Inside The Manga Studio: A KuroCon III Special

Kurocon on July 4th? Coincidence? I think not. I mean it’s a holiday and all for our friends in the US of A.

Anyway, here’s Inside the Manga Studio. A two-part series look into the American manga localization scene. One part focuses on how the editors deal with the process of localizing manga for Western audiences and the other part focuses on the meat and potatoes of the process, the translation.

Apologies for the lack of content on the translator parts of the series because when I was recording the stream for writing purposes and then two things happened: my internet connection went down and my computer crashed, so my recording got corrupted. So I’ll be combining the editor and what I can remember from the translator episodes into one writing.

Happy 4th my friends in the USA. Let's take a peek inside the US manga scene.
Our editor guests for the panel.

If translators are responsible for translating scripts for manga, editors would be responsible for the logistics as to what manga gets translated, how would it be translated, and how it would be presented to avoid any controversy. They’re also the ones responsible with coordinating with the Japanese side of the translation process, and even with the mangaka, in regards with the accuracy of the translation process to not only match the mangaka’s original intent but at the same time, make the flow of the story easily understandable by non-Japanese audiences.

How a manga localization process goes, you ask? Here’s how. Let’s use Fist of the North Star as an example, the editors and the translators had a meeting about how this could work and then they present the idea of localizing FotNS to the higher ups and then they talk to the Japanese company who owns the license and if everything falls into place, we have a translated manga.

Another point of discussion on both episodes is how COVID-19 affected with translating manga especially that everyone and their mother is glued onto their screens whether be it work or play. There would be some sort of a general consensus with both editors and translators that working with paper is much easier than working with a screen because it’s much easier to spot errors that you would normally see with a printed work than with a PDF file and applications can have reliability issues.

However, if there’s anything from 2020 that they wanted to stick around in the future, it’s working on manga digitally. Even if there are disadvantages with working on works digitally, there are some benefits to it like the ease of access when it comes to important documents in relation to manga translations and the possibility of the “same release date as Japan” type of deal in terms of localization.

Speaking of same date as Japan releases, or as translators would like to call it “simulpubs”, it seems that doing simulpubs is that they were only given a small time frame to translate chapters and although the scripts are being delivered by the Japanese side on time, there are instances that script deliveries getting delays for some reason and so the translated releases get delayed as well.

An interesting question that was thrown into the panel is how they deal with sound effects. It seems that sound effect translations depend from publisher to publisher and from title to title.

Differences on how VIZ handles SFX for different titles
Samples are from JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, Dragon Ball Super and Naruto.

Some works like Kaiji and JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure tend to keep the Japanese SFX because it’s like the fanbase expected it to be with the manga. Others like Dragon Ball would have the SFX translated into their American counterparts because SFX in Dragon Ball aren’t that much an essential part into reading the series. Both JoJo and Dragon Ball are being handled by VIZ.

In short, these panels and the “You are (not) Makoto Shinkai” panels are the best ones that I’ve seen this Kurocon and I hope more of these show up in online cons, and if God willing and to some extent in physical cons as well, in the future.

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