Brain Battles Authors


TCAF is upon us! That magical time of year when artists from all over the world descend on Toronto to make our lives better with new books! So no time for battling books this week; my brain and I are too busy battling authors! Including Japanese guests Moyoco Anno, est em, and Akira Himekawa! All the fun is here! So come say hi and if you can’t make it all the way to Canada for your comics fun, then check out this interview I did with est em over at the Comics Journal. But be warned: It is very long!

Random Anniversary 2: My Brain



Another arbitrary amount of time, gone by in the blink of an eye! I continue to get older at a surprising pace! And I document this in a thing called a journal! Thoughts, feelings, occurrences, situations, circumstances–all of it ends up on a page at some point! Those pages build up and build up until I have a ridiculous number of pages inscribed with years and years of circumstances and occurrences stuffed in the back of a closet somewhere because what am I supposed to do with them!

Yes, it’s time to celebrate again the completion of another book, another tiny tome of my scribbly script, this one from July 2012 right up until April 2014. Some of the incidents documented therein include seeing Upstream Color for the first, second, third, and fourth times (I know I don’t usually write about movies here, but seriously, you should watch that movie. It’s really good), two lengthy trips to Japan (mostly Tokyo interspersed with jaunts around the Kanto region and brief trips to Kansai, Hokkaido, and Okinawa), walking the red carpet at TIFF (as an interpreter for what was probably the easiest money I’ve ever made interpreting), getting my heart broken by three baby cats, and of course, reading books. Reading lots and lots of books. 

And as with every little notebook my brain fills with scribbles, I kept a list of every one of those books (except for the ones I forgot to write down because I am a numbskull). So in celebration of this randomly occurring special day, I present that list to you here (in addition to changing the look of the whole place!). Like the last random anniversary, links to any that my brain tackled publicly here are included and the key for the secret codes following each title is right here. Continue reading

Winners!: Brain

I Want a Love Story

Like all good things, the 801 Manga Moveable Feast must come to an end. And with it ends our sharing of favourites (but if you want to hear my actual voice talking about some of these favourites, head over to Otaku Champloo for the first ever Fujojocast). Thanks to everyone who shared both in the comments and by email! Now I have some new fun things to read. It was tough picking a winner to receive a glorious package of Japanese R18 doujinshi, but in the end, I had to go with the wonderfully thorough descriptions sent in by Jennifer about her favourite BL Tomoko Yamashita’s I Want a Love Story. I mean, don’t you want to read the book after reading this:

It’s an anthology of a variety of stories, most of them about beginnings of relationships – awkwardly confessing to a friend; awkwardly confessing to that seemingly straight-laced salesman, who turns out to be into BDSM; the awkwardness of having sex with someone for the first time. The titular story takes up the most space. A man confesses to his best friend, and is surprised when his feelings are returned. How do you convert a relationship from friendship into something more? Continue reading

Fujoshi Revelations: Brain

moe 83077 100dpi code_geass katoh_sumio kururugi_suzaku lelouch_lamperouge male yaoiLast year, in honour of 801 Day, I posted this interview I did a couple years ago with est em. Since I did not interview another incredible BL artist this year, there is no way I’ll be able to top that (although I am working on it! Surprises in store, fujos!). But that doesn’t mean I can’t celebrate this glorious day of perversion (a day after the fact!) and the extended celebration that is the 801 Moveable Manga Feast with all of you out there in Boys’ Love Town!

Because, you know, I live in Boys’ Love Town. As a manga translator, Boys’ Love is literally my day job. (Before setting down to write this, I was translating a rather heated moment between two rather heated men.) And as a translator of the fujoshi variety, I have read a *laht* of BL. The shelves of my office bookcase are stuffed with all kinds of BL with all kinds of kinks, from incest (I will never get on board with that one) to glasses (but yes to this one!) to reversible (and this one!), many of which I have translated into English for you monolingual fujoshi/danshi. Some have been boring, a few have been honestly awful, most are just run-of-the-mill type stories that I forget the second I’m done the translation, but a few have been really great and stuck with me, long after the project was finished. So in the spirit of celebrating the best BL has to offer, my brain presents to you now my top five BL translations. Continue reading

Random Anniversary: My Brain

Although it’s been over a year since my brain decided to battle books publicly (seven months over to be precise), neither my brain nor I is the type to celebrate fixed anniversaries and holidays (we are perverse that way). But! We celebrate in our own way, creating holidays when and where necessary, the most recent being Tutmas, a delightful celebration of all things Tut, when we hang hieroglyphs on the desert frond and sing Tutmas carols. We also had great fun at Summer Beach Day a couple Februaries ago.

Generally, these holidays are of no relevance to the important task of defeating books. However, today, a new milestone has been reached and it is one of the ones my brain has deemed worthy of celebration. Namely, the finishing of a journal. Yes, I am one of those total Luddite lunatics that actually puts pen to paper and writes “thoughts” and “feelings” that no one will ever read. More important to this discussion, though, is the list of books read that adorns the back pages of this journal. Now that I am about to start a new list of books I have read in the new journal of “thoughts” and “feelings”, it seems appropriate that I post that list here in the place of book battles, so that my brain can feel even more triumphant in its conquering.

So this week, for your thoughtful reading pleasure, a reading list of everything I read, excluding magazines and books I forgot to write down (which I did with irritating frequency, as I discovered compiling this list and finding books I wrote about here, but I did not write down there), between January 2011 and July 2012! Continue reading

March was made of Yarn

Even those of you not working in Japan and interacting with the country on a daily basis will probably remember that big disaster thing that happened almost a year ago. All the horrifying images that came out of the country, the sadness of all those lives lost, homes destroyed. And then of course, the neverending nightmare that is the Fukushima power plant. The thing that you might not be aware of is that this tragedy hasn’t exactly ended. Things in the north are still in shambles. All those people who were forced to leave their homes because they lived inside the exclusion zone around the power plant? They’re still not allowed back in, and it’s looking like it’ll be a very long time before anyone gets to live in that area again. It is definitely not over.

I’m not writing all this to start your Wednesday off with a big old downer, but to remind you that you can support relief efforts and read some great Japanese literature thanks to March was made of Yarn, a collection of writing from amazing authors translated by superstars, and edited by Elmer Luke and David Karashima. With stories by Yoko Tawada, Mieko Kawakami, Hideo Furukawa, and even a short manga story by the Nishioka Kyodai, it’s a fantastic collection and a good chance for all you monolinguals to read some of the awesome stuff coming out of Japan these days. If you don’t believe me that it’s awesome, go read these reviews. Total strangers on the Internet would not lie to you. Continue reading

Silverpoint: Toh EnJoe

I am not going to tell you what I think of this story (PDF which you can download free until March 2012). Because I translated it and that would be some kind of conflict of interest. I will just suggest that you read it. And then donate. Because this is a more than worthy cause. (And of course, you can read the story in Japanese by buying it here, with all the proceeds going to charity.)

If you are less than interested in great causes, it is a great story by a great author who has yet to make his presence felt in the English-speaking world. But really, that’s only a matter of time. (Oh, wait. I said I wasn’t going to tell you what I think of the story. Uh, sorry?)

And Toh EnJoe’s musings on rockets and the nature of writing itself are not the only excitement. Up-and-coming young Japanese authors of all stripes have contributed stories (including recently discussed Mieko Kawakami), and all kinds of amazing translators have donated their efforts to bring you these stories in English. So click through, read some great fiction and send what you can spare to the Japanese Red Cross, who are still hard at work in the hardest-stricken areas of northern Japan. Because a thing like the March 11 earthquake, you don’t just recover from that overnight.

UPDATE: Guess who won the Akutagawa Prize! Mr. Toh EnJoe himself! (He is the guy on the left if you click on that link.) “Silverpoint” is not the story he won for, but it’s still a great story and pretty representative of his style. And it’s up on these interwebs for a good cause, so go download it already, and put some money in the Red Cross hat.

A Note on Scanlation

Dear person who found my blog by searching for “Saraiya Goyou scanlated”,

Please buy the book. It is called House of Five Leaves in English and it is only $12.99. That is not so steep for such a quality book. And the translation is top notch!

But I understand only all too well that sometimes, a person just does not have $12.99. That is a hard place for a book lover to be, but there is hope! It is a thing called a library and you can read books there for free! Incredible! If they do not have House of Five Leaves at your local library, you can ask them to get it for you. Most libraries take requests and are glad to hear from patrons about what they would like to see on the shelves.

So you know, you have options that would support the artist who made this terrific book, Natsume Ono, so that she can keep making terrific books.




My brain will be writing about books soon enough, but at the moment, it is stricken with panic and sadness at the action in Japan. So while you are waiting to find out what my brain thinks of the printed page, perhaps you could think about offering a hand to the people on the ground? Friends are saying that they are still plagued with aftershocks in Tokyo, so I can’t even imagine what it’s like in Tohoku (the epicentre of this disaster). And if you’ve seen the extremely distressing videos of the tsunami, then you know that help is going to be seriously needed to clean up and get those people back on their feet. So you know, if you’ve got a few bucks, the Red Cross is already mobilizing.

(PS. Live updates and emergency info here.)


I just got a buttload of manga delivered by a very friendly postal worker! These are the kinds of things that make my week. I mean, the manga alone would have been more than enough to make me smile for days, but add a friendly interaction with a nice postal worker and it’s rainbows everywhere!

The best part about this box full of pictures and words? I am reading them for work! (I love my job.) Some more directly for work than others. The most recent volume of Ooku (I am seriously behind in this series. Volume 6 came out in August and I am just now getting it in the post?) is the more indirect kind of reading for work, the keeping-up-with-the-world-of-manga kind of reading, while Ono Natsume’s Tsuratsura Waraji is the more direct kind, the interpreting-for-her-in-May-so-better-prepare kind. (TCAF finally made the announcement today!)

My brain is less excited by all this than I am, though. It keeps casting fearful glances at the ever-expanding shelf of books to be read, and muttering to itself about not enough hours in the day and maybe it doesn’t really need sleep after all.