A very long and serious talk about the scans and official release

So as you might’ve heard already, yesterday some big news broke: Mangastream decided to drop all the Jump series they were working on (and appears to be down entirely) and Jaimini’s Box has decided to use this chance to drop their Jump series as well. At first glance this seems like great news: it’ll help support the official release and could pave the way for everybody reading the manga on the same day as it legally comes out. But on the flip side, this could be the same as Roger’s death and usher in a great new era of piracy that could just make it worse for everyone.

The timing of this was pretty bad on my end. I was planning to address this matter incredibly soon, as I was planning a switch of my content to be out alongside the official release starting from next year, a change I’ve been working towards for quite a while, which I’ve mentioned a couple times in the past. However, there’s a lot of issues that come with that and there’s a lot of misconceptions I wanted to clear up as to why me and many others have to end up reading scans. I want to give a serious and honest look at the situation and I’ve been wanting to talk about some of this stuff for a long time.

I know this is lengthy, but please read through to the end, as this is quite important for anybody within the community that enjoys One Piece.

Part 1 – WHY DO EARLY SCANS HAPPEN?

There’s a lot of confusion and misconceptions around this matter, so let’s make it clear: One Piece serializes weekly on a physical magazine known as Weekly Shonen Jump which comes out every Monday in Japan only. Currently, this is accompanied by Mangaplus, the official English release of One Piece (which is free and available in most places of the world, a big misconception). When you’re in Japan though, you can go to any retailer and buy the Jump magazine every Monday for just a few bucks. However, as happens with a lot of products, sometimes these break street dates. To “break street date” means a product is sold at a store ahead of the official release date. For example, I know of cases where friends of mine (and once even myself) have managed to get some video games a day before they officially released because a store already had them. In this case, it really isn’t something that morally bad, you get to enjoy a game a day early but you didn’t really commit anything illegal in buying said product.

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This is where One Piece debuts its chapters every week. They’re bigger than they look. Like reaaaaaally big.

Inherently speaking, early releases aren’t illegal in most countries. A company could still sue the shop if selling early breaches their contract, but the truth is, they almost never go after these shops, so street date breaking can be surprisingly common. But hey, like I said, it usually doesn’t cause much harm… except when it does. Last year, the much anticipated Super Smash Bros. Ultimate was leaked online. A Mexican store had already gotten the game to prepare for the upcoming release day, but they decided to sell it three weeks ahead instead. This caused people to put the game’s files online, so those who had hacked switches could play the game weeks before the release many anticipated. Thankfully, most of the community was mindful enough to scorn this activity and most waited patiently for the official release, which ended up being a fantastic one. I’ll get later into why this is different for the OP community instead. But yeah, while breaking street date isn’t the worst, sharing that stuff online illegally is and that’s where the problems come.

So in a sense, the same happens with Jump. Many shops will break street date and sell Jump early, with people simply buying the issues, taking them home and scanning them, giving them to scan sites who will post them on Friday, with early info and pics early on Thursday. Lots of times scans are taken by storeowners and other people involved too, but scan releases are usually after street date has been broken so that’s beside the point. In the time I was in Japan, I witnessed more than one store breaking street date on Jump. It’s rare, but more common than you’d think. And while some imagine these are shady, black market deals in dark alleyways, it couldn’t be further from the truth: these are big shops, up in the open in large crowed streets, with the new Jump issues adorning the front of the shop in full view and people of all ages gathering to buy them. As I mentioned before, companies hardly ever bother with early release shops at all, so it happens way more naturally than you might imagine.

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The cycle of early releases. Sometimes it’s the shops and others that leak it, but it always ends up being released early to the public and then online.

The easy fix to this would be to have an early digital release: just like it happens with music, tv shows, movies and other industries, having an early/digital release allows to mitigate piracy, as many services have done. But Shueisha has stubbornly refused and wishes to stick with the physical release. Japan is a country stuck in the past in many cases: it still uses faxes, music sometimes only releases via physical CDs, etc. And in this regard, Shueisha is incredibly old fashioned: while they have adapted a bit to digital releases, they still refuse to release them early, causing this whole inevitable cycle of early leaking.

Look at Kodansha, the rival publisher to Shueisha, who serialize many famous manga (Seven Deadly Sins, GoToubun, etc.): they’ve created a system where the digital release is always before the physical one. Granted, this is only a day prior (causing some early scans to still leak out a day before even that), but it’s already a massive step towards bridging that gap, with usually only a day between scans and official releases, allowing some communities to wait it out.

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Thanks to Kodansha’s efforts, I can read some of my favorite manga officially even before the scans are out!

There is no denying that those who sell scans online for money are criminals. Absolutely. But part of the blame should also fall on Shueisha for their unwillingness to adapt. It’s as if a store left their doors open at night and then blamed thieves for stealing their contents. The thieves might be thieves, but if the company’s stubbornness to not change to protect their items is what causes this whole issue then I feel part of the blame falls upon them too. Thieves will always steal, you can’t ask them to behave, so Shueisha should still be the one take action and adapt, rather than stubbornly stick to the past. Countless industries have done so, as have other companies within the manga industry, Shueisha just needs to adapt. Mangaplus is a great start (the scenario before was just a mess), but it’s still a long way from the ideal situation.

Part 2 – WHY DO PEOPLE READ EARLY SCANS:

So as I just said, scans release early on Fridays, while official releases are later on Mondays. As I illustrated before with the Smash Bros. case, usually people tend to wait these things out. Some people decided to pirate Smash, but most waited patiently: we had waited months, a couple extra weeks wasn’t the problem and we all wanted to support Sakurai and his team, there wasn’t much to lose. But then why do most people always read OP early instead of waiting? Well, no matter how much some people might like to portray those who read scans as greedy rebellious jerks who just like to pirate, there’s many more personal reasons why this might be the case:

DISCLAIMER: I want to make this very clear. These are not “reasons why you should read the scan release instead of the official”. I encourage supporting the official release over the scan one. This is “reasons why people read the scan release instead of the official one”. It’s explaining why people do it and the issue of that, not why you should do it

– 1: Language Barrier:

Very quickly, as this is a bit minor, but the official release is only in English and Spanish. People not fluent in those languages (especially given the advanced vocabulary Viz likes to use) just can’t read them and that’s a big barrier. Let’s ignore the fact that up until a year ago, this release was exclusive to the US and few select English-speaking countries (UK, Australia..) and it was literally impossible to read OP legally overseas. Mangaplus mitigates this majorly (language barrier aside), but it’s still a major reason for the rise of scans

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So far, only English and Spanish are available

– 2: The wait:

Being forced to wait three whole days every week (some may argue two and a half for the US, but for any other timezone it’s always 72+ hours after the scan release) for your favorite manga can be downright a torture for many. There’s plenty of people that are patient and can wait; hell, I’d include myself among them, I don’t usually have a lack of patience in regards to this stuff. I can do it. But some people can’t and it can become downright frustrating and depressing to do so.

But people will say “but the official release has the same wait time, it’s always one week no matter what”, but that just isn’t the case for many. People have different lives and the community will always be talking about the chapter with the scan release. Some people work shitty jobs or have tough schedules and once they arrive home after a rough week on Friday, they just want to enjoy their favorite manga. I’ve seen many of these cases first-hand. They don’t want to endure a whole three days of blueballing themselves and missing out on their greatest joy and being involved in the community just to compensate for Viz being unwilling to adapt. Scans will always leak early and the community will still hop onto them early, that’s an unavoidable reality. People who want to wait will have to endure this test of willpower and endurance and for some, that’s easy, but for others, it’s just isn’t, down to a mental level. For a lot of people their lives are shitty enough they can’t afford to torture themselves waiting it out. People shouldn’t be labeled as “ungrateful impatient jerks” because this is a lot more than just being impatient for many. Having to miss out on community discussions and being involved with everyone, having to deprive themselves of one of their only ways to escape their difficult life, there’s so much more than just being “an impatient jerk”.

– 3: Being forced to leave the community:

And here comes what has been one of my personal struggles in following the official release. Because of the reasons above as well as the others I’ll mention later, the gross part of the community reads the scan release. It’s just a fact and no matter how some might say “but you shouldn’t”, people will. It’s ridiculous to expect that everyone won’t do it, just like with the store scenario I explained. As such, if you want to stay up to date with the community and be involved in any way, you must follow the scan release, it’s not an option. When I bring this up, I’ve seen people say “but just leave the community! Go offline and don’t get involved with them!”…

Are you kidding me? How could I? I adore this community. I love scrolling through the comments on reddit, seeing the discussions on forums, seeing the reactions on twitter and getting involved with each of them, being a part of the moment. I could never give that up for anything in the world. Living that is my One Piece experience. Telling me to go offline and detach from this community I love is just something I cannot do, even at the moral cost it comes with. It pains me that I can’t support the official release this way by reading the chapters the day they come out, but I just cannot abandon all the friends and amazing folks I’ve met along the way. This would have to be for three full days every week (half the week!), after which the discussion has already died anyway. I’d have to not just leave all forums and communities regarding OP, but even stop talking with my personal friends and the community, not to mention stop using any social media, even outside One Piece, due to fear of spoilers.

– 4) SPOILERS:

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And hey, there’s the matter of those spoilers. Even if I consciously stopped getting involved, I’d still have to treat the internet like a spoiler minefield. Even outside the community, you can still get spoiled in other communities, because it’s unavoidable. Doesn’t matter who we ask to behave, it will happen. Unless you are up to date, you are easily going to ruin yourself on all the big twists and great surprises you could’ve otherwise had. It sucks that it has to be this way, it really does, I wish it wasn’t, but that’s just reality and we have to deal with it. For a lot of people, including myself, avoiding spoilers can lead to paranoia (which is why I hate it when stuff like Smash fighters leak), great stress and especially disappointment when some of the manga’s greatest moments are ruined for you. That’s not something everybody can deal with mentally and can be downright detrimental to the health of many.

– 5) The official release site:

Here we start to get into reasons that are more a direct effect of Viz. Before I get into the matter of translations, I’d like to get into the aspect of reading them, being that the official site mangaplus, for lack of a better word is… how to put it, just god awful. Sorry if I get a bit foulmouthed here, but the site is a buggy glitchy mess with awkward navigation and readability to the point that it’s embarrassing. Reports of the site bugging out are many and while others have issues, the fact that even a decent group of people have issues is problematic. Yet a year later it still hasn’t improved. Below I include my experience trying to read a single page, being the spread from the last chapter:

In this instance, I suffer from: a) page scrolling being ridiculously sensitive even if I have no issue on other sites and my PC’s mouse settings are set at normal b) scrolling is choppy and laggy, making it harder to follow the text and panels c) page constantly bugs out by sending me above to previous pages d) the upper banner obscuring a large part of the page (practically a fifth!) with this obnoxious bright red and refusing to disappear until it magically did at one point, only to later reappear and annoy me again (clicking doesn’t work) e) low quality images I cannot zoom into and f) of course, most egregious of all, the page is cut in half, ruining the impact the spread originally had.

For the first four, these might be glitches exclusive to me, but the fact that they are happening in the first place, on a browser that has no issues reading on any scan site, is downright baffling. I know many who have had completely different glitches in the first place, so this is something that is unthinkable of coming from an official company when any other site, even the likes of scumbags like mangapanda, can do a better job.

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This is their front page. Their. Front. Page. This is embarrassing.

e) is particularly frustrating because we know for a fact that Shueisha has access to full official HD scans of each chapter as they show many times on official promo media, yet the release we get is a blurry and low quality mess. Granted, it is a bit clearer than the scans, especially in color and shade, but it’s also in lower quality images and it is impossible to zoom in or see pages individually. Zooming in zooms in the entire page and zooming out does the same. Want to see a full page for a cool layout Oda used or zoom in to spot a detail? Too bad, can’t do, that’s not allowed here, at least in browser. Scan releases might have shading issues (caused by the scanning itself), but the native quality is higher than that of the official release which shouldn’t be the case

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Massive zoom-in on the page and yet look at this quality, the detail is stunning (from official promo material from Shueisha)

I imagine there must be some legal reason for this point, as they might not want to let people take the pages as they might leak out illegally, but that worry is legitimately pointless. Let’s ignore that scans exist and that MP is free for a second: if people wanted to steal these pages, they would. People have methods to take these pages and pirates won’t hesitate to go out of their way to use them, meaning this doesn’t hinder them at all. For example, I know of other cases of official releases outside MP (where the official release is the only one) where people just steal the pages of the official release and put them on imgur for others who can’t read them (ex: live in a region it’s not available in). This method does nothing to stop pirates and it only becomes a hindrance for those trying to read legally. It’s a 100% anti-consumer move.

e) Something that is just ridiculous, spreads being cut in half is just dumb. I know you can change it, but you must go to options, select horizontal reading, which resets the page, have to scroll all the way again and then get to the page, and in my case the banners glitches and just wouldn’t go away (I click in the center but nothing happens), basically making the page unreadable. While on any other scan site, you have to do nothing, it’s that easy. All of these issues make reading on mangaplus a complete frustrating mess that just shouldn’t be there for an official release with an actual budget behind it.

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Clicking does nothing. It’s stuck this way

– 6) The translation:

This is ultimately a very subjective and divisive matter. I fully acknowledge that the enjoyment of a translation depends on personal preferences and choices: but that’s exactly my point. Even if they are subjective, people have translation preferences and the reality of the situation is that many do not like the official release, preferring even the scans over it. The official release being better or worse is not a fact, no matter how much some might try to pretend it is: it’s an opinion and both cases are perfectly valid. So if someone says they prefer the official release, that’s a valid reason to wish to read it, but for those that don’t, it is also a valid reason to not wish to read it.

Disclaimer: The following is not a personal attack on the official translator of One Piece or anyone on the team or working at Viz. However, One Piece is a product that Viz, as a company, is presenting to us and as consumers, we have a right to offer our complaints and criticisms. To deny that would be absurd. So while this isn’t meant as personal, I do want to voice my constructive criticisms in full honesty. The following is 100% just my opinion

I’ll make it simple: I’m on the side that doesn’t like the official translation. I find it downright unreadable and it isn’t because look at me, yohoho, I like pirating things and doing illegal activities!! I still buy it and I still read it, but I don’t like it. It’s because of honest complaints, that while I do realize they are personal, they are still valid to me:

– The names: Oh lord the names. This is an easy one that many poke fun at and it’s for good reason. Viz has this ridiculous policy that when they choose on a name, they can’t change it “for consistency”, up till the heat death of the universe. Rather than just owning up to their mistake, they stubbornly stick with said mistake. The fact that we are still using Zolo speaks for itself and other things like Teech, Portgaz D. Ace, the Animal Kingdom Pirates (sorry, I need a second to giggle), Inuarashi being “Dogupine” (which thankfully was amended to Dogstorm, though that isn’t much better) among many others are just downright cringe-inducing. Some will say to “just get used to them” or “ignore them”, but not only have I found that impossible even years later, but it’s absurd to ask readers to do the job of changing it in their minds because they won’t. Readers shouldn’t fix the mistakes of a translation, the publisher should. I could get maybe the volume releases, but at least the digital mangaplus release? Who asks for consistency there over the real canon names?

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Until the end of time.

– Excessive localization: One Piece is a manga that is deeply rooted within the Japanese language, Oda has acknowledged it is written with a Japanese-reading audience in mind. He often loves to do linguistic puns or use Japanese terminology, concepts or part of its culture. So while I can understand why Viz would want to localize heavily, as it is common with a lot of Japanese media, it just doesn’t work for One Piece. This series needs things like translation notes, it needs the use of Japanese words and the occasional honorifics, or there’s so much that goes lost. But Viz stubbornly refuses to use not just any of those (though weirdly enough, it has very inconsistently done so in Wano, such as with Akazaya instead of Scabbards), but also refuses to use translation notes, leading to not just general confusion, but also some content being downright omitted all together.

An example: In a very old chapter, during Sabaody, the flying fish riders call out a formation. In Japanese, this is pronounced as “hentai”, same as “pervert”. So, Franky turns around and says “huh, you called?”. In a fan translation, there’d be a translation note that explains this. But in the official volume, it’s just there without any explanation and it’s just confusing, as it makes zero sense in English. Why would Franky respond to “formation”? There’s so much you can miss out with the official release because the localization omits many of the things Oda implements, rather than trying to marry adaptation with notes and some original words. We don’t need Bartolomeo’s “senpai” removed because we’re not Japanese, we all get what it means and those that don’t still end up figuring it out and learning something new.

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I don’t think I need to explain what’s wrong here

Furthermore, there’s just certain changes and omissions that are downright unnecessary. Another example: in chapter 956, in the official release, Morgans can be seen making many puns around birds (ex: “take a gander at this”). While this seems like a cool detail at first, this just wasn’t present in the original version and was an addition that Viz made, in the words of the translator because “it was fun to do it”. Again, I don’t mean this as anything personal, just a fair criticism, but altering Oda’s original intents just for fun harms the translation. Morgans being a guy that likes to do puns is just a non-canon aspect of his character that is falsely presented within this translation, it’s just simply misleading. The official volumes are plagued with many of these examples.

– The language: this is one of my biggest gripes, but the language used just doesn’t work for me. The thing is, Viz likes using very refined and polished language, which in theory, it isn’t bad. It gives it an air of higher quality and effort, which I’m sure no doubt was put in to stand apart from scan releases, to feel more “official”. In fact, I’ll say this, Viz has the vantage that their grammar and orthography is almost always impeccable, one of their best qualities. But unfortunately, the choice of this refined language harms the series for me and here is why: One Piece, in its original Japanese version, while it does use great dialogue, it isn’t written to be refined. Luffy and his friends speak very casually, their language is down to earth and friendly. Viz seems to mistake this by using hip and cool terms, like “’em”, “gonna”, “yer”, etc… (basically an abuse of apostrophes), which feels tone deaf and literal textbook “hip young language”. Most characters in One Piece talk like normal people do and it gives them this sense of friendliness and relatability, almost as if you personally knew them. So hearing them talk in such a heavily refined way or an exaggerated boomer-perspective youngster way simply doesn’t reflect the Japanese version for me, which I’ve enjoyed reading so many times due to the way its language works. Oda certainly uses complex words and metaphors many times, but his characters are also honest and casual.

Let’s compare the last chapter: in the scan release, characters use this original normal language, as Oden has that type of relationship with his crew. However, during the scene where Orochi speaks of talking Oden’s place, he uses very polite formal language. This makes sense, as it was also polite in the original version, since Orochi is trying to appear very formal and respectful. But here’s the issue: in the Viz version, while Orochi speaks politely too (no issue there), everyone speaks like Orochi; everyone uses language enriched by refined words (ex: rather than “transport”, “ferry”, rather than “duel”, “scrap”, rather than “upset”, “disturbed”), which just ends up feeling out of character to me. When a character speaks more informally instead, Viz skewers this massively in the other direction, making them sound like some streotype of how an old man would view a youngster. It feels like such an uneven balance, while someone like Jaimini’s, at least for me, has managed to attain a much simpler but effective style of language (Mangastream is also very guilty of this, just to be clear, but Jaimini’s hardly suffered from it). It all feels for the sake of feeling more “official”, but it just detaches it from the original for me.

I will praise that Viz does some things right. They rarely make genuine mistakes and almost never have orthographic or spelling mistakes. This is very important. Also, they translate sound effects, which is a big plus in my book (not enough translators do it). But the issues outweigh the good things and they make my reading experience worse. That is my own opinion, but it doesn’t change the fact I don’t enjoy reading One Piece this way and it would ruin my experience if I did. I perfectly enjoy many official releases for games and manga, so it’s not a matter of me hating official releases or anything, but One Piece just isn’t one of them. I still buy it support it, but I just don’t like the product that Viz offers.

If you need further proof that it’s this translation specifically I have issues with, I actually enjoy the Spanish translation quite a bit. It’s still far from ideal, but it feels like a major step up. But Spanish isn’t my first language and most of my readers likely don’t speak it, so it’s still a problem.

I fully realize that this matter might be subjective, but it still is valid for me. It feels like I’m not reading Oda’s manga anymore, but a mildly modified version. And hey, I fully get that some people are fine with this and enjoy these changes, I have no problem with that. But my complaints are equally as valid and I know I’m very well not alone on this. When I announced on twitter what just happened today, most replies dreaded having to read the official translation, with a vast difference against those that had no issues with it. Just look at the like counter in this replies I got, practically 90% favored the comment that criticized the official translation rather than the one that said it was better.

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There’s plenty of these examples in case you believe I’m cherry-picking.

The One Piece subreddit started an “Official Translation Hate Thread” (as in “stuff we hate”) with over 1000 upvotes in just a few hours and several gildings, with many valid criticisms, like those I mentioned among even others. Many have already voiced so many of their frustrations and treated the expectation of having to read the official release as literal torture. It doesn’t matter how we spin it, and if you disagree (which is perfectly fine!), but a good part of the community just isn’t complacent with the way OP is translated officially and that’s an issue. Ignoring that so many dislike it and shunning away any criticisms by labeling them as “just troll comments lol” is borderline tone deaf.

In this regard, many will be quick to point out that scan releases can often be of low quality and that has been the case with awful scans like mangapanda or even mangastream. But the likes of jaimini’s or powermanga have always been of high quality, with the only issues being rare slip ups due to small mistakes (which the official Spanish translation constantly does anyways), otherwise being consistently good, with accurate language, polished typesetting and great translations. Simply pointing at mangapanda’s asinine translations back in 2002 doesn’t reflect the current state of scans well and is misleading of the current situation.

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We’ve all seen these comically bad atrocities, but it’s false to say things haven’t changed

So let’s look at everything we’ve said so far and pretend there is a person that finds issue with everything said above: this hypothetical person is Johnny. Johnny is someone who wants to support Oda and would like to read the official release. So he decides to wait it out for a weekend to do so.

Johnny works a pretty tiring week job and just wants to relax at home on the weekend by reading his favorite series. But he decided to support One Piece officially, so he waits it out. The weekend becomes stressful, as he paranoically has to await the release without spoilers. He wants the weekend to end so he can read the chapter, but this also means going back to his awful weekday job, ruining the weekend for him. People are talking about the chapter and his friends are telling him how great it was, but Johnny promised he would wait and has to stop talking to anyone for those days. He feels lonely, left out and stressed, so he goes on YouTube to watch some unrelated content but whoops, someone just spoiled the biggest twist in the chapter. So that’s ruined.

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Monday finally arrives and Johnny is excited to read the chapter, but Mangaplus keeps being glitchy and makes it hard to read the chapter. Because the mouse is so sensitive the page scrolls down so much that he gets to a page that spoils something big without the aforementioned context (ex: Yonko bounties). Yikes, he scrolls up again. He gets to the end of the chapter but the spread is cut in half, ruining the impact of that final scene. Plus, Johnny felt pretty irked and bothered by the translation and there’s this one thing that just didn’t make sense to him in it. He sits and contemplates if it was worth it to wait it out for the sake of moral obligation.

So yes, while I do get that I am overly exaggerating in this example and I imagine not everyone will be bothered by all the issues, even just one of these can ruin the magical experience that is reading a One Piece chapter, not to mention several of these grouped together. And for some people it’s none of them, which is great, meaning they can enjoy the official release. But for a large majority, many of these are a problem: the official release is quite simply a flawed product Shueisha is selling and while their competitor is illegal, they are able to offer a better product in turn. Viz can point fingers and say “but they are illegal! They don’t count!”, but it doesn’t change. Shueisha hasn’t bothered to go after early release shops or try to stop this early distribution and on top are just selling a worse experience for many. Even with an illegal competitor, their competitor doing a better job is killing the interest in their product.

And hey, maybe Frank reads the official release and has no issues! He isn’t involved with the community, doesn’t bother much with being spoiled and he’s fine with the reader and translation. But that doesn’t mean Johnny wasn’t bothered. They are both different experiences and equally as valid.

Gabe Newell, co-founder of Valve, once talked how the PC game market was dying due to pirated releases. Pirating was simply easier and a lot of times it avoided some of the issues that came with official releases. He said that even if they were illegal groups, they were still competitors who were outdoing them. So he created Steam, a system that many of you no doubt use today. Steam allows you to buy games of any kind easily from an open storefront, quickly installing them, making even things like mods and other stuff easy to use. It hasn’t fully stopped game piracy, but it has certainly helped decrease it massively, because it is ultimately a better product. If only Viz could adopt a similar model and make a quality release, it could change so much and while Mangaplus is a decent first step, we are very far away from that point. And if that’s the case, then you can’t blame that many people just won’t invest in the official release, regardless of the morals at hand. People are still consumers, they are still fans, so they value the experience that is better to them.

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So what I’m getting at is that people don’t read the scan release because they are greedy scumbags (which is just invalid now given how Mangaplus is free). There are so many issues that cause people to gravitate towards the scan release. Asking people to put up with the waiting, put up with the awful site, put up with translations they don’t like, all for the sake of moral obligation to a company that stubbornly refuses to change and adapt, treating their fans with tone-deafness and anti-consumer practices (let’s not get into things like Shueisha’s fraudulent copyright takedowns of fair use content like theory videos, etc.) is a lot to ask. Ruining your experience of One Piece just isn’t worth it for such a company in the eyes of most, that’s just how it is.

A lot of people prefer to just buy the official volumes and merch to support Oda while reading scans rather than reading the official release and ruining their experience. I’m not saying this makes up for having to pirate One Piece, but if we’re stuck doing this, then at least we can support Oda as best as we can. And yet, despite all these reasons, I feel there’s some people that act as if everyone should read the official release and that all these issues are invalid (encouraging the official release is perfectly fine, it’s pretending the official release is flawless and that peoples’ issues don’t exist that is the issue). I don’t want to have to bring this up, but I just can’t address this elephant in the room:

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Don’t even know what image to put so I suppose this is relevant

I want to make it clear that this is only in regards to some people. The large majority of people who only read the official release are perfectly nice people, there’s no issue with most of them. I’m not labeling anyone, I’m speaking of specific separate cases. And I want to make another thing clear: it’s fine to encourage supporting the official release and discourage scans (especially scummy things like sites that profit from the stealing like mangapanda), in fact, we all should. And we should complain about it, this situation sucks. We should all do our best to support One Piece in our fullest capacity, as well as discourage those that pirate One Piece for the wrong reasons.

But what isn’t fine is insulting, harassing and attacking people who end up reading the scan release because of all the things that I mentioned above: whether it’s the stress and paranoia of having to wait, the legitimately difficult matter of avoiding spoilers, being forced to abandon the community they love and/or, awful reading experience that comes for many reading the official release or any other valid issues. These ruin One Piece for many and shaming people for it is just petty. This elitist attitude only helps discourage people from supporting the official release, adding yet another reason to why people don’t wanna read Viz. Pretending all these issues don’t exist, especially when many of them depend on personal factors, is ludicrous.

It’s important to remind to support Oda officially, I’m sure he wishes for that, but attacking people I feel is downright against what Oda would want. I have literally received insults, harassment and even death threats for not reading the official release, despite all the reasons I mentioned and supporting One Piece in the fullest economic capacity I can (ironically enough, I’m sure I’ve supported OP more than most of these harassers have, but that’s beside the point: being a OP fan isn’t determined by your money, I don’t think I need to tell you that). And yes, some of these threats and harassment weren’t just random trolls, but even established people with their own following (I won’t name who, but it’s very likely not who you might be thinking of, they’re not part of the English-speaking community if that gives you an idea).

Being told I’m not a true fan, that I hate Oda (lol), that I should hang myself, all because I just want to enjoy this beautiful series with a fantastic community and in the best way I can. Yes, supporting scans might be morally wrong, but wishfully harming and attacking others might be even worse. Shielding yourself behind the official release as a way to freely attack people and gloat about how you’re a better fan is just disgusting. Compared to some of the people they treat as “evil”, who have been some of the nicest folk I’ve ever met, it just feels so oddly ironic. Again, this is just some users in some parts of the community and I get that it’s a minority (there’s also plenty who still say many of these things but more peacefully), but I think this narrowminded harassment needs to end and the focus instead should be on respectfully encouraging the official release, rather than forcing it down everyone’s throats.

Again, let me make it clear: it’s perfectly fine to be upset, to complain about the state of the situation, to encourage official supporting and to disagree. But ignoring the viewpoints of others and just harassing, insulting and attacking them just isn’t.

I hope that everything I’ve said will help provide a good insight into why the situation is what it is and why people act how they act. There’s many sides to this argument, but none of them are inherently right or wrong. There are many different reasons for people to do what they do and regardless of how you feel, keep in mind that people live different lives, have different things to worry or stress about, have different morals and preferences. It isn’t as simple as being a greedy jerk or having selfish reasons (though I don’t deny some do, just not the large majority of the community), there’s much more behind most of us than just that and most of these people can be the nicest you’ll meet.

I love this community. I wish that above all else, regardless of how we read One Piece, that we could stand together as a community, not apart. Let’s encourage official supporting but also cherish each other and enjoy One Piece together. It’s stupid to segregate over a work that is meant to bring people together, regardless of their viewpoints. Let’s stop hurling insults, blaming and pointing others, regardless of what release they enjoy and let’s all agree that Oda is a god at writing. We shouldn’t let something like this divide us.

Screen Shot 2019-12-21 at 3.58.10

I know saying all this will put me on the blacklists of some people and some will keep harassing me and sending me death threats over it. I’ve always tried to avoid making enemies in this community and I’ve managed to rebuild bridges with people I was on bad terms with, being able to understand their different viewpoints and respect each other, but while sometimes it’s just impossible, I hope it can be the same here. I’m not writing this to stir drama or annoy people, the complete opposite, I hope this helps people understand each other better. I just wanted to talk my honest feelings without feeling I should lie to you just to avoid the harassment I’ve gotten. I want people to both support One Piece but toalso support each other. That’s what should matter the most.

Part 3 – WHAT WILL I DO?

So with everything I said, that’s why I ultimately still end up reading One Piece with the scans, even if I rarely do that with any other medium. I can’t abandon this community and I can’t ruin my own enjoyment of reading the chapters. I still support One Piece officially in its fullest capacity, by buying the official Viz subscription, all the volumes (both English and Japanese), buying the physical Japanese Jump issues, the vivre cards, the magazines, the color walks, the novels, the books, the figurines, the merch, the everything. I love buying media and supporting releases, it’s why I have a collection of 300+ physical video games and why I don’t pirate media aside from cases like these where I have no choice. And I still will always continue to do so as long as I’m financially capable. But this goes beyond supporting releases. This is about my journey with the community and I simply can’t abandon my enjoyment of One Piece, even if it is without the official release. It’s what my heart says is morally right to do, even if it comes at the cost of something morally wrong to do, as I think the good it’s able to bring for me and others vastly outweighs the bad. The situation is what it is and we have to do what we can to make up for it.

So with that I’d like to officially announce I hope to soon do the switch to the official release!!

Yeah, bit of a tonal whiplash, huh? I still stand by what I said, but I do wish to support One Piece in whatever way I can, as I said it irks me to not support it officially in some form. Since it’s realistically doable in spite of these issues, I hope to release my own Chapter Secrets alongside the official Japanese release, separate of Viz, as I want to at least support Oda that way. It won’t change that I’ll still read scans (well of course now they’re gone so it depends on the quality, but this was written before that happened, I’ll get into it later), but at least my content can wait it out, even with the significant hit that’ll take to my income/livelihood. I plan to focus on this around the start of this next year and we’ll see how to handle it, especially to see how this current situation will affect the community. The choice will ultimately depend on your own decisions as my followers and readers, but we’ll tackle this by then, so expect that somewhere around January!

Part 4 – The Current Situation

Okay, so WHEW, that’s a lot I wanted to say off my shoulders, so let’s focus on the current situation and what it entails. The best case would be if the official release and Jaimini’s both release on the same day. Either via an early release by Viz by finally prioritizing digital or a late release by Jaimini’s (but this would require no spoilers to come out, which just won’t ever happen, so Viz would have to make the move). This would give people a choice while everyone could read together on the same day, regardless of preference.

But unfortunately, Jamini’s pulling out all together just makes matters worse. Hopefully speaking, all scans would disappear until the official release, but that’s just unrealistic, it’s delusional to believe they will. Within writing this, several translations of 966 have already surfaced and people are talking about them openly. Absolutely nothing has changed except that these translations are of lower quality, making everything worse. If this continues, I’d rather have Jaimini’s take the helm again to give us quality translations, rather than being forced to either read these early worse translations or have to wait for Viz which are bad regardless, making a pick your poison kind of scenario. Even assuming the impossible that all spoilers and scan releases will disappear, that would still have us stuck with Viz, with the awful reader and the translations some of us don’t enjoy. It’s a lose-lose scenario no matter how we look at it and that’s worrying. I can only hope for the best, but I wish that this doesn’t end up ruining the enjoyment of One Piece for many.

kaido
This could cause the return of monsters like mangapanda

Until Shueisha stops refusing to prioritize digital releases or find a way to properly stop it rather than pettily pointing at the thieves that steal from their proverbial unguarded shop and creates a polished quality release, with a good reader and a translation the large part of the fanbase loves, nothing will change. Asking fans to make up for Shueisha’s shortcomings won’t change a damn. Jaimini’s Box was a gatekeeper, because since it was so popular, it stopped other crappy scans from taking over and at least made the pirated release a quality one. Disappearing will just bring forth an even worse era of piracy and I feel it’ll just make things worse. Huh, it’s literally like Whitebeard’s death thinking about it…

At this point we have to simply wait things out. Perhaps I’m being too worried and things will somehow turn fine, but I fear this might really worsen things as a whole if it goes the wrong way. We’ll just have to wait and see. I can assure you of one thing though: even if all releases somehow vanish or whatever may happen, I won’t stop delivering you content! Even if we end up stuck with Viz, I’ll make sure to point out every Japanese reference, every hidden pun and linguistic detail that might get lost. So don’t worry, I’ll always be here for this community!

~Artur

P.S.: While some scans are out, I’ll wait out on Chapter Secrets this week till the situation clarifies a little. Please look forward to it!

26 comments

  1. Wow this was a great read ! Congrats Artur I really think you made your point very clear and honestly I don’t see how anyone could get offended by anything you said there (I say that while knowing perfectly well that people will get offended anyways, but great job nonetheless !)

    I’m pretty sad for the disapearance of the scans, I’ve been reading One piece since 2006, first by buying the available volumes, then catching up with the scans once I reached the end at the time, and I haven’t missed a weekly scan since then … (changing sites and translations as some disapeared etc) I started reading english scans (I’m french) because I was frustrated with some of the translations (many french scans were translated FROM the english ones, so often a bad english to french translation from a bad japanese to english one…).

    I haven’t been active in the community, and to be honnest wasn’t even aware of the community (I’m talking just reddit and youtube, and the library of ohara of course :D) since I’d say beginning of this year (a little earlier for you chapter secrets, ended up randomly here and been awaiting your chapter secrets with great anticipation ever since), all this to say that since then I’ve been reading both mangastream, jaimini’s AND mangaplus, plus watching several youtubers and your chapter secrets for every chapter. And I have to say I completely agree with what you said here, I really don’t enjoy the viz translation, and have been reading it just to have a third view on the chapter.

    Anyways sorry for adding a long comment on your already long post ! Thank you for the great work you’re doing, and I hope all this will be resolved soon enough and end up being for the better of us fans !

    Karad

    PS : sorry for the spelling / grammar mistakes.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. well, this kind of things are indeed dilemma. I want to support official release but, just as you said, it takes 3 days to wait which is hard to avoid spoilers and the quality of translation is not as great as fans’s translation.
    but well, I guess in 2020, reading One Piece (or any other manga series) will be different experience… 😦

    Just need to clarify to you Artur. will you wait for every Monday to release your Chapter Secrets? or usual schedule with emphasize “Spoiler” in the title?

    I suggest the former. since most of us don’t have access to read the earlier scans. and if you willing, you can point out translation errors from the official release compared to the Japanese scans. I think this is the most important thing. I want to understand the story the way that Oda wants, his true intention. not some poor localization.

    Like

  3. Fuck yeah! Just Yeah to all things you said!

    Its really like Whitebeard’s Death!

    If Viz still stubbornly deafztoned minded, nothing will change! Thats why anybody still raise their colours and set sail to the grand blue! Hear me WG!

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  4. Still Here with you as always eager to read and enjoy your content Artur on One piece; indeed this marks the ushering of a new era not only for One Piece as a manga but for the fandom as well. Keep it up Artur! otsukaresamadeshita !

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hola Artur.

    Considero que uno de los males es ver los extremos de los lados, es decir; blanco o negro olvidándonos de los matices .

    Manga Plus ha sido un cambio que merece su oportunidad pero tampoco podemos olvidar cuando el único medio eran los escanéos quienes nos los compartían sin ningún interés de lucro. Y en el intermedio todos lo ejemplos buenos y malos que podamos describir.

    Concuerdo contigo en que no se trata de juzgar sino de disfrutar algo que tenemos (muchos) en común y es esta gran historia.

    Tú sigue con esto mientras lo disfrutes, saludos cordiales.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Man, i only know your first name, but you’re my man and you’re the man!

    I’m french and (thankfully) we have a great community and a great website with amazing translators that release the scans usually on Friday morning, with notes, which is really helping to understand the whole complexity of Oda choice of words, expressions, references to Japaneses culturals and etymologicals things, and you’re (in my point of view) 100% right to point out translations issues, in any languages.

    In France the whole series has been retranslated about 6 years ago, and it’s so much better now, with all the real characters, places, attacks… Names.

    I believe you said it all, as you do with the chapters secrets, so thank you a thousand time and please keep up the great work you do! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s true we, french, are very lucky with our scan site. The translation and notes are great. It may be the only content I enjoy in french (with the amazing YouTube channel Mont Corvo).

      I usually play/read in original version when I can, but I’m buying all OP tomes in french without a second thought.

      Like

  7. Concordo com seus pontos, principalmente a questão do engajamento com a comunidade. (Yeah, i wrote it in portuguese, my native language, because One Piece is global yay!)

    Liked by 1 person

  8. The Viz translation issues seem to a One Piece thing only. Other titles are fine. I can only talk about World Trigger, because it’s the only title I actually read on MangaPlus: the WT translation on MangaPlus is barely any different from what Mangastream used to put out. Quality is good enough for reading for free, and I’ll buy a volume after it comes out. No issue.
    One Piece on the other hand is hot garbage. This was even the case in translations to my language. It read like a 30-year old writing in the kind of language he imagined a teenager or preteen would speak. (Only kids read manga after all, right?) It was horrible and I stopped buying the One Piece volumes in my language about 12 years ago or so. Viz’ English is slightly better, but not by much.

    Come to think about it. Now, One Piece is the only Jump title I’ll read the scans of. I have no problem waiting for Hero Academia and Dr, Stone, the other two Jump titles I actually read. I’m not invested much in HeroAca, and Dr. Stone’s general story arc is easy enough to “predict” and spoilers can’t really ruin my enjoyment of it. I guess I’ll see soon how good VIz’ translation of those two titles is.

    Viz should have done what J-Novel Club did – just hire the guys that did the ‘fan translations’, give them an editor, and improve together. Obviously they did not choose that route. Zolo, indeed.

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  9. wow.. that was a long post, i still read it through the end….
    as always you do the great job artur!

    been here for someyears, but this is just my first comment on your post. i want to say that i really enjoy your content. ( for me as indonesian, your point of view is just amazing ).

    artur, i dont know if this is appropriate or not, but if somehow you manage to translate the chapter alongside with the official release. i ( we ) will be grateful!, i will wait and read your version of onepiece chapter!

    thanks and patiently wait your chapter secret.

    “salam dari indonesia”

    Liked by 1 person

  10. About Viz, I actually prefer Viz over other translators, though that’s primarily because I’m not actually familiar with other translators since I just use Manapark and they just post the scans with different versions so nothing on that end.
    As for the names for Viz, beyond Zoro and Ace I never really notice such bad translation that isn’t just an alternate typing to it, for Zoro that’s just simply the R & L things in Japan so for me I just ignored it and move on. I never really notice The bird pun for Margon so that’s new on my end.

    Beyond that I don’t have much problem with Viz and I just enjoy it, though the Localization can get annoying I don’t really take it seriously.

    Will I keep using Viz? yes. Do I think Viz is perfect? no. Can it get better? yes. In terms of Scans and Official Released I just read what is posted, I’m not against either or and can enjoy it regardless of who does the translation, though some of the really bad ones can be unreadable. So while I’ll miss the the quick release I’ll still be able to enjoy it regardless.

    I come here because I enjoy the secrets that I usually don’t see or the implication that comes with them and reading your Chapter Secrets are fun and enjoyable. I understand the reason to wait and will patiently wait for it since I enjoy these post.

    Like

  11. Who the fuck is Mister Luffy?

    Seriously, the Viz translation is awful to us that are not fluent in english. It’s boring and it is really like reading a bad manuscript or like reading a dead paragraph! While for me jaiminisbox is much simplier and easy to understand. It is also entertaining and lively!

    Like

  12. While I support official releases, I read them only when I have time and most of the time they go unread. Is nice to finally read something useful here. I would really like if there appears a Reddit in which people correct the official translates and gave us the japanese scanlation-feel of what we are reading. This will help us to read One Piece as a lot of people like me prefer (boy I missed JB this week and spent a few hours until I finally this website).
    Maybe you Arthur doing it could help us, I don’t participate in Reddit or forums so I really don’t think I’ll be able to open a thread and make it a trend, but maybe you can start it and we’ll have the best of both worlds until the official translators finally give in and give you all the available options 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  13. You have o idea how grateful I am for writing this. Not only did you bring up why some people (like me) can’t really depend on the official translation, but also mentioned how flawed it can actually be.
    Back when I first started watching anime/reading manga, these weren’t a thing. Scanlations and fan subs were pretty much the only way to go. Since I live in a “forgotten” part of the world (eastern Europe), very few anime made their way on the TV. And those which did were translated after the 4Kids dub…There were some exceptions, luckily. However, it was way more convenient to just access the internet whenever I wanted to and watch/read whatever I felt like. It also played a big role in improving my English and thus eliminating a language barrier (as well as improve my grades at this school subject xD).
    Then, many years later official translations came along…Obviously, Viz translations are not available in my country. VPN is an option though and I have used it for that, but scanlations were always earlier so there was no point. As you pointed out, reading the chapters at the end of the week was way better than on Monday. I only found out about MangaPlus last week, for some reason. Yes, the website is a mess, but the phone app is alright. Even so, I’m grateful that it exists.
    As for the translations, I 100% agree with what you have written. Translation notes are very important. A lot of fan translations had them back in the day and they sure made it easier to understand the dialogue. I guess part of the reason things were easier for me when I started taking Japanese classes was because of them. The mistakes they make are really cringey, to the point where it feels like a badly dubbed anime. I used this comparison because the Morgans example reminded me of how 4Kids dubs changed the dialogue. It may not be that atrocious, but it’s still bad. Fan translations aren’t perfect either, but its easier to get past their mistakes because they mostly come from inexperience and they do it in their free time, while the people working on the official ones are professionals.
    As for the manga volumes…well, if you enter a random bookstore in my country, you most likely won’t find any. Manga and anime aren’t mainstream around here. I know a bookstore chain that imports them, as well as a few online ones, but the prices are way too high. I was only a broke college student until a year ago, and after graduating things didn’t really improve. And it’s like this for a lot of new graduates, since my country has issues.
    So yeah…Once again, thank you for bringing up these perspectives. It means a lot, since wherever I go on the internet, there is someone who condemns “pirates” without considering that others live in completely different surroundings.

    Like

  14. Artur, you are an absolute gift. I’ve never read anything I so wholly agreed with as the post you just wrote above, it felt like you were narrating from my mind, lol. Please keep up the amazing work you do, and try to not let the hateful comments get to you. You’re doing a great job, comrade.

    And p.s., I know you don’t really feel comfortable asking for donations, and I totally get that, but if you ever decided to sell some merch I would love to support you and promote your work by getting a Library of Ohara t-shirt or pack of stickers. Just a thought 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  15. For some reason the English releases are blurrier/lower quality, than the Spanish ones.
    Also, MangaPlus doesn’t allow PgUp/PgDn keyboard navigation.

    Like

  16. Cuz it was fun? wtf? xD that is why i will never get american anime dubs… if they don´t care then they do jokes and weird things that is never the intend of the series, Yugioh GX is one of the best evolutions from a shonen character that i saw a lot of years ago… but for the dub he was a stupid kid and nothing else… this is not the beggining of the 2000´s, we have internet and know what a freaking senpai, san, chan, sama is!! and if we don´t we open a new tap and google it… why they think that you (Because i´m mexican) need to be protected from other cultures? like if you or a child read a new word that is from other country their heads will explode?

    Latino dubers (Official and unofficial) respect more about that, in your example of Franky in the non-official they write bellow the page something like “Formation and Hentai sound the same” and on the official they never say something about the hentai, only use Formation on the dialogue, but on the next volume SBS they talk about the Formation-Hentai thing.

    I really hate that the legal way is done without passion… i know that it would be hard to translate a lot of mangas per week… but the people on the dubs are people that looove that manga and that works to give something worthing that love… nice read.

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  17. Thanks for this reading!

    In my case, as brazilian, I never understood the timeline of leaks and official relase. As many there, we expect a portuguese traduciion and unofficial release between Wed and Fri, even we ever heard about a official version (and traduction) on Monday.

    Somehow Shueisha knows all the world loves One Piece. If they change today, for example, almost all the community will hate them. Even they don’t sell mangas in other countries, they know they profit with licenses of theier products on them.

    Like

  18. Hi Artur!

    Thank you for your detailed analysis and well-motivated arguments regarding the official translations. My name is Sara and I represent the MANGA Plus team.

    We are taking note of all the user opinion about the translations and are looking into ways to develop our translation process. As you users have the best feel for what “good translation” means to you and what improvements you wish to see, I would love to be able to ask you some follow-up questions about some of the things you have written here.

    If that would be okay with you, I would much appreciate it if you could contact me through the official MANGA Plus page on Facebook (@mangaplus.en).

    Have a great day!

    Sara from MANGA Plus

    Like

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