When asking anyone who was involved in the scanlation scene since before 2007 about release tracking, one site comes to mind, Manga Jouhou, better known as MangaNews.net. Between the periods of 2003 to 2007, Manga Jouhou was home to unlicensed scanlation release tracking, a database on scanlators and their projects, daily manga news reports, manga reviews, articles, mangaka and publisher information, as well as a vibrant forum. By 2005, Manga Jouhou began reporting regular manga news, and soon became one of the premier English news and information website dedicated to manga. At its height, Manga Jouhou was the place fans went to for manga news and scanlation information, the site stood at the crossroads of the scanlation community.
Manga Jouhou was created in January of 2003. Before Manga Jouhou, the scanlation scene had very few ways of tracking new manga releases, there was Noated's manga section, but in 2002 Noated ceased operation for an extended period of time due to its founder leaving. There was DailyManga, but the site was French-based, which turned off many fans. With the number of scanlation groups and releases increasing, going to each individual group's IRC channel or website to look for the latest scanlation was inefficient; people needed a better way to keep track of new releases.
That was when Deathscythe (Manga Jouhou's founder) posted a thread on Something Awful's manga forum ADTRW and the ArsAnime community to pitch his idea of a manga release tracker. Many people were interested by the idea, and soon a group was formed to work on the website: Deathscythe was the visionary and led the effort, garamir was the main programmer behind the website and made the first layout, [aa]fiz was in charge of the website style, Kurama created the banner, Firedog and Ryvius helped Deathscythe with updating the content and releases.
The name Manga Jouhou stands for "Manga Information." At first the site was only available at mangajouhou.com. People from ArsAnime felt that the URL was not good and suggested using better names, like manganews.net. Eventually, mangajouhou.com and manganews.net pointed to the same site, and in no time manganews.net became the primary URL for Manga Jouhou.
Manga Jouhou was first hosted on a server provided by sADTRW, ADTRW's scanlation group. The server was outdated and unstable, and the site went down frequently. Two months later, Manga Jouhou switched to Racknine. After running out of bandwidth three times on Racknine, Jouhou switched to ChamberGates at the suggestion of many scanlation groups. As the site grew, Manga Jouhou eventually switched to a dedicated host called ServInt.
At first, Manga Jouhou's staff stayed in multiple scanlation groups' IRC channel to keep track of each group's new release. As more and more people came to rely on Manga Jouhou for release tracking, soon groups went voluntarily to Manga Jouhou's channel, #jouhou, to announce their release with the command !MJRELEASE. The command became so popular that people often used it in DailyManga and MangaUpdates's channel mistake. A Missed Release forum was also set up for people to announce their releases. Soon selected people from each scanlation group were given "watcher" accounts so they could add new releases themselves.
Between 2003 and 2004, Deathscythe (and later Firedog) updated Manga Jouhou's news. Updates mainly consisted of news relevant to scanlation such as groups forming, new project lineups, changes in a group's website or IRC server and small features like Scanlation of the Week. Manga Jouhou's forum became a place where members from different scanlation groups would gather and discuss the latest happenings in the scene and exchange information and scanlation techniques. There was also a board that groups used to hire staff while freelance translators, editors and scanners offered their services. By 2004, Manga Jouhou was by all intent and purposes the biggest hub within the scanlation community, a community where people went for the latest news and information.
Manga Jouhou became so popular that the money it made from Google AdSense was more than enough to pay for the site's dedicated hosting, and leftovers were saved to be used for various promotional events and prizes. One person even created an external application called MangaNUR that tried to simplify the process of aggregating new release updates; however, the software did not gain a big enough user base, and was later abandoned by its creator.
In late 2004, Manga Jouhou's news updates began to slow down. In December of 2004, Jouhou suffered another setback when its phpBB forum was hacked and lost all the data. Although a new forum powered by vBulletin was created, without all the old threads and posts and with almost no news updates, Manga Jouhou's traffic suffered and the site relied on its release aggregation to stay relevant in the community.
In early 2005, Eclipse joined Manga Jouhou as a News Editor, and was soon made into a regular staff and later an administrator while taking care of many of Manga Jouhou's regular operations. Manga Jouhou began focusing on reporting regular manga news from the U.S. and Japan, as well as manga serialization information, instead of solely reporting scanlation-related news. Slowly, Manga Jouhou's news began to attract not only people from within the scanlation community, but also general anime and manga fans. In July 2005, Manga Jouhou launched its new Review Department. Later that year, Floating_Sakura joined Manga Jouhou as a reviewer and soon became a regular staff.
Between 2005 and 2006, with interesting manga news and reviews, Manga Jouhou was one of the premier English sources for U.S. and Japan manga news, and began developing itself into a more professional organization, going as far as working with U.S. manga publishers to receive press releases and review copies of unreleased manga. Thanks to its positive relationship with the scanlation scene, Manga Jouhou also enlisted many people from around the community to help out with news translation, proofreading, reviews and other work. However, due to its move to become a more professional manga site, Manga Jouhou did not place as much focus as it used to on its scanlation-related operations, resulting in other sites like MangaUpdates to rise and overtake Manga Jouhou as the premier scanlation release and information site.
At the end of 2005, in his end-of-the-year review, Firedog had the following to say about Jouhou:
This has also been a banner year here at Manga Jouhou. We have done much to improve the site, and work daily to continue to improve. First and foremost, we have worked hard to prove that we ARE the internet's first and best source for all your manga related news. With a lot of our info coming either directly from American publishers or straight from Japanese sources, we offer much that can be found nowhere else. The entire news staff is to be commended, but I'd like to individually thank Eclipse for all his hard work. Despite only a year on staff, he's largely responsible for most of the changes you see in our daily news. His tireless work to improve the news that IS the core of "Manga News" is remarkable, and much appreciated by everyone.
One of the other big improvements here at Manga Jouhou is in the field of reviews. Our year long recruiting drive has given us a large and highly competent review staff that also has been working tirelessly to give to you timely and well written reviews and articles on any number of titles and topics. I'll not list everyone for fear of forgetting someone and having to spend the next year living it down, but I want my entire review staff to know that I am proud of them and all they have accomplished. In addition to the excellent work you all have done to create a steady stream of reviews for everyone to enjoy reading, you also have to put up with a moody head editor. I don't say this nearly enough, but... thanks.
And lastly we come to the hardest working people at all, our coders. Most of what they do goes on beyond public eyes, so most of you reading this don't get to see the time and effort they put into keeping this site running. They have been working hard to re-write or re-work a huge chunk of the site's code; code that has been written as needed and patched over more times then anyone can count. The changes they have done and continue to do makes all the magic that the news team and review team does possible, and they are working even now to bring major innovations to the site.
It's almost impossible to guess where the manga world is heading in the year to come, but I expect that it will be one wild ride. We here at Manga Jouhou want to thank you for your dedication to our site, and for coming back to us time and time again, helping us to become and continue to be the best place on the net for any and all manga related news, reviews, and articles. Many changes and improvements are on their way, so strap yourselves in and prepare for another exciting year in the world of manga. See you in 365 days!
On April 17th, 2006, Manga Jouhou launched ComiPress, a spin-off site to expand its news coverage:
Manganews.net Launches ComiPress: MJ is proud to announce the launch of ComiPress Beta, a new project that aims to provide the most comprehensive information on both U.S. and Japanese publishers, magazines, and serialization informations. ComiPress is composed of the following projects:
Currently in its Beta stage, please do understand that some features of ComiPress may not be working. Feel free to contact Eclipse if you wish to help contribute, suggestions are welcome.
A big thanks to everyone who helped making ComiPress a reality, especially NeoSam for all his contributions to the magazine guide, Floating_Sakura and ocean for the serialization informations, and Blue-Ghost for taking the Magazine Guide out of Bloggers ;)
In August 2006, due to disagreements with Deathscythe over the direction Manga Jouhou is heading and the way Jouhou is organized, Eclipse left to focus on developing ComiPress, which was re-launched as an independent manga news website. Since then, Floating_Sakura took over Manga Jouhou's News Department, while Firedog took charge of Jouhou's Review Department.
Manga Jouhou continued to grow throughout 2007, providing consistent manga news while offering frequent manga reviews thanks to its ever-expanding review team. At one point, Manga Jouhou even opened a staff blog powered by WordPress called Manga Pontification. Unfortunately, almost no one ever posted on the blog, and the blog was soon abandoned. Manga Jouhou began to lose steam in late 2008, with Floating_Sakura and a number of its reviewers becoming inactive, soon Manga Jouhou's news (which was the site's main attraction at that point) slowed to a crawl, and new manga reviews appeared infrequently.
In spring of 2009, most of Manga Jouhou's staff were either inactive or missing. Deathscythe, having lost interest and motivation long ago, decided to retire. The site was given to Firedog, who proceeded to switched Manga Jouhou from its dedicated host to DreamHost. By June 2009, with no manga news, infrequent reviews and scanlation releases updated much slower, Manga Jouhou was no longer the major scanlation hub it used to be, leaving that spot to newer sites like MangaUpdates and MangaHelpers. In August 2009, with the introduction of a new News Director, Manga Jouhou once again began to post manga news and reviews, but was no longer providing new scanlation-related content beyond release tracking.
Updates were few and far between in 2010 and 2011 as former staff moved on with their lives. Finally, at the beginning of 2012, Manga Jouhou's website was hacked. The incident became the final nail in the coffin, and so ends one of the most successful release trackers of its time.
A successful site is nothing without its staff, and Manga Jouhou is no exception. Below are some staff profiles and interviews conducted mostly in 2006 in preparation for a History of Manga Jouhou feature (which never happened).
*Note that since most of these profiles were written in 2006, some time-sensitive informations were excluded. Also some personal informations were removed.
Who are you and when did you join MJ?
Since I created it does that mean I was here before the beginning? My function: Finance / Admin / Founder.
Give finances to the people who require them. Give advice as needed.
Your vision for Manga Jouhou?
1) Make a website based around user submissions for news and reviews.
2) Cool Cover stories so that people will read them and submit them
3) Make a more offical look to the website
When did you join MJ?
Always been here.
As a founding father I have done a bit of everything for the site at one point in time or another. Currently I head up the Reviews section and assist Eclipse on his various projects when asked.
Your manga history?
I don't really remember what manga I first read, but in scanlated form I think it would be Crunchy Cheese's Hellsing scanlations. I found out at the time that finding manga online was a real chore; the lack of any central site for scanlations made it so you would have to spend a lot of time digging around to find releases, and you never knew what to expect from a series till you hunted it down because there were no manga reviews to be had for most titles, and no sites really working to review them. I heard DS was planning on opening a manga news site, sort of an AoD or ANN for manga, and knew it was an idea whose time had come. I offered to help and became the site's first Editor, initially doing the bulk of the news work, while writing reviews on the side. Eventually I passed on the news torch to others with more time to read other sites then I had, and it ended up being passed into Eclipse's very capable hands. Doing so left me free to kill off the old review team and review process we had set up and rebuild it anew from the ashes into the great team we have now.
Watching anime and reading manga, of course, drawing, painting, writing, reading, and doing various computer related things.
Random Factoid: For someone that has spent years helping to run the largest English based manga site, I don't read a great deal of manga. Most of the time I might have 4–5 series I follow that's being released in the US, and another 4-5 in scanlations, tops.
Tell us about your discovery of and involvement of Manga Jouhou?
As a member of ADTRW I volunteered to help with the new site. I was personally responsible for the vast majority of the new release list for the first several months. Then I graduated and had to move back home, the lack of broad band meant a decrease in internet time. Alas MJ suffered. I promise to resolve that. It's hard to keep up with 56k. I look forward to reacquainting myself with all of you.
Join Date: around 08/01/03; Function: Site Coder / Admin / Release Watcher
What is your vision for Manga Jouhou?
1) Unite Manga Fans, especially those who work to scanlate manga
2) Make it easy for leechers
3) Develop a friendly relationship with North American and Japanese publishers of manga (and stay out of legal trouble)
5) Profit!!! (slashdot joke there)
Journey to the Dark Side (or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Manga)
I had some exposure to anime in the 1990's when the Sci-Fi channel had it's 2nd Annual Anime Marathon. My senior year in high school, a Japanese friend brought some anime into math class after finals. In college, I discovered anime - Rurouni Kenshin via Shinsengumi Fansubs in .rm, Ranma in .rm and .viv, Bubblegum Crisis 2040 in .avi and .mpeg, and Evangelion in .viv, Berserk in .asf. After finishing Kenshin, Eva, and Berserk, I wondered if there was more info I was unaware of - and manga was the answer.
Your discovery of Manga Jouhou
Manganews.net and Dailymanga.org seemed to start at around the same time, and I'm not sure how I discovered them. Possibly via links from scanlator websites, or possibly from people on irc telling me where to find them. I liked manganews.net because 1) It was in English 2) I heard of it before I heard of DailyManga and 3) It listed only unlicensed releases.
Your getting involved?
It was at this point that I decided to "learn web pages" and begged to help code the site's php (guessing the code was in php because of web pages with names like index.php).
Deathscythe replied something like, "well, since none of our coders have touched the site in a while - here's FULL READ/WRITE ACCESS AND PASSWORDS!!!!". (well, he didn't use all caps)
Way too trusting of a dude. Or, maybe he just has a sixth sense about trusting the right people.
Vision for Manga Jouhou?
1) Better code
2) Better organization of code
3) Better organization of access to code and data (but this is more brew's department with the whole source control thing)
Discovery of Manga Jouhou?
Deathscythe happens to be a member of ArsAnime (hence the [aa] tag) where he asked for help with the initial design of the site. At the time, I had just started working with a small software consulting firm that did a lot of web work, so I volunteered to help with the design of the site. My design happened to be chosen as the one to implement (also thanks to a nice banner by ... kurama, I think) and I've been around ever since. More in the coding aspect than design, though. Ultimately, I'm a much better coder than designer...
"Some tidbits about Eclipse as well as some insider stories, minus all the drama and secret projects that probably should never see the light of day."
- I joined as a staff in January 2005. Basically one day I was looking for some information on Lament of the Lamb, did a Google search on "Hitsuji no Uta," and ended up at Jouhou. I have been reading scanlation since 2002 or so, but never really paid attention to nor involved myself with the scene itself (I was a staff of Anipike at the time so I spent most of my energy on 'Pike). At the time my first impression was, what a great looking site, except it lacks content (didn't find any info on Hitsuji no Uta, and at the time thought the database was full of titles without any info on them). Despite my disappointment on not finding any info on Hitsuji no Uta, I decided to join the forum and stick around for a bit.
Back then, I believed in the one-site-that's-better-than-the-rest theory in the online world of anime/manga, i.e. ANN for anime, AoD for reviews, Anipike for links, etc. I have yet to see an undisputed manga website, and I thought MJ had a lot of things going for it to fill that void.
Then I came across Deathscythe's thread on Writing Articles. I submitted an article on Tsukasa Hojo, resulting in me getting an editors account. Afterwards I started doing news updates, and so on.
- Back then Deathscythe was really trusting, and basically gave accounts out like cookies. After just joining the site for a few weeks I was already at the admin level.
- According to Deathscythe: "Jouhou's first affiliate to link us was Envirosphere (we asked them for it), 2nd affiliate was Omanga (we did not ask them for it)"
- My main function was news and public relations. Also helped add releases from time to time, and managed the forum. Created and managed the Review Department with Firedog. In charge of operations related to Jouhou's content side of things.
- Jouhou's programmers were always very busy, and it took forever to implement a new feature, back when the News Archive was added it was a pretty big deal, and was considered a great step forward for the site...
- MJ is the king of not following through on its projects. There were many projects proposed but never went anywhere beyond the Staff forum. Some of the more ambitious ones include a Scanlation E-Magazine, a Serialization Tracker, and special Industry Rep forum accounts to help turn the Jouhou forum into something like the AnimeOnDVD forum where people from the industry would converse with fans. There was always planned to update the site, or even splitting Jouhou into a separate news site and a scanlation site. Apparently in later years there were also plans to create a new scanlation site over at Scanlation.net. Of course, none of this ever happened. Countless ideas and projects were raised in the staff forum without ever going anywhere, but the discussions they generate among staff sure are interesting and amusing to read.
- I never once used any RSS technology for news gathering... I visited every source site manually, same thing with ComiPress.
- Jouhou was all custom software, after 2007 there were plans to move the site to Drupal, but that never really took off.
- One of the more amusing things that happened that I still remember was when someone who opened an online manga store wanted to gain some exposure, so he sent us an email asking if we could link to his site or something. I told him if he sends us a press release we'll be able to announce it on the frontpage. At the time I was just thinking of something along the lines of "A new online Store is offering great deals on manga!" but then he sent us a press release saying the store will provide free manga to scanlators or something, I'm pretty sure there was a misunderstanding somewhere in there and the guy thought he had to create a press release related to scanlation. Anyways we posted the press release, and it was picked up by other manga blogs and sites, a day later even ANN reported it. In no time things got so big that a couple days later the guy emailed us again asking us to please take down the press release since his contractors are threatening to end their deals due to the store supporting scanlation. Don't know what happened to the store afterwards though.
- One of the most fun features I did was the 2006 April Fools' joke we played, where we announced that Jouhou would begin publishing manga in the U.S., we tried to make it look really official, even wrote up a press release and had posters made.
We had bunch of scanlation groups also announce this so it looked more legit, I think that day Jouhou received a record number of visits to its frontpage... and we even received an email from Publishers Weekly asking for an interview about Jouhou's entrance into the publishing scene.
- I made the little Jouhou soldiers GIF. One time I found this cool marching emoticon on some emoticon website and thought it was pretty cool, so I took Manga Jouhou's "M" logo and put it over the flag the soldiers were holding...Deathscythe loved it. We've been using it for a lot of things ever since.
- Manga Jouhou made a lot of money from just the Google ads on its frontpage (goes to show how popular the site was back in the days), most of which were used to pay for the dedicated hosting. There were leftovers, of course, and sometimes we sent out "presents" to staff members. One time, we decided to use the money to help fund a writing competition (just an excuse to get more articles submissions so we can publish more content, haha). We advertised it quite a bit and had some pretty nice prize (or so I think). In the end, we had a Winner, Runner-up, and Honorable Mention, out of a grand total of three submissions, that's right, all three participants won something! It was probably a failure in terms of the competition, but was nonetheless very funny.
- Around 2005, MJ's series database had an overhaul of some sort. As a result, tons, and I mean TONS of entries in the series database had this bug where they were automatically tagged with non-related genres: Yaoi, Yuri, Police and Racing. So like 1/4 or 1/3 of the manga in the database were racing yaoi manga, in the end with the help of NeoSam, we finally managed to fix most of the genres, but that sure took a lot of effort.
- Ever since 2005 I've wanted to do a History of Jouhou feature, of course it never happened, but a lot of information were collected at the time, most of which were used here, below is a timeline I made for Jouhou all the way up to the end of 2005. I added comments in  to some of the events to explain why they're there:
01/02/2003 - Ideas pitched.
01/10/2003 - MangaJouhou.com launched, main domain was changed to Manganews.net about a week later, mangajouhou.com remained.
01/20/2003 - Theme changed from the old Brown theme to the current one, designed by Fiz.
02/16/2003 - Manga of the Week. [This was the first one.]
05/27/2003 - Animesuki/Neo Theme.
04/11/2003 - New PhpBB forum launched.
06/19/2003 - Added BT support to releases.
02/29/2004 - Ad banner appeared on the site.
05/05/2004 - Forum designed changed.
07/19/2004 - Last Manga of the Week.
12/??/2004 - Forum hacked due to a PhpBB exploit, changed to vBulletin.
01/30/2005 - Spotlight feature launched, Eclipse joined (lol).
03/14/2005 - Begin asking for public review submission, which eventually led to the birth of the Editorial team.
04/??/2005 - Yaoi/Yuri/Police/Racing plagued manga database.
04/29/2005 - Manga Discussion Series launched. [After the forum crashed there weren't a lot of discussion going on, this was a feature Eclipse and Vanderguard came up with to help increase forum discussions and bring it back to its pre-crash level of activity.]
07/26/2005 - Began recruiting for Reviewers, Proofreaders, and Editors.
08/02/2005 - MJ Review Team officially formed, it was later renamed to the MJ Editorial Team, with Firedog heading the team as its Editor-in-Chief.
08/02/2005 - News Archive feature implemented. [This was BIG!]
08/07/2005 - MJ Article contest [A fun contest, we even had enough money saved up from AdSense to purchase cool prizes. In the end we had a total of 3 entries, one won, the other two got honorable mention.]
09/02/2005 - Manga Magazine Guide Beta launched on MJ [Eclipse's project, later became ComiPedia.]
12/03/2005 - MJ Article contest winners announced. [See above.]
12/21/2005 - Special 3-Part Realbuzz Studios Interview. [This was the first time Jouhou cooperated on a major feature with an actually publisher, at the time this was considered to be a big step forward toward becoming a professional manga site.
- Unfortunately, when I left Jouhou, my account was deleted... so all those news updates you see with no name... those are by me :P
How did you get involved with manga?
Like how any Asian kid picked up manga, I started reading Doraemon, DBZ and Candy Candy that somehow for whatever reason is lying around the house before I could even read any words (hey, I can look at the pictures). The habit of manga reading went on for the rest of my life, but high school was the major intense stocking-up-locker with as many manga as possible and then bringing to class as many as possible (when I do go to class that is). Geez, good days.
How you discovered MJ and why you decided to join?
I discovered MJ probably at the beginning of time when it started, never used it too much until I got involved in scanlation sometime mid-last year (in 2004). I didn't join until last week (this was posted in December of 2005) because well, I never really use Jouhou's forum. The first time I did enter the forum was actually by accident and then I figured I might as well browsed around. While browsing around, I realized you guys need a reviewer and I'm dying to write manga reviews, so I sent in my application and got accepted the next day.
[Alternate introduction from a few years later]
One day, almost three years ago, I suddenly found myself filled with lots of free time. I fired up IRC again (after a couple years) and tried to catch up two years worth of scanlation reading. One thing led to another, I ended up translating for a couple scanlation groups. Eventually, my "I-can't-say-no-to-people" personalities led me to doing twenty series for something like eight or ten scanlation groups, which started to stress me out a little. I mean, come on, it's inhuman to be able to produce 20 scripts a week at a constant rate (while balancing life and school). So anyhow, one morning, I saw a "Recruiting Reviewers" sign over at Manga Jouhou and I thought, "Hey, here's a good way to take a break from translating and not from manga." So I dropped off an email and I was contacted the next day telling me that I got accepted.
So I started happily reviewing for MJ, and at the time, Jouhou's news started getting more interesting. Every other day, Eclipse would walk in and link me to a Japanese article and ask "so what's going on here?" Needless to say, eventually I became Eclipsey's little slavey-chan (a cute one, I may add) and we were doing news together for some months. Of course, things always end when they're at their best. Eclipsey was disagreeing with the system in Jouhou and decided to start ComiPress. Leaving out all the juicy dramatic details, Eclipsey left Jouhou and abandoned me, like a lost kitty *sniffz*. With some encouragement from Eclipse and several people, I picked up Jouhou's news from where it left off and tried to not burn the place down.
More than half a year after Eclipse retired from Jouhou, I am still doing news and haven't burnt anything down yet. Of course, my fellow-scanlators suffer from me not being able to take part in scanlation half as much as I used to, since Manga Jouhou has now stolen my soul. I hope that the news in Jouhou I'm bringing to people is enough to make up for my abandonment in scanlations. If not, I am working to do better all the time, so hopefully, one day, people will forgive me for it.
Manga, anime, painting, drawing, sculpting, photoshopping, photography, and watching lots of movies.
Too many, it changes from time to time, but the really strange thing is ALL the shoujo and shoujo beat manga Viz licensed had once been my favorite manga at a point in life.