Fan-Translations: The Unstable Relationship between the Anime/Manga Industry and their Fans




Show Notes for this podcast:

0:09 – Introduction

0:22 – Today’s episode

0:45 – The two ways to get translations

1:06 – Definitions: “fan-sub” and “scanlation”

1:34 – The problem is distribution

1:53 – Fans feeling entitled to free material and are no longer buying

2:11 – Companies can’t keep track of all the scanlation groups and fan-subbing file distribution

2:32 – The unspoken understanding between manga publishers and scanlation groups

3:04 – Top-selling manga are also the ones with the most scanlations

3:28 – But sales of the less popular animes are suffering

3:40 – Different scales of reactions from different companies:

  • Manga companies appreciate the publicity
  • Anime companies are cracking down on illegal subbing with lawsuit warnings

4:18 – Meanwhile, the fandom argues: release the licensed translated versions faster and we won’t be your problem anymore

4:31 – Information on where and when to find the next podcast in this series

4:43 – Ending notes





“Amazing Grace 2011” Kevin MacLeod ( Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

“Easy Lemon (30 second)” Kevin MacLeod ( Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

“Light Thought var 2” Kevin MacLeod ( Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

“Pamgaea” Kevin MacLeod ( Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

“Silly Fun” Kevin MacLeod ( Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

Benboncan. (2012, Oct 17). Jet Whoosh.

bettsashl. (2011, Oct 14). Did You.

ERH. (2007, Jan 30). String Loop.

Flick3r. (2008, Feb 18). Rezzo 2.

geoneo0. (2013, June 7). Four Voices Whispering.

lebcraftlp. (2013, June 23). Click.

medialint. (2005, Dec 4). Big Bass.

Puniho. (2011, March 17). Stretched Canvas Drum.

rjonesxlr8. (2014, Feb 25). Drum Loop 1.

rjonesxlr8. (2014, Feb 26). Drum Loop Fast 2

Setuniman. (2012, May 14). Jingle.

sleep. (2005, April 21). Nylon.

summonhue. (2006, August 8). Pollie Soft.

suonho. (2008, June 29). Ambiant Crystal


Anime News Network. (2005, Feb 1). NEWS: CNet Discusses Fanscans.

Anime News Network. (2005, Feb 8). Fanscans affecting manga market

Borland, J. (2005, Feb 1). Anxious times in the cartoon underground. CNET News. Retrieved from:—page-3/2100-1026_3-5557177-3.html

Condry, I. (2010). Dark Energy: What Fansubs Reveal about the Copyright Wars. Mechademia. Vol 5. pp. 193-208.

Google Groups. (1992, March 29). Manga.!topic/alt.manga/Uya5j6wsM-4

Google Groups. (1998, Dec 5). Manga.!topic/alt.manga/btY6ge8Ttlk

Google Groups. (1999, Jan 23). Dragonball.!topic/

Jared Sangeorzan. (2009, May 12). Acen 09, Industry VS Fansubbing Panel [PT. 1/12].

JS Hatcher, “Of Otakus and Fansubs: A Critical Look at Anime Online in Light of Current Issues in Copyright Law”, (2005) 2:4 SCRIPTed 514

Koulikov, M. (2010). Fighting the fan sub war: Conflicts between media rights holders and unauthorized creator/distributor networks. Retrieved from: Transformative Works and Cultures. Vol 5. Brooklyn, New York, United States.

MasterKingJC4ever. (2012, Feb 22). Discussing Viz, Alpha, Worldwide Manga Distribution & Scanlations – Shueisha IS THE PROBLEM!!.

Payne222. (2012, June 12). Stephen Paul on Scanlations.

Sawyer7mage. (2010, July 31). Farewell One Manga— Scanlations??? To Buy or Not to Buy???.

Sketching .Hands. (2014, Feb 1). Mangaka Rant #4: illegal Scanlations.



  1. Hi Alex,

    First of all, love how you started the podcast. Your voice and the sound effects you used pulled me in right away. I really like your background music in the beginning and throughout the entire podcast. You have really good pacing and turn the topic to legal issues at a good timing. I like how you paired definitions with words such as anime or manga because some people might not understand what those mean.

    I’m wondering if its the issue of the microphone but your voice sounds muffled at certain points. Some effects near the end (after 3:30) may not be necessary and can distract the listener.

    Overall, great job with this first podcast! Keep up the good work. I look forward to your next podcast.

    Sherry Yu

    1. Thanks for the comment, Sherry!
      I’m glad the opening hooked you (when I got my sister to listen to it, she said it sounded like the beginning of a scary movie) and that you liked the music in general.
      Originally, I was going to produce these podcasts for a niche audience who already knew a little about the industry, but it was Joan’s recommendation that changed my mind, so I’m happy you appreciated the definitions.
      Half a microphone issue and half an intentional muffle. If you’re referring to the “fan scanlations” definition, I tried to change the microphone position to make the word stand out because it was a definition. Sort of like putting a word in italics, except with audio. I agree with you though, it does sound like a mistake. I’ll try a different method next time.
      Thanks again!

  2. Love the snaps! They captured my attention every time an important note was made. Other sound effects such as the clicking/typing on the keyboard the murmurs of gossip at the beginning really helped me visualize what was being said as well as feel the frustration of not getting the manga translations on time. This is something i experience with reading Detective Conan. it’s 800 chapters god damn it! I need my translations haha

    I agree with a lot of the information said in this podcast and glad that the issue is very debatable and how translations can be copy infringement! Great stuff!!

    1. 800 chapters?! Oy vey, you Detective Conan fans have it hard. I’m just happy with my oneshots and maybe 2-volume-long mangas. I tend to binge-read anything longer than that–which is bad news for my sleep-cycle.
      Thanks for the comments about the sound effects, I’m super happy you noticed the little clicks and that they even helped you visualize my points (I wasn’t expecting them to have such an effect, so reading your comment was like a happy bonus for me).
      Thank you, Katherine!

  3. You provided so much information in your show notes reinforce how professional and well-researched your work is. As a listener, the amount of research and information you provided instilled my trust in you as an “expert” in anime and manga. I also appreciated the definitions you provided, because I was unfamiliar with the anime and manga community and terminology. The music sound-effects you provided added to my interest in your podcast by instantly capturing my attention as a listener. Well done!

    1. Thanks for your comment, Sarah!
      I’m so glad you checked out my reference list (I was a bit worried that it looked too long and text-block-y to be enticing enough to investigate–I should find a way to make it more visually appealing, I think), and that you feel I’ve established myself as a worthy source of information. I have to tip my hat to the couple of thesis essays that (miraculously) exist on the topic, for those are the true experts and I’m glad I could condense some of their ideas into a fun and easy-to-process medium.
      And many thanks for the praise, I really appreciate it!

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