This looks like a job for the manga zoning board.

For quite some time now, there has been an uproar online regarding a website called Manga Mura (Manga Village) which was accused of hosting free pages of copyrighted works. Defenders of Manga Mura claim that because they simply indexed the works and never actually possessed infringing material, it was free of guilt. Many netizens, however, largely decried the site’s activities as destructive to the very manga industry that they hold dear.

There has been a long-running call online for some authority to shut down Manga Mura, and any time issues with copyright or JASRAC appeared you could always count on someone to comment, “Why aren’t they working on taking down those manga sites instead?!”

That all came to a hilt earlier this month when Manga Mura along with a few other sites mysteriously went offline. However, just as suddenly as they went offline, a new website, Manga Town, emerged.

▼”Breaking! Manga Mura has been reborn as Manga Town.
We have grown from a village to a town.”

The twitter account has reasserted its position as an indexer of already available material and refuses to stop, saying that any failures in the manga industry is the fault of them and them alone. Manga Town also stated that if manga publishers want to improve their situation, then they should put the proper effort into their own sales and marketing.

Needless to say, the online opposition was not still not buying it and verbally hit back at the website.

“No matter how much you write, it doesn’t change the fact that you are a criminal.”
“I agree that viewing content is not the same as shoplifting, but I still think what you are doing is wrong.”
“I don’t know why you insist on ruining people’s hard work.”
“It isn’t for you to decide if the content should be viewed freely or not.”

Meanwhile, a weekly manga magazine coincidentally also named Manga Town, noticed a sudden uptick in hostile mails and tweets asking them to stop what they are doing. There were also several interview requests from media outlets who were confusing the two Manga Towns.

Considering this Manga Town was a long-running publication that by all indication paid its dues, the magazine felt it necessary to issue a clarification on the matter.

A Manga Town by any other name?
(Translation below.)

“We are surprised at some of the stuff coming at us like interview requests. Manga Town is a four-frame manga magazine published by Futabasha since 2000. Please do not confuse us with a criminal site…!”

The message appeared to be effective, and as a result Manga Town magazine was inundated with messages of support and suggestions that they should sue the other Manga Town. They, however, declined to take such action.

Taking the high road in the manga world isn’t easy.
(Translation below.)

“There are those saying we should sue, but the other party is a criminal group whose identity is unknown, so there isn’t much we can do. We just ask that you do not look at, spread, or use these ‘pirate sites.’ Instead, just do whatever you can to support the failing manga industry.”

The Manga Town website, unapologetic over taking the same name, showed little remorse for the Manga Town magazine, tweeting back at them.

▼ I swear they could make a manga out of this drama.
(Translation below.)

“The people here have made some good publicity for you. However, it seems that you have to bad mouth us.
You said it yourself, ‘the failing manga industry,’ but are you working to stop it? I think it is impossible for you publishers to continue to be competitive in this territorial warfare style. I’m expecting it all to come down in the future.”

The line in the sand between Manga Town and Manga Town appears to have been drawn and bad blood is on all sides of this issue. There is probably some truth to Manga Mura’s words that even if they disappeared, it probably wouldn’t reverse the dwindling manga market that has been in decline since the 90s. We’ve seen it happen in movie rentals and music, so perhaps manga will be the next to evolve into a leaner digital distribution service.

The bottom line, and the one thing that both Manga Towns appear to be in agreement of, is that it’s the readers and their money which will determine the fate of the industry in the end.

Source: Twitter/@mm_manga_town, Twitter/@mangataun
Top image: SoraNews24
[ Read in Japanese ]