My teenage daughter is a voracious reader. We have literally hundreds of volumes of manga in the house, and we get more every week, but she reads books like some people eat potato chips, and she’s getting to the bottom of the bowl.
So we started looking at scanlations, bootleg translations of unlicensed manga. I have long avoided scanlations for several reasons, partly because they violate copyright but mainly because I don’t like downloading stuff from a source I know nothing about.
What I want is scanlations that I can look at on websites, no downloading involved. And I have found a handful. These sites offer manga that is unlikely to be licensed in English, so I’m not really taking a dollar out of anyone’s pocket, and they’re easy to use.
The first one is Same Hat! Same Hat!!, which you’ll be hearing more about soon. They have just made our lives really easy by posting a list of all their scanlations, which are of two types of manga: really strange horror stories and surreal gag manga. This site is often NSFW, and it is not for the young, the faint of heart, or the easily perplexed. For the rest of us, though, it’s a lot of fun. Each scanlation is presented as a set of links, so you have to keep going back to the home page to view each page; it’s twice as many clicks and it’s easy to lose track. But the comics are awesome, and the translations read very well, so it’s worth the effort.
The second is Artistic Inks, an old site (it looks like it was last updated in 2001) that hosts five short stories. My favorite is Misaki’s Dandelion, a sci-fi tale about a girl who teaches a robot emotions. All the other stories include some nudity and violence, enough that I’m not going to let my daughter read them just yet. The manga reader is easy to use, with “previous” and “next” buttons as well as a navigation bar at the top of the page. The comics read left to right, which means the scanlators put in the extra effort to flip the pages—something that has fallen out of fashion now but does make life easier for new readers. The site also includes a manga guide with reviews of licensed and unlicensed manga.
So far, I haven’t found anything I would let my daughter read, but there’s still a lot of internet out there. I’ll keep you posted on what I find!
If you’re not put off by the technology, Dirk Deppey’s Guide to Scanlations has some great suggestions for good titles to check out from the major scanlation groups.