Can he be described for us
In just one haiku
StrangerAtaru, dedicated translator with over 450 translations posted here. It's a really good interview so read it through to the end. Go!1. Please give an introduction of yourself. What manga you translate, if you are a part of any groups or just freelance etc.Ataru's
the name, translating is my game! A bit about myself...well, I somehow would like to keep some things secret but here's a few things I'll let go at this time: I'm in my late 20s (for those who want to research it: the day after I was born, the final episode of Doctor Who with Tom Baker aired in England...sorry, sis and dad were Who-villians when I was a kid), born, raised and living in Philadelphia. Real name...well I wouldn't be a "stranger" if I told you that. For the most part, I work freelance...but I do actually work coordinating in a couple of projects. In particular, I've been working with "Hajike Projects" on "Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo"
(the original) and "Team Kinniku" on "Kinnikuman"
...while also currently trying to coordinate a group with a couple friends ([Cross] and Nakagawa Ryou) on one of my latest projects: "Sakigake! Otokojuku"
. Other works I've done include Sawai's Bo-bobo follow up "Chagecha"
(all eight chapters of it), the complete run of Takeshi Obata's "Cyborg Jii-chan G"
, the early Masakazu Katsura Jump classic "Wingman"
and have attempted to get back to Bo-bobo via "Shinsetsu Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo"
. (though that's been rather challenging due to time and other matters) Recently I have ventured slightly out of shonen into the seinen realms with the really ecchi Super Jump series "Desire"
.2. How did you start learning Japanese and for how long? How and why did you start translating manga chapters? Which was the first series you translated and how hard was it compared to now?
I've been into Japanese culture since I discovered the DiC Sailor Moon dub in 1995, but my first exposure to the Japanese language was in '96 when I rented the first anime volume of "Urusei Yatsura" brought out in the US. After discovering the language connected to anime and manga, I sort of had this crazy idea that I could learn the language, move to Japan and be a notable writer of an anime or a manga...but then again I was a childish high school student. I watched a bit of anime with Japanese in it until I graduated HS, but didn't start undertaking the language lessons itself until I enrolled in Bucknell University. From there, it was pretty much 3.5 years of hell: trust me, for a person who was never good at languages (his own as well as foreign ones), I pretty much went through one problem after another with the thing. (even if the language professors are renowned) Never got to go to Japan either...but that is another matter.
I actually started to translate manga while still in college...but didn't get too much note for it. I started getting manga for a few anime I had heard of that seemed like they were completely off the radar in the US at the time that interested me, including "Ghost Sweeper Mikami", "Hell Teacher Nube" and, strangely enough..."One Piece". (that series took forever to catch on here but I loved it since I saw the first OP on an old anime opening website) Seeing the lack of Nube on the web, I decided at the time I would just start translating the whole series bit by bit in hopes I would start a bit of notice for it. Started the Nube project around 2002 and got through 9 completed volumes somehow or another. Though I knew Japanese, I pretty much was reading through dictionaries all the time, making sure not just words that were unfamiliar but if the words I DID know had another meaning that I didn't quite get. I think I tried several ways to get Nube out there but none of them really succeeded, including putting up my scripts on a Yahoo group and even joining a scanslation group for a bit...which only got three chapters done before vanishing into thin air. I tried joining a couple other scanslation groups too...but the only release of note that I did was an early Oda one-shot involving a "God Notebook". Discouraged and finding myself getting wound up in other hobbies, I pretty much forgot about translating and left my Nube scripts in my hard drive to gather webs.
Then around April of last year, I got caught up in a conversation on another board about "Bo-bobo", which had just ended it's American anime run. I personally loved the series and bought pretty much all 21 volumes and all of Shinsetsu to know the whole story, including what happened after the anime ended. The people in the thread were sort of discussing about "when are we ever going to know what happened inside Hydrate's castle and the end of the battle with the Under-Maruhage?" (basically at the very end of the Bo-bobo anime, the final episode ended with the chapter where the villain at the time, Hydrate, had succeeded in raising his floating fortress to the surface and becoming the new emperor of the Maruhage Empire, leading Bo-bobo's team to team up with a bunch of former villains to take him down...only to have Dengaku Man reveal in the final seconds that this was the final episode, with everyone freaking out in true Bo-bobo fashion). There was the Viz releases...but that was slow as molasses, releasing one chapter a month in their magazine, let alone skipping arcs (claiming Sawai wanted it this way) to get to the later madness. And scanslations...well, the last chapter done was way back in vol. 2, just as Heppokomaru had just joined the team!
Now think about it: Bo-bobo had 21 volumes of material & 230 chapters. (just talking the original now) The "testing" volume Viz did with Hallelujah Land essentially was a bit over half of Vol. 9 and most of Vol. 10, with two chapters not done due to it being the beginning of Cyber City. When Viz started it's run in the magazine with Cyber City, those two chapters remained untranslated and they just began from vol. 11 like people already knew what happened, whether in general or watching the anime. By the time I started, they were nearing the end of Cyber City, which releasing one chapter an issue took over a year! If anyone wanted to read scans of it, all they had were the first two volumes...and no further future. And to top it off, vol. 3 was personally where the series started to get real good with the battle against one of my favorite characters: the long-suffering, ぬ-obssessed Tokoro Tennosuke! Now usually I didn't mind at the time asking people to "support the American releases" of a manga and didn't really care much for people scanslating series already out in the US (sort of a bit over that now)...but this was just way beyond belief! I needed to do something...and that something turned out to be dusting off my JWPCE program on my computer, opening up my own manga and translating Bo-bobo myself. I was really rusty at first (I still am I think personally) and it was hard even with all the crutches I had (not to mention all the bizarre references to Jump and other Japanese cultural pheoninom that Bo-bobo prided itself on) but I was pretty much determined, bad translations or not, to get the whole of Bo-bobo's story out there, up to and including the non-anime storyline. I've probably gotten a bit better since then...but some of the series I've been doing as of late have been harder so it doesn't really feel like it.3. What types of manga are your personal favourite? Which manga titles do you like in particular? Any genres that you don't like? What series do you think everybody should read at least once?
At this point, there really are two series that I sort of just consider personal favorites that will always bring me in: One Piece and Nube. The former is just fun shonen brought out to it's best, sure with cliches but working both with, alongside, and against them to create a masterpiece of the genre. The latter is just a personal favorite not just because it was one of the first I bought in Japanese but because of how genuine it is: Nube was able to have it's own style, combining several genres successfully (horror, comedy, day-to-day, school life, even small jumps into stuff like sci-fi, romance and such with some nice fanservice and such thrown in) while intertwining the lives of so many characters into their own little world, creating an organic world where you really can relate to everyone and connect with them as they grow and change from start to finish, giving it a life of it's own. Though those two are my big ones, I love other manga as well: Konjiki no Gash will always have a place in my heart as one of those series I pretty much followed from start to finish for the most part, I always have sentimentality for stuff like Eyeshield 21 and Ai Yori Aoshi, Gintama is probably one of the best manga currently running, Bo-bobo is just epic comedy genius while Azumanga Daioh is a bit more gentle, sweet comedy...and the one I'm really addicted to now is Groove Adventure Rave/Rave Master, which is way better than the anime rendition, as well as my current translations of Otokojuku. (there are many, many others but those are the ones that come to mind right now)
When it really comes down to it, the series that seem to bring me in have a certain "factor" that drives me towards them. This "factor" for the most part involves scenario, but it can also involve art and story. Usually the genre that draws me the easiest in is shonen, mostly since it feels like it can get away with a lot and still pack a sense of wonder. I know many people keep saying "shonen is cliche", but personally I look beyond that: I know the rules, I just want to see what the author, the characters and the story does with them. A lot of time I'm driven by series with a bit of comedy in them (Bo-bobo, Gintama), a cool concept (Nube) or with weird, non-traditional art styles that catch my eye. (mostly stuff like Oda, Raiku and Mashima) I'm also somewhat of a sucker for series with tournament arcs with bizarre powers: yeah a lot of times the good guy wins, but seeing those bizarre rivals, why they're in it and using the powers they have makes it all worthwile and gives me ideas and such. (sort of got into "Law of Ueki", "MAR" and recently "Flame of Recca" due to that, though they have other factors) Fanservice I like when done right or feels negligable but I don't want it to be the dominating factor of the series: if you have a series with cute girls, they have to have more substance to them than just being thrusted into panty shots or bizarre positions for their boobs. (OK, having boobs isn't but let them be something more than just boobs)
As for what I don't like...well, for starters, I don't like yaoi. Pure and simple: I know who I am and I just feel uncomfortable with men...doing that. (besides we put up with it enough with doushins of straight males doing it to themselves...ick) Strangely, I also feel this strange revulsion regarding shoujo: compared to shonen where I know the rules and it's easy for me to get in, I just have a hard time with the manga version of a shoujo and just have to stop after a certain point due to their rules. (basically I had this one scenario where people recommended the "KareKano" manga and I thought after a couple anime eps it wouldn't be bad...yet with all the "dreamy guy" bits and over the top stuff, I just couldn't take it anymore after vol. 3) Somehow I find shoujo more bareable in anime form if I am interested in them at all. Another thing I have a hard time with: series with hype. People should be able to find their own treasures and the series they want instead of being pushed into it by the masses. I avoided "Naruto", "Bleach" and "Death Note" for the longest times due to hype. (did see them via anime...they have their moments but are nowhere near my favorites even with their good things they do have)
As for what people should read once...thing is, there are so many manga out there that I can't really say what. One person's brilliant classic can be another person's utter garbage. But I guess I'm not the best person to ask about 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?
I'm happy that I get feedback at all with some of the stuff that I do. Most of my feedback seems to be with Bo-bobo and Kinnikuman due to their fanbases being more established compared to the other series that I've done and for the most part it's been positive. Sure they do make suggestions to improve things that I don't really take to heart, but they are all satisfied and I try to do my best to please them and myself. The other series...well, do they have fanbases? I guess when you do what you like and try to fill in holes, you sort of hope they find you instead of you searching for them. (though I am happy when someone thanks me for something like "Jii-chan G" or a bit of what I've done with "Desire" and "Otokojuku" lately...even "Wingman" has at least one devoted fan!5. Are there any other hobbies or things that you like to work on in your spare time? Anything else that you want to tell about yourself?
When I'm not translating, I'm usually writing. While I avoid Facebook and Twitter and that garbage (too superficial if anyone can literally "be your friend"), I do have a Deviantart account where I put my stories on. But the stories I write are sort of...strange. Without saying what they are (due to sensitive ears and who knows who is reading this), lets say they sort of take shonen emotion with seinen sensitivities to certain things...and a ton of female fanservice emerging in your mind. I really doubt anyone wants to read them but if you do...you've been warned and I can't take any blame on what you find.
Aside from my stories, I do a bunch of other weird things: I chat with friends online, watch a bit of anime and some old movies that I tape on my DVR or on DVD (been really addicted to the James Bond films as of late), search around Youtube watching some various clips, listening to some music (I like a bit of everything, particularly rock, jazz, classical, starting to get into the blues, good old pop...well OK, not a rap fan)...the usual stuff. I also do travel quite a bit: just recently took a trip to Rhode Island and Nantucket but I've also been to Alberta, Toronto, Chicago, Orlando...even London last December! (not sure where I want to go next: been wanting to do Vermont for a while or go back to Canada via either Vancouver or Saskatchewan...even thinking Kansas City)
And to any ladies reading this: yes I am single. Inquire within. (yeah a bit stupid but I am trying)6. You've been translating Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo, a series with over 200 chapters, since pretty much the beginning of the series (chapter 21). Could you give an explanation about what it is about and what about it makes you want to translate it so much?
The "plot": in the year 300X, an evil emperor of the largest nation in the world declares a Hair Hunt to make everyone bald, sending out foot soldiers and generals of all sorts to enforce his ways. The main warrior standing up to this horrific tyrant and protecting the nation's freedom and hair is Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo, a powerful man with a golden afro and two unique and powerful battle styles: the ability to manipulate his nosehairs to attack his enemy as well as the unpredictable power of "Hajike" (which is connected to the Japanese verb "hajikeru" or "to burst"...as in "to burst with laughter"), allowing him to do anything and everything to attack and confuse his enemies to their downfall. Teaming up with a variety of allies normal and strange (including an innocent girl who reacts to nearly any weird thing that happens, a "spiked creature" who is the leader of one of the most powerful Hajike groups, a boy who manipulates farts, a guy made completely of a gelatenous food who wants to be eaten and has an obsession with the character ぬ (Nu), and a small white...thing that claims to be a dog), Bo-bobo fights to defeat enemies of all shapes, sizes and flavors and ultimately take down the true mastermind of the Hair Hunts ravaging the world.
The "real explanation": take the basic plotline of "Hokuto no Ken" (a warrior trained in a powerful martial art wandering the world to save it...as well as something else that would spoil some of the later non-animated story), the bizarre character concepts of "Kinnikuman" (where literally anything and everything could be a warrior), the bizarre fighting abilities in "Sakigake!! Otokojuku" (where anything and everything could be a fighting style), the general shonen fighting concepts seen in "Dragonball" (that everyone really knows whether they want to or not), then throw in a ton of comedy ranging from bizarre puns and sight gags to a Japanese style known as "manzai" (where you have a comic making and doing weird things with a straight man reacting to every weird moment), put it on frappe and hope that it works.
Why I wanted to translate it: Bo-bobo is sort of one of those series that I discovered early on has people in one of three catagories: you love it, you hate it or you don't get it. I actually got the first volume once trying to see what the appeal was at the time...but back when I got just that one, I sort of was in the third catagory: sure it looked completely bizarre, but there seemed to be no real story to tie it to. It just felt like some bizarre comedy made just for Japan and that we Americans would never really catch on, let alone probably just be random stuff that would go on and on (akin to "The Simpsons") and get old or stupid quickly (see "The Simpsons" again: couldn't stand the show after the first few seasons and didn't get why it kept getting all that hype and praise when it just wasn't funny anymore). However, I became completely addicted to the series once the anime began to air in the US on Cartoon Network as well as started playing around with some of the video games for the series: sure it was bizarre comedy...but it had a plot! It actually was going somewhere and used the gags as a means to tell the story whether it be via manzai or the weird references it made! As soon as I saw that, I started buying up the whole Japanese version of the manga series and fell right in to how insane it was: sure it was essentially set up like a simple, typical shonen storyline, but everything from the comedy to the action to the storyline to all the bizarre and insane battle abilities that came up all just worked perfectly both as a shonen work of it's own as well as a slight satire of shonen in general! Yet while the early story had a lot of brilliant arcs, the story really seemed to be kicked up a notch starting with the arc where the anime unfortunately ended and just kept getting better and better to a fun, intense and memorable climax that completed the storyline of the first 21 volumes! Of course, it continued onwards for 7 more volumes when the series became "Shinsetsu"...which had a ton of memorable moments as well but definately seemed to lack a few things that made the original as epic as it was, even if Sawai's storytelling was becoming more complex like it was in the final two arcs of the original. (sure it will never be Oda-level complexities, but it was getting more interesting for something so simple)
As I explained above, I started translating Bo-bobo not just for personal enjoyment but because I felt the fanbase was being screwed in every which direction for the sake of the franchise. When you had Viz claiming nothing about the series prior to Hallelujah Land was "classic Bo-bobo" (heck, personally I think several of the early arcs, including A-Block, Gunkan and OVER to be just as good, if not better than some of the Hallelujah Land and Cyber City stuff), an anime that got one run before being hidden off the air, DVDs being released by a company that died two volumes in, let alone a story that just kept going into greater, funnier and more interesting material after that final animated chapter, then you knew something had to be done. Sure my Japanese sucked and I hadn't used it in years, but I wanted Bo-bobo fans to bridge the gap, both in going between the last scanslation and the start of Viz's works...and ultimately work my way to and beyond the end of the anime. With so many other series getting respect and scanslations due to their anime getting more notice, Bo-bobo deserved better treatment than it had...and I did my best to allow for everyone to experience the series as it was ment to be, with every gag, joke and Beauty freakout it had.7. You've been bringing back a lot of older Jump titles from the 80s and 90s, such as Kinnukuman, Cyborg Grandpa G, and Wingman. What is your motivation for working on these older titles? Do you think/hope it will bring about more interest in past manga titles?
My work on older Jump titles sort of begins with my own interest. If I'm not interested in it, I don't do it. Usually the series that I've been doing have had some sort of connection that they made to me combined with no one really remembering or realizing they were there until I bring them out to the forefront. Kinnikuman was the first one I got tied to mostly because of my work on Bo-bobo (well also I saw some "Ultimate Muscle" episodes and remembered the "M.U.S.C.L.E." toys from my childhood): there were just as many references to the classic 80s wrestling series as there was to something like "Dragonball" (which everyone knows about), yet for the most part there were massive gaps in the translations of the series: the second Choujin Olympics had been done as was the "Seven Devil Choujin" arc that introduced Buffaloman...but that was about it. Somehow I find it that any manga with holes in knowledge is not telling the true story of the manga. Sure everyone wants to read certain arcs like the fights with Warsman or Buffaloman, but if you don't have a foundation with the stories like Suguru's early Kaijuu days (which were fun in their own), the first Choujin Olympics and the journey through America, then you won't understand certain aspects by the time they reach later, crucial developments. Initially I wanted to do everything, but I made a deal with a notable Kinnikuman board to mostly fill the holes in the story that weren't done until I got to a certain point, then I'd take over and just move the story from there. We've had problems but I'm really happy that so much more Kinnikuman is out there now and that it can directly connect to a series like Bo-bobo that much better cause of which.
"Cyborg Jii-chan G" on the other hand was mostly just a really weird situation in itself. Every time I looked at the listings of the manga works for notable manga artist Takeshi Obata, I found it weird that a series of that title would be his first work. How could a mangaka known for series such as "Hikaru no Go", "Death Note", and "Bakuman"...write about a cybernetic old man for his first manga!? I was further interested in other things I saw conntected to it, from a Japanese website with a couple pics to references during the Jump 40th anniversary both in a KochiKame one-shot and on a poster drawn by Obata student Yusuke Murata. When I found actual Jii-chan G raws on the web, I knew I had to translate it: sure it looked weird but it looked hilarious in it's own special way. Further, I sort of saw it as an important historical document: this is where Obata began, where one could trace his art from this point and relate to how it evolved over 20 years to the point everyone obsessed with him, particularly due to DN and Bakuman. I found "Wingman" on the same page as Jii-chan G and sort of got entranced by it, not just because it was the first work by Masakazu Katsura...but because the concept seemed cool and the art more my style compared to the uber-realistic, almost scary art I saw on his covers for "I''s" that I had no interest in whatsoever. And "Otokojuku"...well, that was sort of a bit of a combo of the situations between Bo-bobo and Wingman with a twist: the story looked insane, it did seem to influence some of the Bo-bobo story (both in the "battle styles out of anything" way and a particular set of homages when defeating a certain boss) and I saw it as crucial Jump history that had been ignored for way too long.
While a lot of my interest in working in "older Jump" is personal, in a way I sort of see myself as a combination of a historian and a bit like a monk in the Middle Ages translating classic Greek works to Latin not for themself but for future generations. I guess I sort of see it not just in a personal manner but in more of a manner of perspective: for every Jump series (or more recent/exposed) manga that we know of, there are many that we don't. In particular, for any series that got the maximum amount of exposure, release or care that we all know and respect (thinking along the lines of "Hokuto no Ken", "Dragonball", "Yu Yu Hakusho", "Rurouni Kenshin", "Yu-Gi-Oh!", "Death Note"...and obviously the so-called "modern shonen trilogy" of OP/Naruto/Bleach), there are many series that don't get the same prime circumstances. There are many reasons why they don't, from lack of cultural understanding to controversy of topics within the story at that or our time to just being "too old to really matter". Aside from the ones everyone seems to know, there are a few Jump series here or there that seem to have their own connection to a certain country or got a bit more respect even if we didn't quite know at the time. Some Jump series were way bigger in many parts of the world but just never had the timing in the US to make the conntection ("Captain Tsubasa" and "Saint Seiya" are the best examples of that), while some Jump series really seemed to only really be known in a certain countries or area but never really known anywhere else in the world (a Mexican friend has told me how Nube was rather notable in Latin America, the early 80s comedy "High School! Kimengumi" has a notable following in France, "Ginga Nagareboshi Gin" is legendary in Scandinavia and a practically unknown car/racing series called "Yoroshiku Mechadoc" had it's anime actually aired in Italy under the name "A Tutto Gas"). Heck, there were some Jump series released in the US in some form or another before we even cared about what "Jump" was! ("Hokuto no Ken" is an obvious one, but Viz had releases connected to "Bastard" and "Video Girl Ai" before the Jump line...let alone even released the shorter "Baoh" series by Araki back then way before doing the Bo-bobo treatment to "Jojo's Bizarre Adventure") And those are just the tip of the iceberg of the many series, long and short, known and unknown that are out there, Jump or otherwise. If any of them were released today...maybe if we had a place like MH and an active community ten, twenty years ago, then maybe we would know a lot of the older, classic series akin to how pretty much anything and everything is translated from the word "go" these days. (even short series that get universally panned like "Zan" have a complete scanslation run...)
I know I probably got off on a rant there, but to tell the truth, I just sort of want to translate as many older series, mostly Jump but other stuff if I can, to awaken new horizons and imagination to the potential of manga and to trace from where we were to where we are. History and culture never stand still and things generally have an influence from somewhere. I know my works will never get the massive instant fanbases of a manga series that just started yesterday, but I guess I'm not translating for them. I'm translating for the person who ends up reading about a series that existed before or they hear about from a friend, interested enough to read my scripts or the manga scanslation, and sort of discover something new, interesting or fascinating. Maybe they'll see something original that will inspire them. Maybe they'll see that they series they hyped so much isn't as original as they originally intended. Maybe they'll be able to track a writer or artist from the beginning to more modern times. Maybe they'll discover an artist or writer or story or concept and imagine what could have been. And if someone comes away with that and I'm able to at least make one person realize or acknowledge something by reading a classic...then my work is complete.8. You've been translating for hundreds of chapters now. Is there anything that you think you could improve upon in your translation? Is there any useful things that you have found while translating that you think could help beginner translators?
I think my main key in regards to translation...is you'll never know everything. Every word, every kanji, every sentence has so many meanings that your head will explode until you figure it out. Even masters have to look things up...and don't be afraid to admit it. If you're not that good and need help, then get the help so you can maybe be prepared for next time. My only other advice is that the modern technology is your friend in this matter. Don't be afraid to use a search engine to look up a word or a concept or a cultural reference, even if it just seems like nonsense. A personal experience with this on Bo-bobo: I literally went insane at one point regarding a reference in one chapter regarding, of all things, a Japanese commercial for a candy that starred a witch. I literally had to try several approaches to get that reference until I finally saw the commercial and added it in to my notes. As for what I can improve...well, personally I admit that I'll never master Japanese but as long as I try to keep sentence structure correct and know the basic rules, then it's all a matter of getting the words so you can make it work out. That...and let the proofreader who knows Japanese way better than me make better sense and hope my self-esteem isn't ruined by their words.9. How do you support the manga industry? Is there any way that you think they might be able to improve their sales or that will cause people to ever choose scanlations over purchased volumes?
I actually buy manga, but usually it depends on my feelings for the series and the situation it's in. If a series is something rather new or something that hasn't had the best of luck in the US (Bo-bobo) or just isn't out here yet, I rather just get the Japanese originals, usually by way of a semi-annual trip to the NYC area. If the series has been translated and it's something I really, really like (regardless of scanslations) that hasn't been screwed around, then I buy the versions that are released in this country. More recently I've been downloading more obscure titles that probably are too hard to get ordered in either way but it's either too much time, not enough resources in the US to get them or never going to have an American release here. Strangely, though, I prefer actual volumes over the web in reading manga: having the volume in your hands allows you to concentrate on that instead of the many other manga you may be interested and billions of other options on the web...but usually I only want to own what I know I love.
Personally, I find both scanslations and sales as a double-edged sword. You want scanslations cause it exposes new manga out there or keeps up with current releases, but you want the American companies to have sales so they can keep getting new and interesting titles for more general audiences aside the hardcore. That's probably why I sort of use scanslations of series already known as more a litmus test before buying something: if I love it, I buy it; if I don't, I stop reading, and if I "like" it but not enough to love it, then it's there on the web to keep reading to the end. It's probably wishy-washy but that's all I really can say about that.10. How did you find out about Mangahelpers? Since the change in the site last Novemeber what parts of the site do you find the best or most helpful? What parts do you think could do with a bit of a change?
The main reason I joined Mangahelpers is mostly due to my obsession in following matters regarding the week-by-week matters of Jump. I'm a member of a Livejournal that actually is Jump-focused and seemed to originally get the weekly TOC entries (where we get the data regarding ranks and order and such to see what is getting popular and what is collapsing or ending), but there came a point where MH seemed to get it before LJ so I started drifting here more and more. I mostly just stay in the WSJ thread (not really venturing into the other boards), but have since created similar threads for the ranks and info for it's two rival publications, Weekly Shonen Magazine and Weekly Shonen Sunday, as means to increase and improve their image in the public eye on MH and hopefully elsewhere. (as of now it seems to be working with Sunday finally getting it's own sub-line via Viz)
The best new feature for me is the ease it is now to put up a translation. Whereas before you essentially had to create threads to show you've done something new, everything is now organized by series so that people can read whatever is out there now, whether it's your own or someone else's work. The organization just feels so much better, with ease for multi-language translations and for people to at least try and discover new things. I do have a few problems though with it: somehow I don't know if the page does enough to really link a reader to a manga they may like that could tie to their own interests. For the most part, the "also read" section isn't based on series that may relate to them but more the favorites on average of everyone on MH who reads them. (and not surprisingly many all seem to have OP/Naruto/Bleach regardless of who the series is really trying to attract) My only other real problem is that it's sort of harder to comment back or realize when someone comments or gives thanks to one of your works, particularly if it's way down the line. The only way you can find out is through "Translator Home", but even then it only really has the most recent translations and you have to really search to see if anything much older has anything new to it. I sort of wish there was more of a "Control Panel" option where you see if there is any new action on any of your translations akin to the subscribe section of threads in the forums...but that's probably my only real change I wish for.You can ask StrangerAtaru more questions or make more comments in his Translator Thread.
Also check out his Translator Page for all of his translations.