kaigou: Jung-In (Kim Jae-Wook) looking very please-no (1 oh dear heavens no)
[personal profile] kaigou
No names here, because from what I've seen in my life, this is human nature and it gets repeated in any of a dozen places at any time. Doesn't change the fact that I find it amusing... and as amusing things are reason for chatter, here we go. If you're up for it, join me in the eye-rolling.

So let's say that there's a Japanese manga out there, which had originally been picked up by several groups for scanlation. All but one dropped it, and that last group -- we'll call A -- continued to scanlate over on the side.

Except, y'see, A has a Very Strict Policy of Do Not Share This Anywhere With Anyone Ever And Ever Or Else We'll Take Our Toys And Go Home But Not Before We Rant About How Horrible People Are. If that sounds like an exaggeration for the sake of humor... actually, it's not. Group A is very serious about this, folks, because scanlations are SRS BIZNESS.

A few months ago, B appeared on the scene, with a random scanlation of two chapters. (We'll call these chapters 10 and 11, just for demonstration purposes.) These appeared on various sharing/reading sites, but without any formal group acknowledgment. Just two chapters, out of nowhere.

Shortly after that, someone over in a fangroup for the manga posted a survey about A's policy of requiring a formal introductory letter in order to join the group and get the password and d/l the scanlations. Apparently the survey's response was pretty negative about A's policies. Unsurprisingly, A went completely ballistic. Not only did A grant the internets a rant the likes of which I hadn't read since FMA's daily explosions, A went a step further and deleted about a quarter of its registered readership because those names looked, uhm, suspicious. Apparently if you're really savvy and awesome (and fairly megalomaniacal), you can tell just from usernames who must be Stealing Your Work! and Posting It Without Permission! and Sharing With The Masses! and all that jazz.

Notably, A's rant didn't even pause for breath, let alone pause long enough to mention that of the chapters available on public reading/downloading sites, that the two most recent chapters (10 and 11, remember) weren't even produced by A. Nope, A reserved the vitriol for whomever had uploaded A's versions of chapters 5 through 9. Even though this rant appeared -- and I am so not making this up -- roughly six months after the chapters were dispersed into the internet-ethers. That's taking delayed reaction to serious heights.

(The punchline here is that A's main post for the series includes a paragraph begging for other groups to pick up this little-known and under-loved manga, and an apparently lip-service request that any readers knowing of other scans to let A know, to include in A's "master list". Cue more eye-rolling!)

Anyway. Fast-forward a few months.

There's been no activity on any of the readers/download sites of any new chapters, though A has reportedly (but locked down three times as tight as before) released chapters up to 16, since B uploaded 10 and 11. Out of nowhere, B returns, this time as a formal group, uploading the next chapter -- that would be chapter 12 -- with comments about chapter 13 being available soon.

Almost overnight (yes, literally), chapter 13 appears on the biggest download site. It's A's version. You remember A, right? The one who went on a vitriolic eyebrow-raising rant about Horrible People Stealing Scans? Not to mention, this would be an upload of chapter 13 that's a chapter 13 that'd been released by A somewhere in the neighborhood of about five months ago. All this time, none of A's followers saw any reason to risk her ire by public dispersal of her precious chapters, but now? Suddenly, apparently, the ire was worth it.

Pretty fast on the tails of that, B releases chapter 13, then 14. B's version replaces A's version on the main download site -- and is quickly dispersed through a number of the online readers. Then, just as B announces the release of chapter 15, some anonymice uploads two more of A's chapters, releasing them into the wild: chapters 15 and 16. Again, these are chapters done and distributed (privately, mind you) by A about a month or more ago. But now, though, they're suddenly being shoved online rapid-fire. Reminds me of playing one of those speed-based card games where if someone puts down a card, you have to immediately slap the next highest number-card on top or else you lose. Hunh.

The footnote to that is that the A-version of chapter 15... was mis-timed. Almost immediately it was replaced by the auto-upload of B's version of chapter 15. Wow, all that work to steal A's For Speshul Non-Suspicious Peoples Only Scans, and for naught. The version was overwritten pretty much instantly just due to luck of the draw (so to speak), and I wouldn't be surprised if B's chapter 16 soon does the same.

And... far as I've bothered to hear, this is where A's scanlations halt. Is there a chapter 17 in the works? Probably. Is it out already? Nope. At the rate B is going -- with about 4 chapters released in little over a week -- A is going to be left in the dust.

You would think this would be okay, if A were doing private scanlations that are just for A's enjoyment (and the pleasure of people A has discerned are non-suspicious, via an Eight-Ball she picked up at a garage sale last year) -- then having another group doing public versions would be peachy. Preferred, even! Then A could continue to be, y'know, private, since if A is, as A claims, doing this for A's personal benefit only, that it doesn't matter whether there's a B out there, or even a C, D, or E.

What I'm gathering, though, is that someone, or several someones, among A's followers (if not, dare I suggest, the very A who is the subject of this amusement), is determined to make sure that A remains the most-recent, top-of-the-list, most-known, for scanlating this series. The analogy I floated to CP is that it's a kind of spite, an anger at someone else getting easily (free versions) what you had to pay through the nose (beg) to achieve. The competing free version makes your elite version less, well, elite.

I know that spite is a natural human emotion, but this particular example... For starters, I can't relate because none of this has any weight in the real world (at least, for me). If A scanlates and B quits to raise dandelions, or A stomps off in a huff and B goes on to conquer volumes three, four and even five!, so what? In the grand scheme, it's just another passing kerfluffle. It's such an insignificant thing that it would make molehills ashamed.

But clearly, someone's reputation or self-respect is riding on this, despite A's consistent, and persistent, and downright strident, repetitions of No Sharing This and You Must Beg Me For The Password and If I Catch You I'll Delete You And Then Rant About You. CP's take was that this isn't about scanlating, or even fandom enjoyment, or even protecting one's self when translating a licensed manga (which, I should perhaps note, this manga is licensed, however lackadaisical the company is in pestering a small group of online readers who are probably a tiny iota of the overall readership buying the printed official versions). CP's thought was that this is all about control, and one can hardly claim full control, and demand -- nay, command! -- full and total control if one has competition.

Control is based on exclusivity -- I can hardly tell you what to do with something if what you've got isn't mine -- and for some people, I've learned, exclusivity is their only route to power, because they can't conceive of being powerful in their own right. That is, they're living on the ideology that they win only if someone else loses. If A is being honest in the whole I Do This Only For Me And A Few Of My Closest Non-Suspicious-Username Friends, then A gains or loses nothing by what B, or C, or D, or E, or the whole damn world does. But if A believes power is only gained at the expense of others, then it very much matters that one be exclusive.

Then again, I checked this morning out of sheer wreck-watching amusement, and it appears A has deleted the last four or five posts concerning this manga. Translations, scanlation announcements, what-have-you, it's gone. No entertaining rants have been delivered, yet -- maybe that's in the delayed-reaction works for six months from now -- but the sudden deletion does look like the usual intarweebs' version of a hissy fit. That tells me that for all A's insistence that Someone Else Should Do This Manga and Why Don't More People Love This Manga and so on, what was really going on was that A was saying, More People Should Pay Attention To Me and Everyone Should Listen To Me Because I'm THE ONE Damn It.

Oh, wait, I got it: a better analogy. It's the spoiled princess on the playground who only grants little trinkets to her favorites, and who throws a fit when one of her allegedly BFF then passes the trinket along to someone less-favored. And then, when someone else shows up and starts handing out even better trinkets to everyone with no care for elitism or favoritism -- and then suddenly other kids stop clamouring around the princess in hopes of gaining her favor or her trinkets -- the princess stomps off, declaring she doesn't want to play anymore anyway. I guess the trinket-sharing competition going on in the public venues is akin to the princess' loyal minions trying to keep the princess' trinkets in the public eye, so others will recognize her superiority. Then she'll be mollified, and come back with her toys, and the favored elite will continue to have their own egos stroked for having been recognized and rewarded by their playground princess.

To which all I can say is: cripes, and I thought shipping wars were ridiculous. If one's self-respect rises and falls on how many people beg you for your scanlations or translations of a little-known manga... you've got some major issues, there. I mean, I survived the GW fandom, so I figure I can say when something's fucked-up. On the plus side, surviving the former means now I just find myself immensely amused at the latter.

In short: Mom was right! You really do learn all you need to know about human behavior on the playground.

Date: 19 Nov 2011 09:26 pm (UTC)
branchandroot: oak against sky (Default)
From: [personal profile] branchandroot
*marvels* Wow. I mean, I'm quite familiar with the base satisfaction of "they like /my/ version better", but if there's not personal satisfaction in it in the first place... well, then you have A. *shakes head*

Date: 20 Nov 2011 02:28 am (UTC)
nagasvoice: lj default (Default)
From: [personal profile] nagasvoice
This-- *pointing*--
"It tells me that the person -- like A -- is really, deep-down, convinced already that she's lost, so the only way to appear to win is to make sure no one else is in the race."

There's been an awful lot of that going on in the whole zeitgeist (especially among those who worship at the shrine of "Great $$, the rest of yez are slime")

Date: 19 Nov 2011 11:48 pm (UTC)
leorising: (twilight zone)
From: [personal profile] leorising
To quote one of my favorite webcomics:

"Oh this is some unscrupulous goddamned knavery right here."


Date: 20 Nov 2011 07:37 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] chocolatefae.livejournal.com
lol that analogy was hilarious