Edward August 2009

Edward is the currently Administrator of NCIS, also known as Nodame Cantabile Illegal Scanlations, a group that was formed in 2007 that scanlates primarily seinen and josei manga. NCIS is one of the more popular groups in the late 2000s. In July 2009, the group suffered from a breakup when many of its older staff left NCIS to form their own group due to some internal disagreements. NCIS took a big hit due to the incident, but has since been operating normally as a group.

Please introduce yourself!

Edward: I go by Edward now, but I've had many aliases in the past. I'd been reading manga for a bit when I came across the group #null during my search for more chapters of Bowling King. I read on their website that they needed an editor and even though I'd never edited before, I thought I'd like to try. I went to MH and practiced on a couple of One Piece pages following the editing for dummies guide if I remember correctly. Then I sent an email to Null and waited for a response (I may have exaggerated my experience a bit, but it's water under the bridge). I got a response and got my first editing test, which was a whole chapter of Bowling King. I wasn't too terrible and I passed. Even though my redrawing wasn't very good (I should have probably finished the editing for dummies tutorial... but I'm lazy) I started working on Bowling King chapters as the main editor. I improved and learned more as time passed. In March 2007, about 6 months after I joined Null, I got involved with the group that would later be known as NCIS. Since then I've become a QCer/proofreader, group leader, and all sorts of random junk.

Tell us a bit about NCIS, what kind of group is it? When and how was it formed?

Edward: NCIS today is mainly a josei/seinen group, at least that's what I'd like it to be. NCIS got started in May of 2007 on the MangaUpdates recruitment forum. A member named ivory_shoes had requested help scanlating the manga Nodame Cantabile from where the anime had left off. Somehow I got involved and helped out with editing and setting up the IRC/website for the group (the details are blurry now, but the threads should still exist on MU's forum). Anyway, at first we couldn't start where the anime stopped (end of volume 9) because ivory didn't have the raws for it in Indonesian. So we did two chapters from volume 13, which were translated by ivory from her Indonesian raws. Not long after, a person called xinan showed up in the channel volunteering as an editor, but only if we worked from volume 10. I explained to him the problem and he said he'd try to find someone. I had set up a somewhat crude website at that point and created an email where people could contact us.

It had only been a few weeks since we released the two chapters from vol 13 when I got an email from a girl called Haoyun who attached translations she had done for volumes 10 and 11. She had done them from Chinese raws and I asked Tekk, who had just finished translating the prelude for vol 10 from Korean, to check them. Can't remember the exact details but I decided to use Haoyun's translations. So xinan started editing and I started QCing. The raws for vol 10 weren't that good but we eventually got better raws for 11 and up. Xinan had experience from Manga Heaven so we were able to release chapters fairly quickly. We soon became popular and got many emails from people wanting to help. So we expanded into other manga, I tried to pick projects that were interesting, but who knows...

Where did the name NCIS come from?

Edward: Nodame Cantabile Illegal Scanlations—Don't ask me who came up with that because I just can't remember.

Tell us a bit about the scanlation scene when NCIS was first formed, what was it like?

Edward: Groups then were much more IRC-centered than today. Lurk obviously decreased IRC activity in groups in a big way. And now One Manga is killing Lurk. So that's the big difference I guess, more email/forum–based groups than IRC groups. Also the rise of the one-man teams like Hox and others. Meh... who knows, maybe the rise of "don't care" groups is for the best and the rest of us are just bitter. Most readers don't care. That is a fact that can't be denied.

What do you feel were some of the biggest roadblocks NCIS encountered since its formation? Did NCIS ever get in trouble with any publishers or organizations?

Edward: The biggest roadblock has always been finding steady Japanese translators. We didn't have any problems with publishers/organization while I was there. I should mention at this point that I left NCIS and the Internet in general around February of 2008 due to RL problems. I only returned to NCIS about 2 months ago when some drama came up between the Admin at the time (CassiusOS—who was retiring) and Xinan, who I had left in charge in February. Since I've been back I've browsed the group email and haven't noticed any C&Ds or anything of that nature.

How was NCIS managed? What was it like working at NCIS?

Edward: NCIS has always been run as an organization with the "president" and maybe a "vice president" and then the various levels below. This method is extremely taxing on the people at the top. When I ran the group, I was under so much stress on a daily basis I don't know why I even bothered. Everything that happens in the group goes through the leader(s), and I found myself managing over 20 people at one time. All while I was QCing 95% of our releases and editing here and there. I was still working for Null too, so it got crazy. Don't get me wrong... there were fun times as well... but it was no walk in the park.

What do you feel is NCIS's most popular or influential project?

Edward: Nodame Cantabile is definitely the most popular project we've ever done and the number one reason people remember us. If I had to guess what was the second most popular, it would be a three way tie between Addicted to Curry, Xblade and Koukou Debut.

Any NCIS staff not currently present that you'd like to mention or talk about?

Edward: I've already mentioned Haoyun, who is the real hero of Nodame Cantabile since volumes 10–18 were all thanks to her translations. Forgive me if it's 10–18+. Also there's Anne, who managed the website for such a long time and was/is a true friend.

NCIS had this policy about not making its releases available for direct download right after its release, and had some trouble with Lurk over this policy... any comments on that?

Edward: Yar, it's true... while I no longer agree with such policies, I stand by my feelings about Lurk at the time. Scanlation groups should be treated with some respect by download sites but w/e. What goes around comes around.

Any memorable NCIS stories you would like to share with the readers?

Edward: Mostly scandals... I tend to attract drama wherever I go. Must be me I guess. I am what I am so I won't apologize.

What are you up to nowadays? What's NCIS's currently status? Any future plans for the group?

Edward: Well, I thought I'd be free until October but it seems that isn't the case. I don't think I can manage the group for much longer. I've found someone to take over but he'll need lots of help... please send an email to ncis.staff [at] gmail [dot] com if you're interested. You should be an experienced editor/QCer or translator and you should have lots of free time (reliable people are so hard to find—editing especially). I'll stick around to edit Nodame Cantabile but that's about all I'll be able to do.

Could you tell us a bit about speed scanlators and their effect on the scanlation community? Would you consider NCIS a speed group?

Edward: Speed scanners are just the supply side to the demand there is for fast releases. It's as simple as that. As that demand increases... groups will become more and more pressured to forget about standards and go for the fastest route. However, I'd like to make a distinction here. Speed groups in my opinion are not just groups that release quickly, but they have to be groups that release quickly and "don't care" about the quality they release. Many speed groups are in fact groups that use tank scans and not mag scans. In fact, a lot of the mag-scanners put a lot of work into improving the quality of their releases. The speed groups are content with slapping on the text onto the page in any fashion and sometimes don't even level the page. The effect on the community is probably more manga but at decreased quality levels. Since this is what the market wants... it only seems negative to the minority that prefers quality at the cost of speed.

Is NCIS a speed group? I don't think so. While I can't say our quality has always been superb... I know that we've always tried to do our best and improve. It's for the readers to decide.

How do you feel about the increasing popularity of online reading sites like OneManga and how they have influenced the scanlation scene?

Edward: I don't really mind. Just yesterday a translator applied saying they found us on MangaFox. As long as they keep the credits/recruitment page in... the only downside is the decrease in quality... everything seems LQ... but again... if people wanted quality, they wouldn't be using those sites... would they?

What are some of your favorite scanlation groups/projects you have followed over the years? Were there anyone or any group you looked up to in particular?

Edward: Favourite would have to be IIChan for EMMA or MangaProject for YKK and others. Look up to? Hmm... I suppose there were some people... but I would never admit it here where they could read it (the last thing these people need is another ego boost).

What do you feel is the future for scanlation?

Edward: My predictions usually turn out to be eerily accurate. And since some people on the Internet act like they're from the Middle Ages... I'll refrain cause I have a fear of fire.

Thank you for your time! Any last words?

Edward: Farnuckle.