In 2004, Yukichi Yamamatsu, a 56 year old, technically challenged, mangaka arrives in India to translate mature mangas to Hindi and sell them. Needless to say, it was a futile attempt. Without sufficient money, without sufficient knowledge of English or Hindi, without sigmoid colon and without any concrete plan whatsoever, he steps foot in India. What happens here is documented in a manga called Indo e Baka ga Yattekita. Three years after the release of the book, Blaft Publication, an Indian publishing house in Chennai, decide to translate it to English and call it Stupid Guy Goes to India.
The author himself becomes the butt of all the jokes as the narration progresses. The observation of Yamamatsu sensei about Delhi and its inhabitants is truly remarkable. The demographic depicted in the manga are the struggling people, who try various means to make their ends meat, even if that means ripping off a foreigner. For people who have grown up in India, there are quite some skills we learn early on in life – bargaining, commutes using public transport, negotiating deals, navigating dirty roads and alleyways, using Hindi and English as de-facto means of communication and above all trying hard not to get cheated by a crook. To the protagonist and the author, these skills must be acquired. And he acquires them the hard way. Those ordeals form the humorous backbone of the narrative.
I was quite happy to see that Blaft Publication has retained the original right to left reading order of the manga. The translator, Kumar Shivasubramaniam, has done an excellent job in annotating the book thoroughly to preserve what is lost in the translation – both linguistically and culturally. The cover was changed, presumably in order to avoid any controversy that may arise from Hindu fanatics (The original cover has Ganesha on it, a Hindu deity – see below).
I have two off topic queries.
Firstly, I have no idea why Chi Daruma Kenpou is not translated in English. All I could get my hands on were the scanlations. I wish some good Samaritan publisher picks the title (and its rework Onorera Ni Tsugu). For those who wish to read it, the scanlations are really good and includes annotations to help the reader with cultural specifics.
Secondly, what happened to all those translated books? Did he carry them back to Japan?