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AI is coming to manga, and looking to remove human translators from the equation

A Japanese developer is hoping to use AI to make manga more accessible, by making it cheaper to translate

Image credit: Orange

An upstart new Japanese company is looking to use AI to streamline, automate, and make cheaper the process of translating manga from its original Japanese language into other languages for international reading.

The company behind what it calls "manga AI localization" is Orange, a developer based in Japan which was launched in 2021 - and recently made the Japanese news for raising $1.8 million dollars from private investors for this new industry-changing paradigm.

"In 10 years, I would like to realize a world where people all over the world can read 'every' Japanese masterpiece manga in their own native languages," says Orange founder/CEO Shoko Ugaki.

Of course, that is possible now - as long as there's appropriate funding (and customer demand) to pay for the translators, localizers, and letters to take the original Japanese-language manga and create versions for audiences in different language. The skills and the people to do it are there, but it seems this AI component is being used to decrease the cost of the translation by decreasing - but not outright eliminating - human involvement.

In Orange's "Manga AI localization," the company says it can convert manga to different languages "much more quickly and inexpensively," while it says it still retains a "human professional" to check the AI work and manage the company's "guaranteed translation quality assurance."

Here's a video Orange has created about their process:

Watch on YouTube

Orange's first publicly-released manga using its "Manga AI localization" is an English-language translation/localization/relettering of Neko Oji: The Guy that got Reincarnated as a Cat by Kenji Yajima. Orange has published its English-language version of the manga on X (formerly known as Twitter) and TikTok.

Orange estimates that currently 100 volumes of manga are translated from Japanese to English each month across the industry in the current system. It projects that Orange can grow that 10 times, helping the industry translate/localize/re-letter "more than 1,000 manga books per month within a few years."

One key thing to note is that Orange isn't offering its "Manga AI localization" tool to other companies, but instead wants to be the sole provider of this service. Orange is in talks with several manga publishers and those that own the international publishing rights of manga in efforts to provide this AI-based manga translation service for other manga.