Despite all that you read about the tensions between China and Japan, Japanese manga is highly celebrated in China. Chinese people cosplay as Japanese manga characters. They watch Japanese manga inspired animations. And they read manga—that is, until now.
Earlier this year, the Chinese internet giant Tencent signed a publishing deal with Shueisha inc, the publisher of Shonen Jump and Namco Bandai. The deal gave Tencent exclusive cross-platform publishing rights to 11 Shueisha properties as well as the rights to make them into games. That's right, Tencent has the rights to publish games involving Naruto, Dragon Ball, and One Piece and the like in China. Despite the significance of this deal, it remained largely unnoticed until recently.
Last Wednesday, Chinese manga fans started to notice that fan-translated scans of manga such as Naruto, One Piece, and Bleach have been taken down from Chinese manga hosting sites.
Fan translations serve the same purpose in China as they do everywhere else. Official translations take forever, prompting well-meaning fans to pirate the works and translate them. Sadly, the news that they would have to read manga through officials channels hit Chinese netizens pretty hard. Some are happy that there are official channels, but still upset due to how slowly Tencent update their manga.
I have gathered a few reactions from Sina Weibo, China's twitter-like microblogging site.
kyon：I see...Tencent acquired the rights to Gintama, no wonder I wasn't able to read the latest chapter on my iPad and the sites I normally visit didn't have anything. They also grabbed One Piece、Naruto and Bleach. This might actually be a good thing. Now, domestic manga titles might actually be the same as they are abroad.
达林格勒:Tencent localisation also sucks. Despite buying such titles like Naruto, they do such a horrible job with the translation that it loses its meaning. I'm not going to read it until it starts making sense again!
啊疼eating:Lots of websites said they can't host manga anymore because Tencent has the rights to them. Visited their site, all the names are changed, I couldn't find anything!
Oo伊芙莉特oO:Garbage Tencent! They harmonised (an online joke about censorship) my favorite manga!
如果_我是风的孩子:You'd think that the release speed of the manga would be faster now that it's official. It's become nearly nonexistent!
Tencent is supposedly working on the first game of its cross-platform publishing deal, an online Naruto game.
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Eric is Beijing based writer and all around FAT man. You can contact him @FatAsianTechie@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @FatAsianTechie.