MediBang Responds to Allegations Regarding Low Translation Pay Rates
posted on by Kim Morrissy
Manga translation and localization company MediBang has provided Anime News Network with a statement regarding recent allegations around low translation pay rates. MediBang claimed that the 120 yen (approximately US$1.16) unit price per page is "only an initial starting price," and that rates "will fluctuate based on project type and experience."
Their full statement is published below:
We would like to clarify the misunderstanding caused by a previous email we sent to freelance translation applicants.
We at MediBang do not require our freelance translators to both translate and typeset our manga contents. We hire separate typesetting specialists to letter, redraw, and clean manga pages. Our translators are hired strictly for the purposes of translation. However, in special cases where an individual has translation and typesetting experience, we negotiate a unit price per page that reflects the costs of both tasks.
In addition, we also hire separate editors and quality assurance staff to edit and proofread our manga contents before release. All of these positions are hired separately.
The 120 yen unit price per page is only an initial starting price, and the lowest rate we offer. It is a starting rate both parties agree to with the understanding that rates will fluctuate based on project type and experience.
Our freelance translation contract can also be terminated at any time at the discretion of the translator, and our freelance staff are not required to sign non-compete clauses. Freelance translation staff are also free to turn down any projects offered which they do not wish to take on.
We apologize for any misunderstandings this has caused. We have taken community feedback to heart and will strive to make improvements to our localization department in the future.
Translator Meru, who disclosed the 120 yen figure earlier this month, told ANN that she was unsatisfied with MediBang's statement.
"To me, the statement doesn't make them look any better since the things they seemingly listed as pros for working for them (contract termination, no non-compete clause) should be industry standard," she said. "Some places do make you sign a non-compete, but it's generally considered a bit of a red flag among freelancers.
"Additionally, asking freelancers to agree to a 'starting rate' without any information about when and how they can expect that rate to go up is another red flag, especially when said starting rate is already way below the norm. I don't really see the point of asking for our rates in the application if those weren't going to be taken into consideration. I think they really shot themselves in the foot by sending the exact same email to everyone who applied, including experienced translators who find these rates almost insulting."
According to Meru, US$5 per page is closer to industry standard among U.S. manga publishers.
Criticism around the company's practices began circulating on Twitter earlier this month when Meru tweeted: "A company really shows you who they are when they respond to your application, which demonstrated that you're a highly qualified and experienced translator, with a copy-paste email offering 120 yen per page for manga translation. The company in question is Medibang btw." ANN has independently confirmed the contents of the email from MediBang.
Fellow translator David Evelyn tweeted in Japanese (translated as follows): "A certain company is currently recruiting manga translators, but I can only laugh at how ridiculous the job requirements written in their email is. 1) Japanese language N2 proficiency. 2) Manga/game translation experience required. 3) Image-editing/typesetting program (including redrawing) experience required. Despite having these three requirements, the rate they pay per page is 120 yen. I'm crying with laughter."
Evelyn further explained the ridiculousness of the requirements: "First of all, it's unclear whether they comprehend the job of a manga translator. Translation is handled by a translator, lettering is handled by a letterer, and corrections are handled by an editor. It's general practice to separate each of these, or otherwise things won't move. They're not gonna find a Getter Robo-like person that combines three people into one lol."
The MediBang localization and distribution service was first established in 2014. According to the official website, the service handles a number of translations of manga distributed on Shueisha's MANGA Plus service, including the Spanish translations of One Piece and My Hero Academia, and the English translations of Monster #8 and Tis Time for "Torture," Princess.
Last year, translation and typesetting company Amimaru drew criticism for paying letterers as little as US$1 per page.
Source: Email correspondence