Kalendel July 2009

Kalendel currently runs Storm in Heaven, a scanlation group created around 2002 by Belial. Storm in Heaven scanlates manga of all genres, including shoujo, shounen and BL, and is composed of an English division as well as an Italian division.

First of all, please introduce yourself!

Kalendel: I go by Kalendel online. I've been the head of the scanlation group Storm in Heaven for... oh... 6 years now. I started out as just an editor, but now I do the whole nine yards (scanning, translating, editing, etc). I started as an undergraduate in college, and am currently a graduate student in the biological sciences.

Tell us a bit about Storm in Heaven, what kind of group is it? How and when was it created? How did you get into scanlatoin and later join Storm in Heaven?

Kalendel: I first became aware of scanlations after I burnt out on anime, sometime during my freshman year in college. At that point, it seemed like it'd be a great hobby. I was actually more interested in the process of scanlating than actually reading the scanlations.

I began as an editor, since I didn't have any other skills; I read an editor guide and applied to ShoujoMagic, and they did the rest of the training. At some point I realized that I didn't really like the projects SM had, however, so I started looking elsewhere. I stumbled upon the manga Seimaden, and then noticed that this tiny group called Storm in Heaven was doing it.

Storm in Heaven had under a dozen releases at that point, so I joined up, became great friends with the founder Belial, and eventually took over when she retired.

Do you remember when Belial formed Storm in Heaven?

Kalendel: Sometime 2002 I believe.

Can you tell us a bit about what ShoujoMagic was like at the time when you joined?

Kalendel: I believe SM had been around for a while at the point I joined. I started editing the project Kiss in the Blue, and I'm certain that was well into their repertoire of projects. As far as dynamics go, I didn't really like chatting on IRC, so I didn't really get involved in SM. It was easy to leave it and move on to projects I liked more. I do recall that Siana, who was still around at that point, had things well in hand, though.

What were some major roadblocks Storm in Heaven encountered throughout the years? Did you guys ever have run-ins with publishers?

Kalendel: I'm happy to say that we've never been contacted by anyone about copyright issues. We don't host or scanlate any projects that have been licensed for English distribution, and to my knowledge Japanese publishers very rarely take offense to what we do. As for hurdles along the road... yes, there have been plenty. SiH went from being a very LQ group of fans who didn't really know anything, to being a relatively large group of moderate perfectionists. There were many times when we lost staff members who were very hard to replace, which led to series inevitably being stalled.

We've also had our share of problems with other groups doing "our" projects, and having to race them, as well as joint groups being difficult to work with. All in all, however, things have gotten better with time. We better understand how to scanlate, and have the resources to purchase manga, and some absolutely reliable staff.

You've written a comprehensive scanlation guide for Storm in Heaven, what do you feel is the most difficult part of a scanlation job? Anything that's generally misunderstood or not known by the public or those new to scanlation?

Kalendel: I think that most people don't know the value—or the real job—of a good quality checker. It's more than just reading a release over, it's checking to make sure that the chapter uses the same fonts, styling, numbering scheme, and is in general completely consistent with previous releases of the series. It can take some real time, and it is quite possibly the least fun job of them all.

How do you feel about joint-project between groups? How are these joints usually managed? Also, tell us a bit about what some call "unspoken rules" of the scanlation community.

Kalendel: Joint projects have fallen into two groups for me: joints you do out of necessity, and joints you do to compromise. When your group is missing some key staff to do a project, and another group has it, you have a joint of necessity; you need each other. However, when you have all the staff you need, but then you notice another group planning the same title, that's a joint to compromise. You could do the project just as well yourself, but you joint with them because it's better than saying "I'm doing it! You can either duplicate the manga or drop it." Which, of course, is the unspoken rule: if one group is doing a manga, it's off-limits. Well, so long as that one group is releasing it at at least a semi-decent pace, though people define that differently.

All in all, I've found that joints slow things down more than speed them up (obviously, this is when you could have done the project yourself). Having to compromise on editing and translating style, and then having both people look it over (who quite possibly have different standards) always takes more time.

Storm in Heaven seems to an English division as well as an Italian division... can you tell us a bit about the two different sections of the group? How are they related? Are they managed separately as two different groups?

Kalendel: Ah, yes. Belial, who founded SiH, is Italian. She founded them both at the same time and led them both. I eventually took on the lion's share of the work for the English side, and when she left a bunch of the Italian staffers took over that side of SiH. I'm in touch with one of the Italian staffers, but we do our separate things these days. The only link would be that the Italian side has free reign to re-scanlate anything the English side does into Italian. But that doesn't mean we really match up, and we don't plan things together.

In your opinion, what were some of Storm in Heaven's most popular or influential projects?

Kalendel: Our most popular projects have been the shounen-ai ones. Most likely Silver Diamond and Demian Syndrome were our first really popular ones. On the shoujo side, Boku ni Natta Watashi has most likely been our most popular project.

What genre of manga does Storm in Heaven usually choose to work on? Would you consider Storm in Heaven to be a BL/shoujo group?

Kalendel: This is actually a pet-peeve of mine. Historically, people considered SiH to be a BL group, simply because "groups that do BL are BL groups." I believe that a group can do multiple genres without getting labeled as a single one. Right now, we have more shoujo projects than anything else, and plenty of BL, but our shounen section is growing fast. If I were to give one defining feature of SiH projects, I would say "supernatural." The vast majority of our projects has a supernatural or fantasy element to them that crosses the shoujo/BL/shounen borders.

Over the years, were there any groups or individuals you looked up to? Any specific groups or series you followed over the years?

Kalendel: Lately I've been busy with graduate school and running an expanded SiH, but in the past I did spend quite a bit more time reading other scanlations. What comes to mind are the seinen manga I read from Omanga, mostly. Of course, I had nothing but respect for the older HQ groups at that point, when I was leading SiH from a small LQ group to the group it is now. I did my best to emulate them; taking note of the styles that I thought looked the most professional and implementing them in my own group. I never did become a big fan of any group in particular, though.

Could you name some of the old HQ groups you were referring to?

Kalendel: The old HQ groups that come to mind are ShoujoMagic, MangaScreener, and Omanga. I'm sure there were more, but I never read many releases.

What's the current state of Storm in Heaven, any future plans? What do you think is the future for scanlation in general?

Kalendel: In my (biased) opinion, SiH has always been getting larger—more projects, more staff, more releases, and better quality. I hope to continue the trend in the future, as well as to really bring in more shounen and seinen titles.

As for the scanlation community... right now there's a real divide. There are two sorts of scanlators: respectful ones who tend not to do licensed manga, and really care about quality, and then speed groups who will do anything that's popular regardless of the circumstances. In the long run, it's the former groups that survive, and the latter ones that collapse. I think things will carry on that way, with the quality groups lasting, and even the growing number of speed groups fading away as fast as they start.

Thank you for your time! Any last words?

Kalendel: Live long and prosper?