English translations of Japanese sci-fi novels to be sold as e-books

Translated by The Asahi Shimbun from the website of Anime Anime Japan Ltd.

English e-book translations of classic and modern Japanese sci-fi novels are available for the iPad and iPhone, the Haikasoru website announced.

Haikasoru is the science-fiction section of Viz Media, a U.S.-based company whose business includes translating and publishing Japanese manga. The electronic book versions of its translated novels are sold via the Apple Store for download to iPads and iPhones.

The first e-book titles released are “Harmony” by Project Itoh, “Slum Online” by Hiroshi Sakurazaka and “The Next Continent” by Issui Ogawa.

The English paper books are sold in the United States, Canada and Britain.

Haikasoru will release more translated titles as e-books in future. Since to date few Japanese popular novels have been translated into English, these digital versions will no doubt attract attention.

Viz Media set up the Haikasoru division to focus on translating science fiction. It aims to make top-quality Japanese sci-fi titles, from classics to works by up-and-coming writers, available to readers in the United States.

Although fewer than 20 titles have been released so far, the lineup covers a wide gamut of genres and writers, including “Yukikaze” by Chohei Kambayashi, “Brave Story” by Miyuki Miyabe, “Loups-Garous” by Natsuhiko Kyogoku and “Usurper of the Sun” by Housuke Nojiri.

Since few Japanese sci-fi works are known overseas, their publication by Haikasoru has pushed several into limelight, such as “All You Need Is Kill” by Hiroshi Sakurazaka. In April, Warner Bros. paid about $3 million (255 million yen) for a film script based on the novel and plans to turn it into a Hollywood movie.

Overseas, Japanese media content is mainly considered to be anime, manga and computer games.

But now that Japan’s sci-fi novels are being translated into English, the genre’s high quality and potential as content will become clear.

The e-books published by Haikasoru are expected to reach a wide audience, expanding the possibilities even further.

Copyright The Asahi Shimbun Company.