Manick & lambchopsil May 2009

Manick is the founder and head of MangaUpdates. lambchopsil joined MangaUpdates around a year after the site was launched and was soon running MangaUpdates alongside Manick as the two worked together to make sure the site operated smoothly every day. Today, MangaUpdates is the premier scanlation release tracking site in the scene that also serves as a comprehensive scanlation database and general community site where people meet to talk about manga and more.

Please introduce yourself!

Manick: I'm Manick, the main coder for MU. Back when the site first started, I focused more on site administration and adding content. The focus shifted as time went on. As we hired more people, I began to focus more on the coding part. Nowadays, I don't do much from a content point-of-view. I moderate a little here and there, but I've since graduated from college, and I've been focusing a little more on real life stuff.

My main duty is... well, I don't really have one... I guess I'm the guy where the buck stops... or however you want to put it, though I've come to rely on lambchop's opinion a lot more.

MangaUpdates, originally Baka-Updates Manga, was a site spun off of the concept of Baka-Updates, which is mainly a site which can quickly list releases about fansubs to the community. While we had long been a part of the anime community, there had been discussion in the ranks at B-U about creating an equivalent manga site.

I came along around Sept. 2003 to B-U as a PHP/MySQL coder with a lot of free time. We had discussed making the addition, and around May 2004, we got a site design lined up, and I began work. When we launched, we had some stiff competition in the field, and rightly so, from sites like MJ & DM. But we added a new interface, which the other sites lacked, and the ability for users to add their own releases (to be approved by admins, of course). This was something the other sites didn't have. It was slow moving at the start, but the boost we had from our sister site, Baka-Updates, gave us some steam, and we eventually got moving.

lambchopsil: I'm lambchopsil. On the manga scene, I'm mainly known for being an admin for MangaUpdates (basically 2nd in command after Manick). My main duty is to oversee all the other admins and forum mods in their activities, and I'm a liaison from Manick to everyone else since Manick is so busy...

Manick: Yes, lamb pretty much does everything nowadays >:)

What was the English scanlation scene like during your arrival? What were some of the dominant groups back then? Are they still around now?

Manick: The community was definitely smaller.

lambchopsil: Less speed groups...

Manick: Definitely less speed groups. The scene was still more website/IRC–focused, since BitTorrent wasn't hugely required for releases, as a result of that there was more community I believe, with groups like ShoujoMagic, Endless Dimension, Toriyama's World, SnoopyCool, K-Manga, Omanga...

lambchopsil: Shannaro for Naruto, Inane too. I don't really know the yaoi groups...

Manick: Inane! That was a big one. Of course, there was MangaScreener. Yamitsuki Anime, AT-Translations, Peccatore Sanctuary, JanKenPon... ShocWave! With Gantz, I believe. Solaris-SVU, Manga Daisuki, mochi*mocha, Kotonoha, ahh, Manga-Sketchbook was big I think, frequent releases at least, JanimeS was around, still pumping out 1 release a day, MangaProject, Manga Readers. There were quite a few original groups, as I recall. Hawks, Dragon Voice, these are some that I remember anyways, but there were more.

lambchopsil: Aku Tenshi, AnimeWaves, Manga-Heaven, Null, Be With You Scans for CLAMP stuff. DokiDoki (yaoi group), MangaArt. Attractive Fascinante, another yaoi group.

Manick: But anyways, it was more centralized I think, bigger groups, but lots of yaoi/shounen-ai. Honestly, my impression was that half of all manga readers were yaoi/shounen-ai readers, haha. I honestly believe that my impression of that has changed over the years.

lambchopsil: Also a lot more shounen and speed groups now.

Manick: Still a lot, but nowadays, it's more balanced than it was, in my opinion. A lot of those groups are still around.

Tell us a bit about the connection between MangaUpdates and Baka-Updates, why did Baka-Updates decide to form a manga division?

Manick: Having been in the anime community, the founders of Baka-Updates didn't really feel like they had a complete service for the community. They knew that they were missing out by not offering a similar service for the manga community, and they had actually discussed it internally for a while.

It wasn't till I came around and offered to code it that they started talking about it seriously. We discussed the idea and came up with some good reasons for doing it (that didn't exist in the community as a whole already, mainly the users being able to add their own groups and releases). We got a good design from one of the founders' brother (who was a professional), and we went from there. The original site took 7 days to code, in June of 2004.

DailyManga and Manga Jouhou were already around by the time MangaUpdates was launched. Did these two sites play any role in the design and early operations of MangaUpdates?

lambchopsil: For me, when I first joined MU as a regular member that added releases (so before I became an admin), I actually found new releases on MangaNews (Manga Jouhou) and DailyManga that weren't already in the MU database and added those, because MU wasn't the fastest in updating for new releases at the time. Then I eventually found other ways to do things. Manick noticed that I added a lot of releases, so I was invited to be an admin for MU.

Manick: I would have to say they partially played a role. If you take a look at the original design of the site, it is very similar to the site design and content of Baka-Updates. There is a releases section, groups section, a series section, a reviews section, an admin section, and a news section. We essentially modeled the design off of Baka-Updates. When we did the original domain analysis, we looked at DM and MJ and their offerings, and it looked fairly similar to what we were planning to have, minus the user-interactive input.

That's for design... as for operation, we were not directly influenced by MJ or DM back in the day. Realizing that competition would be a problem, I made it a point not to use updates/releases from those sites until the release was reported independently to MU, or I found it via other means.

Another thing that helped us... was that we were modeled off of Baka-Updates, which allowed all forms of releases and download links, licensed or not. This, I think, more than anything else, contributed to our success in the beginning. MJ was closed to licensed releases, making DM our direct competing source for licensed information. Our views have changed over the years, and we eventually stopped allowing direct scans, and eventually, with a C&D, all licensed download links, and here we are today.

lambchopsil: However, in my opinion, because DailyManga is partially French, it kind of put off people, which helped us attract them. Also, I've found that because our information is given and edited by the users, we have a very good series database going on.

Manick: That actually came later, in Feb. 2005. That's when the site realllllllly started to grow, exponentially :-P

Was MangaUpdates well-received after its launch? Did it encounter any roadblocks along the way?

Manick: Initially, we had a rather sub-par growth rate. We were growing, but very slowly. We started out with about 500 unique visitors a day.

The problem was that we really didn't offer anything over the existing sites. We really didn't have a dedicated updating team (really, we didn't have anyone). Originally, I was going to code the site and then co-admin it with the Baka-Updates team. While that looked good on paper, it didn't really work out in real life. The team was very lax on updates, and we really didn't have any motivated people.

So, the site grew to about 1K unique visitors a day after a month or two. At this point, I realized that the site was going to die a lonely death, and it was at this point that I decided to take charge and do something about it. I joined over a hundred channels for manga scanlation teams, and wrote a mIRC script which would track topic changes in each of these channels. As you can imagine, mIRC (I used Invision script at the time) got pretty slow. I still run this script to this day (although in a lot less channels).

Since I was in all these channels with this script, I got very good at being around when releases were announced, and this was when MU really started to shine... We became fairly quick at announcing new releases. This was when we started picking up new talent. With several updaters over the years, we managed to pick up some staff members of high places in the community.

But really, that was our only real roadblock, the initial push to add content to the site. Once we made ourselves known as a fairly quick and accurate site for release information, we started to grow quicker, until Feb. 2005, when we unveiled the series section. It was at this point, Feb 5, 2005 (I remember the DAY, it was that epic), we started growing at a few thousand unique visitors per day a month. The rest is history.

lambchopsil: Manick, you could name those people if you want...

Manick: Janice and strawberrie are the ones that come to mind as the most prominent. Janice was a really good steal, from a public relations point of view. She was very good for us at the time, as was strawberrie.

lambchopsil: Hmm, roadblocks... well, currently, it's getting new features added to the site. For the last year or so (correct me if I'm wrong, Manick), we've had a slowdown in new features. We've gotten a lot of suggestions, and there are my own ideas as well, but Manick's been too busy...

Manick: Hmm, yea... honestly, I just graduated from college two years ago, and with that, came a huge slowdown in site things... I think the biggest problem we have right now is design direction & coders... We've been taking care of site things such as updating and forums moderating by hiring a lot of very dedicated and talented people, I'd say the biggest roadblock in recent years is that we don't really have a unified direction about where we want to go.

It's hard to code for 8 hours a day at work, then come home and code for another 6. The world is moving more towards a social networking atmosphere as well, which isn't readily apparent in our site. In addition, sites such as Wikipedia have really picked up the pace on manga information. Our main selling point today still remains release information, with the series information a close second, but we are definitely losing ground in recent years to better, newer sites.

lambchopsil: We've gotten 2 other coders too, but they've turned busy too. One feature we got that could use a lot of updating right now would be our lists feature. Even our own features are being copied and made better by other sites. We've felt pressure in recent years.

Manick: Yea, the pressure in more recent years has been in the form of stagnating growth, people are finding what they need in other places nowadays, but we're still here, we aren't going anywhere :)

Tell us a bit about the technical side of MangaUpdates. How was the site built? Did you have any troubles with webhosts? How did you come up the name MangaUpdates?

Manick: The site was built using PHP and MySQL. In the beginning, we were on shared hosting. We hosted both the manga and anime sites on the same shared server, MU being a subdomain of Baka-Updates, at the time. We survived like that for a few months until the DoSes (DoS: Denial of Service attacks) started. Someone really had it in for the Baka-Updates main site. As a result, our host gave us just about no notice, and kicked us out.

We set up a temporary server on one of my personal machines, while we looked for hosting. We eventually found it, a dedicated server with Layered Technologies. During the next 6 months, many epic battles ensued between the DoSer and me. I would scan Apache logs, ran several DoS modules, ran IP Table blocking, and even called up the abuse networks for many of the IP addresses that were attacking us.

Eventually, we won out on willpower, and the attacks stopped. Since then, we have slowly evolved our servers as the sites grew. Today, both sites share two dual-core machines. We'd get more, but that's all we can afford, haha... it turns out that ads for the manga/anime niche don't pay very well.

lambchopsil: We're basically running on donation money from people...

Manick: Now the name thing, the reason I used it is because people were calling us "mangaupdates" anyway. Also... I did it for search engine reasons. Back in the day, I was working SEO (Search Engine Optimization) for the site, and figured that a real domain name would help our chances. It just seemed like the right moment. We'd grown to the point where the title "Baka-Updates Manga" just wasn't sufficient.

What about the forum and its backend?

Manick: It's all custom, all graphics/etc. with the exception of the emoticons. I had a lot of free time in college >_>

lambchopsil: Manick made it all himself, and I debugged it by testing everything.

On the MangaUpdates site, there's a note that mentions the site is coded with ConTEXT ;-)

Manick: My favorite editor :) The whole site was coded in it, start to present.

lambchopsil: (Except the tiny sections I coded...which I did in Notepad++) =P

Manick: Haha, yea, we've had lambchopsil and monkeyvoodoo make numerous modifications recently, improving stuff here and there. We're still working on getting a coding team together, but we're working on a new design and the details of that before we go further.

So what's it like running MangaUpdates? Tell us about your day-to-day operations!

lambchopsil: Well, for me, I wake up, take care of the personal hygiene, then it's logging onto Facebook and working on MangaUpdates stuff. I've done it every day without fail, except for like 2–3 times I was on vacation... Stuff to do would be to take care of approving releases that piled up overnight (if another admin didn't get to it already), moderating series comments (for spoilers, people asking for download links, people posting really retarded comments...).

Manick: We get a few hundred or so of those a day, right?

lambchopsil: Umm, maybe 100 new series comments per day on average... I then approve new series additions (again, that another admin hasn't gotten to yet), then I take a scan of the main release page to check for any screw-ups by my admin team (happening less nowadays, but they still screw up on some releases...). I mostly edit release entries to keep the site consistent in formatting, etc., then I'd complete any change requests from our members such as changing series names, correcting old release entries, special requests from members like name changes, etc. Then it's onto the forums: skimming every forum post. Yeah, I've skimmed every forum post made... almost 30,000 of them now, I believe.

Manick: Essentially everything that can be added to the site is put in a mod queue.

lambchopsil: I'd then upgrade user accounts. That would basically be upgrading regular members to "updater" status, which basically means they can update series info (like a Wikipedia account). As for scanning through forum posts, that would of course be for the purpose of moderating them, your basic run-of-the-mill moderation for impatient leechers looking for downloads, members being jerks, double posters (I'm really OCD against people double posting...).

I used to moderate the forums by myself until we got some forum mods, so now I'm kinda taking the backseat on forum moderation and take care of only the top-level stuff or the things that catch my eye when I'm scanning forum posts. It really helps to have a team of people doing things, especially since college is eating up my free time. Typically nowadays, I'd log onto the site at least 2 times a day: when I wake up and right before I go to bed. Depending on my day and whenever I get back to my room, I'll log in more times. Obviously there's like a 14+ hour time gap between waking up and sleeping, so I'm really glad for my team of admin and moderator minions. =P

Manick: Yes, you see.... I'm kinda lazy. I try to come up with new ways to make lamb's job easier nowadays, and that's about it. When we need to make a major site decision, I take my own considerations, but I am heavily influenced by lamb's suggestions, and we come to a consensus before moving the site in a new direction.

lambchopsil: We work as a team~

Manick: Since a while back, I've considered lamb as a partner on the site, and we work together as a team. We have a lot of very good staff members and we would be destroyed without them. They are dedicated and help make our lives a lot easier.

lambchopsil: Or else I'd worry about the site constantly while I'm not logged in... It's like my baby now, my project for the last 3-4 years. I used to do a lot of scanlating work too on the side as a proofreader and QCer. Did that for 2-ish years, worked with 9-ish groups at the same time during my peak.

Manick: While working for MJ and MU.

lambchopsil: I worked for MangaNews (Manga Jouhou) as well, but in my opinion, their back-end for adding releases is a lot more annoying than ours. So for about 1.5 years, I'd add releases to both sites at the same time. Then as I got busier, I had to kinda drop one of the sites... and so I stopped updating MangaNews (still got op status in their small IRC channel though...).

For MangaNews, I'd add new releases (same as MangaUpdates), whatever I added to one, I'd add to the other (MangaNews only allowed unlicensed stuff though). The forums over at MangaNews has a section for members to report releases that haven't made it to the front page, so I'd take care of those people too (netted me releases for both sites, haha). Gotta note that the way MangaNews does things is that only people with permission can add new releases, but MangaUpdates has a system where any member can add a release, but an admin has to approve it before it shows on the front page. MangaNews was more annoying to add releases because to add a release, it HAD to be associated with a series currently in their database, which was done via a drop-down menu, and with a ton of series... loading that drop-down menu took a while, especially during the time I had dial-up Internet.

Ah yes, I should note that I had dial-up for a year... during my time working for MangaUpdates, MangaNews, all my scanlation groups, and even fansub groups, I'd download fansub raws at a friend's house who had faster internet >_>

After a year working for MangaUpdates, they allowed me to work for the anime side as well (Baka-Updates) and add releases there. Just to note, the way Baka-Updates works is a lot less efficient than MangaUpdates. Baka-Updates is terribly out-dated. While doing all the stuff I did (for the sites noted above, scanlation groups, and fansub groups), I got to know plenty of people on the scene, and now people know me as lambchopsil, the MU guy, since I'm the one posting basically all the front page news on MU, even more so than I do nowadays

Speaking of which, any MangaUpdates staff you'd like to mention or thank?

Manick: There are a lot of people that I'd like to thank really. It's hard coming up with individual ones... but I'd say that holybell, faye, and our excellent team of series info maintainers have really helped us out over the years.

holybell: ;_; I'm so touched... >_<...

lambchopsil: As mentioned before, Janice and strawberrie have been a huge help too (but they were before my time).

Manick: As for current staff ... but we've also had ones that have come and gone over the years, and we have many teams of dedicated maintainers.

lambchopsil: Yamikumo used to help out and add a ton of releases, but I guess real life caught up to him... not active at all anymore (but appears to sign on MU still). carthae also did a lot for series and releases (mostly yaoi though). I'd like to thank mellowmut for comic relief (and being the laziest admin ever)...

Manick: mellowmut was like, one of the first admins. He has added over 1,700 releases... he's REALLY good at looking lazy, hahaha.

lambchopsil: ...and definitely gotta thank all the scanlation groups for still pumping out releases and keeping us alive, without them, we'd have nothing. # of releases per day has definitely grown a lot. There are a lot more scanlation groups for all genres.

Manick: Yes, I second that. The community has evolved over the years, and we're proud that they still come to us to announce their releases.

lambchopsil: Oh, and thanks to all our dedicated members who keep our series information updated and add new releases that we miss. For without the public helping out, we'd be nothing.

As everyone is well aware, MangaUpdates, Manga Jouhou and DailyManga are the "big three" of release tracking. How does MangaUpdates feel about the other two sites? Anything interesting you'd like to say about the "competition" between the three sites?

Manick: To be honest, I have a few different thoughts on the matter. At the time, I was looking for competition. I had consistently mentioned to people who would ask this same question that I believed that the competition was good for the readers and users of the sites. It looked at the time like it could be a healthy thing for us all. One thing that I'd come to respect a lot more in recent years was Jouhou's decision not to show licensed releases...

lambchopsil: Less trouble by doing that. One thing I like about MangaNews is that they have more and better news (as their name states). They even have interviews of different people/companies and a translator for Japanese news (or used to at least). I definitely want to get someone to do news for us.

Manick: I really think they had good news too over the years. They totally beat us out on that. Honestly though, I felt MJ and DM didn't really put up that much of a fight over the years. We'd add a new section here and there... but MJ is essentially the same site it was a few years ago... with a few notable exceptions.

lambchopsil: As a former update staff at MangaNews, I didn't see any hostility between me and the other staff (even though they knew I was with MangaUpdates too), it didn't really feel like competition. As for DailyManga, I never really associated with them; I don't know who runs it or anything like that. The only time I visit DailyManga is for old release info (since they have older archives than us), but we're slowly getting there with old archives...

Manick: I agree... I never really saw DM as a direct competitor. It was always about MJ. But really, like I mentioned earlier... I've never been to the Jouhou channel... one reason being that I don't really have a good reason to go there. I'd say that I was always anxious about how I'd be received. I always thought they'd think I was trying to steal their releases by watching for releases reported to their bot. I didn't want to be seen as someone who would do that.

lambchopsil: There isn't actually a real bot in their channel... our bot is a lot more advanced.

Manick: Well, I've never been there, so how would I know :-p I just know that some people have come to our channel before and done !MJRELEASE haha. I really respect the MJ site and crew, and I wanted to have a clean fight. We may have the releases, but they've always had the community, I've always felt that way.

lambchopsil: Nowadays, I'd say that in new release information, we definitely beat MangaNews and DailyManga (just look right now and you'll see what I mean). MangaNews has the community of the old crowd. The new crowd is all about speed scanning... and leechers are a lot more impatient. Actually, in terms of new release info, I think we're competing more with the download sites now, especially after our policy of not putting any download links for licensed series (after we got a C&D). Download sites would be like One Manga, MangaFox, StopTazmo, just to name a few popular ones.

Notice that MangaHelpers isn't included with that. I consider MangaHelpers more as a scanlator site with downloads. I've always disliked the speed scanners, and MangaHelpers has a ton of those, but with its existence, there's been a lot more people interested in scanlating. A lot more 1-man teams too... So there are "groups" listed on MangaHelpers that aren't in our database at MangaUpdates.

Tell us more about this C&D letter deal...

Manick: Well, I don't want to mention the company involved, but... For a few months, I was actually considering removing the licensed download links for all the releases on the site. I had grappled with this decision for about a year, and the decision wasn't getting any easier. Around that time, we had been contacted by the legal department of a major English company. They had requested that we only remove all the download links for their releases only. They were very cordial and understanding. They were willing to give us time to adapt the software.

It was at this point that my decision became a lot easier, and I decided to remove the links for all licensed series on the site once and for all. The company was very happy that we complied, and we went our separate ways. I'd say that this resulted in a huge decrease in our site visitation; it was at this point that our audience diverged, and our road became bumpier. But, we've tried to remain relevant by keeping releases up-to-date as quickly as possible and maintaining a large manga database, and this is now the reason that most people visit our site.

lambchopsil: Oh, I should add that the older scanlation groups "trust" us more, so to speak, so their releases typically get added to our site first, and then the download sites know about the release from us. These are the groups where their own staff adds their releases to MU.

Over the years there have been complaints about MangaUpdates's layout, as well as the fact that the Releases section isn't on the front page. What was the decision behind the current layout, considering MangaUpdates is primarily a release aggregation site? Also, any plans for new themes/layouts?

Manick: There are 2 reasons. The first is that we modeled the site off of Baka-Updates, and since they have it separated that way, we have it separated that way. The second is that I've been trying more recently to move the site to a series-information based database rather than a release aggregation focused site.

The reason for this is that it's very easy for us to lose visitation if a new site pops up that happens to be better than us at release aggregation. I've been trying to diversity our site so that we become known more as a manga database than as a release aggregation site. As for the design, we have a new design currently sitting in the back-burner. We've been in a stalled mode, trying to get some time to work on it. We'll get it out there eventually :)

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

lambchopsil: Memorable story... I dunno about that >_> except all the times I made mistakes and got corrected >_< or the times we broke the site while updating it, lol.

Manick: We've broken the site many times. I've learned never to test stuff on the production site before testing it on a dev site, but you know, I still break that every once in a while, haha.

lambchopsil: And even then, we still break things.

Manick: We only have 2 servers, and we have performance issues. Slow downs... especially with the search bar. So we constantly have to change and update the site to work better, with slightly more hackish things worked in every once in a while. The problem is—when you design something, you don't necessarily think about it getting hit 15 times a second, and then all of the sudden you're dealing with locking issues, slow queries, slow hard drives, 400 concurrent MySQL threads, etc. it's been a long road, and I'd say that I've learned a lot about optimization over the years.

lambchopsil: Once Manick actually made genre searches a lot faster, that's when we broke the site >_> and if you try using the global search bar at the top-right of the site, notice that it says "Global searching is currently undergoing a fix. Please use the search feature for the individual section you wish to search, or click on a release below."

Manick: You know, we're still fixing that!!!! Or something...

lambchopsil: We got so many people using the global search bar that the site noticeable slowed down like crazy sometimes. So we just divided up the search functions the way it is now. Solved the issue... sorta... I doubt it'll ever be fixed, at least on our current # of servers.

Manick: It'll become our own little Duke Nukem Forever.

I once sent up an un-indexed query to the site and put the server loads at 315. That was fun. I can't think of anything hugely memorable other than all the times I've messed up XD

lambchopsil: What about that time for the guy with backwards text? What's the HTML entity for that again? Ah, &#8238;, it's this member. Notice how his member info backwards? (Member title, date joined, etc.)

Manick: Oh yeah, some smart ass figured out how to use a character to reverse text on the site. We have it hardcoded in there now to ignore it, but back then, it reversed all the text on the site.

The most memorable thing for me is the choosing of a mascot I think. I'm very proud that we have very talented people on the forum and the site in general, and that so many people came together to submit so many great entries. I'd just like to again say congratulations to blakraven66 for the winning entry. It's a perfect mascot, and I can't wait to get some t-shirts for conventions!

What's the future for MangaUpdates? Where is site going, and what role do you see it play in the community?

lambchopsil: Like Manick said, we're trying to focus more on series info now, although I'd lose my job if we focused ALL on series >_> (since I do releases mostly). I had this whole idea for centralizing group recruitment on our site (instead of using the forums, which is the current way), but that's been on the back burner. We also should improve some of our existing features, like the lists, and probably some new additions to the info sections for releases, authors, and publishers, especially the way magazines are currently listed on our site.

Manick: From a content perspective, I think we're heading in a steady direction right now... There are things I want to do design/feature-wise that I haven't had time for really. We're here for the long haul, so as long as there is a community to serve, we'll be here. We have a lot of suggestions and feature possibilities that we could roll out with a little bit more work, but as far as what we'll actually be able to accomplish, I think only time will tell. So as a summary answer to your question... We will continue to exist, and hopefully, we will eventually organize enough to expand our current offerings.

How would you describe the current scanlation scene? What's the community like?

Manick: I'd say some of it speaks for itself, online reading sites, YouTube, Lurk... speed-scanners. I still, to this day, get at least 2 PMs on my site asking for help on how to read manga. I have 58 pages of PMs on my site, about 52 pages of that are "how do I download this."

lambchopsil: Luckily, I haven't gotten any of that.

Manick: I've just stopped answering them, I've gotten emails too. I've put large, red text on the registration page, saying we aren't a download site. We still get a huge flow of people... in one case I had this guy cuss me out in a PM because we "mislead" him about our site, about there being downloads, etc.

lambchopsil: Attention is turning to the ones that hold downloads. Like the online reading sites, the download sites, etc. The faster they get download links up, the more popular. The shounen weekly series are turning into 1st day releases... more like 1st hour releases actually.

With speed groups, I guess there's good and bad. The bad being that a lot of series are over scanned now, like Naruto, Bleach, One Piece. It'd be great if resources could be moved to the lesser-known series.

Manick: Part of that is probably spillover from the anime community... and just increased interest in general as the Internet has become more widespread and part of people's lives. Some of the old community is still there... manga channels have always been historically a little smaller than anime channels. I don't necessarily think it's getting "worse" so to speak. More like changing... kind of how anime fansubbing changed when BitTorrent came around. That was a huge shift for the anime community.

lambchopsil: With speed groups, quality is always an issue. Some scans look pretty crappy, at least to my standards. Other people probably just wanna read the latest chapter in 5 minutes and go. The leecher community has also changed. More impatient in my opinion... but a lot more people are IN the community now, just like how BitTorrent changed anime, I think online manga reading sites are changing the manga scene. One potential future problem I see is action taken on part of the publishers... like C&D's and the like. And if it gets any worse... who knows? Let's face it, we're illegal.

Manick: What the community does, as a whole, information will flow... how it does is not really controllable. I think that to win on the Internet, it seems that the defining features are speed, speed vs. quality ratio, price, and availability. To hold market share, you offer things quickly, at low price, with high availability. It's difficult to hold on to market shares in other ways on the Internet in my opinion. This is why speedscans have become so popular, as well as downloads sites—that's the speed and availability parts right there, and of course, they're free...

I see a difficult challenge ahead for the industry to try and combat this, and I do not envy them in their challenge, but part of the reason that MangaUpdates has remained relevant is that we are still the most complete, quickest update site around. Once we lose that, we're old news. It's sort of how Google's business model works, once someone makes a better search engine, that's it, they're gone.

lambchopsil: Well, MangaNews and DailyManga have stuck around, and we will too, even if someone does replace us.

Manick: Yup, we're here to stay, but the community I think is evolving, and I think that we'll all have to evolve with it in order to keep pace. We'll have to wait and see what technology brings us, and what we can do with it, as a community in general. I think we will find something positive on the other side, wherever that may be.

Have you ever considered moving MangaUpdates toward a new direction? Maybe a more scanlation-news-oriented site or a more community-oriented/Web 2.0 site to "keep up with the times"?

Manick: Well, we've considered a lot of things, or at least I have apparently, haha. I've considered both of those items. The first ... is really difficult. We try to get people to submit scanlation news to us ... but it's just hard to keep it flowing... being a reporter is a full-time job, and we just don't have the staff for that. The second... I've always had an aversion to social networking sites. I do not have, nor have I ever had, a MySpace, Facebook, Delicious, (insert social networking site name here) account. So, I see it being difficult for me to move the site into that sort of a direction.

One thing that I have considered for the future is a Web 2.0 way of aggregating releases and other content. Sites that allow additions, and allow the general populace to vote them up or down, thus getting them on the front page, I think that is probably the direction that we need to go in to stay relevant. I think we're fine for the time being, but we need to eventually make some tough choices.

There seems to be a lot of conflicts in the community as well, like the one involving download sites charging people for scanlations. There's even a notice about it on MangaUpdates's front page... What's your opinion on this matter?

Manick: Oh, there has been drama... Stolen scans, stolen translations... Pay sites... We've been asked on several occasions to arbitrate these types of disputes. Let me first say that this is not a duty that I like or enjoy, as I'm sure lamb will concur.

lambchopsil: Same.

Manick: However, the pay sites have been out there for a while, and it's not a problem that's going away any time soon... so some members in the community have fought it by opening free download sites, while others have tried to spread the word. The best we can do is make sure people know what's going on and let them make their own decisions... or at least, help to inform people.

I've always wanted to try to position MU as a neutral entity... This has in some cases caused us to not add features to the site which could otherwise be seen as useful, such as group and release rating. We are a site that's dedicated to reporting the releases, whenever and whatever they may be, so it's important that we project this neutral image to the community, and it's something that I'm very proud of.

While it hurts us to see these types of problems exist in the community, some of them are inevitable, and the best you can do is move on.

Alright, let's wrap this up, what are some of your favorite scanlation groups you have followed over the years?

lambchopsil: I follow series more than scanlation groups, but for a single series, I usually stick with the HQ group.

Manick: Yea, I'd have to say the same... I tend to look for series based on genres and then read based on the criteria... >_<

Care to name some favorite manga series?

Manick: I'm a big fantasy/adventure buff, but I have to admit, I've enjoyed a shoujo/romance or two from time to time, or shounen/romance like One Piece, Skip Beat, Suzuka, Mx0, Gantz, Claymore, Death Note. Lots of popular ones, Ippo, big one.

lambchopsil: Uhh, look at my lists? Negima, Suzuka, Ai Yori Aoshi, Chrno Crusade, Ichigo 100%, Hikaru no Go, Mahoraba, Mx0, 1/2 Prince, Full Metal Alchemist, Kimi no Iru Machi, Open Sesame, Pastel, Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles.

What are some websites you like to visit every day?

Manick: Haha, I have to admit, I don't surf the Internet that much. I typically check the headlines on, check, and then a quick glance at That's about 99% of my surfing right there. I spend most of my time off the computer nowadays.

lambchopsil: Tokyotosho, MangaUpdates, Facebook, AnimeNewsNetwork, Mininova, How-To Geek, TweakGuides, XKCD, Abstruse Goose, LifeHacker, Ars Technica, Tom's Hardware (all in no particular order). As you can see, I'm a anime/manga nerd that's also into computers and the like. Unfortunately, I'm beginning to spend more of my time offline (hanging out with real life friends) or gaming.

Thank you for this (excruciatingly long) interview! Any last words?

Manick: I hope to see the community continue to evolve positively, and hopefully MU will continue to be a part of it.

*By now lambchopsil was too absorbed in playing Mario Kart: Double Dash on his friend's Wii to reply*

Added on August 20: lambchopsil: Sorry about that. During the interview above (which was conducted via IRC), I was actually at a friend's house (two houses in fact, as I left in the middle of the interview to travel from one house to the other). Anyways, I believe manga to be a form of entertainment that has brought many of us much joy. From the translators, proofreaders, editors, and QCers, our sweat and tears give you (the public) what you enjoy most: a good story (and I can say that because we actually had a poll on this back in April 2008). To the scanlators, thank you for your wonderful work. To the fans, keep on reading! May we serve you all down the road~