#SailorWeek Interview with The Manga of Takeuchi Naoko

iconiQuestra sits down with Alex Glover, well-known fan translator and owner of The Manga of Takeuchi Naoko, for a special #SailorWeek interview:

iTSO: Thank you for taking the time out to speak with us for #SailorWeek! You’ve been a hallmark in the Sailormoon community so it’s a privilege to find out more about you!

What sparked your interest in the language and culture? Do you have any formal training in Japanese?

Alex Glover: I started studying Japanese in high school and university. Earlier in school I had taken Spanish and French at various times and never really connected with them, but for some reason with Japanese it just clicked with me. After my first year in high school, I took part in a school-sponsored trip to Japan, and that was what really got me interested on a deeper level than just as a class to fulfill a foreign language requirement.

iTSO: Do you translate or have interest in any other medium (Drama, music, literature, anime, etc.)

AG: I’ve translated lyrics for a lot of Sailor Moon songs, but other than that I’ve focused on manga translation. When I started my website, doing manga translation meant simply posting a translated “script” on a website. To do anime translation, on the other hand, you had to produce a fansub, which involved video editing and tape distribution on top of the actual translation work. Besides that, Sailor Moon was the series I was most interested in, and Sailor Moon fansubs were already well-covered at the time by VKLL. So I mostly stuck with manga.

iTSO: What got you into manga?

AG: There was a Japanese video rental store in town, which is how I first started watching Sailor Moon. They also had a small section of manga available to rent, and this is where I discovered that Sailor Moon (and a lot of anime) was based on a manga series. So that’s when I started reading manga.

iTSO: Considering anime adaptations, has it been your experience that they stay true to the source material?

AG: I can’t speak for every case, but for the series where I can compare the manga and anime versions, I do feel the anime stays true to the spirit of manga. The main reason I prefer manga to the anime adaptations in a lot of cases is the prevalence of “filler” episodes in anime, like “monster of the week” episodes with little impact on the overall story.

iTSO: What inspired you to start translating Takeuchi’s works?

AG: By the time the Sailor Moon manga ended, I had caught up with the series in my translations, so both finished at around the same time. But there were still more stories in this world, in the form of Takeuchi’s related series, Code Name wa Sailor V, so I started translating that series as well.

A short time later, Takeuchi started working on a new manga series named PQ Angels. A lot of Sailor Moon fans wanted to follow what Takeuchi wrote next, so it seemed an obvious next step to translate that. Unfortunately, that series had a very short life. After it ended, I started going back and reading Takeuchi’s older works, and that’s when I decided to expand my site to her works as a whole.

iTSO: How did you manage to translate so much at a time when the world wide web wasn’t so, well, wide?

AG: When I started, there was no amazon.co.jp to order online from, let alone downloads of scanned copies. There were a few companies that would do old-school mail order of Japanese manga, so that’s how I got it. Mail off a check and a few weeks later you got a big box of books.

iTSO: Why do you think Sailor Moon was the “big hit”?

AG: I think the magical girl genre was a great combination with Takeuchi’s characters and writing. After starting with various stories that mostly focused on romance, she did /Code Name wa Sailor V/ which was more about action with a comedic tone. Then with Sailor Moon, she brought all of these elements together, along with a dramatic arc, and that’s what really took off.

iTSO: Yours what pretty much the go-to manga translation for many Sailor Moon fans who wanted the “real scoop.” Were you surprised by the attention you received?

AG: The fan focus was mostly if not entirely on the anime when I started my site. This wasn’t surprising as the show had started airing on North American TV and people also watched fansubs, but there were few if any ways to get access to the manga, especially in English. That’s why I started translating the manga, to open up this whole other version of the story, the original version, to everyone. I’m thrilled that people found it and enjoyed it as much as they did, but it’s really all because of Takeuchi’s work.

I did have the chance to meet and talk to a lot of people because of the website. In fact, one of the people I met was the woman I eventually married. Our love of Sailor Moon is what initially brought us together. So I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to do these translations, because without them we never would have found each other!

iTSO: That’s beautiful! I think Takeuchi would be proud to know her work had such a positive effect on its fans’ lives!

What did you think of the live-action adaptations Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon?

AG: The live action TV series was interesting in that it stayed closer to the manga in certain respects, but in others it departed even further. Some of those, like Sailor Luna, were undoubtedly to appeal to their target audience, so I can’t complain too much even if it’s not what I personally wanted to see. Overall I think it was a good adaptation of the story for a new format and audience. And I was glad to see them finally make use of the Sailor V / “C’est la vie” pun.

iTSO: What are your opinions of Sailor Moon Crystal so far?

AG: At this point I’ve just watched the trailer but it looks great. I’m excited to see another adaptation to introduce the story to a new generation, especially one that keeps more elements from the manga that were dropped in the original anime.

iTSO: How do you think ‘Crystal’ can stand out from the original anime?

AG: With the lower episode count, I’m hoping for a tighter plot that fully explores the storyline without depending so much on filler episodes. The new character designs and modern animation style help this series stand apart from the original, and as much as I loved the original score, I’m expecting that to be much different as well.

iTSO: What are the future plans for your website?

AG: I wish I could do new translations, but as my life got busier, I no longer had the time. Unfortunately I haven’t added new content to the site in years. The manga fan community has moved on to scanlations (translating and editing a scan of a manga) anyway, rather than the pure text form we used back in the day before high bandwidth was common. So the website will probably stay just the same as it is today.

iTSO: Just for us fans, which is your favorite senshi?

AG: My favorite senshi is Sailor Uranus.

iTSO: Out of all of the Sailor Moon songs, which is your favorite and why?

AG: It’s hard to pick just one favorite Sailor Moon song… “Rashiku Ikimasho” is probably the one I listen to most often. It’s just so catchy and fun. On the other end of the spectrum, Moonlight Destiny is one that I find especially moving. I’m tempted to list more but I’ll stop myself here.


Thanks to the amazing Alex for giving fans a blast from the past! We’ll continue celebrating #SailorWeek with more tributes and interviews. Stay tuned …