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Alethea & Athena
Touring Kodansha 
9th-Sep-2016 08:14 pm
yato
It's so weird that it's Friday. We've been busy as usual, since we have to have two books done in time to go to Disneyland with our family in about a week and a half. It wouldn't be so bad if one of them wasn't the very time-consuming My Monster Secret.

But anyway, we were talking about our Japan trip. Before I get to reporting about the tour, I did want to mention that, after we confirmed the location of the Noragami art show, we had some time before it opened, so we wandered back over to the station where we were reminded there was a Mr. Donut. Since My Little Monster had so very many donuts in it, including Mr. Donut's signature "pon de ring", we had to stop in and try it out. They had lots of very yummy looking donuts, but we only had so much time, so Athena and I each got a double chocolate and a brown sugar pon de ring, and then we saw the honey churros, so we got one to split. The verdict: yup, pretty good donuts. The pon de ring had the best texture and the best tasting bread, so that's the kind we're going to go for next time, only this time with flavored icing.

Now, back to the Kodansha tour. I'll refer to our tour guides as T-san and M-san so things don't get too confusing, and because it's a similar editor identification method to what manga artists use. T-san is the Noragami editor and M-san is the international liaison. First, we stopped by the assembly hall, which was locked, so we didn't get to go in, but we could see through the windows on the doors that it looks just like all the places they have assemblies in high school drama manga, which was really neat because it felt like being in a manga! Only not, because we couldn't actually go inside. But it was still neat. M-san said that it always reminds her of her high school days.

We went on to the international liaison department and met a few people there. This is where we first heard T-san tell people that we translate 40% of Kodansha USA's manga. We were only vaguely aware of this statistic, since one of our Kodansha USA editors told us at AX that we translate "like half our stuff". 40% seemed very specific, and we still wonder where he got it from, but it's kind of cool to know. After shaking hands with some people, we went to the room where they keep all their copies of international manga. There was one bookcase that we looked at and said, "We translate that one and that one and that one and that one and..." Okay, so we were bragging, but it was really cool to see it there.

Even cooler was that they had a bunch of manga in other languages. lyschan had a sixth sense for finding Noragami logos in any language, and the first one she picked up was Polish. That's right--we got to see Polish Noragami manga. M-san told us that there's a growing market for manga in Poland. We also saw Noragami in Korean and Italian, and we found a copy of UQ Holder in German. And I know I'm using this phrase a lot, but it was really cool.

After that, they showed us a room that's used to entertain really important guests, which was done up in a very European style and had fancy couches and busts of the Kodansha founder and his wife. Then they took us up to the very top floor (if you read yesterday, you may remember the building is 26-stories high), which I guess is used for parties and stuff, because it was mostly big rooms and big windows that looked out over all of Tokyo. The view was incredible. As we wandered around, we all lost sight of T-san, who suddenly appeared out of nowhere, prompting M-san to say he was like a ninja. He had been looking around and found another fancy room that I forget what it was used for, but at the time the table was covered in cosmetics and refreshments, and some people had left their stuff there. T-san and M-san commented that some talent must be in the building somewhere.

At that point, M-san unfortunately had to take her leave because she had a meeting to attend, so T-san took over all the tour guide responsibilities. He took us to the Monthly Shonen Magazine editorial department, where he introduced us to the editors who were at the Your Lie in April panel at Anime Expo, as well as the other editor on Noragami (technically, T-san has been transferred to a different magazine, but he's continuing on as Noragami's "secret" editor) and the editor-in-chief. T-san and the latter two asked us to take a seat on the sofa in a corner with a coffee table, and we waited and wondered what was going to happen next.

Before long, the three of them came back with the manuscript for the latest, yet-to-be-published chapter of Noragami (I think the magazine has gone on sale by now, but at the time it was unpublished). They set it in front of us and let us look at its shiny glory. It was amazing! Adachitoka's artwork is beautiful as always. I admit I almost didn't want to look too closely, because of spoilers, but since it was the very next chapter after the last one we translated, I decided not to be too worried about it. As we turned the pages, we saw sketches on the reverse side of them, and the editors explained that they ask the artists to do those sketches so they can hold the manuscript up to the light and see how everything will look when printed on both sides of a page. Apparently some artists don't like to do this because it takes up extra time, but that just goes to show what efforts the Kodansha editors go to to make sure their product is high quality.

We talked a lot at this point. Bishamon was still running around wearing Shikki, so we mentioned our thing about how we really like the pattern on the animal skin, but isn't that, like, a young deer? I think it was T-san who explained that, since Nana was alive a long, long, long time ago, it had to be the skin of an animal that lived in Japan at that time, so it was probably a deer, since horses and sheep are imports. (I don't remember if he decided dogs were in Japan by then or not.) We asked, but doesn't that mean they killed Bambi? Athena pointed out that, since Shikki is a shinki, it's not necessarily that they killed Bambi, and T-san was like, "I don't know about that..." So we're hoping he brings that up with Adachitoka and they make a joke about it in the series later.

They asked us where we studied Japanese, and we told them Brigham Young University, and the editor-in-chief was like, "Oh, that's where all the Mormons are!" Apparently he did a home stay in Utah many years ago, and his host family had the missionaries over all the time doing flip-chart presentations, and we were like, "Yup, that's what we do." (Unfortunately, I didn't actually say that because I wasn't sure how to say it in Japanese.)

And we talked about where lys studied art, and they told us Adachitoka went to art school, too, and at some point they told us that to draw all the horses that show up in the chapter we were looking at Adachitoka took up horseback riding, and I thought wow, that's dedication, but again I didn't know how to say it in Japanese. I should have said it in English, though, since most of the people there had a decent grasp on English. And they asked us about our translation process, and we explained it, and they were like, "Wow, it's like watching a documentary!"

Once we finished looking at the manuscript, the not-secret editor of Noragami started bringing over more things to look at, including a ton of colored artwork. Some of the artwork included the new covers of the Alive omnibuses, and oh my goodness it was shiny. They asked if we'd read Alive, and we said not yet, but we bought volume one at Animate. They kind of laughed and thanked us. I like to think the laugh was because we're cute.

He brought over the colored art that was used for the keychains we bought so many of at the art show, and when I asked if it was done in Copic, T-san said yes because Copic dries faster than Adachitoka's preferred medium of watercolor. He explained that when you do watercolor, you have to use tape, and if you peel it off too soon, you could tear the paper, which is why some of the art on display at the show has some torn bits on it. We didn't notice any at all, but I imagine T-san has an eye for that sort of thing.

And when the not-secret editor ran out of pictures to show us, he started bringing over merchandise. First it was some clear posters of Yato, and Athena thinks a set of bookmarks. They said we could have them, and we were all like, "...What? Really?" And they were like, "Of course!" and then they kept bringing more stuff! It didn't stop! We got post-its, can badges, more posters, little ema plaques with the godfathers picture from (we think) volume 14, stickers...and I don't remember what all else, except for the school calendar! The one with all the adorable pictures we saw at the art show! The editor got to that one, and he was like, "But that year's over, so I don't know if you want it," and we were like, "No, please, you have to let us have it!" So we each got a school calendar for 2014. And it has a picture of teenage Yato eating umai-bo! Aaaaaaahhh! And he has little mascot keychains of snowpuff Yukine and Capyper!

So that was a really awesome experience in and of itself, and already I was like, "Wow, I can't thank you enough!" but it wasn't over! We bid farewell to the Monthly Shonen Magazine editors, and then T-san asked us if we wanted to see the shojo manga departments. We all looked at each other with sparkles in our eyes so T-san said, "Let's go," and we went to the Nakayoshi department. We ran into the editor-in-chief almost immediately, and we told her we translate Missions of Love. She said, "Oh, well, the editor of Missions is here, let's go say hi."

Here I will pause, because I think this is where we passed by the whiteboard that clearly had also been passed by Hiroyuki Takei, because it was covered in a drawing of Norachiyo, the hero of Nekogahara. It was funny how she talked about it, because she was like, "Can you believe him! How are we supposed to erase this board now?" So of course we took a picture (after asking if it was okay; in Complex Age, the cospedia is always telling you to make sure to get permission before taking pictures).

I'll also take this opportunity to mention another brief encounter (because I don't remember exactly when it happened) with a man in the elevator. When he got off the elevator, T-san informed us that that was a manga artist, who was probably going to his room on that floor to take a nap. That particular floor is basically a hotel for manga artists. How cool is that!?

Anyway, we met the editor of Missions of Love, and I don't remember whose idea it was (I think it was Nakayoshi editor-in-chief's), but someone suggested they go see if they had anything to give us. So they went and found some yet-to-go-on-sale issues of Nakayoshi, along with the furoku from that issue and the one before it (a set of milky gel(?) pens and a set of spray pens with a Kero-chan squeezy thing to make them spray ink with), and some Ema Toyama ema plaques (I'm ashamed to admit that it wasn't until about when we got home that I was like, "Ooohh, ema because it's Ema Toyama!"). Athena got one with Yukina from Missions, lys got one with a character we don't yet recognize, and I got Shiro from Kami-Kami Kaeshi. And that's where the fun started.

I recognized Shiro and said, "This is Kami-Kami Kaeshi, isn't it?" And the Nakayoshi editors said, "Oh, you know it? You should translate that instead of Noragami," and T-san was like, "Waaaait a minute." "You should tell everyone it's better than Noragami!" "Waaaait a minute." And we were like, "Why can't we translate both?" The Nakayoshi editor's take on it is that they both feature Japanese mythology prominently, so it should appeal to the same fanbase. Having read both, I really don't think that's true, but there are definitely some people who would be interested in both for that reason, including us. There was a little more debate between the editors, and I just said, "I'm going to be neutral on this." I mean, it's true we do like one of those series better than the other, but we can't just say that in front of people!

So that was fun, and then we went over to the Dessert department and met the editor-in-chief and the editor of Say I Love You. Athena says, "I guess when you translate 40% of the stuff that comes into the States, it's not hard to run into the editors of the stuff you work on." This might be where T-san started just coming out and saying, "Do you have anything to give them?" And they got out this big box. We don't know if it was a box, but there must have been a box, right, because otherwise it would just be a pile of stuff. And they said, "Take whatever you want!" which, in retrospect, we should have interpreted for lys, because she told us later there was something she wanted but wasn't sure if she should take. We're sorry, lys! I think we were just so overwhelmed. We've never had people be so generous to us before. So we got Say I Love You towels and Say I Love You compact mirrors and Say I Love You pen cases, and they had copies of the manuscript pages of certain key scenes, like when Mei kicked Yamato, and when Mei kissed Yamato.

We had some more discussion here, because the Dessert editors had heard that Say I Love You was selling really well in the States, and they were a little perplexed about this, so they asked us why. I said I supposed it was because of the realistic portrayal of relationships, and because the readers could really relate to the characters. The editors were like, "You mean there are super introverts in America, too?" and inwardly I was like, "Boy are there ever!" but I just said yeah. T-san added that he met a lot of fans at the American conventions he went to, and they all seemed to feel the same way--they're all raising an otaku inside of themselves. And I said that no matter where you go, people are people, and we all said, "I guess that's true," and it ended on that philosophical note.

We continued along on that floor and passed by some posters for Chihayafuru, so we stopped to talk about them, because we love Chihayafuru. We said we'd love to translate it, and T-san expressed his regret that it could never be exported, and I was like, "No, it totally could. We just need a good translation of the Hyakunin Isshu first," and he was like, "Ha ha, yeah, good luck with that." Meanwhile, an editor came over and was like, "Did somebody say Chihayafuru? I edit that series! Here, have some New Year's cards!" This might be where T-san told someone (her, in this case) that we were going around getting stuff from all the editors.

Then he took us to the library, where the really cool room that he wanted to show us was occupied by some people doing a photo shoot. Our guess is that this was related to the people whose stuff was in that room on the top floor. But since we couldn't look in that room until the photo shoot was over, instead we went downstairs to the materials center, which is usually just called the library. It seemed to be an archive of all the books Kodansha has published in its 100-year history. T-san showed us the first Shonen Magazine and the first Nakayoshi. They were sooooo different than they are now. A lot more text. And then we wandered around and just looked at all the cool old books until someone came along and told us the really cool room was free.

And boy, was that room awesome! It was just like the old libraries you see in all the fantasy movies! It occurs to me now that maybe we should have asked if we could take pictures of us in it, but I don't usually think to take pictures with people in them unless those people are adorable nieces and nephews. Or cosplayers. Anyway, it was cool.

Finally, the tour ended, as most tours do, at the gift shop. Only it wasn't a gift shop, it was the Kodansha bookshop! And! at the Kodansha bookshop, you can get books for 20% off. T-san explained that this is a very big deal, because according to Japanese law, all books must be priced the same throughout the whole country, so the only place you can ever get them cheaper is at this bookstore. I kind of wish we'd taken more advantage, but again, we were kind of overwhelmed. I did grab the second and third Alive omnibuses as soon as I saw them, but T-san said, "You know I can just give you those, right?" And I don't remember what I said, maybe something like I'd feel bad because we'd already been given so much stuff. So instead he took the books from me and insisted on buying them himself. I don't know if he actually bought them or if he just told the clerk that he'd bring down a couple of copies later, but the point is, now we have those two books as a gift, and we're very grateful.

Instead, we bought the first three volumes of The Seven Deadly Sins, volumes three and four of Chihayafuru (we already have one and two), and a book called, "Learn the Hyakunin Isshu with Chihaya!" I picked it up and said, "Step one!" We really aren't kidding about wanting to translate the Hyakunin Isshu; we're just very slow about it because we have eighty gazillion other things to do. We are women of many ambitions. Lys bought some books, too, but I don't remember which ones.

And then the tour was over, and T-san said seriously we should do this again sometime, and we were like, "Heck yeah!" only not like that because we were kind of in a daze I think. It was just so amazing and everyone was so nice and they gave us so much stuff and even though we know there's a good chance it was just gathering dust in a storeroom and they were just happy to find a good home for it, I'm still so touched by their generosity. I don't know if any Kodansha editors will ever read this, but seriously, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you. I can't say it enough. We had an amazing time, and we are very happy to be able to work on all your amazing titles!

And that concludes my report of the Kodansha tour. There's still a lot more that happened on this trip, though, so stay tuned!


Today I'm thankful for getting to tour the Kodansha offices, getting to meet so many great editors, getting to look at a real live Noragami manuscript (so shiny!), all the great stuff Kodansha gave us, and especially for T-san making it all possible.
Comments 
10th-Sep-2016 07:45 am (UTC)
Ahhh, it was such a nice tour!! Everyone was the best! And at some point it occurred to me that, oh, I don't actually work on a lot of Kodansha stuff like you do. (but there was the Alice manga through Yen, and I could point out that I was reading Kanna to Decchi in Japanese...) The archives of old old magazines going back since forever were really amazing! Years ago I went on a hunt to find images online of the covers for a lot of shoujo magazines as far back as I could find them, so I knew at least how much those had changed, but the contents inside were fascinating to see too.

Oh, no worries about not translating their offer to "take anything you want" from that box. I did wonder if it maybe wasn't pointed out that you were also the translators of My Little Monster, but it's true we were all overwhelmed by that point (and probably jetlagged too) and really, there's no need to be greedy, lys!!

My Kodansha bookstore purchase was a Moomin colouring book :) I'd already filled most of my manga wishlist at Animate the day before and didn't have the brain power to explore new possibilities...
10th-Sep-2016 11:29 pm (UTC)
Haha, that's okay, you were our guest! And sometimes we were introduced as the Noragami Team, so there you go. And it really was interesting to see what kinds of things kids were reading way back when! ...Looked like they were actually reading a lot more, which makes me wonder about our whole obsession with comics, but...oh well.

As I've said several times, next time, we're going to be well aware of what titles we work on for what magazines, so we can make sure to let everybody know everything.

Haha, yeah, that brain power draining is nothing to be sneezed at. I think we'll be better prepared next time, though. And yay for lovely coloring books!
13th-Sep-2016 05:04 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you went as well. Sounds like a great trip.
Did you buy My Little Monster illustration book? I know it's oop but Kodansha office may have 1 or 2 leftovers?
13th-Sep-2016 09:19 pm (UTC)
Aww, if only we'd remembered this before we went, maybe we could have asked. Well, maybe next time.
11th-Sep-2016 01:07 am (UTC)
I am enjoying your description of your trip to Japan very much and this was very interesting! I'm looking forward to the next installment. :)

I have been quiet because I've been busy with the move and all, but I have been reading your posts, if that matters at all to you. ♥
11th-Sep-2016 07:44 pm (UTC)
We're glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for reading! It's always nice to know when people are interested.

And that's right, you've been moving! We hope it's going relatively smoothly, and that you get settled in really easily.
13th-Sep-2016 05:01 pm (UTC)
Welcome back.
What a great tour. Thanks so much for taking time to write in such details. It is so much fun to read.
eta: it's too bad that it was confirmed that Chihayafuru won't be exported to the US. The French has it!!!

Edited at 2016-09-13 05:02 pm (UTC)
13th-Sep-2016 09:20 pm (UTC)
Thanks! We're glad you enjoyed the report.

Nothing has been confirmed about Chihayafuru, only strongly implied! T-san isn't in charge; he just has more insider information. And minds can be changed!
13th-Sep-2016 09:26 pm (UTC)
"And minds can be changed!"
That's true. I'm glad for a more optimistic view. Now that they know there are potential translators :)
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