27 December 2016

Some Thoughts on Big Ideas in History

Ah, 42... The great answer to life, universe, and a lack of reading. 2016 is the first year I really made an effort to pursue reading books as a daily habit by reading just 50 pages/day, which works out to only ~1hr for most non-fiction books, and I'm both surprised and pleased by how easily achievable my original goal of reading at least 24 books for 2016 was. I guess this is what normal people feel like when they talk about how easy it is to get in the habit of exercising? That's definitely something I need to work on but running for the sake of running is one of the dullest activities for me... To anyone reading my blog, I encourage you to get out there some stale indoor-air and read as many things as possible! Manga, articles, journals, blogs, books, erotic fan-fiction! Life's too short to spend it on exercise, charity work, dating, praying to God, or raising a family. Surely, we can all agree that the warm embrace of a loved one is inferior to the smug satisfaction one can get from reading 17th century grain-price fluctuations across Europe, right?

Bad jokes aside, I saved the best for the last to conclude my series of posts for 2016 books. This post is dedicated to the Big Ideas in history. The kind of ideas that even normal people find fascinating but historians sometimes hesitate at because they don't want to seem too reductionist with grandiloquent ambitions of constructing historical formulae or metanarratives.

19 December 2016

Some Thoughts on Books I read in 2016 - Part 5

I think that economics, like religion, is one of those topics that's seemingly a lot less interesting than it actually is. I think the best way for fellow history fans to get through the initial high entry barrier for these subjects, is to read books that uses them to explore a bigger question with greater appeal. For instance, the whole reason why I recommended books on the development of Jewish mythology, is not to be a douchebag but get people more interested in religion, especially how it helps shapes human cultures. That's why even though I fully admit I'm closer to being a scatter-brained dilettante than some intellectual (I'm just a dude who translates manga on the interwebz ( ̄ヘ ̄)┌ ), I'm still excited to recommend books that'll hopefully get people to leave their comfort zones and explore new ideas. With that said, here are 3 economic history books that I hope some weirdos people will have fun with.

3 December 2016

Wombs v02 (complete)

At last, volume 2 is done! I'm not going to start on v3 until January, as I have a few things to wrap up before the end of the year.

Wombs v02:   Mega
Wombs c16:   Mega

2 December 2016

Some Thoughts on Maks, Japs, and Yanks.

Christ, what a year we've had. Bloody Ramadan, Nice terror attack, Orlando shooting, Brexit, Trump, failed Turkish coup and Erdogan's purges, FARC referendum, Panama leaks, Korean shaman scandal, Brazilian presidential impeachment... That's not even mentioning all the other noteworthy events going on in Syria, Yemen, Baluchistan, and Philippines. Well, only one more month left in 2016 so let's just hope the year doesn't end in a literal bang from some surprise asteroid strike. In the meantime, I'm gonna try to wrap up my Some Thoughts on Books of 2016. This is Part 4 of 6.

27 November 2016

Soil v9 (complete)

In case you haven't noticed, I've been slow on the updates but I've got more free time now so onto volume 9 we go! It shouldn't take long before this volume is done, I promise.

*Update: And v9 is now complete! There won't be any v10 chapters until January.

Soil v9:   Mega

Soil v9 c65:   Mega
Soil v9 c66:   Mega
Soil v9 c67:   Mega
Soil v9 c68:   Mega
Soil v9 c69:   Mega
Soil v9 c70:   Mega
Soil v9 c71:   Mega
Soil v9 c72:   Mega

7 November 2016

Yakeppachi no Maria v2 (complete)

Whew, Yakeppachi no Maria is done at last! Didn't think a 2-volume project would take so long, but you know how real life can be. Like I said before, and as Tezuka himself states in the translated afterword included at the end of v2, Yakeppachi no Maria's is Tezuka's "yakeppachi" at the rapidly changing manga world of the late 60s and 70s where the younger generations were eager to break taboos that the older generations had been confined to. With this context in mind, I think it's a neat little work that deserves to be translated even if the execution wasn't great (talk about a rushed ending!). For a legend like Tezuka, sometimes, the intent is as interesting as to read into as much as the actual works themselves, and Happyscans and I hope that reading this manga has given you a better idea into Tezuka and his career.

19 October 2016

Some Thoughts on Historical What-Ifs

"Eat your hamburgers, Apollo."
For part 3 of books I read in 2016, I want to start off by making a confession. I quite dislike historical what-ifs. It's not because I think these mind-exercises are of no value. In fact, I think they are valuable exercises. Rather, it's that a lot of historical what-ifs I see in internet discussions (not exactly a high bar of discourse, this blog included) are extremely sloppy exercises in logic that promote the idea of a singular cause for historical outcomes. Moreover, I find it very hard to believe that the so-called "pivotal moments" are really as "pivotal" as they're cracked up to be. Sure, the immediate aftermath will be different, but how different would things be a few centuries since the crossroads? Take Oda Nobunaga for example, since he's in a few anime series this season. "What if he died at the Battle of Okehazama? What if the Honnouji Incident never occurred?" The popular answer to the former is that Japan wouldn't have emerged as a unified nation while for the latter is that Japan would have been an innovative, outward-looking, modern nation much, much earlier. It's shit like this that triggers my historical autism. Why? Because it assumes that the process of unification can stem only from Oda's god-like figure, that a zeal for modernization can be ingrained by a single person on an entire nation regardless of external pressures, or that state policies can never change. I can get into a more detailed discussion on the process of unification/disintegration using Europe, China, Middle East as case studies to show why I don't think Oda is as critical as he's often claimed to be, but I don't want to get too off-topic now.

In any case, as much as I dislike historical what-ifs, I couldn't help but think of even crazier what-if scenarios of my own as I read some of these books. So I apologize beforehand for any simple assumptions or lapses in critical thinking in my opinions below. Like always, I try to write these posts half-jokingly, half-seriously.

16 October 2016

Soil v8 (complete)

Hopefully, my editor Kennit and I can finish this long-abandoned series before the end of the year, but no promises.

And volume 8 is now done!

Soil v8:   Mega
Soil c64:   Mega

17 September 2016

Some Politically Incorrect Thoughts on Religiously Incorrect Topics

Literally me as I write this post
For my follow up to books I've read in 2016 part 1, I'm going to focus on RELIGION of both the ancient and modern variety. As a citizen of the modern-West, I'm not alone if I were to confess that religion is boring. Sure, on surveys and polls, % of atheists is beaten by that of Christians, but there's a hell of lot of Christians who don't attend church regularly and even more who don't understand the principal theological beliefs that would set one sect apart from the other. My parents, too, were one of these "nominally" religious folks, and despite making me go to church and Buddhist temples in my childhood, they didn't care enough to prevent their son from becoming a dirty infidel in his teens. And because of the godless environment I grew up in, I'd gotten a foolish idea that religion doesn't really matter. "Who cares what papal primacy is? Who cares about the difference between Pure Land and Zen Buddhism? No, please not another school field trip to the Sikh temple with bad food!" While I'm exaggerating my ignorance here, there really does seem to be a tendency for a lot of us infidels to not understand how important religion is. When a religious person does something bad, we blame the individual, not the religion. We recognize that individuals get out of religion what they bring to it, but rarely vice versa, that religions have distinct perspectives to impart change upon the believer. In short, religion is a mere jacket, an external identity one can adopt with ease without fundamentally changing one's internal identity. Fundamental to my abandoning of such ideas was learning to read history as less the tales of great men and epoch-making moments, but more as the evolution of human society. All of a sudden, war matters, not because "ooh, shiny swords and armour" but because how it shaped human society. Economy matters, not because of some vague idea that more money = power, but how wealth is generated, accumulated, and distributed fundamentally alters human society. And last but not least, religion also matters because duh, it also shapes human society. Call it my "road to Damascus" moment, if you'd be so kind to let this dirty infidel culturally appropriate a religious term.

Full T R I G G E R   W A R N I N G S ahead to the religious and politically correct for the remainder of this post.

Legend of Giants

Yay, it's time for another Hoshino Yukinobu manga! I worked with illuminati-scans (click the link since they've got other releases) for this one, and it's a collection of 3 short stories drawn from his earlier career ('75, '77, '78) and that's intentional because I wanted to focus on Hoshino's earlier works now that there's a decent amount of his stuff scanlated compared to when I initially did Stardust Memories when 2001 Nights was the only other Hoshino manga available in English.
Icarus Asteroid (published in '75, the year of Hoshino's debut as a mangaka)
It's particularly interesting to note just how different the artstyle is for the second story (see above) compared to the other two, which is largely the same style Hoshino still draws with nearly four decades later. Given that there's only a 2 year gap between Icarus Asteroid and Legend of Giants, I would theorize that the artstyle shift is because Hoshino, like other skilled mangaka, knew how to draw in different styles but was initially restrained (whether by himself or those around him) to draw in a manner that would less alienate readers who had grown up on mainstream '60s and early '70s manga. I do plan on doing Distant Dawn with illuminati-scans as well in the near future, which is a collection of Hoshino's short stories from '75-78 including his debut work, Iron Queen. That one has a lot more stories from his formative years in '75 and '76 and it'll be interesting to note the subtle artstyle changes he was making as he shifted from his early to late styles. I'll probably do a longer write-up then to point out some of those changes. In any case, with regards to the first and longest story (Legend of Giants parts 1 and 2), I would encourage readers to not read it so quickly. Part 1 becomes more meaningful in hindsight when you read part 2. When I initially skimmed through it, I didn't think too much of it, but as I translated it, I was impressed by Hoshino's weaving of Western mythology. If you're a long-time reader of Hoshino, it's obvious that the guy is a major westaboo and loves to reference Western culture. But as far as this short story is concerned, it's not the kind of empty, self-congratulating namedropping. The Prometheus mythology serves quite well in connecting parts 1 and 2 to each other, and to their overarching theme. That's all I'll say for now. Enjoy!

Legend of Giants:   Mega

27 August 2016

Some Thoughts on Books I read in 2016 - Part 1

Literally me as I write this post
With the year heading towards its final season, I think it's time for me to collect my thoughts on the books I've been reading this year so I don't completely forget what it is I actually learned from them. This will be part 1 of 4 (maybe 5?) series of posts about my thoughts on books of 2016. As these posts are getting longer and longer, I'm starting to think simply doing smaller chunks regular history/politics posts would be better.

Historie Update

Chapter 97 is out. Good chapter. Will be interesting to see how Eumenes' new determination will play out during and after Philip's approaching demise.

Important note by Iwaaki that he'll be taking a brief break to do his usual art fix-ups for v10 release. So we probably won't see the next chapter until either late this year, or start of next year. I will be putting out v10 once I see any tank scans for that pop up on the internet though.

Historie c97:   Sendspace

22 August 2016

Yakeppachi no Maria v1 (complete)

And this is the second (and probably last) Tezuka manga that Happyscans and I will do. Even among Tezuka's many works, this one stands out as one of his weirder works for its content. It was serialized in 1970 when people were discussing if sex-education in schools needed a reform and when delinquent/battle academy-centered shonen stories were very poular. But more importantly, it was also the time when Nagai Go's Harenchi Gakuen was also running and ruffling a ton of feathers. Adults across Japan were seriously debating if these crude, disposable piece of entertainment known as "manga" should really be allowed to depict sex and violence. There was a sizable movement calling for the banishment of books posing "harmful influence" for Japanese youths. Obviously, manga like Harenchi Gakuen were a prime target but even Tezuka's Tetsuwan Atom(!) was labelled harmful by some of these people. It seems ridiculous to us today, but even the kissing scene in Tezuka's Apollo no Uta provoked criticism from the PTA, and some of Tezuka's manga were burned in public book burnings by this social-movement, many of whose members likely thought that all manga were better off eradicated.

In this chaotic time for the manga world under attack when many new artists deliberately sought to break even more taboos to smugly annoy the uptight conservatives, Tezuka, being the father of manga, probably felt trapped between two sides. As an artist, he too, likely wanted to explore new boundaries without being restrained, but as part of the older generation, he probably felt more hesitant about breaking them than the youngsters. Moreover, his Mushi Productions was veering towards bankruptcy and that certainly must have added additional stress. It was this "desperation" that he felt at this time that allowed him to channel that era's zeitgeist and draw "Yakeppachi no Maria," whose main character is literally nicknamed "desperation (Yakeppachi)." In the end, like Alabaster (which I also translated), Tezuka has come to regard this manga as a rubbish work. In my opinion, however, I think it's an enjoyable quirky work (only 2 volumes long), and given its historical context and what it represented to Tezuka's career, deserves to be translated.

Yakeppachi no Maria v01:   Mega
Yakeppachi no Maria c06:   Mega

15 August 2016

Wombs v1 (complete)

Chapter 8 is done and with it, volume 1, as well. I made a ton of typos in a fair number of minor translation errors in the previous chapter releases, so I fixed them all for the batch volume release. I hope people are enjoying this unusual series. Shirai Yumiko does a good job at very gradual world-building, as opposed to heavy info dumps, so that readers will know just enough to understand the events of each chapter but still have enough questions so that they'll keep reading. If only she could improve her character art, she could become a mangaka to closely follow for many years to come.

Wombs v1:   Mega (fixed tons of errors present in chapter releases)
Wombs c08:   Mega

13 August 2016

Planet of Sutakola v1

KATOU SHINKICHI IS BACK! Actually, this is a belated remark, considering he spent the past 9 years working on Planet of Sutakola, which just wrapped up in 2015 with its 5th volume, but it's still worth celebrating since Katou Shinkichi is very sparse with his manga output. As a big fan of him, I've been waiting for ages to read this, so I'm doubly excited to start translating it, thanks to Habanero scans providing me with raws and Kennit with cleaning/typesetting. The first volume is merely the opening act to this SF-fantasy tale, so it brings up a lot of questions that'll only be answered in the subsequent volumes, which is when the plot will really begin to take shape. I'll release v2 sometime this winter.
But really, Katou's artwork is so superb that even if you can't follow the story, the manga's still a joy to look at. As a mangaka who started drawing manga in a simple and deformed artstyle, Katou's one of those few artists that knows when to be detailed and when to be simple, leading to an art style that's not trying to be some bland attempt at realism nor a cookie-cutter manga aesthetic.

In other news, I'll be starting up translations for Kaneko Atsushi's Soil this September for those of you who've been dying for years to see how that mystery wraps up. Finally the frogs won't be the only one who can read the ending.

Planet of Sutakola v01:   Mega

3 July 2016

Don Quixote

Here's the full-release of Shiriagari Kotobuki's The Wandering Senior, Don Quixote! This is a project I've had my eye on for some time but it was indefinitely shelved due to lack of raws, so much thanks go out to Habanero scans for providing me with raws, as well as Kennit for editing. I was planning on doing a longer Some Thoughts post for this, considering Shiriagari's a rather unique mangaka whom fans of non-mainstream manga should definitely note, but I'm a little too busy right now for that (perhaps I'll save it for when I do another Shiriagari manga). I will say, however, that this particular manga showcases Shiragari's great use of surrealist art and storytelling, resulting in a social commentary which would have come out ham-handedly preachy in any lesser hands. So do give it a go, and tell me what you thought of it.

In other news, you can expect some Hoshino Yukinobu, Yasuhiko Yoshikazu, and motherfucking KATOU SHINKICHI amongst other things from me this summer.

The Wandering Senior, Don Quixote:   Mega

25 June 2016

Historie 96

Poor Eumenes...

Also, I know I've been quiet for the whole month, but that doesn't mean I haven't been translating stuff. I should be releasing a 1-volume project... probably next week, as well as releasing something Tezuka-related. So check back next weekend.

Historie c96:   Sendspace

29 May 2016

Some Thoughts About Manga 20

My Name s Nero v1:   Mega
My Name is Nero v2:   Mega
My Mega folder

It's no secret that I'm a big fan of historical manga. Yokoyama Mitsuteru is one mangaka near and dear to my heart for his works in this genre. As I've noted before, he has a dry, almost laconic, narrative style where the actions speak louder than words, and the driving motives of characters are only shown a few times in the story. And then there's Yasuhiko Yoshikazu. He too, like Yokoyama, is a man who has decided to specialize in historically-themed works in the latter half of his career. However in style, he's the polar opposite of Yokoyama. Yasuhiko's characters are extremely expressive and flowery dialogue is not uncommon. And unlike Yokoyama's preference for an orthodox approach to telling history, Yasuhiko prefers to tell history in ways it often is not.

10 May 2016

Jurassic Academy

Got sent raws for a quirky oneshot by Kobori Makoto that serialized in Evening. Only 7 pages long, so why not, especially when it's got dinosaurs?

Jurassic Academy:   Mega

8 May 2016

My Name is Nero vol.1

Happy Mother's Day! And what better way to celebrate Mother's day than with a tale of an emperor famous for killing his mother? Enjoy the first volume. The final second volume should come before the month's end. I'll do a longer write-up on Nero to go along with that post. Also a thanks goes out to Shoujomagic who scanlated the first chapter many, many years ago.

My Name is Nero v1:   Mega

25 April 2016

Historie c95

It's time for a new chapter of Historie, hurray! Quite a fun chapter for military history nerds. Iwaaki/Eumenes came up with one interesting theoretical way to solve the inherent weakness of the Greek and Macedonian phalanx.

On another note, I am currently working on My Name is Nero, but progress is a little slow at present as other things have sidetracked me as of late. But there definitely will be one full volume of Nero or some other project coming out in May so look forward to it!

Historie c95:   Sendspace

10 April 2016

Some Thoughts About Heterodoxy and Heresy

Innocent Children's Crusade v3:   Mega
My mega folder where you can find all 3 volumes: Mega

Here it is, the final act in Usamaru Furuya's bloody tragedy, volume 3 of Innocent Children's Crusade! Much thanks goes to Kennit for doing a fantastic job with the cleaning and typesetting. He definitely put in a lot more effort than I would have, had I tried to do this alone. Now as requested by a few people, I'm going to try to do a Some Thoughts post for all the new projects I pick up from now on, so as to explain why I thought a particular work was interesting enough to bother translating.

20 March 2016

Innocents Children's Crusade v2

The second act is out at last and the final volume will be released in April. I won't comment much on the story now but enjoy!

Innocents Children's Crusade v2:   Mega

27 February 2016

Innocents Children Crusade v1

In honour of the 20th anniversary of the original release of Pokemon Red/Green in Japan, I bring you a manga about another fun fad children took part back in the 13th century: the Crusades! Yes, this is Furuya Usamaru's Innocents Children's Crusade! It wasn't a project I ever intended on shelving for so long since I'm a big Furuya-fan, but circumstances led me to do so when I found myself out of raws and I was busy with Tomorrow's Joe and Sangokushi. But with the help of the skilled editor Kennit, we quickly wrapped up the remaining 3 chapters in the first volume and will be bringing volumes 2 and 3 soon enough (current plan is to finish before May).

For those of you who haven't heard of this manga, this is a fantastic... Ero-guro tragedy. Now, I know that isn't exactly the most esteemed of genres in story-telling, but it's a great violent tragedy nonethless so do give it a try. If you've read and liked Furuya's Litchi Hikari Club, this will be right up your alley as LHC's influence on Innocents Children Crusade should be clear to all. I think a common complaint with LHC was that there was only one volume to get to know (and then say goodbye to) 9 boys, so the characterization, character growth, and plot development all had to fight for limited room, which didn't make for the best pacing. I think Furuya Usamaru himself may have felt this way about LHC, which is why he immediately afterwards decided to draw Innocents Children's Crusade, a spiritual successor of sorts. The 3 hefty volumes he dedicated to this series consequently makes for much better pacing, so you really do feel more attached to the characters as they're corrupted and meet their ends. As a fan of history and tragedies, this was a great read for me and I'm quite excited to continue its translation.

That's all I have to say for now so enjoy the opening act! The violence and tragedy will soon follow in v2...

Innocent Children's Crusade v1:   Mega

25 February 2016

Conclusion at Chaeronea

Finally, a new chapter and an end to the Battle of Chaeronea. Loved the grizzled faces of the two screaming Macedonian veterans in this chapter. I don't know how Iwaaki does it, but they have this oddly glazed look that makes me think of them as men so broken in by war that they're only capable of killing.

Oh, and for those who think of Chaeronea as some last stand by the Greeks before centuries of domination at foreign hands, please keep in mind this was purely a battle where Thebes and Athens was trying to push back Macedonia's rising power. Freedom for the Greeks as a whole, was never really on anyone's agenda and the "Greek" identity was nowhere near as important as being a citizen of whatever city state you were born to, as the Social War or the Sacred Wars attest to.

Historie c94:   Sendspace

12 February 2016

Some Thoughts on an Adaptation: Sangokushi

Sangokushi v60:   Mega;   Mediafire
All Previous Sangokushi volumes:   Mega;   Mediafire


With that burst of elation out of the way, I have to admit it's as sad as it is rewarding to finally hang this project on my completed-shelf. The 60 volume length was naturally daunting when I first decided to pick up this series, but as a labour of love, I enjoyed every moment of translating this series. But as they say, every end is a new beginning. While I'd be perfectly content to have this remain as my magnum opus (excuse my unwarranted self-importance here), there's still a whole world of great manga out there and I will most definitely be picking up a whole bunch of new manga so look forward to it!

For the curious, I'll begin work on the following projects this year:
Innocents Shounen Juujigen (no, I did not forget about this!)
Waga Na wa Nero
Zettai Anzen Kamisori
Dousei Jidai
Teito Monogatari

For Yokoyama fans looking for their next fix of Chinese history after Sangokushi, I will also start work on Shiji this year, though I'll be releasing it sporadically as it suits the nature of the work, being a collection of only loosely related stories taken from Sima Qian's Shiji (think of it like a collection of one shots).

Now on with my Some Thoughts on Sangokushi...

26 January 2016

Sangokushi v59 (complete)

Chapters 426 and 427 are done, meaning ONE MORE VOLUME LEFT! I'll be releasing the last volume as a single release rather than by chapter, and it should be out in 2 weeks from now. I have to juggle trying to translate and writing up an appropriate post (fuck writer's block) to go along with the ending, like I did with Tomorrow's Joe.

Sangokushi c426:   Sendspace
Sangokushi c427:   Sendspace
Sangokushi v59:   Mega;   Mediafire
All Previous Sangokushi volumes:   Mega;   Mediafire

14 January 2016

Sangokushi v58 (complete)

Another volume done.

Sangokushi c417:   Sendspace
Sangokushi v58:   Mega;   Mediafire
All Previous Sangokushi volumes:   Mega;   Mediafire

2 January 2016

Sangokushi v57 (complete)

Volume 57 is finally done, meaning just THREE MORE VOLUMES TO GO. 
*cue Final Countdown music*

Sangokushi c409:   Sendspace
Sangokushi v57:   Mega;   Mediafire
All Previous Sangokushi volumes:   Mega;   Mediafire