To be honest, I wish that the bootleg Death Note manga is just another post-April Fool joke to many of us. But I really am not kidding when I said that I did come across bootleg Death Note manga in the past.
It was by coincidence that I stumbled upon the bootleg manga. At that time, I was at the newsstand, looking for a new volume of the manga that I was currently reading.
Sure, not all newsstands are big enough to carry all sorts of books and magazines.
But the small ones would at least sell manga since people were also looking for manga as well, not just a newspaper or a magazine.
Heck, they even have a dedicated section just for that despite the small space. You could go straight to that section to find any ongoing manga that was available at that time.
Unlike most of the manga that I came across, my encounter with the bootleg Death Note manga was a fascinating one, though. While I did come across a few of them at the newsstand, I also happened to stumble upon a few of them at the newspaper street vendor too.
Yes, even the newspaper street vendor was selling manga. It’s just that they didn’t know that the manga that they sold wasn’t a legit one.
What makes the Death Note manga that I came across a bootleg manga
So, why am I saying that the Death Note manga that I found at the newsstand was a bootleg manga?
Is it because the cover looks more or less identical to the one by Viz Media but missing a few details?
Is it because the quality of the manga was not even close to the original one?
Nope. Think again.
Is it because you could only get the manga at the newsstand, not at the bookstore?
Not at all. If you say that the manga is a bootleg manga only because you can only get it at the newsstand, then that means the manga published by Comics House, Tora Aman, and Gempak Starz are bootleg as well.
Remember that newsstand is one of their main distribution channels since most people are more likely to come to the newsstand rather than to the bookstore.
And it’s much easier to discover the manga when the store has many different types of reading materials instead of books alone. So, it’s not surprising at all that publishers like Comics House and Tora Aman were focusing their effort on generating sales from the newsstand more than the bookstore.
If none of these reasons don’t make it a bootleg manga, then what is?
The answer to that is simple: the license page. That’s how you know if the company has the right to publish the manga in a specific territory. It’s also something that I mentioned in my blog post about TR Media.
And the Death Note manga that I deem bootleg?
It doesn’t have a license page at all.
The fascinating things about the bootleg Death Note manga
Despite the manga deemed bootleg in my opinion, I find the Malay translation of the manga was professionally done.
There weren’t any grammatical and spelling errors. Even if it does, the errors don’t hinder you from reading the manga.
Even the manga published by Comics House and Tora Aman were riddled with grammatical and spelling errors.
Accuracy-wise, I can’t say how accurate the translation was since I never read the manga in Japanese. But suffice to say that the translation was easy to understand considering how complex the story is.
The only thing that the manga lack is the print quality. It’s possible that they might get the raw scan somewhere and translated the manga in Malay. Thus, the low print quality.
Strangely enough, I find the manga to be so much better than the one published by Comics House and Tora Aman.
It’s a shame that they didn’t have the right to publish and distribute the manga in Malaysia.
What prompted the company to publish the manga illegally?
Isn’t it obvious that they’re doing it for profit? That shouldn’t be a no-brainer answer considering how popular Death Note becomes thanks to the live-action adaptation.
Well, you’re not wrong to think that could be the reason behind their action.
But I doubt that’s the reason why they wanted to publish the manga.
For one, publishing isn’t the kind of business that has a high-profit margin. And manga publishing isn’t that much different either.
If it’s that profitable, Comics House and Tora Aman will still be in business to this day.
Not only you have to consider the printing cost and the distribution. But you also have to consider the fee that these companies have to pay to the copyright holder.
Sure, you can say that the company which published the Death Note manga illegally makes more money since they don’t have to pay the licensing fee to Shueisha.
Even if they don’t have to, it doesn’t mean that they’re making a killing selling the bootleg Death Note manga.
Remember that they will still have to pay for the printing and the distribution cost. While they can save costs on printing, they may have to fork more money on the distribution because of their location which is away from the major cities.
And the fact that the company and the printer were located on the East Coast makes the distribution cost higher even if they can save a lot on the printing cost.
Added with a limited print run, they probably don’t make that much money. The least they could expect for the sales to break even.
If profit isn’t their motivation behind their action, then what?
For the obvious reason, it’s none other than their love for the manga itself. Perhaps they felt frustrated that Comics House didn’t license the manga in Malay. Rather than waiting for them to license the manga in Malay, they decided to take the matter into their hand instead.
I can’t say for sure if that’s their reason for wanting to publish the manga in Malay. But knowing anime fans, it’s not an uncommon thing to see fans are doing things out of love.
But they’re not doing the mangaka any justice!
Okay, I get that you feel enraged that their action will end up with the mangaka not getting paid for their work.
But the reality is, the only one who is on the losing end is just Shueisha, not the mangaka. And there’s nothing much we can do about it since this is how the publishing industry works.
Still, it doesn’t mean that what they do isn’t wrong. No matter how much they love the manga and would want as many people to read the manga, it’s still illegal to publish a manga without a proper license in place.
I guess that they can count their blessing since it was hard to get caught for doing something like this years ago.
Imagine if they’re publishing any manga illegally in this day and age. I bet that they’ll be scorned for what they do.
P.S While the main character in my Trigger Locked series may not have a twisted sense of justice like the one in Death Note, it can be an interesting read too if you’re the kind of person who enjoys reading a story that makes you learn something new in the process.
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