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Manga Tech Startup Orange, Inc. Raises JPY 2.9B (USD 19.5M) in Pre-Series A Financing

Date: 2024 May 09 16:35

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The people from manga tech start up Orange, Inc have sent us details about their latest fundraising. They've managed to get JPY 2.92 billion (approximately USD 19.5 million* ) fundraising in pre-series A financing.

The company pitches itself as a a manga localization technology company that uses deep learning models to translate manga. In a web comic they explain how it's not cost effective to get humans to translate the bulk of manga published in Japanese. As a result they claim less than 2% of Japanese manga has been translated.

The pitch also says they'll have skilled translators polish the output, while in reality, for a translator it's actually easier to translate directly than to tidy up machine translated text.

Machine translation does have it's place. It's frequently (and successfully) used to translate text with a consistent context, such as instruction manuals and technical documents. This text is often very dry, but also very limited in scope with fixed and repeated text. Once a human has corrected it the machine model can then use the preferred translation for that expression again and again, which makes sense in an instruction manual.

Manga however is a creative endeavour and as a result the translations have a very wide scope. Translators have to be creative, who is speaking? What's their background? What mood are they in? What's the context of what they're saying? Is it a pun? Are they speaking formally? Do they have a regional accent? This and many other factors have to be taken into account words don't always have a one to one mapping, as context and intent makes manga translation an art form unto itself.

We're reminded In an industry where companies are trying to lower translation costs at the expense of translators wages, it can make it difficult to earn money as a freelance translator when companies are trying to race to the bottom.

We're thinking if you gave the Otaku News Team 2.92 billion JPY, we wouldn't publish as much manga as Orange Inc are intending to, but we'd pay our translators, letters and other production staff a decent wage. So if any companies looking to send us almost 19.5M USD to publish, then please do get in touch. We've got a list of manga we'd like to license and translate!

On a more serious note, we reached out to a few professional translators to ask their opinion on the Orange Inc News and machine translation in general. We also got them to do a translation mini battle.

Full Story

Press release as follows:

Manga Tech Startup Orange, Inc. Raises JPY 2.9B (USD 19.5M) in Pre-Series A Financing

Manga Tech Startup Orange, Inc. Raises JPY 2.9B (USD 19.5M) in Pre-Series A Financing

Entertainment technology company accelerates its mission: "Creating a world where everyone enjoys manga."

Tokyo, May 6, 2024-Orange, Inc., a manga localization technology company, today announced JPY 2.92 billion (approximately USD 19.5 million* ) fundraising in pre-series A financing.
*Exchange rate: USD 1 = JPY 150

Special manga "Let's Go! Mr.Orange"

For full View:

The financing round was led by Shogakukan, Globis Capital Partners, ANRI, SBI Investment, JIC Venture Growth Investments, Miyako Capital, Chiba Dojo Fund, Mizuho Capital, Mitsubishi UFJ Capital, and GFR Fund.

The funds will be used to develop a localization product based on deep learning models and to launch their digital manga store in the summer of 2024

About the Global Manga Industry
Orange is an entertainment technology startup from Japan dedicated to the manga industry. The company leverages deep-learning technology to address significant global market opportunities and historical development challenges within the traditional production of the Japanese art form.

The global manga market has shown substantial growth, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10%, and is expected to reach USD 42.2 billion market in 2030 (Manga Market 2023 report by Grand View Research, Inc.). This traditional entertainment in Japan has evolved into a global IP industry, reflecting an expanding audience for manga and its adjacent industries, such as anime.

However, only a fraction of works-according to Orange's research, approximately 2% of manga released annually in Japan-has been formally translated and made available in English, partly due to the difficult and lengthy translation process and the limited number of translators. The global piracy market for manga was $ 5.5 billion in 2022 [Content Overseas Distribution Association], which significantly harms the industry and the rights of wonderful creators and artists.

Orange's Challenges
Orange is breaking through these issues by developing innovative technologies that enhance the capacity of localization and enable the worldwide simultaneous distribution of manga, working closely with several publishers.

Orange has been developing a manga-dedicated localization system since it was founded. It enables significant efficiencies in the localization process of manga by integrating cutting-edge computer vision and natural language processing technologies developed by a top-class deep learning engineering team.

Their proprietary system uses their localization operation process, enabling a capacity for Japanese-to-English localization of up to 500 manga volumes per month. This is 5x more than the current production capacity of the whole localization market, according to Orange's estimates. Orange will also work on localizing manga into other languages, ensuring that manga fans across the world can enjoy manga in their native languages.

In the summer of 2024, the company will also launch a digital manga store named "emaqi" in the US. "emaqi" will include titles localized by Orange. It will feature recommendations suggested by AI technology and manga influencers to offer new and fun experiences to all manga fans in the US.

Goals and Vision
"Since we were founded in 2021, our vision has been to share 'all manga'-the manga that has moved us and that we dearly love-in all languages across the globe," said Shoko Ugaki, Founder and Chief Executive Officer. "Manga covers a wide and diverse variety of themes. Our goal is to foster a global society where manga is an everyday joy for everyone, from children to adults."

For additional information, please visit our website or contact our press team.


About Orange Inc.
Founded in 2021, Orange, Inc. has been focusing on its mission of "creating a world where everyone enjoys manga" by developing manga localization technology for mass localized publishing. We wish to empower the life of each manga fan, regardless of nationality, age, or gender, through delivering diverse and unique manga. We strive to pass down the joy of manga to future generations.

Source: Orange Inc
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