Patience Is a Virtue, Except When It Comes to Ongoing Scanlations

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I will be busy within the next ten days, so posts may be a tad infrequent/shorter than normal. I’ll be back off my feet come Christmas time.

For those unaware, I like to partake in manga whenever anime feels too loaded to sit through. Manga, I feel, is an easier hobby to partake in due to the reader determining their own pace, while anime runs on its own, expecting you to keep its pace. Not to mention, reading a single chapter of any manga will inevitably be much faster than a single episode of a standard anime. As a critic, it’s nice to be able to consume things at a pace I’m comfortable with, which allows me to think without having to worry about constantly remaining vigilant for more information. There’s a catch, however, to the slow and steady approach to scanlating manga over streaming anime: consistency is not guaranteed.

Look above at the picture of Sekitou Elergy via MangaHere and the rate of its scanlation. It’s a surprise the fiftieth chapter is even there at all, as the series seems to be all but abandoned by this point, despite its ongoing status. With no official English release for the books that I can find, I’m left to sit and wait, hoping that someday something will come of it. Though I’m pessimistic, there’s always that slight chance that someone will pick it up. It’s all a matter of popularity and feedback, so it seems Sekitou Elergy isn’t as popular as I feel it deserves credit for.

More than lamenting upon lost series, however, is the prospect of reading a manga through to the end with infrequent updates. I can’t count the number of times where I’ve read a manga when it’s more than halfway scanlated, come to the end of the scanlation, then have to wait anywhere from a few months to a few years to finally see its ending come in English form. Aside from the frustration of waiting extended and unpredictable periods of time, it also becomes harder to retain everything about the series worth noting.

A memory of something significant or similar can only stretch so far within the subconscious, depending on its importance to the person. When it comes to manga that one has been reading for years, reading a new chapter may as well be reading the first chapter, as while the characters and settings may ring familiar, the impact of their actions and intrigue have all but been lost. This is especially so for manga that are updated with new chapters once every month or so. Manga like Haji-Otsu, which I’ve already reviewed, and Tonari no Kashiwagi-san, which I plan to review, become harder to analyze in their entirety when all you recall clearly is the last fourth of the manga’s bulk. Being patient with scanlations shows a definitive interest and commitment to following through with something, but it can also prove to be an internal storm of questioning how much you can emphasize when deciding on a particular score. This problem escalates when the manga is fairly uninspired.

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The quick fix to this would be to only read manga with consistent updates. Take Noblesse for example. An update every week, more or less. Not all manga get this kind of treatment, unfortunately, as a large number of less popular titles get pushed to the backseat to make room for what brings in the crowds. There may be some intriguing, relatively unknown manga with an interesting premise that is hardly being worked on, because Shounen Jump’s latest shiny scrap piece is hogging all the more efficient scanlators. If you happen to enjoy the more publicized works of popular mangakas, then you’re in a safe spot. For those like me who enjoy venturing out into the world unknown, you better pray that someone else is just as dedicated to it. Or you could learn Japanese.

Another solution to this is to only read completed manga. But I know how hard that can be. Some stories just feel too filled to the brim with potential that we can’t help but start them early on. Even I was hesitant to start Sekitou Elergy knowing it had been updated once in the last four years, but I don’t regret reading it in the slightest. Of course, now I have this lingering longness reminiscent of a princess in a secluded castle… One could also simply buy the English-translated versions via bookstores and what-not, but that usually entails that the series was finished scanlating regardless—that or it’s just that popular.

Exceptions will always arise, as so with almost every correlating string of events. The point of this post wasn’t to have the reader take my ratings for manga with a grain of salt, but to provide a sort of justification for why it may seem harder for me to accurately describe in detail the rights and the wrongs of a particular story. I have a number of upcoming manga reviews that deal with this elongated wait of upcoming scanlations, and going back for new updates almost feels like stepping into a new world entirely, which is entirely off-putting. I could always re-read them from the beginning, but Nana to Kaoru has somewhere near 150 chapters. Re-reading that from the beginning is something I will spend an eternity on. An eternity, I could say, that feels the same as waiting for a manga to finish.

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