The literal translation of this line would be something like, “Now I hold passionate feelings in my heart”, but, of course, the line is a pun. “Now I hold feelings for Chihayafuru inside my heart.”
As you probably have heard, Kodansha Comics USA has posted the first chapters for several new titles. First is Tokyo Tarareba Girls. Not too surprising since it’s by the author of Princess Jellyfish, a series that has been selling well. A Springtime with Ninjas? That’s a bit surprising since I doubt many people — myself included — had even heard of the manga, and Nakayoshi series are hardly the first to be licensed.
But the last is the most surprising of all: Chihayafuru.
Reason #1: It’s josei.
Male-oriented works just sell better, period.
Reason #2: It’s not primarily a romance.
Chihayafuru is a sports series. While one might think this would open up Chihayafuru to a wider audience, a lot of the success of the most popular sports manga and anime (The Prince of Tennis, Haikyu!, etc.) come from fujoshi fans who love to pair up the male characters. Many sports series thrive on the BL fodder, but Chihaya definitely could end up either of the two main male leads. This falls secondary to Chihaya’s journey however.
Reason #3: It’s long.
Chihayafuru is 35 volumes long and still ongoing. Very few female-oriented manga of this length have been published in English. Boys Over Flowers and Skip・Beat! are probably the most notable exceptions. The longer the series = the more likely people are going to fall off the bandwagon.
Reason #4: It’s very Japanese-y.
How many of you had heard of karuta before Chihayafuru? (Hey, you over there! Put your hand down, you liar!) Unlike, say, shogi, which is often called Japanese chess, karuta has no Western equivalent. You won’t find elementary schools having card competitions where children try to grab cards of Shakespeare poems.
Reason #5: It’s a lot of work to translate.
It would be nearly impossible not to keep the Japanese syllables in Chihayafuru. But a good translator also can’t leave chunks of Japanese text in the middle of pages. Kodansha Comics seems to be both romanizing and translating the poems, which is probably the best way to do that. Unfortunately, this also means more work when lettering. You basically have twice the text still being fit into one bubble.
“But of course Chihayafuru will be successful!”
Nope, sorry, it’s hardly certain. You can point to the anime, the awards, the number of scanlation views, whatever. A lot of people like to say they’ll buy something, but then they never follow through for whatever reason (finances, fallen out of love with the series, decide they’ll only buy volumes they haven’t read, etc.). If you don’t believe me, then please tell me where I can find volumes 17+ of Gakuen Alice or volumes 24+ of Gintama. And since the anime only covers the first third or so of the manga, if you want to see the full story, then don’t just say, “I’ll buy the anime from Sentai Filmworks.” Notice how this (and the other two series) are only digital releases, ones that have just been suddenly popped up on digital sites with no formal press release. Back when the Chihayafuru anime was running and the manga still in its 20s, Kodansha was very hesistant.
In short, put all your chihayafuru omoi into actually buying Chihayafuru. Let’s aim to not only get all the volumes over here but get the series to print!
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