Otaku Links: Cross-country

1 August 2014 | 1 comment


Greetings from San Francisco! I showed up on Thursday for work, and I’m looking forward to spending my weekend rediscovering one of my favorite places on Earth—San Francisco Japantown. I’ve got a huge shopping list and I’ll share my haul on Monday. Until then, check out my Instagram for photos of my trip, and enjoy some links!

  • I loved Tokyo Fashion’s video interview with Lisa13, a Harajuku model and guitarist. I’ve seen tons of photos of Lisa and I never noticed she only had one hand until she mentioned it in this interview!
  • Twitter friend Michelle finally started her own anime blog—at a .moe domain, no less! Her first post is on attending Kit’s Utena panel.
  • Wonder Festival Summer 2014—you know, that Japanese convention where they announce all the new figures—just happened and in my opinion, the cutest thing to come out of it is this Nendoroid of Mashiro from Engaged to the Unidentified.

Photo by Karl Baron.

On being an “out” fujoshi

30 July 2014 | 1 comment


Came across these photos of a girl who took a cardboard cutout of Rin from Free! to prom and I have mad respect for her. Look at this beautiful girl! She could have taken anyone, but she wanted to show her nerdy side.

I would never have had the guts to do this.

I mean, the comments are pretty positive. But what if they weren’t?

A fujoshi, for the 5% of you reading this who are not fujoshi yourselves, literally means “rotten girl,” and is a self deprecating term for a girl who is not only an anime fan, but a fan with a preference for the boy’s love genre of romantic anime and manga.

I mean, that’s not all I watch. But I’m not watching Free! for the swimming.

So I like BL. A lot of girls do. Most of us are quiet about it. It’s bad enough that we have to constantly convince people that if we like anime that doesn’t mean we’re pedophiles, so I don’t get close enough to most people to have the “I find 2D men attractive” conversation.

I wasn’t very open about liking this kind of thing until I got married. I feel like now that I have a husband, nobody can say I’m some developmentally stunted cartoon freak. Even if I write tweets about buying doujinshi and wanting to see anime boys shirtless.

Most of the people reading this are anime fans who are like, “Yeah duh, of course anyone who gets emotionally invested in a show ends up having a crush on a few of the characters.” But have you tried talking to your normal friends about anime? It’s bad enough explaining the G-rated parts without getting into your crushes and ships and fanfiction.



Also this skirts into dangerously TMI territory. Nobody wants to know what you fangirl over, anyway! Except other fangirls. And those relationships with other fangirls take risk. You risk embarrassing yourself in order to achieve those rare “I ship that too” interactions. And so if you’re completely silent about it, like I was for years, you won’t be able to talk with anybody.

The title of this post is a little misleading because I’ve agonized over publishing this for a while. It’s one thing not to hide it; it’s another thing to declare it to the world.

But it’s certainly not as gutsy as bringing a cartoon Rin to prom.

I’m a professional anime localizer and erotic fiction editor! An interview with Narelle Battersby

28 July 2014 | 1 comment


I love social media because there’s never before been a time where I’d be likely to make a friend in Australia without actually going there. I met Narelle Battersby on Twitter, thanks to a shared love of sports anime and plenty of mutual Twitter friends.

As I began following Narelle’s tweets this summer, I noticed that this girl has one heck of an interesting job. Anime subtitle localizer and erotic fiction editor are both interesting jobs in their own rights; Narelle does BOTH for a living. Currently? She’s a localizer for fujoshi favorite DRAMAtical Murder.

I was going to just interview Narelle about her work at Crunchyroll as a subtitle localizer, since this is an anime blog after all, but the two parts of her career had such a synergy that I wanted to talk to her about both. Here’s how that went:

Otaku Journalist: When people ask what you do for a living, what do you tell them?

Narelle: Depending on the situation my answer can range from “edit genre fiction” to “read manga and porn”. Both are more or less correct, depending on what I’m working on at the time.

Tell me about a typical work day, or if easier, work week.

I generally have a rough idea of what I need to do each week—I know what shows I’m working on on which days, for example. Most days I start by checking my emails and news sites (publishers and anime/manga, movies, pop culture) before reviewing what projects I currently have to work on and the priority I have them listed in, and working out what I need to get done on that day. I usually try to get all my manuscript editing/revision reports etc done earlier in the day so I can take it easier in the afternoon.

There’s a lot of flexibility to being a freelancer working at home, so depending on how heavy the workload is on a given day my hours spent actually working vary a lot. Generally I spend about nine or ten hours a day working, though some of that time is chatting/researching/making snacks angrily while trying to work out the kinks in something difficult. I’m also in contact with my work peers/teammates via email, IRC, and Skype throughout each day.

Working on anime simulcasts is the most specifically timed part of my week. I’m working on DRAMAtical Murder [on Crunchyroll] this season, for example, which has to be done in time for the episode to be finalized to go live at 11 AM Pacific time on Sunday. My other editing all gets planned around the shows I’m working on.

How did you get into subtitle localization? Did you have to learn Japanese?

Localization work is a relatively new gig for me. I sent an application in to Crunchyroll in December last year and got a callback in March. I did a couple of little tests involving editing some sample translated scripts/clips in Aegisub before being offered a spot on the team. My relevant skill set is all my editorial experience; my Japanese is elementary at best and while familiarity with the language is an asset, it wasn’t a requirement.

What do you say to people’s accusations about Crunchyroll subs being (pardon the pun) subpar? It was a hot topic during the CEO’s Reddit AMA

The people I work with personally on them, we’re all really invested in putting out the best subs we can. We really love the stuff we work on and care about how the subs represent us and Crunchyroll. But obviously, it’s literally hundreds of thousands of words a week on very tight turnaround, getting translated and timed and typeset and edited and checked and changed.

So yeah, mistakes happen, and it sucks when it does. But overall, I think the amount of care shows in the sum quality of our subs and typesetting. When you’re getting it right, people don’t notice so much. Inevitably it’s the big stuffups that stick out, which is unfortunate.

How did you get started in erotic fiction editing? Did you have tamer editing gigs before that?

Not many, surprisingly enough. I dove straight in the deep end. My very first editing jobs were volunteer gigs for local Australian genre magazines, and from there I got a job as a content editor at a small ebook press that published mostly romance/erotic fiction. Which suited me just fine!

How does being an erotic fiction editor put your job as an anime localizer in perspective and vice versa? It seems like there’s quite a synergy going on.

I don’t know about erotic fiction specifically, but already being really familiar with genre fiction definitely helped a lot. Being able to really quickly make dialogue sound natural for the kind of character speaking is the sort of thing you only pick up from working with lots of written dialogue.

It goes the other way too, in terms of characterisation/speech/visual storytelling (anime) and how being exposed to or familiar with lots of examples enriches your ability to be a good creative editor, particularly in terms of substantive/developmental editing.

What are your favorite parts of your career?

The flexibility for one, it’s great being able to work out my own schedule and even take my work with me if I want to go away to a convention or whatever. That,  and the fact I get paid for doing things I truly love. Some days I can be lying in bed in my pyjamas working on anime or paranormal erotica, and you can’t beat that.

On the flipside, what are some sacrifices you’ve had to make?

Freelancing is a super inconsistent way to make a living, and that can get really stressful. I make a lot less money than if I had a regular 9 to 5, but for me the trade-off is worth it, and I’m building up a great resume for snagging an in-house job in the future.

What is your advice to fans who want to emulate your career?

Have realistic knowledge and expectations of the industry, and be aware that breaking in can be tough but you can’t give up if you want to succeed. Stalk every industry news site you can find and don’t be afraid to put yourself out there: I got my gig working for HarperCollins by seeing a notice about a new imprint starting and emailing the content manager directly to ask about work. Learn how to write a great cover letter that really sells your skills to potential employers. Take chances! Make mistakes! Get messy!

Read more interviews with anime fans on Otaku Journalist:

Otaku Links: MIA

25 July 2014 | 2 comments

Lake Anna

By the time you read this, I’m not even around. I’m at my friend Andrew’s house at Lake Anna. My normal routine consists of being alone on the internet, so once a year I like to live the opposite, hanging out with my eight closest friends and no internet at all.

I hope you can make a little time for yourself with the internet unplugged this weekend, too. Either way, here are some links to keep you entertained.

  • The Crunchyroll CEO’s Reddit AMA sure left a lot of people unsatisfied, and Anime Viking was one. Crunchyroll has a lot of flaws, including its illegal beginnings and (for free users) spotty video flow. But I will always be in their court because they democratized anime streaming, making it so we can vote for the shows we love with our dollars.
  • I have not forgotten about the reader survey, and I’m working on making some big changes to Otaku Journalist. I had a new photo taken for the sidebar, and I’m working on a custom theme from scratch with The Web Designer’s Guide to WordPress. My favorite new WordPress tool is a site that instantly tells you which theme a blog has installed: WhatWPThemeIsThat.com. Try it out on any WordPress site.
  • The best part about having a blog? Inspiring other people to start their own blogs. Two reader blogs that started this week: Great Scott!, writing about his time in Japan, and heykagome, writing about otaku culture.
  • I did NOT know WordPress wrote a free ebook full of 365 blog writing prompts. They’re general enough that it’d be easy to adapt them to your fandom blog.
  • Dave writes about the dark side of convention volunteering—when you just can’t stop. Volunteering at conventions is a noble pursuit, but it’s not your full time job—or even a job!—so nobody is going to be upset if you don’t treat it like one.
  • I’ve written about how the mainstreamification of anime means we’re getting less of the “cheap and weird” stuff. But then I saw Lupin Without Commentary.
  • Could Free! become MTV’s fandom of the year? Guess we’ll find out in a few days. I remember when MTV was the channel my cool older cousin watched. Now it’s just as geeky as me.

 Photo by me. My Flickr page is mega outdated. 

Otaku Journalism: Coming to a con near you

23 July 2014 | No comments yet

As usual, Kevin Bolk had perfect timing. On the final day of the Otaku Journalismsale, he let me know that the flyer designs were ready.

Take a look below, but I’ll warn you: since they’re in print-ready CMYK instead of web-friendly RGB, the colors look a little different than usual:


That’s right, I had Otaku Journalism flyers made for handing out at conventions. If you’re going to Otakon next month, I’m sure you’ll spot one. I also want to bring a stack in my suitcase to Geek Girl Con in Seattle this October.

Have you ever heard the phrase, “you’ve got to spend money to make money?” Because that’s what my experience with publishing has been. Adding in the flyer costs in, I’ve spent about $1,100 on publishing and promoting my book in order to sell about 150 copies, both full price and on sale. I’ll need to have sold 200 copies at full price in order to finally break even.

My entire career as a writer up until now, you could read my work online for free. My main gig, ReadWrite, compensates for that with ads, while Otaku Journalist makes up the difference in affiliate links. One thing I didn’t realize however, is that “free” is the best advertising. When you decide to charge for something, suddenly you have to work harder to promote it.

This has meant running my first sale while trying not to feel gross about it. It means bringing Otaku Journalism into the real world with paper flyers where potential readers congregate. Today, it means writing about money matters honestly so I don’t feel like a sell-out.

Sorry for such a self indulgent post. The original post I had planned for today fell through. On the other hand, if you like hearing about the business side of things, let me know. I think it’d be awesome if I had more self-published geek books to read, but it does take time and money. If I can make that side of the process less nebulous, I’m happy to help.

‹ Previous Posts