Gari July 2009
Gari is the current leader of Solaris-SVU. Aside from making sure Solaris-SVU functions normally, Gari also acts as the group's primary translator and editor, and is one of the main reasons Solaris-SVU still releases manga on a consistent basis even today.
Gari: I'm Gari. I run Solaris-SVU and also act as the group's primary translator and editor.
Gari: Solaris was founded in about late 2002–early 2003 by two members of MangaArt, Infornography and zion, who decided to strike out on their own. The first two series they began work on were series that had been dropped by other groups: Ai ga Tomaranai and Saishu Heiko Kanojo, so perhaps the group was formed specifically to keep these series going. Personally, I joined a few months later.
Gari: When Solaris was founded, the community was beginning to hit its stride. At the time, there were several big groups, but with resources like Manga Jouhou and DailyManga becoming popular, smaller groups were able to get a decent readership. This was also in the midst of an industry-wide boom; with lots of publishers bring over a good deal of licensed manga and anime as well.
Gari: Solaris-SVU actually began as Solaris Lunae, and was intended to be a resource for more than just manga. Solaris was to be the manga division and Lunae was, as I understand it, intended to deal with music. However the Lunae was soon dropped, and the group became simply Solaris.
When I joined Solaris, zion (one of the founders) had an idea to do the Cooking Master Boy manga. Infornography (the other founder) didn't want to overload the group with too many projects, so we formed a subgroup in order to handle it ourselves. We originally intended to call it Solaris Rogue Unit, but eventually settled on Solaris Vanguard Unit (SVU). SVU had its own staff that was (mostly) independant of the main group. And we released through Solaris to give our series a bit of added exposure. We merged to become Solaris-SVU when the mIRC-X IRC network died, and our new network already had a #solaris channel. I believe that this is the same reason we decided to choose mangaworld.org as a domain name. At the time we were still only Solaris, and solaris.com would have been taken. I don't know why solaris-scans or something similar wasn't chosen. I was actually away at the time, and this was shortly before I took charge as well.
Gari: We actually haven't had too many problems over the years. We've never received any Cease & Desists, but then we also choose not to work on, or further distribute, licensed material. Ultimately, the biggest crisis we may have had to endure was a period in which we had no web hosting. Also I have been known to disappear on occasion, which basically brings the group to a halt.
Gari: In the beginning, Solaris was just like any other group. We had a chain of command, with coordinators on each project to make sure they ran smoothly. However, nowadays we have a very small staff. I translate all but one project myself, and edit all but a few myself too. I also designed, and maintain the website myself. Most of our new projects are brought to me, and suggested to me by BigVinny, though I found a few of them myself. With the few staff members we do have, it's pretty loosely run. We don't make any demands, or set any deadlines. We just ask that they care about the project enough that they have the desire to put in the effort. Most of our staff works with other groups as well (myself included), and in some cases they even run their own groups.
Gari: Our first project to achieve any sort of popularity was Lilim Kiss. Girls Saurus has always been popular, though its popularity has waned over time. I think, overall, the most popular series we've done is Bitter Virgin. The readers couldn't wait for more of that one, and neither could I. I also think Ai-Ren was a fantastic project. Though not our most popular, I believe it is a one of a kind work of art. To this day, I am still glad that I was able to take part in letting people experience that. Currently our most popular title would have to be Umi no Misaki.
Gari: We've had a few joint projects in our time. I certainly wouldn't say that it is something we do often, but if we can maximize our resources and work together with others, then I'm in favor of it. There are many ways a joint project can take shape. For example, when we started Ai-Ren we only had Korean scans, so we worked with KMTS. We had an available editor, so they worked with us. We're all on the same side, working towards the same goal, so why not work together?
Gari: There are many stories, but they are all buried so deep in the past. I can't think of any that really sticks out. Nowadays not much goes on at Solaris. Our IRC channel is fairly quiet, and we are pretty much just down to business as far as manga is concerned.
Gari: I'm not sure. I've been on this side of the fence for so long that I've practically forgotten what it's like to be a reader. But, it's hard work. And though I'm sure many of the readers truly do appreciate the work that goes into it, it can't be said enough. Personally, I've translated and edited something like 300 chapters entirely by myself. That doesn't include chapters that I've translated for others to edit, and those that others have translated for me to edit. I mean about 300 one-man-show chapters. So, I, like a lot of other people out there, have worked my butt off. So if it's not perfect, cut us some slack. Not that I get complaints, because I rarely do, but people should understand what it takes to put out a chapter.
Gari: Well, we try to retain some semblance of a community. We are all working towards the same goal of bringing manga to those who otherwise wouldn't be able to understand it. So, if anything, we should work together. It's sad to see resources go to waste with 3 or 4 groups working on a single manga, when many great series are still left untranslated. Personally I've never had any series that mattered to me "stolen" though I have had other groups contact me and express interest in doing a certain series, and I gave them my blessing to do those series because I felt they could probably give them more attention than I could. Addicted to Curry and Baby Love are two examples of that.
Gari: Nowadays I don't read much beyond what we do ourselves. But back in the days I read a lot of the work of MangaProject, SnoopyCool, Toriyama's World and many more. The only series I still try to follow is Hajime no Ippo, but I'm already well behind on it.
Gari: We are going to keep on going as we always have. I like to think that I will stop taking on new series and finish the ones I have so that I can quit, but I keep finding new things I like. As far as the community itself goes, I really have no idea. While you see studios combating fansubbed anime by doing things like simultaneous airings and using services like Crunchyroll, it just doesn't seem very feasible with manga. Or, if something like that were implemented, it would only be for the most popular titles. So I think things will continue as they have been for a while yet.
Gari: Keep reading.