Japanese manga publisher TOBooks admits to using Google AI for the translation of several titles.

Japanese Publisher Charges Money For Mistake-Riddled AI-Translated Manga

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A manga publisher from Japan confirmed that it had used Google’s AI to translate some manga titles—but fans say the problem doesn’t stop there. Despite admitting that the AI-generated translations contain “errors”, readers are still required to pay to read those translated works.

TOBooks, a Japanese manga publishing house known for popular titles including Ascendance of a Bookworm and Sweet Reincarnation, recently launched a new website called “Corona EX”. The website is catered towards English speakers. Readers can pay a monthly fee of US$4.50 (AU$6.90) to access the platform and read Japanese manga works—published by TOBooks—that are translated to English. In other words, think of it as Netflix for manga.

“As our company’s vision is to ‘deliver many more stories’, we started Corona EX to reach ‘much more readers across the world’,” TOBooks stated on the Corona EX official site.


AI-translated works

On Corona EX’s website, the company also revealed that it has adopted two “translation modes” for the range of English manga titles. The first is translations provided by partner publishers, and the second is translations “automatically translated by Google AI”.

However, in using Google AI for translation, Corona EX noted that “there may be errors in translation”.


A search on Corona EX’s manga library confirms that at least one title has been translated using Google’s AI. A manga titled ‘The Swordwoman With Curse’ contains a label reminding readers that “all stories in this work [are] translated by Google Translate”.


A free first chapter preview of the translated version of ‘The Swordswoman With Curse’ shows that some English dialogue appear to be lacking in nuance, with sentences such as: “Humans find temporary peace. They called this period the peace period.”

Andrew Hodgson, a Japanese media consultant and translator, also pointed out in a social media post that Japanese texts placed outside of speech bubbles were left untranslated, suggesting that the AI had trouble detecting those sentences. 

“They didn’t even have someone post-MTL [machine translation] edit this, it’s just raw output,” Hodgson wrote.

“Appalling” translations

On social media, manga fans are criticising TOBooks for its decision to use AI for translation work instead of human translators. Many expressed that they felt shortchanged, as users still had to pay a monthly subscription fee for the inaccurate translations.

“I’d rather cough up the extra cash to get a more accurate [translation] versus having to read through whatever AI can come up with,” wrote a manga fan on X.

“This is cost cutting BS,” wrote another.

TOBooks did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Image: The Swordswoman With Curse via Corona EX