darkshard June 2009

darkshard is the founder of Mangascans, a group regarded by many as the first scanlation group. After completing I''s, DNA^2 and Love Hina (all available volumes at the time), darkshard disbanded Mangascans and joined MangaProject, the spiritual successor to Mangascans. darkshard officially retired from the scanlation scene after MangaProject disbanded in 2007, but still shows up in #MangaProject from time to time.

Tell us a bit about Mangascans, although the group was formed in 2000, it seems like the Mangascans site has been around since 1999?

darkshard: Actually you are correct when you mentioned Mangascans starting in 1999. Mangascans started out as a doujinshi and hentai website. It didn't become a scanlation website till April 2000.

Most of the adult content was hosted on free webhost and they contained lots of pop up ads. A portal was created so visitors can avoid seeing the adult content if they didn't want to. So Mangascan was split into an adult and a non-adult section. The scanlation part was a 30-man operation of volunteers, scanners, translators and editors.

As for its importance, we're the first manga scanlation group in existence on the Internet that I'm aware of. There were some individuals distributing some scanslations of manga chapters on Usenet, but they were all single chapters of series. There was no serious effort by anyone to complete an entire manga series.

There were many anime fansub groups around back then and I was often told that the manga were better. Better? Where are the manga fansub groups? None in existence...

Tell us about the scene back when you first started Mangascans, what was it like, were there any other outstanding groups/translation efforts?

darkshard: I only recall seeing some Ranma and Dragonball scanslations on Usenet (newsgroup).

During Mangascans's initial launch, how was the group received by others from the community?

darkshard: The webpage was already well-established as a popular hentai and doujinshi website distributing stuff from Usenet. So when the scanslation part was formed around April 2000, it was just a transition.

What were some of the biggest roadblocks Mangascans encountered throughout its life?

darkshard: Finding translators. Finding scanners and editors was easy, anyone could do it, but Japanese and Chinese translators were harder to find.

Mangascans pioneered many scanlation practices still used today, how does it feel to have "invented" these techniques that people still years after the group disbanded? How did you develop them?

darkshard: A lot of trial and errors. The first editing was done using Windows Paint program. It was a group effort. We all learned as we go.

Who coined the term scanlation?

darkshard: I wanted to use manga fansub, but it never stuck. We had many little discussions on IRC about it and I saw the word "scanlation" used a few times, but I think it was ZlleH who picked it up and made it "official" and popularized it later on.

Did Mangascans ever get in trouble with any publishers or similar organizations in the past?

darkshard: None. We were still very small by today's standard, plus the quality was poor so I don't think publishers had any issue with us. Love Hina is the only one that had gone commercial, and by then the webpage was already dead.

When did you retire from scanlation?

darkshard: Mangascans ended by the time we finished Love Hina. I joined MangaProject as a scanner afterwards.

When scanlation first started, was IRC the main distribution method for releases?

darkshard: I would say scanlation probably started on USENET (newsgroup). It was the main form of distribution back then.

Tell us about #mangascans, and also how #MangaProject came about later.

darkshard: I didn't know what IRC was back then. Someone pointed me to #mangascans on, and it quickly became the place for communication and distribution. #MangaProject was formed by ZlleH.

So did the #mangascans channel exist before your group, or was it created in response to your group?

darkshard: #mangascans was probably created the moment the person pointed me to this IRC channel. I can't say for sure. It was just a simple chat channel, nothing more at first.

From what you remember, what was the scanlation scene in general like back then? Do you feel things changed a lot as years go by?

darkshard: Like what I wrote back then for Mangascans' History: "It's been many years before this time, that I've always wondered why there were so many anime fansub groups but no manga fansub groups around."

Now scanslations are released almost within hours of them being released in Japan. It has become just as good and as big as the anime fansub community.

Alright, let's wrap this up, what are some of your favorite scanlation groups or projects you have followed over the years?

darkshard: MangaProject.

What are some websites you like to visit every day?

darkshard: 4chan and Tokyo Toskhokan.