Requiem for the Martyrs
Let me explain my term of cyber era martyrs. They are dedicated, determined, and strict yet hardworking kind of people who do things they like the most without even thinking about material compensation. It is the sheer joy of sharing they pursue, to highly appreciate the masterminds behind every masterpiece.
I salute them for their natures. And I grieve for the emerging, greedy corporate that are so greedy they do not know the gained publication from the martyrs’ attempts. Blinded by gluttony, the capitalists are.
So the martyrs would be beaten and bruised, shot by numerous arrows and thrown in to the den of hungry lions should they not oblige to the damned pact of US-Japan publishers’ coalition against piracy.
And do you know what the true meaning of the word piracy is? Information limitation. Watch this and correlate how the situation that once fucked Napster, Kazaa and Grokster made the sites went down. It is even silly, knowing that those martyrs did not even make the data available to download.
And I’m talking about the guys behind onemanga.com that had been shut down as per July 31st; the site that once became the source of every manga site in this universe of digital data traffic.
The history of modern manga started from the time when Japan was occupied by USA, dated back in the end of the 40s. The vanguards of the era were Astro Boy and Sazae-san, both representing the optimistic Japanese about their own post war resurrection—under very suspicious surveillance of the US Government.
Similar with the history of Blues, Jazz and Punk Rock, counter culture are born from repression. So does manga. Once served as propaganda equipment against the occupancy, manga evolved into a releasing vent of tight culture, monotonous and neatly scheduled life and norms of Japanese youngsters. For those who are quite familiar with Japanese social structure, you could understand how hard it is to be a growing adolescence to live in the place where school rank is everything. Their culture of shame had been immortalized by the act of seppuku if a Japanese failed to do the responsibility. Not to mention the ethics that still regard women as second citizen who have to bow deeper than their men, or bullying among females—it happens anywhere, though.
Such repression borne resistance that is evolving into J-Rock and materialized in the streets of Harajuku and Ginza where youngsters are free to express their style with the outfit they wear and be different in any way they want.
And manga is the same. It is safe to say that this is the result of achieving the difference, of being more beautiful and elegant by deforming the size of the eyes and the length of the limbs, by breaking the borders of proportional anatomy. To materialize the perfect feature of a human, to make the dream comes true.
And so manga is spread worldwidely because the demand is huge. It is somehow based on the humanly nature of insatiability that seek for perfection, or to put it simply, to dream about perfection, to be carried away into manmade fantasy where all people are beautiful and everything is adventurous.
Yet, with the same spirit, scanlations emerge to quench the thirst of those who don’t have the privilege of enjoying the feel of paper in their hands while reading the comics. As a portmanteau of scanning and translation, scanlation (also scanslation) is the scanning, translation and editing of comics from a foreign language into a different language. Readers don’t have to go through the language barrier just to be plunged deep into the story. Like Saint Sebastian trying hard to encourage two Christian prisoners to keep the faith, those scanlators did the same in different extent. They seek for the scanner (to digitize the comic), cleaner (to erase the text in the balloon), translator (to translate the text from Japanese to English, mostly) and proofreader (as a quality control) online. They work like blind cells in terrorist networks, hiding behind nicknames or pseudo identity in cyber neighborhood. They even buy the comics themselves to be presented neatly in image format in the website.
As Zabi greeted every visitor of the site since July 22nd in the popup window, "There is an end to everything, to good things as well." It doesn’t end at all, though. The site is still up and running, only the reading materials are gone. Still, the martyrs might be gone—or recessed for the time being—but the spirit carries on.
... and there are other martyrs and smartasses unseen, untouched, unrewarded in this cyberworld of ours because we can still enjoy the great works of the senseis until this post is uploaded...
Inspired by Joaquin Baldwin’s Sebastian's Voodoo a short, animation movie and winner of some awards, including Festival de Cannes - Short Film Corner '09 (France) for NFB Online Competition. Below is the video. Enjoy!