Monday, April 27, 2009

The future is now

Things are changing apace in the world of licensed manga. I was kind of shocked to find that Rumiko Takahashi's latest series, Kyoukai no Rinne, is already available to read in English, direct from Viz. For free. Online. This is insane.

Of course, anything by Rumiko Takahashi is going to get the blockbuster treatment. What remains to be seen is what other stuff will follow in its footsteps. Just popular shounen works? Shoujo? Seinen? There are also lingering questions about online reading. Will they eventually put it behind a pay wall? Ultimately, some sort of online, subscription-based service seems likely. That sounds reasonable to me; however, kids who aren't getting a paycheck may not be so enthusiastic about the prospect.

Similar things have been happening with digital distribution on the anime side of the fence. Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood is probably the biggest thing to be streamed so far, and a surprising number of shows from the current season are also streaming from Funimation. Crunchyroll is expanding its roster of legal titles, and some of them don't suck, for once. 

As this trend continues, will fansubbing and scanlation face an existential crisis? To some extent the lines have already been drawn: there are the "drop when licensed" groups, and then the others. The latter will continue unless they receive legal threats, and the truly hardcore may even go underground. But for what? In this era, where licensors are sensitive to fan concerns about source fidelity and censorship, there are fewer and fewer reasons to go it alone. On the other hand, traditional (by that I mean those who drop when licensed) will face slimmer pickings as time goes on.

So, is a golden age coming to a close? In a sense, yes. But it's come about because fan-translation has fulfilled its promise of bringing anime and manga to the mainstream. 

Friday, April 10, 2009


daisuki nante arigatou
watashi mo zutto suki dayo
motto kyou wo
motto ashita
jiyuu na iro de hirogetai