What is the criteria for Crunchyroll to pick up a manga for weekly/monthy translation
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Posted 10/10/15
I've noticed that Crunchyroll is the first to release manga translations comparable to scanlation groups and have just been wondering what the criteria was for Crunchyroll to pick up a series.
I appreciate that there is licensing issues and large enough target audience and a team available to clean/typeset/translate ect but there has to be a little more to it.

There is depressing scanlation projects such as Baby Steps (100 chapters behind, scanlation group has released something like 7 chapters this year). Another project is the Detective Conan (Case Closed) which clearly isn't quite so bad but there has never really been much consistency with it... these two series have aired on Crunchyroll.

Yeah anyway I'm just wondering what goes on behind the scenes before the series appears in that manga tab.

Thanks for any input!
mnmike 
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Posted 10/10/15 , edited 10/10/15
Scantalations are fan translations. Here's their process:

-- Someone buys a copy of the manga; usually from a Japanese website, although with older or less popular manga sometimes they find Chinese or Korean versions, and occasionally someone actually sends a physical copy back from Japan. This can be very expensive, which is why some scantalation groups wait for someone to upload the "raw" version onto the web (which can be a very long wait).

-- Once they have the raw, the manga has to be scanned (assuming that it was a physical copy). Note that many manga are actually printed on poor quality paper in monthly or weekly magazines and look awful, which is why many scanning groups ONLY use the tankobon (the volumes). The tankobon are usually much higher quality, and look much better after being scanned. Also, it's cheaper to do it that way. On the other hand, you have to wait for the tankobon to come out, which could be months after the first chapter in that tankobon appeared in print. (This is one reason why many scantalation groups release a bunch of chapters all at once, and then do nothing for months at a time.)

-- Now that you have a scanned copy, you have to translate and edit the text, "clean" the scanned copy (that is, delete all of the Japanese text), put the appropriate English on the appropriate page, and "redraw" it (because the Japanese text is often incorporated into the drawings and not always in bubbles, you might have to connect lines or otherwise do a small amount of art work to make it look good). Most of this is tedious photoshop work; the translation, however, requires a good knowledge of both Japanese and English. Unfortunately, this often means relying on Americans who took Japanese in High School, or Japanese people who once took English in high school (both of which can be dangerous). And if you do have a good translator and he quits, it may take months to find another one--and you can't release anything in the meantime. (Don't get me wrong; some amateur translators are awesome, but there is a lot of inconsistency.)

Crunchyroll has it a lot easier, at least once their contract is signed. They have access to professional translators (assuming that the publishers aren't doing the translations themselves), without having to wait for half-trained volunteers. And they have easy access to reasonably high quality raws without having to wait for the Tankobon to come out. Also, they don't have to scan physical copies; the Japanese publishers provide them with digital copies. All of that makes for much faster turn-around.

The problem is that the contracts are a pain. Who does the translation? Who does quality control? (Manga artists can be just as finicky as any other artist, after all.) Is the Japanese publisher okay with CR's business model? (It's VERY different than Japanese business models, after all.) Is the Japanese publisher okay with allowing for digital distribution? (Which many Japanese publishers still do not entirely trust.)

There are Japanese publishers who are intrigued by Crunchyroll, but it seems that at least some are still trying to figure out how best to utilize it. (See this interview: http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/interview/2015-09-15/kodansha-advanced-media-on-the-future-of-manga/.92965 ). Also there seem to be more comics appearing in digital format in English (Amazon's catalog is growing rapidly, as is Comixology's); as Japanese publishers become more familiar with that, we may see more things on here as well.
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Posted 10/26/15
That entire wall of text completely evaded my question, lol.
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Posted 10/26/15
There are a few manga titles I would love to see Crunchyroll pick up: Jitsu wa Watashi wa, for example.
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Posted 10/26/15
Hm, I'm not really sure, but I thought i read somewhere that they made a deal with Kodansha so a lot, if not all, of their titles are from Kodansha's licensing/library.
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Posted 10/26/15 , edited 11/25/15
What you are actually asking for is info on Crunchyroll's business practices so I doubt your ever going to get a detailed response to your question. The Kodansha interview that mnmkike linked did have some information to that end though. I think in general though, companies are still trying to figure out the best way to get people to buy manga rather than feed the illegal scanlation market and Crunchyroll's manga is one of the experiments. If there are ones in particular that you would like to see, you should message Crunchyroll.

Case Closed is licensed by Viz Media which has both print and digital formats. So you would have to ask them about a legal simultaneous release if that is something that you are interested in.

Baby steps is released by Kodansha in Japan. Historically, sports mangas have not done as well in the US which is why companies are reluctant to bring them over. Viz is trying again with their recent licenses of Haikyu and Kuroko no Basket. If you would like to see Baby Steps here, you need to contact either Crunchyroll (who I believe is working with Kodansha on at least some of their manga releases) or Kodansha.

The main difference though in how a legal venue and a scanlation venue picks up a series? The legal venue has to worry the relationships with the creator and other business partners. So they have to link about how a digital simultaneous release is going to affect the people who sell the print copies and so on (see the interview for more on this). A scanlation doesn't pay the creator or the companies who publish it so they'll pick up anything. But you are seeing the practices a few individuals then. So I they get bored with a series or bored with trying to translate/clean the manga, get called out by legal venues (just about anyone doing Case Closed should have gotten this at some point), then they'll drop the series. For a legal venue, it's a business. Its something they've invested their money in and make money off of. The only reason they're going to drop something is if no one buys it or the company goes under (like Tokyopop).
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