Latin_D September 2009

Latin_D has been working in the scanlation scene since as early as 2001. Back then, Latin_D was a member of Dual Translations, a popular group known for its Love Hina scanlation. Since the demise of Dual Translations, Latin_D worked with a number of groups, including Manga-Daisuki and MangaDownloads. Today Latin_D has mostly retired from the scanlation scene, but can still be found in some IRC channels.

Please introduce yourself!

Latin_D: Hm, well, I don't want to bore anyone reading this, so I'll be brief. My nick's Latin_D, and I've been mostly an editor and a coordinator in several mangascans groups, like Dual Translations, Manga-Daisuki and MangaDownloads. I, just like most people, discovered manga through anime, fell in love with it, and then decided to help the people bringing me new things to read every day. Nowadays I'm just another lazy leecher, enjoying other people's hard work, completing the circle of geekness.

Where did the nick Latin_D come from?

Latin_D: Ugh. I'm not even sure... I think it's the first thing I picked when I discovered Internet, in the 90s, and it had more to do with all the variations of David (my name) being taken in the e-mail provider I had access to (there weren't many back then) than any brainstorming or inspiration. Then I simply stuck with it out of sheer laziness and stubbornness.

Which I guess is a lesson for the young'uns out there: pick your nicks wisely, because they can haunt you for the rest of your life.

In your opinion, what are some of the big differences between the groups you've been involved with?

Latin_D: I've been in a few, but I only stuck around in three of them, the ones I mentioned before. So let's see: Dual Translations was a huge group, one of the first ones I knew, and it was... odd. Anyone who has been a part of a big group knows that a complicated hierarchy is eventually formed in such places. Even if the truth is that it's just kids translating manga. Manga-Daisuki was more or less like having roommates you kind of liked, but hardly ever had dinner with them, and MangaDownloads was like getting together with dear friends and planning how to take over the world together. If taking over the world means translating Adachi manga.

Tell us a bit about Dual Translations, what kind of group was it? Why was it called "Dual Translations"?

Latin_D: Why was it called "Dual Translations"? That's a good question—I have no idea. I joined the group when it was already working, and honestly, many years have passed and I don't remember much about it.

Let's see what I can remember: DualT was a spinoff of the granddaddy of mangascans groups: #mangascans. (I imagine using the word that came to be employed to describe your product as your group's name is a good indication of how much of a pioneer you were.) GenmaC was a member of that group, and when it disbanded he created DualT.

Its main project at the time, and the one that drew me and many others to it, was Love Hina. There were many other projects that we started back then, like Devil & Devil, FLCL, Hellsing and SaiKano, to name a few, but unfortunately most were left incomplete when DualT passed away.

Tell us a bit about the scene back when Dual Translations was still around, what was it like? How was Dual Translations received by others from the community?

Latin_D: Ah, DualT was an interesting place. You see, back then there weren't many groups: as far as I remember it was only DualT and MangaProject for a few months in 2001, the year I joined. Considering the limited choices for manga readers, both groups had many, many members. DualT never reached MP's humongous size, but at its best DualT probably had about 60 active members. And many semi-active bums, like myself.

As I've mentioned before, there was a very odd hierarchy where GenmaC, the Big Boss, selected managers or coordinators to run a project, and they in turn dealt with editors and translators. And as is often the case in groups from the IRC age, the hierarchy was also evident on whether you were an op, a hop or a mere peon.

Other than the feud with MangaProject, I think DualT had a fine relationship with just about everyone. I know that after I left in 2002 GenmaC started some kind of manga store, and that wasn't a popular move in the community, but by that time I was barely paying attention, working with other people.

It seemed like Dual Translations was always in some kind of feud with MangaProject, what was that all about? What do you feel was Dual Translations's most popular or influential project?

Latin_D: Ah, yes. That. With hindsight, it was kind of ridiculous. I believe that GenmaC and ZlleH had worked together in #mangascans in 2000, and they parted ways as enemies—or as close to enemies as you can be through the Interweb. ZlleH would go on to create MangaProject and that feud you mention would start. I think it was just people simply taking sides and participating vicariously in that fight, at first, but then MangaProject started working on Love Hina (DualT's major project at that time) and things escalated. It got so bad that anyone even remotely related to DualT would be banned on sight at #mangaproject.

There was also an aesthetical argument as to how scans should look like. It seems ridiculous now, but MangaProject invented what at the time was called "High Quality scans," which would be large-sized scans with strong contrast to get rid of the natural gray of scanned paper. That is now the norm, but at the time the DualT folks felt that playing with the image's levels to get rid of the gray was sort of sacrilegious.

I imagine that DualT's signature project was Love Hina—it's incredibly how popular that was at one point. I blame the lack of options at the time, even though it wasn't a particularly bad series, in its genre. I'm more proud of the odd projects, myself, like FLCL, SaiKano and Azumanga. Even though they were never completed (by DualT), they introduced me and many others to new kinds of manga worth pursuing.

Any memorable stories involving Dual Translations you would like to share with the readers?

Latin_D: Hm, I can't think of many interesting anecdotes, but if you want to laugh a little, check out the last page in the third volume of Devil & Devil. The coordinator for that project provides wonderful entertainment by quitting publicly and claiming that "when you're at the top (because that's what being a mangascan project coordinator is like, of course) there's nowhere to go." It's priceless, and definitely worth reading. Starakin went on with that project and completed it with 10 times the effort and not a bit of drama, proving that not everyone on the Internet is an idiot.

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

Latin_D: I haven't talked to any of those guys for years, but still, a shout-out to my pal King_of_Pain, to Unseen, one of the funniest guys ever to translate a manga, and to Starakin, for tirelessly editing manga and making everyone else look bad.

How and why did Dual Translations disband?

Latin_D: Lack of interest from the ops, especially GenmaC. New groups were popping up, and we couldn't even agree on a project to translate, so little by little we started moving on. By 2002 I think DualT was mostly dead.

You were also involved with Manga-Daisuki for a period of time, what was the group like? What did you do there? Any interesting stories from Manga-Daisuki?

Latin_D: My relationship with Manga-Daisuki was an odd one. When I quit DualT, a friend of mine, Ronny Hedin, talked me into editing one of Adachi's new manga: Katsu! Ronny Hedin's nick was "thark," and he's one of the most prolific translators ever to work with mangascans. He's done many projects, for many scanslators: DualT (Devil & Devil), MangaProject (Touch, Initial D, many others), Hawks (Living Game, Please Save my Earth), MangaDownloads (Rough, Hiatari Ryoukou) and others.

We started working on it, and since I didn't want to distribute the scans on my own, I just picked a good group and joined it. At the time Manga-Daisuki was just starting, but it had some good projects out, like Noritaka, Mint Na Bokura and Vandread, so I simply talked to the head honcho and sent them our scans. Later on, when I met the good folks over at MangaDownloads, I still kept releasing Katsu! in Manga-Daisuki because it only seemed fair, but I kept myself mostly separate from the group.

Manga-Daisuki's period of high activity was unfortunately short-lived, but I met some great guys there, like Infornography, WarDrake (who did some great work on a classic manga I love, Hojo's City Hunter) and kal-, who would go on to form Null.

Tell us a bit about MangaDownloads, what kind of group is it? When and how was it formed? How did MangaDownloads fit into the community? How was it received by the community?

Latin_D: I met Spaceman-Spiff when he offered to scan Katsu! high-quality for me (we were working on mid-quality mangazine scans, which can't compare to the crisp tankoubon prints). He was cocreator of MangaDownloads, and a big Adachi fan—and most of all, a nice, hard-working guy. A guy named Aosh and him had started MangaDownloads in late 2001, I believe, and their first two projects were classic, incredibly popular manga: Rurouni Kenshin and One Piece. Both had been translated before, but MangaDownloads was working on a ultra-high quality version that was a real pleasure to read. Unfortunately, Aosh left before I joined, and the series were canceled once local publishers picked them up.

Later on we'd mostly focus on Adachi's manga and a few shoujo projects like Penguin Brothers, but it was the former that we were mostly known for. At some point our goal became to have every Adachi manga translated, and thanks to the help of other great groups like Adachi-Manga and Adachi's Universe, we mostly succeeded.

What do you feel were some of the biggest roadblocks MangaDownloads encountered throughout its life? Did MangaDownloads ever get in trouble with any publishers or organizations?

Latin_D: I guess the only "roadblocks" we encountered where the departure of our friends when they got tired of IRC and mangascans, but we never had any problems with publishers—mostly because once a manga was licensed in the U.S., like One Piece, Kenshin and Skip Beat!, MangaDownloads completely stopped releasing and distributing it. That was Spiff's policy, and it probably saved us many headaches.

How was MangaDownloads managed? What was it like scanlating for MangaDownloads?

Latin_D: It was a great experience. MangaDownloads will forever set the standard in my mind as to what a mangascans group should be like: a laissez faire attitude towards editors and translators, and a friendly atmosphere between everyone. Spaceman-Spiff and I coordinated the projects at first, and then the French marvel Athanor joined us and started prodding us into being more productive. In fact, Athanor is still working hard nowadays, tirelessly releasing the latest Adachi manga. (Athanor also started a fansub group that translated Slow Step and Major, another manga project MangaDownloads worked on.)

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

Latin_D: I'm not sure. One Piece at some point, I imagine, but later on I guess the entire Adachi manga package was as a whole what brought people to the channel: Rough, Hiatari Ryoukou, Katsu!, Nine, Cross Game, etc. Slowly but surely people got to know Adachi and his genius, and joined us in out obsession.

Any MangaDownloads staff not currently present that you'd like to mention or talk about? Any memorable stories you would like to share with the readers about MangaDownloads?

Latin_D: I can't remember any memorable moments I'd share with you—#grandline, our channel, was just a great place to hang out in a few years ago, and even though we've all moved on I'll always remember those years with a smile on my face.

I have already mentioned Spaceman-Spiff and Athanor, but it would be wrong not to mention Doku, our editor, or MmeFleiss, resident mistress and queen-of-all-trades. Aznmirkwoodelf was always there to cheer us up; petr, who appears to edit 24/7, that's how productive he is; ocean, always there from the very beginning; Velora, host and all-around genius, and finally doodootoo, another editor and nice guy I really miss chatting to. I'm sure I'm forgetting many people, and if I did, I apologize.

What are you up to these days? When and why did you retire from MangaDownloads and scanlation in general? What's the current status MangaDownloads? What does the future hold for the group?

Latin_D: I retired from mangascans because I was tired of it and we had more or less finished every Adachi manga available, except for his old classics we couldn't get a hold on. Athanor kept puttering away, as I said, but Spaceman-Spiff and I just faded away. We chat occasionally in #grandline, but it's Athanor's show these days and he's still working on Q&A and Cross Game, Adachi's current projects.

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

Latin_D: I miss many groups, not only because of their great projects but because of the wonderful people that worked on them and are now lost to the mists of Internet time.

Omanga's projects were not my cuppa in general (MPD Psycho still gives me nightmares) but Zyph was a workhorse and did a lot for the community. I never got to know the folks from SnoopyCool, or Snoopy himself, but I have hours of manga reading to thank to those guys. MangaScreener's H2 was of course a favorite of mine, and it's fun to see Itaintrite still around. Manga-Sketchbook was another great group, and they worked on countless series. How many great manga did Jinchi scan for us? Hawks' Berserk was incredible, too... and gatsu was everywhere at one point. And I also want to mention Puui and RKC for their work on the Kotaro Makaritoru series, an old favorite of mine.

Too many groups, too many manga. I can only mention a few, but the truth is that there's no way to thank them all, other than sitting in front of your computer and doing your part to translate new manga for everyone.

How do you feel about the current state of scanlation? What do you feel is the future for scanlation?

Latin_D: Apparently, the future of mangascans is hentai. ...No, seriously. When I was working hentai manga projects were incredibly rare, but nowadays it's booming. I wish someone could explain that to me, but hey, each to their own.

Other than that, I have to say I'm not very excited about the current state of affairs. A few years ago there were 6, maybe 10 big groups, and they worked on whole volumes at a time, finishing them in weeks. Nowadays there are a zillion small groups, and not many make an effort to merge and work together towards a common goal. The community is so fragmented that you can find as many as 5 or 6 versions of the latest chapters of the popular series. It's ridiculous, it's not effective, and it leads to groups dying almost as quickly as they are formed.

I have no idea what's in store for mangascans in the future. Hopefully it'll continue to thrive—but don't quote me on that.

Thank you for your time! Any last words?

Latin_D: Well, I answered your interview because I thought this was a neat idea, and because I'm hoping that some of the guys I lost touch with through the years would read it and drop me a line. If you do, come to #grandline so that we can knock down some virtual beers and reminisce about the good ol' days, when Detective Conan still had a plot and the Ippo–Miyata fight was actually going to happen, eventually, you'll see...