“Overlord” Light Novel Author Expresses Thoughts on Fan Translation

The author of Overlord light novel series, Kugane Maruyama, expressed his thoughts on the fan translation of his ongoing work after he learned of its existence.


Maruyama came to know of the fan translation after being tweeted a link to one of the side stories’ translations by a user named RainyCloud (@RainyCloud15). His following tweet reads:

@maruyama_kugane It seems that your work has been translated and uploaded to an overseas site. Isn’t it better for you to start taking measures?

Maruyama responded by expressing his disbelief and said he’ll possibly end the series in the 17th volume.

Is that for real? It feels like my will to continue writing keeps disappearing more and more. Maybe I should just get this series over with and go back to being an office worker. …Well, I guess I’ll aim for reducing one scheduled episode and finish it in the 17th volume for the time being!

Overlord is a Japanese light novel series written by Kugane Maruyama and illustrated by so-bin. A manga adaptation by Satoshi Ōshio, with art by Hugin Miyama, began serialization in Kadokawa Shoten’s manga magazine Comp Ace from November 26, 2014. The anime television series adaptation by Madhouse consists of 3 seasons with 13 episodes each, with the first season airing from July 7 to September 29, 2015.

23 thoughts on ““Overlord” Light Novel Author Expresses Thoughts on Fan Translation

  1. Seems like a bit of an overreaction for a fan translation, in a foreign country, about just a side-story, not even officially available as far Im concerned. Just a scapegoat for his whinings.

  2. I have to disagree with some parts of what user Rhaiga said.
    First of all, it’s not just only that side story that was fan-translated, as far as i know of, they are actually quite up to date with the main story also. Secondly, i think it’s a reasonable reaction to be disheartened when your works are being pirated, side story or no. Going as far as canceling a volume though, might be too harsh, which leads to what i agree with uRhaiga’s comment;

    The community that using these translation is consist of genuine fans for the series, Many of them have bought the physical copies and are eager fans waiting for the latest official translation to be released. Furthermore, with a member count of almost 60,000 people. They undoubtedly play a significant role in the show/novel’s popularity in the West, and out side of Japan in general. Many people went in there only knowing of the anime adaptation (which doesn’t do the show justice, but that’s beside the point) and were introduced to the novel only after joining the community.

    Also Maruyama-sensei had been known to express his experience with overworking and burnt-out both in his social media and the novel’s epilogue before. This is to be expected when you maintain both your day-job and have writing as a hobby. So maybe him treating this as a scapegoat for his “whinings” is not far from the truth.

    And lastly, this is just my opinion (which i’m not supposed to give), but ending your show on a sour note shouldn’t be any writer’s goal. It left a bad taste in everyone involved’s mouth and will possibly ruin the appeal for newcomers.

    1. @cryptically All entertainment media of all types will always be pirated to some degree. It may not be fair but it’s always been that way, even before the internet, and it will only continue to get easier. If an author, actor, musician, artist, game developer, composer, cinematographer, or any of the thousands of other creative jobs can’t accept that they should find new work.

      Fans who can are going to support what they like and it’s been demonstrated piracy has little effect on overall sales. This particular instance is absolutely not losing sales because the vast majority of people aren’t learning a new language to read a light novel and official translations aren’t available. Most sites even remove fan translations when official versions are released.

      If the author had any business sense he’d see this for what it is. Demand is so high for the work that people are taking the time to translate and organize their own distribution. Those are not small tasks for random strangers. Release translations simultaneously and there wouldn’t be a fan translation.

      But there would still be piracy. There will always be piracy.

      1. This is how I feel.

        The biggest reason I think fan translations are justified is English translation companies don’t even try to meet demand. Their release rate is clearly too slow and I’m fairly sure it’s on purpose. They release volumes and let them generate profits and only release the next one to boost sales of the series again. Life is short and I”m not interested in waiting a decade for them to release a series in English and demand my money for taking their sweet time.

        Work WITH fans rather than against them and you’ll get your damn money. In fact I know of a few cases where a fan translation group works with the author’s blessing. They manage to come to an agreement with the author and work with them to help bring their work to a country that might never see it otherwise.

        The last part you said is the MOST true though. Anime has already started to do this with several series being released dubbed only a few steps behind subbed release. Fan sites are still prevalent partly due to these dubbed shows not having a good enough platform.

        But still it’s a step in the right direction and you’ll see people willing to go through the trouble to pirate and fan sub anime slow down if you just give fans what they want without waiting years.

        After that it’s only those who demand they get it for free that will seek fan translations… well them and people who just hate dubs. But for novels that’s not a problem and support for fan translations WILL go down if we stop doing this bullshit of releasing maybe one volume a damn year.

    2. His ire is well founded but he can’t deny the work fan-translating has done to him, his work became world-known thanks to it, if it weren’t for it, hell I wouldn’t have known about, I have all the digital volumes that have been officially translated and the can’t be more slow. It became that well-known thanks to the fans-translating, he is denying his own fans to spread his work and became more known

      If you ask me, this is BS on his part, if it were possible I would very much like to ask for a refund for everything(not that is possible) if he isn’t joking about it.

      I know I’m repetitive in many parts but I’m seriously angry rn.

      1. Pretty sure Overlord became popular in the west because of the anime, not because of the fan translation. You can say it helped all you want, but in the end 90% of fans don’t support the official release if piracy is an option.

  3. I can see that he’s probably a burnt out author taking a chance to vent, but him being annoyed by a fan translation is justified, in my opinion.
    Once a fan translation is out, aggregate sites usually won’t take it down even if the series is licensed, and it stays on the internet forever, constantly impacting sales. Overlord is being officially translated, so this up-to-date fan translation is putting a dent in the sales of every new official release.
    Most “fans” don’t buy the official release and don’t care about the sales of the series, they’re just there to get quick entertainment, and the translators are just there to get quick internet attention by translating a popular series.

    So at the end of the day, manga and novel publishers don’t want to license series in English because of piracy, and authors hate their western “fans” because most of them are pirating when they don’t need to. But it’s totally OK as long as you’re entertained, right?

  4. Stories are a collection of philosophy and technique. To stop short of full exploration of a story is to deprive the human race of fuel for self transformation and innovation. No amount of piracy will ever outweigh the good a story does in the manner described above.

  5. Then release the official translation. He’s really disappoint the fans that bought the real copy. Does he hoping that his art will be that famous overseas if there is no one translate it for them? Tho, I read the Japanese version because I understand the LANGUAGE. He’s tired yet trying to find a scapegoat. We will purchase it if you release the official translation copy. Along the disappointment with the last season anime (S3, which was half heartedly done), and then the author suddenly whining about this? I know how hard it is to write a story, but hey… their side are the one that not released the original translation. And think about it, the fame of his name will rise. People will gladly buy his another story because it is very well made. He’s such a talented writer, has a lot of fans, his story is famous which is good but yet, seems like there is nobody tell him about this.

    1. If we’re being honest here though, the official English light novel translations are crap. Really sub par. I mean, how is it that the fan translations are so much better than the official ones? And I’m not talking by a small difference, but a big one! And I’ve read both up to volume 3, before switching over to the fan translations, because there was a huge different. I also supported the author, by purchasing the first 6 English light novels and I couldn’t wait for the others to catch up, because they’re so god damn slow. Is the translation company had any sense, they’d spend more money to translate all the native light novels much faster and with much better quality.

      Also, if he actually did some research, the author would know that the community places a huge emphasis on purchasing the LNs and other merch to support the author and their is a lot of genuine support into doing so form the community.

  6. bagus dah, tutup sampe volume 17. biar dia(maruyama) tahu kejamnya dunia internet. mikir lah caranya biar ga di translete-in sama fans dan disebar luaskan

  7. Wow, what a huge overreaction. I understand pirating might irritate an author, but Maruyama Needs to realize that it was thanks to these pirates that his light novel has gained its popularity. I agree with Hironimus, Someone needs to tell him to get out his bubble of Disillusions

    1. Overlord was hugely popular in Japan AND had an anime that was popular in Japan and overseas before anyone gave a shit about this novel translation, and yet you say that it’s popularity is solely due to pirates? It’s the classic, terrible argument people always make to defend piracy.
      Just buy the novels since they’re officially licensed. The vast majority of people who read fan translations don’t, which is why piracy is an issue.

      1. Actually you are wrong. The novel was translated by fans before the anime even came out. It was by Skythewood and they first translated the first volume in 2014. up to the 4th Novel before the anime first released, plus the wiki was around before the anime even came out. So there WAS fans who cared about the novel translation.

        Why would you buy the release by Yen press if the fan translation is superior to it? Their faster to come out and have better translation, Errors in these fan translations can easily be caught and fixed. The community works together to make sure translation is good. that doesn’t happen when it comes with official released books.

        Yen Press butchers the novels by making either change things for no reason (Demi-humans are called Subhumans, Heteromorphs are called Grotesque, and the Sorcerer kingdom is called Kingdom of Darkness, Karma is called Sense of Justice, Etc) or having Various Mistakes like Albedo calling Shalltear a bunny as an insult….which doesn’t even make sense and wasn’t even the insult she said in the original. in the original and the correct translation, she called Shalltear a Lamprey because of the Lamprey-Like mouths the True Vampires have. Brain is called Brian in their version as well. The fan translation doesn’t have this issue because like i said, Constant updates.

        if they want us to buy the books, stop butchering the source material, stop taking so long to release the books, and actually reach out and work with the fan translators. skythewood alone had 9 of the volumes with high quality translation in only 1 year before they stopped translating, Yen press took 3 years to get the first 9 of them translated and has worse translation than the Fan one. Whats their excuse for why it took so long and the reason for the poorer grammar?

        Some countries don’t allow their citizens to purchase books outside their country, and thus they pirate. With Yen press coming along and taking away their only source of reading away from them, then these people get mad. they will stop pirating if there’s an official GOOD release in their country.

        People want to read a high quality translation of Novels, Not some shoddy product a company dishes out to cash in on a popular series they acquired.

      2. Besides, There isn’t an official way to read the bonus volume internationally. its only available in japan for those who bought all three Blu-Ray Bundles of the third overlord season. how do you expect anyone else to get their hands on the bonus volume if its exclusive in one country? Pirating is the only option.

        the author should stop whining about people pirating the bonus volume and hire competent translators (Not Yen-Press, they are incompetent) so they can be released Internationally.

      3. Yes, how could I expect someone to buy some Blu-ray sets when they’ve never spent a penny on the series and just pirate everything?

        I won’t put myself on a pedestal, as I’ve pirated tons of manga that aren’t licensed, but it hurts the chances of any series that isn’t hugely popular ever getting licensed.

        To give an example, I read the Ryuuou no Oshigoto novels, which don’t have a fan translation and aren’t nearly as popular as Overlord, and yet their official releases are fast, consistent, and high quality. If I were to take a wild guess as to why, it’s probably because people actually buy them, myself included.
        I’ve read a few series from Yen Press, and their work is usually fine, but I can see why they don’t work as hard or as fast when sales are going to be garbage either way.

        After finding out that his work is being pirated (not just the bonus volume, but the whole series), and his livelihood is being impacted, the author doesn’t feel motivated to work. That seems reasonable to me, given that the official release is probably being handled entirely by the publisher, and not him.
        In his eyes, he might as well wrap up Overlord, since sales are probably slowing down anyway, and move onto another series, all while letting the money from Overlord come in.

  8. Please, do not do that. Keep writing.
    Your saga is a masterpiece, one of the few rare representatives of the fantasy genres and litrpg of the last 30 years at least. They will influence the genre for decades to come.
    Although, of course, Suzuki’s arguments about business and management are really unbearably stupid. But – it is organically inscribed in the plot.
    The authoritative opinion of a connoisseur of the genre – and at the same time a very picky and demanding reader and scientist.
    And every volume you write increases your influence on the genre and increases your profits.

    … But how do I know about the masterpiece?
    And the only reason how I even found out about its existence is the pirate sites where the translation was posted.
    Piracy is the only reason why a significant part of the world’s population can even know that there is a masterpiece – and appreciate that it is a masterpiece.
    And pirated sources are the only reason why, after reading this, we make an effort to find a source of distribution of the original and pay for the development of the project.

    Don’t be Suzuki: in fact, as the author of the work, piracy is very beneficial for you.

    Well, because of the fact of violation of translation rights, it is not worth decrease your heritage, depriving the genre of development, depriving yourself of creativity flow, losing your profit.

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