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10+ Years of Ranma in the United States

with Toshifumi Yoshida

Toshifumi Yoshida is the translator/producer of many of Rumiko Takahashi's manga and anime properties in the US. I appreciate the time he took to respond to the questions about his experience in the manga and anime field.

This interview was conducted on September 3, 2001 for Perfect Edition by Harley Acres.

How did Ranma 1/2 originally come to Viz's attention?

Well, Rumiko Takahashi has been a very popular artist for Shogakukan with her Urusei Yatsura series. When Viz was formed 15 years ago, she was working on Ranma so it was a natural choice.

Do you remember how you were introduced to the series?

I was buying Weekly Shonen Sunday at the time (along with Jump and Magazine) and enjoying the comic series. My introduction to the anime was through some of the local San Francisco Bay Area fans. They showed me some episodes at one gathering or another.

Can you discuss the process of translating and putting together an issue of Ranma 1/2? Do you do translations directly from a tankoban? Are pages scanned and flipped from copies provided to you by Shogakukan, or is Viz responsible for taking the images from already published copies and re-working them?

I do my literal translations from the tankobon, which then gets sent to the rewriter (Gerard Jones in this case) who prepares the final script. I put in a lot of footnotes and suggestions how certain things should be translated and sometimes they go into the final script pretty much as I've written it, and other times, it gets rewritten into something different. I tend to be a purist when it comes to translation, but I also understand the need for a change sometimes. Gerard has written some pretty funny stuff I hadn't considered.

Once the final script is completed, we make photostats from the orignal negatives and they are sent to the letter/touch-up artist for the final step before printing. They take out the Japanese word ballons and sound effects and replace them with the English.

Were there any particular episodes or manga chapters that were difficult to translate for American audiences? Maybe a cultural piece that was hard to convey?

This is a hard one to answer. I've been doing it for so long, that I can't remember a lot of the older issues. One of the more recent stories that I had difficulties with is the Shishi Hokodan arc. I gave pages of notes for Gerard and after going back and forth, Gerard came up with a workable version. As a contrast, on the anime version, I tried to stay closer to the original then the comic version. I hope people can compare and contrast.

How did the Ocean Group come to Viz's attention, and how difficult was casting Ranma 1/2? Any particular characters that proved difficult to find an actor or actress for? What is the audition process for Ranma like?

I believe the President of Viz, then CEO, met with the owner of Ocean in Cannes during a trade show. We had our first meeting at Anime Expo 93 in Oakland, CA. It was then when it was decided we would go with Ocean for the production of Ranma 1/2.

The Ranma manga was originally published in color here in the US. What made Viz decide to do this, and later discontinue it? Some companies like Dark Horse publish the original color pages from series. Did Viz ever consider doing this with Ranma? Does Viz have access to the original color pages published in Shonen Sunday?

I wasn't with Viz when the color Ranma was published so I'm working on what I've heard here. So don't take what I say as doctrine...

They believe the color Ranma was a test to see how it would sell. But in the end, I guess the numbers weren't all that different even though the cost of production was much higher.

As for getting color pages for comics, it is possible and we've done it for comics like Evangelion. But in general, we get the negatives for the tankobon. And the Ranma tankobon were all in black and white, even the the color pages. In contrast, the Eva tankobon has color pages so I guess we had color negatives. Once again, this is just what I think...I'm in the video department, not comics.

Has the final session of the anime been recorded yet? If so how did it go, or are you doing anything special to commemorate your final recordings?

Funny you should ask this. I arrived tonight (Sept. 3) to begin recording the last seven episodes for Ranma for the next two weeks. Then we're going to have the big wrap party with the entire cast. The interesting part of this is that the party will be the first time some of the cast members will have met each other.

How many episodes are usually recorded at a time? And what is the time difference between when an episode is first prepped for translation to dubbed completion and finally public availability?

I usually record two volumes worth per visit to the studio. This was four episodes back when we had 2 epsiodes per tape. Now we've been doing six as of this season. This last session is seven because of episode 161. The very last tape of Ranma will have 4 episodes on it.

As for production, the script is completed 2 weeks to a month before the recording in general, the recording take about a week to 2 weeks. Then it's post production which can take a month or more, depending if we need some lines re-recorded or not. From there, I deliver the final master to the duplication company. From there, it's up to marketing to decide when it comes out for the public.

Do you have a favorite episode or chapter of the manga that you are particularly proud of your work on?

I don't think I can single out a single episode. I have favorite episodes for many reasons. For me, memorable moments are scenes with certain actors in certain episodes. For Akane, I loved her sweetness when she first thinks Ranma is a girl...and her 14 second scream after she finds out the truth. For Angela (Nabiki), it's her performance in the second movie. Willow (Kasumi), it's the OAV epsiode with the Phoenix. ("Bye bye Birdie...!) And the list goes on and on...

Thanks again Mr. Yoshida, it's always a pleasure hearing from you. Ever since I first picked up Ranma I've really appreciated all the hard work you, Mr. Jones, Ms. Ledoux and everyone at Viz have put into it. Thanks again, and here's to another great decade of work on Ms. Takahashi's manga and anime!

You're welcome and I'm happy to help. Good luck with your site.

Interview conducted by Harley Acres

Mr. Yoshida's producing and translation credits include:

Urusei Yatsura
Maison Ikkoku
Ranma , and
Inu-Yasha Sengoku o-Togi Zoushi


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