Open Thread: 2013 Roundup

Haven’t finished reading the next book in my pile yet, so let’s have a generic year’s roundup post!

Created for me by Indigo Caldwell; please do not reuse without permission.
Created for me by Indigo Caldwell; please do not reuse without permission.

People from around the globe have looked at this blog. The top ten countries for 2013 are: United States (way out in front, no surprise there), Canada, United Kingdom, France, Australia, Phillipines, Germany, Spain, Brazil and India. Only one visitor from Jamaica though. Can anyone recommend some good Jamaican books?

The top ten posts were:

  1. Anime Review: Magi – Labyrinth of Magic (Aided by the series getting a sequel in Falll 2013, still running and fairly popular.)
  2. Book Review: Wrapped in the Flag: A Personal History of America’s Radical Right (This autobiography of a daughter of John Birch Society stalwarts aroused a lot of interest.)
  3. Manga Review: Vagabond Volume 1 (The story of Japanese culture hero Miyamoto Musashi by the artist of Slam Dunk.)
  4. Manga Review: Ayako (A “mature readers” story by the legendary Osamu Tezuka–It’s good, but I have to wonder how many people clicked on it because of the naked lady on the cover.)
  5. Book Review: Ghosts in the Yew (This fantasy novel got almost all its clicks in one day when the author mentioned the review on his blog. He needs more fans.)
  6. Comic Strip Review: Dick Tracy (A review of the ongoing strip, still very good.)
  7. Manga Review: A*Tomcat (Another by Osamu Tezuka, this one a children’s story about an adorable kitten.)
  8. Comic Book Review: 47 Ronin (The classic Japanese based on a true story tale, illustrated by Stan Sakai. I also reviewed a book and 1962 film version, but not the 2013 film.)
  9. Manga Review: Triage X (A medical-themed vigilante tale by the artist but not the writer of Highschool of the Dead.)
  10. Comic Strip Review: Chester Gould’s Dick Tracy, Volume 13 1950-1951 (One of the fine collected volumes of the strip’s original run.)

Other posts did not fare so well, with only a single click so far:

  • Book Review: Waco’s Debt (Part of J.T. Edson’s Western cycle.)
  • Book Review: Blood Lance (A medieval murder mystery with a guest appearance by the Spear of Victory.)
  • Book Review: Who Died in Here? (Short stories about death involving the restroom.)
  • Book Review: Torsten (The very first gay historical paranormal romance novel I’ve ever read.)
  • Book Review: Dead But Still Ticking (Humorous murder mysterry set in Columbus, Ohio.)
  • Book Review: Journeyman Wizard (YA fantasy/mystery set in a cold land.)
  • Book Review: The Devil – With Wings (Aviation pulp action set in 1930s China.)

Please consider sharing some love with these.

I’m looking forward to reading more books and writing reviews of them in 2014! Tell me what books you enjoyed reading in 2013, and what you’re looking forward to in 2014.

Happy New Year!
SKJAM!

Manga Review: Vinland Saga Book One

Manga Review: Vinland Saga Book One by Makoto Yukimura

It is the Eleventh Century C.E., and Europe trembles in fear of the raiders from the north, who we would call Vikings.  This is the story of one such Viking, the youth Thorfinn Thorssen.

Vinland Saga

This thick volume opens with a battle in the Frankish Kingdoms (later France) as Askeladd’s band of mercenaries offer their services to Lord Jabbath.  Among the raiders is Thorfinn, who is far deadlier than any beardless boy has a right to be.   But Thorfinn serves Askeladd for one reason only, to someday be allowed to kill his father’s murderer in a fair duel.

We then flash back to Thorfinn’s childhood in Iceland, and how it was that his father, the mighty Thors,  was treacherously slain.   But we also learn of old Erik and his tales of a land beyond the sea, without slavery or war.   This “Vinland” remains a place that Thorfinn cannot bring himself to search for until he has had his vengeance, reckless of the cost.

The art is excellent, and the creator has done his research (no horned helmets here!)   On the other hand, he does take some liberties with history (this will become more apparent in later volumes.)    This is an exciting tale of vengeance and violence, although it should be acknowledged that most of the people in the story just aren’t good people.  The one truly heroic person in this volume is the reluctant warrior Thors,  who believes that a true warrior should not need a blade to lead a good life.

Note:  While there is no rape in this volume, given the subject matter, I would not be surprised if it came up later in the series.  As is, there’s plenty of blood spilled and heads flying off;  it’s rated 16+, and I’d advise parents to stick to that.

I recommend this volume to fans of Viking tales and lovers of violent action stories.

Manga Review: Weekly Shonen Jump (USA)

Manga Review: Weekly Shonen Jump (USA)

It’s the first anniversary of my blog!  To celebrate, I thought it would be nice to update the very first review that appeared here.  http://www.skjam.com/2012/12/09/manga-review-shonen-jump-alpha/

Shonen Jump

Shounen Jump is still Japan’s number one best-selling manga anthology title.  Although the primary market is still middle-school through high school boys, people of all ages and body shapes enjoy these tales of friendship, struggle and victory.  Weekly Shonen Jump is the English language edition, which now has many of the series available online the same day they’re legally for sale in Japan.  (Due to a persistent piracy problem, scans of the Japanese version appear online a week early.)

Because of the change to same-day release, the name of the ezine was changed from Shonen Jump Alpha to Weekly Shonen Jump.  Those of you who live outside the U.S.A. will be happy to hear that  Viz (the publishers) have arranged for it to be legally available in most English-speaking countries, and they’re working on the rest of the world.

Now, let’s take a look at what’s currently running.

Weekly

One Piece:  Still Shonen Jump’s flagship title.  Young Luffy D. Monkey lives on a world that’s mostly water.  He decides he’s going to be the Pirate King, and sets out on a voyage to find the mysterious One Piece treasure.  Along the way he gathers a wacky crew and battles evil pirates and the dictatorial World Government.    Having captured the main baddie on Punk Hazard, the Straw Hat Pirates sail to Dressrosa (which looks like a cross between Spain and Toyland) to negotiate with his boss.  Unfortunately, Dressrosa turns out to be a lot more sinister than it looks, and while Luffy is distracted by a gladiatorial contest, the rest of the crew learns dark secrets.

Naruto:   Young Naruto Uzumaki, an outcast in his hidden ninja village, decides that he will one day become the Hokage, leader of the village.  A year later, and we are still on the final battle of the Ninja World War–I don’t think even a full day has gone by yet.  It does look like the fight may be winding down within the next year, as all the major players are in one place.

Bleach:  Ichigo Kurosaki, a young man who can see ghosts, finds himself embroiled in the affairs of the otherworldly Soul Reapers who help dead people reach the afterlife.  This one is officially on its final plot arc, with the creator having taken a hiatus to plot out the intricacies of the Vandenreich’s attempt to destroy the Soul Society.  Perhaps by this time next year a full day will have passed.

Toriko:  Toriko is a Food Hunter in a world where the more dangerous it is to acquire the food substance, the more delicious it is.  The attack by the evil food organization, along with the emergence of a new even more evil organization, has resulted in a disruption of the ecosystem, leading to mass starvation.  The other heroes have a plan to restore the world that used to be known as Earth, but  they’ll need Toriko to help, and he’s kind of out of it.

Nisekoi:  False love is the name of the game, as Raku and Chitoge have to pretend to be dating to end a feud between their respective clans.  Meanwhile, Raku made a childhood promise to a girl whose name and face he cannot remember, and there are several girls it could be, including Chitoge.  This very formula romantic comedy continues to play the variations on its central theme.  The main plot development has been the introduction of one character’s little sister, who thinks Raku is an enemy of all women, especially her older sister, and doesn’t realize Raku’s also the mysterious protector she has a crush on.

World Trigger:  Earth is being invaded by creatures called Neighbors from an adjacent dimension.  The secretive agency Border has been formed to fight them.  Osamu Mikumo, a wimpy but goodhearted Border trainee, finds out that new classmate Kuga Yuuma is himself a Neighbor who is on Earth illegally to fulfill the wishes of his late father.  It turns out the Neighbor world political situation is far more complicated than most Earthlings knew.  Currently, our two young men and Chika, a girl whose brother went missing in the Neighbor world, are trying to become full-fledged Border agents.  This series started off very weak, but has greatly improved as it found a direction.

Dragonball Z:  Yes, the one about the mighty Son Goku finding out he’s actually an alien and having to battle against increasingly strong threats to humanity.  This is a rerun, but has been colorized and spiffed up a bit for new readers.  I actually preferred the first half of the Dragonball series, but for those who grew up on Z, this is a nostalgia blast.

Monthly

Seraph of the End:   A mysterious “virus” kills 90% of the adults on Earth.   Many of the children are abducted underground by vampires to protect/feed on them.  On the surface, the remaining humans are hunted by monsters, and the Demon Army has to use dangerous possessed weapons to battle them.   Our protagonist was a bitter orphan even before the series began, only bonding with the rest of the orphanage kids moments before the caretakers died of disease, and then the rest of the orphans were murdered in an attempt to escape the vampires.  So he’s understandably skeptical of the need for friendship to become a functional member of the Demon Army.  He’s kind of a prick, honestly.

Blue Exorcist:  Young delinquent Rin Okumura discovers that he is in fact the son of Satan and thus half-demon.   Rebellious by nature, he refuses to join his father’s forces and instead enrolls in a school for exorcists to battle the forces of evil.   Currently, one of the exorcism students has been kidnapped with the assistance of another student who it appears was a spy for the Illuminati all along.  Time for a rescue mission!

Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal:  Yuma Tsukumo is, in theory, a huge fan of the card game Duel Monsters, despite not knowing anything about the rules or customs of it.  He acquires a not-so-imaginary friend nicknamed Astral who has lost its memories but helps Yuma win duels.  Right now in the manga, it turns out that destroying the Astral World will destroy the human world as well, turning the villains into omnicidal maniacs.  Worse, Astral’s original purpose in coming to Earth was to destroy the human world to protect the Astral one….

One Punch Man:  Saitama, an unemployed salaryman, was bored with his life, and decided to become a superhero.  After training so fanatically that his hair fell out, Saitama became a powerful superhero who can defeat any enemy with one punch.   Which again leaves him feeling kind of empty, since there’s no challenge in that.   Now he searches for meaning in his life, while monsters and villains need punching.  This superhero parody is surprisingly deep for its simple premise, and has had some of the best action scenes in manga.  Currently, Saitama’s best buddy, cyborg Genos, is invited to a meeting of the top heroes and Saitama tags along.

If you like shounen action manga, Shonen Jump Weekly is good value for money.

 

Manga Review: Voice Over! Seiyu Academy #1

Manga Review: Voice Over! Seiyu Academy #1 by Maki Minami

Hime Kino isn’t much like her name would imply (“Hime” means “Princess.”)  She’s clumsy and tomboyish, and none too bright.  Plus, she’s got a voice like a gravel pit, that only gets worse when she tries to sound cute.  But she’s a huge fan of the Lovely Blazers magical girl anime series of series (basically a thinly veiled Pretty Cure) and especially the first star of the show, Sakura Aoyama.  Seems that Ms. Aoyama helped Hime out of a jam when she was little, quoting the show.  So Hime’s dream is to become a seiyuu (voice actor) and star as a magical girl on Lovely Blazers.

Voice Over! Seiyu Academy

So it is that Hime has come to Holly Academy High School, which has the nation’s top voice acting program.   Because of her odd voice and lack of proper training, Hime is placed in the “Stragglers” group with a ragtag bunch of misfits.  Plus Hime becomes very irritated with Senri, a naturally talented voice student who is Sakura Aoyama’s son, not that he seems to appreciate it.  Senri is moody, and seems to blow hot and cold towards Hime…when he can remember who she is!

Of course, this not being a grim and gritty manga, Hime discovers that she does have the potential to become a talented voice actor–in male roles!  How is she ever going to get that cute magical girl role on Lovely Blazers?

As I have mentioned before, one of the neat things manga does that American comics don’t do as well is series about people pursuing a career.    Readers can learn all about what it takes to be a firefighter, or an anesthesiologist, or in this case a voice actor.  (The manga creator was inspired to do this after her previous series, S*A, got animated and she met the voice-over people.)  For this series, the author has chosen the “enthusiastic rookie who doesn’t have the skills yet” version of the plot line.

Hime is specifically a little dim, which justifies the mistakes she makes and the need to give her info dumps every so often.   And irritable, so she’ll clash with the guy who is the obviously set up love interest.  This makes her seem pretty generic shoujo manga heroine, except for her voice, which the reader will have to imagine.  The Stragglers are pretty likable, but seem to have two character traits each, and it’s unclear if they’ll get more depth.

As opposed to Senri, who as the rival/love interest, is shown to have multiple facets and a backstory we will be learning about over the course of the series.  This “boy who the girl can’t get along with, but will eventually warm up to her” subplot also feels pretty generic.  But other bits feel fresher, such as the idol duo with one member who is unreasonably jealous of his partner’s attention.

The art is decent, and if the school uniforms seem overly busy, that’s deliberate and editorially mandated.

The primary audience for this series is teen-aged girls, but anyone with an interest in voice acting or voice actors should be able to enjoy it.

Manga Review: Puella Magi Kazumi Magica Volume 1

Manga Review: Puella Magi Kazumi Magica Volume 1 by Masaki Hiramatsu & Takashi Tensugi

Kazumi

A couple of years back, there was a surprise hit anime titled Puella Magi Madoka Magica.  While many magical girl stories have dark undertones beneath their fluffy, candy-colored exteriors, Madoka went full on into very dark places by twisting some of the standard genre cliches.  I won’t spoil those plot points here, just in case.

Kazumi takes place more or less in the same world as the Madoka series.  Young Kazumi wakes up to find herself stuffed in a trunk, naked, and with no personal memories beyond her name.  After some confusing adventures, Kazumi discovers that she can use magic, and is told that she is a mahou shoujo, a “magical girl.”  Kazumi is told that magical girls make a bargain with certain beings.  In exchange for having a wish granted, they must use their magical powers to fight monsters known as “witches.”  Being amnesiac, Kazumi does not remember what her wish was.

Kazumi meets other magical girls, and fights some monsters.  But given the world she’s in, there must be something else going on….

It’s difficult to go into too much detail about the plotline without discussing spoilers.  Suffice it to say that this volume is deceptively light-hearted, and the subtitle “The Innocent Malice” will apply by the end of the series.    I should mention that despite the main characters being junior-high age girls, the target audience for the series is seinin, young men.  In this volume, that’s most notable with some blatant fanservice scenes that the artist’s notes make clear are to appeal to him.

I’m a bit dubious about recommending this volume, as for the people who are into the deeper themes and plot twists, the series will read better as a whole.

Manga Review: Triage X

Manga Review: Triage X by Shouji Sato

Triage X

This is an entry in the ever popular “vigilante justice” sub-genre.  Mochizuki General Hospital is the secret headquarters of Black Label, a small group of assassins that target “seats of disease” that spread the cancer of crime.  All but one of the field agents are well-endowed young women, with a token high school boy.  (The head of the group is an old, terminally ill man.)

As is traditional in vigilante fiction, the police are either useless (having been bought off by wealthy criminals) or stupid (so they don’t figure things out as fast as the vigilantes do.)  The main police character, Detective Tatara, is more in the latter category, though he might get something done if he weren’t constantly on the same investigations Black Label is.

The violence levels are about what you’d expect for a vigilante series (TRIGGER WARNINGS: torture, attempted rape), but the fanservice is overdone.  The naked shower scene is excusable as a plot point to reveal the male lead Arashi’s horrifically scarred body (and that he, unlike his female teammates, does not have nipples.)   But frequent and intrusive shots of underwear, cleavage and suspiciously clingy clothing leave no doubt that the primary audience is horny young men.

Aside from the medical terminology and some use of chemicals, it’s a fairly standard vigilante plotline with villains who are cardboard cut-out evil and nothing creative in the way of plans.  If this is your first vigilante series, and you likes you some gratuitous fanservice, it’s not bad, but it’s nothing to write home about either.  (This does not preclude better villains in future volumes.)

There has been an animated adaptation, which I have not watched.

Manga Review: Ayako

Manga Review: Ayako by Osamu Tezuka

Osamu Tezuka is best known in the United States for his early children’s manga and their subsequent animated adaptations like “Astro Boy” and “Kimba the White Lion.”  But later in his prolific career, he also produced quite a few works for more mature readers, such as “MW” and “Ode to Kirihito.”  Ayako falls into the latter category.

Ayako1

The year is 1949, and the last of the Japanese POWs are returning to Japan.  Among them is Jiro Tenge, second son of a wealthy landowning family.  Times are tough for the Tenge clan due to the occupation’s land reforms breaking up their holdings.  They’re desperately trying to hold on to their remaining prestige, a task made more difficult by the family’s dark secrets.  Jiro has his own secrets from the time he was in American captivity, and soon there is death in the story.

Soon, it is decided that the only way to protect the Tenge clan is to seal away the youngest  daughter, four-year-old Ayako, in a cellar.  There she remains for over twenty years while the rest of the family sows the seeds of their own destruction….Given the recent cases of women escaping from long captivity, the story has a resonance today.

Even Tezuka’s children’s work did not shy away from deep themes (parental abandonment and racism in Astro Boy, questions of gender identity in Princess Knight), but this is a particularly dark work.  In addition to the nudity and sexual situations you might have guessed from the cover, I need to issue TRIGGER WARNINGS for rape, child abuse, incest, torture, abuse of the developmentally disabled and domestic abuse.  None of this is depicted as good things, but it can be seriously disturbing.

This story uses few of Tezuka’s trademark “stars”, instead trying to come up with new faces for its cast.  One notable example is police officer Inspector Geta, who seems to be heavily inspired by Dick Tracy.

Inspector Geta
Inspector Geta and his mentor, Inspector Tanuma.

Bits of real Japanese post-war history are woven in, and there are footnotes indicating where this has happened.  Tezuka’s explanation of events is not kind to the American Occupation.

Again, this is a book for mature readers.  Late high school students might be able to handle it, but certainly not children.  (Given the NSFW cover, you might not want to read it in public even if you’re an adult.)  Recommended for Tezuka fans and those ready to explore the darker side of post-war Japan.

Manga Review: A*Tomcat

Manga Review: A*Tomcat by Osamu Tezuka

Atomcat

A perennial comic book idea is animal versions of previously created superheroes, such as Hoppy, the Marvel Bunny for Captain Marvel.  It turns out that manga creators can do it too.  Back in the 1950s, Osamu Tezuka created Tetsuwan Atom (“Mighty Atom”), the story of a super-powered robot that looked like a human boy.  In the U.S., he’s known as Astro Boy.  For a children’s series, it was quite deep, dealing with themes of identity, prejudice, parental abandonment, war and death.  (Did you know Astroboy died in Vietnam?)

A*Tomcat takes place in a world where Tetsuwan Atom is fiction, an old-time manga that young Tsugio and his father (an inventor of much more realistic robot technology) bond over.  Tsugio is easily bullied (the lead bully is nicknamed Gadaffi) and after a particularly humiliating session, Tsugio finds an abandoned kitten and names it Atom.

One bizarre accident with aliens later, little Atom is granted superpowers similar to the boy robot, which it uses to protect Tsugio and battle evil.  Supernatural cats (the mummy cat is particularly creepy), a crime syndicate, pirate ghosts, that sort of thing.

Tezuka’s art is in his more cartoony style, hearkening back to the Tetsuwan Atom series–indeed some pages are direct redraws of the older manga to provide a counterpoint to the cat’s adventures.

The bullying scenes may be a bit much for some readers (Tsugio winds up naked more than once) and there’s some toilet humor.  Otherwise it’s a fun kids’ manga, and there’s only one volume, making it relatively affordable.

 

Manga Review: Vagabond Volume 1

Manga Review: Vagabond Volume 1 by Takehiko Inoue

Vagabond Vol. 1 by Takahiko Inoue

Miyamoto Musashi, author of A Book of Five Rings, was one of the greatest swordsmen of his time (the 1600s) and something of a warrior-philosopher.  He’s become a legendary figure, and there have been many fictional accounts of his life in Japanese media.  The most influential of these is Eiji Yoshikawa’s Musashi, a novel that created many of the “beats” that subsequent tellings of the story often use.

Vagabond is a manga by Takehiko Inoue, better known for his pioneering basketball manga Slam Dunk.  This Vizbig edition collects three volumes of the series into one thick tome.  There’s little of the philosopher part of Musashi’s personality in this first book.  Still going by his birth name, Shinmen Takezo, we first meet our protagonist having barely survived the battle of Sekigahara, a conflict in which he notably failed to bring glory to his name.

With fellow survivor and childhood friend Matahachi, he decides to become “invincible under the sun,” the best swordsman in all of Japan.  Matahachi, sadly, has a flaw in his character that causes them to part paths and only Takezo returns to their home village of Miyamoto.  As far as most of the villagers are concerned, the wrong soldier came home from the war and Takezo is soon a fugitive again.

An encounter with a particularly hard talking monk helps the young swordsman find his way again.  Although the village has rejected him, he takes the village with him in his new name of Miyamoto Musashi.  He moves to Kyoto, where he challenges the Yoshioka school of swordsmanship and begins a rivalry with the Yoshioka brothers.  Matahachi is also in Kyoto, but has fallen on hard times.

The artwork and action sequences are excellent with reasonably distinctive faces allowing the large cast to remain distinguishable.  There are several color pages, which is a nice treat.

The three-in-one format really helps here, because at this early point in the story, Musashi is not a very likable character.  To be honest, he’s an asshole and it’s no wonder the villagers don’t welcome him home.  While we do see quite a bit of character development for Musashi, he’s still very much an asshole by the end of the volume, just one on the path that will lead to his enlightenment.

Matahachi, by contrast, starts more likable but makes bad choices and doesn’t learn from his mistakes.

There’s quite a bit of gory violence, and some sex scenes.   There’s a scene that would be rape by deception, except that the woman is clearly shown to have figured out what was happening before the act.  It should be okay for older teens and up

I recommend this series to fans of samurai drama who have the patience needed to get through the many volumes it will take to get to “the good stuff.”  For those with less patience, I recommend the movie trilogy based on the same material that came out a few decades ago.

Interview: Arijan Clark

Interview: Arijan Clark

Welcome to a new feature here at SKJAM! Reviews, interviews with the people behind the media.

Today, we’re talking to Arijan Clark, the translator of Volume Three of “Anesthesiologist Hana“, previously reviewed on this blog.

Hana3

S. Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?

A. My name is Arijan Clark, and I’m a full-time freelance translator living and working in the Seattle area. I was raised in the Camano Island area (in other words, knee-deep in mud, seawater, snow geese, Viking helmets, and tulips), along with two younger brothers who taught me to love cheesy kung-fu flicks and early-Nineties video games.

I jot down scraps of sci-fi and fantasy when time permits, although I can’t really call myself a “writer” until something gets published, and I read omnivorously and vociferously. My husband David and I tied the knot last August after three years together, spent a lovely honeymoon in Yosemite National Park, and are now happily settled in an apartment near his job at Microsoft.

S. Where did you study Japanese?

A. Japanese was one of four languages offered at my high school, and my interest in the country had been piqued by a Japanese exchange student who stayed with my family when I was in middle school. The arrival of the Pokemon franchise on American shores fanned the flames of attraction, and I was madly in love with the language within a month of starting classes. It was so wildly different from English, and my teenaged fascination with those differences sparked a lifelong interest in grammar and linguistics. It also eventually led me to the JET Programme, where I met several of my closest friends and the love of my life. Go figure, right?

S. How did you get the job of translating Anesthesiologist Hana?

A. In the summer of 2011, between semesters of graduate school, I interned with a game translation company in Osaka to build up my professional experience. We mainly worked with iPhone apps and arcade games, but the occasional manga job came down the pike as well. They’ve continued to send me freelance work, and Anesthesiologist Hana was among those jobs.

S. Anesthesiologist Hana uses quite a few specialized medical terms. Tell us about the research process you used to deal with this.

A. Although I studied medical translation in graduate school and did quite a bit of online research, my main resource was my parents, who are both M Ds. I was working on Anesthesiologist Hana during the interim weeks between my graduation from grad school (and move-out from my California apartment) and my marriage (and move-in with my husband in Washington). My parents not only reopened their home to me for those weeks, but patiently let me borrow their resources and pick their brains for as much casual hospital-staff slang as I could possibly need. Their help was invaluable, and I can’t thank them enough for putting up with my (often apparently random) questions.

S. Which character from the manga do you like best? Why?

A. Honestly, my favorite character was Hana herself. A lot of the supporting characters in Anesthesiologist Hana are self-absorbed, grouchy, hostile, flaky, or outright perverted. (Good god, someone needs to punch that Minami guy in the throat.) And Hana in her narrative role as The Watson / Ms. Exposition does suffer from a bit of Naive Newcomer behavior that doesn’t make sense for a trained doctor, even in the third volume. But with basic writing fumbles like that, I prefer to fault the author and try to appreciate the character on their own merits, and Hana measures up very well. Regardless of her thankless job and gormless coworkers, she manages to maintain a sweet and optimistic outlook on life, genuinely wants to give her patients the best possible treatment, and finds real meaning in her daily work. I think that’s really admirable, and inspiring to anyone slogging through a not-so-hot job.

S. Did anything particularly interesting happen during your translation of this volume?

A. In the middle of working on the Hana translation, I had to fly back to California to attend my then-fiance’s graduation from Stanford. We packed his things into our hatchback and road-tripped back up the coast to Washington, but I still had to get the job done. Consequently, I spent the drive busily translating away on my laptop and phone-texting occasional medical-slang questions to my mother when my memory and dictionary failed me, then emailing my deliverables to Osaka over the wi-fi at whatever hotel we found for the night. It was an adventure, but I definitely prefer working from my own desk.

S. I am aware that the standard non-disclosure agreement prevents you from revealing the titles of projects that haven’t been published yet, but are you working on any further translations for Jmanga?

A. I haven’t received any further translation work from Jmanga at this time, but my experience with them was a good one and I’d be delighted to work with them again. Unfortunately, since the job was assigned through a translation agency, they almost certainly have neither my name, nor my contact information. C’est la vie.

S. Thanks for your cooperation!

 

Let’s have a round of applause for our special guest, and be sure to leave comments if you’d like to see more interviews!
SKJAM!

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