Amaru August 2009
Amaru, also known as Amaru007, was the Administrator of Korean Manhwa Translations (KMTS). KMTS was a group founded by xX_bLuE in 2002 to scanlate Korean manhwa. KMTS's goal was to introduce shounen and shoujo manhwa to English speaking manga fans. Among their first projects were Jjang, Audition, Change Guy, and Ragnarok (Korean). To this day, Change Guy remains the longest manhwa project to be completely scanlated.
In early 2009, KMTS's website at K-manga.net was hit with a Trojan, causing anyone who visited the website to be infected. As a result, the group was moved to Amaru's own domain at Amaru007.net. At the time, Amaru had been running KMTS for around three years. By summer of 2009, many of KMTS's staff members, including its founder and administrators, were inactive. As a result, Amaru decided to shut down KMTS on July 19th.
After disbanding KMTS, Amaru and many former KMTS staff went on to form a new scanlation group called A-Team.
Amaru: Name is Amaru, used to/still do go by the full nick Amaru007. Nick is taken from my 1st name Amar, the 007 is from watching GoldenEye when it was 1st released, the "u" was a typo. British Pakistani, owns a convenience store here, 29 years old, married with 2 kids.
I started in scanlation about 4 years ago when I opened the second store. I was bored with not much to do, and was by then a big manga fan. I read some guides and did some experimentation. The 1st group I started with was called Knockout-Scans (KO-Scans), I got the job of cleaning the raws for Tough. 2nd group was short lived, Zero-Scans. We were the first group to do the 1st chapter of Mx0 if I recall correctly. The 3rd group I joined was K-manga, and the 4th group was Hentai-Enishi. Finally, I formed the 5th group A-Team, on the back of the demise of K-manga.
Amaru: KO-Scans was just a start really. Neo (something or the other) gave me a chance and helped teach me most of the basics. Zero-Scans we never really got past the 1st release.
K-manga I would say was my home for many years, I started off doing the odd jobs. I applied initially to work on Unbalance x Unbalance, but it was being worked on by Pasaway, so Ambience_Blue, the Admin at the time, gave me the raws to Sekirei as a future KMTS project if I was willing, I agreed. Until someone was willing to translate it, I did many of the odd jobs in the group. I worked on most of the projects we did at the time, doing random chapters here and there. Once Sekirei begun, it soon became jointly popular with UxU, giving us 2 of the most popular ecchi manga/manhwa's out there. Around 2 months after joining, I was disappointed with the release method, so I bought some server space and ran our own XDCC bot. 4 years on, I leased 2 servers. I run a total of 11 XDCC bots (atm) that help distribute releases for nearly 20 groups. I do this namely to help new groups get out there and flourish. Anyone needing a XDCC bot can contact me though IRC or my site http://www.amaru007.net. After about 8 months with the group, I was given admin privileges, since due to work I was online most of the day anyway.
Hentai-Enishi I joined since I enjoy porn, it was just for fun. This was when hentai groups were mostly (and still are) groups of 2 or 3 people working together and releasing random stuff. At the time there were only 4 people in the group (now there are only 2 of us). We mainly work on random series we like and oneshots that catch our attention.
I prefer groups that know what they're doing, who's working on what, and have reliable people who won't disappear after a few days. I don't give out deadlines to people, or demand they work on a particular series. I generally prefer people to do what they want.
Amaru: When I started, I had a VPN on a server and I ran one bot. Then a short while later I rented a dedicated server, from which I ran 2 bots for KMTS and Hentai-Enishi, then I rented extra servers for 1–3 months a time, on holidays or when I knew we would be doing mass releases.
2 years ago I found 2 steady providers with good rates and no downtime in the EU (previous servers were U.S.-based). 1st server I kept for my groups, websites, and general storage for personal data. 2nd server was for the 2nd bot, but I found I had a lot of bandwidth, and I wasn't using much, so I let it be known to other groups we were friendly with that we could help out with XDCC hosting. I've helped host over 40 groups in the last 2 years, one of the longest ones I still host is Aerandria. Only a select few groups have an individual bot for their group exclusively, I made a few XDCC bots for the smaller groups to share amongst themselves. 2 bots at the moment are hosting 5 groups each. It's not hard to setup a bot, and relatively easy to use: upload a file via FTP, add it to the bot, and that's all.
As for #lurk, I'm a Op there. I update the hentai bot for them. I upload all the weekly hentai releases and update once a week. Lurk is a great idea and very helpful when you need to find previous chapters from a group that's now defunct.
Amaru: From what I know about KMTS before I started, it was founded by xX_bLuE when he was about 15 or so (2002/3) with the project Jjang. Geeker soon joined him, and working like the machine he was, pumped out volumes of Ares and Change Guy over the years. A few others joined, kates (have to check) joined and started to translate Kekkaishi, knight64 was absorbed when the group he was with, Furinkazan, merged with KMTS. There were others when I joined in 2005, but I can't remember all of them.
The group mainly worked from Korean raws, both original Korean manhwa and Japanese to Korean manga. We had plenty of new translators join, do a few chaps or volumes then leave again. After I joined, I started off with editing, started to host the releases, then helped recruit. My next step from there was scanning. We'd buy the books from Korea, and I would debind and scan them.
In the end, a lot of staff disappeared with real life concerns. They gradated school, got work or in one case found love for alcohol. Since we had some scripts and raws still to do, we worked on them at our own pace, still looking for new translators. Earlier this year the K-manga.net site was hit by a Trojan virus, anyone who would visit the site would get infected. Between the website designer and the server owner began a debate on who was to blame, both sides claiming the other's work to be prone to the infection.
After a few months of no website or forums, I decided to host all news on my website instead. During this time, there was only a handful of active staff left, and the founder having made no contribution to the group in years, I found my dedication to the group sorely tested and eventually decided to succeed to the demise of the group and start anew with the members who were willing to work.
Amaru: I probably ran the group for the last 3 years or so. Saying that, I had plenty of help from the other active admins, towards training new editors and recruiting translators. Lol, I actually ended up getting admin by providing softcore porn. xX_bLuE read the series Toshuie no Hito and loved it, so I bargained an admin position for some chapters.
My reign of terror started with continuing to edit, but with raws for a lot of series being very poor, we decided to order the raws for UxU and release them in decent quality. From there I started to order all the Sekirei tankoubans from Japan for myself, and from there we gradually started to edit nearly all the series we do with our own scans.
With a lack of editors over the last 2 years, we all decided to take the projects we preferred. Due to this, I think I now have worked on every project we have done in KMTS in some capacity or the other.
Amaru: When I 1st got into scanlation, I'd say 90% of manga scanlation was to be found on mIRC. The other 10% were probably forum releases. With no reliable services like RapidShare, Megaupload and MediaFire, free unlimited downloads were non-existent.
Groups were normally larger than they are now, you'd have at least 10 active members at anytime. Most newcomers would start with an established group, and then either move to another group that did projects they liked or start their own.
Joints between groups were rare, and each project a group did had its own member structure. Project leader, translator, editor, proofer etc. now it's just work on what you want, how you want.
Some groups could manage multiple projects and have a regular release schedule with them. Others would concentrate on just the one series, and put all their effort into it.
Amaru: Biggest roadblock we encountered is the same as most groups. Lack of translators. The big gaps between releases were mostly caused by the fact we had edited everything we had scripts for, and were sitting about doing nothing.
As for publishers and organizations, so far so good!
Amaru: As said before, I lost my enthusiasm towards KMTS. With a founder who no longer contributed in any way to the running of the group, a lack of translators, and a reduction in visitors coming to IRC to download. I had been contemplating leaving KMTS over the last year or so. With me getting increasingly busy at work, I was thinking of taking a back seat and letting others take over. But with a lack of staff and no one with enough time to take the position, I decided it was better if we let the group die once and for all.
Amaru: It actually started out as a joke. I had watched a A-Team rerun on TV a few days earlier, and when discussing it with knight64 about starting a new group in place of KMTS, he agreed. We brought on kuthrow, who was working on ID by himself mostly, and managed to keep the translator who was still contributing to us. Since we began, we've managed to find another translator or two.
We've no plans yet for what we're going to do. A-Team was created with one thought in mind, "we'll do what we want, when we want." We release when we want, and work on whatever we want. Each of us has his own personal favorite project(s), and we're working on them when time permits.
Amaru: Wow, too many to list or remember! 1st manga I ever read was Flame of Recca, so I read whatever SnoopyCool had/were doing. Also I followed groups like Null, ShoujoMagic (yes, I'm a shoujo fan!) and of course K-manga. I admit to still reading the weeklies like One Piece, Naruto and Bleach even now >_> but at last count, I think I had about 140GB of translated manga on my hard drives. I can generally read most series, but I've never really been much of a fan of Mystery, History or Horror/Suspense stories.
As for anyone I look up to, too many to mention or even remember. Let's just say I respect all translators, never mind the language or group affiliation. And to anyone who started before me and is still going, props to you.
Amaru: Tricky question, really. Sites such as MangaHelpers, Franky House and online readers have helped increase readership. However, I also personally believe that they've also caused a decline in quality and the demise of many good groups. The increase in one-person release and LQ groups can probably be attributed to said sites. Too many people decide that the Japanese they've learnt so far in school is good enough to translate manga, yet it's miles from the proper translation. Also, once they post their translations on these sites, too many wannabe editors pop out of the woodwork, and try their newbish hands at scanlation. If they learn properly, this can be a good thing, but most don't and we get very crappy unreadable LQ releases. Also some of them decide to jump on series that established groups are doing, and release LQ releases, causing people not to download the nice HQ version the original group is working on.
Online readers in my opinion has killed off mIRC People now tend to download from the easiest source, which is normally sharing sites, and no longer visit the group to thank them. This also stops many groups from finding new staff. From what I've seen, a lot of people interested in helping, now either form a new goup, or post their services online.
The future? Unless manga download sites learn to follow the requests of groups, I think in the next few years we'll have more LQ releases than HQ. I personally hate online readers and sites hosting our releases in less than 24 hours. I prefer the public comes to our site or mIRC channel to download the file and talk to us. In the 24 hours we ask, we get to chat to people and we get to make the most of the services we pay for and provide.
Also, I'd say to people wanting to help out with scanlation, don't decide to start your own group immediately. See if you can help the group that's doing your favorite series 1st. Also to new groups, if you have decided to start your own group, work on new and never-before-done series. Don't just decide "Oh! XXX-Scans is at chapter 22 of XXX manga, let's do chapter 23." Look for stuff that hasn't been done before. I find jumping on a series that someone is already doing regularly, very bad manners, and not that anyone cares online, disrespectful.
Amaru: I probably ranted for the 2nd half of the interview since I forgot all about it for a few days. For newbies, learn to mIRC, trust me you will have fun on it. It's not too hard to learn, but once you do, you meet many amusing characters online :P And that's me done, take care and drive safe.