Spaceman-Spiff September 2009

Spaceman-Spiff has been involved with scanlation since the time of Mangascans. In the early-2000s, Spaceman-Spiff ran a site called MangaDownloads to help host scanlation from other groups such as MangaProject. At the end of 2001, Aosh and Spaceman-Spiff began using the MangaDownloads site as a place to distribute their own scanlation, and in time the download site turned into a scanlation group. In the beginning, Mangadownloads was known for its high-quality One PiecE and Rurouni Kenshin scanlations. After the series became licensed in the U.S., MangaDownloads began to focus most of its attention on manga by Mitsuru Adachi.

Over the years, Spaceman-Spiff has also helped out a variety of other groups, including Aku Tenshi and Omanga. Although current Spaceman-Spiff has retired from the scanlation scene, he still helps manage MangaDownloads's website and forum.

Please introduce yourself!

Spaceman-Spiff: I'm Spaceman-Spiff, and I'm the former leader/project manager of

I started going on IRC regularly in 2000. Back then only #mangascans existed. There weren't a lot of groups around, and a lot of titles were done by one person or two. Along came #MangaProject with their HQ releases. They were probably the first group that started doing releases in a more professional and consistent way. I enjoyed their releases.

Sometime in year 2000–2001, MangaProject lost the file server they used for hosting releases on their website. At the time, I had a hosting account that I didn't use much, so I offered to host their files for their website. I also set up a page for listing all the files I was hosting, and it was named MangaDownloads, with the address At the time, the name was appropriate: it was just a page for downloading manga. I did not do my own projects. All I did was to host other group's releases. Nowadays, I kinda find the name silly, and too generic =P.

Around the same time, I was also offering to host other's HQ projects. Then I met Aosh. Aosh had the goal to do Rurouni Kenshin (RK) and One Piece (OP) in HQ releases. I checked the first 4 chapters of his OP releases and immediately fell in love with the series. I also like how neat and organized he was with his releases, from scanning, cropping, to naming the filenames properly. I offered to help him edit, and he taught me the basics and guidelines. After a while, I started helping with scans too, and we recruited more people. Aosh was travelling overseas, so I took over the projects.

For the longest time, we only focused on 2 projects. Then after RK got licensed by Viz, we started picking up other projects. We usually try to do only a few titles so it will be easier to manage. After some time, I started assigning others to become project managers, and I also offloaded some scanning works to Athanor. And after I started working, I became less and less involved with the projects. I now only administrate the website and forums, and no longer involved with the projects anymore.

How did MangaDownloads fit into the community? How was it received by the community?

Spaceman-Spiff: Not so sure. We've always been quite small, we kept the number of projects low. We had a number of devoted regulars, but it's not a big number. Our IRC channel is almost always under 100 people.

What do you feel were some of the biggest roadblocks MangaDownloads encountered throughout its life? Did MangaDownloads ever get in trouble with any publishers or organizations?

Spaceman-Spiff: Can't remember much. Probably getting active translators is one of the hardest thing. One of the best translators we had was Ronny Hedin. Back then he said that he would do any Mitsuru Adachi titles, so we tried to do as many Adachi manga that we can get our hands on. It really feels different when the entire series is translated only by 1 translator. The flow and consistency of the translations feel so much better.

As far as I can remember, we never got into trouble with the official publishers. We stop doing and distributing the titles that are licensed, so we never received like a DMCA takedown notice or anything like that.

Scanlation groups were pretty well organized back then, how was MangaDownloads managed? What was it like working at MangaDownloads?

Spaceman-Spiff: Back then, I managed almost everything in MD, from scanning to managing projects and website. It was a lot of work, but I had a lot of free time back in college. Nowadays I have retired from all projects, and they're all run by Athanor.

What do you feel is MangaDownloads's most popular or influential project?

Spaceman-Spiff: It changes through time since we stop doing titles when they're licensed. I think back then when we just started, Rurouni Kenshin was the most popular one. Right now, the Adachi series are the current popular projects.

Any MangaDownloads staff not currently present that you'd like to mention or talk about? Any memorable story you would like to share with the readers about MangaDownloads?

Spaceman-Spiff: We had a lot of staff during 8–9 years. I'd like to thank everyone, especially those who stayed many years, even as supporters on IRC or the forum. Some of them are:

The beginning years:
- Aosh: for starting the projects
- purin: my former first mate
- crsandus: filehoster
- livermouse, suiren, _Bnu, Shinwei: editors
- Doku, Kefky: proofreaders

The middle ages:
- Latin_D: project managers of many Adachi titles
- Ronny Hedin:, translator for many Adachi titles and more
- Doku: great proofreader for many years
- doodootoo: awesome editor & double-page-joiner-specialist
- MmeFleiss: editor, translator and many other things
- Eugene: file hoster for many years till present
- Athanor: scanner for many projects
- ocean & kyoh: occasional translation help
- Rynor, Pet, cornflake, petr: editors
- aznmirkwoodelf: channel groupie editor/graphic help

The current years:
- Athanor: current leader and project manager for all current projects
- Stephen, translator of many titles
- Pet, long time editor
- many other new staffs that I'm not aware of ^^;

I met a lot of talented, creative, and interesting people in the scanlation business (not just MD staff). I still talk to some of them occasionally and some of us became close friends IRL.

What are you up to these days? When and why did you retire from MangaDownloads and scanlation in general? What's the current status MangaDownloads? What does the future hold for the group?

Spaceman-Spiff: Work, and other things. I stopped doing scanlations when I started doing full-time job. I still help occasionally with administering the website/forums, but nothing involving the projects. The group is still running and actively releasing stuff, just someone else is running it (Athanor).

You were also involved with many other groups, could you tell us a bit about some of them? In particular, Aku Tenshi and Omanga?

Spaceman-Spiff: I had been helping a few groups with website/forum hosting (nothing involving projects).

On Aku Tenshi: I knew the founders of Aku Tenshi from a different forum before they started the group, and am still good friends with them now. They're a fun crowd to hang out with. I can't remember if I ever read AT releases, I think most of them are not my cup of tea (plenty of shounen-ai stuff).

On Omanga: I helped Omanga with forum hosting. I was not involved with their projects, though I enjoyed reading some of them. Sadly, I'm no longer in contacts with any of the staffers anymore.

What are some of your favorite scanlation groups or projects you have followed over the years? Were there anyone or any group you looked up to in particular?

Spaceman-Spiff: It's hard to say because usually either I like the manga, but dont like the project quality, or the other way around. Back then, only a few that had both, and one of them that I can still remember is Gokusen from Ushi. Gokusen was one of my fav series, and the translation and editing quality done by Ushi.

I also liked reading some seinen/josei series from MangaScreener and Omanga.

How do you feel about the current state of scanlation? What do you feel is the future for scanlation?

Spaceman-Spiff: The scanlation scene feels very different nowadays. There are many smaller groups and independent releases. Speed seems to be very important, everyone's racing to release faster. A lot more groups are doing magazine scans, as oppose to book (tankoubon) scans.

I could be wrong, since I'm no longer active in the scene. I can only say from the few releases I still occasionally read.

Thank you for your time! Any last words?

Spaceman-Spiff: Boy, that was a lot longer than expected.