With our fifth year anniversary coming to a close, we decided to take a moment to showcase some of the thoughts and feelings of the staff that have been a part of MangaGamer over the years. This fifth one comes from Kou, one of our current main translators who’s been with us since the turning point of the “dark years”.
I first joined Mangagamer three and a half years ago. My situation was not too different from Kouryuu’s: though I’d been working as a professional translator for some years, I came back from a joyous year in Japan only to find the economy in ruins and all my work contacts dried up.
I knew Kouryuu through a friend; we’d been in contact for some time swapping stories of professional misery and accomplishment, and he seemed like a pretty like-minded and professional guy. A good person to work for. I was never a particular fan of VNs, and I wasn’t especially overjoyed about the idea of translating porn, but I also wasn’t averse to it. Plus, I was desperate.
Of course, as is so often the case with stories of desperation, I started at the bottom of the ladder. By “bottom of the ladder” I mean “TL checker for some of the worst translations you’ve ever seen.” And by “worst translations you’ve ever seen” I mean “porn scripts that translate ‘hentai’ as ‘metamorphosis.'”
You get the picture.
It was pretty rough going at first. I enjoyed the (sometimes literally) balls-to-the-wall insanity of We Love Master, and the parts of Da Capo 2 I worked on were rather sweet and lovely. But by the twentieth or so completely-identical-but-now-in-a-different-outfit sex scene in Harem Party, I felt like I was going to scream. Let me tell you, those pretty pictures that go by like lightning when you’re holding down CTRL feel like ages when you’re working the script yourself.
Fortunately, the bosses eventually rewarded me for my hard work (or perhaps took mercy on me) and gave me a series of great titles to work on, with first-run translations I could call my very own.
First, there was Go! Go! Nippon: an all-ages travelogue produced specifically for overseas sales. It was a short, simple project that I knocked out in a month’s time. It was lovely and rather sweet, and it gave me a powerful sense of nostalgia for my own recent time in Japan.
Then, there was Dengeki Stryker: a hot-blooded journey into what it means to be a superhero. It had an OP by anisong god Masaaki Endoh and animation by Nabeshin, a ton of hilarious characters with highly distinct voices, and some truly ass-kicking ladies. I begged for this project and was over the moon when the bosses let me have it. I can only hope I did them proud!
Last, most recently (at least in the realm of what’s been published), there was Otoboku: Maidens Are Falling For Me!: a game that, despite the wacky title and goofy premise, betrayed surprising depth and sensitivity and some truly beautiful prose. I fell in love with the characters (particularly Mariya) and the care with which they were drawn and portrayed. A tight deadline made things a little rough going at times, but the game was worth it in the end.
The circumstances that led me to Mangagamer were desperate ones; I came into the job with a mixture of reserve, irritation, and detached amusement. But my time here has taught me the incredible range that visual novels have to offer, and even at the worst of times it pushed my limits as a translator and taught me many things. So even though my circumstances now are much less desperate (and much more busy), I plan to be here for a little while longer. I still have a lot more to learn, and I can’t wait to see what they throw at me next!