This is another one that came as a surprise. Out of the blue, we got an email from someone we didn't recognize (but probably should have). It was a different editor at Kodansha than the one we'd been working with, and he wanted to know if we could step in and help with the Fairy Tail translations, since they were releasing each volume monthly and the main translator is pretty big in manga translation, so he was getting swamped. We did have a very faint hope that this would result in our taking over the series, but we knew it was a long shot, so we weren't too broken up when that didn't happen. More importantly, it meant getting to know a new editor, which meant one more editor to consider us as translators when new titles came under his jurisdiction. Also, our names on a best-selling title that we happened to like pretty well ourselves.
I think a lot of this is going to be a repeat of what I said when we first told everybody we translated a volume of Fairy Tail, but that's just how it goes sometimes, especially when there's only one volume involved.
We had been watching the anime of Fairy Tail since it first started. I think it was soon after we started working for Del Rey that they announced licensing the manga, and they made a big event out of it at Comic Con that year, and they brought the manga artist over to the States, and we were all like, "Awww, I wanna work on a big deal...!" And it's called Fairy Tail of all things, so when the anime came along, we were eager to know what it was all about. It actually wasn't anything especially special as far as shounen manga/anime goes, but we liked the characters well enough to keep watching. And it helped that very few battles lasted more than two episodes. Still, I think the main reason we kept watching was that Crunchyroll wasn't keeping the episodes forever, so we didn't want to find out something really cool was going on in the series somewhere down the line...and then not be able to catch up. And, like most long-running series, it had it's less-interesting arcs and its super awesome arcs, so y'know. Sometimes it was worth it, and sometimes it wasn't.
When we were asked to translate the manga, that made all of our anime-watching worth it, because now we knew exactly what was going on when we were thrown into the series at volume 32. (Of course, it was in the middle of a tournament, so it was pretty easy to translate even without any knowledge of the story leading up to it, but...oh well.)
The main challenge with this translation was consistency and character voice. Erza is one of my favorite characters, but she's also exactly the type of character I can never quite grasp as far as how she would speak in English. We were sent the scripts for a couple of the latest volumes, to help us know what was going on, and to refer to for character voice, so we were able to translate our one volume with more confidence.
This volume also introduced a lot of new characters, and a lot of them were invented just to be quirky, it seemed like, so we were able to have some fun with it. Most notable as far as fun character quirky dialogue is Beth, who was described in the manga bonus features as being very country, so we made sure she said things like "shucks."
Speaking of the bonus features, another really fun thing about that volume was the character stat charts. Since it was a tournament, the commentator guy wrote up stat sheets for all the characters, listing their strength level in five different areas. Of course there was the usual attack power, magic power, etc., but then each character had a unique stat, like Beth's countriness. That was a lot of fun, because we got to make up words. It was mostly just adding suffixes to adjectives to make them into nouns properly, but that's exactly the kind of fun we like to have with words. Looking back at it, a lot of them were kind of boring, actually, but we did have the term "snowmasculinity." Not really sure what that's referring to, even knowing that it's supposed to describe Eve Tearm.
This was a tournament volume, so no character was really in it long enough to distinguish him or herself as a favorite, but Lyon was in it, and he's played by current seiyuu crush Yuuki Kaji, so maybe we'll go with him. Lyon is the character that had us wishing people understood what his character sounded like, and what Shiodome in Miracle Train sounded like, because it's kind of hilarious how different they are. But these days, I think Eren from Attack on Titan would be a better contrast to Shiodome than Lyon...except that Lyon's voice is deeper. Also, Sting was in this volume, and he's played by Takahiro Sakurai, so he can be a favorite, too. But of course, we always like Natsu and Gray and Erza.
On the translation difficulty scale, I think I'll give this one a seven. It was more challenging than we expected for a quick fighting volume. There was a lot of explaininess, and that's always difficult to translate. And, as mentioned, there were quirky speech patterns to deal with. And since a lot of these characters were showing up for the first time, we couldn't just rely on previous translations.
Today I'm thankful for Tagalongs, not having to go to the store tomorrow, finding another wild artefact in Final Fantasy XIII-2, getting to sleep in tomorrow, and getting to play a small part in translating Fairy Tail.