If you are a fan of manga then you know that the vast majority of manga is originally published in Japanese. A popular form of print media, there are thousands of new manga releases throughout the year. A handful of companies focus on bringing Japanese manga to a larger audience by editing and translating the content for other languages.
Unfortunately, this leaves non-Japanese readers with access to only a fraction of new manga titles. To solve this, many fans spend their time and resources to edit and translate popular titles that are otherwise unavailable. When you read one of these translated titles, you may see the name of a group that completed the translation, but not really understand how much logo design work was involved. Here is a general breakdown of how the fan community edits and translates manga into English.
There are typically multiple people involved in the translation of a manga title to the English language. The jobs normally include a scanner, a translator, a cleaner, an editor, a typesetter, and a proofreader.
Scanning and Translating
The first two tasks involve scanning and translating the work. The scanner must have access to the original images from the manga title and be able to upload them for others in the group to edit. Next, the translator goes through the title and translates all written text into English. Different groups have different ways of handling translation. Generally, the translation is provided in a text document with notations to mark which page and which panel the text belongs to. With the files uploaded and the text translated, the cleaner and typesetter can get to work. Occasionally, the scanner and translator will be the same person, as they have the original Japanese manga title and therefore probably have the ability to read Japanese.
Cleaning and Typesetting
The cleaner is the person responsible for cleaning the scanned images. They will remove all of the original Japanese text and correct any color issues. The cleaner basically cleans up the images and may require some drawing skills. The typesetter takes the translated text and enters it into the images in the correct positions. The cleaner and typesetter are tasks that can be handled by one person, but is often given out to two separate people.
The proofreader takes a look at the finished title after it has been scanned and translated. They read the title checking for errors in grammar, spelling, and to ensure the dialog and text flows naturally and sounds like it was written by an native English speaker. They will make notes concerning any corrections that need to be made. In some groups, there may also be a quality checker. Like the proofreader, they go through the titles looking for errors, but focus more on the overall quality of the title, including the scanned image and the cleanup of the image.
Throughout the entire process, the editor is in charge of ensuring everyone is working together to complete their tasks. Each member involved in the translation may communicate directly with the editor as their individual tasks are completed or pass on their work to the next person in the process. The editor may also take on various roles, such as acting as the proofreader and quality checker. Once the editor feels the title is satisfactory, they will then handle the release of the project.
Scanning and translating manga is normally a fan effort. Depending on the titles, the countries where it will be released, and other details, this is not always a fully legal process. That is why many groups focus on releasing Dōjinshi, which is the Japanese name for self-published work. These indepently released titles often appreciate being able to reach a larger audience.