Lenners July 2009

Lenners is the current leader and a founding member of the group SCX-Scanlations.

SCX-Scanlations is a group formed around 2007–2008 by Aquafina, Skyking, and members of the IRC channel #detcetorp, and focuses on shounen-oriented series. Although relatively young, SCX-Scans has managed to take on and complete quite a few projects while maintaining a consistent release schedule.

Please introduce yourself!

Lenners: I'm Lenners, current leader of SCX-Scans. I'm also part of MangaArt as a QCer. I started scanlating a couple years back, doing just small jobs here and there for various groups (I don't remember their names anymore <.<). Eventually, I ended up at MangaArt as a proofreader before I was bumped up to a QC. I'm not the original founder of SCX-Scans, just one of the founding members. The previous leader suddenly disappeared (we call it pulling an Aquafina now) and left me in charge, so I've been keeping the group alive for about a year now.

Tell us a bit about SCX-Scanlations. What kind of group is it? How and why was the group formed? The history page on your group's website seems very to gave us a brief (and more human-readable) synopsis of it? ^^;

Lenners: Well, the members of #detcetorp (SCX-Scans) and SCX-Scans are for the most part, ex-mafia players. The channel #detcetorp (Protected backwards; Protected was the founder of mafia) was a gathering place for hardcore mafia players. However, during winter break, mafia disappeared and we all went into severe withdrawal. We substituted with things like IRC Uno, Poker, Trivia, etc. but eventually, one of our members came up with the idea of starting a scanlation group.

Now, back then we didn't have much hope for mafia coming back, so most of us threw ourselves into the idea energetically. The original founders were Aquafina and Skyking, and we started off with the project Cross Over. After that, we just branched into shounen and ecchi. We also had a hentai branch, HxHxH, but that group hasn't released in a while.

The history page was written by Aquafina (it's a parody of the book of Genesis in the Bible) btw xD It's mostly for laughs and has tons of inside jokes, but it's pretty close to the truth. Mafia did come back, but most of us chose not to play it because by then, our addiction was broken, and it was going in a direction most of us didn't really like, so we boycott it.

For those of us who aren't in the know, what is "mafia"? Surely you guys aren't in any real mafia!

Lenners: Yes we were.... nah, I'm just joking xD Mafia is an IRC game that started off running in #lurk and #null (I think). It's made by one of the ops, Protected, who ran it from his bot Narrator. Basically it's like the real life version of mafia with a Doctor, Detective, and several (or one) player(s) acting as mafia. Because it's not real life, it's a bit psychological and knowing how the other players think, so it's tons of fun. The objective of the game is to simply find out who is the mafia before they kill all the innocent players, and execute them by public vote. There were several new roles added later on, like the werewolf faction, but the original was definitely the best.

When did you get involved with scanlation? What was the scene like when you first got involved?

Lenners: I got involved a few years back (I think 2006 or 2007). Back then, there weren't a ton of small groups, but everyone knew the big ones like Dragon Voice, etc. (I admit, I only read shoujo back then :X) I think things were really disconnected then, not as interconnected these days with MangaHelpers and places like #lurk and MangaUpdates. There was definitely an "every group for themselves" attitude. The quality wasn't too great back then too, but it's definitely improved now.

How is SCX-Scanlations managed? Tell us about the inner workings of the group!

Lenners: I guess it's become communist style. Initially we had 3 "project leaders" emerge from our group: SkyKing, Aquafina, and Onizukaa. SkyKing and Onizukaa picked up a ton of projects, and Aquafina picked up a couple. This system broke down though, when Aquafina disappeared and I became leader. I sorta go by a rotating system with projects now. Whatever needs doing, I redirect staff to do. However, I do try to take into consideration and put them on projects that they want to do. We use a google spreadsheet (my idea!!!) to keep track of everyone's role, a Gmail account for emails and links to work, and a MediaFire account to store everything. I'd like to get to a point someday where I can have designated leaders, but I don't want the group to become disjointed and break down from rivalries, so I think the system I have for now is the best. It tends to break down when I leave for a week to focus on exams, but it gives everyone a break? :D

What are some of the difficulties the group has faced in the past? For example were there problems with publishers?

Lenners: We haven't had any problems with publishers in the past, but we do usually drop projects when they're licensed. One of our biggest and ongoing difficulties is the list of projects we have. We have around 20 ongoing projects, but I've started to drop a couple of them. It's hard as a group to see so many lovely projects out there, but you're forced to limit yourselves to a couple to stay efficient. There hasn't been a lot of drama in the group, but definitely the transition to me as the new leader (-_-) and too big a project list are the biggest issues we had to face.

What are some of SCX-Scanlations's most popular or influential projects? What is the group's current status?

Lenners: There's been 5 that've stood out so far: Cross Over (our first project), Shina Dark, Watashitachi no Tamura-kun, Toradora, and Negative Happy Chainsaw Edge. Shina Dark was a surprise, I remember we spend hours obsessively refreshing the MU rankings to see if it would ever reach #1 in the weekly list (it did for a couple days before dropping). Tamura-kun was a huge surprise; I remember the ending drew lots of outrage from the readers. Negative Happy Chainsaw Edge was by the author of Welcome to the NHK, so it was briefly popular too. Toradora we actually took from a dying group, AnimeSigma, and then it was taken from us by Musashi Quality. We did "war" a bit with them over it, but I eventually put a stop to it because I felt it was a massive waste of time for us to continue competing with them. Oh, and now there's Orange Roof. I actually don't know why people like this one, but many claim it to be a heart-warming story or something like that, and it's gotten really popular now.

I guess the group's current status is just... active. I wouldn't say very active, because we've had a steep decline in active staff and translators (we've never had enough Japanese translators). I do try to release every 2–3 days.

Future plans for SCX-Scanlations?

Lenners: All we're focusing on at the moment is to finish the projects we have. Many of them are really close to completion (like Holy Hearts, 090 ~Eko to Issho~, Idol no Akahon), and I really hate dragging out the projects anymore than we have to. Afterwards, I guess we'll pick up a few projects and focus on them :)

What are some groups or individuals you've looked up to throughout the years? Were there any specific group or project you've followed in the past?

Lenners: I've really looked up to Aerandria, they have excellent quality and quick releases. MangaArt I really love too, also because of their high-quality and their perserverence over the years (I don't think SCX is going to make it to 7 years), I admire most of the older groups in general xD. CassiusOS of NCIS (now Which Scanlations) I also really look up to because of his redraws (same with GGpX of Illuminati-Manga). They have the kinds of skills that I could only dream of having and are definitely some of the best groups.

As a reader, I follow way too many projects to remember. However, both my staff and I are always itching to pick up ongoing projects once they start coming out too slow xD It's hard to wait when your group has the resources to do the project too, and since you want to read more, the easiest solution would be to pick up the project yourself. So definitely a self-restraint is a must D: (I went off-topic there xD)

Do you favor picking up other group’s project or doing a joint with the group instead if at all possible? Some scanlation groups are particularly sensitive when it comes to another group "picking up" their active project, what are your thoughts on that?

Lenners: Well, I guess it really depends. Scanlations is technically an "every-group-for-themselves" community, so there are no firm rules against picking up someone's project. But, it's really frowned upon. If one group is already doing it, why would you go and waste resources to try to take the project from them? I've had it happen to me countless times now, and useless "scanlation wars" break out, and in the end, we're all wasting our time. = =

If you really want to work on the project, it's definitely better to ask them if they need help. I'd rather joint with the group (provided we have similar standards in releasing) then take their project and be the "bad guy" in the end.

How do you feel about the current scanlation scene as compared to the community in 2006? How do you feel the community has evolved in the last few years? Are there any new trends nowadays worth mentioning?

Lenners: If there are any new trends worth mentioning, it's the "chan size count" one. A lot of new groups these days seem to be aiming for a large chan size. I guess it keeps the staffers and admins happy, but I really think this is the biggest BS trend I've seen in all my years in scanlation. A couple months ago, I had trouble with people advertising in my channel to come join their channel. I even had people recruiting in my channel for their own group. Of course, this is definitely "crossing the line" and unbelievably rude to the channel owner. It's calmed down now, which is definitely a good thing +_+

Another trend I've noticed is online readers. I guess in a way, they're good (even I use them), but it's also incredibly bad for scanlation groups. Instead of people having to go to IRC channels, or even the website to grab the release, scanlators are pushed to the back by online manga readers. I guess online readers are definitely the worst thing that's ever going to happen to us, and it's hard because so many people rely on them. I also feel like it's a bit more connected than before. Previously, there was always this disjointed feeling where maybe you knew a couple people outside your group, but you'd mainly stay with your own group. Nowadays we have places like #lurk, or even MangaHelpers where we can connect and pool our resources as a whole community. It's actually a bit more annoying than before though with the online readers. I put recruitment ads in my releases, and while it seems like a joke (and I guess it's rather funny) to get emails from kids 12–14 years old telling us they want to join, etc. I guess it's a bit alarming too.

I remember we had one kid give us his phone number and school name, and we've had several people give us their real name. There's also been even more people wanting to know if we pay $ (what the heck?) for their work, and it's just a bit shocking to see our readers growing younger and less intelligable. I like how people are refining their techniques now. Before there weren't a lot of tutorials, and most knowledge was "passed down" through scanlation groups through actual training. Nowadays, people can teach themselves a bit and take the burden off of us.

You mentioned online reading sites... the emergence of these large reading sites, like OneManga and MangaFox, seems to be having a large impact on the community?

Lenners: OMG I want to shoot them. It's definitely a negative impact on our scanlation society, to have this..."middleman" between us and the general readers. It also sucks because we spend all our time making sure that the scans are of good quality, and then they compress it and waste all of our hard work. I know a couple groups have asked the readers to take down all of their releases and never put up future ones, but I don't quite think that helps too. As for myself, I've just introduced the 1 day rule, which I guess helps a bit. It's fair to say our community is dwindling in a sense; the fanbase is trickling off to those kinds of places :(

Now that I realized, it's sort of like a parasitic relationship... They leech off of us and we both benefit from the transaction, but at the same time, they're killing us off :/ It's really hard to find dedicated staff these days, I get the fair amount of kids who join up, disappear, and never come back again -_- Scanlations has a massive turnover rate D: I guess the effects aren't too obvious now, but it's not too hard to imagine a future where we'll just be sending chapters directly to the online reader sites xD

You also mentioned that IRC is becoming more popular again... is IRC more accessible nowadays? In the early days of scanlation, it was much more difficult for regular users to learn how to use IRC to download manga. Nowadays, with bandwidth so cheap, direct downloads and BitTorents have become really popular... wouldn't it have been more natural for people to abandon IRC and embrace other methods?

Lenners: Well, I've always enjoyed the ability to interact with other people on IRC. It's a lot easier communicating in real time with people than through email or forums (I actually hate forums for scanlation). It kinda sucks that people go through BT or direct download, but if we didn't have the option, eventually people would complain. Things do get distributed without us knowing a lot, so it's much better we provide a direct method knowingly, rather than have someone doing it behind our backs. IRC is definitely easier to learn than before, now that there's a handy webchat on the IRCHighway website (maybe other IRC websites, I dunno). There's also Mibbit, which we used to provide until we got too many people asking why they couldn't download through it. But in the same way, the number of IRC users using IRC to leech is lessening due to online readers.

We don't need to download anymore; we can just go to the reader and read it there. I spent a couple blog posts complaining about not enough people showing their gratitude with a simple thank you (which has upped the comment count quite a bit now <3), and it's kind of maddening to see that people just can't express simple gratitude these days. Then again, I don't think a lot of our younger readers are aware that there are tons of groups out there providing the manga they read, they just wonder why we're not doing it fast enough for them. Jerks :< Either way, I wouldn't ever want to see IRC dying (though I guess it's dying now ;() because it's just tons of fun talking to people on here. Though naturally, tons of people do "leech and run," which is a bit irritating D:

So IRC nowadays are more being used more to chat/communicate than to download manga?

Lenners: Well, I guess it's around half and half. I just feel that there are less people taking the time these days to come on. Actually, a lot of people in my channel don't even read SCX's releases, they're just there to hang out and chat xD It's the same in #MangaArt too. MangaArt's demographic is a bit younger than everyone in the group, so most of us are there just to chat xD If you've been to #lurk, you'll see that their channel count has gone way done and they're really struggling hard to raise enough money to keep their servers up. They used to be around the 1,300s, and now they're like 800? It's so sad :(

What do you feel the future holds for scanlation?

Lenners: I think that it's definitely going to grow, but sorta in a bad way. The motives of newcoming groups these days are more like "get popular" instead of "give back to the community." I admit it feels nice being popular, but I'm also okay with not being popular. It's sorta cool how we're all improving as a whole. The quality of scanlations then and the quality of scanlations now has definitely gone up in general. I think one of my favourites of scanlation from back then (well, speed scanlation) is the GTO scans on OneManga. xD We're all trading techniques and using the latest version of Photoshop to make scripts to automate stuff, it's really awesome.

Thanks for the interview! Any last words?

Lenners: You better show me this [project] when you're done \o/