Who are we?
We are the translators and publishers of the Math Girls series of novels. The three of us, Tony Gonzalez, Alexander O. Smith, and Joseph Reeder, started a company named Bento Books so we could translate Japanese books and manga that we’re interested in, but that would probably slip between the cracks at a major publishing house.
Collectively we’ve been involved with many high profile translations in the past, from video games to novels, and of course comics. Here are just a few:
- The Devotion of Suspect X (Keigo Higashino)
- Ico (Miyuki Miyabe)
- Twelve Kingdoms (Fuyumi Ono)
- Dr. Slump (Akira Toriyama)
- Dawn of the Arcana (Rei Toma)
- Muhyo & Roji’s Bureau of Supernatural Investigation (Toshiyuki Nishi)
- Final Fantasy X, XI, and XII
- Vagrant Story
- Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney
For Math Girls, we’re also very happy to have the direct involvement of the original author, Hiroshi Yuki, to make sure we stay true to his vision.
What are we doing?
We have the first Math Girls novel out the door, and the second on the way, so naturally we want to bring out the Math Girls comics, too. Unfortunately, there are a lot more upfront costs for a comic than a novel, so we’re turning to you on Kickstarter to help this comic see the light of day. Specifically, we’re raising money to publish the first of two volumes of the Math Girls comic (which is based on the first book). If all goes well, the second volume will follow.
Where will the money go?
The translation is done, and we’re polishing it up now--which is where things get expensive. We still need to:
1) Create high-quality scans and touchup of the original artwork.
(We can’t do this ourselves.)
2) Pay for professional lettering, including redrawing handwritten mathematics and background sound effects.
Taking all of this...
And moving it into this...
...is a lot of work. (^-^;
3) Pay for cover design and layout.
Obviously the current cover can’t be used “as is”...
4) Have the comics printed (including 4 color pages per volume, like the original)
You wouldn’t want to lose this, would you?
5) Cover shipping and other incidental expensesSo, to summarize, when you pledge, you’ll be helping to pay for: Scans and touch-up, professional lettering, cover design, color printing, and shipping. Not to mention helping to bring this comic to an audience that would otherwise not get to experience it!
What do you get and when do you get it?
We’re aiming to release the comic around August of this year.With any level pledge, you’ll have the knowledge that you’ve helped bring math enlightenment to the English-speaking world as soon as you pledge.
For pledges that include a printed copy of the comic, you’ll be receiving a limited edition, offset printing, which allows us to retain the initial color pages found in the Japanese comic. The print quality should also be much better than later editions, which will be print-on-demand and black and white only.
Higher level pledges include perks like extra copies, hard cover copies of the Math Girls novel, T-shirts, and autographs. The Math Girls novels will ship as soon as the project is funded. Autographed copies of the comic will require a few additional weeks after the project is completed to get to you while we ship them back and forth from Japan. You can read the PDF in the meantime. If your pledge includes one of Mika Hisaka’s drawings, we’re at the mercy of her schedule, but we’ll get them to you as soon as we can.
So what are these Math Girls books anyway?
Hiroshi Yuki is a popular Japanese author of mostly technical books dealing with mathematics, computer programming, and cryptography. In January 2004, he posted a vignette called “Miruka” on his web site (www.hyuki.com). The story was a quirky bit of conversation between two high school students, the first “math girl” Miruka showing an unnamed narrator how to derive the double angle formulas from vector rotations.
That post generated a lot of email from readers, so he began sporadically creating more of them.
The second math girl, Tetra, made her first appearance in an October 2005 post titled “Miruka and the Fibonacci Numbers.” She wasn’t named there, just presented as a younger classmate, but she immediately developed a fan base. Prompted by requests from readers, in November 2005 Yuki-san posted a story called “Tetra and the Arithmetic-Geometric Mean Inequality” with Tetra as the main character.
In 2007 (by a curious twist of fate, the 300th anniversary of Euler’s birth) the various stories were combined into the first Math Girls novel. Yuki-san and his editors at Softbank Creative were surprised at how popular a novel with so much math could be. Its readers included everyone from middle school students to university professors.Readers begged for a sequel, so in 2008 Softbank published Math Girls: Fermat’s Last Theorem. Since then new Math Girls novels have been released almost yearly, with Math Girls: Godel’s Incompleteness Theorems coming out in 2009, Math Girls: Randomized Algorithms in 2011, and Math Girls: Galois Theory scheduled for release in May 2012. The first three books have been adapted to manga format, each featuring a different manga artist.Math Girls has developed an extensive fan base in Japan and other parts of Asia. The first Math Girls novel was soon translated into Korean and Chinese. There are Math Girls-inspired songs and animations on the popular video sharing site Nico-Nico Douga, as well as fan art of the characters scattered across the web.
There's even videos of a very dedicated fan creating hand-carved seals of two of the main characters, Miruka:
Math Girls became available in English with the 2011 release of Math Girls by Bento Books (http://bentobooks.com). Novels where the bulk of the content is serious mathematics don’t tend to be huge sellers in Western markets, but Bento Books’ strategy of in-house translation combined with print-on-demand publishing technology cut production costs to the bone, allowing us to take a chance with this title.
And we’re glad we did! Math Girls has received not only rave reviews from readers on amazon.com, but also positive reviews from PRI’s “The World”, the Mathematical Association of America’s “Reviews” column on MathDL, and (coming soon!) in Notices of the American Mathematical Society.
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