Author Interview #7: TheElusiveTaco
Plykiya OP
Public Relations
"I have been rejected . . . a few times now. There is nothing that hurts quite so much as really, really enjoying something I find, and not being able to get permission for it..." -TheElusiveTaco

Plykiya: Please introduce yourself, for people who may be unfamiliar with who you are.
Kris: Sure. I go by TheElusiveTaco or Kris in most places, and I translate manga! I started out in scanlation in the summer of 2014 as a typesetter, and I started translating in the summer of 2017.

Last year I asked a mangaka (Tadanonatsu) over Twitter if I could have permission to translate and edit one of their original works, and they said yes! Ever since then, I've been gradually expanding that, asking new authors and working with them to translate short original works from Twitter and Pixiv.

Plykiya: What made you decide to learn Japanese? How long have you been learning it, and what helped you the most? Do you feel confident when you translate manga or when you're contacting authors for their permission?
Kris: So I first went to Japan back in 2012 for a short school trip, and that was what really made me curious about Japan and Japanese. When I was returning home from that trip, I had already decided that I would be back to study in some form.

From there, I started doing some self-learning through Genki textbooks etc, as well as exponentially increasing the amount of anime I watched. I know it's somewhat of a meme to claim to learn Japanese from anime, but it truly helped build a foundation for me, linking the words on screen to what I was hearing.

My real studying started in 2017. Having graduated high school, and not gotten into any universities, I chose to go to a Japanese language school in Tokyo through GoGoNihon. During this time, I chose to stay with a homestay family, and that is ultimately what brought me to my current level. I initially planned to study for just 6 months, but ended up extending for another 6 months, and moving to a new host family.

If anyone reading this is looking into learning Japanese (or any other language, really): please consider a host family! Even if only for a short time! I have heard that not everyone has great experiences with this, so your mileage may vary, but I truly believe this is one of the best ways to gain mastery in a language. There are a number of companies in Japan which assist with arranging host families, I used Homestay in Japan.

I'm far from being able to do translation professionally, and I learn new phrases and words every single time I'm translating. But I can say that I feel a little bit of confidence in my abilities at this point! Contacting authors is always a bit nerve-wracking, but I just do my best to remain polite and friendly, and hope for the best.

Plykiya: You're pretty well-known as one of the few scanlators who asks authors for their permissions before you translate their works. How do your interactions with them usually go? Have you ever been rejected? Is it common to receive textless files or is it less involved than people are lead to believe?
Kris: I try to keep it simple. Introduce myself and what I do, tell them I'm a big fan of their work(s), and ask for permission to translate. I also explain where I post, and that I'm happy to include whatever they would like me to with the post.

Most interactions are very nice (especially with the smaller artists) who are quite happy to have someone offer to spread their work, and are open to chat if I have further questions. Some interactions are more basic, i.e. "Do as you like, as long as you credit me and don't profit off it", so your mileage will definitely vary depending on who you ask.

I have been rejected (or my messages remained unseen) a few times now. There is nothing that hurts quite so much as really, really enjoying something I find, and not being able to get permission for it... But I understand the points they make, as they have been related (so far) to copyright issues and publishers, and I make sure to end by saying that I'll continue to support them.

As for textless files, that request comes after they give permission. I explain why exactly I'm asking for them by explaining the editing process, and how they save time as well as art which has words on it. As of recent I've been able to get them more and more, but I wouldn't say it's common just yet. When I'm reading something on Twitter nowadays, I'm often checking to see if it was drawn digital or analog, as I'm far more likely to be able to get textless files from digital works. In any case, I make clear that they shouldn't worry about it if it will take a lot of time, or if they aren't comfortable with sending those files.

Plykiya: Are you still in regular contact with any previous author that you've translated for?
Kris: Unless I'm currently working on something with them, not so much, as I don't want to bother them.
Suffice to say I have yet to actually makes friends with any of them. Though I am looking forward to the possibility of meeting some of them at this upcoming Comitia, if I can get my plane ticket arranged.

Plykiya: Many of the Twitter series that you work on aren’t available for purchase. Pseudo Harem was one that recently became available for purchase as a volume after originally being a Twitter series. Was the author still comfortable with your translations of those chapters being available for free?
Kris: They were, yes. I'm not certain on the details of the deal there, but the author (@54110yu) was allowed to continue to upload it to Twitter, and as a result, I was allowed to continue translating.

Plykiya: You generally only ask Twitter authors for permission. Is there a reason you don’t ask published authors for theirs? The publishing rights will generally belong to the company, but do you believe there’s any merit in doing it as a formality? Should more groups attempt to reach out to authors for their permission, and what would be the benefit of doing so?
Kris: Not specifically. I definitely think there is merit in doing so, as I think you can kind show the publisher (and at large, eventually the industry) that there's interest in that series, as well that's interest in a platform for manga where fan translators can work with publishing companies to do translations for their favourite series. Perhaps that's a bit optimistic of me, but it's already happened with Line Webtoons. I have yet to work on anything on there yet, so I don't know the details of how those fan translations are doing, but it's existed for some time now, so it must be doing okay.

Come to think of it, asking for permission for a published work is technically on my radar right now, depending on how you define published. Does the site KurageBunch count?

Plykiya: Yeah, it does.
Kris: Well in that case, y'all will soon see what the result is when a fan translator is allowed to work on something being published online there. Currently waiting to see if textless files are a possibility. I'm excited to see what it could lead to, i.e. if KurageBunch is into the idea fan translations for certain series.
It's quite possible this has already happened with another series, but I haven't heard of any.

Plykiya: Thanks for all of the extremely detailed answers. Do you have any parting words you'd like to share?
Kris: No worries at all, thanks for taking the time to talk with me! Make sure to follow @54110yu and check out the volume release for Pseudo Harem, also available on Kindle!

Oh and a last message about asking for permission: Recently I've had a few people ask me how to go about asking authors for permission, which is awesome and I'm super happy to see. If you see something that you like on Pixiv or Twitter, try asking for permission! I really think it's worth it, and it's a pretty nice feeling to have an author retweet your translation of their work :D

Just be polite. If anyone wants more details, feel free to PM me. @kris
Last edited 7 mo ago by Plykiya.
I'd love to see more and more translators ask for permission from the author to translate our beloved mangos.

Great interview!
Really enjoyed it :)
Last edited 7 mo ago by icelord.
@kris Bunch let you do official fan scan!? Dang that's epic. Won't be surprised anymore if one day fan scan get compiled to tankoubon at this point.
This was the interview I looked forward to most after anq_.
Thanks for translating those hidden gems.
Its sad that alot of them didn't continue aside from chiyo pre cog, nearly 30 and pseudo harem.
Last edited 7 mo ago by Teddy.
I haven't known there are scanlators who make contact with authors, till I'm reading this interview. ?
Great interview! It was really interesting hearing about Kris' experiences.

P.S. I'm really bad with social media, but this interview is making me think about making a twitter account.
mmmmmmmmmm TACOS ?
Nice informative interview! ?
I'm interested in learning japanese so the interview helped to see what is available to help :)
Thanks for the very interesting interview!
@421cookies just to clarify, I asked if I could have permission for the work, and if it being on Kurage Bunch would make things difficult. They responded by giving me permission and saying "It should be fine, and if something happens, I'll take responsibility" lol.

@Teddy thank you for your kind words! And indeed, such is the nature of a lot of the oneshots I do...

@kimpo runs away

@DarkFlame if you have any questions regarding that, feel free to PM me somewhere and I'll be happy to help however I can!
Este vato si esta centrado en lo que apasiona gracias bro por tu aporte
Tacos de que we? te invitaría unos jajajjaja
This makes me want to ask for permission to translate one of the manga I work on.... but I'd be too afraid they'd say no.
Props to you man for doing things so legit. I hope that someday, scanlation will have a lot more proper recognition. Stuff like what you do helps a lot, I'm sure.
Need more people like this. The best way to bridge the gulf between Western readers (who are never going to pay for everything they want to read anymore than people who read Western comics online which they can literally buy in their own language in their own city) and Japanese creators is to have 1-on-1 interactions that fosters connection and understanding instead of the usual mistrust and suspicion, amplified by the language barrier. Mangadex already helps a bit in that it's not trying to use stolen content to line their own pockets and does a good job linking everything back to the original authors and fosters an ethos of supporting content creators that you like, but this is another strong step in the right direction while still maintaining an online community of readers instead of the big publisher's dream of making everyone pay for everything with no sense of community.
Interesting stuff. I always liked how open you were about your translations with the authors; it's good form, and I'm glad to hear so many of them are quite understanding about it. I imagine it's probably something we'll see limited to small, Twitter manga people can read for free anyway, but it's always neat when manga authors take notice of us Western readers.
Nice interview. Thanks for translating these works, and it really is nice to see you asking for permission, that's cool. I do want to ask how do you find these manga, you obviously find them in twitter, but past that how specifically did you? Was it like you heard of them from other authors, was it by rts or just randomly browsing, etc.? Also, how did you come up with the handle TheElusiveTaco?
(Finally a different kind of interview. Mdex, please bring more unique ones like this xD)
Thank you so much for the interview! It's amazing to see what Kris is doing - I hope I can do the same in the future. And good luck for your scan, work and life, Kris!
@Bainhardt I understand that fear, I think about the possibility every time I ask for permission haha. Presumably you're referring to "An-chan no Aan" from Twi4? I have yet to approach an author serialized on there, but I do have one that I would like to ask. Would you like me to test the waters with that publisher through the artist I have in mind? Given that they are showcasing hundreds of pages of free manga, I can't see why they would mind.

@togwrlp Most works so far have been entirely through Twitter. When I first started my original Twitter account, I didn't really do much with it. And then one day, I can't remember why, but I started liking and following artists that I saw, and Twitter is great at keeping you on their site by then showing you other people you should follow, as well as Tweets that you'll most likely enjoy or interact with. So when I follow a manga artist whose taste in drawing I really enjoy, chances are that they'll retweet work from other great artists, and I then see those and the cycle starts again.
TL;DR A lot of it is by chance, some of it is because of who I choose to follow and I follow a lot of people right now, so that keeps new content coming your way :)
@kris Yeah, that's the one. If you wanna go ahead and do that, by all means. My Japanese isn't good enough to navigate something like that on my own anyway, lol. Highly appreciate it (´ー`)b
@kris That's chill af lol. If only every editors can be like that.

But yeah, publishers get more and more kind these days I think. Like just today Kodansha and Shuueisha pull out a collaboration named JumMaga Gakuen where students (under 23yo) can read some manga for free.
MD Staff: Thanks for the interesting interviews as usual, keep it up.

@kris Has the author ever considered redistributing the english versions in book format as well?

I would've liked to try a homestay program back when I was in highschool but my family didn't want to cover the travelling costs and languages (including english) was never something I was good at, even if I tried. 14/14th place in class fml.