Via e-mail, I had a chance to interview the group who is putting together the translations for the Evangelion TV series, among other things. The group consists of Arale, Takagi Hiroaki, Wada Mitsuhiro, Takeuchi Shouichi, Onizuka Kentaro, and a few others who were unable to reply for various reasons. For the sake of clarity and space, the replies have been edited as necessary.

Q: Could you do a quick introduction of yourselves? For example, your name, age, and the manga and anime you like the best.

Takeuchi - "OK, I'm Takeuchi Shouichi, a male otaku, age 26. I was born in Nara, and grew up in Hyogo, Tokyo, Saitama, and Chiba. Now I live in Kyoto. Some of my favorite anime and manga are Saint Seiya, Macross 7, Aoki Ryuusei SPT Layzner, Gundam, Sailor Moon, and works by Hagio Moto and Tezuka Osamu."

Wada - "I'm Wada Mitsuhiro and I'm usually on the mailing list 'Hayao Miyazaki Mailing List - Nausicaa'. I also run the 'GETRO (Ghibli External TRade Office)', 'Literal Translation', and the 'Evangelion Web Site' Web pages, the last two of which hold the collective translated output of the group. Some of my favorite works include Nausicaa, Gunbuster, and Himechan no Ribbon."

Takagi - "My name is Hiroaki Takagi and I am 23 years old. I'm [a] student of the Science University of Tokyo. I'll graduate S.U.T. this March. In anime I like Gunbuster and Evangelion and Macross. And in manga, I like Bastard, comics of Yasunaga Kouitiro, Patlabor, and lots of other stuff."

Arale - "I'm Arale-chan, a humanoid robot. You might remember it from Dr.Slump. I cannot tell you my age, because I am feminine-typed. I have too many favorite anime and manga to to remember them all at once or pick my absolute favorite."

Onizuka - "My name is Onizuka Kentaro, and I am a 32 year-old single male. My background is molecular-bioinformatics and physics, and I am currently an engineer at Panasonic on a temporary basis. My hobbies are watching anime and linguistics. Some of my favorite anime are Gunbuster, Gall Force, Kyuuketsuki Miyu (Vampire Princess Miyu), Five Star Stories, Patlabor, and a lot of other things."

Q: When did your group start doing translations?

Onizuka - "About a year ago. When I launched the Five Star Stories E-mail Distribution list, I was very interested in classic Chinese. I first tried to write the stories of FSS in classic Chinese. That became my first time translating Japanese manga into a foreign language. Afterwards, I found that Five Star Stories was not well known to the world. So I tried to translate FSS in English. The manga version of FSS was too long for me to do on my own, so I began to translate the script of the anime version. It was not that difficult, since FSS is the story about an emperor, knights, and ladies and other such aristocratic people, so the background of FSS was rather universal to any kind of background.

"After that, I translated Gunbuster, my most favorite anime. This is when I truly realized the difficulty of translating. Gunbuster is full of Japanese cultural things (which by nature are difficult to translate), but I finished it. Since then, I've translated Miyu, Gall Force #1, Plastic Little, and an episode or two of the first Patlabor OAV."

Wada - "After Onizuka Kentaro translated Gunbuster into English and put it on rec.arts.anime, he went to the US, Italy, France and UK in the summer. While there, he bought lots of magazines and visited local anime shops. He knew that Japanese anime was introduced in small amounts and done rather poorly. He was shocked to know that most Japanese animation introduced there was centered on sex and violence."

"In August, Michael Studte came to Japan from Australia. His group in Australia did good translations of Patlabor. The people from the FSS Mailing List met him, and he showed us lots of anime magazines which he brought. I was impressed. This meeting is how Onizuka-san and I met."

"In September, Onizuka-san and I got excited talking about 'Japanese animation outside Japan'. I have been angry that the people outside Japan can see only the TERRIBLE Warriors of the Wind. We thought that we must show Japanese anime other than badly edited sexual/violent ones. So, we decided to start a translation project here in Japan."

"Onizuka-san translated Vampire Princess Miyu, Five Star Stories(FSS), Gall Force and Patlabor into English. I started 'Literal Translation Web Site' on the Internet. We don't know fluent English, so we try to translate literally. English speakers who read our translations could later do better translations based on our previous work."

"I wanted to change the situation that the anime fans are unable to deal with the anime which American distributors release slowly and often badly. I decided to translate the scripts of Neon Genesis Evangelion (which started in October) in order to make them more aware of the bad situation they are in. If I translate the scripts and send them to the fans in a week, overseas anime fans could enjoy them almost simultaneously. I thought it was a good idea. I saw Eva on Wednesday, wrote the Japanese scripts on Thursday and Friday, translated them on Saturday and Sunday, sending them onto rec.arts.anime by Sunday evening. It was very tough work for me. I spared all time I possibly could.

"Onizuka-san appealed to the anime fans on the network. Some of them joined the translation project. We started the translation Mailing List and are discussing topics there now." (continued)