We get an explanation on why it's taken so long for it to come, and whether it'll ever be put in print.
Last week Kodansha Comics announced they would be releasing Chihayafuru. Written by Yuki Suetsugu, we were first introduced to her work in animated form in 2011. Since then, it got a second season and a live-action adaptation. So her work has done well in Japan.
However, this technically didn’t extend over here: we only had the anime streaming on Crunchyroll. So since 2013, and with no news of a Season 3 on the horizon, it’s been a while since anything official came across with this series.
Then on September 14, 2016, things changed — Sentai Filmworks licensed Chihayafuru for home release. Now four months later Kodansha will bring over the manga. I emailed Kodansha with some questions regarding the release, and Alvin Lu, Kodansha Advanced Media’s General Manager, answered them:
TheOASG: Ok, Chihayafuru’s been licensed. Is it fair to ask what took so long? Why release it now?
On the other hand, there’s a lot of series, like Chihayafuru, that we’ve wanted to publish in English for some time now. So we started putting in place a more robust system to release more titles in digital, and 2017 is when this really starts coming together. It really started last fall with the re-releases of the old Del Rey licenses (School Rumble, Nodame Cantabile, etc.), but last month we entered this new stage with the To Your Eternity simulpub and releases of Wave, Listen to Me! and Deathtopia. And this month, besides Chihayafuru, we’re launching Tokyo Tarareba Girls and A Springtime with Ninjas. We’ve got more announcements to come, this month and next.
Since I’ve noticed these types of books have experts in the field — Food Wars, Hikaru no Go, and the upcoming release of Descending Stories to name a few — who’s assisting with the release of Chihayafuru?
For the English edition, the main assistance comes from the Japanese editorial team, who works closely with our translation team. We appreciate how much the Japanese editorial team supports our localization efforts!
For the original Japanese serialization, the author and editorial team have relied on the expertise of the Japan Karuta Association and actual karuta players. Because those same editors give feedback to our translators, I think this “sense of reality” comes through in our English edition as well.
Since Chihayafuru’s a fairly lengthy series, will we get all of the releases currently in Japan?
Will this get a print release?
Remains to be seen. As you’re aware, there’s a higher sales threshold a title has to meet to make it viable in print, particularly when they’re longer series like Chihayafuru.
What’s been the challenges of translating a series like Chihayafuru, considering it involves Karuta?
Karuta is more than just a game in this manga. Karuta lines are tied to character development and emotion, and lines get referenced in dialogue or monologue. It’s tricky: when it comes to the matching scenes, sound is more important, so we kept the original Japanese sounds, but when karuta lines are used in dialogue, the meaning of the karuta line can be more important. Chihayafuru is such a dynamic and emotional manga, we wanted to convey the same dynamism in the English edition, so depending on the scene, the lettering/translation emphasis changes based on the sounds or meaning. We hope you enjoy it!
What are Kodansha’s expectations for the series?
Chihayafuru has been one of our most asked-for series. We’re seeing changes in manga readership going beyond the usual shōjo/shōnen—a lot of the new digital releases we have coming have reflected and will reflect that. I expect it to do well.
Finally, I know there will be some who will pick it up because they watched the anime. Why should people who didn’t watch the anime consider purchasing a copy of Chihayafuru?
Well, because, as everyone knows, the manga is always better than the anime!