Janice July 2009
Janice, a well-known name in the shoujo scanlation community, took on a variety of roles within the world of scanlation, including the leader of the shoujo scanlation group Endless Dimension, a staff member of ShoujoMagic, as well as the webmistress of Scanlation.dot.Com (a hub intended to be the center of the scanlation world that ended up being too far ahead of its time). After retiring from the scanlation world in 2008, Janice began focusing on web design and development, and has involved herself in the light novel scene to some capacity.
- Alias: Janice
- Origin: between western Japan and eastern China
- Occupation: corporate advertising specialist
- Hobbies: web design/development, video games, Asian cookery
Janice: Endless Dimension was founded in March 2003 by my cousin (known by the IRC alias pingu). Its ownership was transferred to me during the summer of that same year.
ED started off as a scanlation group exclusive to Japanese shoujo manga releases. However, as we started accepting male editors who showed an interest in a few minor shounen titles I happened to own, we decided to take those into our scope as well somewhere along the road.
The target audience of ED was expanded further when we started providing free graphics (i.e. icons, wallpapers, blog/personal site layouts) in summer 2004. Said idea was inspired heavily by the few Photoshop enthusiasts on our team, notably arashi of zangetsu.org and myself.
Janice: ED was created shortly before the scanlation scene reached its peak in terms of overall participation rate. Most members of the community were high school/university students who had a great passion for Japanese culture and wanted to share one of its most symbolic products—manga—with people of different backgrounds. Staff members were mainly split into two major categories: those who spoke/read Japanese (translators) and those who didn't but wanted to get a hand-on taste of the frontline work (editors/group owners). It should also be noted that IRC was the main distribution route for releases as most groups couldn't afford the expensive web hosting plans back then. Yahoo! groups were another popular method for releases and staff communications.
Janice: For groups who (1) did not have enough budget for releases to be available via direct downloads or (2) the technology & time to setup a torrent tracker, Yahoo! Groups were frequently used to distribute weekly/monthly releases—under the condition that you need to sign up for a Yahoo! account. However, not everyone was willing to create Yahoo! Accounts for the sake of a few releases, and as more and more generous webmasters came around to sponsor direct downloads for their favorite scanlation groups, the popularity of Yahoo! Groups as a distribution method had naturally come to a stop.
Janice: To start off, there was a silent agreement between shoujo scanlators back in the day that scanlating title(s) already released by another group was a big no-no. This prompted ED to limit its releases to very minor shoujo/shounen titles (i.e. Perfect Twin): unlike many shounen groups that started as one-man shows (group administration, scanning, translating and editing were all done by the same person), survival of shoujo groups relied heavily on team efforts as shared editors/translators were commonplace. That being said, I don't particularly remember having troubles negotiating with other groups about joint projects—group relations were harmonious as far as ED was concerned.
Janice: ED was established based on a strict code of conduct, which involved no licensed releases and a scheduled timeline of releases. This resulted in us never having had any run-ins with publishers, nor do I recall many instances of not delivering our releases on our own calendar. Most staff members were dedicated to their assigned projects and we made a point to celebrate every small milestone we had in the group: everyone was more of a friend than anything else, which really helped our work progress to be as smooth as possible.
Janice: When ED was first established, I made a point to document every step of our manual work in detail so that each release would become a routine process in the long-run. Examples include scanning/editing standards, translation templates, branding requirements (logo, colors, etc.) and so on. I also had a work calendar specifically made for ED on my desktop, which I checked every day to ensure that everyone was on track with their projects, and I also had a folder of email templates reserved for staff communications (i.e. newsletters).
The only unpredictable element of my day-to-day work was relationship management, which had both short-term (internal staff) and long-term (external partnerships) impacts on our group. While it was important to ensure that I would deliver my own portion of manual tasks on time each day (i.e. schedule check, translating, editing and final packaging/distribution), sometimes I was prompted to spend an extra night or two just talking to different people via email/IM to ensure that we establish a good understanding of each other's capacity and can share resources in the most effective way. For example, I would translate a full manga volume for ShoujoMagic within 24 hours in exchange for 3 volumes of HQ Japanese scans for one of ED's initiatives, vice versa.
Janice: Frankly speaking, scanlating would not have been a possible option of hobby for me was I not a high school student in North America - I would spend 100% of my time studying for university entrance exams if I were still in Asia! Long story short, I tried to finish all my homework / assignment while in class so that I could dedicate my full time after school to scanlating activities. This, of course, clearly became a bit too much to handle after university.
Janice: ED was officially closed in August 2006 due to the increasing burden its responsibilities placed on my real-life schedule as well as half of the staff member shifting interests.
Janice: ShoujoMagic was ED's largest partner in terms of resource sharing. Siana (SM's founder) had entrusted quite a few SM projects to me as a translator, and I have received a lot of support from SM staff in return, especially in the area of scanning and IRC (our IRC channel was hosted on Siana's server and we were given special privileges in a variety of ways). Even after ED was closed, I have kept in touch with a few SM staff through email and helped them translate Japanese freetalks occasionally until late 2008.
Frankly speaking, working for SM was a completely different experience than running ED. If we compare ED to a small personal business, SM would be that mega corporation in the industry whom everyone looked up to. Whether it be quality or quantity of releases, I have yet to see a group as dedicated as the old SM to this day. On the other hand, SM's IRC channel was really the best place to be: there were tons of interesting conversations going on 24/7. Sometimes it was a pleasure to simply sit there and read all the scrolling dialogues on your screen.
Janice: Although I was not involved in the operating aspect of SM, it was not hard to understand its culture of perfectionism. In general, SM would only hire the best of the community - scanner, editor or translator alike - and give its staff the best treatment it could in return (we had the largest manga library ever). Timelines were always harsh, but the feeling of accomplishment and the pride of being part of SM would always pull everything together nicely in the end.
Janice: Scanlation.com was a spur-of-the-moment project that branched out of my interest in PHP programming back in the day. It was a semi-private forum which promoted resource sharing among scanlators, at the same time offering a small file hosting service for shoujo groups including ED.
Janice: Interestingly enough, the creation and eventual demise of Scanlation.com closely mirrors the state of the modern day graphic design community: there are so many ideas floating around that it's difficult to put everything into one clear perspective. Looking back, the premise of Scanlation.com was attractive but overly idealistic: it was a fact that not everyone wanted to share what they had, even if there was no monetary benefit involved.
There was also the issue that my host couldn't keep up with the amount of bandwidth Scanlation.com used. I suppose things could have been a little different if the network was created based on a stable source of income.
Janice: My experience in the scanlating community as a whole was memorable to say the least, though there were two instances that I believe are especially worthy of note. One would be the big Christmas collaboration (Zig X Zag) between 8 shoujo scanlators (including ED and ShoujoMagic) in December 2003, and another would be the interview ED received from SF Gate. These really expressed the beauty of team work as well as the recognition our community was starting to get as a whole.
Janice: The precise date would be winter 2008 - that's when I put a complete stop to accepting freelance translation requests (mostly Japanese freetalks) from friend scanlators.
Janice: Right now I'm a semi-active translator in the light novel community, though a majority of my time is spent in the web design/development area. I have also developed a strong interest for digital art in recent years, which I suppose would be where a lot of my leisure hours go within the next decade.
I suppose this shift from servicing (scanlating) to the creative side (artist) would provide me the necessary insight to locate future opportunities in the manga industry, as I personally see scanlation as a low-cost marketing tool that creates a lot of long-term positives for the industry as a whole - its existence shall be everlasting, at least within the locked target group.
Janice: When it comes to light novels, I tend to go by writing style: if I come across one book/series and fall in love with it, I would go dig past works by the same author and read them all. A few of my favorite authors include Ryohgo Narita (favorite work: Baccano!) and Yuu Kuramoto (favorite work: Kamakura Series) because they're great writers for historical fiction, which happens to be my favorite novel genre. I happen to be a part of Baka-Tsuki as we speak ^^ It's a very cozy little group with very flexible schedules and editing styles, which I really enjoy.
Janice: MangaArt, ShoujoMagic and SnoopyCool were my favorite scanlators back in the day, though I was quite intrigued by a number of titles offered by MangaScreener, Omanga and Impossibility as well. Unfortunately, I no longer follow any scanlations nowadays: a great deal of my reading focus shifted to novels, and I would import most of my books from Amazon Japan or YesAsia if there's ever a new manga title I would like to follow.
It probably goes without saying that Siana of ShoujoMagic was my role model throughout my scanlating days. In fact, her dedication and management style had a big influence on my decision to seriously study project management as an academic subject, which more or less resulted in the current career I'm pursuing.
Janice: To those who might be interested in pursuing Asian language interpretation as a career, scanlation is a great place to start developing your project management skills as well as to meet people with similar goals and talent. Overall it was great to be in contact with the scanlation community once again - thanks for including me in this interesting project!