Boys’ love artist expresses frustrations in English message to fans.

Hatoko Machiya (@machiyahatoko on Twitter) is a manga creator working in the BL/boys’ love genre, with her resume including Orokamono Wangel Night and Chotto Matte Yo, Hanaya-san. She recently sent out a drawing of two handsome young men cozying up to each other (and a dog). More so than the artwork, though, it’s the message superimposed over it, and entirely written in English, that’s noteworthy.

Machiya doesn’t speak English, and so had to have the message translated from her original Japanese, which is actually appropriate because the message is related to the English-translated versions of her manga that can be found online, and that she’s very unhappy with them because they’re illegal.

The message reads:

“To My English-Speaking Audience:

I recently confirmed with my publishers that all English translations of my work on the internet are NOT officially but illegally translated uploads.

Please do NOT pay to read them!

I spend so much time and effort to create each work. I am not in a financial position to offer my work free-of-charge, and the money that is spent on illegal copies DOES NOT benefit me. It is a serious problem for me as a professional artist.

As it is right now, though it is my hope to see my work officially translated in the future, the publishers do not have any plans to release an English version and I cannot comment on that.

This message was translated at my behest. I do not speak English, and I cannot reply if you send me a message.

Thank you very much for your attention to this matter.”

In broad terms, piracy, or unofficial distribution, if you want to use a nicer term, of anime/manga comes in two varieties. One is the for-profit model, where pirates sell the artist’s work, whereas the other consists of fan translators providing free copies without compensation. Machiya’s statement, though, reads as if she’s upset about both models. “Please do NOT pay to read them” and “the money that is spent on illegal copies DOES NOT benefit me” clearly are in reference to pirate sites that charge for copies/access to her manga, but saying “I am not in a financial position to offer my work free-of-charge” also covers sites that are distributing translations of her work without directly charging readers for it.

▼ A follow-up tweet from Machiya

Of course, one could make the argument that with no official English version of Machiya’s work available, people reading pirate English translations weren’t going to be buying the Japanese version anyway, on account of the language barrier. The counterargument to that, though, is that the preexistence of unauthorized scanlations makes official English versions of Machiya’s work less likely to be produced.

Yes, extra hard-core fans may shell out for an official English release after reading, and enjoying, a scanlation. But in order to be a worthwhile venture for publishers, a work has to have sales potential beyond the hardest of hardcore fans, and scanlations could diminish the size of the potential audience that would have been intrigued enough to buy an official English version and satisfied with their purchase if they were reading it for the first time, but won’t feel that way about content they’ve already read for free.

The counter to that counter, then becomes that if scanlations help develop an artist’s overseas fanbase, it makes their next series more likely to get an official English version. But for many manga artists, focusing on their next series is a luxury they can’t afford, since they need to do all they can to keep their current series, and source of income, going.

With unauthorized translations/distribution having been part of the international anime market for decades, there’s no clean consensus among fans on the balancing act between immediate revenue vs. increased exposure. For her part, though, Machiya has made her opinion on the matter very clear.

Source: Twitter/@machiyahatoko via Anime News Network/Lynzee Loveridge
Top image: Pakutaso
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