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Manga Localization Company Amimaru Allegedly Trials Machine Translation For Commercial Manga Releases

posted on by Kim Morrissy
Kodansha Comics denies investing in machine translation as a client

An anonymous translator has told ANN that the manga translation and lettering company Amimaru has been trialing edited machine translations for commercial manga releases, calling it an "an excuse to pay translators less than they already do and mechanize the art of translation."

"I'm disgusted by this move as an attempt to destroy the work that goes into manga and translation," the translator told ANN. "If I were a mangaka, I know I'd be upset that my work is being churned and spit out by a machine. Machine translations can never replace the carefully crafted word."

ANN has received documents which indicate the existence of a machine translation project at Amimaru. One of the clients was identified by an internal codename referring to Kodansha Comics.

Kodansha Comics has denied investing in machine translation: "Kodansha USA believes translators are vital members of the manga community. We remain committed to healthy working relationships with translators and are actively taking steps to build closer ties with them. For these reasons and more, Kodansha USA does not currently employ machine translation for any of the manga and books that we distribute – nor are there any plans for this to change."

The translator claims that Kodansha Comics should have been aware that the project involved machine translation because the translators provided samples that made use of the software, but says that they do not know how the deal between Amimaru and Kodansha Comics was explained. "I do know that Amimaru likes to pinch pennies wherever it can and wants to make deadlines as tight as possible," they said. "Perhaps this is a step to get things to go faster and cheaper? I can't say, to be honest. What I can say is that Amimaru is infamous among translators for being a bit shady."

ANN sent an inquiry to Amimaru regarding the machine translation project, but did not receive a response by press time.

Last year, Amimaru received criticism for allegedly paying typesetters/letterers as little as US$1 per page. In a statement, Amimaru asserted that the rates vary depending on the workload and scope of the project and that they pay "all of our agreed compensation in an appropriate manner."

Amimaru was founded in 2010 and established the Amimaru Translation and Localization Services Ltd in 2014. The agency handles translations from Japanese to English, French, Arabic, and Finnish, as well as other languages on request. Besides Manga Planet and futekiya titles, Amimaru has also been involved in the localization of Kodansha Comics titles such as Smile Down the Runway and Tokyo Revengers.

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