MH Interviews: Dark-San
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Welcome once again to another Mangahelpers Interview, this time with the fairly newish Chinese to English translator Dark-san. Dark-san helped me come up with some of the new questions a few weeks ago so a big thanks to him for doing that. Translation doesn't just take place between Japanese to English, there are also translations done between Chinese to English, when the Chinese scanlations have been made available.
Read on to find out about Dark-san.
1. Please give short introduction of yourself. What manga you translate, if you are a part of any groups or just freelance etc.
Okay let me start off by introducing myself then. =) My name is Dark-san and would usually preferred people to call me by that. But you can also call me as Dark, Yami-kun or Darkyouth. All of those nicknames are all associated to the word, ‘Darkness’. I only allowed very few online friends to call me by my real last name since those are the very few that I would consider close.
Manga did not have that much affinity with me. Before going into manga, I was more into animes. Back then, people would call me anime freak since I could really memorize the plot and characters of whatever series you can named at that time. I believe I was 17 years old back then. Hey that obsessions work and I was soon named the 'Other Animes' moderator for a Pokemon forum that I frequented once in a while, even till now. Not much into the Pokemon bandwagon now, but I still stick my presence around and mingle with the few friends I have there. Manga came in much later into my life until somewhere when I was 18 years old. Before I knew it 6 years much later into my life, I could not have imagined myself doing manga translations.
I am one of the few translators for mainly two groups, Chibisuke- scans and Kono-Basho. Chibisuke-scans is a group, founded by Mathi, that mainly focuses on the scanlation of sports- genre series. We have done titles like Area no Kishi (Football), Overdrive (Cycling), Hanagata (Baseball) and REAL (Basketball). Of the four series listed there, only Hanagata and REAL are joint projects with Deadbeat scans and Illuminati-Manga respectively. Not a surprise that many of you are not aware but I am the translator behind mainly Area no Kishi and Overdrive.
Kono-Basho is a newly formed scanlation group founded by both Hyuver (from Kuu) and Ikcud (from Rycolaa). Its main purpose is to do other projects other than the ones that they are working on. I can into the group by accident through the backdoor of Rycolaa and somehow or another become one of the regulars for the group. We do a variety of projects here, ranging from all sorts of genre. Our main projects are mainly Asu no Yoichi and Alive – The Final Evolution. The projects that I handled there are Room No.1301, Alive – The Final Evolution and some joint projects.
Besides being in groups, I do freelance as well. My freelance project is my personal favourite manga, Blood Alone. I am only providing the translations and the one doing the editing and proofreading is the group, OC- scans led by Lsshin.
Whether if it is group projects or freelance, you will definitely see me around more in the scanlation community.
2. How did you start learning Japanese and for how long? How and why did you start translating manga chapters?
Get the facts straight, I had never learnt formal Japanese, never even once in my natural life. I am a Mandarin to English translator. The only Japanese that I have learned are from raw animes. >.>; Naturally, Mandarin has been my main mother tongue from the day that I was born. I was brought up in a Chinese background family. We spoke using Chinese most of the time at home. And yes, I was put through compulsory formal Mandarin education for 16 years.
One fine day while I was viewing manga via an online manga viewing site, a wonderful manga series caught my eyes in the credit page. And that manga series was Area no Kishi, a football manga. I personally enjoyed the manga so much that I decided to email Mathi and asked him how could I contribute towards this series. We exchanged a few emails and before I knew it, I was put through the hardship of having to translate Area no Kishi Chapter 24.
Although Area no Kishi’s Chapter 24 was hardship, I did very much enjoy the wonderful teamwork with the rest of Chibisuke-scans’ staff like Ge4ce, Sylx and others behind the public sight.
(Interviewers edit- I even knew he translated from Chinese, serves me right for copy and pasting interview questions -_-)
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 do not have any personal favourite for any genres. I basically read any manga in both English and Mandarin from all genres, mainly Shounen and Seinen. But I usually avoid genres like Shoujo, Shounen-ai, Shoujo-ai and Hentai. Not like I discriminate against these genres but a whole of them offend me morally and at times, some of their plots just do not work out and interest me. No offense but this is just my own personal opinion.
My favourite manga of all times has to be Area no Kishi. The author for this manga is Igano Hiroaki and the illustrations are by Tsukiyama Kaya. Area no Kishi is one of those manga which did not get the public attention that it deserves. The reason that I am so hooked onto this manga is because it is a football manga and I am a football fan. The plot is simple and beyond the football, you can actually take a peek into the supposed romance between Kakeru and Seven. And also who can ignored the miracle of how Suguru’s heart actually adapts itself into Kakeru’s body.
The other manga that I found myself addicted to would be Alive – The Final Evolution. A reason on why I picked to translate that series as well is because I was constantly pestered by Hyuver to read it. >.>; And yes the addiction is instant! After continuing from where I left off with at Chapter 5, there is no turning back since then. The manga is eerie, psychological and of course action packed. The manga informs us on a new type of life form, which somehow make its way onto Earth, and infected the entire population with it. It is the ‘Suicide Virus’ and people infected with that, will killed off themselves. On the other hand, people that got infected and actually did not commit suicide, ended being bestow with a gift. They are simply known as the power users. The story plot traces one of the power user, by the name of Taisuke, and his story.
Not many people are aware the reason that I found myself into Kono-Basho is that I wanted to do translation for an eechi series. No joke, it is serious. ~.~; The first title that was given to me to translate was Room No.1301. It was a really good series. I do not know how many times I have found myself laughing my head off whenever the art genius would get in the way between the love of the class president and the male lead. Other eechi series that I owned are 5 volumes of Blood Alone, 3 volumes of Dark Shina, 3 volumes of Kimi no Iru Machi and 18 complete volumes of Suzuka.
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?
Of course I would like it if people are discussing my work, but since I start working on this community it's something I rarely get. Nowadays people instead of discussing this stuff at our forum, they tend to discuss is at place like MangaFox and Onemanga. This indirectly means in order for me to know whether people like my work or not, I must go there to check. This kind of bothers me for a while since some of the staff seem demotivated. They believe that their work is not read by many people. The cause of this is that instead of grabbing release from the respective group website or IRC channel. The readers tend to read it from website like Onemanga or Mangafox.
There is once when Kono- Basho ever release a series that never been done by others and the download number we get is only around 300. The next day, we took a look at Mangafox Statistic. It shows that it been viewed 12, 000 times. As you can see website like Mangafox and Onemanga pretty much gain the reader attention not us. And even the worst is they tend to put our credit page and recruitment page at the very end of chapter while we placed it in front for purpose.
If people already see the word "The end" or "To be continued" do you think they will bother reading the credit page? Seriously I think online manga viewer must change their system. I have met few people who think that Onemanga and Mangafox is the one who scanlating the manga. In short, I was never acknowledged by the readers once as the rightful translator that worked on the manga. I am not against these sites but simply believed that there is a way we can work out in which both sides can see a two- way benefit and not one way.
5. Are there any other hobbies or things that you like to work on in your spare time?
There are a couple of things that I do during spare times besides just reading manga online.
I watched animes like any other manga fans. Usually I would watched them based on a seasonal approached. For this spring’s release, I found myself being kept occupied by series such as Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood. Although it is supposedly to be the same as its manga’s plot, I would say that I am pretty disappointed that there are no changes to the episodes comparing it to the previous season. The other titles that I watched are K-ON, 07-Ghost, Asura Cryin’, Cross Game and Haruhi Suzumiya Second Season.
I played occasional sports such as badminton and jogging. I used to play football on a regular basis but had to quit it due to inconsistent performance and also foot fractures that robbed me of my favourite sports. =’( But these days if I want to enjoyed football, I would watched them on television and the league that I closely followed is the EPL, English Premier League. I am a Gunner fan by the way.
Besides that I used to play trading card games but had to quit it due to financial reasons. I did not played Magic if that surprises you. I played Pokemon Trading Card and was ranked 6th nationally before the modified rule came in. That is also one of the reasons on why I joined the Pokemon Forum that I mentioned earlier. The second TCG I picked up was Duel Monsters or better known as Yu-Gi-Oh. I was national champion for quite a period before I quit it. I almost made it to the Worlds at Los Angles at one point but had to give it all up due to National Service. >.<; The military obligations came in at the wrong time!
6. What are some of the difficulties you have translating manga from a language that is not the original version, and how have you gone about overcoming them?
Language aspect, there are a lot of problem with regards to that. Firstly, there is the Sentence restructuring. Everyone knows that sentence structure for one language differs from the other. It will take pains for me to restructure them into readable English. >.>;
Secondly, you have the idioms and the metaphors. This is the number one problem for me most of the time. Usually my translation will take me 1 or 2 days, the first day will be spent on converting those Mandarin characters into English words and the second day would be spent on me trying to rephrase them and do the sfxs. If I met up with a chapter filled with these idioms or metaphors, it is going to take me at least week especially dealing with poetic lines that is filled with those. >.>;
The names are the third problem. Being a Mandarin to English Translator, I would have no problem if you asked me to convert their names into Mandarin characters or pinyuns. But converting those names to Japanese is a pain. Adding salt onto the wounds, I would always like to add that I have no ideas on how to translate the names.
Fourth problem are your honorifics. Your ‘-kun’, ‘-san’ and ‘-chan’, how do you use them? When do we use them? Take note that Mandarin raws seldom has those indications of those. And finally we have the sfx, which is usually a guessing job for me.
I have overcome most of these problems. All thanks to Elkin. The topic is posted in the forums. So if you are interested, you can head there to look at them. But the problem is that as you become efficient in your translations, you are faced with newer problems. And this time, I have to deal with problems such as the nuances. Hah, the never ending cycle. ~.~
7. What do you think of the focus upon increased translation accuracy and fluency as it applies to non-japanese based translators? Should there be efforts to increase chinese to english and korean to english translation quality as well?
The current system is good. Having to put the translations through translation checks and proofreading are a good start. It forces the translators to take the work they produced seriously and increases the level of quality, not only in terms of accuracy but also in terms of English Language. But from the way I looked at it, there are several shortcomings. One of them I have already posted it as a comment in one of the news. The second shortcoming I found out that there is a severe lack of translation checkers for both Chinese and Korean. A simple case of economic unbalance between the supply and demand that njt or any other administrator had to look into.
I am not sure of how many Mandarin or Korean to English Translators we have in Mangahelpers. I do not have the statistics with me. Translating from Japanese to English is technically different from translating Mandarin to English, even if they are the same chapter of the manga. So that means, we need more foreign language translators here.
The overall idea is that if we want to pull up the standards of translation here, we do not just concentrate only on the Japanese to English translators but the others as well. What is the use of lifting up the quality of the Japanese to English translations when the rest of the pack is still at the same level. These people, which are ignored, are still part of the community after all. So there is no way, we can ignore this problem.
8. How hard is it when you just start out as a translator, what are the things you find really hard or wish you knew how to deal with them.
When I first stepped into the scanlation community, it was a dilemma for me. I have no idea on whether if it is a good idea to do translations even in the first place. Firstly, you do not know the mechanics of the system run. Secondly, you are a nobody. It takes effort to respect everyone you come across and met with. You need someone to teach you the ABCs of the scanlation community. Besides this uncertainty, there are also other problems.
Translations are hard work. It is not difficult if you are the natural speaker of that language but it is difficult not to procrastinate and also not to put in effort. If you asked me, I would say it is an attitude problem. I can give myself a simple excuse and delay a translation probably up to weeks. But we have to understand a simple delay in one part of the process means an overall delay in the project. All translators have to deal with this problem themselves, it is a demon within them. Chibisuke-scans had this problem once. And the result is that we have to go a fortnight without any releases or translations done. A simple solution would be to set a goal and work towards it. I could set an aim that I want to complete translating a chapter by one week so hook or by crook, I have to get it done.
The other problem would be the ‘Quality versus Speed’ issues. When I first came into this community, my mentality was probably speed. The faster I can get my translations out, the better that I would become. Of course that mentality is flawed and the translations I do at that time had to be of sub-quality. Quality is the key here. The slower you spent your time looking through the script, the better your script will be. But do also keep in mind of how much time, you have to spend on checking in order not to delay the entire project’s release. In the past, just give me 3 hours and I will do up the entire chapter for you. Now I somehow need at least 2 days per chapter but the satisfaction you get out of the better quality chapter is priceless.
There is one more problem I met up the last time and I feel that there is need to mention it here. It is the translation format. Well at the current moment, I am juggling with two formats, one for Chibisuke-scans and the other for Kono-Basho. Of course, I have to take into account whether the typesetter or the proofreader is okay with that format. The key to solving it is to ask your typesetter on the preference he or she would liked and then adjusted your script accordingly.
9. Is there anyone in the manga community who you really look up to? Any mangaka who you look up to either?
When you are new to the community, you have to respect everyone who had been in it whether new or old. The reason is that you never know when you would need their help, if you decide to stay within this community in the long run. There are quite a lot of people who really help me a lot. It would be a shame to only mention one of them and leave out the rest. So there they are,
Strictly speaking, if it is not for him that gave this unknown guy from Singapore, a shot at translation maybe you would not even see me here in the first place. I would say it takes gut for entrusting your group’s projects into the hands of a noob. And he reaps the benefits for that trust that he had put in me.
Ikcud and Hyuver
When Chibisuke-scans was back then having trouble with its release, I had to come up with solutions to deal with them. And solutions do not just popped out from nowhere, I have to ask and consult these two people. >.>; If it is not for the both of their advice, I would have never gotten to where I am today nor has Chibisuke-scans would still be releasing chapters till today.
I came in to Mangahelpers, not knowing what the basics of a proper translation. Struggling with translations and he was the only person kind enough to offer assistance and even knowing that helping me does not do him any good. And if anybody would to be in the same position as I am some four months ago and they want my help, I will gladly provide them. =)
The mangaka that I respect a lot is Seo Kouji. That is also partially the reason why I got the complete series of Suzuka and his latest work, Kimi no Iru Machi. I find his illustrations enticing and the females specially well- drawn. The plots of these series are focused on simplicity and the selling point of his manga is his portrayal of romance. Other than that, I had never been bothered to look into the outside life of the mangaka. I believe in judging the mangaka based on his works and not his private life.
10. Ask yourself a question and then answer if. A nice long answer would be nice.
I have no idea on what question to post. Hah well, I will just post one that just randomly came to my mind.
Why are sports- genre mangas always overlooked in terms of popularity?
That is the reason why I had primarily chose to work with Chibisuke-scans. Sports genre mangas deserves more recognition and more attention should be given to it. The reason on why sports- genre mangas failed to grab attention is because of the readers’ perception. The moment they sees let us say a football manga, they will immediately linked it to the sport and hence give up without reading it. This is ignorant on the reader’s part. Not all sports- genre mangas are like what they had assumed. I mean look beyond Area no Kishi and what do you get? You get hints at a love relationship between Kakeru and Seven and brotherhood bonds between Kakeru and Suguru. What is beyond cycling in Overdrive? You get life philosophy. What is beyond baseball in Hanagata? You get determination and lessons on team work. It is simply prejudice on readers’ part to ignore this.
So what is the moral of the story? Be an all- rounder manga reader. Do not put down a manga unless firstly it insults you morally or secondly the plot is just not suited for you. The next time you walked pass a local manga store and you see a new sports-genre manga, just give it a try. Who knows, you might loved it. =)
You can find some of Dark-san's translations here:
Dark-san Translator Page
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