Gakuen Alice on the Fast Track

I was in the TOKYOPOP offices today doing my normal thing, a copy of Gakuen Alice vol. 7 on my desk to take home later, when Associate Publisher Marco Pavia strolled by and started chatting with me about it. (I’ve been reading the series over the course of the last week. It was also my #mangamonday pick this week on Twitter.)

Then Marco let me know that because Gakuen Alice is the most popular manga on the scanlation conglomeration site, Mangafox. As you can imagine that’s quite a problem for TOKYOPOP as the licensors of Gakuen Alice. So, according to Marco, the company is speeding up the release of the manga in order to catch up with the 21 volumes already available in Japan. (For reference, TOKYOPOP is releasing vol. 10 in two weeks time.)

I’m sure I don’t need to tell most of the readers of my blog that reading scanlations of licensed series is wrong and you really should be buying or borrowing from friends or your local library, but remember that scanlations steal money from the publishers who try to bring you quality manga.

Gakuen Alice is about a girl named Mikan who follows her best friend to the mysterious Alice Academy. After discovering that the Academy is a place to educate children with special powers called Alices, Mikan goes through a strange entrance test to discover her own Alice and gets a crash course in some of school’s weirder charms.  Mikan has a particularly rare Alice and now must face the difficult task of fitting in with her classmates. Along the way, she strives to learn more about the strange workings and going-ons at the Alice Academy.

It’s a very cute manga with elementary school children in most of the main roles, but it has some dark undertones in it, so I wouldn’t pass it off as too young for older readers. Please, please, PLEASE support this manga by buying it. If you need a better reason than that, then I implore you to consider the fact that I want a job at TOKYOPOP. By buying this manga, you are supporting the chance for me to get the job I want and love!

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27 Responses to Gakuen Alice on the Fast Track

  1. Danielle Leigh says:

    ohhh…exciting! Volume 10 came early to my comic book shop so I’m all caught up on published volumes and really looking forward to more!

    • I can technically take a copy of vol. 10 for free, but then again I don’t get paid for my work for them. ^_^ I would have to buy the rest of the series myself, however, and I feel fully prepared to do that. When I’m not broke. Heh.

      I’m glad you’re looking forward to it. Fans who are willing to buy and be vocal about their love for the series allow the company to continue publishing them.

  2. Draxenn says:

    Hi there!
    I’m Draxenn, the owner/operator of comicdish, where your hunky boyfriend hosts his comic, Lumia’s Kingdom. I was reading his blogpost which linked to your blog. Curious, I checked it out.

    There was something in your most recent post that didn’t make sense in my mind, and I’d like to bring it up.

    “I’m sure I don’t need to tell most of the readers of my blog that reading scanlations of licensed series is wrong and you really should be buying or borrowing from friends or your local library, but remember that scanlations steal money from the publishers who try to bring you quality manga.”

    While I agree that stealing/piracy etc is wrong, but you mention that if you aren’t going to buy it, you should borrow it from a friend/library.
    I feel that borrowing from a friend robs the publisher of as much money as scanning the books do.

    In my opinion, people who download scans have no intention of ever buying the books. That means that even if the scans weren’t available, they wouldn’t buy the books. So while it seems fair to say that you’re being robbed of profits, I don’t necessarily see it that way. On the same tangent, lending a book to someone robs the publisher of that exact same profit.
    Sure, the borrower MAY gain interest in the book and by a copy for themselves, but that’s highly doubtful. It probably has to do with the fact that mangas haven’t achieved that ‘collectible’ status that comics have(which I abore, but that’s neither here nor there :) )

    And I’m not sure how libraries work in your area, but where I am from, they require you to donate books; the don’t buy copies.

    That’s about it from me. I hope you don’t take my comments the wrong way, they aren’t meant to be inflammatory or anything like that; just a difference in opinion and a curiosity of your thoughts on that.

    Hope you have a great day!

    • Draxenn says:

      Whoops. Ignore my statement about libraries. I was misinformed(and properly re-informed :) )

    • Hi Draxenn, thanks for visiting me. Also, thanks for all the support comicdish has given Lumia’s Kingdom. We both appreciate it. :3

      As for your comments about scanlations, you’re right about serious downloaders having little to no interest in buying. There are plenty of scanlation addicts out there, but there are also plenty of more casual scanlation readers too. I still believe they can be “converted” by showing them where they can get good manga easily and cheaply. It may not be successful all the time, but at least I’ve tried.

      I don’t mind people borrowing from friends. Not only does it encourage discussion, but it makes manga reading more of a social thing. It also helps spread word of mouth easily. I’ve seen a really fantastic manga go around an anime club so much that there were waiting lists for certain volumes. And then nearly everyone in the club started buying that manga for themselves. It was just that good. Either way, borrowing from a friend usually means that SOMEONE has bought the manga. So it is not entirely bad. Also, a friend may not have all the volumes, and when someone has gotten hooked on a series they’ve borrowed, they then go out and buy the next volume.

      I also encourage people who are not used to buying to look for sites with good deals, such as Right Stuf, or even try buying used manga first. That way it does not hit their wallets so hard and they get the pleasure of owning manga.

      On top of this, manga publishers are starting to move online, which is a very encouraging move to me. If they play it right, like Viz’s SigIkki line, I think it will encourage more readers to buy once the print version comes out (and the publisher takes most of the content offline.) It also helps publishers see the amount of interest in a series and potentially save them printing costs if a title does not have a lot of readers.

      I guess you can say I’m kind of an optimist, but I have successfully gotten people to start buying licensed series and stop reading them online. It also helps to throw in the “don’t you want me to be able to get a job?” line in there. Heh.

      Hope you’re having a great day yourself!

      • Draxenn says:

        I appreciate your insight on this and understand far better where you’re coming from.

        We don’t have anime clubs in my area(at least none that I’m aware of) but I can see how that would vastly improve on lending books/getting people to buy books ratio.
        I’m glad to hear that it’s also working somewhere. :)

        Lumia’s Kingdom is probably one of my favorite comic dish comics. Tamar’s work(along with your knowledge, I’ve learned) make it a really interesting read. I mean it was my #1 pic for 2009!

        So thank you for your work, and than him for me, but I think he already knows I appreciate his work. :)

        Have a great day!

        • Ah… I was blessed with an AMAZING anime club in college. Sadly I have graduated, but it was Truly Magical. I definitely feel like I learned and grew a lot just from that anime club.

          I’m sure the club’s lending habits are an example of one of those “in a perfect world” situations, but if those guys can do it, I have faith that others can get their manga in legit ways. I do, however, have a tendency to be overly optimistic. I won’t deny the fact that it’s hard to convert serious pirates, I just feel that showing them that I’m interested (as someone currently working in the manga industry) in what they REALLY want from the publishers could help some learn to buy instead of steal.

          Again, I am so happy to hear you say how much you love Lumia’s Kingdom. You could say that forever and it would never get old for me. (Or Tamar, I’m sure.) I’ll let you in on a little unknown LK fact: the character Violette was inspired by my habit of affectionately “nomming” on Tamar.

      • anon says:

        Sorry to say, but not everyone’s not “on a tight budget”, specially students who gets little spending money to even use it on buying manga. And when they do have the money, it’s still seems not really worth the price when you can download something like 10 volume with your usual Internet bill fees.

        There really isn’t many places in the world where it can be easily obtained and at a affordable price. When ppl do buy manga, roughly 65%-75% of those buyers are all the ones ordering from over seas(online stores), which further increases the price. They might do that for awhile or for ones that they really like, but eventually they will stop buying the hardcover books and hop in the scanlation bus…

        Well these debate can go on forever and ever, but last thing I want to point out is that, “The people who worked on Mangas, the Creator(s), Staffs and Publishers. Still gets ENOUGH money to live/survive on and get on with their daily lives. Despite the fact that, their work gets scanlated on the Internet and got fansubbed, to allow the whole world to view for free.”

        td;lr

        They still make shit loads of money, even if not many people buys it. As long it’s good and capturer’s people’s interests and heart, it will survive.

        ps. sorry for my crappy grammar and any other error, my english has degraded and might cause misunderstanding of my point of views.

        • I’m sorry, but WHAT THE HELL.

          Do you really think that manga publishers and creators REALLY make a shitload of money? I keep seeing publishers in Japan posting huge losses and publishers in the U.S. trying to sell off ALL THEIR INVENTORY just to stay afloat. The publisher I work for right now had to lay off 70% of it’s staff in 2008 and is only JUST recovering after more than a year because they also had to drastically cut the number of books they were publishing.

          As far as manga creators go, only the ones with insanely popular series or with a good reputation are able to make “shitloads of money” the rest of them might get enough to live, but tons more still have to work two jobs because they haven’t build a name for themselves yet.

          By downloading those 10 volumes for the price of your internet bill, you’re denying someone the chance to buy their next meal whether they be mangaka or publishing staff. Do you know how much TIME all those people put into making those 10 volumes? That’s probably 7-10 years of hard hard work. And you think it’s right to steal from them because you think it’s unaffordable? You’re the one making it more unaffordable for people to publish any manga at all!

    • anon says:

      http://images.google.com/images?hl=en&source=hp&q=manga otaku room&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=wi

      Just by looking around on the internet for images or blog posts about ppl’s manga collections in their rooms. Already you can find they collect “everything”, mangas have more collectors then comics cause there is MORE manga then comics in the world.

  3. lys says:

    Wow, Gakuen Alice releases are going to speed up? I understand you may not be able to provide details on how or when just yet, but that’s still super exciting :D Will they still have the same translators as the most recent volumes?

    I think one major difference between borrowing books from a library or friend vs downloading is that you don’t KEEP the book. For me, if I find a series at a library that I really like, I will absolutely buy my own copies so I can reread whenever I want (as with Me & My Brothers. I was completely disinterested (from my previous impression, via scans!) until I picked up a random volume…4? and it jumped to Must-Have status). I speed-read Fruits Basket years ago borrowing a friend’s copies; now I want to read the story again so I can take in more of the details I missed the first time, so I’m slowly buying the volumes for myself. If a casual reader simply wants to read through the story once to get what it’s about, that’s what a library or friend is for, and if a series is popular in a library, the library will stock multiple copies to keep up with demand. But if the reader wants to be able to refer back to earlier points in the series, or reread favourite parts, then he or she really should be buying books, not downloading scans or reading them on a website. (also, I know there’s a ridiculous number of smaller sites hosting scans, but at least for a site as big as MangaFox, can’t TokyoPop do something legally to keep GA scans off the site?)

    I hope that more people will come to know the wonderful thing that is legally published manga, for their own sakes as well as that of the publishers!

    • Unfortunately I don’t really know much about the translators and if they will be continuing. They will most likely stay on if their work has been good, so I probably wouldn’t worry about it. I also can’t say I know much about the dates they’ll be released or why TOKYOPOP has asked the scanlators to take it down. They might have already tried that method with little luck, but, like I said, I don’t know the details.

      I definitely agree with you on wanting to own a series for yourself. That’s why I almost always buy manga for myself. I rarely read scanlations and when I do, I make sure the series is unlicensed. It actually makes me happy when publishers license a series I have read scanlations of and liked because it means I can own that manga and enjoy a much higher quality translation. I’ve been unfortunately thrust out of my regular borrowing circle as well (oh, graduation.) and I haven’t found a good library yet, so it’s really buy it or nothing! (Unless it’s a TOKYOPOP series and I can borrow it from their shelves. <3)

  4. Kris says:

    That’s a good move by Tokyopop (at least they’re trying to do something right over there). But I doubt it will stop manga “piracy.” A lot of people use scanlations to read ahead, even for series that are only 2-4 volumes behind their Japanese counterpart. Many of those people buy each volume as it comes out, but also keep up with the recent chapters online.

    I rather agree with Draxenn that borrowing a book from the library or a friend is about the same as reading a scanlation. If the argument is that “Well, someone bought it,” well, someone had to buy a copy to scan it in, too. If a person rents or borrows a manga and enjoys it, they’ll buy it. If a person reads a scan online and enjoys it, they’ll buy it if/when it’s made available.

    • Well… I have an insider’s perspective on the way TP works, but I feel like they’re doing a lot of great things right now. I think their bad rap will be turning around soon.
      The intent isn’t really to stop manga piracy completely, but to hopefully knock it off the #1 spot on Mangafox.
      Also, scanlators don’t usually buy the English version of manga and scan it in. If they did, US publishers would sue. But when people borrow the English version of each other, it means someone actually did buy the manga in English (so there’s a small profit) and there’s a higher chance the borrowers get the series for themselves. (Potential for more profit)

      Considering how a lot of people borrow books and magazines too, I don’t think it’s something publishers should knock. It helps spread the word about a certain title and can be extremely influential. It’s basically viral marketing and the publisher doesn’t have to do a damn thing. It saves them money even. Profit.

      • The idea that borrowing a book from a library’s collection is as harmful to a publisher’s bottom line as reading a scanlation is not true — just talk to all the librarians who write for Good Comics for Kids! Libraries are purchasing more and more graphica every year. And when I say “libraries,” I’m not just talking about large public systems like the NYPL, but also elementary, middle school, and high school libraries, all of which purchase graphic novels, too. There’s a reason our blog is hosted at the School Library Journal!

        • I definitely agree. A library is a great place for people to get into reading any sort of books and helps them become exposed many different titles. Again, word of mouth is a huge plus for publishers as people who borrow from libraries or from friends usually have/start their own personal libraries!

    • JRBrown says:

      “I rather agree with Draxenn that borrowing a book from the library or a friend is about the same as reading a scanlation.”

      Not so. There are a lot of libraries in the USA; a popular series may sell thousands of copies of each volume to libraries. Even if only a small number of libraries have it at first, if a book circulates heavily and gets many interlibrary-loan requests, others will buy it. Scanlators only buy one copy, period.

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  6. Kris says:

    Have to agree with Daniella here. Unless you’re a big name (and I mean BIG), you’re not making much money. The only manga publisher in the US that I imagine is anywhere close to rolling in dough is Viz Media. And that’s because they also distribute anime…and mostly because they have the top sellers for both mediums. And also because they are owned by a Japanese publisher and are able to domestically distribute all of that publisher’s titles. And even they have problems; they had to drop their Shojo Beat magazine…last year I think.

    The same goes for the creators. There’s a reason mangaka often literally work themselves sick. Even American comic book writers and artists don’t get paid just a whole lot (unless you’re someone like Bendis or Gaiman). The same goes for voice actors (at least in America); they all have other jobs besides voice acting (again, unless they’re someone like oh…Steve Blum or Wendee Lee, maybe).

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  8. jasmine says:

    i dnt thnk dis question is related to da topic but i just want to ask…where can i buy the gukean alice manga??
    Pls. Answer dis ’cause im dying to read one of it…tnx

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