10 votes

South Korea's booming 'webtoons' are emerging as a threat to Japan's print manga

15 comments

  1. [14]
    junya
    Link
    I've been reading webtoons for at least 7 years now and found this to be an interesting article. Personally, since I started reading webtoons I've found my manga consumption has mostly gone down,...

    I've been reading webtoons for at least 7 years now and found this to be an interesting article. Personally, since I started reading webtoons I've found my manga consumption has mostly gone down, especially once Naver started publishing fairly well translated webtoons on their app. All webtoons are free (I guess there's fastpass now) and there's a huge selection that updates on a weekly cadence accessible from my phone. I've looked for similar manga apps, but they just don't have the same UI or selection (Viz's Weekly Shonen Jump subscription looks like it might have potential. However, the last time I looked it did not have much that interested me).

    I found the point about localization especially interesting. Translation is an art in itself. Translations of the same piece by two different people can create a vastly different tone depending on what the writer chooses to emphasize. Translators can provide a more direct translation that keeps the cultural background of a work, bur risk alienating readers like what was seen from the article against visibly Korean webtoons. Or they can choose to localize and instead tailor their version of the work so that it is more familiar with natives of the target language.

    Most manga/manhua/manhwa translations I've read seem to favor the first option. Translators tend to give pretty detailed notes when they are translating phrases/words that cannot simply be translated to English (e.g. most honorifics, idiom like phrases, pop culture, etc.). Knowing the correct balance between localize vs. translate requires pretty skilled translators who have a solid understanding of the languages and cultures related to their translations. A translator can really make or break a piece of media's success with the target audience if they canmot strike the correct balance betwee localization and translation.
    I found this blog has some additional information on the decision to localize versus straight translate.

    9 votes
    1. [13]
      mrbig
      Link Parent
      How can one start reading webtoons? What app do you use and which are your favorite series?

      How can one start reading webtoons? What app do you use and which are your favorite series?

      1 vote
      1. [2]
        apoctr
        Link Parent
        There are quite a lot of webtoons available on the Webtoons app. I think some (Tower of God?) use it as their official distribution means for foreign audiences.

        There are quite a lot of webtoons available on the Webtoons app. I think some (Tower of God?) use it as their official distribution means for foreign audiences.

        3 votes
        1. Velrei
          Link Parent
          I use the webtoons app for most of my comic viewing now, and Tower of God is amazing.

          I use the webtoons app for most of my comic viewing now, and Tower of God is amazing.

          1 vote
      2. [6]
        junya
        Link Parent
        I mostly read from the Webtoons app (someone else posted a link). My favorites is probably Kubera by Currygom. Kubera: It's a fantasy comic with an extremely complex story. Basically, the...

        I mostly read from the Webtoons app (someone else posted a link).

        My favorites is probably Kubera by Currygom.

        Kubera: It's a fantasy comic with an extremely complex story. Basically, the protagonist, Leez, finds out her village has been destroyed by a creature called a sura. She is the only known survivor. A wandering magician is nearby and saves her from being killed by the same sura. Leez then vows to kill the creature that destroyed her village; the magician agrees to help her along the way. It starts off a little bit slow, but once the story gets going it does not stop.

        Other good ones that I've read over the years are Tower of God (fantasy), Gepetto (sci fi), and Can't see, can't hear but love (slice of life, comedy, tragedy, not on Webtoon app. Should be available online somewhere)

        2 votes
        1. Velrei
          Link Parent
          Kubera is also incredibly unique with how it handles it's fantasy elements, or perhaps just how fantasy I've read has handled it.

          Kubera is also incredibly unique with how it handles it's fantasy elements, or perhaps just how fantasy I've read has handled it.

          1 vote
        2. [4]
          mrbig
          Link Parent
          Awesome! Any recommendation in the horror genre?

          Awesome! Any recommendation in the horror genre?

          1. [2]
            moocow1452
            Link Parent
            There's a whole bunch of Horror stuff broken out into genre, but out of stuff I'm following, Hooves of Death follows a pack of unicorns protecting a human commune from a zombie apocalypse, and...

            There's a whole bunch of Horror stuff broken out into genre, but out of stuff I'm following, Hooves of Death follows a pack of unicorns protecting a human commune from a zombie apocalypse, and just how pear shaped things go when one unicorn takes in a human girl marked for Death. It's just saccharine enough to make the horror bits hit hard, but it's still just as absurd as you would think of the Walking Dead, but with Fantasy Creatures.

            2 votes
            1. mrbig
              Link Parent
              What a bizarre premise! Will check it out.

              What a bizarre premise! Will check it out.

          2. junya
            Link Parent
            I don't typically read too much horror, but episode 22 of this webtoon was pretty good (it's a collection of horror one shots). I find this comic especially cool because it showcases how webtoons...

            I don't typically read too much horror, but episode 22 of this webtoon was pretty good (it's a collection of horror one shots). I find this comic especially cool because it showcases how webtoons can be more interactive than more traditional mediums. For example, it includes music, and some other features that make it a more immersive experience than typical manga.

      3. [4]
        NaraVara
        Link Parent
        I literally just follow a couple via RSS. They’re just webcomics through a specific publisher.

        I literally just follow a couple via RSS. They’re just webcomics through a specific publisher.

        1 vote
        1. [3]
          mrbig
          Link Parent
          The fact that the layouts are mobile friend makes all the difference to me, though.

          The fact that the layouts are mobile friend makes all the difference to me, though.

          1. [2]
            NaraVara
            Link Parent
            The webtoons website's layout is mobile friendly. Edit: And seems to vary based on the type of comic. One of them, which is very dialogue heavy, it breaks it out into a slide-show when on mobile....

            The webtoons website's layout is mobile friendly. Edit: And seems to vary based on the type of comic. One of them, which is very dialogue heavy, it breaks it out into a slide-show when on mobile. In another, where they play around a lot with breaking between panels, it adjusts to your phone's aspect ratio and makes it scrollable.

            1 vote
  2. vaddi
    Link
    I think South Korea as a whole is taking Japan's place in many areas, not just manga. At least it is the impression I get from a western point of view. Electronics was Japan's domain in the 90's...

    I think South Korea as a whole is taking Japan's place in many areas, not just manga. At least it is the impression I get from a western point of view.
    Electronics was Japan's domain in the 90's and early 2000's. Now LG and Samsung are almost always preferred over Sony for example (at least for the causal consumer). Netflix has a lot of Korean shows. K-pop is having a boom in the west as well. The other day there was a thread here about a Japanese company that used to make the best chalk in the world but went bankrupt, as a result a Korean company bought their formulas and kept producing it.
    I think it is safe to say that Korea is the new Japan. It feels that Japan is kinda stuck in 2000 and is failing to keep up with the rest, which is funny because some years ago they are ahead of the rest.
    They still are the world's 3rd biggest economy, but they feel weakened to me.

    2 votes