[Also works with any Japanese manga, but doujinshi tend to be the ones that get bought in Japanese by people who don’t know Japanese.]
If you’re like me (god help you), then you like owning doujinshi—preferably ones that’ve been scanslated—but you can’t read Japanese, and it bothers you that you can’t actually read your physical copies of those doujinshi. Today I’ll be sharing my solution to this problem, which probably isn’t the best nor the most professional (and might be the most time-consuming), but anyone and their grandma can do it.
The materials I’ll be handling are:
1. Restickable Square Stickers (probably findable at any office supply store)
3. My favorite doujinshi, Two Scarlet Sacraments Under the Starry Sky (Part 1) by FLIPFLOPs
And that’s all you need! Besides I guess a pen, but I didn’t take a picture of one.
The idea is very simple: you cut the stickers into a shape that roughly covers up the text in a speech bubble, and then you write the translated dialog on the sticker. There are some positives and negatives to doing this, which I’ll address in this Q&A.
Q: How do you measure the stickers?
I’ve just been sticking the corner on the edge of a bubble and then cutting off the bottom and side.
Q: I don’t want scissors getting near the pages of my precious doujin!
If you have a ruler on-hand, use that. I don’t have one in my immediate area, and I’m lazy.
Q: I have to write in the dialog? My handwriting sucks/is too big!
This is where I really can’t help you. My handwriting is awful as well, but I’ve trained myself over the years to fake something readable. Even so, when I wrote the table of contents, I couldn’t bear to cover up the elegant original, so I put mine under it.
I guess you might have more success depending on the smallness of the pen you’re using—I’m using a chisel tip marker.
Q: A marker?! Won’t that bleed through onto the page?!
Yeah I had that same fear, but that’s why these are restickable stickers—once I cut them to the correct size I pulled them off the page, wrote in the dialog, and stuck them back on.
Q: This seems like a lot of effort. What are the benefits besides being able to read your hard copy?
I’m glad you asked! I found a few nifty things:
1. You can customize the translation of dialog, especially if you can actually read a little bit of Japanese. You can do this to digital copies as well if you have both the raw and the translated version, but that editing probably doesn’t take a whole lot less time than what we’re doing here. Anyway, here’s the first page of Two Scarlet Sacraments as translated by Gaku-Touhou:
And, while it’s barely readable because my pictures are so shitty, here’s my edited version of the page:
Firstly, I changed Remilia’s laugh to “kukkukukuku” as it’s written in Japanese, because unless my memory is complete and total shit, Dio Brando—manga’s most famous vampire—laughs that way, and Touhou is known to be rife with Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure references, so I figured I’d keep that possibility in-tact (plus I really like that laugh.)
I also changed Patchouli’s dialog—and in actuality the original translation is more accurate than mine, which brings me to my next point…
2. You can really write in whatever the hell you want. In my case, from what I can tell, “something amusing you?” and “having fun?” are both accurate translations of the text. However, mine in full says, “having fun, mistress?” Nothing along the lines of “mistress” is on the original page, but I really liked the way it sounded, so I went ahead and did it. RAW RAW FIGHT THE POWAH!
3. If you decide that you want to change the translation later, either to make it more accurate or because you came up with something even cooler-sounding, it’s easy to remove a sticker and replace it with a new one. Or, if you find yourself full of regret for this undertaking, you can just remove the stickers altogether.
All in all, I don’t doubt that this will be a very time-consuming endeavor even if you’re as efficient as I am, so I don’t imagine that many people will undertake it; but this is how I plan to make mine and my brother’s doujinshi readable to us so we feel like we bought them for a reason.
If you have other ways of making your hard-copy doujinshi readable or have ideas on how to improve mine, or even just if you’re gonna give this a try, please comment!