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Major Manga Scanlation Site Pulls 230 Unauthorized VIZ Media Titles

By June 18, 2010

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Bleach Volume 31In the wake of last week's announcement of an anti-piracy coalition that includes over 40 Japan and U.S.-based manga publishers, reaction from fans and websites that host unauthorized scanned and translated comics (a.k.a. "scanlations") has been blowing up online forums and the manga blogosphere.

And now the latest change on the this front: Scanlation site MangaFox announced via its forums that it has pulled over 230 manga titles that are currently licensed in North America by VIZ Media. The list of pulled titles is pretty much the entire VIZ Media catalog past and present, including popular titles such as Naruto, Bleach, Skip Beat and One Piece.

In a topic thread entitled "Disappeared Manga," MangaFox administrator firefly-lynn made this announcement:

"Dear Mangafox members,

We feel so sorry to inform all of you that we close some of the manga temporary due to copyright issue, such as Naruto, Bleach and etc."

"Our boss is trying to negotiate with them, any updated news, we will let you know. Sorry for the inconvenience and your understanding would be highly appreciated."

The post then goes on to provide a list of over 230 manga series that were pulled from the MangaFox databases. I read through the list, and it was, for most practical purposes, almost all of the manga titles published by VIZ Media, from its earliest titles like Ranma 1/2 and Battle Angel Alita to some of its most current and popular series, like Reborn!, Vampire Knight and Rin-Ne.

A forum post dated June 16, 2010 by "manga.dreamer,"  a MangaFox forum administrator,  also had this to say to readers:

"sorry for the inconvenience, but we have no choice to keep those manga now. Our site is being targetted to clean up those licensed manga due to recent news published at http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/digital/copyright/article/43437-japanese-u-s-manga-publishers-unite-to-fight-scanlations.html"

"anyway, meanwhile all licensed manga being removed. we are still having over 5000 license-free titles available."

Gakuen Alice Volume 10Then in another interesting development, another site admin MangaFox community member "Miista MangaFox"  posted an update that added more titles to the "pulled" list -- namely titles that were included in requests from scanlation groups who wrote in to MangaFox asking them to pull down the titles that they had worked on and had posted on MangaFox's website.

This list of over 130 additional titles, includes series currently licensed to Del Rey Manga (ES: Eternal Sabbath), TokyoPop (Gakuen Alice) and Digital Manga Publishing (Princess Princess), and several series not yet picked up for the North American market.

This is notable because it shines a light on two trends:

  1. Scanlation groups, not just publishers, are actively reaching out to MangaFox to remove series hosted on their site.
  2. MangaFox admins are acting quickly upon these requests for removal. Anecdotes from representatives from Vertical and Yaoi Press have confirmed that in the past, it often required multiple requests to get series removed from the MangaFox site.

Clearly, this confirms that news of the publishers' anti-piracy coalition has gotten around, and is being taken very seriously by scanlation groups and sites that host scanlated manga.

Reaction from Mangafox readers was almost immediate. A few were confused, some were emotionally anguished, more than a couple were angry and proposed a boycott of VIZ Media products. However,  there were many forum participants who saw this change as justified and inevitable.

You can experience the reactions for yourself at these two threads: "Disappeared Manga" and "Why Were Some Series Removed?" They offer a fascinating glimpse into the discussions and debates that fans are having with each other over this hot-button topic.


After I posted this article, I got a note from Zeff via Twitter. He tweeted a clarification to me that "Miista MangaFox," was a staff member, but not MangaFox administrator. When I mentioned to him that it wasn't very apparent that this MF member wasn't a site admin because he/she was the one posting all the lists of pulled series, Zeff replied, and through our conversation, I found out why this Germany-based fan knew so much about MangaFox: Until recently, he was one of the senior staff members who helped to manage the site.

In our online conversation, Zeff made several references to Noez, the China-based company that is the owner of MangaFox, and other anime/manga-related websites including ZOMGanimi.com, Anime-Eden.com and OtakuZone.com.

I also found out through Zeff that the removal of the VIZ Media-licensed manga titles wasn't the only big shake-up at MangaFox. As he explained it, a lot of the senior staff at MangaFox have recently decided to retire, partly in reaction to the U.S. / Japan publishers' anti-piracy coalition announcement. Here's the rest of our conversation:

Zeff: I know, all senior staff retired a few days ago that's why there is no one left but NOEZ admins and a few others.

Deb Aoki: Really? "All senior staff at MangaFox retired a few days ago?" Was there an announcement to that effect?

Zeff: No, I doubt they realized it. That's another point I hate about the administration.  ^^  I could write about the mischief all day.

We were unsatisfied with the way the site was managed for a while now, and I guess (this announcement) just gave us a kick. Noez administration is lazy, unless money is involved, they do nothing but promises.

Deb Aoki: So for example, what would they promise you, but not deliver on?

Zeff: Try to imagine you have to take care of a site with restricted access and no backup from your superiors, while you work for free :X   (Noez would promise) mostly bug fixes. You can't really lock chapters or series if scanlators demand it. They are still accessible even now.

Deb Aoki: Oh, interesting. I've heard from several publishers and scan groups that it often would take many requests to get series pulled.

Zeff: That's not true, at least (from) what I know. I had to deal with a lot of those requests and usually the people were nice and patient. It's not easy to pull the strings if you have to deal with system glitches. :(

Deb Aoki: (I can see how) working for free under circumstances like that sucks. How long did you work on MangaFox?

Zeff: 1- 1/2 years, and half a year as a regular member.

Deb Aoki: So (with all of the aggravations and being asked to do the work for free), why do it for so long? What made it worthwhile?

Zeff: I guess I just enjoyed reading manga. I started as a contributor. It's not easy to get the 'good stuff' here in Germany. You do wanna support the things you love.

Deb Aoki: That's fair. I do see that a lot of the people who read these titles online are not from North America. So another question: how many "senior staff" are you talking about, when you say that several "retired" recently?

Zeff: 2 Smods ("super" moderators), at least 3 mods and a bunch of others a few weeks before including 1 admin (we also have 'non-noez' admins). The list of retired staff is huge. They already promoted a new smod though.

But let's just say it like this: the ones doing the most work retired, and so for me, MangaFox is dead land now. (I'm) looking forward to see OpenManga opening it's doors and hopefully doing a better job.

So what do you think about this new development on the manga biz front? Share your thoughts below.

Image credits: © Tite Kubo / Shueisha, © MangaFox.com, © Tachibana Higuchi, © Digital Manga Publishing


June 18, 2010 at 3:19 am
(1) BruceMcF says:

Its interesting that the biggest one that I have seen in the Alexa rankings has not shown any sign of reacting yet. Alexa estimates it has been visited by over 0.1% of Global Internet users, sometimes peaking at over 0.2% of Global Internet users, and an average of 50 page views daily.

2m+ users viewing 18,000 pages+ per year each is a lot of page views, and it will cost them a lot of ad revenue to do what MangaFox has done. There may be some smaller sites that stand and fight from misguided fan delusion on what their rights are, but it will not be surprising if the biggest site keeps material up as long as they can get away with it – all the while setting things up to allow the plug to be pulled very quickly.

MangaFox says they are “negotiating” over the titles they have had to pull. It may just be something to say to placate users, but if they think that there is some bargaining outcome that gets them legit access to Viz’s content side by side with bootlegs … uh, good luck to them with that.

June 18, 2010 at 9:02 am
(2) Michelle Smith says:

Ha. I wonder what they think a boycott will accomplish since they’re not actually buying this manga anyway!

June 18, 2010 at 9:56 am
(3) Sandy says:

I shamefully admit that I’ve visited scanlation sites. I have no patience when it comes to waiting on volumes to be released in English and then order them and get them shipped to my country and wait but I’m not going to get upset because the Publishers want to actually break even and more importantly make a profit on their sales. Its their merchandise, they spend all this time and money with editors, translators, designers, licensing, etc. And they have right to stop people from giving away their products for free. And the mangaka’s who create all of these fabulous books for us to enjoy deserve more respect. Sure people say they are going to boycott, but if they weren’t buying the products in the first place who are they really hurting?

I’ll wait now for my volumes to come out, I don’t want to but I’ll do it because I love these books and would be sad if they all went away.

June 18, 2010 at 9:59 am
(4) David says:

This is what I expected. Heck free manga online was too good to be true. Viz media doesn’t care about its fans or people outside of the United States or Japan that don’t have access to manga and use sites like Manga Fox as they’re only means to read mangas.(Like myself and many others). People that do have access to manga still read free online manga because Viz’s translators are to damn slow. They get payed and last like 10 years to get one chapter translated. But sites like manga fox do care about Manga fans thats why they post manga for FREE and don’t charge a penny to read it.

Viz is wasting they’re time. This is what the internet is meant for. And it will never change.

Good luck Manga Fox and remember: Manga doesn’t belong to Viz…It belongs to the Fans that read it, Without the fans they are nothing

June 18, 2010 at 11:15 am
(5) Mike D says:

I am not surprise to hear that MangaFox is doing this. I guess it was going to come eventually and they are just trying to lessen the blow or something.

Though I am surprise that scanlation groups are requesting to have their stuff remove. I don’t think this coalition would have affect them but they are taking no chances.

And without companies like Viz and Shueisha then we wouldn’t have any manga period.

June 18, 2010 at 11:32 am
(6) Apple says:

“proposed a boycott of VIZ Media products”

HAAAHAHAHAHA as if they were paying for them in the first place. In order for a boycott to work, the company has to be losing money that it otherwise would have had. Pffft.

June 18, 2010 at 12:30 pm
(7) BruceMcF says:

@David, Japanese publishers do not stand in the way of distributors selling their manga overseas. Viz certainly does not stand in the way of distributors selling their manga.

Sure, you got to choose between fast shipping that often costs more than the publication and cheap shipping that takes a long time, but the idea that published material is entirely unavailable is not exactly correct.

Its more like, the predatory manga viewing sites makes it cheap and easy, instead of more expensive and harder. If they were a distinct market channel feeding revenues back to the artists, that would be fine … but they are pirates diverting revenue from artists, so its not fine.

Obviously its not possible to eliminate piracy entirely, but publishers have been completely dropping the ball as far as their commercial and ethical responsibility to the artists. They have to do what they can do to make sure that freeloading is harder than getting it legit.

This action is a year or more overdue.

June 18, 2010 at 12:52 pm
(8) Klado says:

@David…That is your excuse to support what those so called FANS do instead of doing the right thing THAT IS buying what you are calling there owned by them?

No wait, wait, better lets do it for free, and steal it?, you sound so stupidly ignorant, people likes you makes me explode…yeah period, like talking other people work doesn’t deserve the corresponded support that is needed, you love manga, pay for it, give some support to the mangakas, they are human too.

Oh mangas pertain to fans…LOL, no it pertain to MANGAKAS AND PUBLISHER…idiot.

July 12, 2011 at 11:43 am
(9) Barbara says:

Wow, that was nasty and unnecessary. Everyone has the right to an opinion and we all should be adult enough to comment without resorting to insults and name calling.

Perhaps the fans should send their requests to the publishing companies and try to get more access to their products. I’m from Australia and have two daughters who are manga fans, and as David stated, it’s difficult to get access to volumes, even to purchase. The retailers have a hard time getting the stuff too. I think it would smarter (business-wise) if the publishers made their products more easily available to a wider market.

And fact is that many people who are buying these manga series are doing so because they read them online first and became followers, like my daughters.

June 18, 2010 at 4:51 pm
(10) John Thomas says:

Why is it Viz’s responsibility to placate fans that live OUTSIDE of its market? If publishers are not selling books you want to read in your country, then complain to your countries publishers, not to the publishers who sell their books only within N. America. That would be like me complaining to TV Osaka that they don’t broadcast in America.

All in all this is good news for the industry. I am glad people are starting to see there is no such thing as a free lunch (without stealing it). I feel a bit for those that get involved in these websites and end up spending years working for organizations with no benefit, but seeing how they treat the intellectual property they steal, I guess they shouldn’t be surprised.

June 18, 2010 at 7:18 pm
(11) William Flanagan says:

Bruce, to be fair, when I was at Viz in the early ‘oughts, there was one point when Viz licensing department and Viz’s licensors learned that it was allowing distributors to sell its books overseas. At the time (this may have changed), Viz only had North American English-langauge rights, and at the request of its licensors, it asked the distributors to stop selling its product outside of North America. Now this was probably some eight years ago or so, and a lot of things changed when Shueisha bought into the company.

David. Manga does not belong to MangaFox, or Viz, or the Japanese publishers, or even the fans. It belongs to the creators. I suggest you stop stealing from them, because that path leads to less and less manga.

June 19, 2010 at 9:43 am
(12) Getsu says:

I wonder how One Manga and Manga Toshokan will fair…

“proposed a boycott of VIZ Media products”

Not all of us are as insane to even think this.

June 19, 2010 at 10:28 am
(13) Leonard says:

Let´s be honest here, we can understand publishing is a business, but I think they are taking the wrong approach.
first let´s look at whats makes scanlation popular, first is fast, usually having the scanlatiosn available a few days after the release, the translation quality and notes are of better quality than the published counterpart, no censorship or senseless changes to the plot, easy of access, and price (yea cheap)
Sorry but if the product sold, is of low quality, takes a lot of time to arrive, access to it is hard, and on top of that the prices are too hig, that will create alternative sources by itself.
in fact we have a good example of a similar problem with a solution way better than publishers current actions, is called i tunes.
Using current technology is possible for publishers to put a better quality product with good translations, faster than scanlations, with the same kind access, for a very low price.
for example, translating and typesetting a manga chapter takes one or 2 days, sell that chapter online with good translation and quality on the same day is released on paper, and charge 1$ for it, or even 0.5$, with worldwide access, how many people would pay that to read it?, 100 people, 1000 people? 10000 people?, I guess a popular manga could easily make a thousand $ with each chapter with minimal production cost, it might prove to be a better business than one might think, if done right…, and this automatically would be a hard hit to fan scanlations, since their product would be of lower quality and the price would be low enough to compete.
the solution publishers are taking right now, will only hurt themselves and prove useless on the long run. please also take as reference US comic market, is a low profile one and barely getting profits form printed material.

Remember, scanlations are done by fans, because they do not have the product there for them, attack the source not the symptom.

June 19, 2010 at 10:32 am
(14) Wind Of The Wild Tree says:

Aye, my Lord.
Apparently the retarded commentaries in MF has spilled over here also. Kids these days…

June 19, 2010 at 12:02 pm
(15) Lunaelu says:

I agree with Leonard, there is a reason why people turned to scanlations and the manga companies should address this. Instead of banning it completely they could cash in on the process, like netcomics.com.

I personally think banning it completely is the wrong way to go. I read the other comments on this page and most are congratulating these actions. Even saying it is our fault that the manga we want to read aren’t sold in our country. There are thousands of manga which aren’t even translated in the first place and I would bever be able to read them if it wasn’t for scanlations (I for one would be happy to pay for this). There is a market out there so they should make use of it instead of just alienating fans.

Oh and to the people saying boycotting was the stupidest idea (I don’t think it’s a good idea either) the reason why it was mentioned in the first place is because many people (like me) do buy the manga and also read the newer chapters which have yet to be translated online. Just because manga is not available to some people doesn’t mean they don’t support the business.

June 19, 2010 at 1:21 pm
(16) livingxhobo says:

Like i stated within several post under “Disappeared manga” they should see this as a new form to get revenues through via digital. Sure they could still gain revenues through sales from paper printed, but they could also cash in using the internet. In which case is getting more and more popular everyday. More and more user of the net are just gonna keep popping out. See it as an alternative means, instead of just trying to eliminate it. I do try to support it by buying the volumes when i can.

June 19, 2010 at 2:02 pm
(17) BruceMcF says:

@William Flanagan, ah, VizMedia Europe’s manga is not now, its listed as “coming soon”. So there’s something in the pipeline, not clear on what it is, yet.

It remains a simpler rights terrain than anime, with various mixes of broadcast rights and physical media distribution rights that can block viewing. The Internetification is leading the proliferation of distribution forms, rather than lagging as with video.

Also, entirely BTW, I thought I had understood that manga localizations normally revert to the original rights owner, as is the common practice in anime localization. Is that right?

June 19, 2010 at 2:02 pm
(18) manga lover says:

@Michelle Smith speak for your self, when u say we dont buy stuff, i spent over $150 candian, on Manga from VIZ, thats 2months-1year old, so unlike u, i clearly support them

June 19, 2010 at 2:48 pm
(19) Kaze_Araki says:

@manga lover
Do you understand that what you have just stated does not proof anything whatsoever, in fact – it does not even constitute a coherent argument.

I suggest you to do some reading on propositional logic to help you straightening your arguments. Also a list of common logical fallacies might helps you a lot as well.

Good Luck!

June 20, 2010 at 2:17 am
(20) Student from Singapore says:

Why do they have must to remove, Y_Y

We are poor. If we had extra money we would also support the mangakas by buying.

I save up $100 using 5 months to buy 12 D.Grayman Books. But the mangas are too expensive. I can get off with $2 (electricity bills) to read the whole D.Grayman Volumes….

I appeal to ViZ to let the websites continue hosting please!

June 20, 2010 at 8:48 am
(21) manga/anime lover says:

thats bad news … for us.. fans of manga……:( plsss dont do that to us……………..

June 20, 2010 at 2:50 pm
(22) BruceMcF says:

@Student from Singapore … your best hope is that something like OpenManga makes it economically possible to make a wider variety of manga available online for ad-based viewing, and that ASEAN advertisers are interested in advertising.

Because if you cannot afford to pay to support the creation of the work, the only way to generate income back to the creators of the work without charging the viewer is by selling advertising.

You can appeal to the publishers to leave the sites up, but their first responsibility is to the artists who have contracted with them. And when the artists’ rights are being trampled in such an open and widespread way, they have to act.

It has, indeed, been too long coming, and its safe to assume that the Japanese publishers are finally protecting artists rights because the publishers are finally getting serious about licensing legit online distribution of translated works.

June 23, 2010 at 7:38 pm
(23) umlando says:

Mangaka have to eat, you know. So who pays them? Fans (who buy mangas) pay them. MangaFox, which I do visit, collects ad revenues from other people’s work. MangaFox does not (yet) pay the people who own the content.

However, maybe this shakeup will allow people who produce the content to sell more directly to those who want to have it. Then the poor readers and the hungry mangaka can help each other out.

Some people are obviously willing – happy, even – to translate for free. Maybe the licensing of volunteer translation with digital (not scanned) images for small user fees is the happy, iTunesy (http://openmanga.org) way to the future, where all the creators get paid, and the fans support them. I work in publishing, and would like to see publishers take a leading role in promoting fair distribution of content.

June 25, 2010 at 8:48 am
(24) Another student from Singapore says:

Seriously, I only get $2 a day. And it took my years of saving money to actually buy my favourite manga. Now that this issue come, I hate to admit but it’s true that those mangas are truely copyrighted and the truth just stands in front of us. Maybe in the future, fans of mangas only range from 20 and above only >_>. Probably. But when I first started know mangas etc, it was from the library but even library do not update much already, so in the end we had to buy and update ourselves on what’s happening.

June 27, 2010 at 11:57 pm
(25) Mizu says:

does this effect shonen jump to i hope not =(

July 9, 2010 at 12:11 pm
(26) Jojo says:

Actually, I do agree with them. Since the manga is already being released here, we should buy it since releasing the manga is part of there job. Besides, if you already have the manga scanlated in your county, why not check to see if your local library has it? If you don’t want to pay, you can just check out the book and keep it for a bit.

But if you live in a country which doesn’t have much translated manga, that could be a problem…

Like the article, the majority of the people that are reading manga online are those who live in places where translated mangas are kind of hard to get their hands on. If they want it, they’re going to have to import things from foreign countries, which would cost much more than just buying it from a store in said country.

If the OpenManga site allows us to read the mangas online while suporting the publishers and mangakas with a small fee, i’ll be glad to do it. After all, they do make mangas for their living.

July 17, 2010 at 2:57 pm
(27) Cat says:

I buy mangas online bc they arent sold in mine counrty. But even buying online has problems.One is that volum what you want buy ia out of stock….and is this way years, so you must find used book.I dont think this makes more profit for mangaka. If i would I payd to mangaka directly. Other problem is slowness and bad quality of offical paper releases. So if there where place in internet where i can pay like monthly or yearly fee and read – i would do it.
Its not only fault of fans that situatin is like it is but big share of shame belongs to publishers too for being so clumsy and slow in their busines strategies. Look here is market with people who can and want pay but not product to buy.
Piracy of manga by fans is symprtom but cause of it lies with publishers.

July 24, 2010 at 8:17 pm
(28) A.M says:

Stores like Borders and Barnes and Noble only carry mainstream stuff like One Piece , Bleach, Naruto. I don’t like any of the mainstream stuff. And If I did order a series I liked. They eventually just got dropped. Good titles that I have actually been interested in have all been dropped. Whats the point of buying manga if the series is going to get dropped. Some titles I could mention include Rure, Junai Tokkou Taichou! , Apothecarius Argentum and a bunch of other titles that where dropped. All most all other titles I read ,have not been published in English. I would buy the manga if it where available in English. But its not and if they are they have a high percentage of being dropped. . I think publishers are hypocrites. They are fighting and demanding manga scanlations to be taken of the internet, but they cant even continue a series they pick up. I get excited when I stumble on a series I actually like, buy it, happily expecting another volume,only to find it it was drooped. Yeah published titles should be taken of the web. Since you could buy it in stores. But what about the rest? I think they should stay. Since where else can we read them? Unfinished series have just left a sour taste in my mouth, and utter disappointment. And considering the publishing company lack of creditability in general , why should I buy a title when the series could just get dropped the next month.

July 25, 2010 at 7:11 am
(29) Netbug says:

Manga groups have every right to be doing this, but manga groups also need to realize that when the average manga series is at least a YEAR behind Japan, manga fans aren’t stupid and know they’re missing something.

What needs to be done is the same thing that the anime industry has realized needs to be done; simulcasting. Manga companies need to start doing their own quick “scanlations” and posting them online. Even if the page is riddled with ads to compensate the price and the chapter is only up for a week until the next one comes out, I think a lot of people would be excited about that.

July 25, 2010 at 8:36 am
(30) Andy says:

I believe this article to be a poor use of time and management. If as you say you have an insider have you taken the time to see the selections that viz is promising its viewers nothing!http://www.sigikki.com/or http://www.shonensunday.com/http://www.emanga.com/
The Question I have is not the legality of the issue but the Fat Cats in power Like VIZ,Tokyopop, If they could not censor any of their material and alter or change what the original artist had intended or release the volumes on a decent time frame how is 4-6-10 months or even a year to produce and release fair! Tokyopop has failed the fans by stoping the series they started and Viz is just as worse! Japan news stands produce a better quality and realtime release for the fans. If Translating is a sin Then incorporate the translators that do it for free with this new mangaopen site! Don’t destroy them include them for their dedication! They maybe stealing but who can do a better job! They include the artist side notes the cliff notes the interviews at the end they dont erase morph or cut out pages or completely rewrite the story! If the Japanese Authors and Artist compared their work with the Americanized version they would immediately pull them off the shelves and return to being a closed off society! I don’t condone Mangafox or Onemanga for how they ran things but the whole system and how they treat the consumers is poorly! Dont drop titles Dont Alter the original stories Dont over price the material sell it the same price as the original manufacturer! Make levels of content that make sense that dosen’t compromise the Artists integrity! I have purchased my fair share of manga and supported the comunity! So lets not drag the translators through the mud! Because they can do a better job then the paid translators and their in college most of them or are working people with a passion to spread the word!

August 2, 2010 at 3:55 am
(31) Bird says:

It’s not like scantilation sites prevent mangaka from getting any profit at all. People have to BUY IT before it gets online, anyway. But the point is, it’s not about the fans. It’s not about the piracy. It’s about the money. It’s always about the money.

The benefit to having these sites in the first place are:

1.) Promotion. You can check out the series and see if it’s something you’re interesting in acquiring.
2.) Speed, which is all thanks o the internet. We can’t all have the patience of a saint, you know, and I for one certainly do not have the patience to wait months between every volume while publishers stock up enough chapters. Not to mention that getting English manga in America takes forever, anyways.
3.) Some of these sites had manga series on them that you can’t even buy anymore! They’re series that won’t be republished. So what then? You want us to wait for someone to throw a battered copy up on Ebay like they’re tossing it to the wolves?

And finally, as it IS really all about the money and the profit, mangaka and publishers would be ultimately better off with the system now of publishing straight onto the internet. Turning scantilation sites into paying/membership sites is what they should be doing. Everything is online now. Buying movies like VHS and DVDs are becoming obsolete, with the availability of them online. The same goes for printing millions of copies of manga. There’s not much difference between buying it online, or physically buying it. Plus, developing an online franchise is economically friendly :)

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