Our first concern was that, when we finally got around to looking up directions, we discovered that San Diego was a little farther away than certain San Diego-frequenting friends had let us to believe. But we did a long bus ride for Anime Expo, so we figured a long train ride couldn't be so bad. Nevertheless, we did splurge on a hotel for the one night, for the main reason that there was a panel we wanted to go to on Thursday that ended at eight, and panels we wanted to try for on Friday morning at ten. And we evaluated our current state of physical/mental health and determined that sleep was more important than money. (You may not be shocked to discover that hotel prices in San Diego are through the roof that weekend. And yet every hotel is nearly sold out anyway.)
Anyway, we managed to board our train without incident, and off we went to Comic-Con! We arrived at about ten-thirty and picked up our lanyards and swag bags. Swag bags have evolved in an interesting way--they all come with shoulder straps to be worn like backpacks, which is great as far as making it around the dealers' hall unhindered, but not so great as far as, like, anything else. Cumbersome as they may be, I like to have a bag I can hang by my side, from my shoulder, or from my elbow--not only can I switch it up if I get tired, but it's so much easier to reach into the bag and rifle around for things. They had a bunch of cool designs, though. We got some Super Hero Girls bags, which were highly sought after, apparently, because we had two offers for trades. The first one we had to decline because we were still getting our bearings, but the second time, we went ahead and traded one of them because we didn't need two. It was at the My Little Pony panel, and they had two little girls, so who were we to refuse?
After that, we spent a lot of time just wandering. The Dealers' Hall was a massive labyrinth. It may not have been so labyrinthine (it was a simple grid) if the aisles were not rivers of people. Definitely not the place for agoraphobes. Or probably claustrophobes, for that matter. We thought we had gone up and down the whole grid, but we managed to miss both of the booths we were trying to keep an eye out for. We decided to escape for a while and try again later. In the meantime, we decided to try some of the San Diego Convention Center's own signature chocolate bars...which were sadly not very good. We also made the mistake of going outside in an attempt to find a non-floor place to sit, which was really not a good idea for eating chocolate on a warm day.
We discovered that there was a Disney panel on the Art of Story happening in about twenty minutes, so off we went to attend it! ...Only we didn't get in, because so many people had been waiting for it that the room filled up before we got in. We had nothing else to do, though, so we waited in the standby line anyway, and we got into the room about halfway through it. I don't even really know who all was on the panel. All I really remember was that someone asked them each what the best specific, more than just "don't give up on your dreams" "draw every day," advice they could give was, and one of them said, "Listen to old people," because they've been through a lot of the human experience and have a lot of stories to tell. Seems pretty legit. Then they had a special trailer for some Olaf short they're showing with some movie that's coming out... The new Pixar one...Coco? Anyway, why a short cartoon needs a trailer is beyond me (okay, I guess it's not beyond me; it's highly anticipated and people want sneak peeks), but mostly it was pretty much the same Frozen stuff that had me not really caring for the movie to begin with. And oh my gosh, Elsa. She's all, "It's MY fault we don't have any family holiday traditions!" and she was so dramatic about it. Like, calm down, lady, you can just start some.
Then we went back to the dealers' hall to find those booths. We had told the boss at Kodansha that we were going to Comic-Con, so we wanted to make sure to go say hi, so we did that, and that was nice but not really worth reporting on, and we also knew that the creator of the cute, fluffy alien Stitch was at the convention with his wife, selling the book she wrote and some merchandise to go with it. It's called Rescue Sirens, and it's about mermaid lifeguards. They had pins of the main characters, and we wanted to get some of those, too, but we aren't made of money, so we just wanted to get our favorites...but we didn't know who they were! So we bought the book with the intent to read a bunch of it that night and choose favorite characters to buy pins of. Unfortunately, we had a pretty busy day, so we only managed to read the prologue and first two chapters, but we did determine that we like Maris, so we were able to buy one pin the next day. As for the book itself, the story and characters are interesting enough, but we're hoping the writing style improves.
We also went to the Epic Cosplay Wigs booth to ask them about Land of the Lustrous wigs. It started out with us asking how we would get the right sparkle, and ended with what we really wanted all along, which was to plant the idea in their heads to just make the character wigs so we could buy them pre-made. I'm generally all about making your own costumes, but wigs are out of our depth.
Finally, it was time to check in to our hotel, so off we went! And as previously mentioned, it was super cute. It was within walking distance from the convention center, and the streets along the way were almost as crowded as the center itself with con-goers. They had some really neat looking shops, but we mostly only paid attention to the Ghirardelli's one.
But we had to hurry back, because Kodansha Boss was going to be on a panel! It was a roundtable discussion with leaders from the main US manga publishers, about the state of the industry. It was a pretty interesting panel, and I wish they'd had more time, because there was some stuff they didn't get to go into. Let's see what I remember... Comic-Con used to be a big deal for manga, but it's not anymore because it's not so much a comics convention so much as a pop culture convention, and a niche market within a niche market can hardly compete with Stranger Things. So now all the publishers kind of make it a point to make their announcements during the off-season. There was also a mention of how there's enough information on *coughpiracycough* now to know that it does not in fact help the market at all, and some publishers will definitely factor in whether or not something is being scanslated when choosing what to license, and if it is, bad news for law-abiding fans. There was a lot of talk about different marketing styles, and how Viz and Dark Horse didn't want to submit to the Evil Empires of Amazon and iTunes, so they had their own apps for a while. ...And I think that's all I remember.
After the panel, we hung around a little while, as did someone else we met from Kodansha at Anime Expo, who was attending the panel with Yumi Sukemune, the Japanese editor of Princess Jellyfish. We introduced ourselves, and she said something about how she's sorry about shoujo manga being so hard to translate, and we were like, "Wha...? It's not hard." We had just been working on Waiting for Spring, and it was really not difficult. "That Wolf-Boy Is Mine!" is one of the easiest series we've had in a while. It had us wondering what exactly other translators think is hard to translate and why.
...Which was fortunate, because the next panel on the agenda was the Lost in Translation panel. This panel turned out to be pretty hard on us, actually, because it was basically a bunch of people talking about exactly what we always want to talk about, only we weren't part of the conversation. Not that I didn't consider asking a question--in fact, I was thinking of asking one based on that last paragraph: what...kind of a..."category"...do you consider to be hardest to translate and why? That was the important part, was the why.
I ended up not asking, though, because lo and behold, that was the first question: what do you find hardest to translate? Unanimously and without even stopping to think about it, the answer was, "Humor. Puns." And I just wanted to facepalm. I mean, of course I'll agree that puns are challenging, but wordplay is not limited to humor, and humor is not limited to wordplay. And they didn't talk about it any more than that, because! the questioner had supplied them with possible answers already, which included sound effects. I think one translator started to say that sound effects weren't that hard, but then another translator pointed out that they do tend to be a big challenge at first, and so they spent an inordinate amount of time discussing various ways to deal with sound effects, and about how there's not really a good equivalent for "gatan gatan," etc. etc.
Somebody asked how they all got into the industry, so they all told their long stories about how they got into the industry, and then finally Lilian Diaz-Przybl answered what we thought the question really was, which was, "How can I get into the industry?" The answer of course being connections. Go to a convention, find a publisher, and say hey can you use translators? We even saw it at Anime Expo. While we were talking to Kodansha Boss, someone walked up with cards and translation samples and asked if they could use some translators. He said, "Sure, give me your card." He gave her a card, too, which is important because editors tend to be really busy and might not always remember to contact you, so it's important to follow up.
Someone asked about how bias affects translation...and I don't really remember what they said. Mostly, "I try not to let it, but of course I don't know." And it was also pointed out that if there's something someone really doesn't want to translate, they can turn it down. Of course, sometimes you don't know you hate a series until you've translated a few volumes, but even then you can probably ask them to hand it off to somebody else. We almost did that with Say I Love You, because we didn't like all the teen sex, but then they toned it down, so we decided to keep going with it.
There was a question about the hardest specific thing they'd dealt with, to which ours, at this point in time, would be the second half of the last episode of Kabukibu!. Y'all think puns are hard--try 17th century puns. Puns that not even native Japanese speakers understand anymore. Yeah.
There was also a question about how to deal with potential copyright infringement, to which the main answer was, "That's my editor's problem." There was a story about the new Battle Angel Alita translation that was interesting, though. Apparently it's a lot easier to get the rights to use song lyrics in Japan than it is in the States, so in the original series, they used the lyrics of a song from an American band... Yes, I think? They didn't want to do that for the original English release, so they wrote new lyrics, and then Kodansha Japan acquired the rights for the manga and did a reprint, but they didn't want to deal with copyrights either, so they translated the new English lyrics into Japanese. I don't know how that's going to pan out for the new English release.
And someone asked the very controversial question of what's the worst translation they've ever seen. Mari Morimoto was proud of her honest diplomatic answer, which was very similar to ours, "I don't have time to read other people's translations." Nobody else wanted any piece of that, except for Lilian, who was like, "The translation of Nodame Cantabile was just tragic."
After the panel, Lilian came over and said hi, and we chatted for a little while before we parted ways and we went back to our hotel to die and read Rescue Sirens.
And I think this post is long enough, so I'll save the Friday report for tomorrow.
Today I'm thankful for getting to go to Comic-Con, our cute hotel room, finishing our Waiting for Spring translation, getting to talk to friendly people, and the beautiful San Diego Convention Center.