First, a link to my weekly report on what’s shipping to the Boston area this week: What’s new at Comicopia, June 9, 2010. The list includes a number of my favorites, for instance, Very! Very! Sweet, an adorable girls’ manhwa title from Yen Press featuring a teen who’s willing to pose as another teen’s girlfriend (typical romance plot) in exchange for a really nice cat tower (not so typical). Yes, I am that easily pleased. But c’mon. A cat tower. So adorable.
On the more serious side, this week’s haul includes the latest volume of Viz’s Children of the Sea, one of my favorite titles of 2009. To quote from my review:
“Igarashi’s art is absolutely stunning. With an ethereal, impressionistic feel, the world of the sea is brought to life, pulling us in like a strong undertow. By the end of the book, one begins to believe the ocean may be right outside–so real are the sensations of hot sand, cold, foamy water, and the smell of salt in the wind. The mix of sketchy lines and watercolor shading creates a surreal, yet down-to-earth look that works well both on land and sea, providing enough detail and texture to portray a real world full of expressive people, but leaving room for imagination.”
As little as I talk about art in my reviews (it’s far from being my specialty) art that is especially unique or beautiful is often what keeps a manga series in my mind long after I’ve read it. This is particularly true of Children of the Sea.
Now, on to yesterday’s big news, Manga publishers take a stand against piracy. Considering the buzz it’s generated, I’m sure everyone has already heard about the new coalition of Japanese and American publishers who have finally banded together to try to do something about the domination of pirated scans online. With this effort coming from both sides of the Pacific, fans can no longer claim that it’s only American publishers they are affecting by handing out pirated copies of other people’s work, often for their own profit.
“For profit” is a key word here that many fans are happy to ignore. After all, it’s not the way things used to be. I wasn’t a part of the manga community in earlier days, when scanlations were made and shared only by hardcore fans (and ceased when series became licensed), but coming from other types of fan communities, I get the gist. In media fandom of all kinds, there has always been a core understanding that fanworks would most likely be tolerated as long as they remained under the radar and nobody was profiting from them. Even getting paid for fanfiction (a derivative work, but not copied) is generally considered a major no-no by those who create it.
Yet today’s scanlation aggregator sites are for profit websites, so blatantly on the radar, they actually come up first in a simple Google search for pretty much any manga title. Students I spoke to at a college-run convention last year actually thought that OneManga.com was the original publisher of all the manga they have posted online. That’s how far in the mainstream it’s come. People don’t even know the stuff is pirated, let alone that it’s available legally from the bookstore or comic shop.
Scanlators (or fans) who are angry that the pubs are finally on the case? Don’t blame the publishers for finally (too late?) taking some action to protect their own properties, or the anti-scanlation fans either. The people who brought this down on you are the ones who created those aggregator sites. They, in their arrogance, abandoned everything that once kept fanworks safe, and now they’ve ruined it for all of you.
That’s my two cents on the subject today.
Coming up this week at Manga Bookshelf, look for another Shonen Sunday, where I’ll be talking about Takehiko Inue’s Slam Dunk, with an accompanying piece on his seinen series, Real, both from Viz Media. Also, tonight, keep an eye out for a new edition of Off the Shelf with Michelle Smith!