Griffisu July 2009

Griffisu is the founder and leader of Band of the Hawks, a well-known group most known in the scanlation world for its work on Berserk. Unlike most other scanlation groups, The Hawks was originally formed as an anime fansub group, and released fansubs alongside its scanlation operations. Griffisu, along with the help of manga-division head Gatsu, maintained and ran The Hawks for many years until around 2005, when the group went on an extended hiatus. Although The Hawks is still on hiatus in 2009, Griffisu is actively working on reviving the group's fansub operations.

Please introduce yourself!

Griffisu: I am Griffisu from the haWks. Just for past reference some of my nicknames online have been skates316, deaddhawk, thewhitehawk, Whitehawk, etc. I started the haWks because I wanted to subtitle unique things without overly stressing everyone involved. I got my start in Soldats Fansubs, where I helped edited/QCed Hajime no Ippo. Soldats was a great group, but just like the other big fansub groups, they squeezed the life out of everyone who worked for them. Whether it be setting ridiculous deadlines or making them do projects they have no real interest in.

Tell us a bit about Band of the Hawks, how was it created? What was the reason behind forming the group?

Griffisu: I started the haWks in 2001 because I believed you could have a tight-knit group of trustworthy people working on projects that they actually enjoyed without overworking the group members in the process. Another aspect of our group is that we tried to work on projects that had been overlooked and were unique.

Tell us a bit about the scene back when The Hawks was first formed, what was it like?

Griffisu: The fansub scene back in 2001 was pretty much dominated by groups like Soldats, Elite-Fansubs (who were working on Vandread at the time), and some others. For what it was worth, I've always admired the other fansub groups because they always put out quality products and managed to work on a lot of different series. My problem was the way they reached that level of production. I can't speak for all the fansubs, but from what I got a taste of, it was definitely all about deadlines.

One thing that was evident then, which is also around to this day, is the multiple subbings of the same series. I think that practice is a huge waste of time, which is why I went out of my way to pick projects no one else had even thought about touching. But having a project that wasn't done wasn't enough, it had to be unique and have a lot of potential.

I suppose I should highlight something. If you happened to watch our Grappler Baki series, a lot of times I would include quotes, or trash talking on the midway commercial break graphic. I'm sure a lot of tree huggers, pacifists and the like probably couldn't understand why a fansub group would do that. But a lot of the big groups sometimes bullied smaller groups, stealing projects, sometimes materials, and were just general assholes. So at the time I formed Hawks, I decided to strike back to let them know we weren't going to take their shit any longer. So in that sense, we also made a slight impact on the scene because we had a backbone.

What were some of the biggest roadblocks The Hawks encountered throughout its life? Did the group ever get in trouble with any publishers or other organizations?

Griffisu: Roadblocks, I also assume it was hard for some to understand why we sometimes did a few projects that were licensed. Well, the projects we did that were sorta licensed were Studio Ghibli movies. The way I looked at it, if there is a 1 to 3 year gap between Japanese release and American release, then obviously whoever licensed it didn't care enough for the fans to release it faster. Also on a personal note, I had a problem with Disney trying to distribute Ghibli movies because I felt like they did it in a subpar way. They didn't really advertise them like they would if it was something they had alone created. On a side note, we've never gotten in trouble with any publisher or organization.

The Hawks also worked on fansubs, how did the group divide and organize its anime and manga divisions? Did the two divisions share staff? How was The Hawks managed?

Griffisu: We were an unique anime/manga hybrid. Originally we started off doing anime, which in comparison to the bigger anime groups probably wasn't much. But the anime series we did work on were very unique, Grappler Baki was our best, but we also did a few eps of Salaryman Kintaro and The Earth Defense Family. Besides Baki anime wise, I had the most fun working on the Studio Ghibli movies because I feel like they represented the best in anime storytelling and attention to detail.

Ironically, our manga element, which we branched off into, pretty much eclipsed our anime division from sheer abundance of releases, constant quality, etc, etc. Personally, I can take a lot of credit with organizing the haWks, recruiting almost everyone, but the manga division was all Gatsu.

It's funny how that all developed really. I ran into this guy in one of our public IRC channels, he wanted to help out however he could. I remember him being very into manga, more so than the average person. It was kind of unique at the time. He was a really nice guy, very quiet. The more things I asked him to do, the more he did. I realized that he was more than just a good helper, I felt like he could be a good leader. And for once, I could have someone else at the top directing things and not just me alone. So he wanted to do Berserk manga, and I helped him out anyway that I could. Since we were the haWks, it was obvious that we all loved the Berserk series, so it was a no brainer to give Gatsu the support he needed.

Just like in the Berserk anime, even though I was the leader, a lot of the times it was like Gatsu and I shared the power together. So yeah, organization wise, we structured our group after the anime that we loved. I was the one with all kinds of future plans of where I wanted the group to go, while Gatsu did a lot of hard work organizing manga production. But of course I also did hard work and Gatsu also had tons of plans for the manga division, which resulted in him spearheading all types of manga series, not just Berserk. It's well known that Gatsu is the fastest manga editor there has ever been. It's funny cause I remember him mentioning in conversation that he had a special technique to edit. I never asked him what it was, but I'm glad I didn't, because sometimes we need our secrets and his method was all his own.

A few more notes on our organization. First rule when it came to picking members for a project, no one should be on a project that they hate. If possible, everyone working on a project should love it. If they don't, then we find something else for them to do. Loyalty was really important to me, I didn't want 50 people working for us who whored themselves out to tons of groups, I wanted a dedicated few that understood us and wanted to contribute to our shared success.

One other big thing that we did that most groups don't do is that for most of our anime releases, I didn't like to include individual credits because I felt like that took away from the group aspect. As a group, we were stronger than any one individual could be. So individuals who fansubbed just for the name recognition were highly disappointed by our methods, which is good because I didn't want those kind of people anyway. I did make a few exceptions on one or two releases to include credits, but there were special circumstances regarding that. Manga wise, it wasn't like that because the manga fansub community wasn't obsessed about credits. At least they weren't back then, I don't know if it's changed now.

Having two divisions in a fansub group is hard to do if you have one sole leader, so since Gatsu was with us, he took the reigns of our manga division, and I took the reigns of our anime division. It was easier to have two different sets of staff, although when things ran late or spot translations were needed, I'd loan Gatsu a translator or vice versa. Just depended on the situation at hand.

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

Griffisu: Berserk was our most powerful and influential project because it set a tone of excellence, uniqueness, and it fully represented that we were willing to do projects that were edgy. Berserk has such a great story, the manga still goes on today and I think there is a lot of potential for more anime to be made. The best project a group can pick is one that's unique, well-written, and not easily forgotten by its fans. Berserk was that project for us. I still have some ideas for Berserk-related things that we never got the chance to put in full effect. One day we may do some of those for fun.

The Hawks was particularly famous for its Berserk scanlation, especially its quality. In fact, when you released Berserk scanlation, there was a LQ and a HQ version. Why did you choose to go to such trouble producing scanlation at such a high standard and was far ahead of its time? How was it received by the readers?

Griffisu: As far as quality of manga releases, I have to attribute that to Gatsu. He insisted on releasing two versions, at first even I was confused by it. But I later came to realize that the HQ version is like professional high-quality, I mean you can print it out, do whatever you want with it. It was genius of him to give that option to the fans. Well the readers, some were probably confused like me at first, whereas manga lovers like Gatsu were excited. That's how it was initially, then as the releases came out, the ones who didn't care about super-high–quality got the LQ version (which was like the HQ version of other groups), and those who wanted super-professional–quality got the HQ TIFF versions. And I'm sure some people got both.

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

Griffisu: Well, we've had a lot of good staff over the years, some that I'd like to get in touch with again. So if any of you guys read this please hit me up at But I have to address the obvious situation, Gatsu. I have nothing bad to say about Gatsu. He's a real standup guy and one of the hardest working people I know. With that said, I haven't talked to him in forever.

Last time I checked he took a hiatus from fansubbing manga, although it seems that he's done a little work for some other groups. My theory on that is, at the pace that Gatsu was doing manga, it was unreal and just like in anime fansubbing, you do too much you eventually get burned out. I think that hit him, which spurred his own personal hiatus, and then his love for it brought him back helping other groups. If you ask me, who I'd like to talk to the most, it would be him. Hehe I hope he's not mad at me, not that I gave him a reason to be. But I'll tell you one last thing about Gatsu, he's such a dedicated caring person that all these years he's kept our site up and running. He bought almost every manga that our group did and never complained once. He's a good leader, a man of action, a very giving person and if you know him he's a very private individual. He's the only person in my group that I've never seen a picture of. ^^

Any memorable story you would like to share with the readers about The Hawks?

Griffisu: Funny story:

By the way lol, I have to say this and I hope he doesn't get mad. Gatsu's original nick was cheese with some numbers at the end of it. And you know there was no way someone could make the word cheese into a cool nick. So he, more than some others, definitely needed a name change lol. It was my policy that the higher ups in the haWks change their nick to someone who actually was in the Band Of The Hawk. (Corkus, Griffisu, Gatsu, Pippin, etc.)

The Hawks seems to be on hiatus at the moment, why did the group go on hiatus around 2005? What’s the group's current status?

Griffisu: I got burnt out dealing with everything. I recruited everyone, I edited stuff, I quality checked stuff, I managed everything, and that management stuff really takes a lot out of a person. Let's say you have 4 people working on a project, person A decides he's tired, but person B and C's work depends on person A's being done. So B and C are ready for a week or two, then person A finally gets something done, but by this time person B and C are super annoyed. Stress levels all around increase, and being a new fansub, the pressure gets to be a little much. And I think also a little before I decided to take a break, Gatsu did, and I guess it was a lot for me to deal with. Cause I even had a few manga projects I was working on, then it seemed like everything was on my shoulders. If you ever lead a fansub group, you can probably relate to this feeling. Things don't get done unless you make them get done, i.e. motivating people, gathering resources.

Also, I had so many things that I wanted to accomplish that I wound up spreading myself too thin. We had anime going, manga going, I was also working with another group to re-release our timed fansub scripts added to the raw Japanese DVD releases of Grappler Baki. So those timed scripts had to be retimed to go with the DVDs. So I'm asking people to re-time something they already timed or translate some part that we missed. I was also releasing our manga via an alternative distribution method, which required me to package the manga a certain way. To make a long story short, it was very time consuming being the leader.

Our current status is that I still love anime and manga. I want to get back into fansubbing, maybe work on a really good anime series, and then do a manga project or two. So I'm recruiting a few people to help assist in that. I have my most trustworthy and dedicated members still in the group. I'd like to have another anime translator, a manga translator, and an editor for each, one more encoder, a really good distro person and a web person would be nice. If I had those, we would be back up and running smoothly.

What are some of your favorite scanlation groups or projects you have followed over the years? Was there anyone or any group you looked up to or respected throughout the years?

Griffisu: Speaking just for myself, I keep up with Naruto because I feel like it's the evolution of Dragonball Z. I also keep up with Hajime no Ippo cause you just can't help but love him. I fully enjoyed Death Note as well. You know, there was a time when I would download all the raws of each season, and watch the first ep raw, to see if I had a good feeling about a series. When I did that, it was easy for me to find the series I wanted to follow. I haven't been able to find the time to do that these last 4 years, so I never really know what's good hehe.

I looked up to anyone who put out quality work as far as work ethic was concerned. As far as total package goes, I looked up to people who were nice people while still putting out a quality product like Tofusensei, who was in Live-Evil I think. He was a good guy, haven't talked to him in ages, wolff-kun was also another really good stand up guy, not to mention Vaz, although he's in haWks. He's worked for a lot of other groups and he's so into timing that he actually uses a Commodore to do it lol. Yeah, an old school Commodore, he's our fastest anime timer as a result of that. Okay I have to be fair and also mention NeonEva and cat_clan, encoder and translator respectively, two of the most dedicated people I've ever had the pleasure of working with.

Thank you for your time! Any last words?

Griffisu: The last thing I'd like to say is that if there is one thing that I miss the most about putting out fansub releases, it's that I know our releases made a lot of people all over the world happy. You guys have been some of the most dedicated fans that a group could have, I know that you probably hate the fact that we've been on break so long, but if there is one reason for us to come back, it's for us to give you guys a few more quality releases because we care for you as much as you care for us.

If you want to be a part of the haWks and feel you have something to contribute to our group, please feel free to contact me, Griffisu (leader and founder of the haWks) at