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Friday, April 02, 2021 

Some news about a manga translator arrested in December on child porn charges

Here's some news I'd missed earlier from January, about another manga translator besides the now imprisoned Gerard Jones who was arrested on similar charges in Virginia, and whose name is Stefan Koza. From Silicon Era:
Local authorities arrested a Jujutsu Kaisen translator, Stefan Julian Koza, on a total of ten offenses relating to possession and distribution of child pornography. The news comes from the Herndon Police Department police report detailing the arrest, which took place on December 7, 2020.

The Herndon Police Department arrested Stefan Julian Koza after an investigation involving the Internet Crimes Against Children Taskforce. Koza faces five felony counts of possession of child pornography and five felony counts of distribution of child pornography. The Fairfax County Adult Detention Center is currently holding Koza without bond.
The news was also reported by Patch, although they didn't make his career clear in their coverage. What makes this case additionally troubling is that 7 years earlier, Koza got into trouble with the law in Japan for illegally videotaping students at a school in the Miyagi prefecture:
Following the recent arrest of Manga Translator Stefan Koza, there has been a report from 2014 that has come to light from The Sankei Shimbun, the Sixth-Highest Circulated Newspaper in Japan. Anime News Network’s Jennifer Sherman was the first to report it, according to both News Organizations, Koza was arrested on July 15th, 2014 in the town of Kami, Miyagi (located in the Prefecture of Miyagi) for violating Japan’s Minor Offenses Act by trespassing and secretly taking recordings in an elementary school’s girls’ dressing room. Koza reportedly denied the charges at the time. The Minor Offenses Act was passed in 1948, it covers a variety of minor criminal offenses. The act includes articles related to trespassing and voyeurism.
As some of the reports note, Koza worked for Viz Media, and one has to wonder if they were aware of this before? If they kept it secret, that was wrong, just as it was when the Miyagi school board did. I found an interview with Koza from Prazeres Senpai 2 years ago, where he made both hypocritical and fishy comments:
Scanlations are clearly a big issue for the manga market, with services such as Manga Plus (free), Viz Media (free/subscription), Crunchyroll Manga (subscription) among others, what do you think manga readers need to fully embrace the legal manga market?

– If the material is available officially, there is absolutely no excuse anymore to support illegal content. Both manga and anime are being delivered faster, cheaper, and of higher quality than ever. VIZ and the SJ app blew me away when I first heard about the new service. A plethora of manga for pocket change. Incredible.
Look who's talking! Somebody who gathered precisely that for his own use. And then:
Do you have a favorite character from jujutsu? I think Gojo-sensei would probably be the most popular here in the West, he’s so cool!

– Can I choose more than one? (laughs) Yuji is obviously fantastic. Nanami, Todo, and Nobara might be some more of my more obvious choices. If we’re getting niche I would have to say the bakery girl! The one in the Nanami flashback! Gojo is cool but I would argue there are many more characters that are deeper than him. Although, I’m excited to find out more about him in the recent flashback arc.
Why won't it be surprising if the bakery girl turns out to represent a character who's underage? If so, that'll say even more about this crook, since his illegal actions make his choices suspect even in terms of the fiction he was working on. And here's one more part decidedly eyebrow raising:
We have cursed spirits and jujutsu sorcerers; do you think we can look at them as evil vs good? Or the answer is not that simple.

– This is a huge theme in JJK. Yuji’s character is based on this notion. The “proper death” so to speak and he quickly realizes after being with Nanami that it’s not so black and white. However, there are characters that do fall into either category as well. I’ve come to find this may be an unpopular opinion but Mahito is evil. I have difficulty seeing it any other way. His character, after all, is constructed on the negative emotions of human beings. Greed, hate, anger, and so on. An interesting character, but blank as of this point in the story. I think Geto is going to be the more compelling villain as the story goes on.
Nowhere near as "compelling" as the interviewee turned out to be. Whenever I see people like this gushing away about villains, it sure sounds worrisome, mainly because his personality seems constructed on offensive emotions, that's for sure. I wonder if he's the kind of person who thinks any character that doesn't make a compelling member of the goodies should be switched to the role of a baddie without question? That kind of thinking is just what's brought down tons of mainstream US comics, and Koza's positions only make things worse. Now, because of his criminal offenses, the manga books he's translated are destined to be tainted, much like any of Dragon Ball's books translated by Jones, and some people will be calling for new translations to be commissioned by specialists with better reputations.

And since we're on the subject of manga, this reminds me of a message I'd found on Twitter, by a manga specialist who was actually willing to interview the already convicted Jones in the prison where he's kept, despite the serious felony he was incarcerated for: What made this discovery particularly disturbing was the double-standard this guy's got for a voice actor in anime: So this Dragon Ball "scholar" has no issue associating with a convicted criminal like Jones, but he's perfectly fine damning somebody like Mignogna by contrast? Now, I haven't paid much attention to the Mignogna situation, where it would seem he was victim of defamation because he's a conservative/Christian adherent, and so far unsuccessfully sued the localization studio and a staffer for their acts, but when a would-be pop culture specialist views the one who's actually in prison as more acceptable in every way than the one who isn't, and who may be innocent until proven guilty, that's certainly reprehensible. Besides, if the discovery some time ago that Jones might not have been the actual translator of Dragon Ball is correct, what's the use of interviewing him at all? He's just a phony, and even in US comics, there may be some material where he only took credit for ghostwriters.

Anyway, if Mignogna matters, then if he's innocent, I hope he'll be able to clear up these terrible matters and find the justice he seeks. This cancel culture crisis has definitely affected a lot of the wrong people, and has to stop. And, any classic literature that was harmed in the process must be made available again without making any more moral panics about it. And as for Koza, if he's guilty, then it's people like him who should be the concern, and incarcerated for his serious felonies.

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About me

  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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