Translation Checklist

first posted: May 2016
last updated: July 14, 2016
status log:
– Aug. 6: Probably watching the Olympics or something
– Aug. 24: Hoping to update in September, but am trying to finish up an unrelated professional project before October, so who knows. (Probably won’t be around in Oct. for family reasons, will try to at least update before I leave.)
– Sept. 19: Still busy. Family thing has been postponed, but work has not.
– Nov. 2: Health & RL. Still busy.
– Nov. 9: Oh boy. Depressed by elections. (Yes, in case my nationality wasn’t already obvious.) Still no promises, but seriously don’t expect updates until next year, as a great deal of other things have shot up list of life priorities, including family stuff mentioned above. I’m sure there are other people out there interested in/more capable of translating faster than I am. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
– Jan. 20: Some things in life are more important than translating someone else’s intellectual property without consent from the IP holder.
– March 17: Still alive. If anyone actually monitors this page, I’m actually slightly easier to track on twitter (@snakyscribbles).
July 3: “Summer of soccer” (also Twin Peaks)

This is not a schedule, because I obviously don’t have one. But now that the series has gotten a resurgence and there may be fans out there who want to translate ahead or whatever, here’s everything I’m planning to translate/have translated, roughly in order of priority:

(I don’t know the exact status of the anime/Arakawa manga, chime in if you know and want me to add a note. Also, if it hasn’t been obvious, a lot of these titles are subject to tweaking haha.)

Main Series

  1. The Capital Ablaze (Apr 2012 – Feb 2015)
    + Afterword
  2. The Two Princes (March 2015 – ???)
    Currently working on: 4-ii (crutch draft 100%; phrasing draft 2/8), 4-iii (crutch draft 100%; phrasing draft 0/3)
    + Afterword (needs some cleanup though)
    >> I’m told the French translation covers up to here <<
  3. The Sunset Elegy
  4. Road of Sweat and Blood
    >> 2015 anime ends here-ish? (skipped the Merlane/Irina subplot?) <<
  5. Shadow of a Lone Rider
    >> original OVAs ended here <<
  6. A Frenzy of Dust [Season 2 of the anime is titled after this one, who knows what it’ll cover]
    + Afterword [loosely drafted]
  7. The Capital Retaken
    >> End of Part 1 <<
  8. Dariun side story
    >> Part 2 begins <<
  9. The Masked Army
  10. A Rotation of Banners
  11. A Gathering of Clouds [Tanaka jokes about this being the volume with the lowest body count, it’s kind of slice-of-life-ish, relatively speaking]
  12. Assault of Demons [First book under the new publisher]
  13. Shrine of Darkness
  14. The Return of the Serpent King
  15. Heaven Resounds, Earth Quakes
  16. The Banners Yet Wave
  17. one more book?

Supplementary Material

  1. Timeline from the Reader’s Guide (updating here alongside translated plot developments)
  2. Character profiles from the Reader’s Guide + author commentary
  3. “The World of ‘Medieval Persia'” by Ryou Komae: Critical essay in the Reader’s Guide discussing the historical influences on the series
  4. “Pioneers of the Secondary World Fantasy Boom” by Mii Mimura: Critical essay in the Reader’s Guide on Arslan’s role in the history of Japanese SFF (alongside Guin Saga and Lodoss War [and others], one of the early domestic [as opposed to translated/imported] secondary world fantasies) as well as the international heroic fantasy context. (posted here, will probably continue to tweak)
  5. Loooong Tanaka interview from the Reader’s Guide
  6. The other afterwords not listed above (3-5, 7-10, mostly uninteresting but sometimes a funny peek “behind the scenes”)

There are some other interviews and essays (even a goofy little comic about Tanaka and his deadline failure) in the Reader’s Guide, which basically covered the first ten volumes of the series, but I’m only interested in the above.

There’s probably been newer interviews and such published since then, so if there’s something interesting feel free to link me or ask about it. Or let me know if someone translates any of the above so I can take it off my list. 😛


11 thoughts on “Translation Checklist

  1. Sarina Blanchet says:

    Hi! Sooo I’m not a very eloquent person and I basicaly can’t write proper English but I really wanted to THANK YOU for your work, and God knows what a colossal work this must be. The French translation stopped at the end of volume 2 indeed…I’ve been desperately waiting for Arakawa’s work to have the novel publishers taking interest in the series again but this actually looks as dead as the dodo so it’s great to have someone as skilled as you taking charge!! I’m really impressed, how do you manage all the research and all, are you a professionnal translator/writer? Because you’re really doing great (I’d even say it is more pleasant to read than the French version, probably because it sounds…kinda weird in French). Also, all the details and your thoughts about the names and depictions of characters are delighting! You know your motivation and hard workis very inspiring? Well now you know. I’ll probably try to find and red the books Tanaka used for the series as well…Anyway! Thanks again! Thanks a LOT. A WHOLE LOT. THANKS AN ADULT ELEPHANT LOT.

    • T. E. Waters says:

      I think your English is pretty good, actually! Thanks for taking the time to comment!

      I’ve been hoping for an official license as well, especially since Tanaka’s most famous series finally got licensed/published in English this year. Hopefully it does well enough for publishers to consider Arslan as well, but unfortunately I have my doubts, because other similar fantasy imports — in the US, at least — have done poorly for various reasons (Twelve Kingdoms, Moribito, Magatama Trilogy, Guin Saga), or at least probably not well enough for publishers to justify taking on the costs. I have a whole ton of opinions on why this is the case but I’ll spare you. XD I’m kind of bitter though, because one of my favorite imports (Summer of the Ubume, mystery and not fantasy though) was TERRIBLY handled and is now even out of print.

      I suspect Arslan in particular would have trouble gaining a foothold in the market even with the Arakawa manga & the new anime series (and even if the Legend of the Galactic Heroes novels are successful), because I feel like the target audience for the books is pretty different from Arakawa’s target audience, and there’s also an unfortunate but lingering bias against non-European settings in fantasy.

      I mean, I’d be happy to be wrong about this, but having seen far too many excellent series mishandled and/or completely dropped… 😦

      > I’m really impressed, how do you manage all the research and all, are you a professionnal translator/writer?

      I am a writer, although I’m not at a point where I feel comfortable referring to myself as a professional yet. Translation is just a hobby though, since I don’t really have the interest or skill set to translate nonfiction. I’m also a hobbyist/amateur historian so the research and translation just kind of go hand in hand for me, I guess. (I study classical Chinese for fun, so…)

      Honestly, I’m also pretty lucky in that a lot of material has been digitized and is now available online, especially stuff already in the public domain. For translation purposes that’s usually enough. (Google, stalking professors/university departments, etc.) I do have a list of things that I need to look into in more detail someday though, and for those I’ll probably have to suck it up and purchase some texts for personal reference.

      When I first started working on Arslan I actually didn’t even expect I’d end up doing this much research, because I assumed it was just one of those “inspired by” settings, the way most fantasies are, and didn’t quite realize that Tanaka approaches most of his series like he’s writing actual historical fiction, LOL. It wasn’t always obvious which sources he was pulling from either. After a while though, it started getting easier to guess or sense his intent, which in turn made it easier to figure out where to even start looking. Especially since I’ve now done enough background reading to have a clearer idea of the context.

      Basically, I’m just a nerd. 😀 Thanks again for commenting!

      • Sarina Blanchet says:

        Aflafjkadkldnjdbfl so you already answered !! …I’m ashamed. I was sure you wouldn’t find the time to answer within a week or so, with all the translation work and the replies to others comments, and some other things like real life and job.. ! Do you even sleep ?? You live in a Tardis don’t you?

        Well don’t hesitate in burying me under your whole ton of opinions on why publishers would drop a series out of nowhere, I’m sure it would be interesting to compare to my cousin’s (who’s fond of fantasy and never misses an opportunity to blame publishers for teasing us with some super good fantasy series before deciding to screw it all, when shes just started purchasing the first volumes for the library she’s working at). Seems like it is an international issue.

        Concerning the defiance against Arslan Senki itself, I have the feeling it suffers from a double bias : to begin with we have the « oh no it is a whole different culture which means different myths and lifestyles and places and all how am I EVER going to relate to something that breaks my long-established fantasy codes» (which is what I assume you were talking about when you said there’ a defiance against non-european settings in fantasy ?). I don’t know what it’s like in the US but I noticed in France fantasyis often seen as « cheap literature » so pepople are not willing to make any effort to read a book that’s not openly labelled « Tolkien-like », precisely because they want it classical, and to be honest I have no clue wether this comes from an inordinate love for Tolkien (we basically shout at the whole world that each and every fantasy newbie is the modern Tolkien), or from the idea that evrything classical is quality, or if it’s just that no other fantasy writer is considered famous enough to deserve a fantasy label. Of course this is completely stupid since it appears quite soon that Arslan Senki perfectly matches fantasy codes but apparently it’s too difficult for some people to go further than « yuck not european fantasy I’m not reading it »

        I suppose the fact that the series is so historically accurate (hadn’t you highlighted that I wouldn’t have noticed lol) does not mke it easier for fantasy readers since as you said it it is not the most ordinary setting in fantasy, though it’s very interesting and instructive as hell !

        (I am so sorry I know this lacks a lot clarity but I really don’t know how to express my thoughts here)

        Also, I think the mere fact that it was written by a Japanese is enough to trigger some sort of DROWN-THE-WITCH instinct, at least in France ! Even if « foreign » fantasy is not perceived as such a big deal, because we do not have more than a couple French fantasy writers, anything that comes from Japan has to strike down a lot of prejudices when ti’s not (once again) labelled « HEY LOOK MIYAZAKI MADE IT » and once again basically everything that’s not western animation (or doesn’t look to be) is described asMiyazaki-like. Welcome to France where the only two cultural references are Tolkien and Miyazaki (not that I mind but it’s not much). I must admit the first anime/manga that were released in France in the 80/90’s were stupidly said to be « appropriate for children » (yeah sure let’s have our precious 3-years-old watch Hokuto no Ken perfect sense), which gave ALL japanese goods a false reputation of running only on sex and violence and, well…bias die hard.

        And yes I also have the feeling that the book and the manga don’t have the same audience and it’smost likely not only because the first readers are twice or three times as old as the average anime watcher, if not even older. I don’t know how old is the average anime watcher for Arslan Senki actually but I’ll go for 13-14 since they’re usually about the same age as the protagonist in this or that show (does that sentence even make sense ? I am sorry if not), probably because it’s easier to identify with. I suppose we would find people expecting a lot of action and fast pace in the anime audience, and people searching for more character development, espcially since the story is supposed to described how Arslan will be becoming a righteous king, and more explanation about political stakes and social representation. Unfortunately most watchers seems to forget a lot have been cut from the original medium and so were led to hate some characters on the basis of how they were depicted in the anime… So it’s great that you gave us the opportunity to add extra informtions to the characters sheet !!

        I never heard about Moribito and Magatama trilogy, but it reminded me of two animes I watched some years ago, Seirei no moribito and Ôtogi-zôshi, are they the same ? I enjoyed the animes and I would be very interested in reading the books, if I can ever find them somewhere, somehow…

        …maybe I’m going to cuti t now. I’m not even understanding what I’m writing any more XD

        Thanks again for your work and your answer !!

        • T. E. Waters says:

          Haha, it’s all right. I don’t actually get that many comments, so I try to respond as soon as I can. I work freelance anyway so I go through busy periods and more relaxing periods. That’s why my update schedule is so spotty too, lol.

          Gosh, where to start though. I think US publishing has always had this belief for some reason that translated works just don’t sell well — which was proven false in the last decade or so by the success of a lot of imported mysteries and thrillers (Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Devotion of Suspect X). It’s the opposite of other countries where certain genres are dominated by translated/imported works. The “common wisdom” is that US readers aren’t open to reading anything other than fiction by other Americans. At most they might read stuff from the UK/Australia/Canada because that’s also in English, but a lot of the slang/regional word usage needs to be edited. Obviously that’s a pretty silly attitude to take, but walking into a bookstore in the US and walking into a bookstore in East Asia, the difference is pretty obvious (or at least it was a few years ago, could be different now). So that’s the biggest issue here, similar to the bias against Japanese fiction you mentioned, except pretty much ALL foreign fiction has a hard time here, even though there have been examples of very successful translated novels. Publishers just don’t care enough to gamble on foreign lit most of the time.

          And yeah, what you mentioned is basically what I meant about the non-European fantasies — we’re not as tied to Tolkien, but the general audience is open to fantasy settings like Game of Thrones mainly because the names and cultures are still very familiar, just slightly twisted. Give them completely different names and cultures and they start tuning out. Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra are the most mainstream counterexamples, I guess, but even those I feel are more “friendly” because the names are relatively simple and there’s much less emphasis on the world itself beyond some basic backstory.

          Some other issues with imported Japanese fantasy:

          1. The overall packaging and marketing is terrible. Most of the series that have been brought over have been targeted at either one or two audiences: 1) anime/manga fans, 2) children (or more accurately, their parents). With emphasis on the first. Which is fine for some series, but not for everything. Haikasoru, who are the ones publishing Legend of the Galactic Heroes, are the only imprint I’ve seen that actually seems to know what they’re doing in general.

          I’ll use Moribito as an example (yes, it’s the original novel of Seirei no Moribito! :D). Moribito was brought over by Scholastic, which is primarily known as a children’s publisher over here. It was basically marketed as a children’s book (officially given as grade 7-12, but some other reviews refer to it as “grade 5 and above”, which is like age 10 or so). To be fair, it was originally a children’s series in Japan as well. However, I don’t think it fit the trends in US children’s literature at the time very well at all. First of all, the heroine’s in her thirties, and one of the biggest “rules” of modern US children’s literature is that the protagonist has to be a kid, at most in their late teens. Also, the cover had lovely art, but it looked absolutely NOTHING like the typical US children’s lit/young adult books at the time. Not to mention the fact that the anime originally aired on Adult Swim in the US (late night TV channel), i.e. it was definitely directed at an older audience. So it was a complete mismatch. A lot of the people who enjoyed the anime at the time had NO idea there was a novel. Basically the audience appeal was limited to the people who had seen the anime AND realized there was a book, and to parents who made the effort to pick books about different cultures for their kids. That’s… not a lot of people. So they stopped translating after the first two books because the series wasn’t doing well enough. 😦 At least they’re still in print though (ISBN 978-0545005432). There are even Kindle/epub editions for both, if that’s an option for you!

          (I don’t think the Magatama trilogy has ever been adapted as an anime. Apparently in English it’s more commonly known as the Jade Trilogy? The author’s other series, Red Data Girl, did get an adaptation a while back though!)

          Let me add Summer of the Ubume as another example, even though it’s not fantasy, because that one was handled so badly it’s not even shocking to me that it’s out of print, even though it was popular enough in Japan to have been filmed as a live action movie, and the author is one of the bigger names in Japanese mystery. Two words: the cover. It’s awful. It’s literally a black blob on a white background. It says absolutely nothing. What’s the genre? What’s it about? What’s an ubume? Who the heck knows. Because I’ve read the book, I know it’s supposed to be symbolic or whatever, but to someone completely unfamiliar with the book, it’s like, huh??? And then it was marketed as a horror novel, of all things. The marketing copy even describes it as “the Neil Gaiman of Japanese mystery”. Which is ridiculous. I’m not even sure they made an active attempt to connect Summer of the Ubume to the anime (Mouryou no Hako, which is an adaptation of the second book), even though the anime was pretty obviously the only reason it was even picked up in the first place…

          2. The other major factor: cost. List price for the most recent Arslan volume is 840 yen, about the equivalent of $8 for us. But standard list price for most adult paperback novels in the US is about TWICE that much (in fact, the Legend of the Galactic Heroes has a list price of $16, and I don’t think I’ve seen any light novels with a list price below $14). Without going into it too much, this has to do with the fact that US paperbacks are all printed in a more expensive format these days. But it does mean students/younger adults are less likely to drop money on books.

          3. Slightly related: in the US, we usually expect novels, especially fantasy novels, to be LONG. XD But the reality is that most of the famous Japanese fantasy novels are very very short, at a length most US publishers currently refuse to handle… except for children’s literature. (For comparison: translated, the first Arslan book is about 2/3rds the length of the first Harry Potter book…)

          But yeah, back to Arslan specifically, the age issue is exactly why I think the book and manga are aimed at different audiences! By picking Arakawa to draw the manga, they were pretty obviously going for the “shounen” demographic, which is around middle school/high school age. I think that’s also why Arslan plays a more active role in the manga (at least what I read of it), because he really is supposed to be seen as a traditional hero figure there. But the books themselves definitely weren’t originally intended as children’s books (all that politics, haha!), and have obviously been focused more on Arslan’s allies/enemies rather than Arslan himself — one of the best examples to point to is the Battle of Atropatene, where Dariun is the obvious “hero” figure in the book, but the manga emphasizes Arslan’s viewpoint instead.

          … Wow. I ended up babbling. XD

          • Sarina Blanchet says:

            One day maybe I’ll be able to spend less than 3 days typing a reply.

            Oh so American readers are quite reluctant to give a try to anything that does not come from other Americans ?? I am…very surprised. Actually I thought it would be the opposite, given the diversity of people and the evolution of American English that I thought had interacted a lot with other languages ?? Well so much for my own bias. I saw you mentionned some imported books were able to sell quite well in the last decade though ? Do you think it may help other literature types to gain popularity in the future or do translated works stand no chance if they don’t belong to the kind of books most people read (like, in France most best-sellers are precisely thrillers)?

            Humm Moribito-oh-my-god-I-need-this-book is originally a children’s series in Japan ? I am a bit surprised again but in a sense why not ? It’s most certainly very interestin to read it as a kid then go deeper in the backstory and characters (because heck Chagum is a great character, adorable and realistic and strong, he adapted so well to a world he didn’t know at all !!) later as an adult ! I wonder, did you watch the anime ? Is it very different from the book ? Yes I am part of these people you mentionned who enjoyed the anime and had no idea there was a novel or actually just totally forgot it because they couldn’t find it at that time XD

            Is that exemple very representative of publishing issues though ?? Because to me it looks like more of some huge lack of logical mind, rather than a mistake in audience targeting ? I mean, it’s not just that publishers mistook it for a series targeting kids because they « didn’t want to gamble on foreign literature » as you said and so didn’t make proprer investigation before selling it, they meant to target children, but did NOTHING to make it attractive for children ? And, when they decide to openly target a japanese series to people who already had quite agood idea of the plot and all (like for Summer of the ubume) they don’t even try to connect with the anime that gave them the idea to publsih the book?…Or didn’t I understand a single word of what you typed ?
            Or maybe they just went with « anyway all anime watchers are kids in their minds if not in their bodies so let’s make a manga-like cover they’re all the same » ?

            Or maybe I’m just a bit hard on publishers

            I am sorry

            Concerning the lenght of each volumes for a Japanse series…I don’t know I suppose one could solve the problem by making a single volume with two or thre books ? I remember French publishers gathered the two first books in one volume for Arslan senki.
            …it didn’t really help the series pull through however.

            I didn’t really understand why Tanaka chose to entrust his series to a mangaka who’s well knowed for drawing shônen though ? I’ve always thought Arakawa’s work was very often on the edge of seinen, with all the issues and questions on life and death and what’s a human and what exactly is morality and justice so I guess it’s fine she’s the one taking charge of the new version but still ?? She’s almost a shônen label herself ! So yeah I’ll just wait for the following manga volumes to see wether they decide to change the shônen lable for seinen or not.
            Ah but it is so looong are we even going to see the end of it all before the year 2030 *curls up in a corner and cries*

  2. T. E. Waters says:

    Yeah, honestly that’s the thing. That’s what the publishers seem to think — I don’t know if that’s actually necessarily true. But the major US publishers aren’t very willing to take on smaller niche projects. If they’re going to take on a translated work, it basically has to be a huge blockbuster type of book. For example, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (which was like THE top seller in the entire US for a while) ended up bringing over some other translated Nordic/Scandinavian thrillers trying to piggyback on its success… but nothing else. On the other hand, US diversity tends to show up more in “literary” fiction I think, where a lot of immigrant writers do become huge sellers. Just not translated work, generally speaking. (Haruki Murakami is the one major exception I can think of right now, but again, he’s basically on the superstar level.)

    And yup, I watched Moribito when it first came out! 😀 It’s been too long though, so I don’t really remember how different the adaptation was. I think it was relatively faithful, but since the entire 26 episodes were based on the first book only (unlike Arslan where book 2 and 3 are like four or five episodes each XD), I’m sure the anime added a lot of padding. The second book is entirely unadapted material and goes more into Balsa’s past. By the way, just this year NHK aired a live action drama of the first book too (! It’s a little cheesy and the characterization is changed quite a bit (Chagum D:), but still a fun watch.

    The Summer of the Ubume is probably an exaggerated example to be honest. (Don’t worry, you understood me perfectly — they obviously had nooooo idea what they were doing with Ubume.) It is by far the worst attempt at importing a novel I think I’ve ever seen. Which is sad because the translation itself is actually really good.

    The situation with Moribito is a bit more complex — the publishers actually did a really wonderful job in terms of production quality, so it’s clear they really cared about the books. The translation is excellent, and my hardcover copy of the second book is beautifully designed. It’s a gorgeous book. It almost feels like a collector’s item. But… that’s almost the problem, I feel. Anyway, unlike Ubume, I don’t feel like they did anything “wrong”, exactly. (Children’s publishers almost never market directly to children, but to parents, schools, and libraries. Which sort of makes sense, since they’re the ones who buy the books.) They just didn’t seem to have a consistent marketing strategy. I’m not that well informed about the children’s market, but there’s definitely a difference between the way books are marketed to the younger side (“Middle Grade”) and the way they’re marketed to older teens/college students (“Young Adult”, which has more crossover with the adult audience as well), and… Moribito wasn’t quite hitting either segment, in my opinion. I wish they had either pushed it as a true children’s book (in which case, in order to fit into the US market they probably would’ve had to refocus all the marketing on Chagum or maybe on the water spirit rather than on Balsa; Percy Jackson, which was wildly popular around the same time period, would be a good point of comparison), or took advantage of the anime adaptation and really pushed it as a Young Adult title (Hunger Games was the big title at the time so they could have pushed the kickass heroine angle more, or the Eragon series for more of a fantasy example). It feels kind of like they were trying to get both audiences, but ended up watering down the appeal.

    I just feel like there was a certain period of time where the only reason publishers were importing novels was because there’d been an anime adaptation and they thought they could take advantage of the anime audience… not realizing that the general anime audience is pretty different from the general audience for books and so they really needed to focus on one or the other. Yen Press now does pretty well by catering almost exclusively to the anime crowd, for example. But a lot of earlier imports seem to have failed because they weren’t actually THAT popular among anime fans, and publishers not only didn’t bother reaching out to the non-anime readers, they also seemed almost “embarrassed” about emphasizing the anime connection. That’s my impression, at least.

    On volume length: yeah, I definitely think that’s a possibility. Two books would be about the right length. Though rebundling series books like that is another thing that you don’t see very often in modern US publishing (except for classics). Not sure why though.

    Well, I doubt Tanaka’s the one who picks the mangaka himself, though I’m sure he has input. But shounen is by far the most profitable manga category and reaches the widest audience, sooooo that’s probably why. Arakawa’s actually a pretty good choice in that sense, because like you said, she manages to balance shounen appeal with more mature, seinen elements pretty skillfully. I’m actually curious to see how long the manga will go though — I have a suspicion it will only cover part 1 and leave off with the happy ending. XD (Part 2 after the timeskip…. let’s just say Tanaka has a reputation as a “kill them all” author for a reason. XD)

    • Sarina Blanchet says:

      Ah ah yes we also got a massive arrival of Nordic thrillers after Girl with the dragon tattoo was published in France (if you’re talking about the series from Stieg Larsson, because the title got a French translation that has not much to do with a dragon tattoo) ! I suppose it is only natural that in any literature field publishers sudenly would suddenly remember this or that novel that has been lingering in the inventory for years at the moment a fellow book start selling as hell, as well as some writers, either to make easy money or by a trend effect, judging by the vampire wave that fanatically drowned the whole planet when Twilight became, like, the most popular bit-lit book of all time. So popular the term « bit-lit » was created after that series I think ? Or di dit just became a lot more known but not in a really good sense ?

      DAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH THANKS THANKS THANKSSSSSSS FOR THE LINK !!! I probably won’t have the time to watch before a whole week because of Administrative Documents Hell (we should make a survival horror game out of administartive documents quest and call it The Eight Pages in Eight Copies with the Signature of Half the Planet – oh wait somebody already made it ??) but I’ll sure be happy to see all my precious babies again (at least theyre not killed off one by one for no reason) so thanks a lot it is most appreciated ! I must admit I’m worrying a bit about Chagum’s characterization in this show, giving the few you said about him…

      After what I’ll go on the Mighty But Not Very Optimistic Quest For The Book.

      So that I can end up buried alive under the dozens of books I bought and haven’t read yet. Perfect end yep.

      Concerning Summer of the ubume, the only solution i can imagine is : make them go bankrupt, then buy out the agency and make foreign literature a flourishing market ! Bonus effect, you can sell your own Arslan translations and start an empire and rule the world – fiiine maybe I’m goign a little too far.
      The marketing for Moribito seems to have been quite a mess indeed… Maybe the publishing house got some communication issues between the different teams working on it ? I have the feeling this happens very often in big agencies. Maybe they were trying to create a transition between both sides of youth literature but one team forgot to ask for the other’s opinion and they failed too bad… There’s a war coming in the marketing department XD

      I don’t think marketing only parents, schools..any structure/person that may be interested in books for kids makes that much sense though… sure they’re the main customers for said books but in the end, if hte cover/digest/size/idk don’t appeal the children the book is offered/suggested to, or if it looks like way more of an art piece rather than a book you can touch without getting eternally cursed for leaving a mere fingerprint on it (like Moribito’s cover. Because that’s what you were talking about when you said the magnificent cover itself could be considered as a problem isn’t it ?), then the novel will most likely end up attracting tons of dust in a shelf and never be read unless you leave the kid no choice but to read it or do their homework and for what I saw whenI was working with children I wouldn’t swear this is that much exagerated. And I can understand that, as a child I would never try a book that would look like some sort of witch book (ie with no illustrated cover), unless it was proven full of magic spells. Which was a huge waste admit but when you’re very young – I’m talking about primary and middle schoolers – you just can’t get yourself to read something that looks so terribly serious. I am well aware 12-years-old who absolutely love « serious » novels exist as well don’t worry, but generally these ones choose their books themselves.

      My bad, I thought I read an interview in which Tanaka explained why he chose Arakawa but actually nope he was just explaining why he was so enthusiastic about Arakawa being the one taking charge.
      As for Tanaka’s « kill them all » reputation (« the Annihilator » is it ?), well, …I know. I grabbed each and every spoiler I could find. I will eternally regret doing so *cries even louder*
      By the way you said in I don’t remember which chapter’s notes that the characters’ physical description was quite unsignificant (some hair/eyes/skin color that’s all) ? Does it stay this way the whole series or do we get some extra details later ? I’m thinking about Arslan, Elam and Afarid in particular since them becoming adults could give a good opportunity to precise a bit more what they look like.

      • T. E. Waters says:

        Yup, the Larsson series! Which reminds me, I remember hearing that we got a weird title in the US because the original title was considered too controversial, haha. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard the term bit-lit? Might not be an American thing (as far as I know everyone just called it paranormal romance or vampire fiction), but that’s clever, actually. XD But yup that’s just the way publishing works, it seems. The exact same thing happened afterward with Hunger Games and “dystopian” fiction for teens… kind of makes me wonder what the next trend’s going to be.

        Aww good luck with the documents, at least you have something to look forward to when you’re done! To be honest, I don’t know if it’s because it’s been so long since I watched the anime/read the book that I’ve forgotten what Chagum’s characterization was like or if the show really did have a different take… or it could be the effects of condensing his character arc into four hour-long episodes, not sure. On the flip side I thought Tanda and Torogai were pretty great. Torogai’s pretty amazing, in fact. Probably the only thing I didn’t enjoy at all was that the show spends way too much screentime on the drama at court and on Chagum’s dad, whose awfulness is really exaggerated, like he’s portrayed as pretty much insane, which was… weird.

        Oh man, the things I would do if I had the money… XD I think you’re right though about the need to appeal to children instead of just to parents/schools (too bad publishers don’t always agree for whatever reason). There’s definitely a difference between the children’s books that genuinely become popular among kids, versus the books that come across more as “required reading” or “award-winning”. Of course, publishers would probably love to push out series that are both award-winners and popular, but most of the time it seems to me they just try to go for one or the other. Anyway, as an outsider, children’s publishing is just its own weird world, lol.

        Yeah, “kill them all” or “mass murderer” or “annihilator” would all work. He’s had that reputation ever since Legend of the Galactic Heroes, but apparently it’s just something Japanese fans have come to expect for ALL his series. As long as the series isn’t over, no one’s safe… orz. I mean, I guess it’s not that surprising, since all the classic stories he mentions enjoying (King Arthur, Water Margin, etc.) end more or less like that too. Still, he is eeeeeeeeeevil. D:

        As for your question about the physical descriptions, I’m actually not sure, since I’ve mostly only skimmed the later volumes so far instead of doing a close read (to keep things interesting for myself while I translate). I know the major plot points, but I’m not too clear on the details. I don’t think I’ve noticed much more description later on, but I definitely could have missed it… I’ll keep an eye out for it though!

  3. mjsho says:

    hi. i love the story and would really like to have a copy of the novel. Do you know if there are any available copy of the novel in english? Everytime i search the web, for the english translation, what i arrive at is the manga in english translation. However, i would like a copy of the actual book/novel.
    And thank you so much for your translation! Readers like me are so thankful for translators like you who spend their time to share these works of art to others 🙂 :D.

    • T. E. Waters says:

      I don’t think the series has ever been licensed (I’m only aware of official French and Chinese translations). Your best bet is probably to write to one of the US companies specializing in imported Japanese novels like Yen Press and see if they’re interested/show them there’s a market for it (not sure if other English speaking territories would be willing to pick it up since I suspect there’s a limited audience). I forget who has English rights to the manga, but if it’s Viz, their Haikasoru imprint published a few volumes of Tanaka’s space opera series last year, so they at least presumably already have a relationship with him/his publishers. Or maybe try one of the bigger American SFF publishers, but they don’t usually do translated stuff, especially a series that’s now 30 years old o_o

      If you’re okay with Japanese copies I remember seeing the new editions on CD Japan, but I don’t know how the costs work out.

  4. Doggie says:

    Hi T.E,

    I just want to say how much I appreciate what you’re doing because I’ve been so curious about the novels. I wish that they’d come here with LoGH; I’m also a fan of Yukikaze (by Kamobayashi Chouhei), military scifi novels analyzing humans living as machines figuratively, and the flawed use of automation.

    The Tanaka adaptations are intriguing; I’m going to hold my small disdain for the Arakawa anime (the comic is hilarious though and I think Arakawa fans should try it), especially for “jealous Disney XD baddie” Silvermask…don’t ask, and I need to return to the OVA, which apparently had Staff strife. Arslan can’t catch a break.

    Reading this makes me appreciate the series more, especially Masky, since I love rivals, anything/anyone that represents a moral contrast to the main character in a lofty “dark hero” fashion. One of my favorite characters is Saam.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s