Friday, January 25, 2008

Black Lagoon licensed

This is an e/n post about one of my other projects, Black Lagoon. It has nothing to do with the releases featured on this blog.

I found out on January 9th that Black Lagoon has been licensed by Viz, and the first volume is due out in August. I was pretty upset when I heard the news, honestly. I've put an enormous amount of time and effort into this series; up until now, it's been a huge part of my identity as a translator. When I broke the news to Vorbis, my editor, he was shocked but said he'd expected it to happen sooner. He and I agreed to stop releasing it, per the scanlator's code (which is more like a set of loose guidelines, really). I understand that it being licensed was only a matter of time, and that nothing I say will stop it from happening, but I want to at least make my feelings known.

Black Lagoon has been my favorite project so far; it's also been the most difficult one I've ever worked on. It was full of slang, foreign language, and obscure pop culture references. During these past two years, it helped me become a better translator and changed the way I localize source material. Most of all, though, it was fun to translate. The plot was entertaining, the characters were interesting, and there was always a challenge. My favorite storyline was "Das Wieder Erstehen Des Adlers" ("The Eagle Rises Again"), in which the Lagoon crew attempt to recover a priceless painting from a Nazi submarine. I was quite disturbed by the scene in which the submarine is ambushed by enemy ships and the soldiers on board realize they're going to a watery grave. I took a great deal of care to make the captain's final speech to his men sound as brave and moving in English as it did in Japanese. I also remember that it took twenty minutes to properly translate the name of the medal that Levy finds ("Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords") from Japanese to German to English. The original had kanji with the German name beside it in katakana. I had wanted to include the German name in the English version for accuracy's sake, but it was just too long. Black Lagoon has given me a lot of fond memories, but these two are the ones that really stand out.

One thing that always bothered me was that people kept complaining about our release time (roughly one chapter per month). This became more prevalent toward the end. You know, considering both Vorbis and I have full-time jobs, families, and other interests outside of scanlation, one month is a damn good turnaround time. But then, that's what you get with a popular series, people always want more and can't be bothered to wait. I didn't work on Black Lagoon because it was popular, though. In fact, when I first started translating it back in August '05, it was fairly unknown. The series only truly gained popularity after the Black Lagoon anime was released in the US. This is the reason I usually shy away from translating a high-profile series: there's always the chance you'll wake up one day to find out it's been licensed and is no longer fair game. At which point you just have to cut your losses, move on, and hope the company that licensed your project doesn't screw it up.


Bob790 said...

That's a bit of bad luck. But life goes on and while the lessons it taught you are still useful it will never die in your heart.

Anonymous said...

sorry about your loss, but um, whoo hoo for more boy alice...maybe? *crosses fingers*

Anonymous said...

ya i really want more boy alice in wonderland