Starakin July 2009

Starakin is a former editor for the group Dual Translations. After Dual Translations disbanded sometime around 2002, Starakin went on to work for various other scanlation groups and even created his own manga hosting site called LoveHina Party. According to LoveHina-Party's About page:

Hi there, this is Starakin from I worked as a project manager for Devil & Devil and did a few edits here and there.

Unfortunately, I don't have enough time now to edit like before (and neither to wait in the queue line at the channel). So supporting the community by providing a host really sounded as a good idea.

Well, I don't have much to write about now. Just start downloading, tell your friends, share with them and thank the people who spent the time and effort to deliver those materials ready for you..

And never forget to support the original author by buying his work!

Since closing LoveHina-Party in 2007, Starakin has been working as a member of Manga-Sketchbook.

Please introduce yourself!

Starakin: Hello, this is Starakin, a manga editor who first started in Dual Translations. Along the way I had some contributions in other scanlation groups too, including: Toriyama's World, MangaScreener, SnoopyCool, and recently Manga-Sketchbook.

In your opinion, what are some of the big differences between the groups you've been involved with?

Starakin: This is a difficult question.

Toriyama's World: Was oriented more toward North American readers, thus it tried to localize as much as possible. Also, it was the strictest in quality; all releases had to be checked throrughly by one person.

MangaScreener: Very fun place with a mature culture. Picked unusual types of titles to introduce to the scanlation world. Very responsible and committed in handling its projects.

SnoopyCool: This is somewhere in the middle. Most projects were chosen by Snoopy, and members contributed in what they enjoyed the best. And for one, I sure did like it. It was very organized with time plan that spanned for months ahead.

Manga-Sketchbook: the most liberal I believe. Think about it as different individuals releasing under one name. People worked on what they believed others from around the globe would appreciate.

Tell us a bit about Dual Translations, what kind of group was it? Why was it called "Dual Translations"?

Starakin: Dual Translations (often shortened to DT), used to be one of the primary scanlation groups in the scene from 2001–2002.

Why was it called DT? Some may wonder. According to senior folks on the IRC channel, DT started as a small doujin translation group. The "Dual" referred to two parts of the female anatomy (hint: breasts). *cough*

The team members varied in age, from 16–30 years old, and their attitude varied as well, from nice and helpful to bashing newbies. All in all, it was an interesting mix and a very fun place to hang around.

Tell us a bit about the scene back when Dual Translations was still around, what was it like? How was Dual Translations received by others from the community?

Starakin: DT considered scanlation as an opportunity to promote unlicensed manga to the North American market. That ideal didn't appeal to staff or fans who reside outside the U.S.A., but that's how things were controlled.

During that time, almost everyone in the scanlation world knew each other. DT held a good relationship with most, and their choices of scanlation titles were well-perceived by others.

Scanlation groups were pretty well-organized back then, how was Dual Translations organized? Also tell us a bit about the group's founder GenmaC.

Starakin: GenmaC was a charismatic leader. He was on good terms with many groups' founders. He was also the main financial supporter for DT's hosting and acquired most of the manga books used in scanlation.

Inside DT, every project had a manager. That simplified overseeing tasks to translators and editors. A project manager was mainly chosen in accordance to their interests; for example, if they brought a title in and convinced others, then they're the project manager. Sometimes every volume had a manager, to rotate the position among other staff when applicable, or to prevent someone from disappearing and stalling the progress (laughs).

All releases were proofed and checked prior. Then after collecting a few chapters, a release was scheduled and files were pushed to the website by the webmaster.

What do you feel was Dual Translations's most popular or influential project?

Starakin: Without a second thought, it was the romance title Love Hina. DT's fame soared after inheriting it from Mangascans. A large active community followed up. Many of the fans had their first manga encounter with Love Hina after getting hooked up by the anime. So DT kind of served as a starting point to many people for the scanlation world.

Other titles introduced by DT proved to be popular even years later: Saishuu Heiki Kanojo (SaiKano) & Hellsing.

The most influential project to me was the shounen manga Devil & Devil. I became a project manager for the remaining 9 volumes (out of 15) of the series. The fast paced releases of 1 volume per week had earned me quite a few titles in the scanlation community such as "mad editor." But in fact, it was all due to the availability of "Ronny's Crappy Translation" scripts. (In the end this section was a shameless plug, laughs)

Do you remember when Mangascans dropped Love Hina? How and why did Dual Translations picked up the series?

Starakin: I wasn't around at the time, but I believe it was like this: Mangascans scanlated all the available 8 volumes. While waiting for the 9th, the group closed/disbanded. DT picked it up since darkshard and GenmaC were friends. The scanlation project of Love Hina went into a transition period, which explains the ultra low quality of the 9th volume.

Some have mentioned that the quality of Dual Translations's Devil & Devil was extremely high for its time. Why did Dual Translations decide to produce such a high-quality project? Any special techniques, methods or tools you used that distinguished it from other projects?

Starakin: I'm not clear on who brought the project in, maybe it was GenmaC. The script was available from Ronny. The scans were acquired from GenmaC's friend, ThunderCloud. What's left was a matter of interest in the story, and it was a fun shonen.

It is a bit surprising to hear others mention the quality. Considering the raw scans used were average. But I believe that's due to a very simple reason: basics!

Scans were cleaned and leveled to remove the paper artifacts while preserving as much details as possible. Some cloning was done when necessary. Though only one font was used, it was consistent in size unless to emphasize dialog according to the original script. The most notable thing was fixing spread pages. It was uncommon at the time since it involved a lot of redrawing. People would simply leave it as it is with gutter cutting vertically through, or cover it with a white rectangle hiding it along with original art. I didn't like that and tried my best to reproduce the original art. It was well perceived inside and outside the group.

Today even with so many tutorials prepared by the community, there are still releases that are not cleaned nor resized, or washed out scans and unreadable fonts. As a reader, I find it difficult to overcome all these while trying to enjoy a manga.

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

Starakin: It started as a prank in the forum, a fake chapter of Love Hina volume 15 was released to the public. The manga was officially completed at 14th volume. But using their claimed "special" connections, DT secured a copy of the new volume directly from the author himself, Ken Akamatsu. In truth, the fake chapter was only a compilation of panels from previous volumes with lousy script.

It was released on the 1st of April, yet some people didn't get the joke and kept asking for the remaining chapters even after a year had passed.

Dual Translations didn't seem to have a good relationship with MangaProject. On the Dual Translations website, there is a section called "Anti-MangaProject" (AMP), what was that about?

Starakin: The "Anti-Manga Project" website was a subset of DT that translated hentai. The main series offered title was Yui Shop. It was started by GenmaC and two other members, a webmaster and translator. There was no particular incident on why it was named Anti-Manga Project, most likely to troll MP. The website was updated much like today's blog format, and posts were filed under different categories, mainly college and work. The releases soon got stalled as soon as the translator got busy with life.

How and why did DT disband? What led you to create LoveHina-Party?

Starakin: As soon as TokyoPop acquired Love Hina, the scanlation project was discontinued. Looking at the fact that most staff members joined to contribute to this title, it was easy to predict how things would end up. Still, DT scanlation continued for a long while after that (can't estimate how much, though). But members slowly moved to other scanlation groups that matched their interest, or they got caught up with their personal lives like college or work.

At that time, most of the scanlation groups relied on IRC to distribute their releases, so it crossed my mind to offer something back to the community. That was how the LoveHina-Party website was introduced. The name was originally used as DT's official IRC channel for a long time and was then discarded. It was my way to reminisce the old days.

After that, DT became yet another small community for people who once had fun with each other to hang around. Then one day the site disappeared. I think GenmaC had graduated from college and pulled the power plug of his server.

What are you up to nowadays?

Starakin: Every time I think to myself "this is going to be my last project," someone brings up an interesting title, and I end up getting involved one way or another. Currently I'm a full-time employee and that is taking its toll. There is hardly any free time left to enjoy this hobby, but I still have fun editing whenever I do.

What do you predict is the future for scanlation?

Starakin: As long as manga is published, scanlation will exist. There is always new blood joining the scene. However, I feel that more groups are jumping on each other's project in a way that makes little difference to the reader (and it's a waste of energy). If it is competition then it is a good thing, but it could also be invested in other forms, such as trying out different titles, authors, or even magazines. There should be many other titles waiting to be picked.

There are tens of releases every day. It is nearly impossible to check out all new titles, so I'd prefer to enjoy a few quality titles over reading dozen titles that are almost the same story/genre–wise.

What are some of your favorite scanlation groups or projects you have followed over the years?

Starakin: My interest changes over time, so I will only mention the scanlation groups that I followed closely for the longest time here (in alphabet order):

1. Manga-Sketchbook
2. MangaScreener
3. SnoopyCool

I hope the last two make a comeback soon.

There are also several one-man scanlation groups worth mentioning, since their contributions were highly regarded by other scanlation staff. They're:

4. MangaTranslation (GTO, Tenjou Tenge)
5. Salad Dressings (Salad Days)
6. Shalone7 (Eat-man, Hotman)

Thank you for your time! Any last words?

Starakin: I wish for people working in the scanlation scene to keep three things in mind: it is your time you're spending, so spend it wisely. Consider finishing what you've started. And have fun!

I'm currently keeping guard in DT's the sister channel, #animemp3s on Rizon. If any of you old folks are reading this, drop by and let us hear the news!