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Cooking, Fanservice, and Manga Translating Shokugeki No Soma

Posted on the 11 April 2014 by Kaminomi @OrganizationASG

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Since it was not enough to just merely review Food Wars: Shokugeki no Soma, I decided to also talk with its translator. Adrienne Beck was kind enough to spend some time over the weekend to talk about this food series, how far she’s gotten into it (though there’s one volume out), her take on the fanservice, and what she hopes readers gain out of it.

So I want to know how you were familiar with Food Wars: Shokugeki no Soma? Did you check out the manga in JP, was it word of mouth, or did you learn about it when you were assigned to it?

I’m afraid I’m not as up-to-date on Shonen Jump titles as I could be, so I first learned about it when I was assigned to it.

How familiar are you with food manga? Have you read a few, translated a few food manga, etc? 

I have translated a lot of different types of manga so far, but this is the first food manga I have actually translated. I know of Toriko and Iron Wok Jan, but I never got around to reading them. This has been quite a learning experience for me so far. I’m having a blast with it.

Can you share how far have you gotten in translating the manga and how long you usually spend translating it?

I’m not sure I can say exactly how far I am, but I’m getting close to where it is in Japan. Like any of the manga I do, I try to translate 10-15 pages of it every day, depending on what my deadline may be. I think we’re ahead of schedule enough that I’ve had a chance to take my time with it.

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What are some of the challenges of translating Food Wars: Shokugeki no Soma?

The recipes. Like I mentioned above, this is the first time I’ve done a food manga, so I’m getting an education in culinary terms, both in Japanese and in English! I also have to be sure to be really precise in my language, because I don’t want to accidentally give the wrong directions if somebody is going to try the recipe.

I guess another challenge would be the puns (there are quite a few sneaky ones), but those take some thought no matter what kind of manga it is.

Hmm. So I guess you haven’t tried to execute one of the recipes since there was one in Vol 1 huh? *laughs*

Ha ha! No, not yet. I’m not nearly the cook Soma is! Some of it does look simple enough even for somebody like me, who’s just good enough not to give everybody food-poisoning. And they all look really tasty (and, unfortunately, not very diet friendly!). Each volume I’ve done so far has multiple recipes, so there should be a lot for readers to pick from.

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‘dat fanservice…

So, with Food Wars: Shokugeki no Soma, there’s fanservice. Or, in this case, a lot of moments where it’s implied to be sexual. Was any of it a big deal for you? Or is it tame compared to other manga with ecchi content?

It’s actually very tame compared to some of the other titles I’ve worked on. I know it’s garnered a lot of attention from that first dual-page spread in Volume 1, but that’s really the worst of it.  It tapers off pretty quickly into more quirky and humorous situations than straight-out service-y ones. There is still some sprinkled around here and there, but it’s not nearly as in-your-face. Plus, it’s not all tilted towards guys. There are things for the ladies, as well. *laughs*

For Vol 1, did anything catch you by surprise while you were working on it? In terms of story, characters, etc?

Hmm… It’s hard to say. I’ve done quite a lot of manga, so it’s difficult for one to surprise me nowadays. *laughs* But I guess the characters were a pleasant surprise to me. Each of them feels genuine and likeable very quickly, so it’s easy to get caught up in reading about them. I find myself flipping through and re-reading whole sections of a volume when I only intended to check something quickly for reference.

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Talented in one aspect, well apart in another

Final question: If there is one thing a reader should gain after reading Food Wars, what would it be?

Good question! I’d think a reader would come away with a sense that “good” food doesn’t necessarily have to be “fancy” food. You can take a dish — or anything, really — that’s ordinary and, with a little effort and creativity, turn it into something fun and amazing. It’s all up to you and the effort you choose to put into it.

You can check out the first 11 pages of Food Wars, purchase a copy on Viz Manga, or pre-order the print release that comes out in August.

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