Katze December 2009

Katze is the current head of Sakura-Crisis, an early shoujo scanlation group known for its scanlation of Kaori Yuki's works. Sakura-Crisis was founded by two girls, Sakura and Crisis, at the beginning 2002. Instead of making its releases available through IRC, Sakura-Crisis provided direct downloads and online viewing of its releases, which made the group extremely popular. As years went on, Sakura and Crisis gradually left the group's leadership position to Katze. In 2006, due to a lack of interest and motivation, Sakura-Crisis closed down. In 2007, Katze revived Sakura-Crisis under a new domain name, but the group soon went into hiatus due to low motivation and a lack of interest, and once again ceased operation in September of 2009.

Please introduce yourself!

Katze: Hey! I'm Katze, former (second) head of Sakura-Crisis. I've been part of the scanlating world for over a decade, so I've seen a lot of things come and go (the question remains as to whether or not I actually remember these things...).

Aside from Sakura-Crisis, I've also done work for HoshiManga and Fruity Explosive Translation, with some minor freelancing to AnimeWaves (back in the day) and a few doujinshi projects of my own.

Tell us a bit about how you first got into the whole manga translation/scanlation scene, what was the online community like at the time?

Katze: To be honest, I don't really remember, it's been so long. A friend of mine introduced me to Kaori Yuki's works, and through that I found S-C. Outside of the few series I was reading at the time, I didn't really pay attention to what groups other than S-C, AnimeWaves and the other group I was editing for at the time (HoshiManga) were doing. I do remember Obsession, Nakama, and ShoujoMagic being huge though, and being introduced to a lot of nifty manga by SnoopyCool, Project Omanga and Band of the Hawks.

Tell us a bit about Sakura-Crisis... how did it get started? How did you get involved with the group?

Katze: Sakura-Crisis was started in 2002 because the founders, Sakura and Crisis, just wanted to scanlate manga. We were one of the few groups that had direct downloads AND online reading as opposed to having to get everything from IRC (given we lacked things like BitTorrent and free file-sharing services like Mediafire and Megaupload at the time), so it attracted a lot of people. Most of their original translations were from the Chinese versions, which did lead to some trouble along the way (the mistranslation of the title of Sakende Yaruze!, for instance, or the plethora of Japanese names being completely wrong). Things got a bit better as more Japanese translators and scanners with the Japanese tankoubons joined up, though.

I personally originally joined as an editor to work on Yami no Matsuei. Sometime during 2004 Sakura more-or-less vanished, leaving Crisis as the sole head and organizer of the group. When she moved to the U.S. for university, she asked me to take over as a temporary leader-lady that eventually became permanent when she moved back to Hong Kong. At the time I was out of high school, hadn't started college yet and wasn't doing much besides working, so I had the time and energy to work on the site and scanlating. Crisis was still around a bit, mostly as a sort of shadow-queen for me to go to on occasion.

What is it like running the site? How is the group organized?

Katze: Quite hectic, to be honest, especially after both of the founders left. Theoretically work was divided into three sections—translators, scanners, and editors (who, unlike most groups I see around today, did the work of cleaners, script editors, and typesetters, as well as initial quality checking). Which isn't to say some projects weren't done solely by one or two people (Love Mode comes to mind, and some parts of Yamada Tarou Monogatari). We did have a handful of people who freelanced with us as well, which was nice when we were in a bind because this editor or that translator had something else going on.

Rather than a specific genre, we really liked to try to just do manga that we, the staff members liked. So, in general, it would work something like: Translator 1 translates manga X because while they have no interest, Editor 3 absolutely loves it. In exchange, Scanner B scans manga Y because the Translator 1 really wants to work on it. Mainly we just wanted to do things we enjoyed.

What were some of the biggest roadblocks Sakura-Crisis encountered? Did it ever attract any attention from publishers?

Katze: The only non-internal one I can think of is our translator for Love Mode being served with a cease-and-desist by Libra/Biblos, as her translations were made public on her website. They never came directly to S-C about scanlating it, though, and so we continued working on it until it was licensed. I'd like to think we gained quite a bit of attention from (U.S.) publishers, at least, because a very large chunk of our projects were licensed (Love Mode, Hakushaku Cain/God Child, Yami no Matsuei, and Sakende Yaruze!, to name a few). Given we pretty much dropped whatever we were working on the second they were licensed, we never had much trouble.

Internally we had the same problems that plague many other groups—not enough translators/editors/scanners for whatever, with the additional problem of the group having previously started working on more projects than our staff could handle. A lot of fans would ask us to continue working on some manga or another, and we just didn't have the means to do it—particularly considering we refused to use scans that we did not know the source of (which is to say the person offering picked them off of Winny or something instead of scanning them themselves). Picky, yes, but we preferred to have our work being 100% our own.

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

Katze: Technically speaking, this has nothing to do with scanlating in the slightest, but you can possibly be amused by the fact I was visiting with Crisis and a mutual friend of ours (a former translator for Obsession) one Thanksgiving and they both jumped me and put me in lots of makeup (I'm about as tomboyish as you can get). Photos exist.

Slightly more related, we always had a lot of fun with the April Fools pranks every year :P

How did the original Sakura-Crisis end? What about the current Sakura-Crisis, how did it get revived?

Katze: Between work, school, and life in general, as well as the increasing difficulty of actually getting staff members (as much as I adored them) to do anything, I got burned out and began to lose interest. The "new" Sakura-Crisis came about because life settled down for me and several former group members, so along with them and some new faces, we pretty much picked up where we left off, but with a new URL on one of my own domains. But again, pretty much the entire group lost interest or just didn't have the time they needed to work on things, or would keep promising to get doujinshi X or chapter Y finished for months and never going through with it. I won't say I'm not partially to blame, since I'll freely admit I also took quite a while to get some things done, especially since I was scanning and editing Tennis no Oujisama for Fruity Explosive Translation at the time as well. So really the fault lies all over the place, haha. In both cases, it was particularly difficult when we had a virtual ton of projects in progress but only one or two translators who may or may not have been interested in them.

What are you up to nowadays? What's the future of Sakura-Crisis?

Katze: Being a slave to school and work, haha. Scanlation-wise, I'm currently cleaning/typsetting/editing/scanning for SugarParade while learning the Moonspeak in school. As for S-C, it's likely to stay dead unless I can find someone willing to be a joint head (it's just too much work for my lazy self), and a few people willing to be good, reliable staff members. If I did decide to start it up again, it would be on a much smaller scale; only working on a very limited (1–3) number of projects and only picking up new things when those are finished. I have, however, been considering starting up a group dedicated solely to scanlating video game-based manga and doujinshi (for instance, various manga from the Tales of... series, or Suikoden doujinshi).

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

Katze: I've read so many manga and been in contact with so many groups/people over the years that it's really hard to choose. Tennis no Oujisama is definitely one of my favourite series introduced to me through scanlations, and I've always been fond of the lovely ladies of Hochuuami/Dragonfly, as well as my family in the 2003/2004-era members of HoshiManga, AnimeWaves, and Obsession. I guess what I really could say here is thank you to all scanlation groups, big and small, and all of the individuals who make scanlating possible. In general I just have a lot of respect for the groups that have managed to stick around for several years and still keep going. Ya'll rock, and keep it up.

Thank you for your time! Any last words?

Katze: This one as the head of Sakura-Crisis—thank you to ALL of our former staff members, readers, fans, and leechers for making Sakura-Crisis one of the biggest groups around in its heyday (having over 2,000,000 hits in January of 2004 can't be all that wrong), and for continuing to support it even while it was on its last legs. We really couldn't have lasted as long as we did without you. Keep being awesome and who knows? Maybe we'll be back again in the future ^_~ (If you'd like to help with this, you know where to find me :P)