I wanted to blog something lighter after my massive Wedding post, so I thought I'd point out a few mistakes in some of Dark Horse's Samurai Manga.
As much as I appreciate Blade of the Immortal, I'm still waiting (perhaps in vain) for the day that they'll publish larger-sized unflipped versions of the series. Part of the reason is that I feel reluctant to pay top dollar for some of the thinner volumes, such as On Silent Wings (Vols. 4-5), and Beasts (Vol. 11). Not to mention that they changed the title of the 12th Volume from Fall Frost to the more cumbersome Autumn Frost. (This was similar to how they changed the last volume of Lone Wolf & Cub from Falling Tree to The Lotus Throne).
When I compared the Dark Horse version to the French translations, there were two things that stuck out for me. One was that the French version was more faithful to the Japanese version. The other was how subtle lines were clearer in their printing. The major sticking point is where Rin confronts her Father's killer, Kuroi and he turns around. In the Dark Horse translation, the whole page was flipped, which was very jarring on the opposite page. Here's the French version:
However, sometimes the French version was too faithful, which led to panels like this:
If read from left to right, you've got a sword swing, Kuroi spouting blood, a speech from Manji and swords sticking out of Kuroi's body. (Kuroi's mouth is surprisingly blood-free) As a result, you've got pages where you read dialogue one way, and pages where the panels are read another way. This was corrected in future editions, but it's an example of how faithfulness and comprehension of the Manga market wasn't easily understandable back then.
The other example I wanted to point out was where Manji notices a tree branch moving after a spy had leapt off it:
But in the Dark Horse version, you can barely see the motion lines evident:
Until they correct those things, I'll hold off buying my copies of BoTI until later. Sadly, they may never publish omnibus collections. At least not until Hiroaki Samura's finished the damned thing. Every year or so, he claims that he's currently producing what'll be "the last arc", only for it to be a setup for the next finishing arc. But I'm not complaining. The major reason may be that if they release it unflipped, there'll have to be a lot of dialogue that'll have to be retweaked and moved around. The best example I can think of is this page; where after Manji & Magatsu confront each other again, the houseservant walked in, creating an uncomfortable situation.
Originally, she asked if they were trying to kill the mosquito. When they confirmed, the next page had her saying, "With swords? You guys are both nuts!" It's not hard to see why they would prefer their version.
However, there were times where Dark Horse accidently printed some pages unflipped. Here's a few silent pages from the sixth book of Samurai Executioner:
If you read the images backwards one page at a time, it's obvious that the prisoner for some reason is planting a flower in front of the execution hole. Otherwise, it looks like he's planting a flower, only to dig it up again later. The biggest clue that something wasn't kosher was when executioner Asemon walked through the gates and the guards politely bowed to him.
Part of the reason for the confusion might be that there were no word balloons to indicate direction. A bigger reason could be that the flipped version shows the man's head turned in the same direction as the unflipped pages.
Of course, even dialogue balloons can have silly little mistakes. Here's an example from the first volume of Lone Wolf & Cub where, like every other manly protagonist, he lets himself get beaten up to prove how tough he is. Notice anything out of the ordinary?
I'll give the answer here - the balloon where the sadist is knocking Ogami Itto around is a punching star balloon, not a shouting balloon. The results should look more like this:
I pointed these mistakes out to Dark Horse headquarters two years ago, and they said it would be corrected in future printings. I have no idea if they've done so, since everything's shrinkwrapped. Maybe somebody out there could check?