Author Interview #4: Mahoutsukai
Zephyrus OP
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Welcome to our first interview of the New Year! We decided to try something a little different and interview a non-English scanlation group, the Polish Group Mahoutsukai!

This interview was a little challenging since they requested questions to be written beforehand, presumably so they had plenty of time to make sure they understood the questions being asked. This kept me from being able to ask follow-up questions to answers as I received all of them at once. I hope our readers will ask these follow-up questions about anything they find interesting.

Out of respect for the group, I have tried to keep the interview as unedited as possible, making changes only where I thought readers might have a hard time understanding. I made these edits with permission from the group leader, @Pesip. Any mistakes you may see here are purely the results of my misunderstanding of the interpreter's intent.

Enjoy the read and as always, feel free to ask any questions of the interviewee, @gerasik1999!

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Before we begin, please introduce yourself and your group to our readers!

Well I’m the translator and co-administrator in Mahoutsukai, manga and other Japanese creations are my hobby and I spent much time doing what I like and what gives me a lot of pleasure. I don’t have any particular favorite genre if it concern anime, manga or novels. I'm simply a person that reads everything that comes from japan excluding genres such as Hentai, Yuri, or Yaoi. To be clear I don’t harbor any bad feelings to people who read that kind of things but i know a lot of people who are really... aggressively against popularizing this kind of thing.
As for Mahoutsukai the group itself is really friendly. As for its staff, they are readers in our country. We are also very open for new people who want to take their chance in scanlations. We try to provide such people a friendly environment to try what it’s like to be on the other side of mirror where you’re the one responsible for doing manga for others and not only read work of others.
Mahoutsukai isn’t a big group but for me as well for the others administrators the key thing is to provide good atmosphere. We try to be as close to the readers as possible as I say: If you will be close to people they will as well be close to you and will help the group to grow and thanks to that we will be able to maybe have more staff and do what we do in better and faster way.

Does the Polish scanlation scene have any particular characteristics? For example, French scanlators are typically known to very strongly support the Japanese manga industry, dropping titles as soon as licenses are announced and discouraging anything that could hurt manga sales.

Well typical characteristics, the scanlating scene in poland is very divided and there are quite a lot of small groups who do scanlations. If I have to choose typical characteristic which describes polish scene it will be very tight competition between the bigger groups. As for you to understand: Mahoutsukai is one of the bigger groups in Poland and we are a stabilized group, but at the beginning we have a quite hard time to got to were we are today. Even today there some times are small conflicts regarding some things.

On our scanlation scene there are people who by getting big in short time have quite varied approach to some things. The example of that kind of group is Kettei-scans. They were a big group before Mahoutsukai started to get bigger but they have quite different way to do things. They are more closed on some things and do they work sometimes that causes tension with other groups but we should talk about good things so let’s do that.

As for supporting Japanae manga industry in Poland quite few especially big groups are encouraging readers to support Japanese industry but not all polish people are good in using english or reading from it. This is another quite important matter, because in Poland scantations are aimed especially at people who can’t or don’t like reading in english, or they don’t see anything for them, coming out from publishers in Poland.

What is your group's scanlation process? What happens from the second you get the raws until you release your work to the public?

After we get raws the journey begins. The translator searches the title to translate it to our native language. Unfortunately not all titles are translated to english so we are using original Japanese scans. After translation work is over, chapter goes to corrector, who cares about linguistic correctness of the text. In the meantime the editor starts to clean the scans and redrawing the background. If you ask our editors they will say its easy, but for me its a black magic. After that the chapter goes to the typesetter, whose job is to impose the polish text on the cleaned scans. And at last the hardest part of work, belong to our quality checker its a person who are skilled in all of earlier mentioned functions that person search for errors which slipped in the process and correct them. After that the chapter finally goes to the our faithful and sometimes impatient readers so that they can enjoy it and leave their opinion about it.

What is the state of the manga industry in Poland? Is Japanese culture popular?

State of this industry well… We have few publishers, but if you find something you like in our native language its hard to say. In my opinion in Poland publishers are mostly focused on cash so we have a few "good" series airing in Poland. But If you will search it’s quite likely that you will find something that will interests you. As for Japanesee culture there are bigger groups of fans, so I will say, that it is popular but not in big scale. Let's simply say that if you like Japan or their creations you won’t have a problem to get in touch with others people who have same or similar hobby.

Is it difficult to find large websites that are willing to host non-English scanlations?

In my opinion this is quite difficult, in Poland there aren’t any big sites that could host such content the groups mostly do it on their sites using their own reader and post it there. Some groups like ours decided to post it on Mangadex and we are happy we do so, because we can be open on english readers and they can get to know us. In addition this is also a kind of promotion for our scanlating scene as entirety so we are happy. But in conclusion It is hard to find such websites but we do what we like so we must cope with it.

Is there a community of scanlators of Poland? To clarify, a lot of the "big" name groups seem to have members that know each other, at least in the English-speaking scene. Are Polish groups closely knit or not?

In my opinion groups in Poland are quite close to each other, we know each other and are trying to help each other if only we could do so. But as I mentioned earlier not all groups are like that. This kind of situation concern smaller groups and they sometimes search for help or helping bigger ones with work. But there are also conflicts between bigger groups. For example last time between Mahoutsukai and Kettei. But looking objectively In Poland scanlating scene is closely knit and in terms of group-group contacts we are close and friendly to each other.

How do you choose your projects?

Well in Mahoutsukai there are two ways of choosing new projects. First is to decide inside the group and then post the information about new series. Inside the group we sometimes vote on what to do next or simply propose some new works to choose from. Second type of deciding can be based on opinion of readers, such thing happens when we can’t decide and votes inside group are equal. That one of positives of being close to your readers. Most basic criteria of choosing are as always genre. For example in my case I can do almost everything so it’s easy to choose. But there is one very important aspect of choosing we can choose something in advance, but we prioritize already existing projects and new series come to our site only after we end one that we already doing. That’s way we don’t start a lot of projects for which the readers are waiting for and thanks to that readers are happy reading what we do and we are happy doing what we do for them.

Do you have any particular thoughts or feelings about the current state of MangaDex? What could we do better to serve non-English scanlation groups?

Well I think current state of the site is quite good and it’s easy to understand, As for what you can do for better contacts with non-English groups I think that things such as this interview are especially what you should do. You should be open for groups from other countries and by that help them grow, so the scanlating familly will continously get bigger, and bigger doing what we all love and providing readers wih new content so that they can be happy.

Lastly, if you could say anything to our readers, what would it be?

I will say, that mahoutsukai its open for everybody not only for polish people. If you want to know us better or simply talk about something we will be happy to write or talk to you. The people in mahoutsukai are open minded and like to get to know people from other countries. I will like to invite everybody that are interested in our group to our discord. You can find it on our site http://mahoutsukai-scans.blogspot.com. I hope that my answers will be satisfying to you and if anyone of the readers have additional questions please ask them. I also hope that our group will find here a warm place to stay and do what we love.
Last edited 6 mo ago by Zephyrus.
Holo
Administrator
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Thanks for the interview! It's very interesting to get a perspective of the scanlation scene from a Non-English group.
icelord
Developer
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Great idea to interview non-english groups .

@gerasik1999
I got one question:
Does the polish scene have things such as sniping and drama in general?
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Well it have, but it's a rare thing if we have someting like that generally we try to smooth things up and get on the good terms with each other in group-group contacts. If a drama occur it usualy short but intense and after some time everything comes back to normal. As for sniping on the polish scene groups usually know which group is doing specific project and i hardly ever hear about sniping. But you should take in consideration that I'm from bigger group so it's hard to tell what is happening in smaller ones.
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I loved reading this interview! Just like how Japanese manga culture brings all of us English speakers together to enjoy the stories (or argue about them lol), it seems that manga also offers the opportunity for people of all languages to come together over a shared love of the manga art form. Thanks as well to MangaDex for offering a fabulous platform for scanlators worldwide to reach a worldwide audience!
icelord
Developer
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Thank you for the answer gerasik :)
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Thanks for this ^^ That's kind from me, member of non-english group, that admins this big website think about us, small piece of readers non-english ? ? ?
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What project would be your favorite one that your group has done? And are there any projects that you are looking forward to that may not have been uploaded here yet, but are being worked on now?
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@Hounder As for my favorite project from mahotsukai, if you're asking about ended series it will be NAKANMON! Im quite a fan of this type of story. If you ask about series that we are currently doing it will be perhaps Seirou Opera As for for what I'm waiting for wchich isn't uploaded well its quite hard question. I read a lot of things and are waiting for everyone of them to be uploaded for that reson I can't anwser clearly to that part of your question
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It seems that you are rather fresh on the scanlation scene, or you just simply forgot about few important things. For example how the biggest Polish manga aggregator was taken down with DMCA, that's the reason why there is no such website, and no one right in their mind would start a new one now.
Also, have you ever seen a company that isn't oriented on profit? That is one thing, and the other would be how that stuff actually work. It's not too easy for a publisher from a country that many people didn't even hear of to get constant flow of many good titles.
I could actually elaborate further, but seeing that the interviewee didn't really understand the questions asked and was answering random things I see it unnecessary.
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There were such site, but it's closed for long time so why to mention it(I know this site and i had heard a lot about the reason of its closing) But we are speaking about present times and not about past. As for the the second part of your comment It was my subjective opinion and you can have your own. I don't think that being a publisher is an easy task, but I can have my own opinion about certain things even if its not good or bad. Lastly if you want to elaborate do so if not don't do that. As I was saying earlier everyone can have thier point of view and that is the beutiful part of discusing.
Last edited 6 mo ago by gerasik1999.
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@gerasik1999
Hej. Ja czytam raczej tylko po angielsku ale jeśli bedziecie kiedys potrzebowac pomocy w kontaktach polsko-angielskich to daj znac. Chetnie pomoge rodakom.

Best wishes to you and Mahoutskai!
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Oczywiście chętnie skorzystamy z pomocy liczę na to, że się dogadamy, zapraszam serdecznie na naszego Discorda.

We will also appreciate help from people from abroad who have some time and who can help us, for example with cleaning and editing. We are open group for any people polish and english speaking who want to try in this two roles in scanlation group
Last edited 6 mo ago by gerasik1999.
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I visited the Yatta.pl store in Gdansk and was impressed by the amount of translated manga, quite a few titles with no English official translation. Unfortunately they don’t have anything in English so I was kinda sad lol.
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Several times i heard a statment that publishers are observing scanlation scene, checking how popular are specific titles. In adition they check also how specific title are doing on the scantation scene before maybe licensing it. It's sad that you couldn't find enything in english I hope that maybe next time you will have better luck ?
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A polish group. Insert meme: and then the winged hussars arrived!
I read and watch stuff in english as i'm lucky enough to use interwebs for so long that it taught me better engrish then the school system ?
здраствуйте говоришь по русски? Sorry, it's a bad joke.
Jesteście jedną z większych grup z polski. Dobrze wiedzieć, że wam się powodzi. Moje osobiste doświaczenie z polskim tłumaczeniem jest mieszane. Z mang, które osobiście posiadam np. The Breaker(Jeon Geuk-Jin/Park Jin-Hwan) przez Yumegari wydaje się wysokiej jakości ale np. Hellsing(Kohta Hirano) jeśli dobrze pamiętam przez J.P.Fantastica jest moim zdaniem okropne, za każdym razem kiedy czytam pierwszych parę stron zastanawiam się czy to nie było tłumaczone na polski z angielskiego tłumaczenia.
Anyway it's time to stop my foreign mumbling. I'm definitely gonna check out your work.
LowSanity out!(cringy) I'm just gonna walk myself out ?
Last edited 6 mo ago by LowSanity.
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Привет, я немного знаю русский язык ?
We know that publishers can mess up manga, there are many such titles. Many of our translators practice foreign languagees such as (Russian, German, Spanish,) with manga so we even encourage our staff members to combine doing something useful and at the same time pleasurable . My co-admins often are emphasizing our growth, I don't deny even though I personally don't care if the group is small or large. It is important to choose manga that suit your abilities. I wish each group to have as much pleasure as possible and to be active as long as possible.
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@LowSanity JPF z angielskiego nie tłumaczy, to nie Waneko. Ich nowe tłumaczenia są IMO okej (stare. hmm. spuśćmy zasłonę milczenia). Btw, jak chcesz zobaczyć prawdziwe drewno, polecam Hanami. Zwłaszcza Mushishi.

Hmm, dunno about the cash, after all, there are more and more niche titles published (at least that's my impression). Gotta agree about the scanlation community, though. Reading this kind of made me nostalgic for the Good Old Days when there was still that one aggregator site around and everything was so easily available, now a group shuts down and their stuff is lost (I feel like back then there were a bit more groups around, too? Might be just my nostalgia glasses, though).
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I'm simply a person that reads everything that comes from japan excluding genres such as Hentai, Yuri, or Yaoi. To be clear I don’t harbor any bad feelings to people who read that kind of things but i know a lot of people who are really... aggressively against popularizing this kind of thing.


Have you considered disassociating with these people? :^)

I'm not familiar with your scanlations as I don't know polish.
Do you or your group have particularities with typesetting and redrawing? Just the basic effects and simple redrawing; or do they go as detailed as they can?
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Mahoutsukai is one of the bigger groups in Poland.

Wut? Umm, no? What about Phoenix Scans and Dracaena who do like 600+ chapters per year? While Maho do like 100 or less?
And that's not mentioning Hayate (who're working on scanlations since 2004 and even have their own Hayatecon, lol), Mia Universe, Boys Love (both since 2007) and a few others. You're one of the smaller groups. Ketter also never was a big group. You don't know much about sniping or dramas, because they happen between the bigger groups or happened way before your founding.

Overall I find this interview a bit bland. It doesn't show the real Polish scanlation scene or industry. Or rather it does, but from "newbie" point of view. It would be more interesting if it was done with a "veteran", who was working on Polish scanlations from the very beginning (like Aqvario from Hayate or Kamatori). Though new groups aren't really in contact with older ones, probably due to the age difference between it's members. There were quite a lot of interesiting dramas and happenings, that foreign people would find funny or interesting.
Things like CM being closed should be talked about. Same about Wszechbiblia (Polish version of mangaupdates that died), Scanlators Union against aggregators and other little things, that practically shaped everything. Or like in the 90. and early 2000 people smuggled foreign manga into the country, did a quick translation with pencil on the pages and shared with others. Same happened with anime on VHS. Live fandubbing was really fun, lol. Without these most Polish people wouldn't even know about manga.

Also you forgot to mention that only 2 or 3 groups buy their own scans and the rest are leeching on English scanlators – predominantly without permission or even credit ?

And @Pesip yeah, publishers do check through scanlators sites how a manga is received by readers. In the past they checked CM's top list (especially Waneko), but now I know for sure that Ashi from Dracaena is in contact with a few publishers, sending them stats and feedback of titles they ask about. I'm sure other big groups do the same.

Ok, it's getting kinda long, so cheers.