MiMi July 2009
MangaArt initially started out as a private mailing list founded by MiMi-chan at the beginning of 2002. In her quest to expose people to the world of manga, she gathered some people from her mailing list, and they began "scanlating" manga, which was then distributed to the mailing list members. However, to further spread the love outside of the mailing list, this founding group of people soon formed the group Rebellious Angels and expanded their releases through #MangaProject on IRC. Eventually on May 24, 2002, the name of the group was changed to MangaArt, and a permanent #MangaArt channel was set up.
Throughout the years MangaArt spawned many other scanlation groups, including Manga-Mania and Solaris-SVU. After MiMi retired from the scanlation scene, MangaArt went through several leaders, including MidnightStar amd its current leader immi.
MiMi: My real name is Jin Hee Moon. I'm a 1.5 generation Korean American. I used to live in Las Vegas while I was running MangaArt. I stopped being MangaArt's head coordinator in 2007 after I started going to college at the University of Washington. I have since graduated and is working in Korea as an English Teacher.
MiMi: MangaArt is a group about shoujo manga. I thought of the name because, unlike shounen manga, shoujo manga's artistic quality is so pretty and captivating that it captures the eyes of many females, so I decided to call the group MangaArt. Before MangaArt was a scanlation group, it was a manga newletter for the AOL anime/manga–loving community. I gathered together some people who had translating skills, editing skills, and scanning skills and we formed our own "AOL community scanlation group" called Rebellious Angels. This name was dubbed by one of the original members of MangaArt. I think we all started the group because we had manga that we really loved and wanted to share with others who are less fortunate and cannot read or buy the manga themselves. Remember in those days (2000–2001), shoujo manga was really not that popular. Sailor Moon and Card Captor Sakura were popular, but they do not represent the shoujo genre itself.
MiMi: I think I was introduced to scanlation through MangaProject. There was a sub-scanlation group that scanlated shoujo manga (I forgot the group's name), but she was the only shoujo scanlation group at that time. That group wasn't really a group either because only 2–5 people were helping out scanlating so the progress was really really really slow. Lol. I was angry because I saw all these scanlation groups that concentrated on shounen, hentai, or shouhei manga, but there were very few shoujo scanlations. Also, that one shoujo scanlation group was so limited and so slow that it was pretty painful to watch. Around the same time, I got a hold of Japanese manga. These manga were Daa! Daa! Daa! and Angelique. So in the end, I gathered a few people from the AOL manga/anime shoujo newletter group and formed the MangaArt scanlation team, and our initial scanlation projects consisted of Daa! Daa! Daa! and Angelique.
MiMi: The scanlation community back then was not really competitive and the groups were more open than the groups now. Attitudes changed in a year or so, maybe around like 2002–2003. What changed? So many new groups were formed and started to take other group's projects. These days, the hype of scanlating is dead and there are fewer groups, and everyone is a little more relaxed and easygoing when it comes to scanlation. It's not as competitive as the 2003–2004 periods.
MiMi: We never had any run-ins with publishers. I think. I mean, a lot of our well-known series like Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch and Full Moon wo Sagashite got licensed. It was a bit sad, but I got over it since they were now mainstream manga and everyone can finally read them without having to download them from the Internet. Some of the roadblocks, when I couldn't run MangaArt anymore and I wasn't able to find a replacement to keep MangaArt going. Finally when I found someone, she kind of ditched us and almost gave our manga projects away to another group. I think that was due to lack of responsibility on my part. I am glad Siu/Midnight and immi were there because nowadays I don't know what is going on or in scanlation these days. I don't know if competition with other scanlation groups is also considered a "run-in," but we had that as well.
MiMi: Hmm... Well... there isn't really a big difference between shounen scanlation groups and shoujo scanlation groups. I mean, I guess shounen scanlation groups might have more males involved in their projects and they are generally faster than shoujo groups in my point of view. Shoujo scanlation groups are generally female-oriented and are a bit slower since they scanlate during their spare time. I don't really understand the second part of the question but yeah... generally readers don't understand the time it takes to scanlate manga. They take it for granted and think that scanlators don't really have anything to do, but we do have lots of thing to do besides scanlating, so they can't expect manga to be scanlated quickly just so they can read what they want to read. It's a hobby and it's non-profit, so readers need to deal with the slow speed of scanlation.
MiMi: Ohh... yes... This is the part I don't like about scanlating. When MangaArt was formed, one of our popular series was Full Moon wo Sagashite. It was one of our best titles that got people to read our scanlations. When we got to chapter 16, a group called Starry Heaven started to produce a low-quality version chapter 17 of Full Moon wo Sagashite. I was really upset because we worked so hard on these projects and then another group comes and tries to steal it by releasing low-quality version of the manga. There were other manga that were almost stolen from us, like Let's Get Married and Nagatachou Strawberry. I am not sure if they were high-quality but I knew about it, so either way, I didn't like the dirty attitudes that some scanlation groups had in 2002–2003. I was got so exhausted over the drama that I really didn't want to handle MangaArt after I graduated from my high school.
MiMi: Not sure about the future of MangaArt. I am not sure if I will ever go back because I am too busy with my real life to consider running it again. Also, my ambition to scanlated had died down throughout the years, so it will be hard to restart it again. Whether or not we can go on for another 8th year, or 9th year, or 10th year, I think I had fun scanlating and have gotten many good memories from it. There were some bad memories but I believe it was a great experience for me. I loved the times when the IRC channel was filled with chats and jokes.
MiMi: Not sure? Lol... I don't really read scanlation that much anymore since I would just buy my shoujo zasshi Nakayoshi. Even though I haven't bought any lately, I only read shoujo manga that I still really like, so I don't think I have any recommendations.
MiMi: Hm... I don't think I really looked up to anyone that much. I mean I like how Siana ran ShoujoMagic, but never really envied her or anything. When it comes to projects, I am glad our famous projects like Daa! Daa! Daa! and Let's Get Married were finished. My favorite project was Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch, but it was dropped due to licensing. Now only if they would finish Nagatachou Strawberry and Angelique :)
MiMi: There were a few influential projects. In the beginning, the project that was most popular was Dice. Full Moon wo Sagashite and Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch was popular too but became licensed pretty quick. One of the most popular manga that lasted for a long time has to be Daa! Daa! Daa!, which was around 12 volumes long if you include Shin! Daa! Daa! Daa!. Let's Get Married was also really popular along with Nagatachou Strawberry, but it seems like we are short on staff to finish the Nagatachou Strawberry manga. I think they will try to finish it now though. Not really sure about the other manga though.
MiMi: When you think about it, MangaArt's shoujo-style is technically my style of shoujo manga. I love Nakayoshi and Ribon manga. I am grateful that the current staff of MangaArt still continue to finish up my projects. I believe once they are finished with old projects, they might go for more mature shoujo projects that suit their styles more. I would like them to continue cutesy and cuddly shoujo manga but hehe... it's their scanlation now and I don't mind what projects they do in the future as long as it's shoujo-related. LOL.