April 22, 2010
TokyoPop recently published A Thousand Leagues of Wind, the Sky at Dawn (as The Twelve Kingdoms: The Skies of Dawn). Coincidentally, I noticed an odd spike in my web stats for "entry pages" (keeping in mind that a "spike" for me is a hundred hits above average). The cause was a comment in this review of the book:
I noticed the rather big jump at the end of chapter 16 too and checked it out against Eugene Woodbury's translation [which predates and is completely unrelated to the TokyoPop translation]. It looks like the entire of chapter 63 in the original is missing from Tokyopop's version.
Confirmed in this Amazon-Japan comment:
This English-translated book lacks one of the most important episodes, that should be in the last part of the chapter 16. I am so disappointed with the editors because their works on volume 1 to 3 seemed great.
To clarify, my "chapter 63" is actually chapter 16, part 4. Fuyumi Ono divided the novel's two volumes into 21 chapters (plus a prologue and afterword), and subdivided the chapters into sections. For file management reasons, I put everything in numerical order. But I do begin each chapter with the author's originally numbering convention.
I was curious, so I checked my archives, and my original files are dated 2005 and early 2006. Good grief, eons ago. Looking at old translations is a bit like looking at old, half-finished novels--which I try not to do, because I will surely be driven into a frenzy of editing, even if said scribblings will never see the light of day.
Speaking of editing, in the aforementioned comment section was the following, which is depressing but to the point: "Honestly, if Tokyopop has to degrade the quality just to get it all released, that's a price I'm willing to pay."
On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog, and size is in the eye of the beholder. During the early days of the World Wide Web, salesmen would show up at Linguatech and realize--oh, it's a couple of guys working in a basement. After Linguatech, I worked at an online computer journal with four employees (and stringers).
Small companies, like puffer fish and peacocks, can accidentally or on purpose make themselves look bigger and more grandiose than they are. Erica Friedman stresses this point: "success" at the niche end of publishing business means selling a few thousand copies (at most!) and hopefully making enough to keep the lights on.
Though I suspect a big part of the problem in TokyoPop's case is recognizing how difficult copyediting is and giving it its due. Zarahemla Books is a mostly one-man operation, but Chris copyedits better than the big publishing houses (and, no, doing a grammar and spell check in Word doesn't count).
With A Thousand Leagues of Wind, I didn't do much besides translate, post, and correct obvious errors and ones spotted by my readers. Shadow of the Moon, on the other hand, was compared to the TokyoPop version by a diligent reader. All the deltas have been noted and addressed. That version is as accurate as can be expected.
The great thing about publishing electronically is that no typo need last longer than the next FTP session.