MH Interviews: Shirokuro
Sorry for the little delay since the last interview, but I think today's one will make up for it. We have Shirokuro, who despite only having been here a few months has already racked up an impressive number of translations. An extra special thing to note is that she translates shoujo manga, which...well let's just say it's quite a rare thing on Mangahelpers. I'd like to interview more shoujo scanlators but I just can't find them! So if you or anyone you know is a shoujo scanlator then please get in touch with me to arrange an interview.
Here's 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.
Hello! I'm Shirokuro (although I'm referred to as Kuro in the Twilight Dreamscans Group) and I'm a freelance translator for Jap->English. I bet a lot of people don't know me, since I've only started doing this a few months ago, so I'm grateful for this interview!
I am part of a few groups, but I don't do work only for them. Groups asked me to translate series for them, and they're always cool people so I joined their groups. The mangas that the groups ask me to help them with aren't necessarily ones I'd read for pleasure, but I also choose manga that I want to read and TL as well. I prefer not to TL manga that I'm not interested in, because that takes away the fun! But, I'm pretty open to recommendations.
2. How did you start learning Japanese and for how long? How and why did you start translating manga chapters?
Umm...er...I'm Japanese. Well, technically I'm American, being born and raised in the US, but I'm pretty fluent in Japanese. But, sometimes I feel like translating is totally unrelated to being fluent in the language or not. Maybe it's even harder when you're fluent because you get so caught up in translating every single word and end up being too literal (njt pointed out that I do that...but I've been trying to do better!). But I guess I do have the advantage sometimes so it goes both ways.
I started translating manga a few months ago because I was actually looking to see if there were translating jobs and I knew mangas are a big market. But, I knew I needed experience and so I stumbled across this site. Once I started doing it, I was hooked! It's so much fun! I like to read manga and it's cool to think that I'm allowing people to read manga that they wouldn't have been able to without a translation.
3. What types of manga are your personal favourite? Which manga titles do you like in particular? Any genres that you don't like?
I don't have a favorite, it kind of depends on my mood and I'm pretty open to different things. I also choose a lot of manga based on if I like the artwork or not. It's kinda of hard for me to force myself to read manga if it's art I can't get used to. I used to read a lot of shoujo and some shonen, a little bit jyosei, but I never really knew which seinen are good - a lot of them end up being pretty bloody or pretty perverted...
My favorite mangaka is Yazawa Ai because her art always blows me away and her character development makes it easy to feel empathetic towards them and care about the story, even if it's very standard shoujo type stories.
My favorite shounen manga is Recca no Honou (Flame of Recca) - it starts off as a standard manga, but the story is pretty intricate later on so I love it.
And, as you might have guessed from my name, I love Tekkon Kinkreet. I've never seen art as awesome and the story is a great social commentary.
Other mangas I like by other mangakas: Kodomo No Omocha, Tokimeki Tonight, REAL, 20th Century Boys, Crows, Marmalade Boy
I don't read gag manga that much...maybe I just haven't come across ones that fit my taste. But I love the humor in Crows, and it's pretty gag-like.
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?
I love getting feedback! Who doesn't? It makes me so happy when someone leaves a comment, or even to see that people have viewed/thanked my work. Since I haven't started too long ago, I'm not known at all so I don't think many people read and discuss my stuff, but it's great on those rare occassions that they do! It makes it all worth it. And I appreciate people that help me out, like c_k, who's been pointing things out to me for me to fix. I get motivated to do better when people give me feedback.
5. Are there any other hobbies or things that you like to work on in your spare time?
I LOVE films. I have a movie review blog, it's written entirely in Japanese so I don't know if anyone's interested...but it's one of my major hobbies to watch and write about films. I wish I could learn CSS and photoshop and web stuff, but that requires a lot of time but it's something I hope to do. I also try to seek out the best hamburger joint and coffee shop in the city.
6. What do you think about the recent news posts regarding translations and increasing the quality of translations on Mangahelpers? Do you think they are fine as it is? Think anything will come of it?
I think it's great! I agree with the whole movement to improve translations and the site overall, I mean, who we be against that? I know that a lot of people prefer speed over quality, but if people can help each other, it will be a better community and experience for everyone. There might be some people that are skeptical if this movement will revolutionize the site, but there are probably enough people that are passionate enough. Plus, if everyone starts talking, people might be motivated and feel even prouder when they get thanks for their hard work.
7. Do you have any tips that you could share with newer and start-up translators, such as how the best way to increase your understanding proficiency or how to make sentence flow well etc etc?
Hmm...I'm pretty new too so it's hard to say; I'm still learning too. But njt pointed out to stop being so literal and try to look at the bigger picture instead of going from one bubble to another. It might sound like an obvious statement, but having it pointed out to me helped me a lot, and I now see that a lot of people have the same problem. You don't really realize a lot of things until someone gives you an objective perspective. I think translators should feel more free about interpreting, instead of being so obsessed with accuracy - accuracy is important, but it's not devestating to change it a bit as long as it doesn't change the meaning or flow entirely.
8. Any translators that you look up to or think "I wish I could be like him/her someday". And any groups who you particularly want to scan your translations?
I don't know too many, but I look up to those translators that have a large readership and are thanked for their work. I know they worked hard to achieve that status and are really devoted to their work in ways that I haven't quite reached yet. But really, anyone that loves translating and are having a blast doing it is someone that I admire...no matter how cheesy that sounds.
Anyone who's willing to scan my translations...it would be an honor! Though, I am aware that there are scanlator wars so I don't want to be caught in the middle of that...
9. Do you think there is any particular reason why there isn't a heavy presence of scanlators who work on shoujo/female series? Any way this could be changed?
Interesting question - one scanlator (group: inmeliora) asked me to work on a series for them, and I asked why they chose me. She told me that I was one of the few translators that had been doing shoujo mangas and I didn't know that until then. I bet there are a bunch of scanlators and translators out there that want to do shoujo series, but maybe they have trouble finding each other.
It could be a catch-22 of some sort...like translators see a lot of scanlators doing shonen series, so they don't think their shoujo translations are unwanted so they don't do them. And scanlators don't see many translators doing shoujo series, so they might assume that there aren't translators available.
Or maybe it has to do with all these groups' competing to do popular shounen series. A lot of groups get really pumped about releasing stuff first and getting readers, instead of picking up diverse series that no one else is doing. I suppose the effort MH is putting into quality control might change this. If there was a poll or some place where people could request scanslations, it might help?
Or...there's just a really disproportionate fan base of shoujo manga. Maybe fewer shoujo manga fans are willing to do scanlations? But, I think if more groups actively pick up shoujo manga, there will could be a ripple effect. It might be helpful/encouraging to have a space designated for shoujo series even. Since the forums are all shounen mangas and the top rated are 98% shounen. But there are those top rated shoujo in that 2% that people probably want to read!!
10. Ask yourself a question that you want to answer and then answer it. It would be good if it was nice and long.
That's a hard one!
Question: If you could add a feature to MangaHelpers, what would it be?
Answer: I would want a feature where MH recommends you manga that you might like based on what you put in your favorites list. And, if other users could recommend mangas, based on what fellow translators are working on. I hate to admit it here...but I don't read that much manga anymore. It's mostly because, I don't know what to read! So, if there was a way of getting some sort of recommendation feature rolling, there would be more community engagement and more chances to learn about manga I never knew about.
Okay, this one ended up being the shortest answer, but it's really hard to make up your own question. Anyway, I thank anyone who has read this till the end! I hope you guys check out my translations and please feel free to leave feedback--positive or critical--since I would appreciate either. If anyone wants to recommend me manga too, that would be nice.
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