A long time ago, I think around February, we were getting down to the last volume of both titles we were working on for Kodansha, and we were fully prepared to tell our boss that we were ready for a new assignment as soon as we turned in the last volume of Deltora Quest. Well, to our surprise, after we turned in the second-to-last volume of Deltora Quest, we were offered a new series. This was kind of a critical time for us, because we hadn't gotten anything new in a long time, and whenever we had, it was mid-series, which means we weren't the first choice, and when we mentioned it, nobody cared about it. So we were feeling kind of like has-beens. But here was this new assignment! Salvation!
...or was it? The title of this series was Watashi ni XX Shinasai, which literally means "Do XX to Me!", or "XX Me!" Of course we realized that, this being a Nakayoshi title, aimed at young girls, the X's were probably more like the x in algebra, like a fill-in-the-blank kind of thing. Japanese text doesn't really allow for blanks, after all.
Still, earlier on we had been offered a potentially very lucrative project that we had to turn down when we researched the author and found out that he's known for writing on the more erotic side, and with a title like that, we had to be sure. So we looked up Ema Toyama at Wikipedia and didn't get much info, except that she also draws for GanGan comics, which wasn't necessarily a promising bit of data. But there was a link to her website, which was absolutely adorable. We were like, "Yay! It's so cute and innocent!"
Then we clicked on the link to her works and saw the cover of Watashi ni XX Shinasai!.
And the reviews at Amazon all said stuff like, "It's a really good story, but it might be too intense for little girls (the Nakayoshi readership)--it's more of a middle school/high school kind of thing." Of course, we know a few people who are like, "I love Harry Potter, but I just don't know when it will be safe to let the children in my life read it." And we really wanted a new series.
So we emailed our boss and said that we really want to do it, but we're not sure if we'll be comfortable with the content. We were pretty nervous about this email, because we were pretty sure he'd be like, "Dude, you work on Negima!, for crying out loud!" But in Negima! the nudity is rarely sexual. We also pointed out that we realized we could be over-thinking things, and so our boss very wisely said, "I'll send you a copy. You can read it and decide. Just do it quick, because if you say no, I'll need to find someone else." (Only he probably would have said "quickly," because he knows all his proper grammar.)
Soon the manga arrived, and the art is so pretty! We fell in love with it instantly! Every time I turned the page, I was worried there would be a picture of something really inappropriate, but there never was! Oh, what a relief!
And so we agreed to translate it, and we've been happily working on it ever since! Tadah! The title of the English version (for those of you who didn't already know and didn't click on the link) is Missions of Love, and I think the premise is rather unusual for shoujo manga. A lot of the reviews we've read compare it to The Secret Notes of Lady Kanoko, or more specifically, they compare Yukina to Kanoko. We don't know how the actual stories compare, but we recently ordered a copy of Warau Kanoko-sama, so we'll be finding out soon. But anyway, one of the things we really love about it is how it explores all the characters' emotions as they try to figure out why they feel the way they do. Another thing we really love is that Yukina is definitely a strong character, but not in a tough, kick-butt kind of way. It's one of our favorite series!
Today I'm thankful for wise bosses who give us the option of testing manga for content, Mom buying us ice cream today, getting to translate Missions of Love, finally getting to work on a series from the beginning again, and Mom driving us around.