MH Interviews: Ju-Ni
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Today we've got an interview with Vicissitude of Ju-Ni. Ju-Ni do a pretty bang up job working on Bleach every week and Vicissitude himself also does some scanning series from Shonen Jump and Young Magazine. There's some good stuff here so make sure you read it.
1. Please give a short introduction of yourself and your manga scanlation group. What kinds of manga does your group scanlate, how did it get started etc.
I'm Vic and I'm the present head of Ju-Ni. I'm 25 and live on the US East Coast and work nights, so I get to talk to all the cool kids from around the world in the IRC channels. Ju-Ni is mostly about Bleach, but we also had a hand in Azumanga Daioh for a while, plus we kicked around the idea for Busou Renkin (a series I have absolutely no knowledge of, save that there's a man with arms for legs and legs for arms, thus making it awesome). Due to a lack of cleaners, something that has been changing recently, we haven't been able to focus on much other than Bleach weeklies. Hopefully we'll get a few more people interested so we can free up some time on the weekends to work on the volumes and maybe pick up one of our shelved projects.
To find out how the group started, you'd have to stop by the IRC channel and ask Storm for a history lesson. It was his baby for the longest time. I've been told the history several times, but it seems like that's one of those things that's just in one ear and out the other. I joined a few years back and when Storm needed to focus on real life, I took over. We've been rolling on ever since.
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 started out on the text side of the hobby. Or I planned to, at any rate. I wanted to help Evil_Genius proofread their stuff, since I noticed a few things that could have read better in English. Instead, Eldo offered me a cleaning test for Angel Heart so I looked up a cleaning guide and started in onthat. I proofread the script as I went through, too, but mostly it was a cleaning gig. For a while, I worked on churning out the volumes and I think I did a pretty good job of it.
After a while of getting Ju-Ni Bleach chapters, I decided to apply. I started on Databook SOULs and eventually graduated to volumes and after that the weekly chapters. SOULs and the Volumes were much easier, given the scans, and we tend to work out some good precleaning to make the weeklies easier, but I basically had to adjust my skill up at each level. At first, we were doing what MH dubbed MQ releases, cleaned out, reframed and touched up but no patterns replaced, but now we're all the way up with the other HQ groups out there.
It has gotten easier, but it's mostly due to the Spirit and Storm who taught the right methods and Marie and the other QCers who would call me out on all the little things that I overlooked. They helped me train my eye to the RAWs so I could start to pick apart what should be there and what shouldn't, what line needs to be redrawn and what survived precleaning well enough to suffice with the other redraws, and when to completely redraw rather than just hide behind templates (ie, just about always :v ).
As for why I do it, it's just because I've been sucked in. It's really fun to take a piece of crap page of low-grade recycled magazine printing to an HQ release page. Every week tends to show us a new trick that Kubo's art staff seems to have thrown at us. We're convinced that most of his original staff quit over Chuulhourne and he's got a new group of art students eager to show off. This helps us grow our own skills and keep up, finding new ways to clean. Hell, over the last few weeks, I've seen new patterns that were never present in the early chapters. Granted, the art's not as complex as it used to be, either, but we still get thrown a curveball every now and then that makes us all stop and have a little conference.
3. What types of manga are your personal favourite? Which manga titles do you like in particular? Any genres you don't like?
As with everything, I'll take it individually, as it comes. I have a very eclectic music collection, for example. I have everything from classical to death metal. Mostly I'll see/hear/read something I like and get it. It doesn't mean I'll like everything from that artist or author, but I like that one thing I found. The same goes for Manga. I'll check out recommendation threads on forums and if I see something that grabs my eye. That's how I ran into Freesia, a manga I'm VERY glad to see was picked up recently.
One of the great things about scanning so much is that I get a chance to see new things that I probably wouldn't have seen. Since I scanned Bleach from Jump, I figured I might as well get my money's worth from the magazine and offer to scan other stuff. Bokke-san was pretty cute. The art was neat and different and the story was enough to keep me interested, so I hung on to it. I'm trying to get into Psyren, but I don't have much time. I keep putting it off and then kicking myself that I shelved it again.
It's not about genre, like I said. It's more about what grabs my attention. Hell, Azumanga Daioh and Yotsuba& looked really cutesy and granted, they are, but they're also a good read. Of course, you're talking to a guy who still watches cartoons on Saturday mornings while he cleans manga and cried at the end of The Iron Giant (and I'm man enough to admit it!). I can read the kiddy comics and have a blast doing it. But I can also turn around and read the huge epics and enjoy them for the story. But there's usually something that grabs me outside of a shoehorned genre, be it story or art. Akaboshi looks pretty interesting, if only because the main character looks like a blend of Ichigo and L, dressed like Hokage Naruto.
4. How do you feel the amount of fan feedback and thanks is for the work that you have done? How do you feel overall seeing people read and discussing the manga that you have scanlated?
We get a lot of people who drop in and thank us from time to time. A few people thank us and leave thanks in the comments when I post here at MH. It's great to see people enjoying the work we do and it makes it worth it. I didn't get into the hobby for thanks or any recognition at all, but it's nice that people come in and effectively tell you that they prefer your work to any other groups' work. Of course, they could hang around and talk to us.
5. Are there any other hobbies or things that you like to work on in your spare time?
I spend a bit of time online playing Call of Duty 4 on my PS3 (PSN: SA-Vicissitude, by the way ). I played a few MMOs from time to time and more or less settled on EVE online. Space piracy always appealed to me. Offline, I like to cook. We're also doing work on the house, so I chip in where I can. My brother and cousins are all carpenters and I try to chip in where I can. It's not often, since I work nights and they don't. A while back, I was into tabletop miniatures, Warhammer and the like. I still get a few models every now and then to assemble and paint. It's still fun.
6. How do you find the time to scan so many of the manga series from Shounen Jump each week? How long does it take to scan a typical chapter? And also how did you get into scanning raws in the first place?
Well, sometimes I don't. Every few weeks, I'm scheduled to come into work on the weekends (rotating schedule), so I'll only scan Bleach and maybe a handful of other series by request, usually Psyren and To Love Ru.
When I do have the weekend completely free, I just get the magazine, cut it up and scan through it. WIthout distractions, I can usually have a chapter up every 10 minutes. But of course, I have to do Bleach first and work out the precleaning for that before I get into anything else. Once that's out of the way, I just go through Jump front to back and scan everything I've been asked to scan. If anyone asks for something, I'll move that to the head of the line, though.
7. Occasionally there are one-shots in Weekly Shonen Jump, but a lot of times those one-shots don't get scanlated. Now that MH has the New Manga Shout Out, will you be more willing to scan those one-shots since there's now a more likely chance that someone will use your raws and scanlate the one-shot?
I've always been willing to scan one-shots. It's just that nobody requests them from me. And unfortunately, with so few cleaners, Ju-Ni can't go about taking care of them ourselves. I do like getting our name out there, though, even if it's just through my name as a scanner. Some of the one-shots looked really fun. Blust was pretty good. It was cool to see some of the art we've seen in Eyeshield applied to an actual fight rather than a game of football. I was hoping that they were using the one-shot to test the water for a new series along those lines, but Internet scuttlebutt doesn't seem to be backing up that theory. Still, I hang onto the RAWs for the one-shots just in case.
8. Why do you scan/provide raws for a particular series? How do you get your WSJ? Why are you subscribed, if you are? Are you subscribed to anything else?
Simple. Because someone asked me. However, I often get asked in a very backhanded way, by people who want me to scan exclusively for them. I don't play favorites. I remember a lot of groups being left out in the cold by scanners who sit on their work until their group has a chance to get a head start or even get their release out first. I don't cotton to that at all. Just because you're the first, doesn't make your release the best. And you're hardly proving that you're the fastest when you're hamstringing everyone else by not making a raw available to the public.
I get both Shounen Jump and Young Magazine. I got Jump for Bleach so I could be our groups provider. That way we wouldn't have to rely on anyone else and we could also avoid unscrupulous scanners from delaying their scans. I got Young Magazine because a former group member, now running her own group, wanted to do xxxHolic. Eventually I just posted a thread to offer my services as a scanner. I pay for a subscription at a bookstore, so I might as well squeeze all the use I can out of these magazines. It was just wasteful to scan only one series out of each and throw the rest away, so I decided to find out who needed anything else. I ended up scanning all but 2 or 3 series in Shounen Jump and adding DerDero, Saru Lock and Coppelion to my Young Magazine scans.
As to why, It's just cheaper. I COULD buy Jump indivudually, but you get a price break for subscribing. Simple math.
9. Ju-ni focuses exclusively on scanlating Bleach. What do you say about issue that it has become stale in recent chapters? On that note you also recently started scanlating it into Spanish. What was the reasoning behind this? Is it as popular in the spanish community as it is in the english community?
I completely agree, but I do still love the series. Earlier on, it was great. Now, there's too much focus on the action of fight scenes and too little
work towards all the various plot threads. I think I said in the MH channel that there were so many loose threads that the story was in danger of unraveling. Granted, I like the action in the series, but there's so much more development that could be done. Kubo's gone from doing a damn fine story to turning his manga into little more than a storyboard for the anime and the pacing suffers for it. Take a look at a series like One Piece. Much more complex story and fantastic action, but the pacing doesn't suffer for it. Oda does in one chapter what would take Kubo 3 or 4, if not more, to accomplish.
There was no reason, really. Lsshin offered to translate to Spanish and I agreed to typeset it. It started out as just a one-time "bonus chapter" to
surprise the rest of the staff, since I didn't tell them about it beforehand. But now he gets the script and we put out the Spanish alongside the English chapter. I don't know how popular Bleach is in the Spanish community, since I don't speak enough Spanish to ask. Our download numbers and the peers on the torrents seem to indicate that it's either not too well-known or Ju-Ni isn't too well-known. I'm leaning toward the latter, since there seem to be a number of Spanish Bleach sites out there.
10. If you were given the chance to write your own manga (and assume that you don't have to worry about cancellation or anything) what would the plot be? What would your characters be like and how would they develop?
Honestly, I'd love a crack at rewriting Bleach. Just sitting around and thinking of what COULD be done with the foundation Kubo's already laid is frustrating sometimes because I know he's never going to do anything that creative.
Beyond that, I dunno. I've thought about trying to pen something, even if it was just a stupid short story. I always seem to get distracted when I try. I've thought of a few ideas that might fit into US comics, but it always seems to be an idea for something already existing. A DC Elseworlds or Marvel What If?. I can't seem to come up with a decent original idea.
If I did get a manga up and running, I'd want to try and avoid the cliches that seem so prevalent in Shounen. The "power of friendship/love/etc" or generic burning shounen passion would not overcome all. Good Guys lose, sometimes. And there are generally lasting consequences. Look at Bleach. Ichigo beats an Arrancar and their nonexistent heart grows three sizes and all of a sudden they're willing to jump up and fight their former allies. Ichigo loses and his plot armor protects him from serious injury. I don't like that. I'm not saying that it would be bleak, but it would be less lighthearted than most shounen is.
One archetype that I love is the antihero. We've seen flawed heroes and guys who do the wrong thing for the right reason, but I want to see a guy who does the right thing for all the wrong reasons. After all, you know there are doctors out there who enjoy the cutting and the bleeding just as much as others enjoy saving people. But every monster needs a human facet to connect the reader. There would be slim glimpses into the character. Would there be love? Probably, but not as you or I would describe it. The love a wolf for his pack, maybe. Something primitive, but recognizable.
Character design would be would also play a part in the story. I don't want rippling muscle-men or women that are a single stumble from busting out of
their shirts (Screw you, Rob Liefield!), but people suited to the role they play. Look at a trained soldier, used to routine basic training exercise and
compare that build to a construction worker who engages in daily physical labor. Both are realistic, within their own respective fields. Back in high school, I knew half the football team. Some of them were big guys, but not particularly well-defined. Strong as hell, though. But that's how they trained themselves.
I also want each character in a story to have a history. THey existed before the story, so to speak, and so they had lives before it began. That history plays a major part in how we see them during the tale. This could all be revealed as the story goes on, but I'd prefer to keep it believeable. Your average teenager won't have miltary training without good reason. Shanin in Angel Heart, for example. Raised practically from birth to be an assassin. That suspends disbelief without hanging it from a gibbet.
One thing that I want to do is get a few classics reimagined as manga or anime. If The Count of Monte Cristo could do it, I think I can get a few other, more modern series on the drawing board. Dune would be pretty epic, if done right. I'm also wondering if the Bourne trilogy (and yes, it is ONLY A TRILOGY AND I WILL HAVE WORDS WITH ANYONE WHO SAYS OTHERWISE!) might make a good anime, if done in the same style as Monster. I like anime and manga because a lot of the observations and revelations come from a character's thoughts. Internal monologues are commonplace in anime/manga, so it wouldn't be out of place. It'd also be easier to illustrate Bourne's falling into the mists of his fractured memory. Fade the background to black and fog rolls in as flashes of light and the sounds of explosions from from the distance. Cain is for Charlie and Delta is for Cain. Find Carlos, trap Carlos, KILL Carlos.
I wonder what it'd take to get that to happen. That idea started when I tried to localize the name Marie St Jacques and came up with Sanjaku Mari. ^_^
You can find Ju-Ni's releases here
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