Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Of Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin, and the Ethics of Scanlation

I meant to do this a while ago, but, well--you know how things get. Anyway, this post is a two-parter, so be sure to read both parts.

Note: this post was edited on 18. September 2013 to reflect the current status of Vertical Press' publication effort.

Of Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin
I ventured into the... rather unpleasant world of scanlating about a year ago, with the intention of picking up  Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin where Eikou Scanlations left off. As a huge fan of Gundam, and of the mecha genre it gave birth to, I felt privileged to help bring Yoshikazu Yasuhiko's phenomenal re-imagining to the Western community.

This is a 1920x1080 wallpaper, by the way
I recently learned of Vertical Press--a publication company I had not, until that point, even heard of--acquired the licensing rights to Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin. They will begin producing luxurious hardcover editions of the manga, with two volumes in each book, in March, 2013. You may (and, if it's not to presumptuous for me to say so, should) follow my example and order the books as soon as possible:

Gundam: The Origin Book 1 (contains volumes 1 and 2) - 12. March 2013
Gundam: The Origin Book 2 (contains volumes 3 and 4) - 18. June 2013
Gundam: The Origin Book 3 (contains volumes 5 and 6) - 24. September 2013
Gundam: The Origin Book 4 (contains volumes 7 and 8) - 10. December 2013
Gundam: The Origin Book 5 (contains volumes 9 and 10) - 11. March 2014

Assuming Vertical managed to keep up that initial pace of 1 book every three months, we can expect The Origin to be fully published in English by the end of 2015. (For a grand total of 11 or 12 hardcover editions). This is very exciting! The books will also have various "special features" -- read the Amazon listing for details. I, for one, cannot wait.

I think I've mentioned this before, but in terms of my own translation efforts, I have always felt it best to emulate the "old school" approach. I translate to practice and develop my language schools, as well as to provide some small benefit to a niche community of which I am a part. Nothing more, nothing less. I am, therefore, suspending my translation of The Origin and removing all download links. I highly encourage every one to purchase Vertical's version as soon as possible! I can't comment on the accuracy of their translation (though you can expect me to review their books when they come out) but I can't imagine it could be any worse than my own! I don't know what I'm doing half the time--particularly when Char or Gihren start waxing political. Yikes. There was some nasty, nasty kanji in some of those scenes.

Anyway, I've been into anime and manga for a long time. I've seen so many projects, tragically, go bust. Need I even mention the sad fate of Shoji Gotoh's Full Metal Panic series in the West? I wish Vertical Press all the best. And, should the worst come to pass and they abandon publication of The Origin, I may resume my efforts. Hopefully this will not be an issue, as the first two books have been published already (which I will review at some point in the future, paying particular attention to the quality and tone of the translation) and the three subsequent volumes are well on their way.

Gundam: The Origin Book 1 (contains volumes 1 and 2) - 12. March 2013
Gundam: The Origin Book 2 (contains volumes 3 and 4) - 18. June 2013
Gundam: The Origin Book 3 (contains volumes 5 and 6) - 24. September 2013
Gundam: The Origin Book 4 (contains volumes 7 and 8) - 10. December 2013
Gundam: The Origin Book 5 (contains volumes 9 and 10) - 11. March 2014

Of the Ethics of Scanlation
Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin is the material that first set me on the path of scanlation. I subsequently translated a few other manga works, one of which I also disseminated through this blog--Macross: The First, which is (essentially) the Macross franchise' analog to The Origin. In the course of this experience, I learned many things. First and foremost, my Japanese--mostly my ability to recognize kanji on sight--improved (which was one of my original goals when I started out). I also learned just how much work was involved in scanlating. I did not ever consider myself a "proper" scanlator--I work by myself, for myself, and am accountable to no schedule but my own. I learned a new appreciation for scanlation, as scanning, editing, and typesetting all require an enormous commitment of time and attention. I also learned that the anime community, while appearing a rather unpleasant place from the distance, is actually considerably less pleasant when you reach inside. While the vast majority of feedback I've received has been positive, I have been nonetheless unnerved by the number of people contacting me to complain, insult, or beg. This, coupled with my own dwindling free time and faltering health, has forced me to consider whether or not I should continue my efforts.

I have, of course, also reexamined the ethical context of scanlation, and honestly find myself no better qualified to ascertain the "correctness" of scanlation now than when I started. I can say, however, that right now I deeply regret scanlating The Origin, as I fear those efforts may have--however small--an adverse impact on the sales of Gundam: The Origin's republication, and further damage the Gundam branding internationally. For this reason, and this reason exclusively, I feel that I must cease all further scanlation efforts immediately, lest I repeat the mistake.

I do have, however, several rough translations for Macross: The First. My intention is to finish scanlating and then release the next volume, which is the last that I have scanned. That will be my LAST release of a "scanlation."

I will, however, continue to TRANSLATE the manga, as simple translations take far less time to complete, and I will post those scripts on this blog.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Now for a Word: Backwards Compatibility

It's no secret that the current generation of gaming consoles will soon come to a close. This generation has witnessed more changes to our precious medium than any other, and not all of them have been for the better. Among the more heated changes, like achievements and digital-rights management, is the idea of backwards compatibility. It certainly receives less attention than those other, noisier issues, so some may be forgiven for assuming it is, perhaps, not quite so important--but that is not the case. Very often when seeing other gamers discuss the idea of backwards compatibility, I see the same thing happen. Someone will criticize how backwards compatibility is implemented (or not implemented at all). The response to this is always either tacit agreement, or simple derision. After all, they say, backwards compatibility is not really an issue. If you want to play older games, simply buy the older console they were made for--or use an emulator on a PC. And every once in a while someone will express the most shameful sentiment of all: it's not an issue because old games are not worth playing, they're all terrible and outdated and anyone who thinks otherwise is blinded by nostalgia.

And we seem to respond to these retorts either with violent bursts of profanity and ridicule... or not all.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Review: Robot Damashii Leo

The Leo: arguably the best thing to come out of Gundam Wing. Arguably the quintessential mobile suit design. Arguably... well, maybe I should hold back for now: there's a lot to talk about when it comes to the Leo, and I fully intend to examine the subject thoroughly--but another time. For now, let's limit ourselves to the recently-released Robot Damashii figure. The final verdict: it's awesome. Buy one. Buy two. Buy three.

...But it's also somewhat emblematic of the worst aspects of the Robot Damashii figure line. So... let's jump right in.

Macross 30: Pricing & Special Edition Details

UPDATE: pre-orders are up at AmiAmi (the CE is already sold out) with a nice 15% discount.

Along with some more information, courtesy of Famitsu.com. As previously reported, the upcoming PS3 game, Macross 30: Ginga o Tsunagu Utagoe, will be released in February 2013. We now have an exact date for that release: 28. February 2013. There will be two separate editions of the game sold, the regular edition will cost 8380 JPY, and a "30th Anniversary Super Galaxy Box" edition (30周年超銀河箱). As is usually the case, the special edition will be produced in limited quantities, so pre-order while you can.

The special edition will include:

  • 1 copy of Macross 30: Ginga o Tsunagu Utagoe with special skins taken from the Macross Triangle Frontier and Macross Ultimate Frontier PSP games
  • A limited-edition box with artwork drawn by Tenjin Hidetaka
  • CG Animated special "Get in on-Flying Rock" and "BurningFire" (yes, those are "Engrish")
  • A 90-minute documentary featuring interviews with multiple voice actors from the Macross franchise who appear in the Macross 30 PS3 game, as well as series-creator Shoji Kawamori
  • Conceptual sketches for the animation used in the Macross 30 PS3 game
  • Limited edition animation cels of characters and/or mecha from the Macross franchise
  • Selection of posters created to celebrate Macross' 30th anniversary in various campaigns and events
  • A 30th Anniversary Booklet detailing Macross' 30 year history in television  film and games, which will include DLC codes for special (unique) skins for the VF-1S and VF-25.

The "Super Galaxy Box" will (naturally) cost quite a bit more, at 11800 JYP (approximately 40% more).

The first print fun of both editions of the game will include an early-unlock code and special skin for the YF-29 Durandel.

*Please note that this is the result of a very hasty translation made in about a 40-second window (busy day) so some items may be in error. Please correct me where (if) I'm wrong.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Macross 30: Famitsu Preview Translation

UPDATE: 4Gamer has written up their own preview for Macross 30. Check it out. I won't be translating it as most of it was covered in the earlier Famitsu preview, but there are a handful of new screenshots and some new information about the game.

The original storyline for the game is being written by Ukyo Kodachi, whom some of you may recognize as the man responsible for writing "Macross: The Ride" (Also known as "Macross R"), a light novel duology serving as a prologue for the Macross Frontier series. Ukyo also penned the novelization of the Macross anime itself, so he's certainly familiar with the franchise. Will he be able to muster up a decent Macross story that doesn't rely on the works of others? Well, that remains to be seen--but with Shoji Kawamori himself supervising his work with Macross 30, I think it's safe to say that the game is in very good hands. With luck, it will be as good or better than Gundam's own 30th anniversary game, Record U.C. 0081.

--Original Post--

Famitsu.com has released an early preview of the upcoming Playstation 3 Macross game, Macross 30: Ginga o Tsunagu Utagoe, or Macross 30: The Song that Crosses the Galaxy. The preview includes around 50 screenshots of the game, which I've included with my translation.

Macross 30 will feature an all-original storyline, which consists of the usual crossover fare: a mysterious force pulls characters from across space and time to a single location where, for some reason, they must fight. Whether or not this original game narrative will exist at the exclusion of anime-based missions remains to be seen. It's possible that this original storyline will serve as Macross 30's version of Macross Triangle Frontier's Academy Mode, as material on the game indicates that it will have "RPG elements." The full translation of Famitsu.com's preview follows:

"The action game celebrating the 30th anniversary of Macross is here!"
November 8's Weekly Famitsu (Released 25. October 2012) details the latest information about Macross 30: The Song that Crosses the Galaxy, to be released in February 2013. In the following article, we will detail the latest information gleaned from the contents of that article.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Macross 30: The Song that Ties the Galaxy Announced for PS3.

Finally, the new PS3 Macross game teased last month has been officially announced. It is titled Macross 30: The Song that Ties the Galaxy (Ginga o Tsunagu Utagoe, 銀河を繋ぐ歌声). As I predicted, the game is being developed by ArtDink, who have been responsible for numerous Macross titles on the Playstation Portable, several bit-size Macross mini-games packaged in Hybrid Packs on the Playstation 3, as well as the popular Gundam Battle series on the PSP and Playstation Vita.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Origin Volume 05 Chapter 04 Notes

Translation notes for Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin, volume 05 chapter 05.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

New Macross game coming in 2013

A nice spot of Macross news that's actually new and, well, good for a change! We're getting a new game. Maybe. Fingers crossed.

Namco-Bandai has opened up a teaser site for a new Macross game, tentatively titled "Macross 30" (and see, now you can -totally- read the katakana Macross logo! Who says I never taught no one nuffin'). Platform? No clue. Release date? Some time next year. Apparently a brief "trailer" for the game made an appearance at the Tokyo Game Show. And by "trailer," I--of course--mean an montage of animated scenes from the various anime series set to new music, with zero footage of the actual game.

I know, right: Namco-Bandai really plays fast and loose with our expectations.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Gundam Seed Battle Destiny (Vita) Preliminary Translation Guide

UPDATE: You can view the completed translation guide HERE.

The semester is over and I have officially passed all of my classes. Without dying. It was touch-and-go for a bit, there. So now it's time for summer and robots. I'll be tossing out some additional Origin eventually, but first it's time to focus on Gundam Seed Battle Destiny.

Here's a quick (preliminary) translation guide for the various menus. My copy of the game is actually still en route, so much thanks to IceCold1993, of GameFAQs, for providing some menu screenshots so I could get working. I hope to have a basic guide written up by Monday or Tuesday so I can move on to other things... God knows I've got a backlog.

So, anyway, let's get this stock train going.

*Note: open the image in a new tap/window to see it at the proper size

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Gundam Battle Operation announced for PS3

I'm not entirely sure what to make of this, but it certainly sounds promising. Today, Namco Bandai anounced a new Gundam game: Gundam Battle Operation. Gundam Battle Operation is a online action-combat game for the Playstation 3 focusing on online multiplayer.

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Origin Volume 05 Chapter 03 Notes

It's a quick read, but good God was it a pain in the ass to translate. Half the dialog is stuffy as hell, the other half is crude as hell. Couple that with the typical business of a full semester and... well, there you have it. Hell, I think it took about a month just to get around to those last four pages.

...Seems trustworthy enough

Monday, March 5, 2012

Scanlation Idiocy

So I thought I'd come back and work on some of the back-logged stuff I intended to host on this blog... only to find a few jackass-comments regarding my Macross: The First translation. I had not intended to speak of the matter, as I found the whole ordeal rather unsavory and embarassing (moreso for the other party than myself). But since he(?) chose to be an immature asshole, I'm forced to explain the matter. Here is the full story, exactly as it happened:

If you're not fond of stories of wankery, stupidity and douchebags, go ahead and ignore this. I'm only going to address this issue once--right here, right now--and then never again. I'm an adult. I don't have the time or patience for this shit.

Review: Mass Effect 2

Sequels can be tricky business. If a game is too similar or too different than its predecessor, no one will want anything to do with it. Keeping what needs to stay and changing what needs to go is a tough balancing act that, in my experience, tends to lay most developers sprawled helplessly out on the floor. Game sequels may be a dime a dozen, but good sequels—those are as precious as ivory.

For a sequel to be good, it needs to accomplish three things: first, it needs to correct the flaws of the original title without introducing many new flaws of its own; second, it needs to introduce new and/or innovative elements that feel both fresh and familiar; lastly, a good sequel needs to expand upon the quality of its predecessor, taking everything—writing, presentation, gameplay—to another level. Naturally, this is a standard to which most sequels invariably fall short.

Mass Effect 2 does not.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Origin/First Update

Much as I anticipated, life has gotten very busy. I have so much crap to do I have a hard time even looking at the pile directly--lest I be blinded by it.

One such item is The Origin. The next chapter is one of those manga-only ones, and is very important in establishing Char's character... so I'm trying to do the best job I can. There's a lot of dialog with a lot of kanji and that's slowing me down, and the grammar ain't simiple, either. I've decided to run several bits of it by a friend of mine who knows Japanese far better than I to make sure I've got the everything down right, so it'll probably be another week before I can release it.

Macross The First still hasn't shipped.

And other than scanlation news and being stressed and overworked and suffering general insomnia I also had the brilliant idea to re-install Shadows of Amn. And one thing led to another, and another, and before I knew it two icewinds and a planescape wound up on my PC, too... and one could find no greater timesinks.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Two new Gundam Unicorn PVs

With the latest Playstation 3 Gundam title edging closer and closer to release, we're starting to see a lot more media related to the game. This week, two new promotional videos for the game have been released. Titled "Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn," this game will follow the events of the first three Gundam Unicorn OVA episodes, as well as special supplemental narrative content created specifically for the game. Learn more by checking out the preview and get a closer look at the game by ogling those sexy, sexy high-definition screenshots.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Macross: The First Volume 01 Chapter 02 Notes

Another week, another chapter of Mikimoto's Macross Manga! And even better, it wraps up the entire first volume of the manga.

Gundam: The Origin Volume 05 Chapter 02 Notes

Another week, another chapter of The Origin. Can I keep this up? --I don't know.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Gundam Unicorn PS3 New (HD) Screens & Gameplay Information

I've already previewed the upcoming Gundam Unicorn PS3 game, and we've already seen some gameplay video, but today Namco Bandai released a few full-resolution in game screenshots, and we're able to decipher a bit more about the game. Which, naturally, warrants a post!

One thing to take particular note of here is that the HUD is 100% in English--something I'm particularly thankful, as I have a hard time reading the katakana names when they're zipping about the screen, and I like to know what I'm killing.

Review: Robot Damashii Gundam AGE-1 Normal

Arguably the most traditionally-designed leading gundam since the Turn A more than a decade ago, the AGE-1 Normal type is one of the latest figures in the Robot Damashii line and demonstrates, among other things, both the greatest strengths of the figure line, while managing to avoid many of the faults that have plagued recent releases.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Macross: The First Volume 01 Chapter 01 Notes

And now for something new: Macross The First. For those who aren't aware, this is the "Macross" version of Yoshikazu Yasuhiko's "Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin." It's written and illustrated by Haruhiko Mikimoto, who worked with Shoji Kawamori on the Super Dimensional Fortress: Macross anime series.

Gundam: The Origin Volume 05 Chapter 01 Notes

And once more we begin to move forward with The Origin!

No complaints about the cut-out filter. I love it!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Gundam AGE Generation 2 Preview

 (UPDATED JANUARY 15th -- Scroll to bottom)

We've already seen what some of the upcoming mechs for Gundam AGE's second generation look like, and with Frit's final battle beginning this week, it's about time to look ahead a bit to see what Gundam Age will offer once the middle arc of the story, the second generation, starts off.

Left: Asemu Asuno (son); Right: Flit Asuno (father)

Gundam: The Origin Volume 03 Chapter 04 Notes

Hopping back a bit to release the final chapter of Volume 3, starting right where Eikou left off. I can really, really see why Origin has proven to be such a slippery project in the past. Some chapters are short and snappy, while others are nothing but text (with lots of complex kanji!). The average chapter length is pretty long, too, at fifty pages--but then there are longer chapters JUST LIKE THIS ONE that are 100 or more pages long!

It takes a lot--a lot--of endurance to make it through that much manga!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Truth about X-Rounders

In the latest (12th) episode of Mobile Suit Gundam AGE, we were introduced to the term for this AU's version of Newtypes--"X-Rounders." In the context of Gundam Age, an X-Rounder is an individual capable of tapping into the X-Region of the brain (something normal humans are incapable of) and achieve a limited form of precognition. It's not a difficult (or unexpected) concept, but it has spawned a small amount of confusion, derision, and--most interestingly--a rumor regarding a failed anime series from 1975, led by Yoshiyuki Tomino, called X-Rounder: a war epic about three generations of psychic soldiers fighting an unending war, the show crashed and burned so hard it was responsible for the rather poor state of Tomino's career in the late 70's.

I thought I'd take an opportunity to briefly address the confusion, the derision, and the truth about this forgotten gem of 70s briefly--it's better, I think, to nip crap like this in the bud.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Gundam: The Origin Volume 04 Chapter 04 Notes

This wraps up Volume 4 and ends the "Garma's Fate" arc of the manga. Next up is Ramba Ral!