pnyxtr August 2009

pnyxtr is a staff member of AnimeWaves, MangaScreener, and Entropy. Having been involved in the world of scanlation since the early 2000s, pnyxtr has also helped out various other groups, and wrote several scanlation guides that helped guide a whole generation of new scanlators.

Please introduce yourself! How and when did you get involved with scanlation?

pnyxtr: That's a tricky one. I'm not particularly interested in promoting myself, but I've done everything you can do in scanlation. Anyway, the reason I started was a bit of a combo. I was (very lazily) starting to learn Japanese, and it just so happened that I ended up looking for a new hobby at the same time. I used to build electronics for a hobby, but after working with it for years, you need something different to do in your free time.

Why the name pnytrx?

pnyxtr: The nick comes from the first CS class I ever took. It was always the random string there, used whenever a string was needed, much like 17 was the random number when a number was needed. On a somewhat related note... If you Google for "pnyxtr," you'll also come up with a lot of people who aren't me and who probably had that same professor (a *very* good one, I might add) back in the day.

Can you tell us a bit about AnimeWaves? What kind of group is it? How did you end up being a member of AnimeWaves?

pnyxtr: AW originally came out of a forum called AnimeWaves, hence the illogical name (though there have been anime releases in the past, it's never been a "core activity"). I think the group started around 2002. When I joined in 2003, it was mostly like your typical new shounen group today, no big difference there. And in those days, most of the translations were off the Chinese versions, either official or scanlations. Proofreading was a bit so-so, to put it nicely. So I started editing, but soon realised that there might be some slight tweaks needed to make the process a little less crap, so I started working towards that as well.

Not that much happened with that until relentlessflame joined. And if you'd have to put it in D&D terms, he's very much lawful good. Likes things in order and such ;) which accelerated the process of coming up with a better process a lot. The time after we got that whole thing up and in place, I suppose would be the "golden age" of AW. Fairly decent quality, timely releases, pretty much everything was rolling along smoothly. Though, after being burned by a couple of hostile takeover attempts (or that's my guess, anyway) BadAndy likes centralised control very much, which means after he got out of uni and had to actually work for a living, things went quickly downhill. So now it's more just a social club for the few people left, who like to translate manga as a hobby.

As for what kind of group AW is, well... It's always been centered on manga for the male part of the population. Sure there have been quite a few attempts to do shoujo, but those always petered out after a while. And when I say male, I mean mostly of the young and horny kind ;) Though, that was mostly in the beginning. As members grew up, so did their tastes in manga. Not overnight, the shift has been very gradual. But the AW right now (if it weren't for all those old projects) would be a group still doing the romance manga thing, only of the seinen variety.

Annnddd, to answer that last part, the reason I joined AW and not some other group is that BA was simply the only one to answer my request to join. In retrospect, I can honestly say that the other groups lost out ;)

How was AnimeWaves generally received by the community and the fans? What do you feel were some of the group's most popular or influential titles?

pnyxtr: AW was hugely popular with the readers back then. (Meaning, after things really got going, a couple of years in. Say, 2004 or so.) It was like the mainstream pop of scanlation, and churned out a fair bit, so why wouldn't it be? There wasn't that much of a community back then (and there still isn't, I would argue), so I don't really recall any particular reactions from other people in scanlation. Some were positive, some were not. But there weren't as many venues where people could vent their need for Internet drama, back then.

As for most influential titles, hmm... Pastel was the first huge hit, I think. There were some smaller ones before that, but not on that scale. After that, and to this day, Open Sesame still pulls the youngsters in ;) Of course, the period of time when we got involved in the whole Ichigo 100% mess was also popular. As for best cross between popular and still not too terrible, I'd say Inu Neko Jump. Well, or maybe IO. But that had some rather crap elements at the end there.

Regarding Ichigo 100%, it seems like the project created quite a stir...and AnimeWaves had a rather interesting rivalry going on with to tell us a bit about the competition and the after-effects?

pnyxtr: There was a bit of a stir back then, but I just tried to not get involved, there were a lot of bullshit moves from people on both sides. (And don't ask me about the details, I don't really remember. I do remember that I thought it was petty and lame, anyway.)

You've written guides on both scanning and editing that helped out many new scanlators. How do you feel about today's scanlation scene and the way scanlation techniques have evolved? There doesn't seem to be many guides out there nowadays.

pnyxtr: Technically, things are much better off nowadays, not least because Photoshop got better. One thing that hasn't changed, and that I don't like, is the passivity of most people. What I mean is that, I've created some techniques and programs for editing and scanning and such, but that was just because I thought: "This is bullshit. There must be a better way of doing this." The natural thing to do then is to invent something better. But too many people just sit there and go "Oh well, this is all I've been told how to do, so I'll keep doing things this way until I get bored out of my mind and burn out."

As for how I feel about the scene nowadays, I think there are far too many little assmonkeys who think what matters is how many downloads you get, and that the best way of getting there is to cut in on a popular series that someone else is already doing. But maybe that wasn't what the question was about.

What are some groups or individuals you liked or looked up to throughout the years? Also, are there any groups or projects that you follow?

pnyxtr: I don't think I have anything or anyone I look up to like that, not even in real life. It's one thing to recognise talent in others, another to actually place them on a pedestal and worship them. So I think I'll stick to just the recognising part.

A group that's always been good is MangaScreener. But then, I've been in the group since 2004, so it's a bit of a cop out to say that. Well, I mean, at the time when I got into the whole thing, MangaProject of course was the measuring stick you used to tell if you yourself sucked or not.

You were with MangaScreener for quite a while as to tell us a bit about MangaScreener from back then? What was the group like and how did it operate?

pnyxtr: MS isn't so much run as it just runs by itself. flyingrobots has been the man in charge for as long as I've been in the group, but (besides the fact that the translated pretty much everything) that has mostly extended to writing the updates for the web page, and it works pretty much the same as back then as well. A group with manga that works better with a slightly older crowd doesn't really attract a lot of kids, which means the people who actually end up joining it aren't as likely to have sudden changes of heart.

Have you been involved extensively with any other groups? Having been in groups like MangaScreener and AnimeWaves, what do you see are some common roadblocks all groups encounter? Did any of them have any contacts or run-ins with publishers?

pnyxtr: I'm also in Entropy, and have been involved with others, but not so extensively. I try to not overextend my abilities, I fail miserably, of course, but there you have it. One common roadblock is the centralisation pretty much all groups suffer from. This is all fine when the man/woman in charge is still interested; it's probably more efficient that way (even if there are ways to fix the whole coordination bit if more people are involved). But when he/she loses interest, or Real Life rears its ugly head, things grind to a halt. I'm not normally one to complain when people lose interest or have to deal with other things, this is just a hobby after all, but with group leaders it's a bit different. At least if they haven't previously set up a way for things to go on in their absence. Now, I can think of many perfectly good reasons why you'd want to keep as much control as possible to yourself, as a group leader, but that doesn't mean I have to like it. It's damned inefficient when "disaster" strikes. Not *if*, but *when*.

As for contacts or run-ins with publishers, that varies. Some, like AW, have no run-ins besides a C&D letter or two. Some others (no names, since I'm not entirely sure it's a good thing to say so) have translators that at the same time work on commercial manga.

Did the C&D letter in any way affect AnimeWaves significantly?

pnyxtr: Nah, it didn't change much, that I'm aware of. It just gave BA the final tiny push to get him over the edge of dropping something that most of us wanted to drop already, IIRC, it would have happened anyway. He likes the popular stuff, our BA does ;)

Alright, some general scanlation-related questions. What was the scanlation scene like when you were first introduced to it? What were some of the bigger groups back then and what were the popular trends?

pnyxtr: There wasn't much of a scene at all when I first started (from my point of view). I mean, there were a whole bunch of groups cropping up, probably as a reaction to the "oldies" that came out of #mangscans. But while they probably had some connections through there, the new groups didn't really interact much, that I can recall. In fact, it was a lot less common that people worked for two or more groups, something that's quite common nowadays.

Popular trends, well... I mostly remember technical advances, like the long overdue move from crappy JPEGs to PNG. I don't really remember considering any other group than MangaProject "big" back then, although that's most likely my memory not quite keeping up.

In your view how did the community change over the years? How much did the trends and the centers of the community shift over the years? What do you feel the future holds for scanlation?

pnyxtr: To start with, I'm a bit skeptical about the whole community bit. Most of the people who consider themselves as making up the community, don't actually do anything. Well, except talk, of course. As for the trends and topics of the day, it's two-sided. Nowadays, the "community" shifts with what was popular on 4-chan a week or two back (I exaggerate, but only to make a point), while the people who actually do anything keep doing what they feel like. The change in people who do the actual scanlation is practically none. I mean, those who stuck with it grew up a bit and usually have a slightly different taste now. But as for new people, they're about the same as the new people 5 years ago. Of course, there's an ever-increasing collection of Monday morning quarterbacks, who have never done any scanlation in their lives, that will complain just because they want to look cool. But I think it was around 2005 or so that it reached such an extent that no one actually cares anymore. Well, except the very young and very insecure.

Thank you for your time! Any last words or shout-outs?

pnyxtr: Hey mom! ;)