Last summer, Byeol Narae discovered scanlations of「거의 사랑해」, her boys’ love webtoon, on mangago. Startled by this discovery, Byeol Narae emailed mangago asking the webmaster to remove the unofficial scans. Named Almost Love and I Almost Loved You by scanlation groups, fan translations of Byeol Narae’s work are still on mangago.
Byeol Narae is not alone. Over the past couple of years, manga and webcomic artists and publishers have confronted piracy with mixed results. An apt parallel to Byeol Narae’s experience with mangago is GGANG-E’s encounter with the website. Yet, one crucial circumstance differentiates them.
A Man of Virtue vs. Almost Love/I Almost Loved
In GGANG-E’s case, Lezhin published the English version of A Man of Virtue. Despite the BL webcomic’s official release, illegal uploads and screenshots spread online. With Almost Love/I Almost Loved You, two different scanlation groups translated Byeol Narae’s work in 2017. Currently, the webcomic does not have an official English translation yet, but it will soon according to the writer.
Salty Potatoes translated Byeol Narae’s webcomic from April 27, 2017 to September 20, 2017 according to MangaUpdates. Due to Lezhin’s actions against scanlators, Salty Potatoes dropped the series. MoTsuHaGu Scans then continued producing English versions of Almost Love/I Almost Loved You. futekiya could not reach MoTsuHaGu Scans, a group without a website or social media presence to keep their anonymity. Via email, Salty Potatoes released the following statement regarding Almost Love/I Almost Loved You:
[A]s a part of our rule, we always drop scanlating English Licensed ones since we want people to read the official ones. We respect authors for their hard work and just wanted their mangas to be recognized by everyone.
While our editorial staff attempted to speak with mangago, we have not received a response at the time of publishing this article.
Does Scanlation Harm the Future of Manga and Webtoons?
Unlike A Man of Virtue and many other Lezhin series, mangago has not blocked Japan and Korea from reading the series. As a scanlated series instead of a mere upload like A Man of Virtue, Almost Love occupies the grey zone so many fan translated webcomics find themselves. Yes, Byeol Narae‘s work is not available in English and other languages preferable to fans, and has not “hurt” current sales from the perspective of fans. As argued by many fans and scanlators, these translations help build a following among readers prior to the release. Yet, how many of these fans will purchase the official release in a market of freely translated scans is a number still elusive to publishers. Additionally, why does a creator’s and publisher’s consent to have their work translated vanish in the face of a reader’s desire?
Following is a message from Byeol Narae on the scanlation of her work. The futekiya editorial team asks readers to understand English is not Byeol Narae’s first language. She kindly took the time out of her busy schedule to message us.
I am a writer of 「거의 사랑해」.
I found an illegal translation on Google. There wasn’t one site. It was translated into several languages. Our Webtoon will soon be translated into several languages and exported, but I felt frustrated that many sites were already seeing our Webtoon for free through illegal translation.
They may feel confident that they have an interest in our Webtoon, but at the same time we discover such sites, we feel powerless.
Our job is to draw webtoon. I think watching webtoons through illegal websites is like ignoring our jobs.
I hope everyone to use a formal site, not an illegal one.
Manga Planet and futekiya will continue to cover issues surrounding scanlation and the manga publishing industry. If you are a manga reader or scanlator, we want to hear from you!