As a child, I loved cartoons. I grew up with Marvel and DC heroes, so the switch to manga and anime was a natural one for me. In these series, I find the complex story lines and the complete lack of censorship to satisfy both the kid and nostalgic adult in me. I often frequent onemanga.com to catch up with the latest releases of Naruto, Bleach, Fullmetal Alchemist, and other such popular series. This evening was supposed to be one of anticipation for the release of the latest chapters. However, to my dismay, I found another kind of surprise. According to the disclaimer on onemanga.com, there will be no more scanlations (translated scans of Japanese manga). The site is essentially closing its manga selection and it is not the only one.
I visited other sites and their messages were similar. According to their posted messages, manga publishers are no longer approving the use of scanlations and these websites are complying with the publishers’ wishes. This is supposedly a reaction to Japan’s Digital Comic Association and their intent to bring legal action against websites that support, offer, and distribute scanlations.
On a purely business level, I understand this decision. Manga websites offered instant access to the latest released manga chapters, thereby defeating the need for consumers to purchase the actual books. It was only a matter of time before the publishers did the math and realized how much money they were losing. Nevertheless, it is still a sad truth for me. These websites have had a long history of offering quality uploads and now the side of me that yearns for instant gratification may go unsatisfied.
However, all is not lost. History has shown that when internet based activity is threatened, a new method of beating the system crops up. I expect to see a slew of manga torrents flooding the internet along with mirror sites that lie outside of the jurisdiction of governments that will hope to shut them down. Furthermore, in their allegations, the publishers have zeroed in on profit sites; making no mention of independent non-profit services. Hopefully, the sites that are not making money off of scanlations may still go unharmed.
I am personally hoping that Japan will find a financial opportunity in opening member-based sites that will offer translated manga chapters. I do not mind paying an annual fee if it means I can avoid possible attack sites and still enjoy my manga. By pursuing this option, both the producer and consumer will be satisfied.
Though this is a sad day for American manga lovers, I do not weep just yet. When there is a fan base as large as there is in the manga-verse, there is always a will and a way. We just have to be a little patient and hope for the best.