Yuri Manga: Iono-sama Fanatics (English)

May 25th, 2007

Today’s review was brought to you by Infinity Studios, the publisher of the English-language adaptation of Iono-sama Fanatics.

I reviewed this book originally on November 11, 2005. For a discussion of the plot and characters, please read my original review. For today’s review I am going to focus solely on the adaptation to English.

Unusually for me, I’d like to start with some of the good things. I am exceptionally pleased with the general level of reproduction (although my review copy was a PDF and not an actual book, so I can’t tell you how it will look on paper.) Color pages have been retained, which pleases me no end. The notes for the story are mostly very decent. I particularly liked the glosses on the notes about the characters and the roles from Mito Koumon upon which they they were loosely based. That worked for me and I felt that the translators were doing a decent job of keeping us readers included in the in-jokes within the book.

On the other hand…other than the “-sama” for “Iono-sama” they left out honorifics (and we all know how I feel about that.) If you could leave in one honorific, I am at a loss as to why you wouldn’t just leave in the others? The names of the characters are transliterated, which works fine for me (except that Aruje will inevitably be pronounced ah-rooj instead of ar-gee, but oh well…) and I admited a certain amount of uncertainty about some of the names myself when I reviewed it originally. But…Frechet (name transliteration taken from the 2007 Fujieda Miyabi Calendar I got at Comike, so the author’s own choice) is transliterated to “Fletch.” That’s just…I dunno…yucky. Frechet-san just seems tons cooler than Ms. Fletch, doesn’t it?

In general, the translation is decent, but the one or two times it isn’t, it’s horribly, disturbingly jarring. The first time it is not the translator’s fault.

There is a scene, late in the book, when Frechet (yes, I am going to continue to use the author’s version of the name) and Arata are making googly eyes at one another – obviously enough that everyone else can see it. Iono-sama jarringly asks if they are on the “L Word” together. I took a look back at the original Japanese and honestly, that particular passage would have been a bear to translate without being, well, crude. The points I take away for mentioning a current (and copyrighted…what’s the chances that they got permission?) TV show I give back because the actual sentence…ugh.

The second horribly egregious translation will not go unnoticed, however. Inexplicably, in the author’s note comic in the back of the book, where the word “moe” was used, it was left untranslated, but the word “Yuri” was translated – as “girl on girl.” Thank you, Infinity, for rendering the genre I live and love into a porn term. I wrote them and let them know that it offended.

It’s always nice to *politely* let comapnies know that the word “Yuri” can remain unstranslated as well as “moe” can or, if they insist on translating it, to please use something less connotative of a porn movie, perhaps something like “lesbian stories” or “girls in love”.

Begin digression/

And while we’re on the topic, let ADV Films know that it annoys you when THEY did that very same thing in Best Student Council, Volume 1. You can reach them here: http://www.advfilms.com/FILMScontact.asp

I encourage you all to explain – politely, please – that Yuri fandom is well established enough that there’s no need to be so crude.

I have already contacted both companies, of course, and asked folks on the Yuricon Mailing List to do so as well. ADV sent me an apology for having offended and said that they’d send my message along to the translators.

In both cases I have no doubt that they did not *mean* to offend, but seriously – Yuri fans are the main audience for Iono-sama. It was, as Fujieda says in his comic, originally created as a Yuri story. (Not surprising, as he does quite a lot of Yuri – click his name in the category sidebar to see some of the others. A fact that, apparently, most other reviewers somehow missed.) I just feel that the companies would never have translated “Yaoi” as “gayboy sex” or “gay porn” and realistically, “girl on girl” is a porn term, not a reasonable way to describe Yuri.

\End digression.

One last bad thing about the translated Iono-sama is that there was a rather large typo on one of the character bios. Not a book killer, but I was kind of surprised it got past the editors, since it was really obvious. And yes, I emailed them about that, as well.

So. What do I think of the English adaptation of Iono-sama? I think it’s a nice attempt, but it falls flat in some key places. I would still recommend the book to Yuri fans, because the characters and story shine through the roughness of the adaptation on their sheer force of wonderfulness. ^_^

Ratings:

Art – 8
Story – 8
Characters – 9
Yuri – 10
Sevirce – 2 (it is, indeed, moe))
English Adaptation – 6 (without the Yuri issue, it would have definitely been higher.)

Overall – 9

Dear English manga companies – Yuri fans really don’t like being condescended to. Please treat us with respect. This may mean that you have to police the FanBoyness of your own staff. “Yuri” means lesbian images and narratives – not just girl on girl action (which if it were a porn anime, would be completely understandable!) We’re not prudes, we’re just certain that Yuri is more than hot lesbo sex. Thanks, Erica

For a Yuri manga that treats Yuri fans with respect, try one of our 100% Yuri manga from ALC Publishing! All honorifics intact and no insults to your intelligence! Yuri Monogatari 4, 5 and 6 – on sale now!

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27 Responses

  1. Howlsthunder says:

    Haven’t read/watched either but I wrote to both companies anyhow. Wonder if I’ll get a reply…

  2. Anonymous says:

    Oh no, I am really looking forward to read published Iono but no honorifics trend is killing me.

    Thanks for review.

  3. Adam says:

    “Fletch”? Aiieee…

    I (like, I suspect, most others on this side of the pond) can’t help but immediately think of Ronnie Barker’s character from “Porridge” every time I read that name. So not the right image to associate with Iono-sama.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Since they gave you a copy of it to look over, I’m hoping that Infinity Studios considers some of your suggestions before releasing this. At the very least the ones regarding ‘Fletch’ and leaving the term ‘Yuri’ intact.

    Also, I didn’t realize that the author was a guy. I always just assumed that Miyabi is a girl’s name.

  5. I thought so too intitally, but his website (http://www.moonphase.jp/) says that he is a guy, despite the female name he uses to write under.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Wow, you’ve blown my mind. I was convinced Fujieda was female… from the name and the writing and the art style… I hadn’t looked at their detailed profile before. Wow.

  7. marashapeshifter says:

    *flapping minion wings* I really hope that won’t become a trend…

  8. Fanusi Khiyal says:

    If I may?

    I wonder whether the translation shenanigans have anything to do with Yuri being less established than Yaoi. One symptom is that Yuri seems only relatively recently come to the point of taking itself lightly (witness Strawberry Panic, KnM, though there are benighted souls who considerd KNM the bona summa summarum bonum . On the other hand, Yaoi has such a huge fandom that it can take itself very lightly: Witness Aya and Shigure in Fruits Basket, Princess princess, and so on.

    And if Yuri isn’t well-established enough to take itself lightly, then there will be potential for muck-ups.

    Though there does seem to be some shift in that direction recently.

  9. The translation issues are mine, not Yuri fandom’s. Yuri was only established as a genre, largely through my efforts, in the last few years. When I created Yuricon, for years the most common response we received was “eww, porn.” That’s why it wasn’t and often still isn’t, taken seriously – because there are still people who only see Yuri as lesbian sex, despite the large body of work that makes a lie of that. The women who have been creating Yuri for years have always had a good sense of humor about it, as do I. :-) And I am not at ALL opposed to hot lesbo sex being termed that…but when you’re talking about two schoolgirls being snuggly, calling that something that’s a porn term is just Loser FanBoy.

    Lastly, I would so strongly argue that fact that Yaoi fandom doesn’t take itself seriously. In fact, I can honestly say that my experience is the exact opposite. And I am not alone in this. Yuri fans have the reputation of being Loser FanBoys…and let’s be real, it’s a well-served reputation. Harpy-like Yaoi FanGirls are, likewise, no myth. :-)

  10. Anonymous says:

    Out of curiosity, what did they translate “sobame” as? “Concubine”? “Royal attendant”?

  11. Anonymous says:

    Translation disagreement asides, what has happened to this series? Only one manga volume (japanese) has been released since 2005.

  12. Fanusi Khiyal says:

    *laughs* I would be the last person to deny that yaoi fandom can take itself very seriously, melodramatically serious. I am the reason that a certain group of females in my anime club are called “The Evil Yaoi Sisters”.

    But what I said was:

    “it can take itself very lightly”

    “it can”. Not “it always does”. And the following seems to prove my point:

    “Yuri was only established as a genre, largely through my efforts, in the last few years”.

    Anyway, it’s just a theory that I have been playing with for a while, based on what I have seen. The central point of my ponderings was that a smaller, less-established fandom is more likely to have bad translations than a large, well-established one.

    Just a thought.

    On an unrelated note, could ye at some point explain the difference between Loser Fan Boy and Loser Fan Girl?

  13. 1) Yuri can, absolutely, also take itself lightly. I recommend my own work, Shoujoai ni bouken and everything and anything by Hayashiya Shizuru, but especially Strawberry Shake Sweet. In fact, I’d say that Yuri has *had8 to take itself less seriously, on account of gettin’ no respect. ;-)

    2) “sobame” was left untranslated – and the pun about “sobaya” (soba shop) and sobame was explained satisfactorily.

    3) The second volume has not yet been released in Japan. I imagine it ought to be shortly, since the last issue of Iono-sama ran last December when the magazine had it’s last issue. The story wraps up, a bit hastily, but happily ever after. I know that Fujieda is very busy doing a bunch of other stories, so they may be waiting for some supplemental chapters to fill up a book. I keep my fingers crossed that it will come out soon.

  14. Fanusi Khiyal says:

    “Yuri can, absolutely, also take itself lightly.”

    *chuckles* I stand corrected; there is a reason why I took my theory _here_. As Leonardo advises, go to the experts at once.

    Nonetheless, with even such hits as “Angel Sanctuary” being subjected to hatchet-jobs in translation, I suspect we’ll see more stuff like this in the future.

  15. Anonymous says:

    I just noticed that the release date has been pushed back a few more weeks. Maybe they decided to correct some of the things you pointed out? :)

  16. fanusi: Angel Sanctuary is already old – we can’t retroactively blame the manga companies. We’d be days on Ranma 1/2 all by itself.

    I’ve already seen more manga companies using honorifics in whole or part, and less egregious translation hoops being jumped through. The key is, as fans, to let the companies know. They want to sell books. If it sells more books to do a better job, well then, by gum, at least some of them will.

    anonymous – I sincerely doubt it. I received a very polite email from Infinity that pointed out that the first printing is already completed, but that they are indeed willing to make some corrections for the second edition. (I’m not expecting Fletch to become Frechet, though.)

    The book is already available through the Infinity website, so i imagine that any delays at this point are distribution stream issues.

  17. fanusi: I’ll add the LFG vs LFB question to my list for questions about life the universe and Yuri above. :-)

  18. Anonymous says:

    Does the gender of Fujieda *really* matter? It’s a cute, nice story. He/she/it could be a space martian from the venus for all I care.

    Anyway, I do agree with you on the Yuri issue, and also wrote them a polite comment. Yuri really isn’t porn, and it’d really help if the two aren’t always mixed up like that.

    *a Random anonymous fan*

  19. IMHO, Fujieda’s gender matters only in the sense that it would be nice to see the most popular Yuri manga in the west be by a *woman* rather than yet again having a “women’s” genre being dominated by a man. (I say this knowing full well that Yuri as a genre is really a men’s genre. I’d just like to see that change.) It would be so much cooler for the most popular Yuri manag in the country to be by, say, Hayashiya Shizuru.

    In every other way, not, gender shouldn’t matter.

  20. Senbei says:

    I can understand not wanting to translate “moe”. If given the task, I doubt I could come up with something that wouldn’t offend somebody… but attempting to translate Yuri (for no good reason: they have the word “yaoi” pasted all across that genre’s English-translated manga, why couldn’t they use the word Yuri?) seems kind of stupid. Yet if they felt they had to, why wouldn’t they come up with something that encompasses the lily aspect of the word?

    I think they should leave it as Fletch. That’s such a terrible choice: it’s hilarious. Of course now i won’t be able to take that character seriously. Her new nickname is Chevy Chase.

  21. I got a reply from Infinity:

    Our staff is already aware of this problem and our editors have been notified to use the original Japanese terms in the future (for cases such as “Yuri”). Unfortunately, our first edition of Iono-sama Fanatics volume 1 was printed over 3 months ago and it is impossible to have this changed for the 1st edition. However, please rest assured that we’ve already made this change for future volumes & editions (if we ever get to print additional editions).

    Best Regards,
    Jay Chung
    CEO & President

    So there we have it. I’m sure it’s a canned reply but at least enough people wrote in for there to BE a canned reply on the matter, right?

  22. Puyo_LV99 says:

    hmm does anyone know if this title is still being serialized in japan? i asked infinity studios abotu volume 2, and they it jsut recently came out in japan not to long ago, which means another few months for voluem 2 english.

  23. The final chapter on Iono-sama ran two months ago in Dengeki Daioh magazine, and the second volume of the manga came out the same month. In fact, I got it *just* in time for Yuricon’s Yurisai event, so it could be included in the Library.

    But I haven’t had a chance to review it yet – thanks for reminding me.

    I expect it will be some time before Infinity gets Volume 2 out in English. I have to write them for something else, I’ll ask when I do.

  24. Puyo_LV99 says:

    Wow, thanks a lot for the info. Also you said that the last chapter ran a couple of months ago, is the last chapter in volume 2? lol Also this is unrelated to Iono, but you might know. Is the Strawberry Panic manga still being serialized also? There was a rumor that there was only going to be 3 volumes.

  25. The last chapter of the second, and last volume of the manga, yes.

    Strawberry Panic manga only ran two volumes. The light novels went three. All of them are done and I’ve reviewed them all here on Okazu. Click the “Strawberry Panic” label on the right sidebar to find the reviews.

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