SHADE September 2009

SHADE is the co-founder and leader of The New Ranma Project, a project started in 1999 to scanlate Ranma ½ due to Viz's slow release of the manga. The project used available Ranma ½ found online, and was able to reach the end of the series within a single year.

Please introduce yourself!

SHADE: Hiya! ^_^

Name is SHADE, don't use my real name online in any way so that's as good a name as any. Kind of a professional fanboy. Back at the time of the scanlation project, I was living at home, living cheap off the inheritance when my dad passed away and generally being a fairly useless lump. Enjoying my hobbies a bit too much and sinking all my time into them, which is why I was able to do such a massive scanlation project all in one year, cause I wasn't doing much else.

My fandom for Ranma ½ continues to this day and I've actually turned it into a paying job, making hentai parody comics of Ranma ½. Currently we are located at: (18 & over only please)

Tell us a bit about how you first got into the whole manga translation/scanlation scene, what was the online community like at the time?

SHADE: Mmmm.

Was never really part of the 'scene,' as it were. Our work was something of a large scale fluke. I did not interact to any particular degree with other scanlators. Our work was based on scripts already found around the net, as I can't actually read japanese myself. Thus our work was kind of a one shot, with no way to get further into the 'scene.'

Tell us a bit about The New Ranma Project... how did it get started? What was it like starting such a project at the time?

SHADE: It was the convergence of several key factors. A search of the net turned up a nearly complete set of translation scripts that had already been done by a variety of other people. I located at a locate anime fan store a complete set of imported Japanese Ranma books, and I bought a scanner. These three together allowed me to start, but with some 4,000 pages to do, it was far too much for me alone.

I was a big follower of Usenet at the time, and posted what chapters I was able to get done on my own to, and asked for volunteer help to help me finish. I got quite a lot of help, and was the coordinator that kept them all together, I did all the scans, sent them to the volunteers (over dial up!), and they put words to the pictures and sent them back for me to post.

What about the original Ranma ½ Project by Doyoma, what happened to that?

SHADE: Couldn't really say. He was definitely my inspiration to start. He did a handful of chapters ahead of where Viz was, but he seemed to have stopped, so I picked up the baton and carried on. I never did actually communicate with him directly, so I don't know why he quit.

What were some of the biggest roadblocks The New Ranma Project encountered? Did it ever attract any attention from Viz?

SHADE: Just the sheer number of pages really. And getting volunteers to actually do any work. I got about 75 volunteers, but only 25 of them went even so far as to complete a single chapter. A lot of people thought it sounded like a good idea, but then flaked out when they discovered it involved actual...y'know...WORK.

I never got any direct comment from it on Viz. However someone I know who visits conventions a lot talked to a Viz representative at an anime con and obliquely mentioned fan translations, and they said they were fine with it as long as it was done legally (that is to say they are free translations that the scanlator makes no money from), which was the case for us, so no worries apparently.

So what's it like running The New Ranma Project? Tell us about your day-to-day operation!

SHADE: LOT of scanning. Took four months of many hours a day just to do all the scanning. 4,000 pages is a LOT. Beyond that it was lots and lots of emailing, waiting for things to upload and download. Cajole and pester volunteers to do what they'd promised. Post the pages to Usenet, beg for more help, rinse repeat for 9 months. Was pretty all consuming.

What were some of the techniques and tools you guys used back in the days to scanlate and coordinate the project?

SHADE: I used Jasc Software's Paint Shop Pro 5 at the time. Later on I upgraded to PSP6, which is still my preferred art program to this day, even though they advanced many versions beyond that, they got clunky and bloated so I stick with the one that to me is the best balance of speed and effectiveness.

Pretty much all the graphics work and the scanning were done using that.

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

SHADE: MMmm. Since it was a volunteer project and I chatted a great deal with the various translators, I got to meet a lot of fellow fans through the project. Some flakes, but also some wonderful people. One in particular stands out to me, went by the handle of Tomcat at the time. He was older than most of the others and we had more meaningful, adult conversations than most of my other helpers who tended to be younger.

He was having some issues with his then girlfriend, and was turning to many of his friends for advice. And they had just about to a man said some variant of 'bitch is crazy dump her.' I was the only one that did not say that and we talked far into the night about what was REALLY the problem and if she was worth sorting out the problems or moving on. He decided she was worth it.

Last I talked with him they're married, a kid or two, deliveriously happy. All past problems solved and happy couple.

Just goes to show if you take the time to make a personal connection with whoever you are working with, you can really have a positive influence on someone's life. Even if it's in an area where you may not think you'd really make any kind of personal impact.

So how did the project end up? Was it a success? What happened afterwards?

SHADE: Totally successful. We scanlated all 235 chapters from a bit ahead of where Viz was at the time, clear to the end. The final two books especially we really put our all into, doing a full translation, even all the sound effects.

Afterwards...most of the volunteers drifted away quite quickly. Most of them I lost touch with and haven't heard from in years. A small handful, though, I still correspond with and try to keep in touch. I know at least one or two are current fans to this day of my hentai Ranma work as well.

What are you up to nowadays? Do you pay any attention to modern-day scanlations? If so, what do you think of them?

SHADE: Well, as I mentioned above, my Ranma fandom continues in a new form. As I can't read Japanese, my scanlating days ended when our project was complete. It could only work with a series that already had scripts written for it, and that was kind of a unique thing back then.

I see that most modern scanlations are unflipped, reading in the original Japanese order. Our project is very old, having finished some 10 years ago, so back then that was just not done, so our work was flipped. Now that I've gotten used to the unflipped books I much prefer them, so I regret in a way we weren't trailblazers in leaving them unflipped. Ah well. So in that regard the new ones are generally better and truer to the manga.

But we did the best we could with what we had at the time. It was quite a long time ago. Amazing really to think how long it's been.

I've read some scanlations through Onemanga. One in particular I'm following lately is Negima, which I have bought all the commercially available books but the scanlations are some 50 chapters ahead, so I read those too. Awesome series right up there in my heart with Ranma ½.

Alright, let's wrap this up, what are some of your favorite scanlation groups or projects you have followed over the years? Any particular individual or group you respected?

SHADE: Can't really say sadly. I didn't really keep up with them after our project was completed. The only one I kept in touch with even at the time was Studio Robb.

Very nice guy. Also worked on Ranma ½ way back then. Seems to have gotten out of scanlating since though.

Thank you for your time! Any last words?

SHADE: I hope everyone will do their best to support the commercial versions when they are released and not just download scanlations. As I work now in fan comics I find that people expect everything to be free, but it's SO much work to make these things and it's super hard to make a living. So remember that somewhere real artists are toiling to make this great stuff for you, and scanlations are great but buy the real thing when it comes out! ^_^