MH Interviews: Eternal
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As I said you get another interview in short succession to make up for the wait with the previous ones. This one is with the wonderful Rena Chan, which by the way is her name. The Chan part is the chinese family name Chan, not the japanese honourific -chan. So make sure you write it correctly. This was actually meant to be posted a bit earlier but Rena Chan wanted to make sure everything was well thought out and written.
In addition to her work in scanlating Rena also devotes a vast amount of time and effort scanning good quality raws for various series. Having recently scanned some raws myself I can say that she must have a lot of patience. Anyway enough about her, here's the interview.
1. Please give a short introduction of yourself and your manga scanlation group. What kinds of manga your group scanlates, how did it get started, etc.
Hi guys! I’m Rena Chan (no dashes or underscores please, thank you) as I’m sure a lot of people know already since I’m kind of quite prominent as a raw scanner around here. But I think some of you don’t know that I’m also the leader of my own manga scanlation group, Eternal.
Eternal mainly scanlates manga based on video games, especially focusing on the Tales of Series. We pretty much scanlate all officially adapted manga that has to do with the main story/plot of the game with the same name. The group also scanlates some comic anthologies and doujinshi that are related to the Tales of Series. We also do Star Ocean Blue Sphere and another future project, Star Ocean 2 Second Evolution. Those two will not be the group’s priority since the group’s main focus is the official game adapted manga from the Tales of Series.
I actually started the group only to do some personal projects, but it was actually nothing much since it’s a licensed series. In the end, I dropped scanlating that cause I couldn’t get the people to work on it. However, I didn’t abandon the group. I kept it around cause I may need it in the future, I just didn’t put any work into it and have it grow. It came into use though when I wanted to start scanlating Star Ocean Blue Sphere, cause a group had released a less than satisfactory scanlation of it. But what really made it more active in the end was when the old group I was with disbanded. I had taken one of the group’s project with me to continue releasing it, though that didn’t happen until about two years ago. I had started working on Tales of Symphonia before then, and very slowly, released another chapter of Star Ocean Blue Sphere. The main reason for my slow releases was because I was never able to get staff, especially translators and more editors to help me with them. Needless to say, I was kind of demotivated. But I prevailed and now, the group is in a much better standing, and I have more staff. But I owe it mainly to the growing fandom for the Tales of Series in general.
2. How did you get into scanlating, and how hard did you find it at first? Has it gotten any easier with more practice? Why did you get into it in the first place?
I actually found out about scanlating when I had found a group scanlating Tales of Eternia. That was about six to seven years ago, I think. Nonetheless, that was where it all started. I had went to their IRC channel to download their Tales of Eternia scanlations, and had found out, by chance really, that they were planning to do Star Ocean The Second Story and was looking for a raw provider. At that time, I was really into the video game with the same name. It was one of my favourite games ever. Needless to say, I offered to scan for them, since I had access to a scanner. Then after they had released Chapter 1 of the manga, I decided to ask how scanlating was done since I had Photoshop installed on the computer, in order to help out with the project and speed up the releases. At that time, I was lucky. One of the editors from the group lived in the same country as me and it was quite close too, so I had a hands on tutorial on how to clean raw manga.
It was hard at first of course since I wasn’t exactly skilled with Photoshop, it took quite a fair amount of time and there weren’t denoising programs in existence then. But now, with the existence of denoising programs, when used properly, they can really help you speed things up and still achieve the results that you want, then manually fix up the rest. I had also learned a few things here and there from other cleaners, which had been very helpful. Of course, the one thing that I was never able to grasp was redrawing. I could do simple redrawing, but that’s it. I could roughly visualise the art itself, but I could never put it down in Photoshop. I guess it’s probably because I’m not very well versed in Photoshop, and I didn’t have time to take classes to learn more advanced ways of using it.
3. What types of manga are your personal favourites? Which manga titles do you like in particular? Any genres you don't like?
Well, I mainly like anything related to the Tales of Series. Of course, that is not the only thing I read. I also read some shounen series, mainly preferring fantasy, adventure and magic related stuff, and also people with special powers. I also sometimes look at detective manga, my favourite being Tantei Gakuen Q. Currently, my favourite manga is Code: Breaker, which is serialized in Weekly Shounen Magazine. I also like to read Hiro Mashima’s works like Rave, Fairy Tail and any other stuff he worked on. I also liked Flame of Recca, Marchen Awakens Romance and Erementar Gerad. There are more that I read, but I won’t list them all…haha.
There are also other shounen manga that I would love to read, two of them being One Piece and Mahou Sensei Negima, but there are too many chapters that are already out and I don’t have the time to read them from the start, nor the money to get the U.S. English releases for them. I also would love to read Bleach, but since the anime follows the manga pretty closely, not including the filler episodes of course, and I had been watching the anime from the start, I’ll just stick to that.
I don’t really have any genres that I don’t like, but if anything, the genre I normally don’t look at is shoujo manga. I very rarely look at seinen manga also. I normally just stick to looking at shounen manga.
4. How do you feel about the amount of fan feedback and thanks for the work that you have done? How do you feel overall seeing people read and discussing the manga that you have scanlated?
I don’t really bother too much about the amount of fan feedback I’m getting, considering that, I for one, know very well when someone doesn’t say “Thanks” or whatever, it doesn’t mean that they do not appreciate the work my staff and I had worked on, or the effort and time put into it. They’re probably just lazy to do so. I’m like that too sometimes XD But what I really don’t appreciate is people bashing us, telling us to release faster, telling us what to work on first, etc. As long as there are people reading them, that will be good enough.
As for discussing the manga we’ve worked on, that doesn’t really happen much, considering the nature of the manga the group works on. The main discussions that arise are mainly people discussing on how different the story/plot of the manga is when compared to the game and the artwork of the manga.
5. Are there any other hobbies or things that you like to work on during your spare time?
Play video games, especially RPGs. That is the main thing I normally do when I’m not doing something related to manga scanlation or my usual internet related stuff. I also watch anime that I’m interested in during my spare time. I’ve also recently taken to helping out a Tales of Series fan site that are fansubbing Tales of Series related anime, so I also know a bit on fansubbing. I also sometimes write certain In-Depth FAQs for video games I’ve played that I think needs them, but it’s a once in a while thing now. I also used to write fan fiction for video games that I play and especially like, and have ideas for them. But now, due to time constraints, I had given up on fan fiction writing. I hope that I can get back into it in the end, as I still have ideas, but it doesn’t seem likely since I no longer have the time to do that, and I really want to focus more on manga scanlating, playing video games and watching anime.
6. How do you feel about multiple groups scanlating the same manga? E.g. 5 separate releases of Bleach and Naruto each week while other series go unscanlated.
This is actually kind of debatable. In my honest opinion, I find that it’s a waste of resources, especially when one or two out of these groups actually already does a decent/good release. I don’t know about Naruto, but Ju-Ni does a very good job with Bleach already. Most of the time, one speed scanlation and one HQ (or near HQ) scanlation should be the ideal number. Throw one more MQ scanlation in it, it’s more than enough releases for a series. Anything more than that would be too much.
Also, whenever I see new groups popping up that wants to scanlate the same, over done manga series, it makes me kind of sad at the wasted resources, especially when there are other groups that are so desperate for staff for their projects, which are mostly manga series that no one else is scanlating, or a group wanting to continue doing something cause it’s dropped, etc. There are also a lot of other manga out there that gets ignored, and the group that actually wants to work on them can never get the staff for them. Sometimes, it’s just a total mess. I know people want to work on what they like, but there should be a limit as to what extent this should go.
But in the end, we can’t stop anyone since we’re all doing this for free and should work on whatever we want or like, right? But I still believe there should be a limit to what extent this should go.
7. Your group, Eternal, focuses entirely upon the different "Tales of ***" manga based upon the games of the same name. Can you rate them all in terms of your favourite to your least favourite and give a reason why?
Haha. Rate them all? There are a lot you know, and I don’t think you’ll want the entire list. Most of the series are on equal standing, but there are a couple that I like more.
I especially like Tales of Vesperia and Tales of the Abyss, because they follow the game quite closely, but not completely at the same time. The main thing is that they do not skip the important plot points in the game, and it makes for a nice read at the same time. I also enjoy looking at the art for Tales of Vesperia. However, I have to really commend the Mangaka for the facial expressions for Tales of the Abyss though. They’re actually very well done. Luke’s flustered expression, his fearful look, and Van’s evil glare. Ju-da-su would know what I’m talking about. It really leaves quite an impression on you.
The one that I don’t like too much would probably be Tales of Innocence. The story is okay, it sounds like it stays quite close to the game (although I can’t play the game since it’s not released in the U.S.), but what I didn’t like about it was the art. The way the Mangaka draws the expressions, it’s like, you can’t tell what the character is feeling sometimes. Too much excessive winking and things like that also kind of threw me off.
The other Tales of Series manga that I want to complain about is Tales of Symphonia. The art is actually good, but the plot, when compared to the game, was kind of “ugh” for me. The manga skipped too many (and I really mean too many) important plot points in the game. I don’t mind if the important plot stuff happens at a different point in time, or mashed together with something else, or the location is changed (this is very much like how the Tales of the Abyss manga serialisation is done), but to completely skip them? For me, that is a really big no. As someone that really loved the game itself, with the manga serialization being as it is, I’m actually quite disappointed with it. At least the art made up for that.
As for the rest of the Tales of Series manga, I’m kind of neutral with them. There isn’t anything I particularly like or dislike about them, the art are all great, and I like to read/work on them.
8. You also do quite a bit of raws scanning in addition to your other scanlation work. How do you choose which series to scan? How long does it take you to scan each chapter?
The main thing that determines whether I scan something is whether I’m interested in the series. That is usually the main reason I scan something. Of course, there are also other reasons that determine whether I scan something, like if a series is getting regular translations but no raws (like some of the series in Jump Square), or whether what I’m scanning is getting used regularly by scanlation groups that also has a regular translation, despite it already having another raw but lower quality than mine.
As for how long it takes, it depends really, since I do my scanning when I’m also doing something else, like doing my daily internet stuff like check my e-mail, read fan fiction written by other people, surf the websites that I visit regularly, or even checking my friend list over at LiveJournal. Sometimes I do it when reading manga on my computer, flipping through my Japanese manga/game magazines, or when I’m playing a game on my PSP or Nintendo DS Lite. It will also depend whether I end up getting side-tracked and concentrate on something else for a while before going back to scanning. Sometimes, I’m chatting with someone over at IRC and/or MSN so that slows me down too, but I try to at least do it as quickly as I can. But, no matter what, I’m always doing something else at the same time when I’m scanning, since the waiting time for the scanner to send the scanned image to Photoshop can actually be used to do something. I’m actually quite the multi-tasker.
Although, if I have to give a rough estimate, it would be 20 pages at 300 dpi (I don’t count them in chapters) in about one hour for scans from manga/game magazines. That is just scanning alone of course. Give about another 15 minutes for rotating, cropping and resizing them. For tankoubon scans, those take longer since I have to scan them in 600 dpi in order to get a good image size. However, it doesn’t take twice as long when compared to scanning a magazine page, since a tankoubon page is about half the size of a magazine page, but it takes a bit longer, perhaps about one to two minutes longer to send it to Photoshop. The speed at which my scanner scans a magazine page and a tankoubon page is about the same. Of course, if it’s a color page, that would take much longer, like maybe about three minutes longer then a grayscale page, to send to Photoshop.
9. Would you like to use this chance for publicity to beg people to join your group?
Eh, I don’t beg. Especially when I don’t like asking someone to do something they don’t enjoy doing. However, I will still advertise XD
Anyway, I’m currently looking for more translators, especially for Star Ocean Blue Sphere, Tales of the World: Radiant Mythology 2 and for the Tales of Series Comic Anthologies, 4-Komas and Doujinshi. While these are the main things I’m needing translators for, I would also love more translators to help out the current translators here and there. So if you love the Tales of Series in general, please apply.
I currently have enough cleaners and typesetters, although I won’t mind having another cleaner that is skilled at redrawing around to cover for people. I also won’t mind having another typesetter to cover for people in case they get busy with real life stuff. But I’m not in desperate need of people for these positions, but you can apply if you want to help out anyway.
One last thing is that I’m planning on redesigning the group’s website with a new layout, but my mind is currently at a blank (I do have a rough look, but I suck at designing websites in general, and I can never seem to put what I visualise onto paper), and I also lack the time to sit down and start doing something about it. However, if anyone is interested in helping me to give the website a new layout, you can e-mail me and I’ll give you my user requirements for it along with the picture I want to use for the header and you can do a mock-up for it, then I can choose from there, if there are more than one layouts that is. If there is only one, I would have to see if I like it I guess.
Just drop me an e-mail at email@example.com if you’re interested in any of the above. The group’s forums at http://eternalmanga.freeforums.org/ has information on the cleaner and typesetter tests, so you please go there first if you wish to apply for those positions.
If you would like to check out some of Eternal's releases you can find them here
Star Ocean: Blue Sphere
Tales of Destiny 2
Tales of Eternia
Tales of Legendia
Tales of Phantasia
Tales of Symphonia
Tales of the Abyss
Tales of the Abyss - Asch the Bloody
Tales of the World: Radiant Mythology
Tales of Vesperia
Tales of Vesperia ~Flynn, The Holy Silver Knight
And of course their homepage:
Eternal Manga Scanlations
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