History's Strongest Disciple Kenichi 566 - Cage of Battle
Fairy Tail 381 - The Devil's House
Bleach 577 - Blade

Series That Have Already Ended

Posted Apr 10th, 2014 by Jinn

I've been going through some old favorites of mine and wondered what they'd be like if they continued until today. Series like Psyren come to mind, which sadly got cancelled too early and still felt like it had a lot of potential to explore. Though series that ran for ages but eventually ended, like Dragon Ball, are also interesting to think about.

So here's some questions to ponder about:

  • Are there any series that have ended and you feel should've gone on for a while longer?
  • Which series had a nice and fitting end that you were happy and satisfied with?
  • Were there 'natural' ways for your fav series to continue, or would it have felt forced?
  • Do you think that 'unnaturally' prolonging a series (think Dragon Ball GT) is essentially the right holders 'milking' the series and ruining it in a way?
  • If you have any particular series on your mind - can you describe how exactly you would've made it continue, in other words, 'what would have happened next' in the series?

Personally, Psyren and Gantz are two series I'd have really liked to see for a while longer. And I'd like to mention Berserk and Hunter x Hunter here too... while they haven't officially ended, their mini- and maxi-hiatuses are as bad if not worse, imo. T_T


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Your Favorite Protagonist / Antagonist

Posted Mar 20th, 2014 by Jinn

Been a while since the last blog post, huh? Well, I've been busy reading and re-reading quite a few books and studying the representation of protagonists and antagonists, mainly. Which made me think of characters in manga and leads me to this question: Who are your favorite lead characters, and who are your favorite bad guys?

Personally, I can't help but say Goku, first. The archetype of typical shonen manga protagonist - a glutton, a tad slow, a guy who can make friends out of enemies and improves every time he fights a stronger enemy to match their strength.

And then there's the classics, Spike Spiegel from Cowboy Bebop, Alucard from Hellsing, Mugen from Samurai Champloo - I could go on and you'd keep noticing how they're mostly seinen series. Though before I move on to the bad guys, as a sort of lead-over I have to mention my favorite character - Takamura (from Hajime no Ippo), for sure.

So, bad guys. Vegeta anyone? Killing your pal and one of the last 3 (known) survivors of your race because he can't beat someone who's obviously stronger than him? Pretty evil, in a good way.

In fact, let me stop here and let you carry on, I'm more curious of who you can think of and I'll probably use your comments to re-read or re-watch a series or two. :)


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Your Favorite Kind of Arcs in Manga

Posted Feb 26th, 2014 by Jinn

I've been re-reading a bunch of the old mangas on my shelf and had this question on my mind that I wanted to ask you all. What kind of arcs are your favorite?

Personally, I'm really into tournaments. Really, really into it. Think of the Tenkaichi Bukokai tournaments in Dragon Ball, especially the first 3, where Jackie Chun, Tenshinhan and, finally, Goku win - in that order. Or the Hunter exam, in Hunter x Hunter - and the Greed Island arc, which was a sort-of tournament, too.

The Chunin exam was also easily one of my favorite arcs in Naruto and the recent arc in One Piece is pretty awesome too, imho. Though One Piece is a whole different story; it basically felt like a tournament-kind of thing this entire time - they move from island to island, fighting new enemies on each one of them. Plus you get changes in setting the entire time, which makes it particularly interesting.

In general though, I seem to much prefer the beginning of a series rather than when it gets to the final fights and climaxes. The first half of Naruto for example was just a lot more enjoyable (when they were actually sort of fighting like ninjas with superpowers) than the stuff we got now where they are so close to firing kamehameha's and destroying the whole planet, Freeza-style.

Does anyone else feel like that? What kind of arcs are your favorite - or are there any particular arcs that are your all-time favorites? Don't say the Golden Age arc in Berserk, that one's too obvious.


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Paramecia vs Zoan vs Logia

Posted Feb 20th, 2014 by Jinn

Which of the three devil fruit classes is superior to the others?

I've been rewatching One Piece recently, really appreciating Oda's creativity in coming up with all those unique devil fruits - particularly in the Paramecia class. So I've got two questions on my mind that I wanted to ask you all; which of the three classes do you think is 'the strongest', and which new devil fruit powers can you come up with?

Personally, I have a hard time making up my mind. Clearly Logia seem the most overpowered at first and they definitely were for the first half imo, before the whole Haki concept got introduced and relativized a lot of their strengths. Until that point I was always wondering how Luffy would ever be able to fight Smoker on equal footing.

But then Vergo showed us that not only can Smoker be hit, his ability is actually a weakness - turning into smoke meant there was more area that can potentially be targeted. Is Logia then only useful against enemies who don't have any Busoshoku Haki, or a weaker one than the Logia user? We're talking about how useful it is in a fight here, since Aokiji's turning an ocean into ice is clearly pretty damn useful any time.

Anyway, then we have the Zoan type. When the different types were introduced I was quick to misjudge that it was the weakest of the three, but not I'm not so sure anymore. The usefulness of the transformations aside, the biggest benefit I see is their increase in physical strength. I mean, imagine Luffy having a Zoan, and turning into a mountain of muscle - or how it would enhance Zoro's strength? Part of why Rob Lucci was so damn strong was because he could turn into a beast 5+ times the size of his human body. Now that Haki seems to determine a person's strength more than anything - doesn't it make Zoan that more valuable?

And finally, the Paramecia class. My personal favorite, because of it's diversity. There's powers that seem at first pretty much useless (think Luffy before he mastered the ability), and there's powers that are really hard to find a good strategy against. Though that's also part of the weakness; once you know how a Paramecia works, you can come up with a good plan against it. Like knocking out Sugar to break the spell. In a way it limits the user's range of techniques, all Miss Valentine could do for example was crush people to death with her weight-shifting ability.
 
Though it also means physically 'weak' characters can become pretty strong fighters - Robin doesn't possess superhuman strength but with her ability she can take on a number of physically stronger fighters at the same time quite easily. The range of different Paramecia is quite stunning, from Magellan's poison to Basil Hawkins' voodoo dolls to Law's Ope Ope no Mi, or Capone Bege's obscure harboring his personal army in his body ability, there seems to be an endless amount of possibilites.

And that brings us back to the question I asked in the beginning, which you probably forgot by now, so allow me to pose it again. Which devil fruit powers can you come up with? And which of the three classes do you see ahead of the other two in terms of potential benefit to the user in battle?


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Naruto; Match-Ups That Never Happened

Posted Feb 13th, 2014 by Jinn

In one of the previous blog posts we've been speculating how the series Naruto could go on after Madara is defeated. That got me thinking about all kinds of possibilities and one that I didn't mention now 'cause I figured it'd be worth its own post, is a re-imagining of the story. Now, I know it won't happen, they won't do it. But still, it's a fun discussion to have.

How would scenario X have went if it wasn't (group) Y who fought Z but (group) Q. There's just so many situations where we got the match-ups we got, and it could've turned out completely differently if somebody else had 'went'. Personally I enjoy that idea most when it comes to the Chunin-exams, arguably my favorite part of the series - back then I was *really* into it. What if Sasuke had fought Gaara earlier? What if Naruto would have had to fight Hinata? Or Tenten?

Though you can also apply it to the likes of Akatsuki - would Asuma have died if, say, Kakashi was there? Or some other specialized Ninja who would've had that one ability that would've flipped the tides? What ability would that have been? The kage mane technique was already plenty useful. Or was it merely a matter of having insufficient intel?

What if Sasuke would've been the one to fight Pain, at a stage in the series where it would've been possible. What if Itachi decided to spend the last days of his life fighting Madara, would he have had the chance to stop the plan in its motion, not allowing Madara to gain the strength he has now? Couldn't he have gotten help to achieve that?

Which match-ups that never happened would you have really enjoyed seeing happening? And how do you think would they have turned out? Let's share some scenarios and have some fun discussing, shall we?


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The Gourmet Series Back On MS!

Posted Feb 5th, 2014 by Jinn

So the secret's out, it's Toriko that we picked up. It all started with a question on facebook I posted - which series would you like us to pick up the most. We received tons of feedback, both on that facebook post and via email. Knowing what the fans want us to do the most, we discussed our options and the staff's favorites, and came to the obvious conclusion - we had to pick up Toriko.

We've all been big fans of the series for a long time; back when we had to drop it we did so with a heavy heart, it was inevitable at the time, as we had difficulties with getting a translator for it and also carried 6 (!) Jump series at the same time, burning out the staff quicker than a wax candle. But now, we're all set up for one more Jump series and can fully dedicate ourselves to it. We got a new, old translator (welcome back, dzydzydino!) and are up to the game this time.

Oh and, the timing could not have been better either. Toriko just came back with the 2nd Act of the manga last week, which is why we decided to do last week's chapter as well. It's definitely worth a re-read if you've read it elsewhere already, I promise you will enjoy the extra effort we put into it during the past couple of days.

Finally, I'm not gonna promise that we'll release this early every week, but we will definitely try and stick to an early Wednesday schedule, so come by next week and until then, enjoy the two chapters! We certainly did!


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Current Status of our Projects

Posted Jan 31st, 2014 by Jinn

In this blog post we want to provide an overview of our projects and how things are coming along. This is also to answer all the questions of those asking for specific series, though it won't really answer much, it will let you know why some things are 'late'.

First of all though, I should very briefly explain the different steps involved in scanlation. If you know how the scanlation process works, you can skip this part and move on to the actual list of series below.

Everything begins with getting the RAWs, ie going out to buy the magazines the series are in and scanning them in. We rely on RAW providers for this - in other words, this step is out of our control. We get RAWs as quickly as possible, and the moment we get them, we begin working on them. If we don't have RAWs for a series, we can't do anything but wait, that's all.

As soon as we have them, we send them to the translators. This is also arguably out of our hands; while the translators are part of our team, they are still individuals who are doing this single task. Think of them like goalkeepers in football, they're part of the team yet have a completely different function.

Simultaneously, we begin cleaning the chapters. All series are published in phone-book sized weekly or monthly magazines, printed on paper of a far worse quality than toilet-paper - which is understandable, seeing how the circulation numbers are in the millions. Either way, cleaning up the images of a standard 18 page long chapter takes about 5-7 hours, usually split between 2-3 cleaners.

Another thing that begins as soon as pages are cleaned is redrawing. Redrawing is basically all about erasing Japanese text that was within the panels, on the art. After erasing it, we fill up the blank spots, usually by re-drawing those parts. Small redraws can take 2-5 minutes, really big and annoying ones that cover half a page with really detailed art can take easily a whole day, but we try our best.

One way to make redrawing easier is typesetting. We can only start doing that after we received the translation, naturally, as typesetting means putting the English text on the pages. We take great care to place the text exactly where the Japanese original was, for stylistic reasons but also to cover up big parts of the spots that need redraws. This isn't always easy, as English text goes left to right while Japanese goes top to bottom.

Except for 2-3 series which have a dedicated proofreader, the typesetters also make sure to quality check the chapter, reading what they are putting in the bubbles and looking out for noise or smudges that were missed during cleaning. And with that, the process is complete, the chapter released and updates about it are posted on the website.

Phew, that look longer than expected, although it was an extremely summarized version. Now, on to our current line-up and their status.

One Piece, Naruto, Bleach, Fairy Tail, Übel Blatt, Attack on Titan, UQ Holder, Area D, Claymore and History's Strongest Disciple Kenichi -> We're all caught up on these series and waiting for the next RAWs.    
         
Green Blood, Hajime no Ippo, ReMember, Rock Lee's Springtime of Youth-> For all these series, we're currently waiting for translations.    
The Heroic Legend of Arslan -> This series is currently being redrawn. It has very many pages that need redraws and we'd really need 2-3 new, active redrawers who can help out with difficult redraws. Applications are welcome.

Attack On Titan Before The Fall -> We are going to finish the 4th chapter, but will sadly have to drop this great series after. The amount of redraws and difficult to clean pages is too taxing on our already understaffed crew. We may consider picking it back up if we ever find ourselves in a situation where we have plenty of active redrawers.

Dragon Ball SD -> We have decided to drop this one as well. Aside of the redraws, there was also too little interest by both, the staff members and you, the readers, so we decided it be best to let go of it.

Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei -> We picked this one up on the request of the leader of the group Mangaholic. He's been part of our staff for quite a while, so we did not mind hosting it (with the intention of giving it some extra publicity and attention). Unfortunately he ran into some private difficulties lately, and we wish him the best to recover from it all and hopefully soon return to get this series back on track.

D.Gray-man, Hunter x Hunter -> As far as Hunter x Hunter is concerned, we're still huge fans and will work on it the moment it returns. As for D.Gray-man, I'm not sure if we would pick it back up again or not, but either way, both series are on hiatus right now and we have no information whatsoever when either will return, unfortunately.

 

That's all! If you have any further questions about the series I mentioned or if I missed any series, let me know in the comments! But please, do not ask us to pick any other series up.

Oh, on that note - there might be a series that we'll pick up very soon. The feedback we received on facebook the other day was very clear and we had a long discussion following it. I won't give it away right now, so stay tuned to find out more about it!


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Oda's Inspirations - References to Western Culture in One Piece

Posted Jan 23rd, 2014 by Jinn

One Piece has it all; a great cast of characters with insanely creative (devil) powers, an exciting environment with a whole world to discover and a story that is so intriguing, and at times touching, that once you begin reading, you can't put it aside.

One of the things I really like about One Piece is how, occasionally, it feels very familiar on a level that's hard to understand. That is, until you realize how many references it has to the culture us Western fans grew up with - a fact surprisingly many fans whom I spoke to seem completely unaware of.

Most notably there are many references and pointers to fairy tales, particularly the ones collected and written down by the Grimm Brothers. To start off with a rather obscure and less well-known one, we have the tale of 'The Singing Bone' - I don't think I need to say any more, you all know who's meant.

We have a reference to Rapunzel (which yes, I know is heavily influenced by the Persian tale of Rudāba) in Shirahoshi, who has also been locked away in a tower by her father. There are subtle hints at Snow White on two instances as well - one, Alvida's line in the beginning of the series, going 'Who's the most beautiful on all the seas', not unlike Snow White's step-mother asking her mirror the same question. The other one is Doc Q giving away poisoned apples on Jaya.

There are references to Little Red Riding Hood during the Enies Lobby arc; when Jabra (the Wolf Zoan member of the CP9) attempts to lie to Sanji (who introduced himself as 'The Hunter') about being Nico Robin's brother he is shown in his half-wolf form with Robin in a red-hooded cloak. Finally, there are also several instances where Oda mentions the Town Musicians of Bremen, including the cover of chapter 34 and a color spread in chapter 604.

There are references to other, non-Grimm fairy tales as well, for example Jack and the Beanstalk in the Skypiea Arc, or Pinocchio (Usopp) but also a bunch of biblical stories, like Noah's Ark (even named 'Noah' in the series) or the story of Jonah who supposedly lived in a whale (he'd have certainly had space in Laboon - a real whale, not so much...).

Other allusions to Western culture, media or even locations include Jurassic Park (Little Garden Arc), Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Abominable Snowman (both Chopper), Santa Claus (Dr Kureha coming down from the mountain on a sleigh), Venice (anyone who's been there can confirm that Water Seven is based on it), Captain Hook (Crocodile), Zorro (Zoro), Melville's novel Moby Dick (the name of Whitebeard's ship) and probably many more.

Those are all the ones I could think of. Can you think of any more? Did you notice them while reading or watching the anime? Most of them are pretty straight-forward, but Oda manages to give them such a twist that they can be easy to miss. And what I've been thinking most about while writing up the above - which references are yet to come? Which famous fairy tales are left?

 

Update: Wow, some of the comparisons you guys brought up are pretty cool. Especially Eric Ester Burgos, big shout out to you man, I really enjoyed your post and everyone interested in cultural references should definitely click his name and go read it.


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