Want to “Support the Creators?” Here Are Actual Ways to Do It

Among online anime and manga fandom, there’s been an ongoing narrative about “supporting creators, not companies.” Often presented as a noble justification for piracy, where the companies that own the rights to either creating or translating the works are greedy exploiters of the artists, authors, and other contributors, the idea is that it’s better to buy merchandise instead. This is, in short, a very faulty understanding of how the anime and manga industries work. 

However, if we’re to take at least some of these sentiments as genuine and merely misguided, there are actually outlets to support anime and manga creators more directly.

One cause worth contributing to is the Animator Dormitory Project, which began in 2014 and aims to provide affordable housing to young animators for the first three years of their careers. Animation is grueling work, and a lot of young animators fall out of the industry after three years because the salaries are abysmal—sometimes less than $300 USD a month.

Related to the Animator Dormitory Project is founder Sugawara Jun’s other idea: the New Anime Making System Project. The basic gist is that it’s hard for animators to unionize both because of historical reasons, and that the animation studios themselves often don’t have enough money to sustain unions even if they wanted to do so. Sugawara’s idea is to have animators work on short music video projects for musicians from all around the world, and pay them more—eventually two to four times what they’d make otherwise, if all goes well. Compared to the Dormitory Project, I believe this one could be even more attractive fans who are skeptical of the production committees and companies who oversee anime production. It holds the potential to transform the industry as a whole for the better.

But maybe someone is really in love with the idea of supporting a creator directly. In that case, it’s not wholly out of the question. Some artists, both professional and amateur, have turned to Patreon-esque sites such as Pixiv fanbox and Fantia, which allow fans to directly donate to the authors either in general or for specific projects. You might just be able to find one of your favorite creators on those sites.

For example, I discovered that manga artist Matsui Katsunori (artist on La Sommelière) is currently trying to restart his Mixed Martial Arts-themed fighting manga, Hana Kaku: The Last Girl Standing. I learned a couple years ago that the manga had ended rather abruptly, so I’m glad to see him try to continue this series. I really love what I’ve read of it, and I think sites like fanbox and Fantia give a platform for passion projects that might not have been deemed as mainstream-viable.

Buying manga and anime legally and signing up for legitimate digital services will still, of course help creators out and contribute to their financial success, even as structural issues in these industries still exist. That said, if anyone feels sincerely passionate about “wanting to support the creators,” in a more direct fashion, I hope you’ll take one of the options listed above, or perhaps even try to find other possibilities.

My Picks for Comic Zenon’s Next English-Translated Manga

Comic Zenon is a curious manga magazine. Featuring current manga by the Fist of the North Star artist Hara Tetsuo and also supported by North Star Pictures, one might get the impression that it’s a comic for manly men who love manly things, but they have a lot of other things going for them too. More recently they started up a poll to ask English readers what manga they would like to see translated, and many of the titles on there look fantastic.

Of course it’s up to you to decide which ones to vote for (and you can vote for multiple titles), but here are the ones in particular I really want to see make it.

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From the artist of La Sommeliere, Hana Kaku: The Last Girl Standing follows a young, petite girl who discovers the world of Mixed Martial Arts. I read the first two chapters in Japanese, and while it never got around to the actual fighting that early, the art and the characters really sold the manga for me. Seeing Hana’s eyes widen as she sees watches her new best friend demolish a car with the power of MMA made it an instant must-read.

CZ_a_CZ021As someone who loves to eat and also read manga about characters eating, Wakako-Zake is a shoo-in for me. This isn’t just about the joy of having the perfect food, it’s about the satisfaction that comes from being able to revel in the simple subtleties of eating. The anime is currently being streamed on Crunchyroll, and with each episode taking about 2-3 minutes there’s no reason for you to not check it out. In the anime, Wakako is also voiced by Sawashiro Miyuki (Fujiko in The Woman Called Mine Fujiko, Twilight in Go! Princess Precure), using something closer to her Serizawa voice from Pani Poni Dash.

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I don’t know as much about this title, but Forensics Girl Hayama-san seems to be some kind of quietly awesome mystery manga. According to the description, the “manga is full of investigative techniques that you can try at home!” While manga about detective girls can vary in quality immensely, they’re also often some of the best works I’ve seen (Her Majesty’s Petite Angie, Daughter of Twenty Faces).

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