From establishing who they are to their forthcoming titles, Cross Infinite World has a few plans for 2018.
Cross Infinite World hasn’t crossed a full two years, but if you ask them, getting to this point is a major accomplishment in itself. “At first, I believe there was a wariness we’d end up like a lot of the new companies that put out a few titles and disappear off the face of the Internet, “noted Lead Translator for the company Charis Messier. “But as we’ve put out more works we’ve started to prove we’re here to stay.”
And in 2018, they’re definitely looking to do more. I chatted with Charis about their plans for 2018, and got some information about their forthcoming titles. One is named Obsessions of an Otome Gamer. The other is The Champions of Justice and Supreme Ruler of Evil.
…Note that they actually had to abbreviate those names in their office.
TheOASG: It’s been about a year and some months since the start of Cross Infinite World. First, I want to know what’s changed significantly since it started, or is it still the same?
Charis Messier: The biggest change has been the realization we are more of a hybrid publishing-localization company than one or the other. We are more like a publishing company in the way we never have to worry about losing one of our current licenses—they’re here to stay unless something goes horribly wrong. We own all the rights to the art as well, so one of the biggest changes have been using that to our advantage in marketing campaigns and letting our fanbase have a say in some of the process.
Ever curious about what the national flags and weapons look like in The Violet Knight? Today's art design reveal shows you in detail! Remember to retweet and comment on your favorites for a chance to win The Violet Knight Vol.1 or Vol.2! #lightnovel #Fantasy pic.twitter.com/HEU3UPlQSu
— Cross Infinite World (@CrossInfWorld) December 9, 2017
What turned to be the most surprising thing that’s happened since the company started?
As we’ve gotten to really know different authors who are also published in Japan, we’ve been surprised to learn that Japanese publishing companies will often pick up a series and have the author completely rewrite it. Sometimes, they will ask for three or four different drafts on the same series according to one author. Or in some cases of ongoing series, they will suddenly tell the author to change the series midway to suit current trends in the industry, regardless of what the story is or how the author feels on it. Being a localization company as well as a publisher, author feedback is really important to us, so it was pretty surprising to hear how much trends are forced on them normally. Something to consider when you think all the stories are alike in light novels, manga, anime, etc.
Since you’ve heard from artists on how publishers in JP have forced changes in their work, how much of a role does Cross Infinite World play with an author’s work?
The changes we make vary on the work and the author. We don’t make many changes to manga aside from your basic localization changes to the dialogue. The mangaka are free to make whatever edits they want to the images, and most have. Editors might ask them to clean a page up if we see glaring errors, but that’s about it when it comes to the art. Most of the mangaka want certain artistic SFX left in and others removed as well. We have one manga we haven’t announced yet and the mangaka was so excited to bring it to English they redid the whole first six pages in color! Little Hero Volume 1 also had the first three pages changed to color too.
As for novels, the authors are always given a few months after we license the title to clean it up and make changes. Sometimes we’ll work with an author to fix a scene or add scenes if it seems like a story could use more. For example, the whole epilogue chapter of Akaoni didn’t exist until we asked Hiroro to write something to give the first volume a rounded ending that showed what happened to the other characters. Obsessions of an Otome Gamer is one case where an art scene was made that didn’t fit the author’s image, but rather than scrap it, she added a whole scene to fit it and we made new art to fit her image of the original scene. It’s a pretty complicated process working with artists and authors in Japanese to make a web novel into a light novel, but everyone is usually pretty happy with the end result!
Also, for the record, we never force trends on our authors!
How’s the relationships going with artists now as opposed to the first few months?
We’ve definitely gotten down a process of working with them. At first, I think they weren’t sure of the prospects of working with a foreign company as none of them have had that experience. Now everything goes really smoothly and we’ve noticed there’s a lot less hesitancy in accepting jobs from us as our name has gotten out there in the artist community. We’re starting to work with bigger names now for our newer licenses as well!
You have 7 titles currently available on the market, with a few titles coming next year. What’s been the biggest challenge in working on them?
Because the light novels we work on are twice the size of an average light novel, translating and editing that much text at a fast speed has been a challenge. For example, I believe the average light novel is about 100,000-120,000 Japanese characters. The Violet Knight Volume 2 was 225,000 Japanese characters (104,000 English Words). Obsessions of an Otome Gamer edges out at about 235,000 Japanese characters, so we have our hands full with each title for a few months at a time. With that many words, it’s easy for errors to slip by editors and proofreaders even when they have a few weeks to look over it, which is something we hope to improve. We’re planning on publishing light novels that are closer to the average size so we can start getting them out faster and at a slightly lower price.
Speaking of Obsessions of an Otome Gamer, since you’re translating it what’s surprised you so far while working on it? I think we understand the reincarnating plot is pretty popular, so what makes this LN stand out from others of its type?
Aside from My Favorite Song ~The Silver Siren~, Obsessions of an Otome Gamer is our second light novel written in first person narrative. First person is a lot of fun to translate, but this particular story likes to break the fourth wall at times, which has been interesting to deal with. What’s surprising about this novel is that it’s never quite what it seems. At first, you think it’s going to be a light and fluffy story about the heroine’s attempt to live out her dream to become a pianist in an otome game world, only to discover a whole mystery plotline running parallel to her goals. There’s definitely cute fluff, but there’s also a solid story being told too.
One of the things that makes it stand out is that the author Natsu never tosses aside the fact that the heroine was reincarnated into a game world. One of my greatest gripes as a reader of the reincarnation genre is how quick a lot of the stories abandon the fact the protagonist came from Earth. It’s usually just a plot point to move the story ahead, but here it plays into the mystery of why did she get reincarnated into a game? Why can’t she deviate from the plot no matter how hard she tries? We also get a point of view shift to the family left behind when she died and the trauma they face by the way she died, which is refreshing. There are a lot more things that make it stand out, but I don’t want to spoil too much of the mystery! I will say the ending to volume one will make you think!
On another note, there have been a lot of reincarnated into an otome game light novels coming out in Japan, but this is one of the few that actually has the story written out as a common route for the first three volumes with the last two being devoted to whichever hero the reader wants to see the heroine end up with and how their story would play out. While some light novels based on visual novels have given several short endings to different characters in the end, Obsessions of an Otome Gamer gives a whole volume to each of the two heroes, which is great homage to the otome game genre!
Is The Champions of Justice and The Supreme Ruler of Evil the best named title you got or have your staff fought over other ones the company’s licensed and think are better titled?
I think it’s a tie between The Champions of Justice and The Supreme Ruler of Evil and Obsessions of an Otome Gamer! Both of those titles had a lot of discussion before they were decided on! We’re pretty fond of Little Hero too, since the original was shougakusei yuusha—literally Elementary Schooler Hero.
I’ll be honest though: none of the staff call the series by their full names! They all get shortened names like Otome Gamer, Secretary Hero, MFS (My Favorite Song), Akaoni, VK (The Violet Knight) etc. Can you guess what we call The Champions of Justice and The Supreme Ruler of Evil normally?
Hmm, ok I might as well play the abbreviation game too…
Cross Infinite World: CIW?
Yusen Ruten An Era of Red: Yusen Ruten
The Champions of Justice and the Supreme Ruler of Evil: Justice and Evil?
You got the first two right! Sometimes Yusen Ruten becomes Yuru during online chats between the staff. The Champions of Justice and the Supreme Ruler of Evil is just Supreme Ruler of Evil now, but before we had decided on the title we always called it The Super Villain Story. Some of the editors still prefer to call it that too, because we all love a good super villain story!
Ugh, so much for justice…
It’s definitely a crazy, funny, and surprisingly romantic story. It’s our first one-shot too, which is pretty exciting because it satisfactorily ties up every loose end it could have! I haven’t actually asked Kikyou (the author) how she came up with it, but we had a very long and entertaining conversation about why Japanese hero stories usually involve five heroes, while American stories typically only have one hero at first! Part of this topic is included in her afterword, so you can look forward to that! I’ll have to ask her how she came up with the story next time and get back to you on it!
Have you finalized a date for these two just yet, or you can only list them as 2018 releases for now?
We try not to list the exact date until a project is completely translated and on the second stage of editing so we can keep to our dates. Both novels are longer than any of our other titles with them both crossing 100,000 English words, making it take a little more time. But we can announce that Obsessions of an Otome Gamer will be out March 16th. The Champions of Justice and The Supreme Ruler of Evil we expect to be out either in April or May.
What’s Cross Infinite World got in store for 2018? I imagine there will be more LN and manga announcements, so any surprises?
We have something special in store for fans of steampunk and mystery stories. Also, a lot of our stories licensed for 2018 will cover a wide-spectrum of genres, with The Champions of Justice and The Supreme Ruler of Evil and Obsessions of an Otome Gamer being just the tip of the iceberg of what we have in store! Since we aren’t bound to any one Japanese company’s stories, we can really experiment with genres and bring some more unique titles to the light novel and manga market!