While the Japanese economy is powered by numerous exports and industries, from cars to computers, perhaps one of its largest, if not most visible, industries is that of entertainment content such as anime, manga and video games. While we all love good content–it is, after all, king–not everyone is necessarily willing or able to pay for it. While in days of yore that mostly meant simply going without the latest publication of your favorite manga, today’s high-speed Internet has made, shall we say acquiring content easier than ever.

While countries around the world debate the issues of online piracy, free speech, and copyright law, Japan is taking a somewhat more aggressive stance (anti-piracy even has its own figures in Japan!). Nevertheless, stopping piracy completely is an exercise in futility, which is probably why the M.A.G. (Manga-Anime Guardians) Project is aimed more at changing hearts and minds than using legal action to stop those pesky pirates. In fact, they’ll even give you a special-edition illustration if you join!

▼”To all of you who love manga and anime…”


Let’s be honest for a second: Piracy happens. It’s not really a good thing, but it’s not going to disappear ever (probably). It would be great if every content creator got all the money they deserve, but it would also be great if we all had prehensile tails. Still, we do not, in any way, want to support piracy–but we’re not sure that the Manga-Anime Guardians Project will be much more effective than D.A.R.E.

  • Triangles: making things official

So, just what is the M.A.G. Project? Well, think of it like a purity ring for piracy–something you promise not to do after getting a bit of a lecture on its evils. The ultimate goal of the project seems to be ending piracy and promoting the use of official, usually paid, sources. The website doesn’t seem to mention much in the way of practical action–it’s more about “thanking” fans who acquire their manga/anime fix through legitimate channels. It does have this nifty image though:

▼Nothing says official like triangles!


  • Scary numbers

The M.A.G. Project also offers some alarming statistics that should make you think twice about firing up BitTorrent and grabbing the most recent episode of Attack on Titan. For example, the English version of the site reports the following.

“Regrettably, according to a report of Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) of Japan, a huge number of Manga and Anime fans, over 50% of them in U.S. and 12% in Japan, are watching or reading pirated works.

The estimated cost of damage from online piracy is as much as JPY 2 trillion (approximately US$20 billion). Beside, a report of Agency for Cultural Affairs of Japan indicates that in major cities of China (Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Chongqing) the damage cost to Japanese contents is JPY 560 billion (approximately US$5.6 billion) per year.”

As part of their thank you to non-pirate fans, they’re produced this (hopefully) non-copyright-violating video of various characters saying “arigatou.”

▼For subtitles, click the little white box with lines at the bottom of the player once it starts.

  • Free stuff

They’re also running a “join” campaign to get people to promote awareness and the enjoyment of official manga and anime. If you join, you can even get a free download of the special-edition illustration below.


As you can see, they’ve successfully gotten over a million people to click the join button–including us! Aside from getting a zip file (which we didn’t open with an expired version of WinRAR, thank you very much!), not much happened except the counter going up a tick and a request to share the site on the social network of our choice.

▼Here are all the characters included in the illustration.


  • An own goal?

The site does have one very practical link, though. If you’re feeling motivated to only get your manga and anime online officially, the M.A.G. Project suggests you check out Manga-Anime Here. The site very simply provides links to official sources for your reading/viewing pleasure in both Japanese and English.

Unfortunately, it looks like most of the links are for sites that are region-locked to either the US or Japan, which leaves us wondering what people in, say, Europe or other parts of Asia are supposed to do–which, many would argue, is precisely why so many people choose to get their anime and manga from illegal sources to begin with…

That little hiccup aside, if you’d like to pledge never to access manga or anime through unofficial channels, you can do so here. If you don’t really care about piracy, but just really want that snazzy special illustration, you can still do so here and just feel like a horrible hypocrite by “joining” just to get the illustration. Remember, Santa Claus is watching!

Sources: M.A.G. Project, YouTube, Manga-Anime Here
Images: M.A.G. Project