HisshouBuraiKen August 2009

HisshouBuraiKen is one of the most popular "public translators" to emerge from the scanlation community since 2006. The emergence of these public translators, whose translation scripts are used by many different groups, is directly tied to the rise of scanlation community sites like MangaHelpers. HisshouBuraiKen, one of the more well-known public translators, shares his translations on MangaHelpers to be used by speedscan groups like Binktopia. HisshouBuraiKen is also involved in the fansub community as a translator for Dattebayo, and is also involved in the manga industry as a professional translator (in March 2009, MangaHelpers's Lingwe conducted another interview with HisshouBuraiKen as part of MangaHelpers's special Translator Interview series).

Please introduce yourself!

HisshouBuraiKen: Hi! My name is Matt, better known online as HisshouBuraiKen. I've been translating anime and manga for the better part of five years now. The main manga series I've worked on are Naruto, Gantz, Fullmetal Alchemist, and Yuu Yuu Hakusho, as well as numerous other smaller/shorter projects. On the anime side of things, I've been doing translation checking (and in emergencies doing the full script) for the Naruto Shippuuden and Bleach anime, as well as being the song translator for both series. Currently I'm also translating Eyeshield 21 for Crunchyroll as well.

How did you get into the translator business? What was the community like when you first entered the scanlatoin scene?

HisshouBuraiKen: I got the idea to start translating while reading a particularly bad scanlation of Naruto and thinking, "And thousands of people are reading this and thinking it's good? I know enough Japanese now, I'm sure I could do better." The community was about the same as it is now, if not a little more splintered. There were fewer big "hub" sites like; each series had its own ring of sites, each with their own community.

How did you come up with the name HisshouBuraiKen? Also what's with you and your Street Fighter avatars?

HisshouBuraiKen: I really need to save this answer so I can copy and paste it!

The HisshouBuraiKen, (必勝無頼拳 in Japanese) is one of the super moves of my all-time favorite Street Fighter character Dan Hibiki. Upon performing the command, Dan launches into a furious torrent of blows ending them with his version of the dragon punch, the Koryuuken, whether he's actually hitting his opponent or not, and screaming his head off the whole time.

The characters break down as follows:

必勝 – Hisshou – Certain/Absolute/Guaranteed Victory

無 – Bu (Prefix) – Without/Not/No

頼 – Rai – Trust, reliance, request

拳 – Ken – Fist (what almost every punch move in Street Fighter ends with).

Put these all together with a slightly loose translation and you get "Complete and Total Victory Relying on Nobody but Myself-Fist." Given the hilarity of the name, the move itself, and Dan, I claimed it for myself. It has been my name on every forum I've ever been a member of.

Do you belong to any groups in particular or do you translate freelance? It seems your scripts are used by multiple groups.

HisshouBuraiKen: For manga, I technically translate freelance as I've found, with few exceptions, it's hard to keep a manga team together for a long period of time, especially if they're a one-project group. That being said, I did give early access to Binktopia and TMI-Scans for a time, and currently post my Naruto translations on Japflap's forums as well as the usual public sites.

As for anime, I've only ever belonged to Dattebayo, which runs like a well-oiled machine. For the record, everyone in DB is really awesome and not a bunch of cruel jerks like the public would have you believe. We're all just a bunch of regular people with a slight smartass streak and a healthy sense of humor.

What were some of the biggest roadblocks you faced as a translator?

HisshouBuraiKen: Songs! Songs can be very difficult to get right, especially when you have limited time to work on them and have to transcribe them by ear before you can even think of translating. Because Japanese has a lot of homophones and the singers sometimes break up the words in weird ways or pronounce things funny, songs usually get a couple of revisions (unless I can find the lyrics online).

How do you usually go about translating a chapter of manga? Tell us about your workflow. Are there any specific tools or software you like to use?

HisshouBuraiKen: I read through it once, grab my electronic dictionary and dive right in!

In your opinion what is your most popular or influential translation?

HisshouBuraiKen: The answer to both is Hidan (a character from Naruto). Few remember that I was the one who translated him as a foul-mouthed ballbuster. Most liked it, a few disagreed with my interpretation of him, but in the end, I really feel I gave the character a voice.

Any memorable stories you would like to share with the readers?

HisshouBuraiKen: I was the one behind the La Tasca song. If you know what I'm talking about, you know how funny that fact is.

Could you tell us a bit about your fansub translation job? What's the difference between translating for scanlation and translating for fansub?

HisshouBuraiKen: The difference is surprisingly little. With a script in hand, an episode is a longer with none of the pesky formatting for bubbles and panels. Without one, it tends to be a

It seems you recently got a job in the industry? Would you mind telling us a bit more about that? What's it like translating for a real company as opposed to translating for a scanlator?

HisshouBuraiKen: The two scenes are very similar. I'm still sitting at my desk with my dictionary, my headphones and a bunch windows open, the difference being that for manga I get actual physical raw volumes and a nice little check a few weeks after I'm done.

There are tons of translators out there, what do you feel distinguishes good translation from bad translation?

HisshouBuraiKen: In a word: English. If you can read back a sentence and say, "If that character were a native speaker of English, that's how they'd say it," you've done a good job. There are so many translations that are so literal, strict, and as a result, bad, that it sometimes feels like you're reading the original Japanese more than a translation.

What were the easiest and hardest series you had to translate and why?

HisshouBuraiKen: Anything that deals heavily with a specialized field, such as law, science, literature, what have you, is difficult because it requires a lot of research and learning vocabulary you wouldn't normally know.

Were there any groups or individuals you particularly looked up to or liked throughout the years? What are some of your favorite scanlation projects you have followed over the years?

HisshouBuraiKen: Well of course, the ladies of Dattebayo (chichiri and rhole) have always done an excellent job. Outside groups I'm obviously biased towards, I will say that Labaamen, the translator who did Kaiji for Triad, earned the rare "HBK approved" status.

Currently there are many small speedscan groups, and often we see popular series scanlated/translated by five or more groups/translators, what's your opinion on this trend?

HisshouBuraiKen: I'm not really a fan, the more "pressure" these groups put on themselves to be first, the lower the overall quality is. This especially irks me with series I work on because occasionally my translations will suffer as a result (when a group misspells things, omits punctuation or emphasis, and so on).

What do you feel is the future for scanlation?

HisshouBuraiKen: I hope it will continue to be a conduit for new series to earn fans, and classic or obscure series to see the light of day. I think that if the industry survives long enough to make it to the 21st century, we'll see more official digitally distributed official manga chapters and volumes.

Alright, let's wrap this up, what are some of your favorite scanlation groups or projects you have followed over the years?

HisshouBuraiKen: This may come as a shock, but I really don't follow any particular group. I read all my manga in Japanese, and if I think my wife will be interested, I give her the name and let her pick whatever group she likes best. Same for anime, although we tend to watch more obscure stuff that only has one group.

Thank you for your time! Any last words?

HisshouBuraiKen: Yeah, please forgive me for taking forever to get this to you >.<