Author Interview #8: Hachimitsu Scans
Plykiya OP
Public Relations
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"Each of the characters . . . are confident and unapologetic, showing that if you like something, you shouldn't have to give it up because of societal norms or peer pressure." -Tooko

Plykiya: Please introduce yourself and your group for those who may be unfamiliar with who you are.
Tooko: Well, I am everyone and I am no one. I go by the name Tooko of the group Hachimitsu Scans, but I could just as easily say I am Hachimitsu Scans, the one and only member of a scanlation project largely focused on manga that deals with gender issues, whether that be manga that involve cross-dressing, gender swaps, transgender themes, subverting gender roles, etc. I say largely because not every manga I've scanlated has had some kind of genderbending theme, though when it comes to projects like that, I usually choose them because I've worked on a given author's other series. An example of this being initially working on Akiko Higashimura's Kuragehime, and then later doing her Kakukaku Shikajika series.

Plykiya: You've been releasing multiple chapters every single month from 2010 all the way through 2019, covering over 120 manga and 1600 chapters. Have you found it difficult to maintain this pace and how are you balancing scanlation with your life outside of it?
Tooko: Wow, over 120 manga? I kinda lost count at some point, so I'll just take your word for it. Anyway, at times, the pace of keeping Hachimitsu Scans going has been difficult, especially when I've worked on series in the past that I wasn't too keen on working on. That may come as a surprise since I decide what I do and do not work on, but there were some instances, chiefly with the series that were serialized in Waai Mahalo (a sister magazine to Ichijinsha's otokonoko-centric magazine Waai) that I ended up doing at a time when I was already swamped with other projects, which is why most of the series in that magazine were joints with Deus Ex Scans. That was basically all of 2013, and it became so taxing on me that I took a break for about a month and a half in the middle of that year, the longest break I've taken to date, although I have taken a few other breaks of 2-3 weeks each. I discovered that, although I can work for long periods of time on projects, eventually it takes a toll on me, so every once in a while I need to take a 2-3 week break just to reset as it were.

That's not to say that it's been easy keeping up with the pace during my active periods, though. Going from series to series, chapter to chapter, volume to volume over and over again has been kind of insane, but if I plan it out well enough, I can juggle 10 or more manga at the same time, but any more than that, and it would just get to be too much, which is the main reason why my ongoing project number never really exceeds 10 at a time.

As to how I balance scanlation opposite the rest of my life, I basically work on it when I have time to do so. Some days I get almost nothing done, and other days I can do whole chapters. It really depends on the series and how difficult it is, the length of the chapters, whether the pages were digital or scanned by hand, etc. In the end, I do have various hobbies, but the one I spend the most time on is scanlation. And besides, if I'm not working on a chapter, the whole operation grinds to a halt, so the motivation is there to get the chapters out and eventually complete a series.

Plykiya: You mainly work on series that deal with gender themes, either through crossdressing, genderswaps, gender identity, or gender role subversion. Which particular type of gender theme is your favorite to work on, and which series that you’ve worked on do you believe tackles that niche the best?
Tooko: I would say that I have two favorites for differing reasons. The first has to do with gender identity and transgender themes. Series like that tend to delve heavily into a character's psychology, creating a more in-depth story with more human characters. The problem is that there are very few manga with such themes, although I have managed to work on a few. Bokura no Hentai (fiction) and Hanayome wa Motodanshi (non-fiction) were two of the most prominent examples. Fumiko Fumi, the author of Bokura no Hentai, researched gender dysphoria and applied real-world psychology onto the character in that series who has gender dysphoria, making it feel very genuine. The other series Hanayome wa Motodanshi by Chii is an autobiography of a transwoman about her transition and eventual marriage to a man who loves her and is the most truthful account of that theme that I've ever worked on.

My other favorite, and this should come as no surprise, is just basic cross-dressing of cisgender males. The main problem with this theme, however, is that there is a large disparity between a great series, a good series, and series that are just plain awful, and I've done series that can be classified in each of those categories. But the series that had the best examples of a cross-dressing character would be series like Ayumi Komura's Usotsuki Lily, Akiko Higashimura's Kuragehime, Junko Ike's Mizutama Honey Boy, Tomohiro Shinohara's Boy Skirt, and Ataru Yamamoto's Nise x Koi Boyfriend, among others. Each of the characters in these series are confident and unapologetic, showing that if you like something, you shouldn't have to give it up because of societal norms or peer pressure. Another favorite of mine was namo's Ookami Shounen wa Kyou mo Uso o Kasaneru for its general dynamic between the characters, but for also the main character's stance on cross-dressing and how it ends up being the main source of conflict in the series.

But I would be remiss if I also didn't mention Kei from Moyashimon by Masayuki Ishikawa, one of the all-time greatest (in my opinion) cross-dressing characters in a manga that's not even a gender bender. That's mainly because of Kei's attitude towards cross-dressing, and his overall stance on life, knowing what he wants and taking it, no questions asked.

Plykiya: Is there a certain aspect of gender identity or crossdressing that you believe authors are trying to tackle but constantly falling flat in their execution, and what would you like to see done differently about it?
Tooko: Honestly, I don't really see it as authors failing in their execution when one series is subpar compared to others. The author will have a certain story to tell, and that will dictate how gender identity (if present) and cross-dressing will be perceived by the characters in the story and the readers. I feel like gender bender stories are honest in what they are trying to represent, but may just go about it in a way that some readers wouldn't agree with. Does that make it wrong? I think that's up to the reader to decide. The main issue has to do with characterization and humanizing these characters so they're not just archetypes of something we've seen again and again. How the gender issue is explored (or not explored if just played off for laughs) can be a sticking point, and I guess I would just like to see more stories that have better characterization. Some authors do it better than others, so when I find a good author, I tend to stick with them.

Plykiya: That's a pretty fair evaluation of it. Having scanlated gender themed manga for close to a decade, is there any particular year that you thought was the golden age for it? Do you believe we’re in a decline in quality at the moment or are there certain authors that people should be paying more attention to?
Tooko: If I had to pick any one year, it would be 2010, the year I started scanlating. There were more gender bender-related series being published that either started that year or were already in publication than at any other time I can remember, mainly due to Ichijinsha's and Million's otokonoko-centric magazines Waai (and later Waai Mahalo) and Oto Nyan, in addition to both of those publishers also putting out otokonoko anthologies, such as Ichijinsha's 17-volume Josou Shounen series that took me 4 years to complete. There were also other publishers putting out similar anthologies around the same time, in addition to there being anime and video games that had such characters. That was also the year Kuragehime got its anime adaptation, in addition to Baka and Test, introducing Hideyoshi to a larger audience outside Japan. Since 2010, there has been a general decline in the variety and quality of series overall, although there are still gems that pop up every once in a while like namo's Ookami Shounen from 2014 or Yuuki Kamatani's Shimanami Tasogare from 2015.

There are two prominent authors I would recommend: Fumiko Fumi and Kina Kobayashi. I've worked on several series from both authors, and they both have several manga that deal with gender and LGBT themes. Most of the other authors I've worked on, even the really stellar ones, generally only do one or two gender-themed series and then pretty much never again; an example of this is Akiko Higashimura, who, although an amazing author, really only has Kuragehime for a series like that (although she also has a semi-historical series that genderswaps Uesugi Kenshin called Yukibana no Tora that no one has scanlated). An honorable mention though would be Ayumi Komura for her work on Usotsuki Lily and Kami-sama no Ekohiiki, both of which were heavy on gender and LGBT themes, and I feel that she's an author that definitely deserves more recognition than she gets. Similarly, Junko Ike for her work on Mizutama Honey Boy and another of her series I haven't worked on (Onee Danshi, Hajimemasu) which subvert gender roles beautifully.

Plykiya: Groups that focus on less mainstream genres generally have difficulty finding new series in that genre. You've covered many digitally/volume published series, but also plenty of twitter stories and many smaller ones that only get published in magazines. Becoming self-reliant is an important step for both groups and readers to expand their scope. What kind of methods or resources do you use to find the kind of works you like?
Tooko: There are all kinds of methods, and I've had to get pretty creative over the years to discover certain series. Generally when I go looking for a new series, I'll first look on Google with a few key words that tend to pop up in articles about new series with cross-dressing or LGBT themes. If that doesn't work, some of the series I've found were through recommendations Amazon provides based on what other people were looking at and buying. I also used to rely on a few blogs that detailed new series, but those generally became less reliable as time went on. And then I've tried searching on genre tags on Manga Updates on a few occasions. I also receive recommendations to work on series from people who have read other projects I've worked on, but I very rarely pick up a series based on a recommendation for a variety of reasons, from being series I already rejected, to simply not being interested in a given series, or having already known about a series I was recommended. Still, on a few occasions, I have accepted such recommendations.

Failing all that, I tend to look at what author's I've already been exposed to are working on or waiting to see if they'll work on something else I'll like. I follow various authors on Twitter for this reason to keep up with their activities. And that has the added benefit of those authors retweeting other authors that I may not have known about, so Twitter can be a very good resource, including for finding small web comics that authors post exclusively on Twitter or pixiv. In addition to that, there are a lot of websites that post manga for free, like ganma.jp, where I recently discovered and picked up Umi Takase's Kanojo ni Naritai Kimi to Boku, or even seiga.nicovideo.jp, where amateurs and professionals alike can post their own manga, so if you know about these websites, you can browse their tagging system to find series with certain themes. All of this can generally take a long time, going through pages and pages, and taking hours to browse everything, but I've found that if you're persistent enough, you will find gems eventually.

Plykiya: Thank you so much for giving us some insight on your opinions and thought process. Your releases have definitely inspired a countless number of new fans for the genre. If you have anything you'd like to tell the readers that I haven't covered, you're free to do so now
Tooko:First of all, thanks for giving me the opportunity to reach out to people who have read series I've worked on. My whole reason for starting Hachimitsu Scans years ago as a scanlation project almost entirely focused on gender bender and LGBT-themed manga was the severe lack of scanlation groups picking up manga like that. These are themes that I've always been interested in and I lamented for years that there just weren't that many translated into English, either officially by the major publishers, or unofficially by scanlators. My goal was to help introduce readers to these series and help to grow interest in a genre that is often overlooked in manga, but that has tons of really exceptional series, just some of which I've mentioned in this interview.

Lastly, I would implore readers to support the authors of the manga they read if at all possible. Most of the series I've worked on haven't been licensed overseas, either in English or another language, but some have, like Kuragehime, Hanayome wa Motodanshi, Shimanami Tasogare, Kina Kobayashi's Nanashi no Asterism, and also Makoto Hagino's Nettaigyo wa Yuki ni Kogareru (although that isn't gender bender-themed, and it still isn't out in English officially). Over the years, I've personally bought the volumes for almost every series I've worked on (the few exceptions being magazine raws that were provided to me in the past by people who had bought those issues, such as with the Waai and Waai Mahalo magazines, or issues of Dengeki Maoh for the more recent Nettaigyo chapters, so I strongly believe in supporting these authors wherever possible, and I would hope that others feel the same. Any donations I receive on the blog have gone towards buying the volumes, or buying magazine issues, either digitally or physically. A lot of the series I've worked on have been axed or ended prematurely, and although that's most likely due to the domestic market in Japan, supporting the author wherever possible is not a bad thing to consider.

But I will end with a thought-provoking quote I recently posted on Hachimitsu Scans' discord server:


“I am what I am and I do what I do. We always wish to aspire that to which we are not and cannot be.”
Last edited 5 mo ago by Plykiya.
Lymus
Moderator
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@Tooko

What is your favourite flavour of honey?
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Whelp, I knew Plykiya would do this interview soon or later.

@Tooko Have you crossdressed before? May I get some of your love nectar? no homo tho.
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@Tooko
Hello, I'm a new sole scanlator who is currently doing 2 series at the moment. And so, you as an experienced sole translator, is there any advice you can give to cheer new sole scanlator so that they won't give up midway?
Last edited 5 mo ago by AdekHamilBang.
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A much appreciated group. Somehow, I didn't realize that Hachimitsu Scans was one person. I've been a huge fan of their taste in works up until now. If I see that they've scanlated something, then I know it'll probably be something that I'll be interested in.
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@AdekHamilBang proofreading is very important. the fact that there's an actual position/job for making sure whatever someone typed actually makes sense is a proof to that. the more sensible your TL is, the less load you put for your proofie, and the less people will whine about your "shit TLs" and demoralize you.
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Thank you so much!!!! I love your scans <3
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I really appreciated what this group has worked on, some of my ferrite series were translated by this group and I always had an smile in my face when I saw the Hachimitsu logo before reading a manga. Im always enjoy the series this group translated and some of these were the one that got me into manga to begin with. Thanks for all amazing work! I hope you continue being amazing!
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Wow, I just realized how much manga from your group I've read. Like, I always figured it was a lot, since it felt like at least one was on the front page of my follows at any given time, but I've never actually checked your group page. Just a sea of green and blues... Thank you for all your hard work!
Last edited 5 mo ago by Ceiye.
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Cheers, Hachimitsu. Always been a fan.
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Huh, I remember seeing you and your merry solo team and though "oh, started not too long ago! let's see where the honey goes" and ... I guess you can claim the "veteran" status now, after all the other teams came and went! I guess I think I'm supposed to ask a question here so... how has your relationship with the readers and other teams' been? I've noted changes in the things people comment about as time went on and as websites change, so I guess... do you read comments? Has the tone changed over the years, stayed the same, or anything?
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@Lymus
I generally love all types of honey as long as it's not the super cheap kind, but neem honey is one of my favorites.

@421cookies
I suppose I'll just have to leave that up to your imagination. But in the immortal words of En from Usotsuki Lily:


@AdekHamilBang
Burn out is an all-too common thing for scanlators, especially for new scanlators that can quickly feel overwhelmed if they pick up too many series at once. Scanlation is, at times, a very thankless hobby that requires a lot of time (and sometimes money) to put out quality work. As Wolvenworks alluded to, translation quality is usually the number 1 thing readers look for in a release, since if you can't understand the translation, you can't understand the story, so putting the most emphasis on translation accuracy and fluency in English is something readers are going to appreciate almost more than anything else. I suppose the best advice I can give is to have dedication to your scanlation work and take a certain amount of pride in the work you put out, since it's a reflection of how much effort you put into each chapter, which readers will easily pick up on. If you don't think you can handle the workload all on your own, try to recruit other members. The only other thing is to make sure that you love whatever you're working on. If you don't love a series, working on it can feel like a chore, or worse a burden, giving you very little motivation to want to work on it and release more chapters. I've been there with certain series, but I don't believe in dropping anything, so I just plow through stuff like that and then move on to other things. Lastly, if you feel you need to take a break, then do so. You can always come back to a series later if you need some time away from a particular series or scanlation in general.

@JasmineTea
My relationship with the readers of the series I work on has generally been a positive one over the years. Even initially, I got a lot of positive comments from people when I first started working on Usotsuki Lily and Kuragehime, even though I was such a noob at scanlation back then that I really didn't deserve the kind of appreciation I was getting, though I guess the chapters I was putting out weren't that bad for someone just starting out. For other teams, I've only worked on joints with a few other groups over the years, but I can't say that there were any major problems. In fact, working on Reversible as one of my earliest joints was very positive for me, since it helped me transition to improving my own scanlation skills.

I do read every single comment on both the blog and on the manga/chapter pages here. One of the things I enjoy the most about scanlation is seeing other people read, enjoy and discuss series I work on since I don't really get the opportunity to join the conversation myself. I don't get that many comments on the blog per post anymore, but that's just a change in the overall way people read scanlations now than how it was a decade ago. As for the tone, I feel it's been pretty much the same over the years in that commenters are appreciative of the work I do, which is very uplifiting and motivating.
Last edited 5 mo ago by Tooko.
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holy!
i would never thought that Hachimitsu Scans was only one guy!
i am a big fan of your works thank you so much, i was visiting your blog almost daily till it got blocked in my country this year (fk u saudi arabia)
and to think that my one and only waifu Kei is also your favorite, you sure have a great taste.
Okama was such a great manga i really enjoyed , Hibari-kun! too, i even have my avatar from it
thank you so much @tooko
Last edited 5 mo ago by bi7r.
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this is one of the better pieces, i hope hachi will release is works here to further archive since some places are...well it was a well done piece glory to ex
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Wow, I never realised Hachimitsu Scans was just one person!!! @Tooko, you're amazing! The quality of your scanlations and the pace at which you put them out are always incredible, and you've translated a lot of manga which have become my favourites (e.g. Shimanami Tasogare). Thank you focusing on a topic of manga that is so often not translated into English, and thank you for bringing exposure to more LGBT+ perspectives in manga. Although your projects range from light hearted to serious, they all have characters discovering themselves and becoming more and more unapologetic for not fitting in to societal norms, which I can definitely identify with, and I believe the core messages of some of the more serious stories are sorely needed in the scanlation and manga-reading community.

With all the time you spend scanlating, do you have time to read manga for pleasure? Do you usually read similar themes to what you scanlate, or do you have a favourite genre outside of gender-related? What are some of your recommendations of mangas you haven't scanlated (yet)?
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@sukaley
Although most of the manga I read I scanlate myself, there are some other manga I read for pleasure. Outside of gender bender-related series, yuri is my next favorite, and I guess this shouldn't come as a big surprise since I've worked on Nanashi no Asterism, and am currently doing Eden no Otome and (although it's just basically super subtext) Nettaigyo wa Yuki ni Kogareru. Gender-themed and yuri take up about 99% of my reading habits for manga, at any rate.

I generally don't like recommending anything I ever intend to work on because I'd be afraid of it getting picked up by another group. This has actually happened quite a bit, and even more so in recent years, so I've had to be a little more aggressive recently about picking up and keeping up with certain series. I will say that there is a recommendations channel (and a lewd recommendations channel for hentai) on the group's discord server, and people regularly post series there that may or may not be scanlated.
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Just wanna give my thanks. I've been reading Hachimitsu's releases since 2012 or so and Ookami Shounen and Kakukaku Shikajika are among my favorites. Here's to another nine years.
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WE Need more people like you thumbs up keep it up.
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Been a longtime reader of Hachimitsu, so I have to say thanks for the awesome work over the years and for continuing to be a juggernaut in your own corner of the scene! (´ー`)b
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I could just as easily say I am Hachimitsu Scans, the one and only member

@Tooko you're madman, do you know that? I've never thought that Hachimitsu Scans is running by one man. One-man army at it's finest.
I very appreciate all you hard work for delivering those cute manga with traps. Please don't die out of exhaustion, and thank you once again.