1. First off, thanks for agreeing to be my first interview subject. Please introduce yourself- what manga do you translate, which groups you work for, etc.
Herro everyone! Queenofmuffins here. ^^
I've recently undertaken the task of interviewing some of our many wonderful Translators/Scanalators about themselves. This week, I am proud to present an interview with MH Translator Yukihito
who kindly agreed to be my first
subject. I would also like to thank ~Coffee~
for the amazing banners he created for this article. <3
Please enjoy! :3
I’m Yukihito, but a lot of people probably know me simply as Yuki. Feel free to call me whichever one you like though! I consider my main projects to be Are you Alice?
, Undertaker Riddle
, Makai Ouji
, Tousei Gensou Hakubutsushi
, Neo Dragoon
and Kaze to Ki no Uta
But I also work on a few other things here and there, such as the series Kiri- the route of infection Kanaria- and Monokuro Kitan, 4-koma like Gekibuno and Afterschool Charichuma (a spin-off from the seinen manga, Afterschool Charisma), as well as oneshots from Arcana Anthology and various magazines. Finally, I also act as a translation checker for two series, Toxic and Conductor.
I’m a member of The Zero Alliance
, Kesshou Tengoku
, CXC Scans
and Mango Scans
, though I also help out at Twisted Curiosity
, Taciturnity Scans
. It’s the Zero Alliance that keeps me the busiest, since I’m an admin helping out wherever I can, instead of just a regular staff member. Aside from those activities, I also do translations of drama CDs, doujinshi and songs, but I don’t follow any particular schedule for those.2. Wow, you sure translate a lot. What made you want to start studying Japanese and how long have you been studying for? Why did you start translating manga?
I’m going to be honest, I’m sure that I fit the stereotypical profile of “anime fan who thought learning Japanese was a good idea” pretty well. Aside from that, I’d also had previous experience of studying languages at high school level and felt like trying something different. I also perceived Japanese as a good challenge, and I definitely wasn’t disappointed!
I see quite a lot of criticism of anime fans studying Japanese, but I’ve never considered my interest in anime and manga as a barrier to successfully studying Japanese. Being an anime fan doesn’t make someone anymore likely to perform badly in a Japanese course, it’s all down to the personal motivation of the student, as with any form of study. Japanese is a difficult language, and possibly not right for everyone, but it’s definitely not impossible.
I started studying Japanese in 2004, and although I completed my formal studies in 2008, I still consider that I’m in the process of learning, even now. Apart from graduating, 2008 was also a pretty big year for me as it was when I began translating manga. I’d never even given any thought to translating manga, but I met up with a friend who happened to be starting their own group and was looking for members. I agreed as it sounded like fun, and was quite surprised by what a learning curve translating manga proved to be. I’d been used to reading nothing but newspapers and academic texts, so the speech patterns of manga were completely new to me. My first attempts at translating were far from perfect, as even though my understanding of grammar was fine, I just didn’t have the experience necessary. I’m slightly embarrassed by my older translations, but I look back on them and smile, because I can see how much I’ve improved. I also get quite a laugh out of realising my terrible mistakes and wondering just how I managed them!
Of course I love manga, and I’m grateful for my interest in it, as it was something positive that kept me going throughout the time I was studying Japanese, but I never thought that I would be translating it. Considering it was just something that I started by chance, when a friend asked me to help them out, it’s become quite an important hobby for me. So I’m thankful to my friend for giving me that opportunity.3. What do you think is your biggest accomplishment in life?
It might sound rather ordinary, but I feel like the completion of my Japanese studies is one of my greatest achievements. Not just learning the language, but also managing to live in Japan alone for a year. Even though I didn’t actively perceive it as a dream of mine, I think that I’ve probably always been into the idea of learning Japanese. So I also consider it a great achievement that I’ve been able to achieve one of my dreams. Although I don’t know what direction I will take next and I’m the type of person to look back on things whilst thinking “I could have done this so much better.” I’m reasonably happy for now. I admit that I’m more of the pessimistic type, so I do wish to be closer to the optimistic type!4. Would you ever consider working in translating as a career? Or is it just a hobby for you?
For the time being, I don’t see myself becoming a professional translator. I’m proud of the translations I’ve done so far, but I feel like I have some way to go before I could be considered at the same level as a professional translator. Other than having studied Japanese at university, I don’t have any other qualifications related to Japanese (such as JLPT), so not being able to tell what level I’m at is another aspect that makes me less confident about a career in translation.
I also enjoy the freedom of it being a hobby far too much, so I’m not sure I could if I could settle into it as a career as of yet. I like being able to chose what I do, as having to translate series that don’t particularly interest me requires making much more effort in encouraging myself to finish. I also feel like the quality of my translation is negatively affected when translating something that doesn’t interest me in the slightest. It’s the stubborn aspects of my personality like these that I would have to improve on if I were ever to consider becoming a professional.
Although I did mention being unsure of my skill level as a point of consideration, in the end, it does really come down to my enjoyment of translation as a hobby. I think of the friendships I’ve made and experiences I’ve had while translating manga for fun, and I’m unsure whether I would gain that same fulfilment from pursuing a career in translation. So I believe that you’ll see me around, continuing to translate manga for a while yet!5. What's your favourite manga to translate? Is there any in particular you'd like to recommend/pimp out to the readers?
Josei is my favourite genre/demographic, but I have favourites in pretty much every genre/demographic. I would easily sum up my tastes in manga by mentioning three magazines: Zero-Sum, G-Fantasy and Avarus, but I’m really looking forward to checking out Comic Gene (a new magazine due in April) because it looks like it will have exactly the kind of series I enjoy.
As for my favourites, I ended up selecting a few, because I just can’t choose one!Are You Alice?
~ Okay, I suppose a lot of people tend to think “Oh no, not another Alice in Wonderland adaptation” when they hear about this manga, but I see it as an interesting twist on the theme. My favourite character is Alice, somehow I’m actually quite fond of his cynical attitude.Karneval
~ The plot is rather slow moving, which not be exactly to everyone’s tastes, but I find the main draw of this series to be its characters. Because the plot is paced quite slowly, there’s plenty of interaction between the characters and everyone’s personalities are distinctly developed. Also, Nai is simply adorable. (But Yogi and Gareki will always be my favourites!)Makai Ouji
~ This series caught my eye pretty quickly because of its references to demons, and I ended up loving it a lot. It’s mainly a serious story, but the comedic parts are always fun to read too. Like Alice from “Are You Alice?” the main character, William is quite cynical and it’s rather interesting to see how he deals with the sudden appearance of demons in his life, while always insisting that he doesn’t believe in their existence.Mr. Morning
~ I don’t work on this manga personally, but I always wanted to see it get a little more attention, as it’s quite a charming series. I’m surprised it doesn’t have more attention, considering that Takayama Shinobu’s other works were well received.Tenkyuugi-sephirahnatus-
~ The concept of a magic school and main character with a rare power might not sound like anything new, but I think it’s interesting how the authors incorporated Kabbalah into the series.Tousei Gensou Hakubutsushi
~ I feel like this series is quite underrated, as it’s a really wonderful mystery series. In addition to the mysteries solved by the main character, Shinobu, there’s also the underlying mystery of Shinobu himself, which is what really makes this series intriguing for me. I also like how all the characters have their part to play, nobody is just an extra.Toxic
~ I like the author’s concept of an alternate history/future, and every chapter leaves me wanting to know more. The overall mood of the series is very dark, but I think it’s just perfect considering the subject matter. Takahashi Ryo’s wonderful art style also makes it an even more pleasurable read.6. I'll have to check those out! :3
What do you find most difficult about translating? In your opinon, what series is the hardest to translate...?
In my personal experience, the one I’ve found hardest to translate is Kaze to Ki no Uta. It was written in the 1970s, so the style feels quite different to any of the other series I translate. However, the previous translator seemed satisfied with what I’d done, which was really encouraging.
I occasionally find myself struggling over words like “yoroshiku” (Pleased to meet you, Nice to meet you etc.) as even though I have a set idea of what they mean, context sometimes renders those ideas a bit useless. Also, jokes that sound perfectly natural in Japanese sometimes fall really flat in English and don’t sound funny at all. Some of the more difficult grammar might confuse me at first, but I find that leaving a translation alone for a day or two and coming back to it later can really help.7. What else do you do in your free time that isn't related to manga?
I love video games! They’re usually my number one distraction when I’m trying to finish a translation, because once I start a game, I want to get to the end as soon as possible. I play a lot of RPGs, but I enjoy action games like Sengoku Basara too. Unlike a lot of people, I’m not really a fan of the Final Fantasy series, as they didn’t particularly captivate me, but I absolutely love Persona (especially the third game!). Right now I’m playing Eternal Sonata, which I adore. But I tend to be the type that picks games carefully, and I usually end up loving what I pick anyway. When I want to play something a bit more relaxing, I usually pick up an otome
game (dating game aimed at girls).
Although I don’t have a huge collection, I do like collecting figures of anime characters. It all started when I purchased two figures of Lelouch and Suzaku from Code Geass. After that, I didn’t collect figures for quite a few years, until Alter released a figure of Natsume Takashi (from Natsume Yuujinchou), which I promptly bought, because I love the series and Natsume. Right now, Alter is by far my favourite figure maker, but I’m slowly getting into Megahouse too.
My other hobby is cosplay, which I’ve been into for about eight years now. It all began when I attended a convention in my area, where I saw a few people cosplaying. I got home and thought “Hey! I want to do that too!” then immediately began persuading my parents to help me get a costume ready by the next convention. While I don’t rate my efforts as a cosplayer that highly, I always enjoy myself and it’s helped me meet some really good friends too. Other people may not have the same experience, but I feel it’s done an amazing job of improving my confidence, since there’s no way you can feel shy when you’re all dressed up! I’ve put my cosplay activities on hiatus for some time, but I hope I can get back into it this year, as I’m really missing it.8. What's your favourite section of MangaHelpers?
I regularly read the weekly “Manga Shout Outs” and I’ll definitely be following the “Featured Manga” posts. I’m usually busy translating, so I don’t always have the time to look up new series to read.
Of course, I also really like being able to post my translations on the site. Without a place to post my translations, I think things would have been a lot different for me. Before coming here, I only worked for one group and usually kept to myself. But since MH provided me with a way to communicate with other groups, it really helped get me out of my own little “bubble”.9. Finally, do you have any advice or hints for anyone just starting out translating?
Be confident in your target language ~ I think it really helps to have a good command of the language you’re translating into, from the standpoint of making your translations easy to understand.
Read lots ~ Read anything you can (in your target language and Japanese). It never hurts to widen your range of vocabulary.
Don’t rush into translating ~ This might sound pretty obvious, but don’t aim too high to begin with. Start with something easy like manga for children, series that use furigana or a chapter that a more experienced translator has already done, so you can use their work as a point of comparison.
Characterisation ~ Pay attention to how characters speak, not everyone talks in the same way. Think about who they are and whether they would use those words. Also be aware of the setting if it’s relevant to speech patterns.10. And now for the Random Muffin Question of the week-
Do you like sheep?
I live in the city, so I don’t normally get to see any sheep. But I do definitely think they look cute, especially the really fluffy ones. Though I may reform my opinion of sheep if I ever see the movie “Black Sheep”. The idea of killer zombie sheep would probably scare me into keeping far, far away from regular sheep.
Thank you for reading this far! I definitely wrote a lot more that I expected to, so well done if you got all the way down here. I really hope that you guys found my responses interesting, and I’d love it if you decided to check out any of the projects I’m involved in. Any kind of feedback relating to my translations would also be much appreciated.
I’d also like to thank everyone who’s enjoyed and supported my translations so far. I hope that you’ll continue to follow my work in the future!