Understanding scanlation: how to read one million fan-translated manga pages

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Lev Manovich
Jeremy Douglass
William Huber


This article presents the first project in digital humanities which uses digital image analysis and visualization for the study of a massive image collection - one million manga pages. These pages correspond to 883 manga series that were available as “scanlations” (manga digitized and translated by fans) in the fall 2009. Using computational techniques we were able to systematically analyze the visual language of special pages inserted by fans in scanlated versions, and also study visual differences between the pages from original Japanese publications and official English translations. The result is a better understanding of the multiple "mangas" which make up the "manga universe."

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