skjam: created by djinn (Bottomless)
[personal profile] skjam posting in [community profile] scans_daily
Hi again!

Digging in my longboxes, I found one of the first few manga to make it in a legal translation to the United States. Indeed, it was part of the first wholesale translated manga importation attempts. Viz teamed up with Eclipse Comics (remember them?) to present three bi-weekly series, Kamui, Area 88, and today's offering, Mai the Psychic Girl.



Among the reasons this series was chosen for the initial launch was that it was relatively short, and Ryoichi Ikegami's art was Western-influenced, which Viz thought would go over well with the skittish general American readership. (They figured they already had the small but fanatical manga fandom by the balls, so they didn't need to cater to them.) As part of the "seamless translation" process, the pages were flipped to read left to right, then individual panels were flipped to restore handedness, and extensively retouched to allow Englishy sound effects. This resulted in what were for the time very expensive comics.

Twelve pages of thirty-eight.



We open in a misty forest, where a naked girl is running away from an unseen pursuer. (The misty bit allows the comic to keep its "safe for teens" status.) This turns out to be Mai's nightmare, waking her at 6:25 A.M.



Meanwhile, in the obviously photoreferenced Swiss Alps...



Now, one of the minions reports on the PK (psychokinesis) tests the Wisdom Alliance has been running. There's some blather about how many people took it, how they have to disguise it as part of an IQ test, etc. The bald man asks him to cut to the chase. Turns out there's only five people with enough psychic mojo to be interesting to the Wisdom Alliance.



Mai, of course, is our heroine. Turm will be her opponent for most of the story...and the other three come in very briefly at the end. The bald guy orders that advanced testing be prepared, and puts the five prospects under surveillance.

It's April in Japan, and Mai is attending Otani Junior High in Shinjuku. Her English lesson is boring, so Mai's looking out the window.



This is our first confirmation that yes, Mai really is psychic. She giggles, prompting the teacher to call on her for a question. Mai's saved by the bell, and the teacher promises to put her on the spot next time.

Outside, she walks with her two friends, the short one, Rie, and the tall one, Yumiko. Mai's father is returning from a business trip, and the other girls tease her about being a daddy's girl.



Mai mischieviously makes the ball stop for a moment, then resume after Shiroyama swings, so it's a strike. She then hustles the girls away before they can process what they saw, and suggests turning the conversation away from boys.

Yumiko notes that she didn't do well on her tests, so schoolwork is not something she wants to discuss. Rie suddenly spots that they're being followed by men who look like undercover cops. (But obviously not very competent ones.) Mai suggests the girls split up, so that they can find out if it's a particular girl that's being followed. Of course, it's Mai.



Okay, that's on a whole other level from just moving objects.

That night, Mai's at home, cooking steak, which she thinks will net her a good husband some day.





There's a missing page in the original issue where Mai takes a bath and worries that her (on-screen) breasts aren't large enough. This was restored for the collected edition. Meanwhile, her father's on the phone and it's clear that he knows Mai is a psychic and that someone is after her for it.

The next morning, after seeing Mai off to school, Mister Kuju spots a Mercedes-Benz tailing her. Once the tailing agents are out of the car, he confronts them.



The third agent compliments Mr. Kuju on his technique and asks what style it is. He's clearly a better martial artist than the first two, but also goes down. Mr. Kuju finds a business card for the Kaieda Information Service.



Twenty-five minutes later, the Wisdom Alliance's Swiss office is informed of the events.



And so it begins!



There was a collected edition, but I believe it's out of print.

Your thoughts and comments?
SKJAM!

Date: 2012-10-30 09:03 pm (UTC)
greenmask: (Default)
From: [personal profile] greenmask
I'm diggin it! Funny that Turm is so OBVIOUSLY the villain, from her profile picture.

Date: 2012-10-30 09:51 pm (UTC)
icon_uk: (Default)
From: [personal profile] icon_uk
Oh I dunno, blank-to-the-point-of-dead gazed David Perry looks like he could have been the bad guy

Date: 2012-10-30 09:53 pm (UTC)
greenmask: (Default)
From: [personal profile] greenmask
Nah, David's obviously just waiting for his hit single to land. Those lashes!

Date: 2012-10-30 10:50 pm (UTC)
leoboiko: (Default)
From: [personal profile] leoboiko
Oh, we had those in Brazil too! Mai and Kamui and Akira and an early Lone Wolf. Probably retranslations of the American editions, I suppose. Nostalgia trip. I used to love the backpack-wearing Hindu-philosophy-researching friendly large guy.

Date: 2012-10-31 01:19 am (UTC)
seralphia: (Default)
From: [personal profile] seralphia
As a German, I had a hearty laugh over the main villain's name:

"Turm Garten", literally "Tower Garden".

Date: 2012-10-31 03:35 am (UTC)
kamino_neko: Tedd from El Goonish Shive. Drawn by Dan Shive, coloured by Kamino Neko. (Default)
From: [personal profile] kamino_neko
As part of the "seamless translation" process, the pages were flipped to read left to right, then individual panels were flipped to restore handedness, and extensively retouched to allow Englishy sound effects.

Something similar was done years later when Dark Horse started translating Blade of the Immortal.

Interestingly, they've kept it up, according to Wiki... (I haven't read BotI since about '99, so I wouldn't know.)

Date: 2012-10-31 12:02 pm (UTC)
janegray: (Default)
From: [personal profile] janegray
Interesting :D

But... The dad dies, doesn't he? The parent/s always die in this type of stories :(

Date: 2012-10-31 12:04 pm (UTC)
wizardru: Hellboy (Default)
From: [personal profile] wizardru
At the time, especially when Manga wasn't something that was in every bookstore...or really ANY bookstore, other than the occasional copy of Fred Schodt's "Manga! Manga!"...this was a big deal. For many readers in the late-80s, this served as a gateway drug, despite it being a pretty expensive comic compared to the source material. It also had the advantage of coming out bi-weekly, so that you could get your fix relatively quickly (and given the highly visual storytelling, that was kind of necessary).

Looking at it now, the flipped panels and pages really do feel weird.

Date: 2012-11-01 10:13 pm (UTC)
azurite: (blue flower)
From: [personal profile] azurite
I remember reading this from the library back when Viz was first publishing their big, fat thick volumes of left-to-right manga. I guess it's the collected edition, since it has the "missing" scene you're talking about.

I finally have all three volumes! I've always enjoyed this series as it combines a lot of action with fast-paced, emotional drama and an interesting art style.

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