Hey everybody, Tay here. I’m pleased to announce a new weekly series for the Visual Novel Aer blog: Community Spotlight. This series will feature members of the Fuwanovel community, with the goal being to highlight their work and to better get to know them. We begin the series with shcboomer.
I have always been very impressed with shcboomer, and when I had the idea to start a blog series focusing on the community, his name was the first to pop into my head. As I told him before the interview, I’ve always appreciated his interesting and thought-provoking posts on the Fuwanovel forums. Yet, he’s also been a thorn in my side: he’s incredibly active in multiple projects, and thus makes it hard to keep track of him in my VN-Community-Map spreadsheets! In any case, I hope to better introduce shcboomer to you today. I’m very grateful for his willingness to be the first spotlight, and for taking the time to be interviewed.
Be sure to check out some of shcboomer’s impressive projects:
- Lavender Translations: (VN Translation Group) Kourin no Machi, Lavender no Shoujo.
- Refrain Subs: (Anime sub group) Currently subbing Little Busters: Refrain
- Personal Blog
I’m very interested in your sub group, Refrain Subs. How large is your team, and how is this season coming?
Well to start off, our fansub group named Refrain Subs is a team of 6 currently. We started off with just two translators coming together and deciding to fansub Little Busters! ~Refrain~ since at the time there was no fansub group. We also had a typesetter/timer join us at the same time as they volunteered to help out with the OP/ED and insert songs. After that I persuaded a few editors from a few other projects to hop on board and give us a hand with editing and QCing.
Lastly, we had a volunteer join up to help us do some encoding since we only have a basic understanding of encoding. So far things have been going pretty smooth, our first two releases have taken us a bit longer than we wanted. However, at the same time we feel that we are slowly getting the hang of it and through some ups and downs, we will continue to produce a quality fansub for Little Busters! ~Refrain~
You make it sound so easy! It sounds like you came together in a pretty organic way. Have you always had a lot of interest in subbing anime?
Well I can say that I’ve had some interest in fansubbing for a while. I’ve been following a bunch of sub groups for the past couple of anime seasons and usually deciding for myself a specific set of fansubs that I like for shows and built something I’d consider a set of “ideals” to fansubbing that I enjoyed. Although, I can probably work out most anime without having to read subs, I just felt they were natural and helped me better transliterate words from Japanese to English. I guess I did make it sound a bit easy to form a group, but I have to say I was pretty lucky along the way. One of the major factors to us deciding to sub ourselves was that UTW decided to drop their plans to sub the show. From there, we managed to get a few of us together from MAL forums to actually form a group to sub the show. To be perfectly honest, I was pleasantly surprised by how well our team has gelled together. I definitely would not be doing this if it wasn’t for how great the rest of the team is.
I know that subbing anime can be rough on new groups. Have you found support and enthusiasm for your released work?
I must say subbing anime has been an interesting ride. With just two releases, I feel that we are still pretty new to this. However, in this short span I think we have learned quite a few things. Although I can’t speak for everyone on the team. I can say that personally I’ve felt that we’ve had our ups and downs both as a team through internal talks and even feedback from external forces. For the most part, the group works pretty well and we actually have a great time subbing each episode. I mean it is usually easier to work together on something when you all enjoy it. For sure our love of Little Busters! is a great contribution to our teamwork and our enjoyment level when subbing. At times we do have some interesting internal conversations due to minor errors or things that we would like to change. On the other hand, I would say that these conversations are tame and that we try to work everything out as a group. When it comes to outside forces, we have found mostly positive responses from most of the community that watches our subs. Currently on MAL, we are listed as the top subs because of our consistency with the visual novel as we try to keep to that translation as much as possible. That way we can ensure concistency and evoke memories from former readers of the visual novel. However, as with all things, we get our share of negative criticisms, but we only look at that as a way to improve. I mean, let’s face it, not everyone is going to like the way we do things. At the same time, we need to carefully analyze their critique and see if we can also learn from it and possibly fix any errors that we may miss. Overall, I would say that we have enjoyed working on it and that the majority of the people that have watched our subs have enjoyed it as well. At the end of the day, I would say the enjoyment of the team and the viewers is what is important and that is something we want to work towards as much as possible.
I think that’s a very commendable way to approach things. Best of luck to you and your team going forward — keep up the great work.
Moving away from anime, help me map the projects that are taking your time. I know you do a lot of editing, but it’s hard to keep up with you in my TL Staff-tracking spreadsheets!
Haha, sure. So in terms of projects I am currently on, I’m mostly focusing on the Kourin no Machi, Lavender no Shoujo project. After that I’m also an editor on the Hoshimemo:Eternal Heart team, the fan restoration patch for Kono Sora (Still ongoing since some scripts were left unedited), and a few other small time projects as well.
The small time projects are just quick checks of things and more of a freelance kind of work.
Well, I think it’s time to ask about Kourin no Machi, then! How’s that coming along? How did you get involved with the project?
Well in terms of Kourin no Machi, over at Lavender Translations as we call ourselves, we’ve been working on and off on the project. At times we have had quick bursts of translations and gotten a lot more done than expected. However, I would say that our average rate is a bit on the slow side of things. Currently we have three translators, with me as one of them. The good things is that with three translators, we can get more done sooner rather than later. Sadly, that hasn’t exactly been how things have worked out since all of us are actually college/university students. So in our free time, we try to translate as much as we can. It’s been pretty tough at times for us to even get a few line translated when it comes exam or project time. In our free time though, we do manage to make some quick progress, for example one of our translators managed to go through about four or five 500 line scripts in about a week which was quite impressive. Hopefully, we will be able to get the project going on a smoother pace in the near future and we always welcome new translators as well since we understand that everyone gets busy. In terms of how the project started, it is actually quite the funny story. I was asked by a friend of mine to possibly translate the first hundred or so line of the visual novel for some reason. I decided to just do it in my spare time and possibly share my work online so I created a quick blog for the project. To my surprise, it didn’t take long before other people applied to help out and from there we grew from a small time project to a bigger scale one. I also managed to convince one of my friends to help me edit for the project as well since he pushed me a bit to start up the project. In all honesty, I don’t think I would ever imagine myself doing what I’m doing now be it fansubbing or leading a translation project, even say a year or two ago.
Oh, wow. That’s a great story. Fortuitous accidents, huh?
Yeah, I guess life is like that at times. I’m definitely enjoying what I do now, and I got to meet so many new people during what little I’ve done so far. Including all of you guys at Fuwanovel.
As a translator, do you ever feel your editor tendencies creeping up as you go about translating?
I would have to answer that I do indeed feel my editor tendencies kick in as I translate things. It does become quite odd when you are used to doing editing and have to switch mindsets. It is less of an issue when it comes to fansubbing, but when it comes to longer translations such as VN translations, it does become quite daunting. At times I try to just translate things literally as much as possible unless it doesn’t make sense in English. That is usually the only time I ever really change the sentences. Since translation is a bit awkward since you need to find that balance between the literal meaning and finding a liberal interpretation. I’m sure many translators before have found it difficult as well and probably understand what I mean when I say there is a certain “sense” to translating. I usually try my best to find that perfect balance, but admittedly there are times when I can’t find the right way of putting things and I leave it for someone else to take a look at later. Also to further ensure accuracy, I usually do not go back and change my translations unless they don’t work in English and just leave it to an editor. For most projects where I am an edtitor, this is not a problem as I can just work with the English. When it comes to Kourin though, I tend not to edit my own translations and only edit other parts of the script. I also usually choose to translate say a whole route or a few specific files in order to not edit my own work as I may be changing the meaning and the context without really wanting to.
While I’m still learning Japanese, I am fluent in Russian, and have worked on a few translation projects. I’ve found the experience to be simultaneously taxing and rewarding. Others, however, have wildly different experiences (ranging from Zen to euphoria). Do you enjoy translating?
All in all, I would say translating is something I enjoy doing. Although I do usually prefer to take on the role of an editor since I believe my English skills will prove to be more effective than my Japanese skills. I personally would find it quite hard to translate when I don’t enjoy what I am doing. I understand how other translators feel when it comes to translations and I believe there are ups and downs to everything one does. At the end of the day, I would say translating is something I enjoy and is one of my more enjoyable hobbies. Not only do I get to do something I enjoy, but there is a chance that someone else may enjoy something that I got to enjoy working on.
How about Visual Novels? How did you find them, and which is your favorite?
For me I started visual novels when I was slightly younger and starting to learn Japanese. I don’t think I could recall the earliest visual novel I have ever read, but some things that come to mind would be Steins;Gate and Air a long time ago. I recently started getting back into anime, and from that I decided to read the source material for a lot of them which would include both light novels and visual novels. For me, I would say that visual novels were a very unique experience and a medium that I did not expect myself to enjoy. What surprised me the most about the overall experience was how in-depth the stories were and how imersed you could feel with the main character due to the naration style. My favorite visual novel has to be Little Busters! as it was probably the most enjoyable thing I have ever read/watched/experienced. The story was just so well written and the immersion for me was quite unbelievable. I’m not even 100% sure how to put those feelings into words, but that theme of friendship has definitely hit me quite hard.
(Also Rin best girl!)
I loved LB, too. Reading it for the first time was an unforgettable experience.
How is Hoshimemo: Eternal Heart coming along?
We are currently working through the scripts, and have some TLs on it. However, the progress has been a bit slow, and even for me editing has taken quite some time. Even so, I wanted to commend everyone else on the great job they’ve been doing and also to rep the team as well.
Is your thread on the Fuwanovel forums the best place to follow the project?
Yeah that would be the best way to follow the project.
Outside of all of these projects, what other hobbies or pastimes do you enjoy?
I guess for me I’ve always been interested in computers. So as of right now I’m still an university student studying computing science. In terms of school, I do try to attend events that our student society runs and try to stay involved when possible. It’s always nice to just go to school, hang out with friends, and to take some time off away from the computer once in a while. Other than school, another thing that I do on the side is write tech reviews. That is probably one of the reasons why I’ve become so much better at writing and been able to join a lot of projects as an editor. Not only has it improved my basic writing skills, but more importantly it has given me a consistent amount of technical writing which I can now benefit from when I write papers at school or even when it comes to editing scripts for visual novels and other projects.
An important side question: have you had to take Calculus 3 yet? And if so, congratulations on survival.
I think it depends what calculus 3 is, but if I would have to guess, I’ve taken enough calculus to last me a lifetime.
I am so sorry.
Last question: Future plans? With such a broad background (IT, Japanese, translation, editing, technical writing), do you have an idea of where you hope to go from here?
To be honest, that is probably the hardest question for me to answer. There are a ton of things that I would like to do. I’m actually not all too sure about my future, I mean I don’t even know what I’ll be doing a week from now, let alone a few years down the road. What I can say right now is that I enjoy all of the things I am currently doing, so I’m sure I’ll find something that fits me. Even if I don’t find it right away, I’ll always have more options down the line and at some point in time, I’m sure I’ll find something I really do enjoy and do it as I do now.
Again, a big thanks to shcboomer for taking the time to chat with me! Check out his great projects!
Refrain Subs: http://refrainsubs.wordpress.com/
Lavender Translations: http://kourintranslation.wordpress.com/
Personal Blog: http://shcboomer.wordpress.com/