The Advantages of Buying Printed Manga

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Ayappi here (*☻-☻*)

I love manga. The stories are much more in depth, come out earlier than their animes (most of the time) and I could easily binge read a series to the end in under 2 hours compared to a standard 12 episode anime. It’s also cheaper compared to buying the BD and Blu Rays of our favorite series, if you’re not a fan of Crunchyroll or other websites.

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Made using MS Paint, not joking

“Other websites” (you know what I’m talking about) aside, some of us genuinely want to support the artists. Some of us want to buy the manga and read without facing moral dilemmas or legal debates with people online. Some of us, just really like the idea of buying manga. In this day and age, there are two primary options the average manga fan could buy his or her favorite manga series, eBook (through Amazon or eBookJapan, etc.) and physical printed copies. Personally, despite the convenience of an all eBook library, I still prefer buying physical copies of my favorite manga series. Please do allow me to explain why:

We all know the benefits of eBooks. They’re lightweight, are probably cheaper than their physical counterparts, are not susceptible to the elements, and are just plain cooler in person compared to a traditional paperback. The main problem I have with eBooks however, is that while I could easily read them on my iPad (which is a bonus considering how I use an iPad as my main school computer) on the car ride to school, without bringing a bigger bag to accomodate the manga, too many variables come into play that keep bothering me (and by extension my wallet).

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Losing manga + Losing money =

One of my concerns is how selecting a certain service will lock you to their proprietary software and file formats, as well as lock you in their manga collection. In other words, this means I can’t read my eBookJapan purchases in my Kobo reader, or I can’t read the ones I purchased from Rakuten Kobo in the ebIReader app on my iPad. This limits what you could read, and it certainly in some cases defeats the “convenience” part of the eBooks. So this means, if you wanted to read Blend S, but it isn’t available in Kindle, you’re pretty much toast. While you could argue that it’s as simple as installing the apps for the individual services and making accounts for all of them, I would much rather save myself the frustration of remembering where I put this and that. This is especially when I get to a point when I have over 90 titles already on hand.

However, probably the biggest worry I have is really the possibility of how eBooks will not end up well in Japan. The country has a history of preferring physical over digital media, and I remember reading an article as to why Spotify will fail in Japan due to this exact reason. While yes, it hasn’t happened yet, and there is an increasing number of articles on eBooks in Hatena Blog (Japanese blogging platform), I would save myself the uncertainty. The eBook manga may be cheap sometimes (which I’ll get to in a minute), but losing all my purchases because of the shutdown of the servers hosting them, is not a good tradeoff. I’m pretty sure anyone would go bonkers if they lost even just JPY10000 worth of manga, which isn’t much in my opinion but still big. And even if eBooks become successful in Japan, that doesn’t mean the companies that host eBooks would eventually shut down soon. We’re talking huge money here after all.

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The smile on my face when these arrived. JPY1000 well spent

Now let me get into why I prefer buying the physical copies of my favorite manga versus the digital ones. First and foremost, there are just some things you couldn’t get from a digital copy compared to when buying a physical copy. I’m talking about character cards, clear files, alternative covers, even something as mundane as those small strips of paper that advertise the manga or its anime after each volume. They’re very small things, but honestly, they make me happy knowing that I have something probably not a lot of people have or take for granted. Also, sometimes, at least in my experience, these art cards are things not easily found online, or sold in conventions and anime goods stores, so I treasure them personally.

Another thing is the long term effects of buying a physical copy. For one thing, physical copies could be a form of investment because you could resell the manga after you’ve read it if you want extra money in your pocket. You probably won’t be able to get all your money back (unless you’re lucky), but you at least get a fraction of it back. In some cases, the cost after reselling could be significantly less than discounts on eBook services. This is something eBooks can’t do, and is probably one of the big advantages of physical copies over eBooks, at least that’s how I know it to be. If you know of a service that allows you to sell eBooks, please do let me know.

Another long term effect, given you take really good care of your books, is that their existence is not bound by some company. Like I mentioned earlier, your eBooks are bound by the existence and operation of the company’s servers. With physical books, it’s all on you. Sure, it’s more susceptible to weather damage, or the occasional pest eating the paper, but I personally handle my books carefully so I have no problems so far. Well save for one Dengeki magazine, but really it’s just a chip on the end. Still perfectly readable.

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Finally got to upload this after the wonderful fast internet yesterday

Also, and let’s face it, it just looks cooler to have an entire library of your favorite manga. While yes, swiping on a screen or tapping on a keyboard to turn the page is cool and the future, personally I find the look and feel of a library more relaxing while still being really cool. Imagine it, a wall of manga, a recliner beside a window in a room lit by warm lighting. Probably a fireplace too, because I’m weak to the cold.

Now to be fair, this isn’t to say eBooks should be entirely avoided. There are some cases where eBooks could actually make lots more sense compared to importing manga or buying the physical translated copies of our favorite manga. One such scenario I could think of is if the customs office in your country is horrible, and you’d much rather jump off a cliff than deal with their corrupt ways, or if importing goods from Japan is illegal (never heard of it but who knows). With an eBook, all you need is a credit card and you’re good to go. No customs duties, headaches or missing packages and money.

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What Umaru’s reading might make sense for eBooks

Another scenario where the limited nature of eBooks might make sense is if we’re buying one of those “Monthly” or “Weekly” manga magazines such as everyone’s favorite Shonen Jump or Monthly Comic Dengeki Daioh, or Weekly Sunday Champion. I’m actually considering doing this once I get more allowance (teehee). These are those really thick manga magazines you see in anime that could easily take up space at home. I’m pretty sure most of us throw out read, old magazines at some point in our lives, so this actually makes sense, especially if you’re lacking living space. You bought your monthly or weekly manga, got to read it, and you don’t have to worry about where to stash it until the trash collector comes.

It also makes sense given how these weekly/monthly manga are better read within a week of their release dates. I swear, importing a weekly or monthly manga is stupid in practice. By the time it arrives in your doorstep, next month’s or week’s issue is already out. You’re much better off importing or buying physical copies of volumes of manga.

So yes, that’s pretty much what I have to say on the matter for now! Personally I still prefer buying the physical copies due to the reasons I said above (and yes, I will be building my library once I move soon!). How about you? Do you prefer eBooks or physical books? Please do let me know your thoughts and opinions on the matter!

Until next time! Please remember to enjoy life and manga ❤

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Why A Japanese Learner Should NEVER Use Google Translate, Ever.

Hello again!

Today I’m going to talk about a topic that, I honestly, as a learner of Japanese, really wish to get across to those considering learning or are currently learning Japanese.
I am pretty sure anyone who has spent a considerable time on the internet knows about translation websites and services. These websites operate in such a way that a user enters a string in a certain language, and the software outputs a translation based on how it is coded, regardless of its accuracy. With that said, I think we can all agree that translation technology has a long way to go before it even gets close to natural, or at least accurate translation 100% of the time. I also think we can all agree that the most (in)famous of all these online translators is Google Translate.

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At least it knows it’s an expression. But still, oh my goodness…

Note, the above’s correct translation is “nonexistent.” あらへん is Kansai for ない.

Now to be fair, it’s already been established that Google Translate Japanese, is noticeably horrific, as evidenced by the many Japanese YouTubers who made videos on the subject. The way I see it, it’s really because of how English is structured that when it is run in Google Translate’s code, it tends to jack things up a lot. Japanese’s grammar is very different from English; so much different that I personally recommend studying Japanese brute force – no comparisons to English. Also, the fact that Japanese has different levels of politeness tends to mess with the AI so much, that sentences being translated by the translator could end up being overly polite, or overly rude, or a mix of both. Either way, it’s a pain to read. This issue of being jacked up in translation is also caused by the fact that Japanese has many dialects, although this one is more evident when translating Japanese to English (see my example above).

But just in case you don’t believe me:

Original English: My name is Ayappi. I’m 18 years old and love anime. I also love technology, especially my custom PC and my iPad Pro that I recently bought. I built the computer with parts I bought with my own money that I saved. 

Japanese (My Own): あやっぴです。18歳でアニメ大好きです。テクも大好きです。特に自分の自作PCと最近買ったiPad Pro。あの自作PC、貯めたお金でパーツを買って作りました。

Japanese (Google Translate): 私の名前はAyappiです。 私は18歳で、アニメを愛しています。 私はテクノロジー、特に私が最近買った私のカスタムPCとiPad Proも好きです。 私は私が自分のお金で買った部品でコンピュータを作りました。

While the first sentence is correct on the Google Translate one, it’s probably the only correct part. Notice the unnatural language, as well as the lack of Japanization of my name in the Google Translate version. あやっぴ is how you write my name in Japanese. Also notice how there is a noticeable overuse of 私, a dead giveaway that this is Google Translate, simply because a normal Japanese person would have just omitted the word altogether due to it being obvious.

Fun Tip: If you suspect someone is using Google Translate, please use a dialect or net slang. Chances are it will confuse them.

Okay, so we established that Google Translate is bad for translating sentences, but how about individual words? Surely it must be accurate in that department yeah? Well, based on my testing at least, it’s fairly accurate. It’s probably the one thing Google Translate is good at. However, I would like to point out one important thing, and that is the fact that alternatives to Google Translate for this purpose exist. Oftentimes, these alternatives are even better, and more powerful than Google Translate.

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Don’t you agree that this is more powerful?

I’m referring especially towards online dictionaries that offer English to Japanese capability. In particular, I love Jisho for its support for English to Japanese, and even support for romaji input if you’re still learning Hiragana and Katakana. I personally don’t see the point of using translation services which have been notorious for unreliable translations, when these more powerful and easy to use alternatives exist. When I’m communicating to actual people, I would much rather go through the trouble of using these dictionaries for more accurate translations instead of the arguably more convenient Google Translate.

And if a web browser based solution isn’t up to your preference, there are many free dictionary applications on both Android and iOS (if you’re on iOS I recommend Shirabe Jisho), that are equally as powerful as Jisho. Don’t worry about space too, because based on my testing, they’re small. Oftentimes it’ll just be as big as Facebook Messenger depending on how much you use the application.

I’m sorry if I came off as too rude or arrogant here, but honestly I wanted to get this out of the way. As a learner of Japanese I, too will admit that in the first few months of me learning, I used Google Translate until I realized how flawed the system is. If you have access to any form of dictionary, please for your own sake do not use Google Translate. If you don’t, look for one. I promise you, this is better than accidentally saying something else compared to what you actually wanted to say (and trust me, I learned the hard way).

Are you a learner of Japanese or do you know anyone who likes to use Google Translate a lot? Please let me know your thoughts! If you use a dictionary, what do you use and why did you choose that?

Until the next entry, please have a nice day! ❤