Meet Milena – Our manga loving, Japanese-Spanish Teacher & Translator

Are you learning Japanese to understand manga or anime in its most original form?

To know your true passion is not an easy thing, but to realise and turn that passion into reality is even harder.

👏Meet our beloved JP-ES translator Milena! Who found her life passion and has turned it into reality!!

We just interviewed this talented girl and cannot wait to share her all-inspiring story with you guys❤

Q1: Tell us about yourself!

A: My name is Milena, I’m from Argentina living in Buenos Aires. I’m a 30-year-old Fine Arts graduate, but right now I’m working as a Japanese teacher and translator, and I’m also an illustrator. I studied English in primary school and Japanese when I was a teenager. I’m very passionate about Japan and the Japanese language, but also I love art!

Milena’s drawing

Q2: Do you feel like two different persons when you speak Spanish and Japanese? Tell us about those personas?

A: Yes, I do sometimes feel like two different persons when I’m speaking Spanish and Japanese. My Spanish speaking persona is more confident and maybe more colloquial, and my Japanese speaking persona is more formal and shy. Even my tone of voice and speed changes a bit. It is very interesting.

Q3: We know you love art and are also very creative yourself. Who is your favorite Japanese artist? And why?

A: Oh well, this is hard! I have some manga artists’ that I love very much, some traditional and some contemporary. My favorite manga artists are Clamp (I love their magical worlds), Nemu Yoko (her manga style is my favorite) and Asano Inio (his mangas are so detailed and the stories are very interesting). My favorite traditional artist is Utamaro, a woodblock artist from the 18th century, mainly her woman portraits. And on a more contemporary note, I’ve been a fan of Yuko Higuchi’s illustrations for years (especially her cats!), also installation artist Chiharu Shiota and Ryuho Hamano’s calligraphy works.

Q4: How did you start your anime and manga translating career? Did anything about this work surprise you?

A: I started translating some manga I wanted to read because there were no translated versions. And then some people asked me if I could translate some short manga’s for them and that is how it all started. I wasn’t even at an advanced level of Japanese yet, so it helped me a lot to get better. What surprised me most was onomatopoeias! These words are not common in daily speech and I didn’t learn them with my teacher, so I had to do research on them and use some specific onomatopoeia dictionary. It took me a long time at first because in Spanish we don’t have that many words for sounds and emotions, some I had to translate them into English (like, “woof” or “bang”) and some I had to do a literal translation (like “smiling”, yes there is an onomatopoeia for the sound of a smile).

@milenamanzana
on instagram

Q5: Do you think your art is influenced by your knowledge of another language and culture? How?

A: Yes, definitely my art is very influenced by Japanese culture. Of course, manga influence is very notable in my art, like the eyes and the hairstyle and the colors. Also, Japanese fashion is very important in my illustrations. But I’m also influenced by the language and the traditional Japanese calligraphy, which I studied for 3 years because in some works I also add Japanese phrases in a calligraphic style.

I think all the cultures that we study when we learn a language we like, becomes somehow a part of our life unconsciously. And especially Japanese, because you can’t just learn it by studying with a book; you need to immerse yourself in the culture, watch anime and movies, read manga and literature, listen to music and do some traditional activity. This is what happened to me, and it really inspired me!

Follow Milena on Instagram (@milenamanzana) and share your thoughts or story with us in comments~

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