‘The Ancient Magus’ Bride’ Manga To Start In-House Production Of English Language Simulpubs Using Combo Of A.I. And Human Editors
In drawing a new line in the ongoing battle between the self-important and ideologically motivated Japanese-to-English localizers running amok in the entertainment industry and the fans who simply want to enjoy their favorite works in as close to their original forms as possible, manga publisher Bushiroad Works has announced that they will soon begin publishing their own English language simulpubs of Kore Yamazaki’s manga series The Ancient Magus’ Bride using a combination of both “machine translation technology” – in other words, A.I. – and human editors.
As announced by Bushiroad Works via a December 12th tweet made to the series’ official Twitter account (translated via DeepL), beginning with its 96th entry, ‘The show must go on. II’, “new chapter[s] of The Ancient Magus’ Bride will be serialized simultaneously in English alongside the Japanese version using AI translation technology!”
(Interestingly, this last note about “AI translation technology” was omitted from the English portion of the tweet’s text.)
In a follow-up tweet, the publisher further noted that said simulpubns would be produced in collaboration with Mantra Co., presumably through the use of their self-titled “multilingual translation engine developed for manga & webtoon,” the Mantra Engine.
Unsurprisingly given the widespread, ongoing debates surrounding the ethical and practical aspects of artificial intelligence’s – or more specifically machine learning’s – use in the production of various forms of art, Bushiroad’s announcement was soon met with a deluge of criticism from unhappy readers, many of whom condemned this move primarily based on its cost to human jobs.
“This is an insult to both the creator and the consumers (fans),” wrote @firebirds_rose. “The animanga industry has been on the spotlight for quite some time regarding it’s exploitative nature and this just adds to it. Getting a machine to do the job of a person to dish out content faster is just vile.”
“So long as you are using AI translation, I will not be supporting any series replacing its translation team with AI,” declared @PeevesV2. “You wanted to save money? Have fun losing it.”
Likewise, @HLNV01 opined, “Disgusting that Japanese compqnies think they can get away with using AI translation instead of hiring an actual human that understands nuance and can perform research”.
In the face of this backlash, Bushiroad Works would return to the series’ Twitter the next day to “clarify misinformation that has been spread.”
“Firstly, regarding ‘AI-assisted translation,’ we have implemented a system from Mantra Corporation,” began the publisher. “This system combines their unique machine translation technology with the editing and proofreading by professional translators.”
Turning to elaborate on “the purpose of [this] simulcast distribution,” Bushiroad Works then explained its main goal was to combat the fact that “unofficial translations are sometimes released for free and circulate as ‘pirated versions.'”
“Illegal manga piracy sites that publish these cause serious harm to the manga culture and industry both domestically and internationally,” they detailed. “The Ancient Magus’ Bride has also continuously suffered from such damages. Initiatives like the one we are undertaking now have been proven effective in reducing piracy damage, as demonstrated by precedent cases with Shueisha’s works.”
Drawing their statement to a close with a brief note “regarding books produced and licensed officially by foreign publishers,” Bushiroad Works ultimately made it clear that, “If there are any offers from various companies, they will continue to be considered, and if conditions are met, publications will proceed as before. This situation remains unchanged.”
The next chapter of The Ancient Magus’ Bridge – which, if their plans hold, will be the second to be translated by the publisher’s new process – is set to debut in the pages of Bushiroad Works’ February issue of their eponymous manga magazine, Monthly Bushiroad.