Ethics of Reading Scanlations Research Project

  • Hey everyone! I’m a high school student taking AP Research, and for my research project, I wanted to do something manga-related (since reading manga is how I spend a large portion of my free time).

    There’s been debate on whether reading scanlations is ethical or not, so I decided to focus my study on perceptions of how ethical reading scanlations is considered to be depending on certain conditions/factors.

    I would be really grateful if you took the time to do my survey, which is 18 questions in total. Here’s the link:

    It’s predicted to be around 8 minutes long (but I’m not sure how accurate the prediction is).

    Out of all the survey respondents, I’ll randomly choose one to be awarded with a $25 Amazon gift card. I’m sorry, but as a student this is pretty much all I can afford ☹. I wanted it to be something manga related, but I couldn’t find gift cards from Viz.

    There’s an option in the survey to be emailed the results of my study, which will come out in April. If you’re worried about my procrastination tendencies, know that my research paper definitely has to be done by then (because it will be sent to the Collegeboard).

    Thanks for reading and I hope you decide to take this survey! I know that filling it out can be tedious (especially with all the variables mentioned in each scenario--you'll see what I mean) but the current format it is now is necessary in order for me to analyze the data in a more meaningful way.

  • Your questions are kind of silly.
    You differentiate between a licensed series and a popular series... if it's licensed, that means it's popular. The popularity of the series has nothing to do with this except as it relates to unlicensed series (i.e. whether or not you can expect them to be licensed any time soon. .
    Also, the kind of censorship you mention doesn't happen anymore. Unless you count keeping the names in Case Closed as "censorship"... which it isn't.

    Please excuse any typos, because of thsi site's design, I can't actually see what I'm typiint ... yeah, FUNi, fix that.

  • @Fiammetta It's true that popularity and whether a series is licensed or not is related, but do you not think there's a difference between the popularity of Naruto and Bleach vs Peach Girl, even though both are licensed? Also, it is possible that reading scanlations of a less popular series hurt the author/artist more, and in that sense be less ethical. Not saying that you're wrong, just why someone may see that as a viable factor for consideration.

    I agree censorship was not the best word to describe what I was trying to portray, but it was the only way I could think of to simplify the sentence I wrote into one word. What I was trying to show was how authentic/true to the original author's intent the translations were. Not using honorifics or changing names is not censorship, but it does make the translation less authentic. I couldn't call it Americanization, because my survey should be for fans outside the US too. I was hesitant to use "authentic" and "inauthentic" because it's a value judgment vs "censorship" but perhaps I was mistaken in doing so. Of course, I have noticed censorship in some of the manga volumes I bought (for example, in Kodomo no Omocha, pictures were taken of teachers "making out" to blackmail them rather than having sex like in the original) but maybe it's less prevalent now (I admit to mostly reading scanlations now, so I can't be sure).

    On a side note, if you click the arrow at the left corner above the box you're typing in you'll be able to see what you're typing.

  • Ah, I see the arrow now. Wow, that's a dumb feature.
    As to the rest... I guess you could say it hurts them more percentage-wise, but the price of one book is the price of one book.

    And yeah, Kodocha is a long time ago. It's a completely different industry now.

    As for honorifics, that's actually a much more complex question. A more "accurate" translation isn't necessarily a more "authentic" translation. It depends on the audience. If a translation leaves everything that most anime fans know (e.g. kouhai, neesan, etc.) untranslated, it sort of locks out people who have never read anything from Japan before. But at the same time, these things do add a layer of characterization - but only if you understand them. Also, pronouns will always get translated as "I/me". Do you think they should leave "ore"/"boku"/etc. untranslated? There is a layer of characterization that's missing without it, but it's a translator's job to make that come through in other ways. e.g., in one series I like, a sort of thuggy male character is playing Cinderella's stepsister in the school play, and he starts to talk like he normally does, but then changes the "daze" to "dayo" at the end of the sentence. The subtitle showed this with vocabulary, etc. (I forgot the exact translation, I usually watch it without subs). Likewise, the "boku" character and the "ore" character should have this difference reflected in their dialogue in other ways. If the artist is doing their job, that difference in their characters is already reflected in the story in other ways - their actions, their physicality, etc. So it's not as simple as "the less translated, the better".

    But yeah, words have meanings. Being an author/artist/etc. means using a medium to get the story from your head to the reader's. That's why it's called a medium - it's in between. If the words that are being used don't mean anything to the readers, that isn't happening. It's the translator's job to tell the reader, not "that X is Y's senpai", but "what it means to X that Y is their senpai".

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