As some of you will know I've faced some personal obstacles over the past year which have interfered with my Outlaw Star work. Eventually I decided that because I wasn't providing what I promised I'd pause my Patreon, and for a long time this has been the case. While I'd be lying if I said the issues are resolved, things are in motion again and I feel ready to continue receiving your patronage—something I truly appreciate.
My current focus is not the Outlaw World website, but will play a large role in the website's creation and be a core focus of the information I'll add to it. Of course, that focus is the manga.
Some months back I posted about major changes to the manga scanlation's progress. Finally this wasn't a solo project; two people had expressed interest and we had some discussions. Previously (the first volume) I translated the European version of the manga. Haku who has joined the team is a fluent Japanese speaker and has now taken charge of the translation side of the scanlation. Now I'm responsible for editing the lines and typesetting in Photoshop, and eventually scanning the unpublished chapters. Zemekis, who knows Haku, is a big Outlaw Star fan and takes care of project management and coordination, financing, as well as editing assistance.
You might have wondered what this meant for the manga with such a drastic change. This was actually one of my main concerns, but Haku was satisfied with the lines from volume one. They've remained consistent and we hope you'll be happy with the quality.
The real question I've been asked, unsurprisingly, is how the manga is coming along and where we're at right now. After all, this has been ongoing for years. I'm now dedicating more time to the manga and by the end of March I estimate that we'll have done over a hundred pages within the month. By then we'll be onto the third volume. We're riding the manga ether stream, and if this keeps up we'll have finished the third volume in no time. However, I have learned my lesson to not give release dates anymore. Just hang on tight and I'll keep you posted. Of course, you're welcome to read the manga as we scanlate it on the Outlaw Star Nexus forums.
I've also been asked some questions by Outlaw Star fans, and asked others if there's anything they'd like to know in a Q&A.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Why are you keeping the manga private?
This is something I've done since the beginning. The WIP version that I release privately on Outlaw Star Nexus is very much a draft. I had zero scanlation experience before I started this (and I wouldn't even call myself a scanlator now) so it's always been rough around the edges to say the least and includes placeholders that were only intended for the draft. Manga aggregators like Mangafox mindlessly swipe manga releases and host them on their ad-infested sites without giving any credit to scanlators. We wouldn't want them to host an unfinished version so we keep it behind closed doors. If you ask we'll most likely let you in.
On the pages I've seen why is the SFX in huge bubbles?
These are placeholders. The actual SFX would be far nicer and presented similarly to how you'd see it in your typical English manga publication. I've decided to drop the SFX entirely. SFX is nice and I love it, but not many people want it. It takes a lot of time to figure out onomatopoeia and even more time to redraw pages. Our first release of the manga will be no-frills; you'll be able to enjoy the typical reading experience, but we won't be adding SFX or better scans of pages until a possible second edition. We're currently discussing public releases.
Will you resume building the website after the manga is complete?
Yes, of course, but we haven't decided on an order. You see, there's still a lot more hidden Outlaw Star lore even after the manga is completely translated. There's the Outlaw World website, but there's also the El Dorado Covered with Clouds light novel (Haku has already translated some of this and it looks great), the drama CD project, the art books and some miscellaneous translations. We'll think about all of that once the first edition of the scanlation is done.
And some more general questions...
Could you compile a timeline for Outlaw Star? Perhaps one that compares OLS anime/manga, Future-Retro Hero Story and Angel Links.
Oh boy, that's quite an endeavour, even for big fans of the series. First of all, to those who aren't aware I should mention that Future-Retro Hero Story (Outlaw Star prequel) is already partially translated by You're Welcome Scans. Unfortunately the project was cancelled, but there's a chance it might resume soon. (I'll say no more as nothing is concrete yet.) Anyhow, give it a read as it's pretty fun.
So as said, FRHS is the prequel, and Angel Links is a spin-off sequel. Things get a bit confusing. The Outlaw Star manga is very different to the anime. I'm not just talking about the manga having a darker theme, but you can expect a lot of surprises as there are so many differences and things happen in different orders. The Outlaw Star anime is very, very much an adaptation of the manga. They're both different entities, and Future-Retro Hero Story branches out into both of these since the anime has plenty of elements from FRHS, such as the Tenrei wizards who are FRHS characters. Angel Links on the other hand is pretty much exclusive to the anime universe, but there's also an Angel Links manga which I believe is based on the anime. So, we have a timeline that branches out into different universes and we also have to correlate manga progression with anime progression. A full timeline is something I will do for Outlaw World when I better understand how the manga plays out.
What would you say is the most interesting/esoteric piece of OLS lore/history you've uncovered thus far?
That's actually a tough one. I have a lot of Outlaw Star books, or books that feature Outlaw Star content. I do enjoy learning about "what may have been", with the obvious example being Sword of Wind. There's also plenty to learn from material like concept art or the art books. But more than that, I enjoy the Toward Stars universe itself and how Takehiko Ito envisaged it. He wanted a setting that was mostly influenced by Chinese culture but also with western elements here and there. He's a man with quite an imagination. Outlaw Star got me reading about ley lines, geomancy, Chinese history and the mythological references he added to his universe.
With only one season and a short manga, a lot of his ideas were lost in translation and ended up in a creative hodgepodge. But that's not an entirely bad thing. What I love about the Toward Stars universe is how it leaves a lot to the imagination, or you sometimes end up learning something new when you research the different references in the show or the manga. For example, did you know that Horus (name of Hilda's ship) was a sky god in Egyptian mythology? How about that Horus actually has a statue of Venus underneath it in the manga? You know the other name for the planet Venus? Morning Star... the name of Takehiko Ito's former studio. Coincidence? Maybe.
How many people worked on the OLS manga? Did Ito have assistants like in Bakuman?
To my knowledge, not many mangaka work alone. I might have a better answer to this once I have a translation of a book I have that outlines Takehiko Ito's manga process and the methods he used. He had a studio and I'm pretty sure it wasn't a one-man job. I don't know how many people worked at Morning Star, though.
Will we ever see Aisha x Melfina?
Only in the doujinshi!
What are some pieces of media that OLS draws inspiration from? Is that known or has Ito ever mentioned that in an interview?
He's a fan of Star Wars and other sci-fi, and as I said he's shown a keen interest in mythology, history, etc. We're still looking into translating interviews, but there's one you can find on YouTube.
What were OLS manga sales like? Anime sales?
I'd conclude that the manga didn't sell so well as it was cancelled, but Takehiko Ito also had other projects to work on like Angel Links, so it's hard to say. It sold well enough for Ito to make a lot of books/doujinshi. I think FRHS did better. The OLS anime was far more successful in the west.
Do you feel that OLS holds up today, objectively speaking?
It's my favourite series, maybe even my favourite manga (reading as we're translating, so I can't give a full verdict yet), buuut... no. Outlaw Star is amazing but it's a product of its time and I think it's more likely to appeal to older audiences who experienced the trends of the '80s and particularly the '90s. I've said this before, but back then I believe people were happier and the entertainment industries were in a better state. Video game technology was rapidly changing, animation was booming, and the theme of chasing your dreams was much more prevalent. The manga does have this, but Sunrise more so capitalised on it in the anime adaptation and it worked. "A boy has the right to dream" is a line we're all too familiar with, but anime is so different nowadays. This is why I'm not sure a reboot would work at all. Young people want different things. At the risk of sounding like an old man, I bet if I were to compile a list of anime genres there'd be far more with pessimistic themes than those decades ago. Attitudes have changed.
Sorry, that was a huge essay, but if you know me you'll know I'd get carried away by an Outlaw Star Q&A. Even if you didn't read all of that, I hope this post will generate new interest in the manga scanlation. Expect updates in the near future.