MH Interviews: Cnet128
We've got the first of our translator interviews up for you today. First up is a very well known face...uh name, Cnet128. This guy translates an insane amount of manga and if you read manga then you've probably read one of cnet's translations. He's also a pretty interesting guy, so I'll let you read about that yourself. On with the interview:
1. Please give short introduction of yourself. What manga you translate, if you are a part of any groups or just freelance etc.
The name's Carlos Net. Well, that's not actually my name, but it's the name I've gone by online since before it sounded stupid to me. Nobody actually calls me that, though; it's generally just "cnet". I'm English (as in from England, thank you very much), but currently living in Kyoto, Japan, on a study year abroad.
I translate a heck of a lot of manga. In terms of manga I'm up-to-date on and currently translating... from Jump, there's Bleach, Naruto and One Piece; from Shonen Magazine, there's Fairy Tail, Tsubasa and Negima; from Jump SQ, Claymore and Ice Revolution; from Young Jump, Gantz; from Gangan, Soul Eater; and from Young Magazine, xxxHOLiC. I'm current on D.Gray-man and Hunter x Hunter as well, but they're on hiatus. Sket Dance is also a current project, but I always seem to fall behind, so it's rare that I can call that a weekly thing. Oh, and there's Kekkaishi too; I was translating that by the volume and trying to catch up to the current chapters, but catching up on Sket Dance comes first, and as a result I haven't released any Kekkaishi for nearly a year now. In the past, I translated both Hitomi no Catoblepas and Hatsukoi Limited from start to finish (and I'm still annoyed that Hatsukoi got cancelled).
2. How did you start learning Japanese and for how long? How and why did you start translating manga chapters?
Well, I began seriously studying Japanese when I started university, in September or so of 2006. I can't say I was starting from scratch, though; I'd taken an evening class in the language before that, and even before I started that, I knew a fair amount about it from independent study on the internets. I translated my first manga chapter (Chapter 140 of Tsubasa, for the record) in January of 2007, so about halfway through my first year of uni. I just did it on the spur of the moment since I saw the RAW was out and thought it would be interesting to give it a try.
I randomly translated a couple of chapters of D.Gray after that, but it wasn't until May of that year, when Hitomi no Catoblepas started, that I began translating in earnest. I saw the first chapter was out, saw nobody had translated it yet, and decided this would be a great opportunity to establish myself as a translator, so I went and translated the whole thing. I still think it's one of the greatest feelings just translating the first chapter of a brand new series, on the spur of the moment. (I've done it a few times since, with Hatsukoi, with Sket Dance, and more recently with Ice Revolution, and it never gets old. Ice Revolution was slightly different in that I was a little late to the party, and so I ended up translating the first two chapters (of a monthly series!) in one go.)
But yeah, no sooner had I translated the first chapter of Hitomi no Catoblepas than I received a PM asking me to translate it weekly for a group. I was a little nervous, to tell the truth - I still wasn't confident that I'd even be able to translate a series consistently every week with my skills - but I saw the opportunity and took it. I kind of regretted it afterwards, because I discovered I don't really like being tied down to a group, but that was the trigger that got me into the routine of translating weekly that I haven't broken since. HnC was my only real project for a while, until, one day, weeks later, in July, I had the sudden mad urge to just go and translate every single one of the manga that I read for that week. And so that's exactly what I did... and I've been doing the same thing every week since.
3. What types of manga are your personal favourite? Which manga titles do you like in particular? Any genres that you don't like?
Types of manga? Well, it doesn't take a genius to see that my focus is shonen action series, not necessarily because I prefer it to other stuff, but because it's what I'm familiar with. With the exception of Holic (which I read because of Tsubasa, which is a shonen action title), all the series I started out translating fall into that category. I've branched out since - to non-action shonen titles like Sket Dance and Ice Revolution, and to non-shonen action as well with Gantz - but shonen action is still quite clearly the core of my repertoire.
Picking favourites is really pretty difficult, though. If I had to choose one, I think it would always end up being One Piece; as I think most One Piece readers would attest, it just stands head and shoulders above most weekly shonen titles as a series that manages to be consistently fresh, exciting, and incredibly entertaining. Just read my review of the manga if you want an idea how I consider it - it reads more like an advertising spin than a review, but that's because One Piece deserves it.
But as brilliant as One Piece is, I'm still hesitant to name it as categorically my favourite, because there are other titles that really stick out for me. Gantz made a real impression on me purely because it was such a great experience catching up on it; I actually went and bought all the physical volumes in the original Japanese, and the series really impressed me with the twists and turns of its plot. I'm absolutely in love with Soul Eater, and just wish that I didn't have to wait a whole month between chapters. Negima is right up there with One Piece in terms of satisfying me every week; it's hard to believe that the chapters are actually shorter than Bleach, because I'd swear Negima gets through the same amount of content in one week that Bleach gets through in about a year.
Bleach itself, too, has a special place in my heart, as the first series I ever really got into (though even as one of the people who likes and defends the series, I can't deny that it's gone downhill). There's just something about D.Gray-man, too, that always compels me to bring it up when I'm discussing my favourites; it's a real pity that it's on hiatus right now. And Sket Dance, whilst I couldn't call it my favourite (indeed, sometimes it seems more like a curse, with the sheer effort that each chapter takes to translate and the fact that it's never up-to-date, always hanging over me), does have a special significance to me as the one series that I feel like I have a real personal claim to; it's the only manga, currently, that I've been the sole translator for since the very first chapter.
Basically, I love all the series I translate in one way or another, which is why I don't like the idea of picking favourites too much.
As for genres I don't like, well, if I had to pick one, it would probably be "sports manga", but to be perfectly honest, I've never read any, so I'm not exactly qualified to say that. I'm just not interested in sports in general. (Although I guess Ice Revolution could qualify as a sports manga, and I'm loving that...)
4. How do you feel about the amount of fan feedback and thanks that you get for the work you've done? How do you feel overall seeing people read and discussing the manga that you have translated?
Fact of the matter is, I don't really see people read and discuss the manga as much as I'd maybe like to, since I never seem to touch the discussion threads =p I do have friends who read some of the manga I translate, but in a lot of cases, pretty much the only feedback I really get is through the comments on my translations. (I do make sure to read all the comments, though, and I do appreciate it when people actually write stuff in them, especially if it isn't just a generic "thanks"...)
5. Are there any other hobbies or things that you like to work on in your spare time?
I think as far as my interests are concerned, you could pretty much label me the stereotypical "otaku" (not that I like to be labelled that, but... well, I can't exactly deny it ~~) I watch anime (preferably anime that isn't based on manga, because otherwise I'll just end up getting irritated when it screws around with canon, and eventually, more often than not, abandons it completely), I play videogames (I'm one of those people who owns all Nintendo consoles and nothing else, and I do love me a good first-party Nintendo game; when it comes to third-party, the Tales and Phoenix Wright series are my favourites, to the point where practically the only reason I ever wish I had a non-Nintendo console is so I could play the Tales games I'm missing out on), I read light novels (read the whole of the Haruhi series and am working my way through Shana... if I ever finish that, To Aru Majutsu no Index is up next)... Oh, and I collect figurines. Well, not so much the decent-size figurines which cost far too much, I only have a couple of them. More the cute little tradable-type stuff. Damn, but I love me some Nendoroid Petit.
When it comes to music, I mostly listen to Japanese stuff these days; Bump of Chicken and Radwimps are my favourite bands. When I'm reading stuff that isn't Japanese, I tend to go in for fantasy and sci-fi novels. A big dream of mine at one point - and still, to an extent - was to be an author; I've tried to plan out storylines and write novels plenty of times, but never achieved anything particularly worthwhile. Haven't really done any of that, though, since, well... since I started translating, I guess. Maybe I'll give it a try again someday.
6. What do you feel about multiple translators translating the same chapters each week? E.g Naruto getting 3 separate translations each week while other series go untranslated.
*shrug* It's just a natural phenomenon. Can't say it's good, can't say it's bad, it's just natural. When a series is as popular as Naruto is, of course more people are going to be interested in translating it – after all, if you're like me, you translate a series primarily because you enjoy reading it. The only thing that really used to irritate me is how translating can essentially become a race; whoever gets their translation out first gets used in the scanlations, and quality be damned. I think that's less of an issue for me these days since I've established myself as a pretty fast, high-quality translator to the point where people don't bother competing with me so much, and scanlators are even willing to wait for my translations sometimes.
But yeah, there was a time, especially with manga like Fairy Tail and Tsubasa, where I felt like killing something every other week because I'd written a lovely translation, but it never saw the light of day because all the scanlations used an (in my opinion) inferior one that came out first. (Fairy Tail was an especially irritating case, because for a while, there were no public RAWs available, so one translator was monopolising the series completely and there was nothing I could do about it. It still irritates me somewhat when I look through the archives of that period and see the depressing lack of any scanlations with my name to them.)
Of course, that's not to say the issue's disappeared. SleepyFans and OneManga have been pet hates of mine for a long while, for variants on the same reason. SleepyFans because they have a tendency to release before anyone else even has the RAWs; I'm not too fussed because they're not terrible quality, but it still bugs me. It would bug me a lot more if they did it on a series where I actually care about people using/reading my translations. And OneManga because thanks to their practice of uploading and keeping the first scanlation that comes out of any given chapter, they basically serve as an archive of all the worst scanlations available of a series. It annoys me, is all. With Lord knows how many people going there for their manga fix, you'd think they could at least try to provide quality material.
7. Just how itchy is that beard?
Hahah. What, is this just an excuse to let me plug my YouTube videos of questionable quality? =p That's right, everyone, head over to YouTube, where you can laugh at cnet128 attempting to sing a couple of anime songs in English! XD ...It's not itchy, for the record, though it was rather excessively long when I made that video. I shaved it pretty much all off shortly after that, but it's grown back a fair amount since. I only bother shaving it once in a blue moon, so... it fluctuates =p
8. Ever met anyone in real life knew found out you go by the name cnet and knew who you were?
I've had that experience exactly once. It was in October of '08, back when I'd just arrived here at Kyoto University. A group of students, including me, got together and went out for yakiniku as a getting-to-know-people kind of event. We'd been sitting there, eating and talking and whatever for a while, when the fact that I translated manga online came up. One guy asked where I posted it, and I told him. He asked what my username was, and when I said "cnet128", there was that flash of recognition. Turned out, the guy was molokidan from here on MangaHelpers. Small world, I guess. Haven't really spoken to him since, though.
9. Would you like to use this chance for publicity to beg people for...anything?
Well, I was going to ask any RAW providers reading this to show Ice Revolution some love... but I just checked the site and there's finally a RAW out for chapter 3, so maybe I don't need to! ^^ (BIG THANKS TO RENA CHAN! RENA CHAN IS GOD!) So I'll just plug the series instead. Read it, people! (and if someone could make a scanlation of the first chapter using my trans, that would be awesome too...) Apart from that... I suppose I could beg forgiveness, as ever, for my eternal lateness with Sket Dance XD (I will get it out! Honest!)
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