I spent a month in Europe the summer of 2000, managing to squeeze it in after the Euro had dropped like a rock but before French truckers decided to overthrow the Fifth Republic. After such a trip, the traditional thing to do is trot out your vacation pictures to share with a perhaps less-than-totally-willing audience. Well, who am I to break with tradition?
Of course, I'm not going to bore you with pictures of castles and cathedrals. Instead, I'll bore you with my modest collection of German manga!
Given my relative commands of the languages, it didn't make much sense for me to pick up any German manga that I could get in English or French. This means my total collection is pretty limited. On the other hand, it does of necessity focus on the better editions (those done directly from the Japanese).
Thus, I won't try making a comprehensive list of German manga. See The Uncomplete Manga Guide for that. Instead, I'll just list the ones I actually have.
|Bände:||1 (vollständige Sammlung)|
The first of the "Sailor Moon präsentiert" collection; contains the title story and "Wink Rain." Just to make it explicit, both these stories and The Cherry Project (below) actually preceded Sailor Moon (and Sailor V, for that matter). All of these are pretty intensely shoujo, without the magical stuff around to dilute it, so be warned. The Feest edition is flipped, but seems to be decently well produced. (Note: the "nice price" is in Deutschmarks, so it really is pretty cheap.)
|Name:||The Cherry Project|
The next in the "Sailor Moon präsentiert" collection; the saga of an ice skater.
|Name:||Slayers Legende der Dunkelheit|
|Bände:||1-6 (vollständige Sammlung)|
|Autor:||Shoko Yoshinaka/Hajime Kanzaka|
This is the anime-inspired Slayers manga series, not the original one by Rui Araizumi. (Though Carlsen has done that one as well, of course.) The Carlsen edition is pretty good, unflipped, with the color pages preserved. The paper is a tad yellow, but no more so than the original. It is slightly smaller than the original edition. (By the way, I list it as ,,vollständige Sammlung" simply because there was a long break in the Japanese version; however, it seems now that a new volume has finally come out.)
This is one series where I have the entire Japanese edition and have more or less read through it, so I have been looking at the faithfulness of the translation. So far, it actually looks pretty good. I've done a comparative translation of some of it, so you can see for yourself. This series is now being translated into English by CPM Comics; I've not yet been able to compare this edition with the others.
(The factual part of the following account is due mostly to contributors to rec.arts.manga, in particular Stefan Deseive and Christian Joachim Hartmann.) The German manga market started out back in antiquity (i.e., ca. 1991) as a derivative of the American market. They followed the American model of trickling out manga in relatively high-priced individual comics. Many of the titles issued were translations from the English or French and not directly from the Japanese. The level of success was about what you could expect - pretty minimal.
But then, paralleling what Glénat had done in France a bit earlier, Carlsen Verlag started issuing Dragon Ball in 1997 in low-priced tankoubon format, coming out more or less monthly. This proved immensely successful, and inspired other publishers to follow suit. German mangas are now widely available - to illustrate, I picked up most of the Slayers manga at a bookstore in Eisleben, a fairly tiny town in the former East Germany. (It's notable as the site of both Martin Luther's birth and death, though even he didn't spend much other time there.)
Current German manga editions do look a little different from French ones. They tend to be ordinary paperbacks, without any of the Japanese-like slipcovers the French use. On the other hand, it seems more common for German mangas to preserve original color pages and the like.
A number of German manga series also have "spine scenes" when you assemble the series. So far as I know, this is unique to Germany. Japanese versions couldn't be expected to do this, since they generally won't know at the start how many volumes there are going to be. American versions unfortunately suffer from the same circumstances... French versions could, but all the ones I've seen tend to go with gaudy, fairly ugly spines - in other words, they look just like the Japanese ones. So if you're looking for mangas that will look good sitting on your bookshelf, German editions are the way to go.
Looking beyond cosmetics to those nagging issues of translation quality, I don't have enough experience with German mangas to say much. But I did look at the German edition of Dragon Ball, and it seemed to me to be more faithful to the original than the French one, being unflipped, and with a translation that was a bit closer to the original in a couple of spots. That may be a somewhat exceptional case, though, since there still seem to be mangas coming out that are secondary translations from French or English.
I decided to take second-year German to help prepare for the trip. I had had first year somewhere back in the depths of antiquity, but had kind of forgotten a lot of it. So, with my usual cleverness, I began my German revival program with an intensive 4-week summer course for second-year-and-up students. What this meant was that I started out behind, and could never really catch up. Worse, since I'd been studying Japanese for a while, I'd occasionally get mixed up and throw Japanese words in. (,,Aber wir haben keine okane, und so mussen nach Hause kaeru, to omoimasu.")
But the last part of the class, we read some German Romantic poetry. The teacher decided just doing literal translations of it missed the point, so asked if anyone could do "poetic" translations. I was basically the only one who volunteered. (Well, somebody else did one of the poems.) The result?
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