even shorter: „Girl’s Day“) is celebrated every year on the 3rd of March in Japanese families with daughters. On platforms covered with red carpet they display puppets which symbolize the Emperor, the Empress, their attendants and musicians in traditional court dresses of the Heian period. In front of this royal household the girls welcome their friends and families and entertain them by any means of etiquette.

Due to their partnership with Osaka the city of Hamburg celebrated this day for the 19th time this year in the Museum of Ethnology. The Doll Set or „Puppet Mountain“ („Puppenberg“) is displayed from the end of February to shortly after the Festival. Regardless of the superstition that if the set isn’t taken down after the 4th of March (resulting in late marriage for the girl) the Festival in Hamburg is celebrated on the first weekend of March.

The Doll Set from the Museum of Ethnology in Hamburg (c) bunny_doll

Additionally to this the museum provides it’s visitors with all kinds of cultural activities. Ranging from workshops for Origami and Calligraphy over material arts demonstration and music performances to presentation about Japan and so forth.
I’ve been at this event for the last three years and it gave me the chance to try out all kind of different things.
By now for example I know how to properly fold a paper crane and how to play Hanafuda (a Japanese card game with the infamous InoShikaChou-combination that is used in several Manga).

A coincidental discovery

My first visit there in 2010 was a mere coincidence.
During that time I had Japanese classes and our teacher asked us if we were interested in participating in a Manga drawing workshop. Well, I was curious and looked it up whereas I found out that the same workshop was held on the „Hina Matsuri“ – without age limit as the other course would have been.
As a result I went there and had the change to talk to some interesting people. One of which I talked to for hours about Bleach and other Manga/Anime. Unfortunately we never talked again afterwards.
That year was also their first attempt at a Cosplay competition, with the large amount of three participants.

2011 wasn’t that much different. Some other workshops, a different material arts group – I think Kendo this time – and an increased number of Cosplayers.
That year they tried creating a dialogue between German Manga publisher and the audience, which wasn’t really a success. The room was too vast, the people to eagerly waiting for the cosplay contest to even think about getting into a proper discussion. Though the topics were interesting and relevant, i.e. they talked about Scanlations and Streams, which I’ll talk about in a later post.
My second time there was rather quiet. I didn’t find anyone like the year before, though I volunteered in taking some photos from the contest and sending them to someone. (I am still sorry that it took me so long to do so…). But among the participants was a little boy cosplaying as Ruffy (or Luffy) from One Piece, that was fun. 😀 Though I kind of pity the Chopper plush toy he tormented…

Of cows, Anime and dying people

This year was the first time I was accompanied by a fellow student and two acquaintances of mine, whom I’ve met in between the Festivals.
I could bribe them to come along because of the show acts, as i.e. Hamburg’s school for Ninjutsu had a performance this time. Though we cheered for the ones that had to play the „looser“ quite often…

Some time during the day there was an elderly woman telling stories for the children in the so called „Princely House“ in the museum (see links below for further information). Cushions had been placed in the front yard of the house where the most people where seated. We set on a bench nearby, though only two of us listened.
One of the acquaintances had to retell the last story – a story about a girl, a calf and a rather stupid mother – and her version was way better/more fun than the original.  😀 I would retell her story, but it’s not possible without her expressions and way of speaking.

Beside that we also watched „The Girl who leaped through Time“ and we were entertained pretty well or rather we entertained ourselves and everyone around us pretty well.
Once „Chucky“ complained that he couldn’t run and think at the same time one of my companions argued: „Of course!“, which forced me to add: „But not as man.“ The elderly lady in front of us turned around and grinned to this.
Later on the girl – whose name I have forgotten –  called out: „Chucky, Chucky where are you?“ Right then from the other side of the room came the reply: „In the large auditorium.“ Causing everyone to laugh.
When the movie had ended said lady turned to us again and told us: „Well, that was a funny movie. But I do not wish to leap back through time. At least not two and a half years back. My mother-in-law was still alive back then.“ We could only stare at each other and grin, unsure what to say.

After some more Sushi we then made our way into the auditorium again to watch the Cosplay competition.
As a lot of people wanted to see the Japanese Cheerleaders who had their show beforehand and it took us some time to get in there. Passing several Shinigami (Bleach) and an Amaimon (Ao No/Blue Exorcist) Cosplayer among others. The later and the fact, that it was released by the new German publisher Kazé, reminded me of a great series where I read the first chapter, but forgot to continue.
Anyway, the room was packed and the number of Cosplayers had tripled. In the contest were i.e. an Aizen, a L, a Near, Narutos and a Konan. We couldn’t resist telling her that she was about to die the next week. She was quite relieved when she realized we meant her character and not herself.

Sometime in between our idea for our own Cosplay blossomed, but so far we haven’t made a step towards it. Yet there still is the thought and some time left till March 2013. 😉

PoiSonPaiNter

Sources for Information:

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