Interview with Yuri Translator Erin Subramanian

April 15th, 2008

Here’s the second entry in our industry interviews! This time, we’re talking to Erin Subramanian, a freelance translator and the much beloved Rosa Chinensis of Yuri scanlation group Lililicious. Erin also reviews Yuri manga, mostly stuff I don’t review here, at her Livejournal. I recommend it to you, if you don’t already have it bookmarked.

Anyway, welcome to Erin, and let’s get started with today’s interview!

1) So let’s start with the most obvious question – tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am a yuri manga fan who translates for a yuri publisher (ALC Publishing) and translates and copyreads for a BL publisher. I also translate for free in my spare time. I have a B.A. in Japanese from the University of Rochester, and have been translating manga for around seven years now, though most of that work has not been for pay. I am a bisexual woman in a long-term relationship with a woman, and though yuri has a special place in my heart, I also love (male) gay and straight romance stories.

2) Are you a manga reader yourself? How did you get into manga? Did that lead you into working in the manga industry? Or do you just do it for the fame, glory and chicks? ;-)

Yes. I got into anime first–Sailor Moon–and then into manga from that. It was my enjoyment of manga that lead me to seek a job in the industry. Fame and glory don’t sound particularly appealing, and I think my partner would disapprove of the chicks (and dudes). :-/ However, when people ask me what I do, I get to tell them that I translate gay porn. It’s hard to top that.

3) Are you a fan of Yuri manga? Did you know it existed before you started working on a title? What were your thoughts upon seeing your first Yuri job?

Yes, yes, and “Cool, a yuri manga in a historical setting” (this was Morishima Akiko’s short one-shot “Ichigo-Hime,” from Yuri Monogatari 4).

4) Not every Yuri series is equal. Some are better than others. What, if any, thoughts do you have about the series you’ve worked on. Silly? Serious? Quality? Not?

I particularly like the works I translated for Yuri Monogatari 5–they’re a mix of silly and serious stories, and I’m glad that there is some sort of market for works like that here too. Not that I think they’re the only sort of works that should come over here, of course–there are a lot of great yuri titles of all kinds that I would love to see do well here.

5) Which Yuri titles would you like to see make it over here? Anything you’d like to get to work on?

Yamaji Ebine’s works. More titles from Yuri Hime, particularly “Kisses, Sighs, and Cherry-Blossom Pink,” “Strawberry Shake Sweet,” “Rakuen no Jouken,” and “The Miko’s Words and the Witch’s Incantations.” “Kaguyahime,” “Love Vibes,” “Maria-sama ga Miteru,” “Pieta,” “Plica” (and I’d love to see the “Plica” movie on something like Logo’s “Alien Boot Camp” series), “Shibuya District, Maruyama Neighborhood,” and “Sweet Blue Flowers.” More works from artists like Tadeno Eriko and UKOZ. No surprises there, I’m sure. As for the second question: All of them, I suppose. However, as long as the English edition is done well, it doesn’t particularly matter to me whether I personally get to work on it. There are always plenty of other titles out there that are in need of attention, and plenty of other things that I would enjoy translating.

6) What’s your favorite and least favorite thing about your job?

My favorite thing is getting to share something I enjoy with others. Those moments when the perfect translation of a line just comes to you are right up there too, though. My least favorite thing is agonizing over the best way to convey a line, particularly when I need to convince someone else to agree with me on it. Also, translating rape scenes.

7) Anything else you want to tell our audience?

I’m pleased to see more yuri coming over here, and hope it sells well. We’re fortunate that so much good yuri manga is being created; I try not to take its existence–or that of the artists and publishers who are taking a chance on it–for granted. That’s not to say that we should have lower standards when it comes to yuri, or praise yuri works when we think they’re mediocre or worse–I just think we’re lucky that there are enough of us to constitute a fanbase and that there are so many talented people out there who are creating yuri works. Let’s hope that state of affairs continues.

Thanks again!

It was my pleasure.

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2 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    Thank you both for expanding the meaning (defying the depts) of a single word called “YURI”…

    Erin I like your translation, it may not justify the work of a mangaka for some but for me it is AWESOME…

    Again thank you for the hardwork looking forward for more…

  2. Anonymous says:

    The manga Erin mentioned, included but was not limited to — all of my favorites.

    I am in the process of learning to read Kanji so I can start reading all the manga I bought in Japanese, and not having to wait for scanlations, (from the totally awesome, and beloved people at Lilicious, who all have a special place in my heart.) or wait for them to be published in english.

    I have 70 Kanji memorized, now only 1968 joyo kanji to go, then I can start to learn how to read them. Yay!

    Great interview, seems like an awesome job, getting to read (excluding the much harder part of translation) manga for a living. Well, for your charity toward people like me I am eternally greatful. Domo arigato gozaimasu.

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