Interview with Owal-Sensei (Translation)

To celebrate the release of “Our House Love Trouble” and the accompanying “drama CD”, Marine Entertainment has shared a special follow-up interview with Owal-Sensei.

In it, Owal-Sensei discusses character names, her favorite type of characters to draw, and how they came up with some of the more shockingly sexy and fun moments in the bedroom scenes for “Our House Love Trouble” (Available now in English at Renta! Manga Store ❤ )

I took a moment this weekend to give it a quickie translation from Japanese to English. I hope you find it as interesting as I did! 

To celebrate the release of “Our House Love Trouble” and the accompanying “drama CD”, Marine Entertainment has shared a special follow-up interview with Owal-Sensei.

 

In it, Owal-Sensei discusses character names, her favorite type of characters to draw, and how they came up with some of the more shockingly sexy and fun moments in the bedroom scenes for “Our House Love Trouble” Available now in English at Renta! Manga Store ❤

 

I took a moment this weekend to give it a quickie translation from Japanese to English. I hope you find it as interesting as I did! 

 

 

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■Do you find it difficult to decide on character names?
  What is your thought process when coming up with names?

 

Deciding on character names is one of my favorite things! The only problem is, it’s really hard for me to come up with them lol.

 

With Our House, Nonohiko was the first character to receive a name.

 

I think names that have two repeating syllables are cute, and was considering a 4-syllable name for the main uke, and so that’s how 『のの彦』 Nonohiko got his name.

 

I wanted to give all the seme characters 1-kanji names across the board, and so that’s how I decided on 『響・要・馨』 Hibiki, Kaname, and Kaoru. Only later when I was writing notes on the manuscript did I realize that the kanji for Hibiki and Kaoru’s names look really similar, so when I had to write really small it caused a lot of confusion later on lol.

 

―――Were there any characters you had difficulty naming?

 

I think it’s difficult to decide on names for all my characters, but Hibiki was the most challenging this time.

 

I had already decided to make Nonohiko’s full name “Nonohiko Nojima”, so I thought I’d make Hibiki’s last name “Minami” so that when you put them together it’d read “Minami no Shima” (which means Southern Islands – Sarah).

 

But then I wanted Hibiki to have a name that fit better with his “Super Darling” character type (a dashing, handsome, confident, warm, manly man who openly loves and accepts his uke, usually tall, educated, and rich), so I ended up giving him the name “Hibiki Kaidou”. (Ocean Way)

 

Sometimes I also decide on a theme and give characters names accordingly.

 

In Hangout Crisis, I decided to give everyone “flower” last names, which is how I came up with 『椿』Tsubaki (camellia) and 『桜井』Sakurai (cherry-blossom well)!

 

It makes me really happy when people remember my characters’ names out of all the many characters out there.

 

 

 

■What kind of character personalities do you like the most?

 

I love characters who are a pleasure to tease!

 

When I’m drawing ukes, in my mind I’m usually biting my lip thinking “Ah, I want to tease him so bad!” I’m not saying I don’t genuinely like the uke characters, but I think I have a tendency to fall into the seme’s emotional point of view lol.

 

Actually, this time I packed a ton of my favorite character personality traits into Nonohiko!

 

A big chest (lit. oppai, lol), an almost unconditionally accepting and gentle heart, and the type that’ll wrap you up in warm comfort when you need it.

 

It’s the type of guy you just wanna trick/bully/fool/tease. Naturally, the Super Darling will want to spoil and take care of him, try to make him jealous, etc… I tried to stuff it full of that flavor of romance lol.

 

That’s another thing that blows me away in the audio-drama adaptation for this manga. No matter how many times I listen to it, my heart is purified every single time by how accurately they portrayed this lol.

 

In all the comments and reviews, I was also really moved by everyone who wrote in saying how much they adored Nonohiko.

 

I think I have my editor to thank for making him such a beloved character, since they’re the one who gave me the suggestion “Make him dumber.” If I’d written him a little smarter, I don’t think it would have turned out quite the same lol. The story depends on his slightly ditsy, warm fuzzy kind of “wait, what?” clueless personality lol.

 

■When you’re creating manga, what matters to you the most?

 

It’s gotta be “sexy, easy on the eyes, and engaging/interesting/funny”!

 

―――In all the feedback from questionnaires, the fans have spoken, and they all agree that Owal-Sensei’s fetish and action in the bedroom scenes deserve only the highest of praise!!

 

I’m so happy to hear that. Thank you so much!!

 

My editor gives me incredibly great ideas and suggestions. When we discuss concepts and stories together, they’ll just casually drop the best ideas like a bomb, no hesitation at all lol.

 

That’s how we ended up with Nonohiko squatting over Hibiki’s face on the hotel bed.

 

Not to mention the “How about a shoulder-blade-job?” suggestion… that idea was so good, we got a little over-excited lol.

 

We went from starting with Hibiki making a sudden move to rub himself between Nonohiko’s shoulder blades, all the way to Nonohiko fwipping his face around to get an eye-full (so to speak lol).

 

During that conversation it was like the whole scene was crystal clear in my mind. Then when actually drawing that scene, it was so much fun. I was also really happy when I saw that they included that scene on the back of the book’s “obi”, too.

 

I also try to be really careful about dividing up the content in each panel. I say that but then I have a bad habit of cramming as much as I can into one page, too lol.

 

I try to fill each and every panel with at least one thing that will catch the reader’s eye. It would make me happy if when someone flips through and sees something interesting, they then flip back to page one to enjoy the story from the beginning.

 

―――Thank you very much!

 

-Special Thanks to Marine Entertainment and Owal-Sensei. Please visit their website at the link above and check out the English translation of Our House Love Trouble, available now. ❤

 

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The Difference Between Good Enough and Good

I feel like translation is quite subjective, with no “perfect” translation out there.

Manga is unique because it’s a combination of written and spoken English, but almost always focuses on conversation above all other types of language.

Localization in particular can make the difference between a translation that is, technically speaking, “correct”… and a translation that FEELS right.

Today I was thrown off by a perfectly correct translation of  [ 人間 健康が一番 / ningen — kenkou ga ichiban ] which was a piece of some thought-dialog in a manga I was browsing through.

It was submitted as “Health is the most important thing for humans.”

While there is nothing grammatically inappropriate here and it is, arguably, natural speech in English, I couldn’t help but think “Oh, but not for apes or cats.”

The way we throw words together in normal conversations happens with very little conscious thought at all, but we still manage to express much more than what is being said by the way we choose to phrase our words.

I know it says ningen (humans) in Japanese, but saying it in English adds unnecessary emphasis, and makes it feel slightly off, even though nothing is technically wrong.

Maybe it’s the cold medicine I’m taking, or maybe I just have special issues, but I find that listening to the voices in your head is the best way to get a natural translation out of something that feels weird when you can’t quite put your finger on WHY it feels weird.

The voices in my head told me to write it as:

“Nothing is more important than your health.”

Assuming, of course, that the person reading that inner thought dialog is a human. But the nice thing about this is that it works for other species, too. Even aliens will not feel left out now.

Isn’t that nice?

It feels right to me.

I also feel guilty for not taking better care of my health now. Oops.

 

This blog was brought to you by cold medicine, ecchi localization contemplations, and my sincere apologies for not updating the blog more often recently. I’ve been out of the office a lot and I’m catching up on my to do list of delicious manga for your reading pleasure, so hopefully things will settle down soon and I’ll update you with all the wonderful things that have been happening around here.

Preview: Shouganai Kara Aishite Ageru

Yoko Ito, artist of the bestselling Allergic to Love, is back again with their latest work Shouganai Kara Aishite Ageru (しょうがないから愛してあげる). Its official release date and title on the English website is yet to be announced, but I guarantee you’ll love it.

We follow two coworkers: Sako Miyamura and Eiji Miya. They have nothing in common other than the fact that they joined the company at the same time and that Sako is in charge of his accounts.

Sako’s just your average Japanese office worker, but has a surprisingly feisty temperament and a thing for suits–in particular, Eiji’s. Every chance she can get, Sako ogles Eiji’s suits.

Eiji, on the other hand, is a handsome and intelligent hotshot salesman who’s so motivated, he’s hardly swayed by all the women in the office fawning over him. He’s so disinterested in others that he flat out turns down an invitation from the new-hire before she can even spit it out.

On the day when Sako and Eiji’s relationship takes an unexpected turn, Sako heads to the company file room and opens the door. She’s surprised to find Eiji going through the files. She thinks it must be her lucky day since she can get gawk at his suit to her heart’s content through the gap in the shelf without him noticing. She leans down in anticipation… but he’s gone!

Just then, she hears footsteps behind her. She turns around.

Eiji’s glaring at her. He barks at her to quit staring because it’s so distracting. He’s well-aware he’s gorgeous, but he’s beyond her league, so she shouldn’t get any ideas about having a chance with him.

Just as he smirks and turns to walk away, Sako throws her hands on his face and starts squishing it. She sarcastically apologizes for gawking, but just can’t help herself–his suit is too gorgeous! She doesn’t want to wrinkle it, so she’s intentionally squishing his face.

Hell hath no fury like an office worker denied her suit-viewing privileges. She doesn’t give a shit about Eiji’s looks or personality–she just wants a good look at that suit! Eiji’s simultaneously taken aback by her hot temper and enamored with her for her passion for and knowledge of suits.

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We are currently working on the lettering, but hope to have it released soon! I will announce when it is released. In the meantime, check out Yoko Ito’s other work here!

 

 

Review: My Fickle Jaguar

My Fickle Jaguar (気まぐれなジャガー Kimagure na Jaguar) is the latest addition of Unohana‘s works to Renta!’s English-language website. I have had the pleasure to edit its translations as they come out. Although I have been working in Renta! as an editor for only one year, let me tell you–this is nothing like the other BL/Yaoi that I have had the opportunity to read and/or edit in my short time here.

MyFickleJaguar

As one user review put it…

“The plot is quite different from the typical BL: theres [sic] no more of the cat and mouse, back and forth of getting to a love declaration (ot [sic] ahem, a night together). The main couple is two interesting adults who are together in love, but the slow reveal of how they get to that point is so riveting. The music industry background is also fascinating. I love love looove this manga and I can’t wait to read the rest of it!!!!”

I can fully stand behind this review. That’s why I’ve chosen to review it here, so get your guitars and picks ready. You’ll need them.

My Fickle Jaguar starts at Arata Aso’s apartment. Sitting up in bed with his smart phone in one hand and a cigarette in the other, Arata’s scrolling through an online forum.

“What’s Shiina doing now?”
“Who’s Shiina?”
“Sojun Shiina, from Peg.”
“Yeah. After Peg split up he was the backup in some other bands and did some side projects. But I haven’t seen him at all lately.”
“But what’s he doing now? I mean, is he still alive?”
“Don’t kill him! LOL!”
“But he vanished!”
“Is he in Alaska or something?”

Pull back from Arata’s screen. A man is lying asleep next to him. Arata scrunches his eyebrows, puts his cigarette to his lips, and says:

“[In fact Shiina] is sleeping right next to me.”

Three months earlier, Sojun (A.K.A. Shiina) showed up at Arata Aso’s doorstep.

“Arata, I’m hungry,” he proclaimed as he threw his arms around Arata’s waist and his stomach growled. The main course: Arata à la carte.

We learn then that Sojun Shiina is a professional musician, but he’s bordering on the title of ex-musician (since his fans wonder if he’s even alive). Three years prior to the beginning of My Fickle Jaguar, Sojun tells his band members from Peg that he’s taking a break and bounces between Japan and other countries. He’s so fickle that he hardly stays in one place for more than a few months. Three months away from Japan (and Arata), however, is the shortest that he’s ever been away. Arata can’t help but find it unusual.

Arata Aso, on the other hand, is an editor at a music magazine. He’d dreamed of becoming a professional musician like Sojun, but gave up after he realized he had no talent and would never reach Sojun’s level. He took up writing instead so that he could share Sojun, the center of his universe, and his talent with the world. He’s miffed that Sojun is so self-centered and unaware of his feelings that he runs away for months at a time, though.

This time, Sojun confesses that he missed Arata so much he “wanted to die”. They’ve discussed his leaving endlessly before. He’s always replied in the same manner. Arata wonders why he leaves if he feels the way he says he does. He knows that Sojun is as fickle as a cat (Jaguar) and that he only goes to Arata when he feels like it. Yet, he can’t help but loving him…

Although currently up to volume 6, the intertwining of Arata and Sojun’s dreams, careers and relationship is totally captivating. You won’t want to miss out on this one! Check it out from the item page here!

 

Interview with a Vampire Editor

Recently someone came to me privately with some very thoughtful questions about my job because they were considering their own future possibilities and wanted an inside look.

うそ~ I’m not actually a vampire. I’m just sensitive to sunlight…

Recently someone came to me privately with some very thoughtful questions about my job because they were considering their own future possibilities and wanted an inside look.

I thought many other aspiring manga lovers and fellow nerds would also be interested in this kind of topic, so I asked if it would be okay to share my comments here as well.

Enjoy!


“Was it difficult to enter your position with Renta in Tokyo?– do they only hire locally?”

It was a little difficult, but only because the hiring process was very thorough/intensive with multiple interviews and tests. I’ve been living in Japan for some time now and had the appropriate work visa and relevant university degree/work experience, but I think my love for art, language, and manga made me a great candidate for the position! I’m positive they didn’t know I would be so talkative or else they would have reconsidered… (*shared working space)

My position in the Tokyo office is a sei-sha-in (full time) contract, and my main job is to edit, check, and finalize the manga’s translation and lettering/layout quality for its final review before going on sale on the site.

We have a network of freelancers and companies who work with us to do translation and lettering, and it goes through several checks before publication.

Freelance translators, translation checkers, and letterers are often hired locally in Japan, but applicants for freelance-type positions do not necessarily need to live in Japan. Full time Renta! employees do, because as you have rightly guessed, I do a lot more than just editing (I also handle most online social media, marketing, projects for conventions, etc…) but not everyone’s job requires them to physically be in Tokyo or even Japan. In fact, as we continue to grow, the office we have in San Francisco will take on a bigger role in our activities, too.

“Do you find your day-to-day job challenging, grueling, fun? It seems that you handle both translating/editing as well as PR work, that’s quite a lot!”

Oh goodness. hmm. Incredibly fun and incredibly stressful. Trying to edit something to perfection takes a lot of mental energy! However, this is also a job where creativity is essential, and I never get bored because each page is different.

Language and translation has always been a passion of mine, and linguistics was my major in university. Art has ALSO been a passion of mine that I’ve kept up as a hobby my whole life. So to get to do a job where both art and language/writing are needed feels just perfect for me.

As I already mentioned, I do have to do more than just editing as part of my full-time position here. However, they also don’t force me to do anything I’m terrible at! We’re lucky to have a really great boss in the international department that runs the English site, and he encourages us to take initiatives on projects we’re excited about.

For me, that includes SNS and PR-adjacent stuff. I’m a little bit uhhhh… impulsive? lol. So I can get away with speaking from a “human” opinion/standpoint here on this blog and the twitter account for Yaoi that I have thoroughly infiltrated and taken over, and I love that it allows me to connect with other BL fans online.

Overall, we (fujoshi & fudanshi & pervs who love manga) are an awesome community, and I’d like to be able to pull more people together. As you know, most people get introduced to BL either by accident or by introduction via a friend! Let’s indoctrinate… I mean… introduce more people to Yaoi!! What a weird typo.

“I understand that to the translating/editing industry, there are some major problems such as piracy. Are there any other wide-reaching issues that you’ve come across?”

Piracy is an issue both in native Japanese and in the world of translation. I’ve spoken about it recently in this letter to Scanlation groups that was REALLY well received. (Bless the kind people out there who understand.) Chase also wrote about piracy in more depth here on this blog.

Other issues that come quickly to mind… would probably include cultural attitudes on sexuality.

As an issue, this is extremely difficult to discuss openly because we are all human, and most people struggle to set their own experience and beliefs to the side to try to see things from an unfamiliar or even opposite perspective. This is true not only when it comes to such a personal and sensitive topic, but in this case they also have to see past the fact that this content comes from a different culture entirely, so even things that SEEM like they would be universal, often aren’t.

I would like more English-speaking women (and men) to enjoy these types of genres out of Japan (awesome eroi ones) and gain a better understanding of their own sexuality without constantly feeling guilt, shame, and the need to repress everything always all the time, but unfortunately due to the nature of the subject, it can be very challenging to address.

As an industry, I think another issue we need to face is the growing desire of customers to have everything available both digitally and in print as soon as it is published vs. the desperate publishers trying to keep print sales up, too. This can make them hesitant to jump on the digital bandwagon. Yet, we book lovers want it both ways. We’re definitely not willing to give up paper printed books altogether, so finding a way to make everyone happy and still get as much content into English as possible 1) while still making the artists and publishers money 2) AND giving the English-speaking world the content they want can be challenging!

The last thing that occurred to me as far as issues in the industry go is that sometimes the more popular a manga is, the less likely it is to sell official and licensed copies because hardcore fans keep one eye on the Japanese releases, getting fan-translated editions way before it’s licensed in English (which is understandable, we’re a very thirsty impatient group!).

When the manga does finally become available, only obsessed fans buy it, and regular/casual fans do not.

Renta! has been getting more and more popular big-name titles as we grow, but I think one of the reasons we’ve been so successful is that we’ve been offering some really great titles that are actually quite nice and high quality, but that have been falling under the radar of the larger international community compared to huge, famous titles getting all the attention, so illegal translations aren’t available and people are more willing to try them out because they look good (and they ARE good!). Also, we publish so much contemporary manga that our releases are often too new to even be registered in the manga updates database by fans yet.

Again, sometimes, but not always, when we release a title from some of the more popular artists such as Tomo Kurahashi or Harada for instance, it’s difficult to get people who are already fans to buy something they’ve already read and have access to. Loyal and hardcore fans will buy them, but casual manga fans face an emotional barrier of being asked to pay for something they’ve already read, EVEN IF it is professional quality and will support the artist financially.

This has been my experience so far.

“Do you feel that despite these issues, your job is still enjoyable and viable, and you’re able to support yourself (both emotionally as well as financially)?”

I must admit, I have to read a lot of porny manga Monday through Friday, eight hours a day plus overtime, and sometimes that can be exhausting lol. It can also be fun though, and the other full-time editors I work with are amazing. We all emotionally-cope together.

(I bought a “stress banana” which we keep on our desks when we need an outlet. It stretches and twists and wobbles. It’s amazing. Everyone should have a stress banana.)

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As editors, we’re all perfectionist, perverted otaku who just want to get things right. But, when your job is to find and correct mistakes, it comes with the downside of having to find and correct mistakes all the time. Some of them seem unbelievable or unforgivable. However, we all make mistakes! Still…

Asking our computer screen daily “WHY ARE YOU LIKE THIS!?” is a common occurrence. We all vent but we all love our jobs and support each other! I’m really, really glad that I work with this group of amazing people.

To answer the last part, as I mentioned in the letter to scanlation groups, financially speaking, we are but one department/branch that’s part of a larger Japanese company with lots of bureaucracy and typical office life that comes with the job, so I can’t say that we do it for the money. We do it for love.

As long as I can spend all my extra money on new manga, I’m happy.

In Conclusion

I think it’s amazing that you’re interested in Japanese culture and are considering finding your way into a position that lets you share that with other people. I love that part about my job, too.

It’s true you can’t support yourself on what you love if you treat it like a hobby, but you’d be surprised if you take a look around and see what opportunities are out there.

I never expected to work with manga, never ever. But the right opportunity came at the right time and I hit apply SO fast. I knew that this was the job I wanted, and it felt right.

I have also been living in Japan for 10 years now, so it took lots of experience to get my Japanese and writing experience up to this level.

To be honest, I wasn’t even reading manga 10 years ago and never would have expected to end up where I am now. (I taught at an Eikaiwa my first year, and have done various teaching jobs since then. I was a writer’s assistant for a Japanese author in my previous job. Then life took some interesting turns. muehehe.)

My advice would be to grab onto whatever makes you curious or excited NOW, and it will lead you to something different that you love down the road.

Don’t overthink it, just follow your curiosity! : )