Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Of Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin, and the Ethics of Scanlation

I meant to do this a while ago, but, well--you know how things get. Anyway, this post is a two-parter, so be sure to read both parts.

Note: this post was edited on 18. September 2013 to reflect the current status of Vertical Press' publication effort.

Of Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin
I ventured into the... rather unpleasant world of scanlating about a year ago, with the intention of picking up  Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin where Eikou Scanlations left off. As a huge fan of Gundam, and of the mecha genre it gave birth to, I felt privileged to help bring Yoshikazu Yasuhiko's phenomenal re-imagining to the Western community.

This is a 1920x1080 wallpaper, by the way
I recently learned of Vertical Press--a publication company I had not, until that point, even heard of--acquired the licensing rights to Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin. They will begin producing luxurious hardcover editions of the manga, with two volumes in each book, in March, 2013. You may (and, if it's not to presumptuous for me to say so, should) follow my example and order the books as soon as possible:

Gundam: The Origin Book 1 (contains volumes 1 and 2) - 12. March 2013
Gundam: The Origin Book 2 (contains volumes 3 and 4) - 18. June 2013
Gundam: The Origin Book 3 (contains volumes 5 and 6) - 24. September 2013
Gundam: The Origin Book 4 (contains volumes 7 and 8) - 10. December 2013
Gundam: The Origin Book 5 (contains volumes 9 and 10) - 11. March 2014

Assuming Vertical managed to keep up that initial pace of 1 book every three months, we can expect The Origin to be fully published in English by the end of 2015. (For a grand total of 11 or 12 hardcover editions). This is very exciting! The books will also have various "special features" -- read the Amazon listing for details. I, for one, cannot wait.

I think I've mentioned this before, but in terms of my own translation efforts, I have always felt it best to emulate the "old school" approach. I translate to practice and develop my language schools, as well as to provide some small benefit to a niche community of which I am a part. Nothing more, nothing less. I am, therefore, suspending my translation of The Origin and removing all download links. I highly encourage every one to purchase Vertical's version as soon as possible! I can't comment on the accuracy of their translation (though you can expect me to review their books when they come out) but I can't imagine it could be any worse than my own! I don't know what I'm doing half the time--particularly when Char or Gihren start waxing political. Yikes. There was some nasty, nasty kanji in some of those scenes.

Anyway, I've been into anime and manga for a long time. I've seen so many projects, tragically, go bust. Need I even mention the sad fate of Shoji Gotoh's Full Metal Panic series in the West? I wish Vertical Press all the best. And, should the worst come to pass and they abandon publication of The Origin, I may resume my efforts. Hopefully this will not be an issue, as the first two books have been published already (which I will review at some point in the future, paying particular attention to the quality and tone of the translation) and the three subsequent volumes are well on their way.

Gundam: The Origin Book 1 (contains volumes 1 and 2) - 12. March 2013
Gundam: The Origin Book 2 (contains volumes 3 and 4) - 18. June 2013
Gundam: The Origin Book 3 (contains volumes 5 and 6) - 24. September 2013
Gundam: The Origin Book 4 (contains volumes 7 and 8) - 10. December 2013
Gundam: The Origin Book 5 (contains volumes 9 and 10) - 11. March 2014

Of the Ethics of Scanlation
Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin is the material that first set me on the path of scanlation. I subsequently translated a few other manga works, one of which I also disseminated through this blog--Macross: The First, which is (essentially) the Macross franchise' analog to The Origin. In the course of this experience, I learned many things. First and foremost, my Japanese--mostly my ability to recognize kanji on sight--improved (which was one of my original goals when I started out). I also learned just how much work was involved in scanlating. I did not ever consider myself a "proper" scanlator--I work by myself, for myself, and am accountable to no schedule but my own. I learned a new appreciation for scanlation, as scanning, editing, and typesetting all require an enormous commitment of time and attention. I also learned that the anime community, while appearing a rather unpleasant place from the distance, is actually considerably less pleasant when you reach inside. While the vast majority of feedback I've received has been positive, I have been nonetheless unnerved by the number of people contacting me to complain, insult, or beg. This, coupled with my own dwindling free time and faltering health, has forced me to consider whether or not I should continue my efforts.

I have, of course, also reexamined the ethical context of scanlation, and honestly find myself no better qualified to ascertain the "correctness" of scanlation now than when I started. I can say, however, that right now I deeply regret scanlating The Origin, as I fear those efforts may have--however small--an adverse impact on the sales of Gundam: The Origin's republication, and further damage the Gundam branding internationally. For this reason, and this reason exclusively, I feel that I must cease all further scanlation efforts immediately, lest I repeat the mistake.

I do have, however, several rough translations for Macross: The First. My intention is to finish scanlating and then release the next volume, which is the last that I have scanned. That will be my LAST release of a "scanlation."

I will, however, continue to TRANSLATE the manga, as simple translations take far less time to complete, and I will post those scripts on this blog.

8 comments:

  1. I just preordered the first volume!
    I 'm also eager to see the extra stuff:
    exemple: http://vertical-inc.tumblr.com/post/37336870919/teaser-for-the-gundam-fans-kio-shimoku
    Each volume will get artworks by a guest artist (Here it's genshiken's , a big gundam fan)
    Vertical also planned to translate bonus material written by influencial mecha creators!

    Also, I read somewhere that this is suppose to be a limited release. Those who aren't going to preorder them will probably never get them :(
    Vertical said that this situation can change if it sells well. (alot of preorders)
    I really respect your decision and I cannot wait for this!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your right about it being a limited release the initial guesstimate that they announced was around 3000-3500 units, and that was around 5 months ago, since then they somewhat revised up their estimate to 4000 units. So this is going to be a if you want it BUY it situation.

      Delete
  2. Thanks for your hard work. I never got to pick up the Viz volumes when they came out so i appreciate you giving us a taste of this manga. I plan to pre order over the weekend and am super excited to see that Vertical is going all out on this release. I wish more manga companies were like them.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I appreciate the work you have done on translating the Origin and making us aware of the official release. In addition I'd like to thank you for your work on Macross the First. I can't wait till you post up chapter 2 and 3. Domo arigato gozaimasu!

    ReplyDelete
  4. hey I also wanted to thank you for hard work on macross the first .

    I just wanted to let you know macross vol 4 is out

    and there another manga called macross 7th cord which tells the story of Max forming a new Sound Force seven years after the Macross 7 series wraps up.

    http://www.amazon.co.jp/gp/product/4041202930/ref=s9_simh_gw_p14_d0_i1?pf_rd_m=AN1VRQENFRJN5&pf_rd_s=center-3&pf_rd_r=1E9H8QF2VG8XPHRZ5CBJ&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=463376776&pf_rd_i=489986


    http://www.amazon.co.jp/%E3%83%9E%E3%82%AF%E3%83%AD%E3%82%B97th%E3%82%B3%E3%83%BC%E3%83%89-%E3%82%AB%E3%83%89%E3%82%AB%E3%83%AF%E3%82%B3%E3%83%9F%E3%83%83%E3%82%AF%E3%82%B9%E3%83%BB%E3%82%A8%E3%83%BC%E3%82%B9-%E5%8F%B6%E4%B9%8B-%E6%98%8E/dp/4047157686/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1356219331&sr=8-1

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hey Fox, I stumbled upon Ugly Duckling's page and saw that Acrow sent you a copy of their scripts for ecole du ciel. i was wondering if you could put up a link to the translations if you still have them. Please Please Please

    ReplyDelete
  6. I think I've still got them somewhere. As they're not my translations, I don't quite feel right about releasing his scripts. I did plan on (eventually) putting them together with the one (or two?) volumes of the manga that haven't been translated by Tokyopop.

    I believe the manga is still on indefinite hiatus in Japan.

    But, as evidenced by my slow pace with The First, as just one man, I'm not exactly fast with these things.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm more than willing to do some editing for the cause if i have the text as this is definitely a cause worth pursuing

      Delete