Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Azumanga Recycle Part 1: Laserdiscs

 

Swag Akari

This is the first section of my scan and translation of Azumanga Recycle, which you can read the details about here.


This download has the first 46 pages of Azumanga Recycle, scanned and translated by me. The bulk it is taken up by the first section of comics, called "Laserdiscs", and contains gag comics drawn by Kiyohiko Azuma that were published with the Laserdisc and VHS releases of episodes of Tenchi Muyo! and Battle Athletes.

Man, Tenchi is a weird franchise...

 

The comics come from the following releases, and are shown in this order:

  • Tenchi In Tokyo
  • Tenchi the Movie: Tenchi Muyo in Love
  • Tenchi the Movie 2: The Daughter of Darkness
  • Battle Athletes (OVA)
  • Tenchi Universe

It caps off with the original illustration of Akari, shown above.

Note that for pages 2-3 & 34-45, the image files actually contains two pages. This is because the book was bound to be read from right-to-left, but these particular pages have comics that were made to be read from left-to-right. (So the book is bound like any manga, but when you get to these pages, you're expected to begin reading on, say, page 35 on the left, and continue to page 34 on the right. Confusing, huh?)

Here is the download link for this section:

MEGA

 

how i will look in 30 years

Enjoy! Special thanks to the Tenchi Muyo wiki for all the information to help me translate.

Introducing my Next Project: Azumanga Recycle!

 

*Not to be confused with Azumanga Daioh
 

Finally! It's that time again! Time to finally get a look at what I've been working on for the past year or so: it's Azumanga Recycle!


...But what is this, exactly? Answering the question of what this book even is is more complicated than you think, especially given the lack of information about it on the English-speaking Internet. And no, despite its title, it has nothing to do with Azumanga Daioh, besides sharing the same author.

To begin, let's go over a bit of history. Before Kiyohiko Azuma became famous through the publication of Azumanga Daioh and Yotsuba&!, he was something of a prolific gag-artist, and began working on parody comics of Urusei Yatsura and the like ever since he joined a doujin circle in high school. Later he would begin his own self-published magazine under the name of A-ZONE, which later transformed into its own website where he published his own webcomics. It's around this time the silly gag comics he created caught the attention of several larger magazines, and even the production companies of some of the anime he was parodying.

From here he began a career in the second half of the 90's in which he produced a large variety of gag-comics, ranging from unofficial doujinshis to officially-sanctioned parody comics published in various magazines. This is where those Azuma-made Evangelion gag comics floating around the internet come from, he also produced gag comics for Donkey Kong Country, Battle Arean Toushinden, Darkstalkers, King of Figthers, Street Fighter, and many more.

I don't own it myself, but the mercari seller very helpfully included a close-up photo of one of the comics Azuma worked on. I am as surprised as you are.


One of his Evangelion Doujins (There are multiple!) You can read it here: Link!

After making nothing but parody comics for a while, around 1998 he tried to flex his own creative muscle with an original idea: Wallaby, which was published in GAME-JIN magazine. (You can read my translation of that here!) This didn't seem to make too great of an impact, but his next work Azumanga Daioh, later led into his smash success Yotsuba&!, both of which are published in Dengenki Daioh.


...But then what is this Azumanga Recycle thing, then? Well, you see, during his stint as a gag-comic artist, Azuma was hired by the animation production company Pioneer LDC to create comics of their many anime series, including Tenchi Muyo!, Battle Athletes, and Magical Girl Pretty Sammy. This was a pretty big deal for the young Azuma, as his gag comics would be included with official merchandise for these shows: Laserdisc and VHS tape releases of the episodes, CDs of the character songs and soundtracks, video games, and even movie brochures! With the stroke of a pen, Azuma brought his surreal sense of humor to these characters.

As an example, here's one of his comics printed on the back of the Laserdisc sleeve for the Japanese release of Tenchi the Movie 2: The Daughter of Darkness.

 

Thanks to crashoveride953 on twitter for sharing this yahoo auctions screengrab.


It seems that Pioneer was impressed with Azuma's work, as he ended up creating a lot of gag comics for them (espeically for Tenchi Muyo!), and in 1998, they decided to produce a collection of the work he created for them. Given that it was all Azuma's manga, they bestowed upon it the title of Azumanga: Digitally Remastered Edition.

Yes, this is actually where the name "Azumanga" comes from.

The book was huge—literally—as it was made to be the size of a Laserdisc sleeve as to accurately reproduce the size of the comics as they were originally published. The "Digitally Remastered Edition" is also there due to its inclusion of a mini CD-ROM. This CD-ROM is interesting as it includes some extra comics he worked on that weren't included in the book for whatever reason, along with some neat behind-the-scenes sketches and even some faxes.

As neat as this book was, its large size and the inclusion of the CD-ROM brought about some issues; some bookstores had issues stocking the book, it was difficult to handle, and I imagine it was quite expensive to produce. (Not to mention—it's too big for my scanner!!!)

After the publication of this book, Azuma borrowed the name for his original series Azumanga Daioh, serialized in Dengenki Daioh. (Get it? It's Azuma's manga in Dengenki Daioh.) Of course this would lead to nothing but confusion for anybody who saw this older book, thinking this and Azumanga Daioh were related in any way.

In direct response to Azuma's newfound success, Pioneer allowed him to republish Azumanga in a smaller, shinso-sized tanko-ban volume with Dengenki Comics, in a very similar format to their publications of standalone Azumanga Daioh volumes.

Size Comparison (Recycle has already been debound for scanning)

From here, Pioneer would also publish Azumanga 2, another anthology of even more comics he created for them. This is where Wallaby was first collected, and Try! Try! Try! was published, but I'll get into that book at a later date.

As implied by the name, this new book is mostly just recycled content from the first Azumanga. Other than the size, Recycle does not contain a CD-ROM, but instead actually publishes a few comics from the CD in its pages. This smaller size probably made it much easier to publish, and even makes it easier for me as the pages are small enough for me to scan!

The same comic, in two formats. You can really see on the right how it was meant for a Laserdisc booklet.

While the contents of the two books are very similar, they are not exactly the same: for example, the original Azumanga contains an extra gag comic for El-Hazard that is not included in Recycle. (For anybody worried about missing out, don't worry! I recently sent my debound copy of Azumanga to be scanned by Marty McFlies, who has a big enough scanner and has experience scanning vinyls and Laserdisc covers.)


But until I start working on that beast of a project, I have scanned Recycle and have been translating it for the past half-year or so. Let's take a brief look at the table of contents, shall we?

Akari is cute!!!

To summarize, the book is divided into five sections: Laserdiscs, which included comics that were printed with Laserdisc and VHS releases of anime episodes, either on the box or in the booklet; CDs & Games, which as you can guess are comics that were printed in the booklets included in the CD jewelcase of some music CDs or Playstation games, 4-Koma, which as the name suggests are 4-panel comics published in a variety of sources such as magazines, VHS booklets, and the like; Movies, which are comics that were published with the brochures included with the purchase of tickets for the first two Tenchi Muyo movies, and books, which includes a comic that was published in a standalone mook, along with a comic that was created especially for the original Azumanga: Digitally Remastered Edition. At the end of each section is an original character illustration by Kiyohiko Azuma himself, each one created specifically for Azumanga Recycle.


An example page. Very helpfully, the source of where the comic was originally published in printed, along with a comment from (presumably) Azuma himself. Neat!


Phew, that's a lot. And I'm translating it all, baby!!!

I'm very excited to be working on this project. Compared to the two short one-shots I did, taking on a whole book practically by myself has been quite the challenge—but it's been a lot of fun! Unlike my last couple projects, I don't believe anybody has scanned this before me. It's possible somebody may have tried translating some of the comics off a VHS booklet or something, but to me knowledge, I am the first to preserve and translate this particular book, which is a huge honor!

The increase in the number of pages and the much higher density of words per page has been quite daunting, but after working on it for a while, I've finally finished the first section, and I hope to continue on a good pace going into the new year. I appreciate everybody's patience regarding the release schedule for this project.

If you're a fan of Kiyohiko Azuma, or Tenchi Muyo!, or Battle Athletes, I hope you enjoy this little treat!


You can read the first section here!


Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Translation Comparison of Try! Try! Try! - The Difference of 20 years

 

I've always been interested by the process of translation, especially Japanese-to-English translation. The two languages are so grammatically different, even if there was a 1-1 match for each word in both languages (there isn't), just the differences in grammar alone would make a word-to-word translation incomprehensible. At best, you might get a somewhat-readable sentence that sounds like something Yoda would say, if you're lucky.

That's why there's always a degree of creativity that comes with every translation. Even something as banal as a legal or medical document demands at least the slightest bit of creative thought to accurately translate even a simple sentence. For example, in Japanese, the subject of a sentence is often dropped if it's considered obvious for the listener to know who or what is being referred to; in English, such a thing would be ungrammatical. You can't just say "Went to school." as a sentence by itself, but you more or less can in Japanese if it's considered already obvious who exactly is going to school. As such, even the most simple sentences can require a creative choice made on the part of the translation, such as if you write the name of who went to school, or if you instead decide to use a pronoun. These creative choices require both an understanding of the original speaker's intention with their sentence, but also a cultural and linguistical understanding of how an equivalent sentence may be said in the same context in the target language. Complicating things, as is in the case of a manga, the translator would (ideally) be aiming to produce writing that is of the same caliber of that seen in a comic written by a native English speaker, and would elicit a similar reading experience.

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Yotsuba&! Magazine Ad from ADV Manga, circa. 2003

 

This is not the full rez version, if you can believe that.

Just a short post today. I'm still working on the next scanlation project, it is coming along well but given that it's a full book and that I'm basically doing it all by myself, it's gonna be a while before release. I can't make any promises on a release date or anything.

In the meantime, I found something cool on eBay. It was listed as a poster, but it's actually a print magazine ad ran by ADV to advertise their release of Yotsuba&!. Neat!

Monday, August 28, 2023

Wallaby Tidbits & Triva

 


Now that my Wallaby translation has been out for a while, let's go over some tidbits and trivia I learned as I translated it! Yaaaay!

Gamer Time

Wallaby is a unique comic in Azuma Kiyohiko's catalog as it was published in the gaming magazine "GAME-JIN", from the December 1998 issue until the Summer 2000 issue.

 

The best photo of the December 1998 issue I could find


I'm not quite sure why Wallaby was published here. Azuma's most notable works were published in Dengenki Daioh, owned by ASCII Media Works, and he also did some promotional comic work for some anime produced by Pioneer. T2 Publishing seems unrelated to either of them.

Monday, August 21, 2023

Wallaby (What a Being!) - Kiyohiko Azuma

 

Here's another scanlation of a more obscure work done by famed manga artist Kiyohiko Azuma - Wallaby!

 

Try! Try! Try! - Kiyohiko Azuma - Prototype Yotsuba&! Collection

For my very first scanlation, here is Try! Try! Try!, by famed manga artist Kiyohiko Azuma.

This is an early prototype version of Yotsuba&!, where he was testing out character designs and the general flow of how a story would work. It was first published as a few webcomics on his personal website, but eventually he drew a full standalone chapter which was included in the publication of a collection of his earlier works, Azumanga 2.

 

Azumanga Recycle Part 1: Laserdiscs

  Swag Akari This is the first section of my scan and translation of Azumanga Recycle , which you can read the details about here. This down...