Rurouni Kenshin Manga Translations FAQ page

Intro stuff:

What you can/'t do:

Translation:

When:

Troubleshooting:

The commercial stuff:


Basic introductory questions


Who are you? Why are you here?

My name is Lawrence Chu, a twenty-year-old anime/manga fanatic. I'm here because I enjoy Rurouni Kenshin. And you?

...okay, maybe you're looking for a leetle more information than that. I'm a twenty-year-old anime/manga fanatic who got his first dose of anime/manga from--everyone my age, all together now--Robotech (Hey! You over there who said "Voltron!" Get out!). Eventually, I broke my way into the manga scene when I first purchased a volume of Oh My Goddess! translated into French. (Long story short, living in non-English Europe means less English stuff.) I'd heard a lot about Kenshin from the now-no-longer-defunct Fan Fiction Mailing List, and I decided to pick up the first volume, also translated into French.

Needless to say, I was addicted right away. The only other time I had spent so much money so quickly on manga was when Maison Ikkoku (my OTHER favorite manga) was still being published in monthlies. Between the two of us, my older brother and I snapped up Kenshin manga (in French) like nobody's business. Eventually, I decided that, hey, why not bring it to people in English?

More information, possibly contradictory, in the Author's Notes.


What's a Rurouni Kenshin? Does it taste good?

Rurouni Kenshin is a manga/anime (Japanese comic/animation) series penned by Nobuhiro Watsuki. This is his first effort at manga, and it became an overnight success. In summary, it's the (entirely fictional) tale of Japan's best (mostly fictional, though very-vaguely based on a real) assassin, ten years after he vowed never to kill again. Stumbling upon the student teacher of a kendo dojo plagued by a serial killer using her school's name, they start off on the first of some action-packed, dramatic, and occasionally zany adventures which continually test his vow of non-violence, as well as his ability to keep control of the assassin within him.


Why are you going over treaded ground?

If by "treaded ground," you're referring to the fact that about a zillion and one people have done Rurouni Kenshin fanscans. There're a few reasons behind this. One of them was that I didn't like a lot of those other fanscans. Snotty of me, but yes, that was one of the reasons. Another reason is that, quite simply, Kenshin is about the only manga where I feel I know the characters in and out. I know what it's like to translate a show where you can't quite get into the characters' skin--my one Love Hina chapter was disastrous. _;

If by "treaded ground," you mean "why start from the beginning," which about a zillion and one people have started from, it's because it makes it easier for the people who DON'T know Kenshin to start from the beginning. I'm not going to start a book series from the middle, when the characters have already been introduced and we don't even really know their motivations, so why should others do the same?


...wait. Didn't you say that you owned all the available French tankoubon? Why don't you scan those and use those as a translation source?

Three reasons. First, the spine on the French tankoubon are a lot easier to damage--they aren't as flexible as the Japanese tankoubon. Second, the sound effects in the French version tend to cover up a lot of the original artwork, especially during fightscenes. It still looks cool, but...lemme put it this way--when I picked up the Japanese version for the first time, I realized how much I was missing out. Third, the translation itself isn't nearly as faithful as I'd hoped it'd be (when comparing it to Maigo-chan's translations)--small things, but subtle things.


Why is the comic backwards?

People in the Far East--Japanese, Chinese, Koreans, etc.--read and write in a different way than we Westerners do. Because their written language goes from up to down and right to left, manga is normally done in the same way. I don't want to flip it to Western orientation for reasons discussed later.


What's with that random text from Watsuki that appears in some of these chapters?

These are called "freetalks," and as far as I can tell, Watsuki's the only person that does them in manga. They way they're written, it looks like he does these during the compilation of the volume tankoubon itself, and not while it's being published by Shounen Jump (the weekly that published it in Japan). It's his way of thanking the fans and talking to them, and it's one of the reason I like him as a mangaka (manga author)--he likes to keep in touch, and judging from the japanese tankoubon I have (not much, mind you), he's the one that talks to the readers en masse the most often. I get help for translating these from the French tankoubon I have, as well as from Serizawa Kamo's Translation Index.

##Addendum! I've been told that Naoko Takeuchi also has freetalks in her Sailor Moon manga, as does Yuu Watase in Fushigi Yugi and Ayashi no Ceres (Ceres, Celestial Legend). You know, I'm wondering if any other shounen manga authors do it, since these two manga are shoujo. ^^;

Watsuki also writes little notes to the reader in his "about the author" column found on the inside of the cover, as well as a "making of" section in between chapters.


A "making of" section?! You bastard, translate those and gimme!

It's all text, anyway. Pick up the translations at Maigo-chan's Ruroken Translations or at Serizawa Kamo's Translation Index. You won't regret it. n.n; Maigo-chan keeps the making-of sections at the end of the chapter the making-of was featured in, and Kamo's (incomplete) translations, which cover some of the characters that Maigo-chan haven't gotten to yet, are about two-thirds down the page.


"Outtakes?" What the hell are these? And what the hell are you on?

The outtakes are just random things I've been doing in my spare time, since I have no life. Most all of these are Obscure Cultural References (OCRs for short--you'll find them floating around the Net), be it a movie, another anime, or whatever. I can't explain them to you, since it'd be like explaining a joke--it WOULD be explaining a joke. And everyone knows that if you have to explain a joke...

As for what I was on...usually Coke. (The drink, not the powder.)


What you can or can't do with these scans and this site


I've got plenty of time on my hands. Can I help translate/scan/edit for your site?

Thanks for the offer, but I must decline. ^^; The reason is, bluntly put, that I'm meticulously anal about doing stuff myself. I do my own scans, I do my own editing. (Maigo-chan does the translating, and I really thank him[her? I never figured out what Maigo-chan's gender was ^^;] for doing so. Thanks, Maigo-chan! ^_^) There're enough translations to work off of floating around the Net, so there's not much help needed there, either. If I need help, I'll ask for it. But, again, thanks anyway. ^_^


Okay, so helping hands are a no-go. Your loss. How about tossing these around #ircchannel or posting them on my own page?

Sure, feel free to pass it around. Distribute the Kenshin goodness! Just make sure that, if you put it on a webpage, you link back to me, okay? I'll probably link back to your site if you do! (Or not, if you don't want me to.)


How about hosting a volume of RK on my server? Can I help you there?

Heck yeah! This page gets roughly 20-odd GB of traffic each month, which is around ten times more than the next-most-traffic-gathering site on this server. My guilty conscience ("This can't be right! Con Science?") says I really shouldn't be doing this considering I don't regularly pay for the service (I give donations, though--help support this server!) and, contrary to what I thought before, my sysadmin doesn't get the time to read these files like I hoped he would. So, of course, I feel kind of bad about burdening him with all this traffic (despite his insistence that it's not really hurting him). Keep in mind that you'll probably get several gigabytes of traffic (5-10, optimistically--probably more like 15-20) per month and that your ISP may charge you extra beyond a certain limit. If this is all right with you, contact me and we'll get stuff settled.


Can I put files on my GeoCities/FortuneCity/[free internet host here]/[free briefcase] account for distribution?

Sorry, that isn't possible. It's not a matter of whether or not I like it--I'd like to lighten up the bandwidth load around here--but the GeoCities/FortuneCity/etc. people don't. Their bandwidth is meant for people's own personal home pages, not for file hosting. If they catch someone hosting something--especially something as grey-line as translated manga--they will terminate it with extreme prejudice. (I've always wanted to say "terminate with extreme prejudice." ^_^) That was one of the problems with RK: Revenge--Terrashare, Yahoo! Briefcase, and FortuneCity took down the files fairly quickly. This is why we're asking for people who host their own servers for help. Thanks for the thought, though. ^_^


Can I link directly to your files from my page?

Put gently, I'd rather not. As is, the links from this page alone generate lots of bandwidth, and I'd rather have people getting the links directly from me than from another site. ^_^; Direct-linking to chapters or other non-web-page-content (pictures, videos, etc.) on other people's sites on is generally considered BAD netiquette, so don't do it, not with this site, not with other fanscan or anime download sites. If you absolutely, positively MUST point people towards my scans, just link to my page, either through a text link or through one of the banners provided on the links page.

Note that, if I find out that someone IS linking directly to the chapters (and I can find out), I will NOT be nor will I even ATTEMPT to be as gentle and patient as I was with the above paragraph. I will be even less gentle and patient if said person fails to give credit where credit is due. If you can't tell by the way I say things in my news updates, the fact that I sap up the greater majority of the bandwidth off this server is a very sensitive issue with me, and if someone decides that they can just toss links onto their page and say "Go ahead! Download to your heart's content!" without mentioning that it's at the Iron Sysadmin Kesseki's and my expense (not to mention out of Kesseki's POCKET at times), I will be more than put out.

See? I TOLD you this was a sensitive point with me. ^_^;


Gee, I never would've figured. How about outtakes? Can I send one of those in?

Oh, definitely! That's something I'd LOVE to see other people contribute to! Send it in, and I'll post it (and give you credit for it, of course).


I really like your site and I want to link to it. (Shyeah, right.) May I?

Go for it. This site is link free. ^_^ I've got banners for you to use on my links page.


Translation questions


What's with the "my pardons" and "I say" crap that Kenshin says just about every other word?

In the Japanese dialogue, Kenshin speaks in an awkwardly formal and polite speech pattern, where most of the sentences end in "de gozaru" or a variation thereof ("de gozatta," "de gozaran," etc.). Since he only uses it when he's being his lovable, goofy self (as opposed to his assassin's nature) and there are sections that specifically need that "de gozaru" bit (read the Black Hat arc and you'll understand a bit...wait until I get to the Cho fight--I HOPE I get to the Cho fight--and you'll understand a lot more), so I put it in. "My pardons" was shorthand for "My pardons for saying so," which was waaaaaay too long to put in, but that felt really awkward, since I had to put that at the beginning of each sentence. I switched to "I say" in volume 2, because it was shorter and could be appended to the end. More of this is explained in the author's notes.


You went so far as to translate "de gozaru," so why not do "sessha" as well?

Yet another thing about Kenshin--he refers to himself as "sessha," which means "this (demeaning adjective here) one," in wanderer mode. I kept him to using the usual "I" to refer to himself, since "this (demeaning adjective here) one" was too much to fit into some word balloons.


Why did you translate <insert Japanese word here> like <insert English version here>?

Read the author's notes, they'll tell you everything you want to know.


You jerk! You translated something like this when the Japanese dialogue says it's supposed to be like that!

...okay, here's the deal with the way I edit. I want to create a manga version that's true to the characters AND accurate when compared to the original Japanese dialogue. Thing is, if I have to choose one or the other, I'm going with dialogue that's true to the characters. If you want complete, 100% accuracy...well, it's not possible. ^_^; If you want 80% accuracy, learn Japanese or ask a fellow manga aficiando who happens to know Japanese for help.

For how I translate people, check out the author's notes.


The whens of this site


How long will you do this for?

...I don't know, frankly. The basic answer is "until I'm bored," which could be tomorrow or could be never. (God, I HOPE it's never.) The truth is, though, that I've got a billion other things I have to do at home, and scanning/translating saps up a lot of time (especially since Kenshin uses so many text overlays that I have to actually retouch art where some of the text once was). I also buy each volume individually when it's time for translation, so if a volume isn't available, I can't do it.


Can you tell me when the next chapter'll come out? or,
Why hasn't the next chapter come out yet?

Patience, grasshopper. Chances are I've already started on the next chapter--either that, or I'm on hiatus for a short period. Either way, I'll probably have the chapter done eventually. As for telling you when it'll come out...I'm sorry, you'll just have to check for updates. ^_^; I can't write everyone who wants me to tell them when the next chapter is posted, and I'll likely take the famous computer-game answer: "when it's out." If you tell me you can't get a certain chapter that SHOULD be up there (e.g. the link looks like it's broken), that's a different story altogether.

#Addendum! If you haven't heard already, I'm planning on working on a whole bunch of new chapters, but I'll only be releasing them on a weekly basis. Several reason factor into this--my sysadmin's bandwidth has been bogged down with tons'a downloads every day, being able to update during the school year without worry as to detracting from studies or lack of resources to update with, and so on--and this decision is final. I hope you'll understand, since this is now the only viable option and--let's face it--still pretty reasonable.


When'll you get to Kyoto?

For those who don't understand the above question, the Rurouni Kenshin manga is traditionally separated into three major arcs: The "Tokyo" arc (books one through six), which is comprised of a lot of smaller arcs (Character Intros, Black Hat, Oniwaban-shu, Yahiko/Tsubame, Raijuta, Tsukioka). The second arc is known as the Kyoto Arc (books seven through eighteen), which is the first of the two megaplots. After this, the manga and anime go separate ways--the anime had its filler season, and the manga had an arc called "Jinchu," or "Vengeance of Man." (Also known as the "Revenge" arc.) Those of you who've poked through the guestbook'll find lots of people asking for this (and I answer their requests in the next section.)

By the time you read this, I'll have started working on the first few chapters of Kyoto (if not gone past them), and so this question won't really be useful. If you want more Kyoto than I've got here, check out Rurouni Kenshin: Tales of the Swirly-Eyed Samurai and get the first few volumes (they're still doing Kyoto themselves). As far as I know, they have the most Kyoto chapters out there. Now, on to...


Jinchu! I want Jinchu! More Jinchu!

...I'm sorry. _ It's going to be a while before I can get started on Jinchu, since I'm starting from the beginning (and intend to continue doing so). If you want Jinchu RIGHT now, Noated has links to a bunch of sites that're translating Jinchu chapters. I'm pretty sure that if you pick and choose from the different sites, you'll assemble a complete set of chapters from the Jinchu arc. (I don't know, I haven't tried it myself.) For those of you who remember Rurouni Kenshin: Revenge, I understand that Cloud's Anime has copies of all the RKR chapters on their site. When I checked, though, they were all in EXE format (self-extracting files), which turned me off right there. If somebody else can verify, I'd be grateful.


The troubleshooting bit


I'm getting this whacked-out message when I try to download a chapter. What's it mean?

Tell me which link you were trying to click (specifics, like chapter, page, sentence I used it in, etc.) and what whacked-out message you get. I'll see if I can figure it out, or get the Iron Sysadmin Kesseki to help.


I'm trying to download a chapter, but I keep getting a user name/password prompt. What's the u/p?

There is no u/p. It's something most download clients (like GoZilla) and I'm fairly sure a number of web browsers (like IE) do when the FTP line is full--they ask for a u/p so you can bypass anonymous FTP. If it's particularly insistent, try typing in "anonymous" as your username and leave the password blank. (Or use your e-mail address as the password; that was the old-school way of anonymous FTP, though I don't think it's really practiced anymore.)


Hey, you've got a broken link--no, a broken picture--no, a typo--ah, screw it, there're mistakes on your page! Tons of them! Typos and broken images everywhere! It's worse than JeffK's page! What can I do?

E-mail me with the kind of error it is, what page it's on, and so on so forth. Specifics are the key to these kinds of things. :P


Stuff you can buy, RK or otherwise


What Kenshin stuff is there out there?

Well, there's a LOT of stuff, but I'll specifically focus on the manga and anime. The manga is only available in Japanese (they haven't licensed it for the US yet), and you can probably pick it up at AnimeNation.com for a few bucks per volume (the complete series is 28 volumes). The anime has been licensed by two people: the TV series, which is based on the first eighteen volumes (and then it goes off on its own completely original--and, apparently, sucky--storyline), is being distributed by Media Blasters under the name "Rurouni Kenshin." ADV has picked up and put out the home video version (OAV for you anime-term-knowledgable) and movie out under the title "Samurai X" (*shudder*) for the DVD and dub versions, and kept the "Rurouni Kenshin" title in the sub. Both are doing a good job in one way or another--MB's TV series tries its best to stay as faithful as it can to the original Japanese version, even in the dub, and ADV...well, their master transfers are excellent, and they did a good job with the sub versions. (I will NOT say anything about the dub. NONONONONO.) You can pick those up at Amazon.com or express.com without much trouble.

I've reviewed the Kenshin TV and OAV DVDs at Anime on DVD. When you read them, keep in mind that I'm an RK mark. But...basically, if you like what you're reading here, you'll like what's on them DVDs.


I just started anime and manga, and I really liked Rurouni Kenshin. Can you recommend any other anime or manga series?

Sure! If you like Rurouni Kenshin, I'm almost certain you'll like Trigun. Trigun is the adventures of the infamous outlaw Vash the Stampede--ladies' man, sharpshooter, dork. He's so infamous that he's got a $$60,000,000,000 reward on his head, and he's well known for being a staunch pacifist--he finds a way out of every situation without killing someone or letting someone be killed. (Sound familiar?) Of course, his past is shrouded in mystery and is about to take its toll on him...believe me, it's a lot better than I'm making it sound. ^_^; The anime series is available from Pioneer in its entirety over the course of eight volumes, and there is no word on any release of the Trigun manga.

##Addendum! From what I've heard, Dark Horse has expressed interest in Trigun manga. Or is it Trigun comics? I'm not quite sure, because comic artists who do stuff with DH have talked about actually drawing Trigun stuff, but I'd think they'd also release whatever stuff exists in Japanese as well.

And while we're on westerns, Watsuki-sensei has already started his next manga project--Gun Blaze West. I don't know where you can find information on it yet, but I bought the magazine with its debut in it, and it's looking to be in fine form! (As fine form as it can possibly be when one can only understand maybe 5% of the dialogue. ^_^;) From what I can tell, it's set in a town called Winston, Illinois, and it's about a boy named B.U. Barns, who wants to grow up to be a gunslinger. One day, he runs into Marcus Homer, a cowboy searching for a legendary firearm called The Mexican the Gun Blaze West. There's also Sissy, B.U.'s older sister, and some other kid who isn't in the one episode I have on me, but...suffice it to say that finding the Gun Blaze West is only the beginning of the adventure. (...you know, it just occured to me that I'm listening to the Dueling Banjos from Deliverance while writing this bit up. _;) The first tankoubon is going to be released in Japan any day now.

##Addendum! ...well, apparently it wasn't in as fine a form as I thought. Gun Blaze West has been cancelled from Shounen Jump, because the Jump readership thought it was too dull. Well, let's hope that he'll learn from this and get over his slump! Ganbare!

As mentioned in my introductory question, my other all-time personal favorite manga is Maison Ikkoku, the (mostly-) complete series currently available from Viz Communications in fifteen graphic novels. (They dropped some chapters in the beginning because, when they started putting it out, they didn't think US readers would understand Japanese exam systems.) This series is about the relationship between a college flunkout and the manager at his boarding house, a beautiful, young widow. The clincher is that the other tenants in the boarding house--a crazy sake-sippin' mama, an attractive (and nubile) barmaid, and...Yotsuya, a man so strange that he can't be described in a single phrase--love to interfere with their lives, for better or for worse. It's NOTHING like Kenshin...relatively domestic, no action...but the character development is intriguing, the humor is genuinely funny, and even the most jaded of hearts will melt by the time they get to the last chapter. Believe me, this is manga at its best.


Hey! Didja know that <so-and-so manga company> has just picked up the rights to the RK manga? What're you gonna do?

The same thing I expect everyone else to do--close up shop and break out the wallet. No matter how crap the translation is, I will go out and buy the Rurouni Kenshin graphic novels as they come along. It's the only legal thing to do, and I don't plan on getting into legal hassles over this site. I'm a college student, okay? Maybe manga studios are poor, but I'm even more so.


Say...why AREN'T there any companies picking up the rights to the RK manga?

This one's up in the air and is subject to muchmuch speculation. Offhand, I can think of a possible few reasons, and most of them deal with the fact that RK has attracted a HUGE fanbase of die-hard fans (like me and, I'm pretty sure, you). For example, panel-flipping. Lots of things in RK deal with givens--most swordsmen are right-handed, that kind of thing. Flipping panels changes all of that. All of a sudden, the Meiji Era is crawling around with left-handed swordsmen and *gasp!* someone is doing a funky sword technique with his RIGHT HAND! (And yes, there IS a funky left-handed sword technique in this manga. I can't give it away, though.) Plus, I'd think the more enthusiastic people would have a cow if they saw Kenshin's scar on his right cheek. On the other hand, preserving the Japanese orientation is a turnoff to the everyday buyer, which is what most of the US manga and anime industry is catering to (look at it this way--if they're having troubles even with the help of everyday buyers, they'd be in DEEP crap if they only relied on us diehards). An interview with Toren Smith at Studio Proteus (my personal favorite US manga studio) discusses how few "backwards" books (my words, not his) sell, like the Dragonball Z manga and the Neon Genesis Evangelion Special Edition GNs.

##Addendum! The first letter in this month's (May's) Studio Proteus letterbox specifically asks about RK. Toren's reply, reprinted without permission:

Thanks for your efforts and devotion to Rurouni Kenshin, but you really need to write to Viz about it.

Due to the different natures of the business relationships Dark Horse and Viz have with Shueisha, we cannot possibly afford to do the series, as full royalties would be due in advance for the entire series. That's a LOT of money. In fact, we could not do it even were it to have the sales potential of Lone Wolf and Cub, which is a HUGE success.

The fact that the fan translations are so numerous and easily available puts the final nail in the coffin, and is (I believe) the primary reason why Viz has not chosen to do the series.

Ouch. I'd give my right arm if it'd help Proteus acquire RK. (I don't mind Viz, really, but stuff like this NEEDS Proteus for a proper job.) Maybe I should start a petition to Shueisha...assuming I could find out what their e-mail address is, and someone to translate my letter in to Japanese...

Two...naming rights. For those of you who don't know anything about the entire Samurai X fiasco...well, it's worth a quick look into right now.

What's Samurai X? Why do all these otaku start running after me with flamethrowers whenever I mention that name?

Basically, Sony Pictures Entertainment (who owned the Japanese version of the RK anime) had planned on distributing a heavily-edited version of the anime and calling it "Samurai X." The trailers about it being distributed over the Internet proved to be every RK fan's nightmares come true: bad dubbing, heavy editing, catering to those with even lower attention spans than we do. The 'net community protested, and they caved in and sold the rights--ADV got the OAV series and the movie, and Media Blasters the TV show. They were given an either/or choice of naming the show "Rurouni Kenshin" or "Samurai X" for the title. MB opted for the former, and ADV compromised, using RK for the sub version but "Samurai X" for the dub/DVD versions. The basic reason why? Most believe it's because "Samurai X" is a "hipper, cooler" name that potentially attracts everyday off-the-shelf buyers. And maybe it is.

And somehow, I get the feeling that that's the name that publishers would put on the manga. This is not a good thing, since the name "Samurai X" alone is enough to cause people like me to shudder, since it reminds people of the entire fiasco. (And believe me, I've been shuddering while typing this paragraph.)

Three...this series is a COMMITMENT. If it's going to be done right (and it HAS to be done right, because of the large number of diehards out there), it'll take tons of work. Even if, by some off chance, they decided to release RK in Japanese-oriented format and under its original title, I can tell you that even just EDITING the comics can wear you out. (I have no idea how Maigo-chan puts up with translating it all.) Heck, I even have to get up while my parents are asleep to do some of this work--I'm typing THIS up at 3AM, for example, and my four-episodes-in-three-days marathon was largely due to staying up until 5AM.

...and that's about it! I'm done with typing for now, since it's 3:30AM and I should really be getting to bed. I'll post more questions later!

Lawrence
lawrence@sandwich.net