AK of Troy June 2009

AK of Troy is the founder of Toriyama's World, one of the most well-known and influential scanlation group ever. Some of Toriyama's World's most popular projects include Naruto, Hikaru no Go and Fullmetal Alchemist. AK of Troy led Toriyama's World from the time of its founding until 2004. After retiring from the leadership position, AK of Troy stayed around to help out with various tasks until 2006, when he became too busy with work in real life. After leaving Toriyama's World, AK of Troy went on to work in the U.S. anime/manga industry.

Please introduce yourself!

AK of Troy: Hi. I started in 2001 and worked on creating scanlations with a lot of help from others until passing the site on to new people a few years later.

Tell us a bit more about Toriyama's World, how and why did you start Toriyama's World?

AK of Troy: It started with just me because I was bored and wanted to share the manga I liked with others. Unfortunately, I had no real skills besides translating... So the initial site was created on Geocities and the manga chapters were edited in MS Paint. Luckily, I soon had volunteers who could handle the non-translation parts a lot better than what I had done.

Why did you choose the name "Toriyama's World"? It didn't seem like you guys worked on that many series by Akira Toriyama.

AK of Troy: Yeah... Good question. I started the site wanting to do all the non-Dragon Ball stuff that Toriyama had done because Dragon Ball is my favorite/one of my favorite manga series. But then over the years we did a bunch of different series totally unrelated to Toriyama. By then it was too much of a pain to change the name... Probably should have started the site with a more generic name.

Tell us a bit about the scanlation scene when you first started Toriyama's World, what was it like? What were some other memorable groups or translation efforts from back then?

AK of Troy: There were only a few scanlation sites back then. I remember one called MangaProject, but that's about it. I wasn't involved in the politics or infighting that would sometimes go on between sites. I know that soon after TW got popular, the number of similar sites explode, some doing the same series we were doing.

When Toriyama's World first appeared, how was it received by others in the community?

AK of Troy: Again, I wasn't really involved in the "community," so I'm not sure. Because I didn't read manga through scanlations, I had little incentive to visit other sites.

I think most people who work for scanlation sites are big fans of them, so they're more a part of the community. Since I had no connection to other scanlation sites before creating my own, I didn't have many connections to them. I know a lot of people liked the site because I received a good amount of email thanking us.

What were some of the biggest roadblocks Toriyama's World encountered throughout its life?

AK of Troy: Well, originally I was able to get a lot of free online space to host files. Back in the early 2000s, there were so many companies just giving it away, but then the dot com economy burst and that pretty much disappeared. So we had to struggle to get hosts for the files. Luckily we had people donate space and I would pay a monthly fee for the rest.

How was Toriyama's World's relationship with manga publishers? Did you get in trouble with anyone? There was a promotional effort for Shounen Jump at one point bteween Toriyama's World and Viz.

AK of Troy: Yes, we had a Viz banner for a short amount of time, and that actually covered most of the costs of the site. It was nice to use the site to help people to actually support the products. And we never had any issues with publishers because we would take series down the moment they were licensed.

I do remember getting an email from Viz asking us to take down a series. Viz didn't seem to realize that once we did that, everyone would know the series was licensed. So we got to use that as a scoop on the site.

Toriyama's World was one of the biggest groups from the early days of scanlation, what was it like being one of the most popular groups? How were the competitions with other groups? What was your group's stance toward other groups such as MangaProject?

AK of Troy: It did feel good to be so popular; I guess it's just a normal human reaction. I think it's what makes a lot of people want to start sites these days. I know I'd get at least one email a week from kids asking if they could create their own site and host TW's files. Kids want attention and that's an easy way to get it.

In our heyday we were getting like 50,000 hits a day and it just seemed like so many. I don't have any recollection of problems with other groups in terms of manga.

I do know that we started doing some anime subtitling and there was more competition there with groups that could get the episode out faster and who had the better quality. I just remember that the Forums and IRC channels would get pretty wild.

When Toriyama's World was at its peak, how did the group function? How did you organize the group? What as a regular day like for AK of Troy back then?

AK of Troy: It was pretty complicated and we had a system going. I would translate a script (or go over a script someone else translated), send it to the person who would clean and letter the files and then I'd go over it.

Early on I had two main helpers, Ookla and Mr.Ryo. Ookla was someone I'd meet in real life later on and work with and be friends with. He was about my age. Ryo was a high schooler with HTML skills who created the site and who just disappeared one day. He was ALWAYS online and then he just vanished and I barely heard from him again. I suspect he got a girlfriend or something... Anyway, over time we had so many volunteers and people coming in and out that it was impossible to keep track of.

It seems that during Toriyama's World's later years, a lot of people complained about the group's slow release schedule, any comments on that?

AK of Troy: Speed is relative...

Any Toriyama's World staff you'd like to mention? What are they doing now?

AK of Troy: I'd just like to thank everyone who helped out back in the day! A lot of people sacrificed a lot of time for not much glory but it was much appreciated by me and hopefully the readers too!

What do you feel were some of Toriyama's World's best and most influential projects? Any inside stories or fond memories of Toriyama's World you'd like to share?

AK of Troy: What made the site really popular were Naruto and Hikaru no Go. Interestingly, HikaGo was about as popular as Naruto in terms of downloads, hard to believe now that Naruto has hit the mainstream. And getting mentioned in a Wired magazine story about the history of manga in the U.S. was pretty awesome:

When and why did you retire from scanlation? What are you up to nowadays?

AK of Troy: I 95% retired in 2004 or so, but I helped out from time to time if requested. Then in around 2006 I just became too busy to help out at all, even if begged. I currently work in the anime/manga industry in various capacities.

From what you remember, what was the scanlation scene in general like from back when Toriyama's World was still active? Do you feel things changed a lot as years go by?

AK of Troy: I just remember it became a crazy jungle with a million websites devoted to scanlation. I haven't been following what's been happening recently so I'm not sure.

So you don't follow what's going on in the scanlation world today at all?

AK of Troy: Nope, don't follow.

What do you think the future holds for scanlation?

AK of Troy: Hopefully focusing more on series that won't be released here and leaving the popular stuff to the U.S. publishers. That's how I started and it was a real joy when the series you helped get well known was licensed and released here.