Monday, December 20, 2010

Discommunication Seireihen chapter 10

Well, just one chapter this time. I found it mildly unsettling, if not disturbing; that's Ueshiba's stock in trade, really.

I'm going to be busy for the next month or so. Have a happy Festivus and we'll continue this next year.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Kabu no Isaki chapter 10

Well, here we go again.

View Larger Map

I was feeling facetious, so I asked Google for directions from Nagai to Kisarazu. It does just fine for ground routes, but as far as I know, there's no as-the-crow-flies distance measurement option. Using a ruler, I measured 30-odd kilometers in our world, which makes 330 km in KnI's world. [Addendum: Found the Ruler feature in Google Maps Labs; it measured 33.1 km.]

There was one sticking point in this chapter that I'm still not completely sure about. Isaki actually says "liaison aircraft" where I had him say "air courier." So what's a liaison aircraft? It's a small plane used for non-combat military purposes, like transport and reconnaissance. The Pitts Special is not a liaison aircraft, but the L-4 variant of the Cub (the "Grasshopper") is. So perhaps they were talking about the Cub, but the rest of the conversation doesn't make nearly as much sense that way. I might be wrong, though, so I'll come back to this if necessary.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Suddenly, AX

I finally got my hands on the first volume of the AX Anthology yesterday, chock full of some of the trippiest comics ever made. The tale of the obtaining is long and harrowing: I made a preorder on Amazon in January. All seemed well, with an email in May saying that the expected date had been moved forward a couple of weeks to the end of July. Come the end of July, however, an email appeared that asked, "we haven't been able to get this, do you still want us to try?" I thought the situation was a little odd, as Top Shelf reportedly was selling copies at San Diego Comic-Con, but I continued to wait. At the beginning of August, Amazon gave me a new ship date of mid-September, only to deliver another "we haven't been able to get this" message on September 10th. Then two weeks later, the order was cancelled by them for lack of availability.

Then about a week ago, I was ordering some other books on Amazon, and oh hey look the AX Anthology is available and in stock. The rest, as they say, is history.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou, New Edition

You may have heard about this: Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou has been republished in Japan. This new edition, literally "new edition" in Japanese (新装版, shinsouban), is 10 (thicker) volumes versus the original 14. It contains all the color artwork from the magazine serialization, plus some little rough sketches here and there on the pages between chapters. The covers are all new, and as the ad on the right (from the August issue of Afternoon) says, the concluding chapter "Touge" will be published in volume 10 — it appeared over a year after YKK ended serialization, so it's never been collected into a tankoubon. Basically, think of this New Edition as a new print run of the series, with minimal extras.

So the question is, should you buy this? If you're a die-hard YKK fanboy, then the answer is obviously yes, especially if you don't own the previous edition, which is long out of print. (Even if you do, don't let that stop you.) For everyone else, we can ask a more pointed question: is YKK ever going to get licensed for publication in English? I've paid a bit more attention to licensing this season than I have in the past, and I have to say I'm pessimistic. Vertical's Ed Chavez asked for suggestions on Twitter and elsewhere a few months ago, and the ensuing conversation was instructive. First, publishers aren't going to license something that isn't going to turn a profit (duh). Tied to this are the up-front licensing fees, which are directly proportional to the number of volumes involved. If we presume something like $10K per volume, that's quite a chunk of change. Second, the majority of sales come from major retail channels — big stores like Borders and Barnes & Noble. While it's unlikely that YKK's content will keep it off of shelves, booksellers are certainly going to wonder if it's going to sell. While YKK is on top ten lists the internet over, the question remains: will it sell to a wider audience?

I firmly believe that Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou is the apotheosis of the slice-of-life genre, and a brilliant example of the possibilities inherent to the medium. It's unfortunate that no publisher has had the guts to bring it over, and while I'd like to believe that it will happen, it's hard to say. If you're thinking about buying the New Edition, you've probably got a year or so to make your decision; due to the vagaries of the Japanese manga market, only the most popular books are kept continuously in print, and the rest eventually sell out. As for how to get your hands on Japanese-language manga, I've started writing an overview that you can find under "Pages." I hope it'll be helpful.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Discommunication Seireihen chapters 4-9

I'd forgotten how long it takes to compile those notes. It's a fairly straightforward task, but somehow all that copy/pasting URLs and ahref-ing gets old real fast. But it was fun tracking down references, watching weird commercials, and learning more about the tokusatsu shows the author is so fond of. Ueshiba is not shy about letting his influences show, and as a Westerner, establishing this series' place in the wider schema of Modern Visual Culture is a fascinating exercise. While youtube is an easy place to start, so far I've tracked down the DVD of the Teito Monotagari anime (Doomed Megalopolis) and I'm looking forward to getting Natsuhiko Kyogoku's Summer of the Ubume.

This is the first summer in a while where I've been completely free; no obligations, no job, no nothing. While I haven't gotten as much done as I would like, I guess I've managed to make some progress. The semester is approaching, though, and I need to get ready for it. I can't keep up this pace forever, but I have managed to streamline my process somewhat, so this project will get wrapped up sooner or later.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Kabu no Isaki chapter 8

Another peaceful visit to Shiro-san's shop.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Weekly Masayuki Ishikawa - Her Confession (redux)

I released the initial version of this some time ago, but here's a v2 that corrects some embarrassing mistakes. Thanks to Hox for pointing out the main error to me; I went back and sat down and went through the whole thing, finding other stuff I got wrong.

Since I didn't give write a blurb last time, I'll write a few words now. Weekly Masayuki Ishikawa (or Weekly Ishikawa Masayuki, depending on your preference) is a collection of 11 one-shots by Masayuki Ishikawa, the author of the popular series Moyasimon (or Moyashimon). The conceit behind the title is that with the exception of the first piece, all of the one-shots were run in Kodansha's Weekly Morning magazine one after the other, week after week after week. (The first ran in Morning 2002 #35, and the rest ran from 2002's #46 to 2003's #4-5 double issue.) While it's common for a seinen mangaka to hone his or her craft by writing a series of shorts, it's extremely impressive to me that Ishikawa managed to put out so many one-shots in quick succession, with a wide variety of subjects. Whether he drew them all out in advance or did it on the fly, he's a seriously talented guy, as shown by his ability to keep Moyashimon going in addition to the newer Junketsu no Maria.

This first story, "Her Confession," is actually one of the first things I started transcribing as practice, back in 2008. I was well out of my depth, but my philosophy is to throw myself in the deep end when learning is concerned. It's clear to me now that there were things in this chapter I didn't understand, even late last year, though they seem quite elementary now. It pains me to have loosed inaccurate translations upon the world, and I apologize for that.

I'm mostly satisfied with this translation now, though there are a few things that I wasn't able to convey in English. (Spoilers) In Japanese, it's possible to talk naturally using gender-neutral pronouns, or no pronouns at all. On page one, the gender of their child is not mentioned, though some rougher language is a clue. I chose to use the pronoun "he" starting from the first page, because going without pronouns sounded unnatural in English. This results in a sudden shock for the reader on page two, while a Japanese reader would get a more gradual sense of unease while flipping through the first few pages.

I made a mistake the first time through because I wasn't familiar with some Japanese LGBT terms, and I'll discuss them briefly as a way of making amends. Thanks to One Piece, I know what an 'okama' is (an effeminate gay man) but 'onabe' was a new term to me. An onabe is a lesbian who identifies as male. In western slang, the closest equivalent might be 'dyke', and I thought about using western terms, but I decided not to after reading some papers on the subject. This McLelland guy has written several papers about gender issues in Japan, including this one titled "Male Homosexuality and Popular Culture in Modern Japan." That's the only one I could find on the free web, but he has some more papers behind paywalls, including one about newhalfs. A 'newhalf' is a male-to-female transvestite, and according to McLelland, many identify less as female as an "intermediate sex" between female and male. Last of all, I found a paper about same-sex partnerships in Japan.

That's about it. You might notice that this release has a smaller file size despite having a higher resolution. That's because I tried using pngquant to get them down to 16 colors, and I couldn't make out a difference between 16 and 256. (pngnq might do a better job, but I couldn't get the latest version to compile under cygwin.)

Project status: Seireihen, moving ahead slowly. Weekly Masayuki Ishikawa, will do at least two more, and someone (Hox) will eventually finish the rest. Kabu no Isaki, raw transport issues, waiting on a single page ;_; I'm going to be away from my desktop monitor for the next few weeks, but I'll try typesetting on my laptop screen, and hopefully the next KnI chapter will be out soon.

Monday, April 19, 2010

State of the Art

Well, things are still busy around here. In a couple weeks I'll be free for the summer, so remember that patience is a virtue.

Edit: Read Vertical's preview for Twin Spica. I bawwed.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


I've got an exam coming up, and a lot of work to do in general, so I'm not going to get much done on the manga front this week. Since this is a blog (supposedly) I'm just going to throw up some pictures from who knows how long ago.

This dates back to July. This stuff was good, but I can't afford to drink like this anymore now that I'm back in school. What I wrote down in July was: "It doesn't seem to have much of a nose (my nose is kinda clogged though) but once it hits the mouth, it explodes. Lots of flavors I can't really make out, with a spicy finish that goes gradually oaky." I went to the store this weekend and saw this on the shelf, alongside some new (and even pricier) offerings from High West Distillery. Feels bad man.

Oh, this is from August. It's Akitabare "Koshiki Junzukuri" sake. I have only a vague remembrance of what this tasted like. Was it a "young" sake? Can't remember.

Bought CPM's first volume of Otogi Matsuri on close-out from RightStuf. Saying that they screwed up the tones is an understatement. I laughed and I cried.

Master Grade Zeta Gundam that I'm never going to finish.

Tried natto; it's not bad. Don't know what all the fuss is about.

Lately "local" and "artisanal" spirits have been in vogue. Death's Door Gin is one of them, I suppose, made from Wisconsin wheat. It's a rather sweet gin. Kind of buttery too, whatever that means. Originally I wanted to try these guys's whiskey, which is a "white" whiskey that's not aged on wood. Still haven't gotten my hands on a bottle; totally slipped my mind when I went to the store this weekend. Did notice that they've changed the bottle for the gin, though.

This arrived last week from bk1. So far I'm 3 for 3 for sea shipping. Let's see, I ordered on January 8th. Some stuff got backordered and it didn't ship until the 27th. Arrived March 15th which is about par for the course. Sea shipping isn't all that much cheaper than SAL, though, when you consider that it takes over twice as long.

Maybe I'll talk about the stuff in this pile some other time.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Kabu no Isaki chapter 7

Nothing much to report. The project is moving along. Thanks to Soyokaze for doing the scans.

I've made the decision to stop doing the sound effects in this series, for several reasons. First is, I'm lazy. Second is, they're mostly plane sounds and you know what planes sound like. (Not to mention it's quite easy to find out what these particular planes really sound like.) I do have mixed feelings about leaving them out. I don't want to sound too weeaboo about this, but part of what makes the Japanese language rather suited to manga is its usage of onomatopoeia and related things. So I prefer to transliterate sound effects rather than substituting English equivalents. But at the same time, transliterations can be strange and distracting to readers of English. In this chapter, the Blacknoses go "ohhhh", which I interpret as some sort of hum. And in a later chapter, the Cub goes "bonyoyoyo", which I think you'll agree is pretty weird. To sum up, leaving them out altogether is a way of sidestepping the issues.

Of course, in scanlation nobody handles sfx the same way. It ranges from the hands off treatment (i.e. "learn the kana"), to putting a translation in the border/corner, to full-blown redrawing. Every approach has a drawback, I feel. We don't live in a perfect world, after all.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Discommunication Seireihen chapter 3

It feels like I've been working on this chapter for a long, long time. And indeed, it's been over half a year since chapter 2 was released.

I discovered that the burn/dodge tool is really good at getting rid of JPEG noise. Now, when I started this gig, image quality wasn't my highest priority, but I'm the sort of guy who has the bad habit of wanting to do the best job he possibly can. Even with the right tools, cleaning still takes a considerable amount of time, though, which is why I need to suppress the unhealthy urge to make things as perfect as possible. For this release I used 4-bit PNG, which cuts down the filesize quite a bit. If you have a good monitor you may see some unevenness in the blacks; that's the sort of thing that I've decided I don't have the time to spend fixing. And though the internet's tubes are getting wider every day, going from 20 MB to 8 MB is a big difference.

The other thing is, I've been trying to make this less of a procrastination activity and more of a leisure-time activity. Thanks to /sci/ and /lit/, I've already fallen behind this semester. In a few weeks, though, I should be caught up. KnI and a few other interesting things are in the pipeline.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Railgun ch2 v2: What a difference a year makes

It's been over a year, but I finally got around to making a new version of Railgun chapter 2. I had known that there were a few mistakes, but when I actually sat down and started looking things over, something quickly became apparent: at the time I produced the first version, I had very little idea of what I was doing. The result, of course, was an atrociously off-base translation. I'm not going to go into details, but you can do a comparison if you feel like a good WTF. Aside from a corrected translation, spiffy "new" raws were used. Some things are a bit less weeaboo, for better or worse. I also decided to utilize more punctuation, since I've found that it tends to make the flow of dialogue more coherent. Finally, I changed the filename scheme to roughly match what that anon fellow uses.

Anyway, here's to a new year. Hopefully it will be a productive one.