Manga Startup Pools $20 Million to Fund New AI-Based Localization Tool

Orange Inc. has raised nearly $20 million USD to help localization manga overseas.

Let's be real. These days, manga is growing by the second. The medium has become a go-to for readers across the globe, and the sales show as much. Here in the United States, manga sales account for more than half the graphic novel sales annually. The demand for manga is only getting higher, and now, it seems a company has raised nearly $20 million to craft localizations faster than ever before.

The report comes from Orange Inc., a startup company focused on entertainment technology. The organization's motto is to create a world where everyone can enjoy manga, and it is making moves to do so. After all, the company has earned $19.5 million USD in pre-financing to create a localization tool that translates manga using the power of AI.

"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," Orange Inc. writes. As for who funded the tool, Shogakukan stands on the list with Globis Captital Partners, ANRI, JIC Venture Growth Investments, Miyako Capital, Chiba Dojo Fund, and more.

As for how the localization tool will work, Orange Inc. says it will utilize propriety AI technology with manpower. The combination, as the company suggests, will help up production for localization to meet the demand for manga globally.

"Orange has been developing a manga-dedicated localization system since it was founded. It enables significant efficiencies in the localization profess of manga by integrating cutting-edge computer vision and natural language processing technologies," Orange Inc. shared.

"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."

As you can imagine, this tool will help boost the accessibility of manga outside of Japan, but that doesn't meant this new initiative is without fault. There are plenty of localizers and translators who work in the industry questioning this choice. Whether you like it or not, localization is an art that uses subtle context clues and historical notes. It is hard to imagine an AI being able to match the nuance of a human localizer, and AI skeptics are making their concern loud and clear.

What do you think about this latest manga project? Let us know what you think over on Twitter and Instagram. You can also hit me up @MeganPetersCB to share your take!