Back to School Special (SZS, Getenrou)

by suimasenscans

This image has much less to do with the release than you think.

Well, the winter holidays will be ending for me tomorrow,  but before I go, I’ll post a couple things that I started during the break but never really got around to finishing. First up is SZS 230, which is about accidentally trolling people with things you left laying around.

>> SZS 230 + Volume 23 omake   <<

[Translator: Umin; Typesetter: Oyashiro; Proofreader: wakarimasen www]

>> SZS Volume 23 batch <<

Also included with this release is some more Getenrou, as there seems to be a shortage of readers for this series. I think the best solution is getting it done even faster than we were. Seriously, sorry about the month’s wait between chapters 1 and 2. RL sort of got in the way on that one.

>> Getenrou 3 <<

[Translator: Umin; Typesetter: Oyashiro; Proofreader: IO]

SZS 231 was in the release bin, but it’s still missing a few TLs that got upgraded between the magazine and tankobon versions, so it’ll be a day or two for that.

PS: I am reminded that SZS volume 13 will be released in the States shortly, and shortly before it does, we’ll pull the download links for that volume. I encourage everyone to buy the official translation, as that helps Mr. Kumeta and his assistant friends pay the bills. I am aware that TL notes in the English release occasionally fall short of the scanlations, and we’ll hopefully be updating the wiki soon to accommodate this.

PSS: I also noticed that Getenrou was nominated for the 5th annual Manga Taisho award yesterday. Cool.

17 Comments to “Back to School Special (SZS, Getenrou)”

  1. Thanks for the new releases. The girls in the new SZS release were looking very attractive in this episode. As far as Getenrou goes, it is just starting and it takes a while for anything to build up popularity. It has the same sort of humor as SZS so it should do fine. I note that it has not been picked up by some of the big aggregators, and those help to gain publicity. But there must be a market for this type of humor in the U.S., because I note with some amazement that SZS ranks in the top 10 of manga sales in a month when a new volume comes out. You wouldn’t think that would be the case because a lot of the humor has very specific Japanese cultural content. You would think that a joke would lose some of its punch when it has to be explained in a footnote.

    • I do hope Getenrou picks up in popularity. I do enjoy the series, and it appears to only get better as it goes. I think part of the problem is its obscurity, as /a/nonscans pointed out before we started, the Baka-Updates page for this didn’t even link to the author. I’m not really sure if Ichiguro’s stuff has cracked into the mainstream abroad, other than some exposure through fansubs and scanlations of Soredemo.

      I enjoy Ichiguro’s art style, as it’s quite different from a lot of the stuff that’s currently out there. I think as things stand, we’re probably going to pick up scanlating some of his short stories that were collected in “Present for Me” when Umin gets back from Japan.

      Also, I’ve noticed what you’re saying about SZS cracking the Top 10 in America. I find it really surprising to see that happening, considering it’s something that’s really steeped in Japan’s popular culture. I get the feeling it’s a lot like the reason South Park is so popular in Japan in that it’s watching another culture point out and mock its own little eccentricities through the use of biting satire. America also seems to be quite fond of oddball/madcap humor as well, so that’s probably another thing SZS has going for it over here in the States.

  2. I don’t care what anyone else thinks — I love Getenrou! So please don’t get discouraged and drop it, okay?
    It’s an unusual story, and the unpredictable plot twists are just awesome. It kind of reminds me of a less explicit, funnier version of Kaneko Atushshi’s Soil or Kago Shintaro’s Paranoia Street, neither of which are the least bit popular, and both of which I love. (If you haven’t read them, I recommend giving both a try.)

    Frankly, mainstream stuff just bores me nowadays; I’ve gotten to the point where I can see clichés coming from a mile off, so unless it’s particularly smart / non-stereotypical / cute / funny / witty, “popular” titles just don’t do it for me anymore. You can’t really expect something like this manga to gather a huge fan following…but that in no way means that it’s no good.

    • Don’t worry, Getenrou isn’t in danger of getting dropped unless we suffer translator existence failure. None of our series really seem to be “popular”, as I recall a conversation on IRC with Woxxy (over at FoOlRulez) that most of our series (which average around 400-600 downloads a chapter, not counting what goes on over at Mangatraders) would have been dropped due to a lack of readership. While popularity would be nice, and definitely a morale booster on our end, our work really hasn’t been for popularity, it’s to get deserving manga a timely English release. If Kodansha were any faster about getting SZS out in English, we’d probably just save ourselves the trouble and drop our scanlations in favor of working on the wiki.

      Fortunately, Getenrou seems to be fast climbing the Baka-Updates weekly activity charts (at #91 as of now and still on the way up) so it might get a bit more of a readership if it gets high enough to break the top 25. Hopefully we’ll be able to do chapter 4 within a week to keep some momentum behind it, too.

      And thanks for the recs, I’ll check them out.

      • Talking for my group, FoOlRulez, we only dropped two series because of licenses, and one because it was getting too ecchi for our tastes. All of these had more readership than the most read manga we currently work on.

        For us commitment, finishing what we started, is more important than readership as well. Half our series don’t reach 300 downloads, while we finished some with less than 50.

        We’re more modest in numbers than we sound when I blabber in chat. Just sayan’.

  3. Another fine release from my favorite scanlation group :). Thanks!!

  4. In regard to the total amount of your number of readers, I don’t think you can base it on the number of downloads. Some people are afraid to download things to their computers for fear of viruses, and go to the aggregators instead (or to your on-line reader when the episode is available there). I note at Manga Fox that their on-line statistics show that SZS ranks 689th for readership with a total of more than 62,000 views per month. Joshiraku, my favorite, ranks 3,035th for readership (sob!) with more than 16,000 monthly views. Fate/Kaleid ranks 681st for readership with more than 63,000 monthly views (more than SZS). You can see the figures for all of your series at their site. In other words, it seems to me that you have a monthly readership in excess of 150,000 people. And that is just readership at Manga Fox. I am sure there are plenty of hits at other sites as well. These are not Naruto-size statistics, but who ever learned anything from reading Naruto? I learn a bit more every time I read your footnotes.

    Part of the problem is that it seems to me that it is easier to accumulate a sizable fan base when the episodes come out on a very regular basis. People are more or less assured that their episode of The World God Only Knows will show up every week, so it becomes a regular part of their schedules. They will tend not to lose readers and will pick up more readers over time, so the number of hits will tend to grow over time. And you should hear the fans scream when it does not show up on time. Your situation does not lend itself to that kind of weekly production, so it seems to me it is hard for you to take advantage of that sort of accumulating readership. It takes time to turn out a quality product. Since many of your readers do not read your episodes from this site, you do not get any feedback from them, but I note the sites tend to have their own discussion threads. So it seems to me that you have a far greater readership than the number of dowloads would tend to indicate.

    • I’ve seen those view statistics, but I kind of take those with a grain of salt. For one, it seems that the number wouldn’t account for multiple visits, so in my mind, it’s probably a little lower than the figure of 150,000 people you quote (although if true, that would make me feel a lot warmer and fuzzier inside). And while the the number of people going to the aggregators is probably the vast majority of the users, keep in mind that it’s likely that Woxxy was also basing his numbers off of downloads as well, so even with that factored in, I would say that our releases *probably* aren’t on the levels of popularity as other groups’ items. You also mention Joshiraku ranking 3,035th, which isn’t surprising for something that has gone months without a release. I’d expect that number to rise once we get another release out, which hopefully will only be a couple weeks from now.

      As for Fate/Kaleid, I’m not too surprised to see that it outranks SZS despite only having one release in the last month to SZS’s 6 or 7. Daily blog views reach upwards of 1500 for a release of that, compared to something like 500-600 for a release of SZS.

      We’ve been trying to get into a weekly release rhythm of SZS, and there’s a couple reasons for the irregularity of magazine releases on that front. One, Umin’s been busy with finals, so she hasn’t had time to translate (and I don’t blame her) and two, I think it’s been a couple weeks since Zetsubou-sensei has run in Magazine, so I think we’re actually only one or two chapters behind serialization. We’ve been trying to work ourselves into a situation where regular releases are possible, but with most our staff composed of college students, that’s no easy feat. We’re managing Hokkenshitsu fine, since that’s only a monthly, but as for the other stuff, it’s just not quite falling into place. Staff recruitment isn’t the easiest thing, and worker retention isn’t all that high…

  5. Actually, I see no particular reason to doubt the accuracy of the Manga Fox viewer counts. I haven’t noticed that I go back for multiple rereading of any of your series except Joshiraku. For some reason I don’t get everything the first time with that series. So I don’t know if multiple rereadings would throw off the readership counts. I think it would be more likely that readership counts would be thrown off by having readers who read some or all of your series. Since Manga Fox benefits from your labor, I don’t see any reason why you can’t contact them to see how they compute their figures. It seems to me that there are at least 4 aggregators using your material. They should be able to provide you with the total number of views. I am sure that there is some duplication of readership, but it seems to me that the total number of views is a better indication of fan interest than the total number of viewers.

    • Well, in some ways it is, as it gives a rough estimate on how many times it’s been read, but in other ways, it’s not a good indicator of whether or not the reader base is growing or shrinking. I’m sure there’s plenty of overlap between each of our series, something that’s not accounted for even if multiple views of a series are, but it would give an idea of the reader base for each series. I’ve noticed a trend in the number of downloads for each series over the last three years, generally downwards, and I was attributing that to readers losing interest in the series before I remembered that there’s probably a number of people migrating to sites such as Mangafox and MangaTraders.

      Now, I said earlier that popularity isn’t a big factor in deciding what gets picked up or dropped, but they do have a bit of an influence in what I choose to spend time working on typesetting. Why spend the time working on a series that only 100 or 200 people follow when you’ve got a release schedule to keep when you have 500 or 600 people waiting on something else? It’s not that I pick things that way to gain popularity, it just strikes a certain sensibility in me to serve the greatest number of people the most.

      Anyway, people should rest assured that I’m not going to drop Getenrou for its currently small reader base. I was making an allusion to the fact that it hasn’t caught on yet and that my rationale for doing a quick update on it is that it would serve to get more readers hooked on it. It’s no fun to pick up a page-turning mystery story, have no idea what’s going on, and then having to wait a month for more. It’s a little different situation than from its serialization, as it appeared in a magazine primarily oriented towards a readership geared towards this type of manga and willing to wait a month (or months) between chapters to find out what’s happening. I’m trying to gear the releases towards a more general audience by speeding up the rate of release.

    • Just to be clear on the MF data as I understand it (and I think this goes for all of the aggregators) is that they report *page views*, not readers. So a 30 pager gets 30 views if one person reads through a whole chapter. I.e. something closer to a real number would be the reported figure normalized by the average chapter length. Also, the number is for any views on any chapters of that title. As Oya noted, the only real usefulness of these numbers is to gauge relative popularity on that particular aggregator.

      I frankly am like Honey Badger on this general topic: ( I’ll work on a title because I personally like the title and want to share it with others. If nobody else agrees with Honey Badger, he don’t care…

  6. Saw the honey badger film. You are right. It is good to be a honey badger.However, I would still recommend you check with the aggregators just to get a feel for the total size of your readership. Everyone likes for their work to be appreciated even if they are honey badgers.

    • My personal position to this probably differs a whole lot from that of the other members and extremely from usual scanlator positions, but let me just give my 2 cents:

      I usually translate the things I translate, because I want to translate them. It’s not even that I want to see them translated, but it’s that I want to translate them myself (wow, that’s one awful usage of the word “translate” here oO). That used to be the case with SZS especially, although I’ve been kind of annoyed with it recently, which is why there is no release for chapter 285 so far. Right now, my personal focus has shifted a lot more to Katte ni Kaizô, of which you might want to expect some more constant releases in the future, in case typesetting provides them.
      As for SZS, I’m always fighting with myself if I should even bother still translating this series, since it’s been licensed by American, French, Korean and Taiwanese publishing companies, which enables a lot of people to buy and read it. I’m actually not happy with myself that I’m still doing it, not to mention that I am and feel like a criminal by doing it. The reason why I still do it might simply be that I don’t like the phrase “Dropped Projects” and the fact that the series may be ending soon, at least I hope so. If the people at Kodansha decide to let it run longer after spring this year, I may stop translating it (unless Kumeta comes up with some super new storyarc or something).
      Speaking of Criminals, that’s a reason why I personally don’t really want to ask aggregator sites and why I don’t really care about how may people download it. To tell the truth, I feel even better when only a few people read the series I do. Maybe the right word is that I feel less afraid. I wouldn’t want to be a translator for one of those super famous Jump-Series that are published almost eveyhwere world-wide and still get scanlated. I would be even more afraid of having the police come to my house than I am now (yes, I AM that “paranoid”). On top of that, I don’t want to bathe in false fame created by illegally translating and uploading work.

      Sometimes I really ask myself, why I still do this whole scanlation business. It’s more become something self-running and something to satisfy myself as it’s currently not possible for me to earn real money by translating things I like. I might really wander off to DMG some day (when they start publishing more non-BL, non-Sweet-Romance-shit stuff)

      One less emotion-riddden note at the end: Getenrou was not published in a magazine that usually published comics, but in Kodansha’s “Faust” which is a magazine usually serializing parts of novels before they are made into real books or short stories. A prominent example is NisiOisin’s Monogatari-Series.

  7. Anime News Network reported on Jan. 6, 2012 that the New York Times Manga Best Seller List stated that for the week of December 25 through 31, 2011, SZS was the fourth ranked manga in terms of sales. It even beat out the final volume of Full Metal Alchemist for that week. (This was Full Metal Alchemist’s second week on the list.) I haven’t got the faintest clue as to why. Maybe people are looking for a humor comic. SZS seems to be almost the only comedy manga out there.

  8. To Umin: I understand your points completely. I just wanted to point out that your readership may be larger than you know and appreciates your efforts. I would also note that, aside from SZS, none of the manga presented by your group appear to have been licensed or are likely to be licensed as things currently stand. However, as I pointed out, SZS volume 12 ranked fourth in terms of sales of all manga for its week of publication. If ever there was a niche comic SZS is the one, but it is plainly successful so there is a market for this type of work. In other words, there is more to manga than yaoi and shonen although that is mainly all we get now. A few years ago there was a much greater variety. It seems to me that the need for more sophisticated comedy is not being met right now in the licensed marketplace except at your site. It appears to me that the manga at this site are of a quality comparable to SZS, and by publishing them you are really giving the manga authors and artists free publicity so they may become licensed. I would not have come across any of these fine works (except for SZS) except for the fact they were published by your site. I have some hopes for the licensing of Joshiraku for publication because it has been licensed for an anime (but not too much hope).

    As far as legal action goes, I doubt that you will ever see more than a demand from the license holder to stop distribution, and only SZS seems to have been licensed. As far as the license holders go, I really have very little sympathy for them anyway. Of the manga I currently have on my list for purchase (and I purchase all of the manga I read on line when they become available because I am a collector) fully 3/4 of them ceased publication before reaching the final volume, leaving me with an unfinished story. When a fellow has invested $140 in collecting Strawberry 100%, and then the license holder refuses to publish the remaining 5 volumes, it has breached its equitable contract with the fans to publish a completed story. I don’t think that any of these publishers have any right to complain about fan activities under these circumstances. They need to look to their own ethics before they complain about someone else’s.

    Anyway, my whole correspondence has been my long-winded way of saying that I appreciate your work and look forward to you coming activities.

    • >In other words, there is more to manga than yaoi and shonen although that is mainly all we get now.
      SZS *is* a Shônen. It is published in weekly Shônen Magazine, which might have a target group a little older as that of the two other magazines (though I think the readers of Jump are atually older atm, since all people I know who read Jump are in their mid-20s and have been reading One Piece since childhood); visible by the gravure stuff they put on the mag. If they hear “Shônen”, a lot of people tend to think of Adventure stuff such as One Piece or Naruto, sports series such as Area no Kishi or Hajime no Ippo or stuff about Fighting like Bleach or Beelzebub. It is not only that though. There’s also a fair amount of romance series (A Town Where You Live, anyone?) and a lot of Gag Manga. “Gag Manga” according to Japanese definition does not only include stuff like Zetsubou-sensei, but also series like Gintama.
      Markers like “Shônen”, “Shôjo”, “Seinen” or “Josei” usually only refer to the originally intended target group of the magazine the series was published in. When I say originally intended, I refer to cases like Shônen Champion, where I’m pretty sure almost no kids buy that or Young Ace where it seems a good part of the readership is female, since Kadokawa just made a new magazine called Altima Ace that’s supposed to be 80% aimed at women and 20% at men and includes some stuff that’s similar to what runs in Young Ace. Nevertheless, comics in Shônen Champion (Examples: Shinryaku! Ika Musume; Mitsudomoe) get marked Shônen and stuff in Young Ace is always marked Seinen, even if it seems like a women’s series (Example: Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha).

      The thing about Zetsubou-sensei is that it belongs to one of these shorter series (since it has only 12 pages) which usually take quite some time to get books and thus aren’t that good a candidate to get licensed. However, Kumeta usually adds two pages per chapter, if not more in rare cases, for the books, and the series is published every week (or at least it should be :/), so that there is a new volume every 3 to 4 months. There’s a lot of good gag manga published in monthly or biweekly mags and I’m sure the reason why they don’t or rarely get licensed is that it takes ages until a new book comes out. One example would be Working!!, where you had to wait almost a year(!) between two volumes, though there now are almost more extras than normal contents in the books, which speeds it up.

      Regarding Yaoi on a short (it shuold have been that) notice: I’m not sure about the US market, but in Germany, it often appears to be more BL (<- I doubt there are that many titles referred to as Yaoi by western fans since Yaoi according to western standards HAS to include visible sexual action, not only implied one) than there actually is because most BL series are very short and compilated in one or two books. This enables publishers to have new BL titles every one or two months even if they are only a small part of their program. For example (this is completely fictive but based on my general knowledge about at least my own market), it could be a publisher has one slot for BL, three slots for Shônen, three for Shôjo and one for more mature work every month. Then they publish one-shots in the BL-slot, but only long-running series in Shônen; one long-running and two shorter series in Shôjo and a medium-long Seinen or Josei series. Since there'll be a new title every month, it will appear like there's tons and tons of BL, although it actually is only 1/7 of their program. What I do notice though is that the publication of (almost) the complete work of one single author seems to be much more common with BL authors than others.

      As for Joshiraku, I don't think the manga will get licensed. I also wonder what anime they will make out of it and am pretty sure that it won't be more than an OAD coming with the next book. There's nowhere near enough material to send this on TV. Maybe it could be somehow ok if they turned it in a half-length series (12-minute episodes) since this one's not a candidate for the 5-minute length of stuff like Morita-san wa Mukuchi. If there's a TV series, it might get licensed by some company although they'd better not do that. If you ask me why: they can only lose against angry fans who will definitely complain about bad translations. Especially early chapters of Joshiraku are hard to translate (I'm sure there's many errors in our scanlation) and then there's chapter 6 that features a whole lot of completely untranslatable stuff – and I'm sure if the animation studio has some humor, they will choose this chapter to animate. Not to forget the Rakugo references and references to actor Ebizô all over the place.

      Speaking of License holders: There are examples where the Japanese publishing company refuses to give out more licenses to a foreign publishing house. I don't think this was the case for VIZ and Strawberry 100% as they are the company giving out all the Shônen Jump licences to other foreign publishers like Tokyopop Germany (unrelated to the American one btw) or their newer sister company VIZ Switzerland. Since Strawberry 100% was published completely in Germany, I guess the problem in the US was more that almost nobody bought it (except for the few people who obivously now sit on their books). This happens a lot in other countries as well and I've seen lots of explanations from publishing companies. Sometimes they really can't fit it in and even Print on Demand would mean only losing money. If a Japanese publisher makes no money with a series anymore, they cancel the serialization, but usually all chapters are published in books which makes the series "complete".
      As for my example mentioned above: Tokyopop Germany can't publish any more titles by Kôdansha and all their licences for the Kôdansha titles they had, had been ceased. Some of the titles went over to another publishing house, but naturally, those couldn't fit eveything into their plans, which caused some series to get cancelled. Up until that I didn't know this either, but apparently, licenses are usually NOT(!) given out per series as a whole but per volume.

  9. As far as manga publishing in the United States goes, I would stand by my statement that most of it either involves:
    1. stories of romantic attachments between men written for women (regardless of whether you call it yaoi or boy’s love or shounen-ai or anything else) or shoujo series, or
    2. adventure stories written mainly for young or adolescent males involving the acquistion of and increase in extraordinary abilities by the heroes (regardless of whether you call it a shounen series, which is often what is meant in common parlance).

    Either way, there are slim pickings for someone who wants male-oriented material of greater complexity. This did not used to be the case.

    As to the reasons why the publishing firms stop publishing a series before it concludes, I don’t think it matters. If they are losing money on a series, it still makes good business sense to finish the series for the following reason. No one would buy a series if they knew up front that the licensee had no intention of finishing it or hadn’t bought rights to the entire series. I no longer buy Dark Horse publications precisely because they routinely don’t finish them: for instance, Cannon God Exaxxion, Shadow Star and Seraphic Feather have never been finished. I think it is better to lose money in the short run by finishing a series that is not selling well, than it is to lose your credibility with the fans in the long term. If a series is not selling well, they can reduce the print run accordingly. I do not think any firm can remain in business in the long term once it loses its credibility with the fans.

    As far as Joshiraku goes, I also am interested in seeing what they turn out. However, I would not shortchange the ability of the anime producers to turn out a lengthy work from a small amount of material. Joshiraku currently stands at three volumes. The K-On manga consists of 4 short published volumes (not counting the current continuation). Out of that, Kyoto Animation made one 13-episode series, a second 26-episode series, a special episode and a movie.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: