The Age of Fansubbers and Money

There’s been a lot of hubbub lately about scanlating and moneymaking. Here’s a post from us regarding the other side of the anime/manga fandom.

Now before continuing, here’s a disclaimer. Is this post going to be biased?

Oh hell yes.

Here’s the thing;

Watermarks are retarded

Does Commie use watermarks? No. Not even a logo of the group plastered all over the title scene, which some notable groups love to do.

Do you see this shit? Do you know how fucking annoying that is?

Why do scanlation groups do retarded things like the above? The answer is Money, which will be covered a bit later. For now, more ranting about how incredibly retarded watermarks are.

The argument scanlators have is that they want people who read manga online to know where it came from. Does it fucking matter? You’re a fucking pirate, get over yourselves.

You hear a lot about how Mangafox “steals” their work, and in response scanlators have resorted to watermarking a perfectly good release to shit.

Guess what? Anime streaming sites exist too. There are a fucking ton of them, and we at Commie don’t give a single shit about our “work” being “stolen”. We don’t even use logos. If you were to stream our release on a random site, unless the upload has [Commie] in the title, you would have no fucking idea it was from us. (Unless, of course, you recognize LT Finnegan, but that’s a separate story)

There also exists a “good” manga reading site, Batoto. Batoto actually allows scanlators to be paid for their work through ad revenue. Look around on this site. Do you see ads? No. Do you think any of the 50 million anime streaming sites listed on Google pays us? No, no they don’t.

So how does fansubbing remain alive? What motivates people to do it, if it isn’t money?

Donations. Commie has subsisted entirely on donations and Fileserve money. Now Fileserve is dead, and we will have to do with only donations just like Wikipedia. We have zero ad revenue, no other sites paying us, and absolutely no watermarks.

Now scanlators might argue:

The amount of work put into scanlating is greater than that of fansubbing.


The average team of people that sees an episode from start to finish consists of at least five people, each putting in a couple of hours. That’s one episode. We do (or at least try to do) seventeen episodes a week. How, you may ask? Sheer willpower and manpower. Commie has a staff of over twenty active members, and we hope to at least double that. None of them are paid. None of them ask to be paid. They do this for the pride, for the enjoyment, and honestly, for the friends you can make while subbing cartoons. Proof? Over 70 people have applied for intern positions in the last two months. These people want to “give back” to the community, and some of them will go on to do exactly that.

A server for providing manga is more expensive than a fansubbing server.

Again, bullshit. If the guys running those things had any idea of efficient coding, a 100mbps server with a decent quad core CPU could provide for everything. Such servers are cheap, $100 at most. Incidentally, encoding the average 720p anime episode would take at least four hours on said server. Bandwidth? What about bandwidth? Commie’s server dishes out 3TB a month, and our XDCC puts out another TB on top of that. Even if you stored your goddamn pictures in uncompressed PNG at full resolution, they would each be about 2MB. You could fit 150 of those pictures in one anime episode (100 for 10bit).

In conclusion? There is no conclusion. There are “good” scanlators out there who don’t watermark their releases, but their number has been consistently dwindling. Get over yourselves.

You are complaining about people stealing your already stolen work.

Compared to the [author]’s work, ours is a shitstain, only worth minor credit and a read.

If scanlating completely dies due to people protesting over not being paid for a hobby, then we fansubbers will be laughing at you (not that we’re not already). While you wage war with Mangafox we at Commie will continue providing as many series as humanly possible while training an entire generation of interns.

Long live fansubbing

Posted by RHExcelion under I'm not being sarcastic why would you think I'm being sarcastic, International Politics, Red Army Parades | Permalink

355 Responses to “The Age of Fansubbers and Money”

  1. luga says:

    deep shit… I always thought the same way but never cared enought about them since scanlating was continuing fine, I love the part where it’s “you don’t want somebody to steal your STOLEN realease, you’re a pirate get over it” epic fact, well what can you say, stupidity, humans, they’re everywhere, peace out.

  2. Nantes says:

    You, sir, are an idiot for having refused me for editor.

    But for this post, I love you.

  3. The Moondoggie says:

    What’s with the BS post? Sounds like you are angry scanlators can afford better equipment than you guys.

    “Now scanlators might argue…”

    BS. All BS. First scanlators know the importance of upholding the old code: we are not to profit from scanlation/fansubbing. These are “for fans, by fans.” And they are supposed to be free. Why? Because when you start making a living out of scanlation/fansubbing, it becomes piracy.

    Is it piracy to take an anime/manga, translate it, and give it away to fans? Copyright holders might say yes. But can you really say that outside Japan where trying to build a market out of anime and manga is unprofitable? The reason we scan/sub is because there is no market in the first place.

    So why the need for Ads cash from Batoto? Same reason you ask for donations: better equipment. Also, they don’t have to ask money from downloaders. Scanlated Manga is now officially cash-free between the scanlators and the readers.

    I seriously think you, your team and the whole fansubbing community, SHOULD also try to ask anime streaming sites for donations too. This is the main reason why copyright holders point at you guys and call you pirates. In the first place, public streaming sites and manga viewing sites which profit from Ads and use your releases is in violation of the “for fans” code, “since they “profit and make a living” out of free works that should be free. The way the scanlation community do this is by the way of watermarks.

    • Jukey says:

      >Because when you start making a living out of scanlation/fansubbing, it becomes piracy.

      It’s piracy either way.

      >The reason we scan/sub is because there is no market in the first place.

      Bullshit, see crunchyroll, funimation, jmanga, etc.

      >This is the main reason why copyright holders point at you guys and call you pirates

      No, the main reason they point at us and call us pirates is because we are pirates.

  4. lvhina says:

    commie should watermark their encodes “brought to you by cr” and than the money/pirate argument falls flat… idiots

    • lvhina says:

      More effort goes into redrawing and cleaning manga than it does to retime CR scripts to a better raw … so maybe its like being acknowledged for the work done

    • EdMX says:

      Truth be told, people don’t give a fuck if you redraw – so long as they get to read it. I know this full and well because I work in a scanlation group and we oftentimes tease at how pathetic some group releases are (not to mention their scripts too, for the love of God), and how we could do a fuck better job – but people comment and say “this shit’s the best fawk more!” like blind bats, because that’s all they want. They leech and so long as they get to read what happens, they couldn’t care less if you removed words from a translucent bubble or cleared out every single sound effect and made it into an English equivalent.

      The sad truth is that only a handful of people will TRULY appreciate well-edited redraws. More than 90% probably won’t even notice. So all the effort that scanlators love to boast about is pure cock talk, because most people don’t even care.

      Why does my group put priority on redraws? Because we roll that way. We don’t want to release shitty releases, and it’s the same thing for Commie, I believe. Because of that, I can’t use the argument of “redrawing shit” being “harder” than fan subbing, because it’s all up to you whether or not you WANT to make editing manga a whole big deal in the first place.

  5. Minazuki Sora says:

    Awesome man! This is exactly what I think. I’m a fansubber/scanlator and I don’t give a single fuck about anyone who would “stole” my works. Whenever I post a manga chapter, someone else upload it to mangafox immediately, so why would I care? And guess what? With each chapter, my site gets like 0.1 percent of mangafox views, but why should I give a fuck? Honestly it’s fucking retard to war with mangafox or the likes and use those logos bullshit. I’d rather use my time to work or play games instead.

  6. betawatcher says:

    I’m a scanlator, and there are some things I agree on and some I don’t agree on.

    1. Everyone being pirates: the scanlation group I worked for had this issue with somebody (not mangafox) deliberately took our releases, removed the credits page, uploaded it and claimed it was hers. I was butthurt by it… or not. I’m still wondering how many people notice the difference between one editor in a group or another. The only meaningful praise for me is the group leader’s. I don’t even check the comments for the release man. In the end, my group put watermarks but they’re just on a tiny part of the page, it’s not like they’re obstructing anything :-/

    2. Watermarks: I honestly don’t care about who scanlates what but this differs in the anime scene. (The only time I care is when I notice an editor doing an awesome job – and you have to be an editor to know that cos no one else gives a fuck) I download releases, so I have to know which fansub group does what series. And when I collect shows like that I start to notice which groups are good & which are bad. But cos I don’t help with fansubbing and have mediocre Japanese skills, I can’t tell the difference anymore than that. I guess watermarks/ credits (when I notice) are important to me when I wanna know which fansub group to collect from if I stream a show, but I don’t even stream shows nowadays. I’m learning more about who does what show from downloading than watermarks.

    3. ‘If scanlating completely dies due to people protesting over not being paid for a hobby’
    No. I scanlate for a hobby. I think most people who scanlate do the same too. If it’s not for the recognition (not from the fans) it’s because I just love doing it. I’m not gonna stop anytime soon.

    4. And I totally agree about the amount of work & the server stuff. The only thing preventing me from experimenting with fansubbing is the resources. Manga raws are 10x smaller and we don’t have the pressure to release on time like fansubbers do. Who came up with this argument anyway?! I say bullshit too.

  7. Ponbiki says:

    This is an interesting subject and it was nice to hear viewpoints from both fansub and scanlating groups.

    I’ve only worked on the fansub side, and that was years ago before things such as streaming sites existed, but here is my viewpoint on the subject.

    I would like to believe that most of the people involved in fansubbing and scanlating do this purely as a hobby and really have no intention of trying to profit off it. I also doubt the watermarks and other credits are created out of pride or vanity on the group’s part either. As I see it they are mostly just marketing devices in a sense, merely to let viewers know what kind of quality to expect. When I was involved in fansubbing I really didn’t care about the “sense of pride” stuff in the slightest and like RHExcelion mentioned did this mostly to make/hang out with friends.

    The problem unfortunately lies with the streaming sites though whether we choose to ignore them or not. I believe the main issue most groups have with streaming sites is that the copyright holders usually only see these large sites, and relate them (and unfortunately the content on them) directly to the losses of revenue. Seeing these sites making what is sometimes a substantial profit in ad revenue only further puts these sites under the copyright holders’ radar and increases the danger of legal action being taken. Having your groups product on such a site sort of, in the copyright holders’ eyes, makes your group seem like an accomplice who, even though your group isn’t receiving anything, they likely see as profiting with the site. Most groups would obviously like to avoid such undesirable attention thus the animosity.

    I think watermarks, especially obtrusive ones, are going in the completely wrong direction though as they really do not solve anything and ultimately only end up angering your viewers. On a side note, I personally have always enjoyed it when fansub groups go to great lengths to create an appealing logo to put in the opening credits and inconspicuously integrate their staff’s names alongside those of the official staff. I really see no ill intent with doing something like that.

  8. Twink says:

    I rarely go to the scanlators’ website and use their manga reader. I rather visit Mangafox or Mangareader to read manga just because at least they don’t try to deny the fact that their purpose is to make money off the scanlations. Most if not all scanlation groups would tell you to not support these groups because they don’t respect the wishes of the the scanlators. Total BS. As if they respect the wishes of the author. More people supporting Mangafox and sites alike = less money for the scanlators = all about the money. Hell, there are even dramas within the scanlator groups about money issues. I beleive Frankie-House disbanded due to meny issue.

    @Ponbiki – You are very naive if you think groups are not watermarking out of pride or vanity. I wish you were right but every single group out there watermarks/puts logos to show they were better, to spread their names and pretty much to stroke their ego. Remember when not having AFX, fancy karaoke, fancy typesetting, signs, and a logo matching the show’s logo made the group a shitty one? There were only a handful of groups who could pull that off and they were immensely popular. If your group didn’t have that you were pretty much shun out even if your encodes were perfect.

    Some people do scanlate/fansub as a hobby without trying to make a profit but most will squeeze every penny they can from their pirated work.

    • betawatcher says:

      That’s a sweeping statement you’re making there… Have you worked with a substantial amount of scanlation groups to be sure that they only want to profit off scanlation?

  9. EdMX says:

    I’m a translator/editor at a scanlation group, and at one point we thought of putting watermarks because of similar reasons of “stealing” something already “stolen”, but in the end we didn’t.

    Why? Because it’s fucking ugly.

    I read other groups scans, and it disgusts the hell out of me when I see watermarks – so I guess from the same point of view, I wouldn’t want to do that to my own works, as well.

    Plus, I don’t think people could care less who did what. It’s cock talk to boast you did a certain release – but at the very least, we’d like to be credited whenever and wherever possible.

    I don’t want to police all sites that might have my work uploaded or something like that – that’s being paranoid. But whenever someone comments on my blog for a job well done, that’s enough for me.

    And for that, I don’t compromise on my releases. Make the best edits and redraws and spend lots of time making sure the release is worth putting my name on (in the credits page), and that’s about it. I won’t use that argument to say scanlating is harder than subbing. In fact, people who DO say that probably lack the PS skills to make their life easier. Is it all that hard to clear out translucent bubbles or re-draw gaps in 2-page spreads?

    No. It isn’t. If you bitch about shit like that being hard, then you should seriously reconsider being an editor in a scanlation group.

  10. Orz says:

    If only Batoto has an RSS feed for each manga series like Mangafox(I follow a LOT of ongoing series – around 167 according to my MAL manga list), I’d happily use Batoto instead..

  11. Asakura says:

    PinoyManga Scans does this shit EVEN WORSE…. =/

  12. chiisaiya says:

    it sucks when a new release is posted and it has a watermark on it!!, damn, PinoyManga Scans

  13. Pail says:

    I have a penis.

  14. maglev45 says:

    All hail [Commie]!

  15. Erem says:

    man fuck those guys who use watermarks. I agree with what you said. And to the guy bitching about them needing better money for equipment. If they had mangafox host the files for them what fucking equipment would they need?

  16. eterychan says:

    Great post. Those people who are angry to mangafox.com are retards. Oh, I am a bit sad too when people claimed my doings as theirs. But Mangafox keeps all the credit pages intact, what are they butthurt for? They should be grateful instead.

  17. wantei says:

    TO hell with watermarks those things are annoying as hell.

  18. milkymao says:


  19. Maniac says:

    Definitely agree…

  20. yuriko says:

    well said, commie. idk if pinoysubs are from my 3rd world hometown, but i am definitely not proud of them.

    • The Moondoggie says:

      They are. And they have the same reason for going for the Bantoto ride because…

      You do hell know the prices here right?

      In any case, idk if you guys know… But there is a way to dl from Bantoto without the black marks that you get when you just click save the image.

      Tip: There are two sets of scans.

      Hey, net programmers here: Getting any ideas?

  21. Tyler says:

    what exactly do scanlation groups need dedicated servers for?

    For fansubs i can see it, they need to re-encode video into smaller files and what not, but what do people who edit pictures need it for?

  22. Luls. says:

    MangaFox takes the releases from scanlation groups, strips off the credit page, and uploads it on their site.
    That’s like someone taking fansubbing and just editing out any footage that includes anything about the group name or credits.

    —The more you know—

  23. Happy says:

    For what it’s worth, when I did textsetting for manga, I only put the group name in tiny letters at the bottom of the title page just so that the previous group who did it didn’t want to be associated with the series anymore. Otherwise, we’d have just left our names off it completely.

  24. laurens says:

    “A server for providing manga is more expensive than a fansubbing server.”

    Do not know if you know much about servers but do not claim something you do not know. You can’t compare torrent with providing manga. Torrent use less memory, while sharing images cost more(especially when manga providers will have 10000s requests per second). for example there are 100 people clicking next chapter(I’m sure there are a lot of time when there are 1000s but for example) 100 x 2mb = 200mbps internet is needed = 200×8=1.6gbit internet is needed to handle that smootly.

    it has nothing to do with coding or not. well, that is of course important but because something is coded correctly does not mean they can run under heavy load with a low end low bandwidth server.

    About the others, Yes watermarking might be annoying but bear with it. it is done for free so do not complain. don’t like it then what you can do is simple. Don’t read it or Translate is yourself!? People complain that there are watermarks but there are on all pages watermarks on manga reader and mangafox.

    • johnny_dickpants says:

      >About the others, Yes watermarking might be annoying but bear with it. it is done for free so do not complain.

      Something being free does not absolve it from criticism. If someone is being genuinely retarded, like all these groups watermarking scans, they damn well better expect to be told off for it.

  25. BambooStyx says:

    “Money is the source of all evil.”

    Heh. Not pride but money runs scanlations now.

    About Watermarking:
    They use around the same watermarking as stockphoto sites, easy to bypass. Trace…
    The annoying part is when they use perma-watermark which is in the original file.
    Hard to remove perma-water mark manually.

  26. mangalover23 says:

    Hey all I read the article I put watermarks on our scan but not for money. We just don’t want someone getting credit for what we do and love. I know it can be annoying so we try and do it not on every page. Also my group makes almost no money and the money that we do receive we buy raws. I love scanlation and I do it as a hobby. Not all groups are bad.

    • Takashi says:

      bullshit… all of it…

      fansubbers > pirates
      money makers of streaming sites.
      is just that simple…

      scanlators are no better… and guess what… batoto is just a piece of shit… really if some kid wants to have a major manga library… then at least tell hiom to go talk with E_K for tips or the 101 on that field so he can at least figure out WTF A GOD DAMN LANGUAGE FILTER IS, and how ppl can apply it at will.

      now… prozess and all those self centered scanlators out there…


      but since i am guessing you don’t even know the processing involved in obtaining a license of X-title… the just get over it… and enjoy your “hobby”

      cuz is a fact then that you are stealing someone else’s work… so what’s the difference in you stealing from the creator and some sites “stealing” your bandwith…

      BULLSHIT… you never cared about shit like that… i can tell you that much… this is all about E-FAME, E-GLORY AND FUCKING E-PENIS.

      fansubs and scanlators who whine about other sites ripping off their shit or whatever IS all the FUCKING same..

      you are hurt cuz your web page doesn’t have any visitors…
      you’re ass hurts because those ppl “thanking” you with their posts are in a site which is not your “official” one.

      i can keep stripping you guys off all day and i wouldn’t be able to finish, but the point remains

      scanlators steal directly from the creators… so your worse off than fansubbers LOL…

      we only put up with anime companies which for the most part pull out some kind of magic trick with the original plots replacing it with their own thus is not at the same level as the manga anymore. “in most cases, not always; there is always an exception to the rule”

      so figure that out… pirates whining about being pirated on is quite the funiest thing in this current times.


      • Passerby says:

        Takashi, you’re a tool especially if you are one of the leechers. The people who you claim to ‘steal’ from creators actually put their fuckin’ money, time and effort to bring to you for free all the manga that you would have had to pay otherwise and learn the language to read, you big moron.

        And if you were ever involved in scanlating, you would know that the argument about making money off scanlating is a just a big pile of shit – because there’s never enough money to be earned from file download sites or ads or whatever to pay all the staff involved in scanlating.

        So there you have it – scanlators don’t make money by scanlating, and they do it so that ungrateful idiots like you can enjoy manga for free; And as most of such manga are unlicensed and not available in English, it’s not taking away the creator’s income. So how could anyone with a gram of brain in their head possibly equate scanlators (who do the actual work to bring manga to you for free, you fuckin’ selfish imbeciles!) with scums like mangafox,who shamelessly STEAL scanlators’ work for PROFITEERING?! Do you understand what that means? If scanlators are non-profit organizations (but non-profit doesn’t mean there’s no revenue!), Mangafox are just thieves that profit from both the creators and scanlators, and also condemn the whole fan-scanlating communities as pirates by involvement.

        If you ever enjoyed scanlated manga, then at least get that right before you spew any more of that mindless crap in that post of yours.

  27. Random says:

    This is a bit of a tl;dr, but it’s my view of it, coming from a scanlator who has worked with some of the best in the hobby (I would say business, but that wouldn’t be correct.)

    Being a scanlator, and not only that, but being a scanlator in bigger groups, I have quite a good understanding of watermarks, mangafox, mangareader, and making profit from scanlation.

    First of all, what we do is really free advertising for the mangaka in Japan. We make their series popular in America without them having to pay or do anything.

    I mean, sure, I don’t like official/legal English manga (I actually hate it for a reason I will list later,) but I won’t pick up a series that has already been licensed, unless, of course, the official distributor is VOLUMES behind. I’m talking like 6-10 volumes behind. I will scanlate that (the current chapters running in the magazine,) but only because the official distributor is behind.

    Second, official licensors look at the stats/popularity of the scanlations, and if they’re doing well, they will sometimes decide to officially license it.

    And, of course, what pisses me off is that when they decide to license it, they send us, the ones who made the series popular in their target country, a cease and desist ordering us to stop. That naturally pisses me and other scanlators off; because one: they’re stopping us from doing what we love; and two: They, a huge legal corporation (or company,) fail to provide a product that surpasses what I, a fucking UNDERAGED, UNPROFESSIONAL 17-year-old kid, can produce in terms of both quality and speed.

    If they’re going to make me pay for product or service, I’d expect it to be at least as good as what I can make or do myself.

    Some groups exist for no reason other than profit; we refer to them as ‘profiteers.’
    Those groups will do ANYTHING to release first, because just like it is in fansubbing, when you release first, you get all the leechers, who either don’t care or don’t know what quality is, coming to your site and downloading (in this case, also reading) your release, which means MAJOR ad income. The quality groups are often attacked by the profiteers and have to defend their favorite series from being milked for money and treated as assets rather than art. They protect their series by using early raws (more about that in a moment) and releasing with a high quality/speed ratio. Of course, those groups that try to protect their series might sometimes also have ads on their site, but for some reasons I will get into later.

    Next thing, raws aren’t free, you know? Some sites depend on ad income and donations to buy raws. If you’re reading a series from either Weekly Shounen Jump, Weekly Shounen Sunday, Weekly Shounen Magazine, or a magazine published by Shueisha, chances are, you’re most likely reading it A WEEK AHEAD OF THE JAPANESE. Yes, that’s right; we get to read the Japanese’s manga almost a whole week ahead of them. Early raws exist. Shops in Japan get the magazine about five days before its street date, and, if they so choose, can take the magazine and scan it before its street date, illegally, of course, and they CAN (and most of the time, sooner or later DO) get busted.

    I know damn well that it’s wrong to release their manga before its street date, and I will admit that there is nothing that can make that right. We ARE pirates, after all, so there’s nothing we can do or say in our defense.

    I do believe, however, that if a group is putting out QUALITY work, keep in mind that I’m not talking about the quality that a leecher would notice, but an experienced scanlator, it would at least make the fact that they’re making profit out of the hobby a bit more justified, rather than a group that doesn’t care about quality and quickly rushes everything in order to do nothing but make profit.

    As for watermarks, I don’t support nor believe in them. They just destroy the artwork.

    About mangafox and mangareader, I don’t support them for two reasons. One, from what I remember, not only do they make profit off work they didn’t do (which is, so to speak, what us scanlators did in the first place, but at least we did actual work) but once removed credits pages and claimed to have scanlated everything themselves. I can’t speak for that as I wasn’t in the scene when that was going on (if it did at all.) And two, if you haven’t noticed, shit groups have been popping up out of nowhere releasing only popular manga with utter shit quality and hosting their releases nowhere else but Mangfox, Manga Reader, and a new online reader called Mangainn. If you do a whois lookup on the groups’ web domain, you’d find out that they’re OWNED by one of those three sites. Yes, that’s right; those big companies (one of which has servers located in the US) are illegally buying early raws and releasing series before their street date.

    In other words, the quality groups have to compete with Mangafox, Manga Reader, and Mangainn in terms of speed, because let’s face it, no matter what you do, experienced scanlators can beat them in quality without even trying (but, of course, we give it our all, anyway BECAUSE WE ACTUALLY GIVE A FUCK ABOUT WHAT WE DO.)

    You wouldn’t believe the time some people put into a quality clean, let alone redraw. Cleaning can be very time consuming when you’re learning. My first attempts at cleaning were about TWO HOURS for ONE page (out of a normally 16/18-page chapter) that looked like shit. Now, depending on the printing quality of the specific issue of the specific magazine that the chapter came in, I can clean a page in anywhere from five minutes to two hours for a clean that looks pretty damn amazing. A quality redraw can take anywhere from two minutes to a couple HOURS, depending on how big the redraw is and how difficult the redraw is. Note that this is all per page and not per chapter. Of course, it’s uncommon for just one person to do all the editing in bigger groups.

    You also have to take account the time for typesetting. Despite what people think, it may be the easiest job to do in scanlation, but if you want it done in a high-quality manner, it can be tricky. If you look at it that way, cleaning can be extremely easy as well if you were to not put time and effort to make it look nice. Typesetting isn’t just copy/paste the script into Photoshop’s text editor. You have to shape the text to fit the bubble yourself–on top of centering it perfectly (there is no way to ‘auto center’ the text.) I’m no typesetter, but typesetting a weekly can take a couple hours.

    That’s just my views on it. Sorry for the tl;dr, but I just thought I’d get that out there.

    • johnny_dickpants says:

      You sound like you aren’t a complete retard. I wish more of the scanfags were like you, bro.

      (please don’t ruin it by being one of those people that left half the gorram script in japanese because omgsosugoi)