Tag Archives: manga

The Weekend Guess #95

I’m at the Hina Matsuri again, after quite some time, but I still present to you the ninety fifth instalment of the Weekend Guess.

wegWhat is the Weekend Guess?

Up to three riddles formulated by me that are puns and wordplays on the answer itself I put on here for my readers to answer.

Why am I doing this?

For no apparent reason, just because I consider the idea to be funny.

What are the questions about?

Everything I can think of I guess, so far the things you had to figure out were song titles and bands, movies and books. Currently it’s random topics ranging from the stuff before and whatever I feel like asking about.

What is your part in this?

You can try to figure out my riddles and see if you can manage to get behind them and understand what I am describing.
What is in it for you?
So far: Nothing, but the knowledge that you managed to unlock one of my silly riddles.

Let’s start with the ninety fifth set of questions

I am looking for the name of this Anime/Manga(/Game):

The Adventures of an ageless boy and his yellow rat.

Leave your guesses in the comments below and I can see if my questions are too easy or to hard to figure out. I will give the correct answer with the next instalment.
Have fun figuring it out! 🙂

Solution for last weeks Weekend Guess:

Dragon Ball

No one tried guessing this time, so I can’t congratulate anyone. 🙁
PoiSonPaiNter

The Weekend Guess #94

I present to you the ninety fourth instalment of the Weekend Guess.

wegWhat is the Weekend Guess?

Up to three riddles formulated by me that are puns and wordplays on the answer itself I put on here for my readers to answer.

Why am I doing this?

For no apparent reason, just because I consider the idea to be funny.

What are the questions about?

Everything I can think of I guess, so far the things you had to figure out were song titles and bands, movies and books. Currently it’s random topics ranging from the stuff before and whatever I feel like asking about.

What is your part in this?

You can try to figure out my riddles and see if you can manage to get behind them and understand what I am describing.
What is in it for you?
So far: Nothing, but the knowledge that you managed to unlock one of my silly riddles.

Let’s start with the ninety fourth set of questions

I am looking for the name of this Anime/Manga:

Fire Lizard Orb

Leave your guesses in the comments below and I can see if my questions are too easy or to hard to figure out. I will give the correct answer with the next instalment.
Have fun figuring it out! 🙂

Solution for last weeks Weekend Guess:

Die/The Olsen Bande/Gang

Nazgul guessed it correctly, so congratulations! 🙂
PoiSonPaiNter
* This trio/series of movies is better known in Scandinavia and (Eastern) Germany, so it’s a bit tricky for everyone else, but they are quite famous.

The Weekend Guess #91

I present to you the ninety first instalment of the Weekend Guess.

wegWhat is the Weekend Guess?

Up to three riddles formulated by me that are puns and wordplays on the answer itself I put on here for my readers to answer.

Why am I doing this?

For no apparent reason, just because I consider the idea to be funny.

What are the questions about?

Everything I can think of I guess, so far the things you had to figure out were song titles and bands, movies and books. Currently it’s random topics ranging from the stuff before and whatever I feel like asking about.

What is your part in this?

You can try to figure out my riddles and see if you can manage to get behind them and understand what I am describing.
What is in it for you?
So far: Nothing, but the knowledge that you managed to unlock one of my silly riddles.

Let’s start with the ninety first set of questions

I am looking for the name of this manga/anime:

The Tales of a gutsy Shinobi*

Leave your guesses in the comments below and I can see if my questions are too easy or to hard to figure out. I will give the correct answer with the next instalment.
Have fun figuring it out! 🙂

Solution for last weeks Weekend Guess:

Dr. Dolittle

fruehstuecksflocke guessed this one correctly as well. Congratulations! 🙂
PoiSonPaiNter
* It’s a variation of the in-universe book, by a similar name.

The Weekend Guess #85

I’m at the HGWAnime again (follow the Live-Tweet here Twitter) and present to you the eighty fifth instalment of the Weekend Guess.

wegWhat is the Weekend Guess?

Up to three riddles formulated by me that are puns and wordplays on the answer itself I put on here for my readers to answer.

Why am I doing this?

For no apparent reason, just because I consider the idea to be funny.

What are the questions about?

Everything I can think of I guess, so far the things you had to figure out were song titles and bands, movies and books. Currently it’s random topics ranging from the stuff before and whatever I feel like asking about.

What is your part in this?

You can try to figure out my riddles and see if you can manage to get behind them and understand what I am describing.
What is in it for you?
So far: Nothing, but the knowledge that you managed to unlock one of my silly riddles.

Let’s start with the eighty fifth set of questions

I am looking for a special name of this Manga/Anime:

The Adventures of a dog-demon, his reincarnated lover and their ragtag friends.

Leave your guesses in the comments below and I can see if my questions are too easy or to hard to figure out. I will give the correct answer with the next instalment.
Have fun figuring it out! 🙂

Solution for last weeks Weekend Guess:

Rain Man

Unfortunately no one tried guessing, so I can’t congratulate anyone. 🙁
PoiSonPaiNter

The Weekend Guess #76

I’m currently – most likely – at the HGWAnime again, but I still present to you the seventy sixth instalment of the Weekend Guess.

wegWhat is the Weekend Guess?

Up to three riddles formulated by me that are puns and wordplays on the answer itself I put on here for my readers to answer.

Why am I doing this?

For no apparent reason, just because I consider the idea to be funny.

What are the questions about?

Everything I can think of I guess, so far the things you had to figure out were song titles and bands, movies and books. Currently it’s random topics ranging from the stuff before and whatever I feel like asking about.

What is your part in this?

You can try to figure out my riddles and see if you can manage to get behind them and understand what I am describing.
What is in it for you?
So far: Nothing, but the knowledge that you managed to unlock one of my silly riddles.

Let’s start with the seventy sixth set of questions

I am looking for the title of this manga/anime:

Single Part

Leave your guesses in the comments below and I can see if my questions are too easy or to hard to figure out. I will give the correct answer with the next instalment.
Have fun figuring it out! 🙂

Solution for last weeks Weekend Guess:

Supernatural

I thought that was an easy one, but no such luck… Can’t congratulate anyone. 🙁
PoiSonPaiNter

Crossing Over: Chapter 9

It has been nearly a year since I updated my Bleach and Naruto Crossover Fanfiction called Crossing Over and I kind of feel bad for it.

But as I have written in previous posts I had a lot going on.
Festivals and „traveling“ I still have to write about.
My Bachelor’s thesis.
And plain lack of motivation to write anything but an occasional Blog post about some random topic.

But now I finally managed to complete the half(?) done chapter I still had from last year and also publish it and you can find it on Fanfiction.net.

Last chapter an anonymous reviewer on Fanfiction.net asked me to not make the Naruto characters weak. Well, as I had planned to let Tenten win in a fight against Ikkaku from the get go, I think I made quite a decent job at that, or what do you think?
Besides that it was fun to put some more side characters into the spotlight. I’m not sure how much they will get from here on out, but maybe a little more. You might also want to see a part of it as Neji-memorial scene and of course I had to make the Ninja-turtle joke. 😉
Speaking of jokes: As I already used the same „joke“ in chapter one I might as well tell you where I got the inspiration for the, well let’s call it: gourd joke.
Quite a while ago I came across the Konoha Corner podcast for Naruto Shipuuden.
From what I’ve heard – which is not that much – it’s pretty fun. Especially their Manga–Recap’s. 🙂
Anyway, during the first few episodes they started the show with a certain introduction for their „Gothic Gaara“, where he and „Jiraya“ talked about the gourd ending in the former yelling „It’s a gourd damn it!“
Thinking about how I could change my original idea their discussion came to my mind and as you’ve seen in this and the first chapter I took that sentence into a different setting as I found it pretty hilarious and fitting.
Though looking through the meanings for „gourd“ the words I used could be seen as synonyms, at least „gourds“ are used for both things (Sake jar, vases).
Well, if you two ever read this: I hope you don’t mind my interpretation of your little discussion. =)

And let’s not to forget the Soundtrack:
Part I: Letzte Instanz – Von Anfang an
Part II: Schandmaul – Der Teufel
Part III: Powerwolf – Secrets of the Sacristy
Part IV: Avantasia – Spectres

And I guess: Sorry for the long wait, but I might be able to continue this story a bit more regularly from now on.

I currently feel like writing and I might finish some other stuff in the coming days as well – at least I kind of hope I can finish another story for Friday – even though I don’t really partake on any Valentine’s Day stuff, but the story at least would be befitting for it.

I also started another Multi-chapter Fic, but I will cover that separately.

What I did however discover with this chapter is, that Fanfiction.net doesn’t care about line spacing…
You can tell your document-file it should have a 1,5 spacing, but the site will ignore it.
But if you make a new paragraph (enter) instead of a line-break (shift+enter) it makes the document on the site look ridiculous.
If you then include the content on a page on e.g. WordPress you can look through it again to get rid of additional paragraphs (empty lines)…

Somehow Fanfiction.net likes to mess with my profile there as well…simply underlining almost everything…so annoying and I just can’t believe the unordered-list tag is the right HTML-tag that causes it…if I include it the list is formatted strangely (on the far left side instead of with a gap before the list-icon) and of course the underlining. Changing the list to not be a pre-programmed unordered-list makes it looks less strange, but not as I would like it to look…

Well, maybe I’ll find a proper solution one day.

Until then I have to bear with a strange looking profile and continue to explore already existing characters in a new setting. 😀
(I am by the planning on writing a post on Fanfiction’s in general … some day …)

PoiSonPaiNter

Crossing Over: Chapter 6

As this has been on Fanfiction.net for quite some time now: Chapter 6 of Crossing Over my Bleach-Naruto-Crossover Fanfiction that I started to write to improve my English skills. If you haven’t already read it you can start here with the Prologue (or click the link above for the Fanfiction.net pages of the story).

With chapter 6 the second „main“ character of this Fic – at least from the tags I used on the Fanfiction side – entered the stage: Abarai Renji from Bleach. (The other one being: Gaara from Naruto.)

And just like in the previous post about this Fanfic I’ll tell you which music I listened to while writing/editing. An as back there: The songs do not necessarily fit the storyline and you might want to read the chapter beforehand to know to which part I’m referring to. 😉

I listened to „Fade to black“ by Sonata Arctica their Metallica cover song for Rukia’s part. Which is kind of funny as the Rukia-centered Bleach movie is also called by that title. I am not really sure whether I was aware of that when I first started writing the raw version of her part.
The movie is by the way quite interesting. You not only see more of Rukia’s (possible/non-canon) past in Rukongai, but also see how people are effected by the influence of the enemies. I think I should re-watch the movie some day and maybe write something about it and the other Bleach movies.
However, for Rangiku’s part I used HammerFall’s „I Believe“ and beside hinting at my last post about concerts for a little review of a Hammerfall concert I’ve been on last year,there is not much to say about it. Other than you should give both songs a try. 😉

When I couldn’t properly write a chapter for quite some time I added this little sneak preview on Fanfiction.net:

While Rangiku tries to fill her two moronic colleagues in on what had happened, Byakuya reaches a part of the forest where he can sense a familiar Reaitsu and is finally reunited with his beloved sister.

At the point I wrote that I did not see any sign of time that I might have been able to spend on what I have so far as chapter. I wanted to let my readers know that I needed quite some time longer on finishing this story.
By now this problem has changed a bit as I am currently waiting for the results of an important exam and can’t really do anything else – beside working and stuff.
Therefore I might find some time and motivation to continue with the editing of the remaining chapters.
What I have so far for the next chapter is not satisfying…it contains the ideas I had for it, put the way it is portrayed is not what I wanted to show with it…
Just as I am not satisfied with the length of this post…put I’m probably just bugged by it because of the length and more or less importance of my other posts…
Anyway, throughout the last semester I at least managed to change one tiny part of the next chapter.
But it’s still not what I would like it to be.
Therefore I need some more time and see if I manage to get it right this time.
We’ll see what I can do about it.
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.

Mephisto

One of the most fascinating characters that ever originated in German literature.
Johann Wolgang von Goethe used him as the antagonist for his tragic novel: Faust.

Faust is the story of Doctor Heinrich Faust, who strives for wisdom and uses any means necessary to satisfy his thirst for it. Even making a compact with the Devil –  in this case the devilish character that is Mephistopheles (or short: Mephisto).
An ambiguous man that even describes himself as such:

Part of that Power, not understood,
Which always wills the Bad, and always works the Good.[…]
I am the Spirit that Denies!
And justly so: for all things, from the Void
Called forth, deserve to be destroyed:
‚Twere better, then, were naught created.
Thus, all which you as Sin have rated,—
Destruction,—aught with Evil blent,—
That is my proper element.
(See [PGE])

Or in the old English version:

Part of that power which still
Produceth good, whilst ever scheming ill.[…]
The spirit I, which evermore denies!
And justly; for whate’er to light is brought
Deserves again to be reduced to naught;
Then better ’twere that naught should be.
Thus all the elements which ye
Destruction, Sin, or briefly, Evil, name,
As my peculiar element I claim.
(See [HCE])

Or the ever so great original version:

Ein Teil von jener Kraft,
Die stets das Böse will und stets das Gute schafft.[…]
Ich bin der Geist, der stets verneint!
Und das mit Recht; denn alles, was entsteht,
Ist wert, daß es zugrunde geht;
Drum besser wär’s, daß nichts entstünde.
So ist denn alles, was ihr Sünde,
Zerstörung, kurz, das Böse nennt,
Mein eigentliches Element.
(See [PGG])

Sorry, I simply had to show these different versions.
I personally prefer the last one. Not just because I am German, but simply because I adore the German language so much. If I find the time for it I might record those three quotes to show you verbally the difference in the sound of them, which in my opinion makes the German the outstanding winner – if it would be a competition.

Anyway, by now I am not so sure if the idea for the Mephisto-character really was created by Goethe or even the old stories about the Faust content (the lore about Johann Georg Faust, Christopher Marlowe’s The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus).
Simply by reading quite some bit of Norse mythology made me realize that one „character“ does have quite similar traits…

Mephisto is the master of lies, Lord of the Flies, Rats and what not. Someone who wants the human existence to end. Permanently. By all means he tries to win his bet with god. To win Fausts soul. The ambiguity I mentioned earlier is kind of his trade mark. He tries to win by causing evil deeds, but the result is not always evil. For example does he cause – through Faust’s wish – Gretchen’s tragedy, but instead of wanting his live to end (by saying his catch-phrase: „Verweile doch du bist so schön.“/“Ah, still delay—thou art so fair!“/“Linger awhile! so fair thou art!”) because of the bliss he had with the girl, Faust simply wants more. Knowing more. Experiencing more. Living more. He is not satisfied. Yet he learns what the girl had to suffer through because of him and it makes him realize his mistakes and trying to save her. And even though Mephisto claims the girl to be lost, god claims her soul to be saved.  Faust kind of grows character-wise from this and strives for a different woman – Helena.
The point is: Mephisto tries to get to his goal without a care of what happens to the ones around him: The deaths of Gretchen’s matron and brother, the pregnancy and the punishment of the girl for killing her own child is the content of the tragedy. Yet the devoted girl is still able to ascent to heaven.

A similar ambiguity can be seen in the myths concerning the Norse god of mischief: Loki.
If you look at the story about Balder’s death for example you can see a similar tragedy.
When everything except the mistletoe had vowed to not harm Balder and everyone was throwing things at him, Loki simply did what he considered fun: He disguised himself and talked Balder’s blind brother Hodur into throwing a sharpened mistletoe at his brother, while guiding his hand. Never intending to kill the beloved god he caused his death by this, as the twig went right into Balder’s heart. As everyone mourned for him they hoped to fulfill Hel’s (Loki’s daughter’s) condition for Balder to return to the realm of the living. Only one person – a giantess who is said to be Loki in disguise again – did not care whether he returned or not, thus Balder would have to stay in the realm of Hel (Helheim) till Ragnorök, where he would be one of the sole „survivors“ and creators of the new world, after the end of everything.
In short: Loki tries to mock the Aesir’s behavior regarding Balder’s invulnerability and causing the biggest tragedy in the Edda, still his „victim“ later has a new role in the recreation of the world, which wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for the trickster.
On a German (unofficial) page [LGM] about the Norse mythology it is even concluded, that his doings, despite their evil intent, caused more good things then bad. And that sounds fairly familiar. 😉
Even though I only display shortened versions of both „stories“ and there would probably be a more fitting one for Loki (e.g. the tale of Mjölnir), you might be able to see my point nevertheless: Two characters – one from German lore, one from Norse mythology, who display the same mind set. Doing how they please to accomplish what they want. Making intentionally evil deeds that cause more good than ill. Characters that play with the people around them, to trick them into doing what they see profit in.
Neither of them is (completely) evil (hence the ambiguity). They both just follow someone else’s plan. Bound to act according to it, regardless of all their effort to act on their own „free“ will.
(And seemingly I was not the only one who came to this conclusion, though I did not find an official source [UPG] either…)

I find this characterization quite fascinating and not just for me it is the source for inspiration for characters with similar traits. It is hard for me to grasp – let alone explain – why I like it, but I am mostly compelled to favourite them over the simple minded or less complex characters. Therefore one of my favourite characters in the book I’m co-writing is not even based on/inspired by Mephisto, but will also get a scene that is inspired by the myths concerning Loki – looking forward to officially writing that one.

Reading Faust and being taught of it by a teacher with so much passion for this piece, simply made me inherit this passion. Therefore I think I can claim it one of my favourite books.

Still other authors used Mephisto in their work as well. Not just in Marvel Comics did he became „real“ again (which is pretty funny, as they also have a Loki…), no also a quite new Manga series has a character named „Mephisto Pheles“ (honestly: Took me a while to get that one, as I’m too used to the short version …). I am talking about Kazue Katou’s „Ao No Exorcist“ (Blue Exorcist).
A story about two brother’s whom discover their heritage as sons of Satan. One of them (Rin) who has inherited their father’s (blue) flames and the other (Yukio) already being an Exorcist, who is now guiding his brother to become one as well.
Mephisto is the (demonic) headmaster of the Exorcist school and seems to have his own plan(s) concerning the brother’s. He puts them into several trial fights to see how they are able to cope, even using his own (demonic) brother as bait.
He is capable of using magic. Even going as far as to turn himself into a small terrier like dog. (Another trait all three characters share: Shape shifting 😉 )
In the Anime-version there even is an episode where it is said, that he is the Mephisto Faust made the compact with, though I still prefer the Manga-version…
My fascination for this series – and the kind of character – caused me to write this: Not His Day
A little parody about Mephisto. (Some more information on the creation process can be found, if you follow the above link to the story on Fanfiction.net.)

One thing is clear to me: If I ever would get to own a poodle, I’d call it Mephisto – just for the heck of it. 😀

PoiSonPaiNter

Sources:

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:

My Galleries on Animexx: