I’ve been at this manga translation thing for about three and a half years now, and it looks like now’s the time for it to conclude.
We’ve just recently turned in the final volume of Love on the Job for Project-H, and that’s the last outstanding project we had. Ziggy told me she was going to quit after this, and for whatever reason Project-H hasn’t given me any translation work since Makunouchi Deluxe 1 late last year. So at this point I have no work to do and nobody to work with. The stuff I’ve written for the site last year hasn’t been terribly well-received, and the whole licensing engine appears to be churning on happily without any involvement on my part, so I honestly can’t think of anything productive I can do in this little slice of the manga world anymore.
I’d say the best part of this hobby was sharing stories with people and hearing their reactions. I tried to work on series that had some form of merit apart from being, well, porn, and it was great to think that someone else would enjoy the characters and stories as much as I did. Thanks to all of you who got in touch to lend any messages of support over the years.
If there’s one person in the group who’s been crucial to what I’ve been doing but hasn’t gotten enough credit, it’s my longtime collaborator Panzuriel. His analytical, exacting approach to translation was crucial in whipping me into shape for this gig. I owe him a great debt for making me a much better Japanese speaker, and if you’ve enjoyed anything I’ve written over the last few years then you have him to thank for it.
As for what’s next for me, I really have no idea. The future’s almost never been murkier, but I know I’m going to do something involving Japanese. I may never be able to admit it to anyone, but this big silly endeavor has helped me in that regard. Frustrating though it may have been at times, perhaps that made it all worthwhile.
With the Ides of March now past us, now’s as good a time as ever for an update. Chances are if you’ve come to the site you’re probably a fan of Manabe Joji and/or Harumi Chihiro, so I’ll fill you in on what they’ve been up to:
This is a promotional poster for the French license of Ring x Mama (called “Catch x Mama”) that Manabe Joji posted on his blog. The publisher did a pretty awesome job, if I do say so myself. Project-H’s English version of volume 1 will be out in July, but we haven’t had any involvement with it so I’m afraid I don’t know anything more than that.
After Ring x Mama finished, he started another series in the same magazine called “Kuikomi wo naoshiteiru hima wa nai!” which translates to “No time to fix my wedgie!” If you have a swimsuit fetish then it’ll knock your socks off, since it looks to be about a swim team that’s chock-a-block with buxom young ladies. I haven’t actually sat down and read it but from the few glimpses I’ve had, it appears to be about 90% sex scenes. If I recall correctly it’s going to conclude after two volumes.
At the same time, he’s been running another series in a more mainstream weekly magazine with the title of “Hibi Kore Koujitsu.” ANN recently reported that it’s now concluding in its fourth volume. I have the first two volumes here in print and I must say that the series is very different than what you might expect from him. It’s set in the extremely ritualized and tradition-steeped world of Japanese tea ceremonies. The artwork is quite lush and the only way I can think of to describe the story is dense. You can tell that it borrows from a broader cultural vocabulary that’s very unique to Japan and I think it would be a fascinating yet extremely challenging series to localize. Hopefully if Ring x Mama and Makunouchi Deluxe are successful then we’ll see more Manabe Joji licenses in the future.
With both of those series wrapping up at about the same time, he’s been talking on his blog about what he’s working on next. Obviously it’s still tentative but he says he’s thinking about going back to a “military”-type setting that a lot of his earlier work from the 80s and 90s featured.
Now, how about Harumi Chihiro? It’s been just about a year since Velvet Kiss finished its serialized run in Comic Vitaman, but she hasn’t started any new series since then. She continues to work on “Come Come Vanilla,” which now has two volumes in print, but like a lot of Velvet Kiss fans I’ve heard from, I haven’t even bothered to read it. It seems a little too fluffy and insubstantial for fans of her other series. Strangely enough, I recently stumbled across a figurine that someone made of the main character. I wonder if anyone’s ever made one of Kano…
At any rate, I think Harumi Chihiro has been taking a well-deserved break after Velvet Kiss finished and probably played some advisory role in the movie adaptation that I mentioned earlier. She’s put out a variety of one-shots in a couple different magazines over the last year. I’ve seen a couple of them and they’re fairly nice but not especially weighty. She ran a one-off in the same magazine that runs “Hibi Kore Koujitsu” which teased a longer series on the last page but it never materialized for whatever reason. Most recently she published in “Le Paradis,” a bimonthly romance manga magazine. They seem to have made rather a big deal that it’s her debut in the magazine, giving her very prominent billing on their web site. I’ve seen a fair deal of Japanese twitter buzz about it as well, so that may indicate that Velvet Kiss has made more of a splash than you might expect.
Speaking of Velvet Kiss, it looks like it’s been licensed in Italian now, although someone who speaks Italian will probably need to confirm that for me. It looks like France and Italy have been more active in licensing h-manga during that long dark period when US licensors weren’t touching it with a 12-inch marital aid, and they’re not slowing down. I think our French and Italian compatriots have been able to buy licensed versions of Yamatogawa tankoubons for years now, amongst other stuff. Hopefully these new series from both authors will get the high-quality treatment they deserve and go on to commercial success.
Right now we’re working on getting the last volumes of Velvet Kiss and Love on the Job finished. Velvet Kiss 4 will have two bonus pages at the end like the other volumes, and this will be the first time that they’ll be in English. It also looks like the mid-volume color spread which is usually reduced to black and white will be in color in the English version. It’ll actually be superior to the Japanese version in that respect! Those will be out later in the year, and we’ll try and keep you abreast (heh heh) of any other new developments in the meantime.
A good friend of mine showed me this article with an interview from Project-H (and we were mentioned~ thanks Yoko!) I thought you might be interested in taking a look for it yourself:
Project-H worked with scanlators for the adaptation of Velvet Kiss. Is this something you see happening with other Project-H titles that have been scanlated before, or was it a special case situation when the scanlators approached you?
Yoko: I suppose you could say “we hired scanlators.” And it is, just that. They approached us for this particular title. We simply wanted to hire the best and most qualified people for the job. And that was them. It’s been the greatest thing we ever did. It’s also been a great promotion. We always welcome new ways to introduce our products and services to our fans.
You can check out the rest here:
Now that’s a title I never thought I’d write. But sure enough, Velvet Kiss has been given a live-action movie treatment. It appears to have been produced through Velvet Kiss’ publisher, Takeshobo, and stars AV actress Kanae Ruka as Kanoko, with her trademark twin tails intact. It’s divided into two separate parts (the second being due out next month) and it looks like they’re each 70 minutes long.
Is it a faithful adaptation? Is it any good? I couldn’t tell you, since I haven’t seen it. I’m debating about whether I want to pick it up or not, especially since I don’t have a Region 2 DVD player. It’s not as weird of a move as you might think, though, since Takeshobo has done with same thing with a few of its other successful h-manga series (Glass no Megami, Virgin na Kankei, Hishoka Drop). They all seem to follow a formula of two parts released within a month of each other, and perhaps more curiously, an R-15 rating. This is in contrast to the R-18 rating that explicit pornography is usually granted. I would venture a guess that there are probably sex scenes but camera angles and brevity might mean that they’re not terribly graphic. Maybe about Skinemax level?
I wouldn’t suggest holding your breath for a licensed version outside of Japan, although I would have said the exact same thing about the manga series a couple years ago and look how that turned out. It’s probably a rather niche title even its home market, and hopefully it’s not hobbled by a low budget. I’ll try and write up some impressions if I get the chance to watch it.
It’s a new year, and believe it or not, we’ve just slithered past our third anniversary in the Year of the Snake. Not a lot of fanfare for this go-around, but we may as well mark the occasion by looking ahead to our print releases in 2013. Here’s what’s on the table so far:
- Love on the Job Volume 2: May 29
- Velvet Kiss Volume 3: May 29
- Velvet Kiss Volume 4: August 28
- Love on the Job Volume 3: September 25
- Makunouchi Deluxe Volume 1: November 27
Depending on how stuff goes we might be able to work on one of the many other titles that are scheduled to come out in 2013, but it’ll be a while before we have any idea of that for sure. I’d hoped to be doing more series that we hadn’t worked on before, but when I was offered Makunouchi Deluxe, I couldn’t pass it up. Rest assured that it’s going to get a far better treatment than it had in the amateur realm.
It’s simpler to purchase past and present releases in digital format now that Wowio isn’t the sole vendor (try emanga or Amazon’s Kindle store). Don’t know if the image compression is any better than what came before, though.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little disappointed by how the print releases have been received thus far. Reviewers new to the series don’t seem to see the appeal of them and some of the loudest voices I’d heard in the past going “oh yeah, I’d totally buy this stuff in English if I could!” have been completely silent. Maybe it was a bit of a foolish dream to think that there would be much of any audience crossover, or perhaps we should have waited until more of the books were out in print to announce our involvement. Ah, well.
Still, if you’d told me that back when I first read Love on the Job back in 2009 that I was going to work on the official English version, I would have told you that you were nuts. Hopefully in the years to come, new readers will have a chance to discover these fun stories and characters and get as much enjoyment out of them as I did back then. Ta ta for now!
You can now purchase Love on the Job Volume 1! You might know it better under its original Japanese title, “Koi wo Suru…” If you haven’t heard of it, it’s the series Harumi Chihiro made before Velvet Kiss.
Believe it or not, I’m actually more excited about this coming out than Velvet Kiss. The old scanlated version was a patchwork of different groups and was pretty compromised as a result. But now that it’s time for the official release, we can make sure that it’s all unified and consistent throughout the whole series. Being able to set the dialog from page 1 has given me a lot more comfort and control over the tone of the work and I’m very happy with how it’s turned out.
The series has more of a comedic aspect to it than Velvet Kiss does, which largely comes from two of the important side characters, Todoroki and Souma. They both didn’t get much of a fair shake in the scanlated version, but knowing their characters in advance let me play up their dialog a little more for the commercial adaptation. Souma was especially fun to write, what with her hammy grand designs and boundless persistence.
It’s my hope that works like this could help bring Harumi Chihiro to a wider audience, since I think a lot more people besides traditional manga fans would enjoy this series. Hopefully digital distribution will help in that regard. I’d encourage you to tell a friend if you’ve enjoyed it. Here’s where you can pick the first volume up:
Side note from Ziggy:
Hey everyone, I haven’t been around much lately on Soba-Scans and have been wanting to do a video or give you guys an idea of what I do with Project-H books. Working on a professional quality scan and preparing it for the printer is a bit different than your typical scanlation and didn’t know if anyone would be interested in seeing what I do~ If you are just let me know! My classes are finishing up in the week or so, so I’ll have time to prepare something nice for you all. I had a lot of fun working on this series, and I wanted to mention as well that Conan from 4dawgz actually was going to be the original typesetter for this series since he was the one who worked on it with us previously, however I ended up assisting him with a collaboration. I’m very pleased with the turn out, and know you all will enjoy it very much.
The second English volume of Velvet Kiss is printed and ready! This time around the translation is mine, as opposed to me editing another translator’s work. Everything’s been re-done to a higher standard and this should be a much more definitive version than what was out before.
In addition, Project-H has announced that they now have the rights to digitally distribute releases from Takeshobo, which includes Velvet Kiss, Ring x Mama, Makunouchi Deluxe, and Love on the Job. Here are the details, as we know them: They’ll be available primarily through Digital Manga’s site, emanga, which will be re-launching in November. Other platforms may be in the works but they have to deal with stuff like vendors such as Amazon and Apple being squeamish about carrying adult content. Releases will be downloadable and readable on “most popular devices.” That’s all the information we’ve been given, though, so I don’t have answers when it comes to pricing, file formats, DRM, or anything else like that. But if you’ve been holding back on purchasing the official version because you’d rather have it in digital rather than physical format, you should be able to have the chance pretty soon.
Currently it’s before the official release date, but it sounds like you can buy it already if you get it through Akadot or Project-H. Similar to last time, it looks like other online merchants are selling it with some sort of two-week delay. Couldn’t tell you why that is, I’m afraid, but pick whichever store you like best:
We’re also about a month away from the first volume of Love on the Job (aka Koi wo Suru), so we’ll let you know when that’s available!
Looks like our favorite Harumi Chihiro series is going to be officially available in another language. I found the news on this blog post that the publisher Soleil Manga is going to translate and release Velvet Kiss in France. Whoever does their covers seems to do a really good job, and I like what they did with this one as well. My understanding is that France has a really big market for licensed manga, so perhaps this was only a matter of time.
I feel like all these recent h-manga licenses go a long way towards taking the wind out of the sails of the argument that scanlation is justified because the mean ol’ creators and publishers won’t let it escape Japan. Clearly artists like Harumi Chihiro are happy to have their works enjoyed outside of its country of origin, but there has to be a licensor and an audience willing to support them.
Having been out of the game for several months now, I look back at all the time and energy I spent on scanlation, and if it wasn’t effort wasted then it was certainly effort misdirected. Sometimes it feels like all I did was just line the pockets of whoever owns those ad-choked manga aggregator sites. I bet if half the effort spent on scanlation were spent supporting legitimate efforts to localize manga, you’d see a lot more h-manga available for legitimate purchase today, and it would be of much higher quality.
Obviously, the issue’s a little more complex than this, but I look at all the rip-off artists and unhealthy bickering surrounding scanlation nowadays and I wonder why anybody bothers sticking with it. I feel like if it’s worth spending effort on anything, it’s to help improve the system that has the support of the people who actually make the manga. They’re happy for you to read what they make, if you help support the system that helps them.
Velvet Kiss Volume 2 should be out in about a month now, so we’ll let you know how you can get it pretty soon. Ciao!
Here’s something even we didn’t expect – Makunouchi Deluxe is now licensed in English! One way or another, just about every series I’ve worked on has gotten an official license now. It’s good to know that they’re being given the chance to succeed legitimately under the blessing of the artists who created them.
This is still one of my favorite series ever, and unlike Ring x Mama, I’d be willing to go over it once more and make sure it’s polished to a mirror shine for the official release. I couldn’t tell you whether we’ll be able to work on it or not, though, since that’s up to Project H. We’ll see what happens in the next few months.
Speaking of the near future, we should hopefully see more printed volumes coming to market in the late fall and winter. There’s a pretty long lead time with print, so the stuff we’ve been working on all summer will be coming out then. Right now news is a little dry but as time goes on we should have a new volume coming out every month or two, with any luck.
I’d hoped to have more articles to fill the gap, but after the decidedly, uh, mixed reaction to the previous one, I’m still not sure if they’re a good idea or not. The next one was going to be a look at an actual retail-purchased h-magazine with an analysis of the contents. I know some people would say that because they’ve seen a scan or two that I couldn’t possibly tell them anything new, even though they probably don’t speak any Japanese. If you’re not one of those people and you’d be interested in seeing it, let me know, I suppose.
In any case, Velvet Kiss Volume 2 is currently set for a Halloween release date, and Love on the Job/Koi wo Suru is going to start coming out in November. We’ve been working on Love on the Job a lot this summer and I’m really happy with how the scripts have turned out. It’s going to be miles better than it was before, with much more personality and consistency. We’ll have more on that as it gets closer to release. Ta ta!
If you’re reading this site, it’s probably because you enjoy reading hentai manga on some level. But where does it come from? No, it doesn’t grow on trees, unless there’s some sort of Forest of Filth in some secluded valley in Japan that no one knows about. In fact, the vast majority of it comes from magazines.
I should clarify now that I’m talking about professionally-published stuff here – what’s known as “doujinshi” is an entirely separate topic which I won’t go into in this article. I’ve done most of my research based on Japanese Wikipedia and publisher web sites, but if you find any inaccurate information then please let me know. This is a big article, so click on through for the full thing: