JhonnyD

Japanese Magazines Scan Project

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Every single picture in the Gallery and every single magazine available to download was put there by an ordinary member of Retromags.  Just like Wikipedia, this site is only as good as people make it.  Of the people, by the people, for the people - that's us.

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80's and 90's mags are of the most importance since they are likely the only sources talking about any of these games in depth or at all. If you try to research an obscure Japanese only title from that era, you will get nothing since all the sources are unscanned Japanese magazines. Even 2005+ Japanese magazines have unique interviews and the most you'll get is a brief summary of one or two anecdotes from the interview in an English publication.

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4 minutes ago, JonnyCGood said:

80's and 90's mags are of the most importance since they are likely the only sources talking about any of these games in depth or at all. If you try to research an obscure Japanese only title from that era, you will get nothing since all the sources are unscanned Japanese magazines. Even 2005+ Japanese magazines have unique interviews and the most you'll get is a brief summary of one or two anecdotes from the interview in an English publication.

Yeah, but let's be honest. 95% of the people (who aren't Japanese) who download Japanese mags from our site couldn't care less about things like interviews, because they don't speak Japanese.  Like it or not, the only reason most people download our Japanese mags is for the pictures.  The number of Japanese-literate foreigners is far too small to qualify as an intended audience for these scans.  If that handful of people enjoy reading the interviews, that's great, but it isn't as if the scan being made available has suddenly made that information available to the English-speaking world.  For all but a few, those brief summaries and anecdotes in English publications are still a more valuable source of info than an untranslated scan of a Japanese mag will ever be.

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On 11/12/2019 at 10:09 AM, JhonnyD said:

Ok, will do later (this mean tomorrow or next month :D)

Cover added, hope that I did everything correctly

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If it's high enough res to OCR, then interviews could be read with machine translation.

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6 hours ago, vgmax said:

If it's high enough res to OCR, then interviews could be read with machine translation.

Unfortunately, OCR isn't very reliable when applied to magazines.  And even less so with Japanese text.  And since it's recommended that Japanese text intended for OCR should be at least 600dpi, then none of the Japanese mags at Retromags qualify.

But machine translation of Japanese is godawful anyway.  It's one of the hardest languages to machine-translate with any accuracy into English, and the results can't be "read" so much as interpreted much of the time.

But it doesn't change the argument that our Japanese scans are for people who can't read Japanese and will only look at the pictures.  Very few people, if any, will go to the trouble of trying to OCR an entire magazine, especially once they realize how poor the results are.

(btw, I tried OCRing a 600dpi page from an unedited scan of mine so I could then machine translate it and post the results here, but I couldn't find any free OCR services that would OCR a single 600dpi page - they either simply didn't work, or they refused because of a 5MB per file size limit, and my 600dpi scans are over 10MB per page.)

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One thing fan translation community likes to do is translate all the materials surrounding a specific game before releasing a patch. That includes mag reviews if available.

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It doesn't surprise me at all that reviews at least would be translated.  Japanese game reviews almost never exceed a few sentences.  They almost all follow the Famitsu/EGM format of giving multiple reviewers a tiny box within a narrow column to write a short review.  Pretty lacking in in-depth analysis, but it makes translation a more simple affair.

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Google Translate employs machine learning, meaning the translation of an article you get today will be better than the translation of the article from some time ago. In fact, feeding the article in and then waiting and then getting a translation is a good idea and will give better results. I've been really surprised with the results I have had recently.

Though it still has a problem with vertical text.

Edited by gingerbeardman

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In theory, machine learning provide better algorithms.

In theory.

I've used machine translation for 20 years, and the only improvement I've seen is they stopped biasing the interpretation towards celebrity names.

And it still can't make a lick of sense out of a SNES game script (or any interpersonal dialogue, for that matter).

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Yeah, machine translation is sometimes acceptable for translating very formal textbook-like sentences, but as soon as it tries to translate things written in a natural writing or speaking style, it's nearly worthless (which is extremely relevant here, since this thread was specifically addressing interviews.)  I've been handed some truly inscrutable blocks of English text from Japanese colleagues who type something up in Japanese they want to communicate to me and then run it through machine translation.  Even though my Japanese is only so-so, I have better luck understanding their meaning by looking at the original Japanese than I do by reading the machine-translated English.

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14 hours ago, vgmax said:

In theory.

My response was documenting my practical experience. I've had different, better translations a few weeks after the initial translation, since Google added Machine Learning to Translate. 
 

Try it yourselves. Or don't.

But I'd kindly ask to not poo-poo it if you've not tried it. 

Edited by gingerbeardman

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25 minutes ago, gingerbeardman said:

My response was documenting my practical experience. I've had different, better translations a few weeks after the initial translation, since Google added Machine Learning to Translate. 
 

Try it yourselves. Or don't.

But I'd kindly ask to not poo-poo it if you've not tried it. 

Actually, I do believe he already said that he's used it for 20 years and noticed relatively little improvement.

I've probably only used it for the past 10 years or so and have no way to compare a translation from 10 years ago to one I get today, so I can't say how much it's improved in that time.  All I can say with total confidence is that as of right now, machine translation is not capable of rendering spoken or naturally-written Japanese into English with any kind of clarity.  I just ran the posts on my facebook feed through google translate (at least half of the posts are written in natural Japanese by native speakers), and the English translations on nearly all of them are borderline incomprehensible.

Now, if I was trying to translate a refrigerator repair manual or maybe even a newspaper article, I'm sure the results would be far more understandable (though still more flawed than machine-translated Germanic or Latin-based languages.)

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I thank @vgmax and @kitsunebi77 for your input and personal opinion.

You've both mentioned Machine Translation, but I am referring to Machine Learning in relation to that. 

I'm talking specifically about Google Translate, which was introduced in 2006.

Japanese Neural Machine Translation was introduced to Google Translate in 2016, so we're only talking since then about seeing the benefits of Machine Translation. 

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Neural_Machine_Translation

Twitter recently (March 2019) switched from Microsoft Bing to Google Translate so I'd expect conversational translation will be improving rapidly from then on. https://mspoweruser.com/twitter-pwa-ditches-bing-translator-in-favor-of-google-translator/

 

Saying "Google Translate" isn't specific enough as the results vary depending on how it's used.

Here's an interesting comparison that I have done just this minute...

Original Japanese:

Quote

「花札こいこい」は、同じ絵柄を合わせてカードを獲得しながら役をつくる「花札」ゲームの一種「こいこい」がベースになっている。基本的なルールは一緒だが、コンピュータの持ち点(文)が0(ゼロ)になってもゲームが続けられるという独自のルールが追加されている。0文以降のゲームはコンピュータが勝つまで継続するが、このときコンピュータが上がった得点は、プレーヤーの持ち点から引かれない。
 つまり、コンピュータを0文にしたあとは、どれだけ得点を伸ばせるかが重要になってくるという訳だ。

Google Browser Extension Translation (Translate API):

Quote

"Come Come playing cards", together the same pattern create a role while acquiring the card "playing cards" a kind of game "Koi-Koi" is set to the base. The basic rule it together, but have been added its own rules of the game is continued even have points of the computer (statement) is set to 0 (zero). 0 sentence after the game continues until the computer win, but scores this when the computer is in the up position, not drawn from has points of players. 
 In other words, after the computer to 0 sentence is, it means that how much can stretch the score becomes important.

Not so good.

Google Translate Web Site & Web Service:

Quote

“Hanafuda Koikoi” is based on “Koikoi”, a type of “Hanafuda” game that creates a role while acquiring cards with the same pattern. Although the basic rules are the same, a unique rule has been added that allows the game to continue even if the computer score (sentence) becomes 0 (zero). The game after the 0th sentence continues until the computer wins, but the score raised by the computer at this time is not drawn from the player's score.
In other words, after the computer has been reduced to 0 sentences, it is important how much the score can be increased.

Pretty good.

I'll post back in a few weeks so we can see how these have changed now that I have seeded the machine with the Japanese text we want translating.

My point being that this isn't black/white, what is true one moment may not be true the next. Progress happens. Especially when it comes to computers, software, technology. I think we can all agree on that, given that we're not still stuck using MS-DOS.

Edited by gingerbeardman

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7 hours ago, gingerbeardman said:

I'll post back in a few weeks so we can see how these have changed now that I have seeded the machine with the Japanese text we want translating.

Perhaps while you're waiting you can attempt to successfully OCR a Japanese game magazine.  After all, without that, machine translation of any sort is a moot point.

I've had 0% success rate on this front, but granted, I was only experimenting with various free services and it was over a year ago.  Perhaps there is a paid software that can do the job, or perhaps the technology has improved since then to be able to deal with magazines.

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10 hours ago, gingerbeardman said:

I'll post back in a few weeks so we can see how these have changed now that I have seeded the machine with the Japanese text we want translating.

My point being that this isn't black/white, what is true one moment may not be true the next. Progress happens. Especially when it comes to computers, software, technology. I think we can all agree on that, given that we're not still stuck using MS-DOS.

Google Translate has shown incredible progress in the last few years, but one of the problems that comes with that progress is that it can be deceiving. Depending on the text, Google Translate now can output text that's perfectly formed and mostly accurate, but then completely fails to translate one small part of it in a way that's not apparent (I've seen it even convey the opposite meaning of what was said in the original). If you rely on it for research purposes that's not good enough no matter how accurate the rest of the translation is.

Even when the entire translation is pretty good, as is in your example, the few small glitches can cause confusion. For example, 役 was translated here as its common meaning of "role" instead of "(card game) hand", and if you don't know what kind of game Hanafuda is you might be led to think there's some unexplained role system here.

Then there's the fact that Google Translate produces good results only on fairly dry text and the moment there's some colloquialisms or figurative language involved it still breaks down very fast. Anything but the most badly written fiction is pretty much completely out, but also articles and interviews that are more than dry reports. I followed up on your example and tried transcribing and Google-translating several different types of content from the issue of Famitsu @kitsunebi77 posted the other day. These are carefully checked hand transcriptions and don't have the imperfections OCR inevitably produces. Since I know Japanese, I tried to predict how well Google will do as I was typing and I got it right every time. I'll go from best to worst.

First, here's where Google did a fantastic job for the most part: a news article from the news section at the front of the magazine:

Quote

次世代ゲーム機戦争!’94東京おもちゃショー

6月2~5日、千葉県の幕張メッセで、’94東京おもちゃショーが開催されたのだ。このイベントは年に1回開催される日本最大の玩具の見本市。そして、今年もまた、多くのテレビゲーム関連の新製品が出展されたぞ。

今年のショーで、いちばん熱かったのは、やっぱり次世代ゲーム機の数々が一堂に会したってこと。

まずはセガ。セガブースでは、セガサターン版の『バーチャファイター』と『デイトナUSA』が出展されていたのだ。来場者はサターンのコントローラーを手に取り、キャラクターの動きなどをじっくりと確かめていたぞ。また、スーパー32X(仮称)に関する発表も行われていたのだ。こちらは本体のイメージイラストとソフトのビデオ映像のみの展示だったけどね。

NECホームエレクトロニクスはFX(仮称)を出展。独特の本体のデザインで目立ち、先日紹介した、2本の対応ソフトも展示されて、得意とするデジタル動画再生の威力を見せつけていたぞ。

そして、会場で初公開されたのが、エス・エヌ・ケイのネオジオCD。ネオジオの機能そのままで、ソフトをCD-ROMで供給できるようにしたってものだ。ソフトの低価格化への来場者の関心が高かったぞ。
 

Next generation game machine war! '94 Tokyo Toy Show

On June 2-5, the '94 Tokyo Toy Show was held at Makuhari Messe in Chiba Prefecture. This event is held once a year in Japan's largest toy trade fair. And again this year, many new video game related products were exhibited.

The hottest part of this year's show was that all of the next-generation game consoles came together.

First, Sega. At the Sega booth, the Sega Saturn version of "Virtua Fighter" and "Daytona USA" were on display. Visitors picked up Saturn's controller and checked the character's movements carefully. There was also an announcement about Super 32X (provisional name). This was an exhibition of only the main body image illustrations and software video images.

NEC Home Electronics exhibited FX (tentative name). Standing out with the unique design of the main body, the two compatible software introduced the other day were also exhibited, showing off the power of digital video playback, which I am good at.

And the first public presentation at the venue was the SN Geo Geo CD. The software can be supplied on CD-ROM without changing the Neogeo function. Visitors were very interested in reducing the price of software.

This is pretty good! This news article is clearly written for kids with some small colloquial patterns thrown around, but for the most part it's just informative text. The only potential source of confusion is the word "in" in the first paragraph (Toy Show *is* Japan's largest toy trade fair, it doesn't take place *in* it).  The very last paragraph got a little messy in translation (and got confused about how to transcribe SNK and Neo Geo) but is still readable. There's also some inconsistency with "provisional name" and "tentative name" for the same expression in different places (I prefer the latter).

Next, a short game preview from the PlayStation launch lineup. I'm pretty sure this is marketing text that came directly from Sony and wasn't written by Famitsu's editors.

Quote

過激な3Dバトルか、ロボットゲームの登場だ。プレーヤーは幅2キロメートル、奥行き2キロメートル、高さ2キロメートルのフィールド内で、激しいバトルを楽しむことができるのだ。

戦闘の舞台が、廃墟や砂漠の広野など10面ほど用意されていて、戦場によって違った戦いを楽しめる。また、多人数プレーのときは、敵として闘うことはもちろん、味方として協力することもできる。

頭脳プレーも大切ちいうわけ。
 

It ’s an extreme 3D battle or a robot game. Players can enjoy intense battles in a field that is 2 kilometers wide, 2 kilometers deep and 2 kilometers high.

There are about 10 battle stages including ruins and desert Hirono, and you can enjoy different battles depending on the battlefield. In addition, in multiplayer games, you can not only fight as an enemy, but also cooperate as a friend.

Brain play is also important.

Not bad at all. The biggest mistake is translating 広野 as the name Hirono instead of as the word "plains". "About 10 stages" is also a mistranslation (the original simply states there are 10 stages). But overall, it's clear and you get what the piece is trying to say.

Now let's see how Google does with something that's not purely informational. Here's the very first review in the review section, for the game "Super 4WD, The Baja":

Quote

山あり谷ありのデコボココース。ここを、ドッカンドッカンと、ただ走っているだけでもそうとう楽しいんだな。基本アクションが楽しいってのは、良質ゲーム必須条件だぞ。不謹慎ではあるが、跳ねとばしてしまったバイク野郎の悲鳴に、快感を感じてしまった。スミマシェーン。
 

Dekoboko course with mountains and valleys. It's so much fun just to run here with the dockandokkan. Having fun with basic actions is a prerequisite for good quality games. I felt unpleasant, but I felt pleasure in the screams of the biker who had skipped. Sumima Shane.

This isn't good. Famitsu reviews have a very small character count to work with so they're usually written in colloquial shorthand style that Google trips over as often as it gets right. We get words left untranslated, and the penultimate sentence is one you might reason out the meaning of, but you might also not plus it turned "バイク野郎" into a simple"biker" which I can't forgive.

There weren't any interviews in this issue of Famitsu so I turned to a random issue of PC Engine Fan of the same vintage and pulled out the first question of an interview with the director of Cosmic Fantasy 4:

Quote

―今回の『4』制作に関して最大の課題は?

越智一裕(以下 越智) とにかくビジュアルの量を増やすことだし。もうハンパじゃなく。そこでスタッフにハッパをかけていたら、知らない間に自分の首を絞めていたのに気づいたんでしょ。設定から絵コンテまで、全部自分でやっていたでしから。でも今回はあっしも死ぬ覚悟でし(注:先生は近年、この口調で通している)。
 

-What is the biggest issue with this “4” production?

Kazuhiro Ochi (hereinafter Ochi) Anyway, it's about increasing the amount of visuals. Not a hampa anymore. So when I was hugging the staff, I noticed that I was strangling without knowing it. I did everything from setting to storyboarding myself. But this time I'm ready to die (note: the teacher has passed in this tone in recent years).

This is obviously messed up, but not in the way you'd expect if you can't read the original. A savvy researcher might think that the sentence starting with "So when" came out a little strange but conveys the original thought. It does not - it's a complete mistranslation in every possible way. Ochi's last sentence ("But this time I'm ready to die") is something I think a lot of people would assume Google messed up but is actually perfectly accurate. The note following it is an incomprehensible mess though.

Finally, the Famitsu review section includes a short "about myself" blurb for each of the four reviewers. Since the reviewers repeated from issue to issue and the readers were expected to know their personalities, this was usually devoted to "random stuff I thought about this week" from the reviewer in question. This is as colloquial as any text in Famitsu gets. Here's the guy who wrote the review from above:

Quote

『ダビスタ』の馬の名付かたって、イロイロだね。田原誠三は、カラオケの持ち歌からナイトイヨマンテ。東府屋ファミ坊はファンだからといってミズノミキ。松本ボコチン太はボコチンノココロ。野崎カッパヘージにいたってはキンタマイジローだって。ん~……。
 

The name of the horse of “Davista” is Iloilo. Tahara Seizo is a nighty yomante from a karaoke song. Tofuya Famibo is Mizuno Miki just because she is a fan. Matsumoto Bokochin is Bokochin Nokokoroko. In Nozaki Kappa Hedge, Kinta Myjiro. Hmm~…….

To be honest, I don't understand most of the references here myself. But the one I do weren't translated correctly and the rest are so mangled that you couldn't research them if you wanted to. I can take the Japanese text and spend some time on Google and Wikipedia and eventually get every single thing said here, but Google's results are just garbage.

I don't see any of the issues here solved anytime soon. And even for the texts where the results seem excellent, they're only good as starting points for any serious research and should be confirmed with a real speaker, because unexpected inaccuracies are still the norm.

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Thank you so much @orenronen for the time and effort you spent giving explicit examples to back up everything that's been said in this thread, i.e that machine translation is fine for formal, technical writing, but the more colloquial the text, the less accurate the translations become.

The translatable areas like news stories are mostly full of information that is already known, and previews and the like are usually just ad copy provided by the game publishers and have no importance in any language.  I would argue that almost all interesting or useful information in a magazine comes from editorial content like reviews or from developer comments and interviews, which are sadly the areas least likely to be accurately translated. 

But to remind everyone who may have forgotten by now, this whole train of thought began with a comment that OCR'd text could be translated.  But before we can even worry about how well google translate works, we've got to have an accurately OCR'd magazine.  That's a HUGE hurdle to overcome right there.  I've never seen it done well, and have failed when I attempted it myself.  So rather than worry about step 2 (machine translation), it might be best to first deal with the not insignificant problem of step 1 (how to successfully and accurately OCR a Japanese magazine).  Because we aren't going to have perfect transcriptions to work with like the ones orenronen graciously provided here.

 

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Thanks for the insight @orenronen!

Interestingly, I repeated some of your translations only 9 hours later, using Google Translate (web site), and got different results which show less of the problems/issues you outlined. Their machine learns fast!?

link for below translation

Quote

Next generation game machine war! '94 Tokyo Toy Show

From June 2 to 5, the '94 Tokyo Toy Show was held at Makuhari Messe in Chiba Prefecture. This event is held once a year in Japan's largest toy trade fair. And again, many new video game related products were exhibited this year.

The hottest part of this year's show was that all of the next-generation game consoles came together.

First, Sega. At the Sega booth, the Sega Saturn version of "Virtua Fighter" and "Daytona USA" were on display. Visitors picked up Saturn's controller and checked the character's movements carefully. There was also an announcement about Super 32X (provisional name). This was an exhibition of only the main body image illustrations and software video images.

NEC Home Electronics exhibited FX (tentative name). Standing out with the unique design of the main body, the two compatible software introduced the other day were also exhibited, showing off the power of digital video playback, which I am good at.

And the first public announcement at the venue was the SN Geo Geo CD. The software can be supplied on CD-ROM without changing the Neogeo function. Visitors were very interested in reducing the price of software.

link for below translation

Quote

It’s an extreme 3D battle or a robot game. Players can enjoy intense battles in a field that is 2 kilometers wide, 2 kilometers deep and 2 kilometers high.

There are about 10 battle stages including ruins and Hirono in the desert, and you can enjoy different battles depending on the battlefield. In addition, in multiplayer games, you can not only fight as an enemy but also cooperate as a friend.

Brain play is also important.

link for below translation

Quote

A course with mountains and valleys. It's so much fun just to run here with the dockandokkan. Having fun with basic actions is a prerequisite for a good game. Although unscrupulous, I felt a pleasant sensation in the scream of the biker who had jumped. Sumima Shane.

 

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50 minutes ago, gingerbeardman said:

Thanks for the insight @orenronen!

Interestingly, I repeated some of your translations only 9 hours later, using Google Translate (web site), and got different results which show less of the problems/issues you outlined. Their machine learns fast!?

link for below translation

link for below translation

link for below translation

 

What's especially interesting is that I just ran them through the google translate website and got the exact same translations as orenronen, not the ones you posted.

Oh wait, I didn't even need to do that...I just clicked on the translation links you provided...and got the exact same translations as the ones posted by orenronen.

Perhaps it's giving you different translations based on your IP?  I'm in Japan...I wonder if orenronen is as well?

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2 minutes ago, kitsunebi77 said:

What's especially interesting is that I just ran them through the google translate website and got the exact same translations as orenronen, not the ones you posted.

Oh wait, I didn't even need to do that...I just clicked on the translation links you provided...and got the exact same translations as the ones posted by orenronen.

Perhaps it's giving you different translations based on your IP?  I'm in Japan...I wonder if orenronen is as well?

I am. If we're dealing with a constantly evolving translation model, it makes sense that newer versions aren't immediately available on all the servers. Nothing on this scale works that way, and we'll probably see changes that appear in one server propagated to the rest in a matter of hours.

2 hours ago, kitsunebi77 said:

The translatable areas like news stories are mostly full of information that is already known, and previews and the like are usually just ad copy provided by the game publishers and have no importance in any language.  I would argue that almost all interesting or useful information in a magazine comes from editorial content like reviews or from developer comments and interviews, which are sadly the areas least likely to be accurately translated. 

I think that when serious research is involved, nothing is of no importance. Ad copy (especially when it's not presented as an actual ad) tells us how a company tries to present a work. You can tell a lot about particular corporate cultures and even about game development by seriously taking a look at them. There's really not a single word in those magazines that can't be used in some capacity when researching aspects of game culture at that point in time.

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12 minutes ago, orenronen said:

I think that when serious research is involved, nothing is of no importance. Ad copy (especially when it's not presented as an actual ad) tells us how a company tries to present a work. You can tell a lot about particular corporate cultures and even about game development by seriously taking a look at them. There's really not a single word in those magazines that can't be used in some capacity when researching aspects of game culture at that point in time.

LOL.  Fair enough.  I suppose if you can wrap your brain around the idea that there is or ever will be a need to examine ad copy for a better historical context of gaming culture as part of a legitimate scholarly venture of some sort, you may be right.  I don't think it will surprise you to learn that I don't personally feel that any scholastic dissertations citing video game magazines as their primary source can be taken very seriously, but who knows?  I took a couple of crazy courses when I was in Uni, and it's shocking sometimes what sort of stuff people will try to make a thesis paper about, so...hmmm...actually, now that I think about it, I'm sure someone has already written just such a dissertation at some point.😂

You're right, of course, though.  No information is useless, but there is definitely information of far less usefulness than other information, and I'd have to classify "preview ad copy" as falling under the "lesser importance" category of info.

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3 hours ago, kitsunebi77 said:

rather than worry about step 2 (machine translation), it might be best to first deal with the not insignificant problem of step 1 (how to successfully and accurately OCR a Japanese magazine).

I've picked this up in your other thread, where I provide output of Adobe Acrobat DC attempt at OCR on a page from your recent Famitsu upload.

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Interesting news regarding online download copyright in Japan. 

https://news.livedoor.com/lite/article_detail/17441298/

I'll await a more thorough translation and analysis, but it seems to me that:

- screenshots: OK without permission

- downloads: OK without permission (limited to several of ten pages)

- photos and illustrations: NOT OK without permission

- more than half of one episode of comic, books, magazines, and originally free magazines, comics, and online articles: NOT OK

...but what if person A uploads the first half of a magazine and person B uploads the second half?

Edited by gingerbeardman

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