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Alethea & Athena
Please don't boycott us! 
18th-Aug-2017 05:30 pm
Wow, I just remembered that we never finished reporting about Melissa. But I have so many things to talk about! Maybe just a little something. One of our publishers recently reminded us of their existence after a long absence, which is part of why we're suddenly feeling much more busy. (In fact, we still haven't completely shaken the feeling that we should keep working today in the hopes of finishing the book we're working on before bedtime, but the desire to not be working all the darn time is stronger, and it's Friday, so.) But the more important point of this is that our boss made it known to us that a thing we've been secretive about is being discovered regardless of our secretivism (possibly due to our being kind of the opposite of secretive about it at Anime Expo), so I'm wondering if we should just come out and tell everyone.

Instead, I'm going to explain why we've been so secretive. The short version is we're paranoid. Whenever we go to the manga blogs looking for reviews, it seems pretty rare to ever come across one of something we translated. Now, logically, we have reasoned out that this may be because most of our work is through Kodansha, and maybe Kodansha doesn't send out review copies of everything. Further evidence for this theory: we see more reviews of volume ones that we translated than later volumes. On the other hand, this could be due to people not realizing that we translated the series, discovering that upon reading volume one, and deciding that they don't care about the series so much anymore. I know, it's silly!

But hear me out, I have my reasons! We're currently in a political climate where it almost seems like one of the worst things you can do on the internet is be positively associated with someone who carries the wrong ideology. Whenever something big happens anymore, we see people on Facebook making posts like, "If you disagree with me on this issue, unfriend me right now!" (I would like to pause for a moment here to let everyone know that Chrome is not telling me that the word "unfriend" is misspelled. See how social media affects every aspect of our lives?) We even know someone who made a comment to a relative saying, "Hey, maybe you shouldn't be so blanket statement-y..." and the relative PMed her to say, "I'm not going to unfriend you because I'm above that, but don't ever comment on my feed again." ...Okay, so it wasn't in so many words, but that was the gist of it.

And I'm not wanting to get into a discourse about the rights and wrongs of ideological segregation, but I am wanting to explain that I proudly carry a label that tends to be associated with the wrong ideology (at least, from what I perceive most manga bloggers' ideologies to be). I'm a Mormon, and I don't care who knows it. But because of some of the beliefs of the LDS Church, some people think that label--and I saw this stated clearly on Facebook--is the wrong one. For example, we saw a friend of ours like a post where somebody said he was going to boycott the Ender's Game movie, which is fine, but in one of the comments, the poster said it was not because of any of Orson Scott Card's personal views, but because he was a Mormon.

So basically it all comes down to that one comment on Facebook has us a little worried that maybe people boycott the manga we translate because we're Mormon, too. They probably don't. It's probably the review copy thing. But! since the issue was financial, let me explain why buying manga we translated probably won't mean your money goes to support a church that you disagree with. See, the problem with Card being a Mormon, specifically a fundamentalist Mormon, is that he pays tithing. And that means ten percent of all the money he makes goes to the LDS Church. So if, for example, that Facebook poster bought a movie ticket to Ender's Game, whatever percentage of that would go to Card, ten percent of that would go to the Church. (By the way, the Church would probably then use it to build and maintain church buildings, pay for materials like scriptures and lesson manuals, pay for youth activities, etc. We also have an excellent humanitarian aid program.)

As for us, we only get paid once for everything we translate--no royalties or anything like that. In other words, the amount of money we make stays the same, regardless of how many books get sold. In that case, you could say that if you want a smaller percentage of the proceeds to go to the LDS Church, you should buy more of the manga we translate, because then the money we made off that volume would be a smaller percentage of the profits. And true, because Kodansha will probably then pay us to translate something else, you could say that some of your money might go to us, but odds are it would be part of the 90% that we keep.

Aaaand that turned out to be a lot longer than I thought it would be, but I really wanted to get it off my chest, because this thing we've been secretive about is something that I absolutely do not want anyone to boycott. So if anyone really does boycott our manga, and this post hasn't addressed the problem, then please, let's see if we can work it out!

And since I meant for that to be short and it wasn't, I think it would be too long a post if I had the rest of Melissa's story here. So I will have to save it for another time.

Today I'm thankful for the coriander Bake not turning out to be disgusting (we've never knowingly had cilantro, so I can't say if we're in the love it or hate it camp, but this mostly just tasted like slightly burnt chocolate), not making super terrible progress on our edit today, Page's super cute new favorite spot, the word cilantro, and it being time to eat pizza.
19th-Aug-2017 12:27 am (UTC)
Oh no!!! I'm sorry you're feeling so anxious about this! I would be shocked if people really were boycotting your manga... (though I can't say I pay much attention these days to what gets reviewed. but then I also hear manga bloggers don't exactly represent the typical reader, either, with their high-falutin' literary tastes, so there's something else.) It's only anecdotal evidence, but I spotted a purchased copy of That Wolf Boy is Mine in the wild today! (its owner also counts Waiting for Spring as one of her very favourite series right now.) And I also learned that a(nother) friend wants to read Noragami, so... well, so I'm going to lend her my copies (she's in high school), which doesn't really turn into more sales, but it does turn into more readers, and since as you point out you've already gotten paid what you're going to get paid for each book, it's about as good, right?

Anyway, I'd really like to think reasonable people wouldn't boycott books you translated based on your being Mormon in any case. (I'd like to think people who boycott anything for such petty reasons are few). Because I think that if they know that much, they probably know enough about you yourselves that they should be able to determine that you're absolutely not bad people! For me at least, getting to know you and learn more about your beliefs has benefited my general understanding of the LDS church and the people who belong to it. (I know it's a little different because I've gained that understanding over several years, and I'm already coming from a Christian perspective which might also fall into that "wrong ideology" category... but still!!)

Lastly, do I know this thing you're being secretive about? I know one thing was a pretty big secret for a while, but it got announced in the last month or two... (email me if you want, or if you prefer to keep your secrets secret I respect that too!)

(oops, that wasn't lastly because this is: what's a coriander Bake? I think the people who can't stand cilantro don't necessarily have the same problem with coriander. the leaves and the seeds have different tastes and uses.)
19th-Aug-2017 01:27 am (UTC)
Haha, thanks! We know that at least some of the titles we translate tend to sell really well, so yeah, I think you're right that the manga bloggers' tastes usually don't really match the general manga readership (except that everyone reads Viz). We're happy to know that there are people out there enjoying our work! And you're also right that as long as they're not pirating the manga, we don't mind if they're borrowing things.

We, too, like to think that reasonable people wouldn't boycott our translations just because we're Mormon, because that's what we always thought being open-minded was about, but social media with its constantly skewed presentations of everything makes it easy to fear otherwise. A lot of people are putting up very thick barriers, it seems like. All we can do is continue to be ourselves. And normally, we wouldn't let it bother us so much (except when we're bored and think, "Oh hey, let's see if anyone's reviewed anything we translated!"), but we really, really, really want people to give this one a chance.

And yes, you are well acquainted with this thing we're being secretive about, and it is in fact the thing that was a secret for a while, so the first half of it was more mandatory. But then we were like, "Oh no, what if people decide they don't want it because of the boycott? That would be such a shame because..." Well, I don't want to go into that. Of course we're dying to tell everyone all about it, but we were hoping we could get more of a gauge on interest first, and nobody seems to be talking about it.

Bake is a Japanese snack that's basically little squares of baked chocolate, so it has a crispy outer layer (kind of like brownie edges) that doesn't melt in your hands, while the inside is creamy and smooth. This particular flavor is coriander, which, according to the introduction on the Wikipedia page, is another name for cilantro. Since we never used either one, we never bothered reading further to learn the distinction.  The packaging is covered with pictures of the leaves, though. (Here's a Japanese article about it.)

And recently on Facebook, it got brought up on a friend's feed that some people looove cilantro and some can't stand it, which is why we were a little nervous about it, since our taste buds tend to lean in the direction of "everything is gross." (Fascinatingly, someone commented saying they've identified the specific gene that makes it so cilantro tastes like soap to some people.)
19th-Aug-2017 07:54 pm (UTC) - If someone were to boycott your work...
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
19th-Aug-2017 08:54 pm (UTC) - Re: If someone were to boycott your work...
In general, I'm not super worried about it, and I would hope that you know us well enough that we're not going to change any of our standards to get people to like us. There's just this one specific thing that I'm hoping, if people are boycotting, I'll be able to convince them through reason that they should at least give this one thing a chance.
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