New releases and unrelated review links

May 7, 2009 at 10:25 pm (reviews - links, upcoming releases)

Two of my rewrites are out or coming out this month: Sgt. Frog vol. 17 and Animal Academy: Hakobune Hakusho vol. 1. The Frog is the Frog; if you’ve read it, you know what it’s like. This volume had a few particularly difficult adaptation challenges (the puns often don’t translate well), but I think it came through okay. ^_^

Animal Academy is just starting out, and it’s adorable. I’ve only read two volumes, so I don’t really know where it’s heading; there’ve been a few hints in those volumes that things might not be as fluffy as they seem from the premise, but since I haven’t read anything else by the author I don’t know yet how far those things might be taken. In the meantime, it’s cute and endearing, and there’s nothing wrong with that. (I haven’t seen a hard copy yet, but the reviews I’ve seen suggest it’s being marketed for younger readers.)

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I’ve had three new reviews go up at MangaLife in the last few weeks (which isn’t as many as usual, but things have been a little insane lately).

Beauty Pop vol. 9-10 (B)
B.O.D.Y. vol. 5 (C)
Love*Com vol. 12 (B+)

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Linking to…other people’s reviews!

April 18, 2009 at 4:57 pm (other people's reviews)

I actively seek out reviews of manga that I’ve worked on (although “actively” mostly involves reading MangaBlog every day, which I would do anyway), but I don’t usually link to them. Usually they’re not as relevant to my work as you might think, since very few reviewers mention the translation or adaptation. But there are exceptions, and they’re usually very nice to read.* ^_^

Anyway, this comes up because this week AnimeNewsNetwork reviewed the Genshiken Official Book, and I particularly appreciated the review–not only because Carlo Santos said good things about the readability of the book, but because he really got what fanbooks are for. I’ve worked on several fanbook-type projects now, and quite often reviews boil down to “but it’s just a collection of facts about the characters and interviews and statistics and…”, which is not, in fact, a flaw. It’s the point. Sure, some of them offer a more interesting collection of odds and ends than others, but that’s how it goes.

Here’s the most relevant-to-me passage, since I’m already blogging about it:

As a quasi-reference book that covers all the angles of modern visual culture, this is definitely a translator’s challenge when it comes to Japanese slang and otaku jargon. The American edition is sure to have its share of nitpickers, with word choices like “fanzine” for “doujinshi” (then again, it’s not like “self-published work” rolls any easier off the tongue), or “girly games” for “bishoujo games” (there is a difference between something being “girly” and something having pretty girls in it). But looking at the big picture, this translation does a remarkable job of making almost any style of writing understandable—character summaries, nonfiction articles and short-story dialogue all flow easily.

(As it happens, I read another review a while back which criticized the inconsistency of using both “fanzine” and “doujinshi” in the book. I read the series and worked on the book so long ago that I can’t absolutely swear to this without digging around, which I haven’t done, but I think that’s a holdover from the English version of the actual series using both terms at different times. There’s always a certain amount of “well, I want to do something my way, but internal consistency with the overall series is more important”, at least to my mind. We want to create the illusion that a given body of work is still coming straight from the individual author, rather than being filtered through translators and adapters.)

*Since I’m saying that much, I’ll add that Michelle Smith’s review of Shinobi Life vol. 1 included such a positive comment about my work on the book that I was a bit giddy for days. I’m totally okay with the fact that the English scripts rarely get commented on, because–as I indicated above–I believe that part of our job is to draw as little attention as possible to our existence. But it’s still a good feeling when it happens.

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Catching up on a series, and a few reviews

April 14, 2009 at 11:50 pm (reviews - links)

Whenever I get sent a review copy of a manga volume that picks up well into a series I’ve never read, there’s a certain period of debating whether to just read it cold or try to dig up earlier volumes in order to give a more educated review. Sometimes I luck out and my local library has older volumes readily available, which is particularly nice when it’s a series I’d been meaning to check out anyway (Love*Com and Skip Beat! both come to mind).

Sometimes the earlier books aren’t as easy to lay hands on and yet I find myself unwilling to just jump into a series. That’s what happened with Beauty Pop when I got a copy of volume 9–it sat around giving me the evil eye until vol. 10 arrived too, and between them they made me put in the effort to track down the rest of the series. But now I’ve read vol. 1-8, so those two patient books will finally have their day in the next week or so…

Three recent MangaLife reviews:
Captive Hearts vol. 4 (C+)
Otomen vol. 2 (B+)
St. Dragon Girl vol. 2 (C+)

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Miscellany and review links

April 6, 2009 at 10:25 pm (reviews - links)

Copies of Phantom Dream vol. 2 have been turning up in the wild, although its release date isn’t until tomorrow. ^_^ And reading reviews of Shinobi Life is still an inordinate amount of fun. The premise really doesn’t sound brilliant, but Conami handles it so well that it’s a very entertaining read. (It’s not just me–the reviews back me up.) So one of the fun things is seeing how other people summarize the story when they’re writing it up.

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A lot of my reviews have gone up on MangaLife in the month since I last updated. Usually the list doesn’t grow quite this fast! It included another “what I’m reading” installment, which involved quick looks at vol. 8 of Fushigi Yûgi: Genbu Kaiden, vol. 10 of S.A., vol. 3 of Captive Hearts, vol. 10 of Crimson Hero, vol. 12 of Inubaka: Crazy For Dogs, and vol. 10 of La Corda d’Oro.

Regular reviews:
High School Debut vol. 8 (A)
Honey Hunt vol. 1 (B)
Love*Com vol. 11 (B+)
Monkey High! vol. 5 (B)
We Were There vol. 3 (A-)

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Shinobi Life vol. 2 credits and a heap of backlogged reviews

March 10, 2009 at 8:45 pm (reviews - links)

I’m still entertaining grand notions about posting more this year (preferably posts with more actual content), but so far I’ve spent 2009 doing a fair bit of traveling, so other things have fallen a bit by the wayside. Writing about and reviewing manga is fun, but working on it gets a higher priority, what with it paying (some of) the bills and all.

Volume 2 of Shinobi Life, one of my favorite titles to work on, just came out in the last week or so. I hope it gets as many good reviews as volume 1 did! (Volume 1’s reviews almost all began with a variation on “I wasn’t expecting much when I read about the premise, but this is surprisingly good!”)

I should note that there was a mix-up in the credits in this volume, however. Despite what the book says, I did the adaptation, and I believe it was translated by Lori Riser, who translated vol. 1. Editorial is aware of the error, so it should be correct in later printings. (The first printing credits Jeremiah Bourque as the translator and Jamie S. Rich as the adapter.)

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I do have a backlog of reviews to link to, as usual. First, at the end of December my stack of review copies had gotten dauntingly large, so I contributed a “what I’m reading” article to MangaLife to talk quickly about some of the series I’d already reviewed earlier volumes of. That covered Time Stranger Kyoko vol. 3 (series finale), The Gentlemen’s Alliance † vol. 8, Tail of the Moon vol. 14, Haruka – Beyond the Stream of Time vol. 3, Wild Ones vol. 5, Kaze Hikaru vol. 12, and B.O.D.Y. vol. 4.

Regular-length reviews:

Captive Hearts vol. 2 (C)
Inubaka: Crazy For Dogs vol. 11 (B-)
Love*Com vol. 9-10 (B+)
The Magic Touch vol. 1 (B-)
NANA vol. 13-14 (A+)
Rosario + Vampire vol. 5 (B-)
S.A vol. 9 (C)
Sand Chronicles vol. 4 (A)
St. Dragon Girl vol. 1 (C+)
Tail of the Moon vol. 15 [series finale] (B+).

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Probably the last post of the year.

December 22, 2008 at 4:11 pm (reviews - links, upcoming releases)

Somehow it’s been a month since I updated, and WordPress seems to have changed its interface. (I really ought to explore the site’s options more carefully, since I know it has quite a lot of potential I haven’t tapped.)

This month I have a few adaptations coming out: Sgt. Frog 16 has already made its appearance, I believe, and Phantom Dream 1 should be out sometime in the next week or so (the schedule release date varies from retailer to retailer, so I’m not sure exactly when it’s due). And my first adaptation for Del Rey Manga, the Genshiken Official Book, is out right at the end of the month. I’ve already received my contributor’s copies, and as always I’m blown away by how closely layout people can make the English versions of fanbooks match the Japanese versions. In this case, the physical book is larger than the books in the actual series, which I wasn’t expecting. (I’ve never seen the Japanese editions of Genshiken, but the original Official Book is the same size as the other Japanese manga volumes on my bookshelf.)

Meanwhile, Animal Academy: Hakobune Hakusho has turned up on TOKYOPOP’s list of 2009 shipping dates, so I guess I can consider it well and truly announced. I’ve also been assigned to another title on that list, but I’m not including it in my own list here until after I’ve actually worked on it. ^_^

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I’m considering things to do with this blog in 2009, but for now this is just another quick list of review links. As is usually the case, these are all based on review copies from VIZ.

Fairy Cube vol. 3 (B+)
Gaba Kawa (C+)
Heaven’s Will (C+)
Honey and Clover vol. 4 (A-)
Skip Beat! vol. 15 (B+)
We Were There vol. 1 (A-)
We Were There vol. 2 (A-)

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The “three random things” sort of post, plus review links

November 20, 2008 at 11:36 am (reviews - links)

The first step towards a productive workday is not getting sucked into looking at videos of cats riding Roombas. Besides, being in possession of a lot of stairs and no cats, it seems like an experiment I won’t exactly be able to replicate at home. Alas.

I’m not sure what the etiquette is if a title has turned up on Amazon but hasn’t been officially announced. It’s clearly not a secret anymore, but I think I’ll leave it off my sidebar for now.

And vol. 1 of Shinobi Life seems to be getting decent reviews, which is nice to hear. It’s a lot of fun to work on, so I hope it has a long and happy life in English. ^_^

*****

The usual array of review links, all of which are for VIZ review copies:
B.O.D.Y. vol. 3 (B-)
Boys Over Flowers vol. 32 (B)
Crimson Hero vol. 9 (B)
Fushigi Yûgi: Genbu Kaiden vol. 7 (B+)
High School Debut vol. 5-6 (A-)
Ouran High School Host Club vol. 11 (A)
S.A. vol. 7 (B-)
Sugar Princess vol. 2 (B)

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Back to work!

October 28, 2008 at 11:50 pm (reviews - links)

I’ve just spent two and a half weeks traveling around Canada (Ontario to see friends, Montréal to go to a concert), so suddenly I have some catching up to do. There’s a heap of review copies awaiting my attention, for one thing, and they may go a bit slowly for the next couple of weeks while I work on the next volume of Sgt. Frog.

Frog is a very satisfying series to be assigned to, but it’s much harder than just about anything else I do–it has an abundance of puns, and has at least half again as much text as a normal manga series. On top of that, I inherited the series from Carol Fox, who gave the characters very distinctive voices (always a plus), and I’m still very conscious of trying to echo her work to maintain the internal consistency. But this is my fourth Frog rewrite, and every time I start work on a new one I feel a bit more comfortable with it. And it’s fun, even when I’m wracking my brains over the puns. My only complaint is that my favorite character (Dororo!) has very erratic screen page time, but that’s not a problem with this volume. ^_^

*****

Since my last post, a few reviews have gone up at MangaLife–two VIZ review copies, and the first volume of the Haruhi manga, which the nice people from Yen were kind enough to give me at NYAF (see also: con report, linked in my last entry):
La Corda d’Oro vol. 9 (B)
Kaze Hikaru vol. 11 (B)
The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya vol. 1 (A-, Yen Press)

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Post-NYAF reviews–and convention report!

October 1, 2008 at 12:47 am (reviews - links)

I spent the weekend at New York Anime Fest, which was not only my first cross-border convention but my first visit to the US since…2004, I think. The primary reason I went was to network–I love adapting manga, and have room in my schedule to do more of it, or to work on anime if the chance comes up–but I also had the chance to meet up with some friends I don’t see very often, as well as meeting some online friends for the first time. It was a great experience, overall: all of the industry people I talked to were extremely friendly and willing to chat about all kinds of things.

Mind you, often my side of the conversation included things along the lines of “I’m so excited that [title] is coming out, and I can’t wait to give you money”. Which was always true. I don’t say that kind of thing lightly, especially with anime; I’m fairly willing to experiment with manga, but I have to be pretty sure I love an anime before I’ll commit to it.

So part of this week’s MangaLife update includes my NYAF convention report, and I’ve posted two reviews since I last updated (VIZ review copies, as usual):
Time Stranger Kyoko vol. 2 (C)
Wild Ones vol. 4 (C+)

The latter suffers from one of the potential problems with review copies, in that I haven’t read the prior volumes in the series. Sometimes this is more of a concern than others; in the case of Wild Ones, I suspect that I might have enjoyed it more if I’d read from the beginning. (This seems like a pretty obvious thing to say, but it’s much more noticeable with some series than others. Some books give enough of a feel for the series for me to have a solid idea of how much I’d probably like it if I read the whole thing, and I try to assign letter grades accordingly.)

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Pre-NYAF review round-up

September 22, 2008 at 3:02 pm (reviews - links, upcoming releases)

I seem to have great luck with cover art–the first volume of Shinobi Life looks pretty good. ^_^ Pink, but not overwhelmingly girly; seems about right for Beni.

Vol. 12 of D.N.Angel is listed on Amazon.ca but isn’t showing up on Amazon.com yet, so for now the sidebar link is Canadian. I’m excited to be working on this series, now that it’s finally come off hiatus in Japan. I was only somewhat familiar with it before I did my research and read through the earlier English volumes, but I have several friends who’re fans, and it’s my first time working on a series that Alethea and Athena translate. (Well, that’s not technically true–CLAMP no Kiseki is a series, but I only adapted the last volume.)

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I should link to my recent MangaLife reviews before I get too distracted by getting ready for NYAF. Five of them, all based on review copies from VIZ:
Blank Slate vol. 1 (B-)
The Gentlemen’s Alliance † vol. 7 (B-)
S.A. vol. 6 (B-)
Sand Chronicles vol. 3 (A)
Tail of the Moon vol. 13 (B)

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