“Let’s. Get Down. To Busi-ness. . . .”

And here we are, back on track with our tour on this glorious day, yes!, here we are, at this most famous of destinations . . . THE ODYSSEY.

Obviously, this one comes with a lot: a lot of words, a lot of history, a lot of opinions. . . .
So we’re going to break this down into two posts (not including this one)!
The first section will focus on the women in The Odyssey. Obviously Athena will be mentioned here, but a  l o t  has been said about Athena, so, as fascinating as her role is, I am more interested in examining other women.
The second section will focus on Odysseus, who also has had a  l o t  said about him, however! My viewpoint may be somewhat controversial. Indeed, even fraught with it. That’s right. I am challenging the idea of Odysseus as “the man to be,” through examination of Nobody himself, what the Odyssey’s other men say or reveal about manliness, and through certain literary techniques employed in the text.

Things to note:
I will at NO point attribute The Odyssey to “Homer.” First off, most scholars agree that the version most of us read was NOT written by one person. Secondly, the story is from the tradition of oral literature. In oral literature, the story does not and can not belong to one person. It belongs to everyone. Someone may be regarded as the best teller of the story, but it is understood by everyone that the story itself does not belong to one person. Thus, I will respect this tradition.
Also, there will be whole sections of the story that I skip. I may skip perfectly good examples of gender. This is because the Odyssey is long and I cannot address everything. I apologize if I do not address a quote or section you wish specifically to see addressed. If that is the case, please send me a message. I would love to talk to you, or post an additional post covering more details!


A Love Letter, A Memorial, A Thank You

So. Today is your birthday, Ben. I talked about both you and Lisa for Lisa’s birthday,
so it’s only right to talk to both of you on yours.

I watched a zombie movie with some friends called Train to Busan.
Spoiler: it’s not a very happy one; the heroes don’t all survive.

I came to the realization while watching it that there are two kinds of people (well, not really, humanity is too complex to divide into two categories): those who help others during a zombie outbreak even at the expense of endangering their own lives and the lives of their loved ones, and those who sacrifice anyone and anything for their own sake and the sake of their loved ones. 

And I grieved.

I grieved because both of you were the former type.


September 11 is still a day that is full of so much grief for many in the U.S.
Yet, it is the day of your birth.

So I will try my best to make it a day of celebration.



It hurts not to have gotten more time with you both,
but the time I did have is precious.

Memories may distort over time,
but the effect you had on me will not twist or curdle.

For you were sunshine and moonlight,
in your mirrored smiles

adrenaline and fun and mischief
as we chased each other across the mat during judo

coffee and late night conversations
ranging from the most ridiculous to cringeworthy to healing to learning

swimming in the pool,
and the hiding and showing of scars

rolling around in snow,
wrestling until we were numb (and my cheeks hurt from smiling)

dancing in the rain at college,
and massages for sore muscles and tired hearts

understanding and acceptance,
and always someone who listened to listen

horror movies and vocaloid,
videogames and Miyazaki

and a stuffed animal affectionately dubbed “Coraline”


you both pointed out the happy ending
in a movie where I could only fixate on the anger and grief


how did you do it?

I know you were no strangers to grief and pain.

Neither of you perfect,
we all misread each other at times,

but still so brilliant.

Lights in the darkness,
reminders always of the beauty that is.

Reminders, always, of the beauty that is.


The people we grieve for, perhaps we grieve for because they were our lights. Our reminders. Our call to action and drive to be more. Our evidence for beauty, or God, or the universal mind, truth, etc.

For me, they still are.


I think I know why Blake was the only poet that I admired of the “Romantics.”
Blake wrote about people, humanity. He wrote about what is, in its full spectrum.

Coleridge, Wordsworth, Keats, Shelley . . . they spent too much time on idealism and “nature” and the fantastical for me.

All of them wrote about nature and were heavy users of imagination,
but Blake’s imagination was inseparable from reality,
while the others were trying to be above reality.


Nature may be beauty, but it is in people that I place my hope.

We Interrupt This Program . . .

Taking a pause from the journey into gender in epics and romances,

have a picture of a place I wish I was today:DSC_0804.jpg

Can any of you guess where this is?

. . . alright, that’s unfair. Let me give you a clue:


Where do you wish you were right now?

Enkidu, whom I so loved

And here we are at our first destination of the gender tour!

Tour notes: The copy of Gilgamesh that I will be referencing is translated by Benjamin R. Foster and is from The Norton Anthology of World Literature, Volume 1, Shorter Second Edition, 2009. I am using this version because this one is based on the original clay tablets, mentions the alternative versions of some scenes (also found in the tablets), and leave gaps where something could not be translated, as well as providing other helpful notes.

The Epic of Gilgamesh

Tablet 1

Gilgamesh, powerful and arrogant, abuses his subjects. The citizens complain to the gods, who create the wild man Enkidu as a rival for Gilgamesh.

We find out from the voices of female citizens that Gilgamesh has sex with all the girls, literally all of them. And then the gods answer:

“The warrior’s daughter, the young man’s spouse, Anu, kept hearing their plaints. . . . They summoned the birth goddess, Aruru”

and Aruru then makes Enkidu. So a man can’t control his libido and yes, another man needs to come in to fix the problem, BUT the women complained, the gods heard and answered, and a goddess creates Enkidu to fix the problem.

Enkidu lives with the wild beasts, until Gilgamesh hears about him and his strength and sends a hunter to take the harlot Shamhat to essentially civilize Enkidu.

“The harlot said to him, to Enkidu:
You are handsome, Enkidu, you are become like a god,
Why roam the steppe with wild beasts?”

Gilgamesh and Enkidu are both repeatedly described as handsome; in fact, part of the prologue is dedicated just to describing Gilgamesh’s appearance in great detail. In fact, when Shamhat describes Gilgamesh to Enkidu, she makes a point to mention “The whole of his body is seductively gorgeous.”

Eventually, Enkidu agrees to go with Shamhat, as “He was yearning for one to know his heart, a friend.”

Thus, women are worth listening to, and men long for a close friendship just as much as any woman. Another thing to note is that there are more mentions of physical appearance in conjunction with the men than with the women. Even with the harlot, they mention her “charms,” but the phrase seems to be referencing her skills at lovemaking, rather than her physical appearance.

In the next scene Gilgamesh is telling his mother, Ninsun, his dreams so that she may explain them to him.

“The mother of Gilgamesh, knowing and wise,
Who understands everything, said to her son”

So while she’s first introduced not by name, but as Gilgamesh’s mother, she is wise and someone who her son goes to for advice. Note how there is no mention of her physical appearance. Again, the quality that is worthy of note is her knowledge, not her physical appearance.

“My son, the axe you saw is a man.
Your loving it like a woman and caressing it”

and Gilgamesh responds:

“I want a friend for my own counselor,
For my own counselor do I want a friend!”

and it is noted that “Each [Enkidu and Gilgamesh] was drawn by love to the other.”

The point here, is that having someone who understands you, who can counsel you and be your friend is someone you love to the same degree as a wife. They are different, but equally important loves. Sometimes, one person can fill both roles and loves. Whether Mesopotamia ever regarded Enkidu and Gilgamesh as romantically involved doesn’t really matter, they loved each other as strongly as one loves their wife or brother. Further, the women encourage this love, seeming to view it as a normal love, and a necessary one.

On his way to meet Gilgamesh, Enkidu hears about how Gilgamesh has sex with every woman:

“He mates with the lawful wife,
He first, the husband after,
By divine decree pronounced,
From the cutting of his umbilical cord, she is his due.”

And “At the man’ account, his [Enkidu’s] face went pale.”

Enkidu, is NOT ok with Gilgamesh’s actions, and he does something about it when he meets his friend-to-be:

“Enkidu blocked the door to the wedding with his foot,
Not allowing Gilgamesh to enter.”

Because of this, the two fight, and then “They kissed each other and made friends.”

From this point on, there is no further mention of Gilgamesh having sex with every female in his vicinity. Enkidu did not support Gilgamesh, and when Gilgamesh found someone who opposed him, he stopped his cruel actions and ended up gaining a friend. Here we have the classic “men talk through actions” and “men fight then make friends.” These days, there seems to be a degree of “if you’re my friend you’ll support and encourage me no matter what” among men. How many cases have we seen where one or a few guys raped a girl and other friends watched but took no action? Or where a football player is caught doing illegal drugs, and the teammates all deny it? This is not the relationship between Enkidu and Gilgamesh. They disagree and clash, and respect each other for it.

Further, kissing between men is normal. It is normal. This will be an action seen throughout epics and Arthurian romances, and we will see women kiss each other too. The kiss was likely read similar to the type of kiss two long-separated brothers would give each other on reuniting. It is a kiss of greeting, recognition, family, friendship, and, yes, love. But likely was not seen as romantic love. The point here is that men (and women) experience different types of love and can touch each other physically without someone calling “No homo!” Think of football players hugging and slapping each other’s butts after a good play or touchdown.

From here to the end, we’re doing a speed run of the rest of the story and examining only specific quotes.

It’s not just after a highly emotional fight (football or combat or otherwise) that men can touch each other though:

Tablet III

“Clasping each other hand in hand,
Gilgamesh and Enkidu went to the sublime temple,
To go before Ninsun the great queen.”

Here, Gilgamesh once again seeks his mother’s advice, and her blessing for a venture to kill Humbaba.

Tablet IV

Dream interpreting was not done just by women, but apparently was something undertaken together by two close friends, as Enkidu and Gilgamesh discuss Gilgamesh’s dreams and their possible meanings.

We also see that “manliness” is NOT blindly charging in alone to defeat obstacles,
as Gilgamesh says, “We cannot confront him separately.” Again, they hold hands as they journey.

For anyone thinking Enkidu is more “womanly” than Gilgamesh, consider that in Tablet V Gilgamesh hesitates to give Humbaba the final blow, but does so after Enkidu encourages him to do so. Remember both that this is a different time period and that gender is very, very complicated.

Skipping ahead again, Enkidu has been cursed to die and does not respond well, and blames the hunter and harlot Shamhat as responsible because they brought him to the civilized world.

Common thing, blaming the woman. However, Enkidu doesn’t get away with it! Well, interestingly, he does apparently get away with cursing the male hunter, but not with cursing Shamhat, for the male god Shamash who admonishes him:

“O Enkidu, why curse Shamhat the harlot,
Who fed you bread, fit for a king,
Who dressed you in noble garment,
And gave you the handsome Gilgamesh for a comrade?”

Enkidu ends up blessing Shamhat instead.

Again, we see guys calling each other out over their treatment of women.

When Enkidu dies, we’re introduced to another theme that we’ll see throughout epics and romances: male grief. No, these are not the images of a stoic man who sheds a single tear:

“Gilgamesh was weeping bitterly for Enkidu, his friend,
As he roamed the steppe”

That’s right, not only does Gilgamesh weep openly and bitterly (no single tear here folks, but rivers of them), but he is in so much grief that he leaves his city and the people he ruled and is just wandering the steppes, sobbing.

For the rest of the Gilgamesh epic, Gilgamesh grieves for his friend, even as he begins to live his own life again. In Tablet X, for example, he talks about Enkidu, saying,

“My friend whom I so loved, who went with me through
every hardship,
Enkidu, whom I so loved, who went with me through
every hardship.”

According to Gilgamesh, it is not manly to stand there stoically when your friend, whom you loved, dies. You grieve, loudly, for a long time. I mean, weeping for literal days here. And men don’t just move on on a revenge quest. There is no revenge quest at all, actually! The rest of the story is Gilgamesh coming to terms with his mortality, even as he seeks immortality.

As we move to our next destination, The Odyssey, remember these themes as we go forward: men touching each other, men loving each other, women being sought out for their wisdom, men being described for their beauty and women described for their abilities, and men weeping, loudly, for days.

Men Don’t Cry . . . Unless They’re as Manly as Gilgamesh, Sir Roland, or Odysseus.

Just where did this notion that manliness = not crying come from? It’s certainly NOT a mark of manliness in the epics and Arthurian romances that I’ve read. Out of curiosity, and to show you, reader, how the standards of what is a “man” and what is a “woman” have changed (or not) over the years, I’m embarking on a journey through epics and Arthurian romances.

For purposes of keeping this series fewer than 20 posts, and hopefully no more than 10, I am focusing on Western literature. The first epic, however, is Gilgamesh. While written in Mesopotamia, I feel it is appropriate to start here both because of the age of the text and because Western Literature was influenced greatly by studying works such as Gilgamesh.

Our Journey’s Working Itinerary:

  1. Introduction
  2. Gilgamesh (2500–1500 BCE)
  3. Odyssey (675–720 BCE)
  4. Ulster Cycle (oral stories, recorded between 8th and 11th CE, set in 1st century)
  5. Beowulf (4th CE)
  6. Nibelungenlied and Volsungs (12th–13th century) AND Hrafnkel’s Saga and Other Stories (13th CE), NOTE: this may be broken up into two separate days
  7. The Song of Roland (12th CE)
  8. Parzival and Arthurian romances by De Troyes (12th–13th century), NOTE: this may be broken up into two separate days
  9. Conclusion

The Song of Roland is placed after the Icelandic epics and before the Arthurian romances because it is a chanson de geste, and is considered a sort of in-between of the epic and the Arthurian romance genres.

For purposes of keeping these as short as possible, I am going to give very, very short summaries for each section of the story, but I will only do so for the areas where I have something to point out. Therefore, if you haven’t read the stories, you may want to look at SparkNotes or Wikipedia or elsewhere for story and chapter summaries, explanations of characters, etc. You do NOT have to know the stories. The topic is, after all, gender. Hopefully I can shed some light on how gender has been treated in literature during the epic and Arthurian romance eras to not only those who are familiar with the stories, but to those of you who have no prior knowledge.

Keep in mind that this is not about just man and woman, but also man and man, and woman and woman. Human relationships are complicated things, and there are many types of love. Epics came from warrior cultures, and when you fight beside someone every day, that creates a strong type of relationship, a type of love. For just one example. Further, in such cultures, community and family and friends were everything; you couldn’t easily survive alone.

This has been the Introduction by your lovely tour guide, please prepare for our next destination: The Epic of Gilgamesh.


Trashy Rat-Dragon

My life plan:
I am a failure as an adult.
I will live in a decrepit apartment full of empty ramen cups and wrappers strewn everywhere
Hair wild and tangled and clothes unwashed and stained
I will live like a rat
And try to evade the landlord asking for money
And get in debt for not paying taxes correctly
And I’ll end up hoarding my pile of trash
Cause it’s all I have that no one will take from me
And thus, I will be a trashy rat-dragon
And hiss at people
And finally run off to Antarctica and go wild
Until it finishes melting
And I will stay with it and drown in the sea like a captain going down with his ship
And my life will be meaningless and go unremembered
But damn if I didn’t at least stay with my goddamn ship
And flip the bird at society and global warming and humanity
And it was nothing and it was mine and it was glorious.


A quick sketch for your viewing pleasure:


Random POP

Today I have too many words and no words, too many thoughts, ideas, and none.
This is a day for RPs:

In high school, a friend and I would exchange pages full of what we called “random pops” as we passed each other in the bustling hallways.

A random pop, or RP as we shortened it to, can be anything and everything:
poems, a piece of a story, commentary on the class we just had, mindless drivel . . .
The only requirement of a random pop is that it is something that just popped into your brain, fully formed (if not fully developed). As a rule, they stay as they are written. Maybe one word is changed during the first reread, but no drafts are made, they’re finished as they are. Titles are not a requirement, in fact, generally the name becomes something like 1 or RP1, so titled because it’s the first writing of the day.

Here is a small collection:

Drowning The Sky

The clouds drown under the blue glass

of the lake

while the moon dances with the fish and the

weeds, her image flickers, wavering.


The stars peek out between the folds of

the water’s smooth silk skirts,

fighting to return to their rightful

thrones, high above the world.



You stand at the crossroads

Right or left

straight or back

four paths stretch onward

Right or left

straight or back

waiting for you to choose

Right or left

straight or back

if you don’t like it

Right or left

straight or back

then go on a diagonal

Right or left

straight or back

on your own tangent




the pattern.



There’s a banana in my ear,
peels splitting open,
hanging down like earrings,
to reveal the fruit inside.


Once. . .

I stared up at the ceiling

Intently focused on a crack

I gazed at it for minutes upon end,

And my experiment was a success.


For when I looked around the room,

My gaze subtle in its shift,

I took note of seven people,

With eyes upon the ceiling.


So I tried something else,

And stared at the people staring.

When they realized this,

But couldn’t quite figure out what I had been up to,

Their confusion was priceless.

I just barely kept from laughing out loud.


Perhaps it was mean.

But in my defense,

I was bored,

And it was a high school math class.



Anxiety. Beast

with ten heads, screaming, watching,

scattered, immobile.

Classic Literature’s “Anime” Moments

A real life conversation (more or less):

“Why do you like anime? It’s sooo over the top.”

“Well yeah, but—”

“Anyway, did you finish the reading today? Oh. My. God. Bartleby is so dramatic!”

“. . .”

“. . . wait.”

For those of you who have not read Bartleby, the Scrivener by Melville, it is about a scrivener. In fact he’s named Bartleby. That’s it.

. . . just kidding. This story is actually my favorite Melville story (thus far, anyway) and it’s narrated by this guy talking about his coworkers, one of whom is named Bartleby and whom, the narrator discovers, when asked to do anything, replies “I would prefer not to.” In fact, Bartleby takes this so far that he loses his job, refuses to get another, ends up in jail, and finally dies of starvation because “I would prefer not to.”

For those of you who read manga or watch anime, doesn’t that sound like something you’d see in a manga or anime? No? Don’t worry, I have more examples.

What about the time Rochester from Jane Eyre dressed up as a fortuneteller, and was so convincing, he almost ended up in the stocks before even getting into the house?

(“Tell her she shall be put in the stocks, if she does not take herself off.”)

Of course, being the wily gentleman that he is, Rochester does indeed get inside and proceeds to trick all of his guests into believing not only that he’s an old gypsy lady, but the fortunes he tells them as well. And Jane only realizes at the end, when she’s dismissed:
“. . . The old woman’s voice had changed: her accent, her gestures, and all were familiar to me.”

This is classic literature, folks.
Isn’t it wonderful?

Someone please animate this beautiful occurrence for me!!

But wait, there’s more!

Dickens of course is full of colorful characters. In fact, his characters are so great that even though I actually loathe David Copperfield, I have to talk about David’s aunt, Miss Trotwood. Miss Trotwood comes because David’s mother is giving birth—to a girl of course.

“Perhaps boy,” my mother took the liberty of putting in.

“I tell you I have a presentiment that it must be a girl,” returned Miss Betsey. “Don’t contradict.”

Spoiler: it’s a boy.

And because it’s a boy, Miss Betsey leaves and never comes back.

. . . But that’s not all we see of her! Because years later David goes to find her to ask for help.

His aunt does accept his existence and becomes quite touched. But she also constantly compares him to his sister:

“Ah! his sister Betsey Trotwood, never would have run away.” My aunt shook her head firmly, confident in the character and behaviour of the girl who never was born.

Yeah, uh . . . he has no sister.

But perhaps most pleasing of all, is her obsession with donkeys on lawns:

Janet had gone away to get the bath ready, when my aunt, to my great alarm, became in one moment rigid with indignation, and had hardly voice to cry out, “Janet! donkeys!

Upon which, Janet came running up the stairs as if the house were in flames, darted out on a little piece of green in front, and warned off two saddle donkeys, lady-ridden, that had presumed to set hoof on it. . . .

Aunt Trotwood is such a wonderful, and complex!, character that she almost single-handedly saves the book. Almost. Alas, she didn’t quite succeed.

(Don’t get me wrong, I love Dickens. I am just of the opinion that this, possibly his favorite of his own novels, is his least successful work.)

You thought classic literature was so high above us basic humans, that it was from heaven itself, the very pinnacle of human accomplishment. . . .

while anime/manga, is just basic human crude entertainment.

Am I getting you to rethink your standards yet?

Classic literature can be as over the top fantastical as any manga/anime I’ve ever read, and that’s not a lessening of its value but a heightening of it. These writers know, just as the authors of Japanese manga/anime, how truly bizarre life and humans can be, and how sometimes fantasy and humor are necessary if you plan to dive into the dark depths of human consciousness.

For instance, when the Devil appears in The Brothers Karamazov, a quite ridiculous and indeed, hilarious, scene . . . and yet also one that challenges your assumptions and never truly leaves your mind but sits there heavily, a source of anxiety and doubt and wonder.

” . . . This was a person, or more accurately speaking, a Russian gentleman of a particular kind, [. . .] In brief there was every appearance of gentility on straitened means. . . .”

Ivan tries to deny the Devil, but Dostoyevsky’s Devil is a true masterpiece of cunning manipulation:

“Keep quiet, I’ll kick you!”

“I won’t be altogether sorry, for then my object will be attained. If you kick me, you must believe in my reality, for people don’t kick ghosts.”

And this is the most realistic depiction of the Devil that anyone will find:

” . . . but I had such an attack of rheumatism last year that I remember it to this day.”

“The devil has rheumatism!”

“Why not, if I sometimes put on fleshly form? I put on fleshly form and I take the consequences. Nothing human is beyond the possibility of Satan.

[. . .]

You are really angry at me for not having appeared to you in a red glow, with thunder and lightning, with scorched wings . . .”

This Satan is so human, it’s both amusing and terrifying. This Satan is one that lives in our everyday, one that we realize we might not recognize for what and who he is.

Laugh and be amused at things that are fantastical and over the top, but never, never dismiss them as lesser because of it. Do not overlook the power they hold, or the purpose they may serve.


7>1. Why settle for less?

I went on Amazon and typed in “Beowulf” just now. Guess how many translations I found on the first page just by glancing? Seven. That’s six more than one, in case you needed the clarification. SIX. That’s a lot.

And for manga we only get one “official translation.”

Before going to if there’s a market for it (the short answer is YES), let me address why that matters. Let me talk about Tolkien and Beowulf. Tolkien’s work on medieval literature and linguistics was huge. He’s still talked about in colleges where English majors linger, but not because of the Lord of the Rings but because of his work as a translator and essayist, and the (arguably) founder of monsterology. His essay on Beowulf is one of his most famous, and he completed a translation of the text in 1926. And yet it wasn’t until 2015 that this translation was available to the public. Why?

Christopher Tolkien has a foreword that is largely focused on this answer. You see, there wasn’t ONE translation. This was Tolkien, and he had a passion for language and its sound but also for subtlety of meaning. To roughly describe the different translations:

1. One was true to meaning, focused on each individual word’s literal meaning in the story
2. One was true to sound, trying to capture the music of the original language
3. One was trying to merge these two, but was never completed

So you see, Christopher understands translation just as his father did: there is no perfect version. You will always lose something. (Though there are exceptions. For instance, Cowboy Bebop was made for the English language as well as the Japanese, and Salih worked very closely with a translator for the English version of Season of Migration to the North. Arguably, when the original author[s] are so involved in the process, nothing—or at least very little—is lost.) You have to choose between such things as literal meaning and meaning to the story and poetic meaning, or between sound and meaning.

For this reason I own four copies of Beowulf. If I could, I would own every English translation of every book I own that has been translated into English. Just as I listen to at least six different orchestras play a song before I put one on my ipod, I read as many versions as I can get ahold of. Why? Because it’s important. (We’ll leave that for another day.)

To have one translation of every Japanese manga is truly ridiculous. Why is this a thing? Oh well, to keep up with Shonen Jump and have quick releases. But do we really need quick releases? Yes and no. It will reach more people if it comes out new and hot, but true fans will wait for however long it takes.

The problem I have is that after this quick “official” translation, no other translations are allowed. Isn’t that ridiculous? Wait. DON’t answer. Look at the history of literature and translation, just for a minute. Now answer. Yes. It is ridiculous. In fact as a person who loves stories and words and learning, it disgusts and saddens me, and honestly makes me scared. Because the “official translation” has so much power, and as an artist/writer who respects other artist/writers, it is scary to me how what they have to say may be corrupted, twisted, changed and never be known because I can’t access the original.

Leaving that be for now, there’s another failing of the official translations: all the things they don’t translate. There are drama cds and character songs, character interviews and radio dramas. . . . None of this is translated except by fans and amateurs. Now don’t get we wrong, I’ll still listen to the character songs even without a translation, but it sure is nicer when you know what’s being said. Not only that, but amateurs/fans tend to explain things that the “official” doesn’t bother with. For instance, in Saiyuki the protagonists are defeated for the first time. Then they sit in their hotel room and play majhong. Then they go beat the guy. Huh? How did that happen? A very wonderful person explained it to those of us who know nothing about majhong: what the pieces mean, about each character’s play style, what the words they’re calling mean. With that information, I now understand how through the game they figure out their individual strategies, their group strategy, and regained their determination and confidence.

But is there a market for it?

Well, translating is a lot of work, right? So you do it for money, right? . . . So what about all these fans translating for free? What about the huge websites that have been shut down that had teams of translators, and teams for scanning, and teams for cleaning up scans? Why do they do it? Yes, it’s a labor of love, but heck, if you post a labor of love on the internet and no one seems to care, you often just take it down because why share it if only you want it? But they don’t (unless legally required to). They do it because there is a market for it. Let me just repeat that. There is a market for it. 

I’ve seen individuals ask people if they can pay them to have something translated.

Yes, maybe having the manga up for free means you lose money. But it also means you might not get the business of someone who read the first couple chapters and decided they loved it and wanted to own it. Instead of getting rid of it all, why not let some sites post the first five chapters or so? Kind of like a library? Instead of telling people there can only be one translation, why not offer those people a job to do their own translation? Why not extend the market rather than try to single source it? Why shoot yourself in the leg? Translating takes a lot of work; instead of barring the people that have the passion for translation and manga, you should be integrating them and expanding the market.

7>1, and we the fans know this. We will not settle for less.

Because we are the ones who made it possible for this business to begin in the first place, because we loved manga and anime that much. We still love it that much. Just as Tolkien loved Beowulf that much.


The Difference Between Sprite and Mist Twist (first off, Sprite was smart and didn’t change its name to a tongue twister)

Whereas Sierra Mist flowed off the tongue, Mist Twist just makes me . . . WHAT. Wait wait wait. I’m sorry but . . . who came up with this name change? A child?
I guess, I shouldn’t be surprised. Localization, after all, has to have come from a kid who never learned to compromise, or have their views challenged.

That being said, sometimes localization makes sense. When they twist the story to get more public interest, or to make sure it’s published, for instance. In the USA at the time when Sailor Moon was being translated, we did not have the progress for lgbt rights that we have today, thus Uranus and Neptune were introduced as “kissing cousins,” though in the original Japanese they were a couple.

Further, localization where they create something new entirely can result in something truly fantastic. Before Tales of Symphonia, English versions of the Tales Of introduction songs were made for the official USA release of the Tales of Series, but for Tales of Symphonia they created a completely new orchestral opening, which is still my favorite music for any Tales Of Opening, and it became very popular in Japan as well.

Localization is certainly not unique to our era. The Christian religion took many medieval epics and pagan stories and wove in mentions of God and Jesus, and other Christian themes. However, any medieval literary scholar will tell you that this practice is highly frustrating when the original text is lost and all we have is the doctored version of the story.

Thus, my main problem with localization is when access to the original source material is not possible.

For one thing, the reason Japanese anime and manga came to the USA was because of fans of the original Japanese material. While it’s great that more people have read Sailor Moon, fans of the original Japanese version may have felt cheated, especially if they had gotten into the Japanese story because and for its foreign view on the topic of lgbt.

We read and watch things to get something from themwhether that’s entertainment or understanding, or something else. Some fans found in Uranus and Neptune the role models that were lacking in the USA at the time, and it would not be fairor conductive to a healthy and openminded global communityfor these original fans to lose access to the story they love.

The reason I buy Mist Twist is because I know I liked Sierra Mist and I am willing to put up with the name and ingredient change to see if I still like it.

The change in ingredients is something that challenges people’s assumptions of both their taste preferences and their brand loyalty.

I firmly believe you should expose yourself to things you don’t agree with, and make friends with people who have different opinions or views than you because doing so creates more critical and flexible thinking. Reading stories from another country that has different views from your own country is important to your growth as an individual, and to our growth as the human race.

A Part Two further exploring the concept of “official” and “fan” translations, and discussing the role translation plays for novels/classics versus how it is approached for manga, will be posted Wednesday, August 1st.