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Usotoki Rhetoric Manga Release Details and Translator Interview

Date: 2022 October 09 14:07

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The good people from manga publishers One Peace Books have sent us details of their up coming manga Usotoki Rhetoric by Ritsu Miyako. This shojo manga stars the downtrodden 16-year-old Kanoko, exiled from her village for possessing a curious power - the ability to hear lies. She runs into handsome but down-on-his-luck detective Iwai Soma and together form an unexpected but dynamic duo, capable of solving the towns local mysteries. Set in the 1920's it's something a bit different and fun.

Along with the press release we were lucky enough to interview translator of the manga Molly Rabbitt.

Usotoki Rhetoric is out from October 13th 2022. You can pre-order it from, and all good booksellers.

Volume 2 is expected on the romantic February 14th 2023.

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Details as follows:

Usotoki Rhetoric

Usotoki Rhetoric. This beloved shojo title stars the downtrodden 16-year-old Kanoko, exiled from her village for possessing a curious power-the ability to hear lies. But her powers come in handy when she runs into the handsome but down-on-his-luck detective Iwai Soma. Together they form an unexpected but dynamic duo, capable of solving 1920s Tsukumoya Town's hidden mysteries.

This long-awaited series features some tear-jerking, a dash of romance, and lots of juicy mysteries in a beautifully rendered early Showa era setting of kimonos and tuxedos. Carefully translated by Molly Rabbitt, Usotoki Rhetoric appeals to fans of shojo, mystery, and historical fiction in equal numbers.

Usotoki Rhetoric will be available on October 13th 2022.

It is 1926, the first year of the Showa era. Urabe Kanoko has left her hometown after it turns against her for having the ability to hear lies when spoken. She collapses from hunger after arriving in a town called Tsukumoya, where she meets a poverty-stricken detective named Iwai Soma. Is this fate? Or something more?

For a little bit of bonus content the good people at One Peace Books helped us arrange an interview with the manga translator Molly Rabbitt.

What was it like translating Usotoki Rhetoric?

It's an active project, so I'm still working on it! It's been fun, but also touching and rewarding, as well. It's taught me some very valuable lessons, for which I'm genuinely grateful. Kanoko's journey resembles my own in many ways, and at times emotionally it's been kind of a lot to process. While I already had a working frame of reference for the era it takes place in (the Showa era, 1926), it's been cool to learn more about fashion and culture that was happening at the time, and it's clear the author has done a lot of research. I love it when authors do that! Usotoki and Momo and Manji have been my two favorite projects where a lot of research has been needed and/or done by the author, and I love stuff like that!

Was there anything difficult to translate?

There have been a few lines that have bamboozled me, but what was actually more pressing was the fact that it takes place nearly 100 years ago. At around that time, orthographical language reform at the request of the Japanese government happened in real life, resulting in sounds and characters and Chinese characters being cut from the language altogether in 1947. That's why it's difficult for me (and many more, I'm sure) and other translators to read books written before a certain time, even if those authors are considered modern (post-1860s). Thus far I've been lucky enough where I'm not getting smacked in the face with this challenge consistently, but there have been a few characters or words I've had to do a deep dive on for sure.

Did you have to do much research for the historical aspect of the manga?

I did, actually! Originally, I was thinking that the setting, a place called Tsukumoya Town, was real, but it turns out it's kind of cobbled together from a few different places, especially in the visual setting of it. There were two pages that took hours because of this at the end of volume two when the author talks about the visual influences of different places and different eras had on the manga. The good news is that I had a working frame of reference for large chunks of the late Taisho era/early Showa era years already, so I got lucky there, I think. I'm currently reading a treatise on Emperor Hirohito (the emperor during WWII), and that's helped a bit with things, as Showa was his reigning era. If anyone has any suggestions for Showa-era non-fiction books on culture and/or fashion, please feel free to tweet them at me (@usagiko)!

Do you have a favourite character?

Yes! I grew very, very attached to Kanoko because of how relatable her story is. Kanoko is driven out of her village and shunned for her abilities, and as the books progress, we find out exactly what happened. I actually cried working on that whole chapter of volume 2, because of how closely her experience has resembled my own. While I haven't been driven out of a small village, I am neurodivergent. Before the birth of people and groups that genuinely want to be of service to neurodivergent people (not autism speaks), before the birth of consistent use of IEPs in education, there was a system of, well, conditioning people to "mask" their symptoms and imitate neurotypical mannerisms and social cues. This is called "mainstreaming", and it's basically a Pavlovian conditioning process where it's all stick and no carrot. It's a very painful and long process, so these pages in volume two really reminded me of my own experiences with that. The thing that brings you joy is something that can hurt people when you're a small child, and Kanoko's chapter in volume 2 just hit me right in the chest with that truth. But just as Kanoko learns her own strengths because of her experiences and her power, I have with my own, as well.

Would you like the ability to hear lies? If so, what would you do with it?

I have the ability to tell brutal truths (thanks, neurodivergence), to the point where when I was learning Japanese, my professor got so frustrated with me he was clearly about to cry, and would tell me, "Talk AROUND the topic!". So my superpower is kind of the direct opposite of Kanoko's ability, and I know how it's hurt me in the past, just as I know how much Kanoko's ability hurts her, sometimes. However, it's given us both strength, too. That being said, no, I don't think I'd want Kanoko's ability. The price that comes with it is far too high, and we find out more about that in volume 2.

How is translating manga different than translating novels or games?

In terms of process, it doesn't differ much from novels or non-fiction, to be honest. At least, for me. Manga takes less time (and depending on the title, less brain power) to translate compared to novels and non-fiction, but the process itself is the same. I have a daily quota for pages I try to meet, and I have all the tools I need with me within reach (sound effects dictionary, phone with handwriting app dictionary, online dictionaries set up in the browser, grammar dictionaries close by). Games are a bit different, as you can go line by line, and that's usually when I try to use CAT tools (computer-assisted translation) when possible, which is great because it's like having a second brain for stuff like deep lore and glossaries. Novels and manga are very similar in that you have to work to establish the narrator, and separate the narrator from the protagonist when necessary. Luckily that hasn't been too difficult with Usotoki, but one of my Seven Seas titles, Into the Deepest, Most Unknowable Dungeon, really has been a struggle when there's two narrators, one of whom is the protagonist. You also have to be very careful and consistent about tone, once you've established it with both manga and novels, too. Games have that too, but depending on the genre (RPG, gacha game, etc), and depending on how it's being translated (are you doing it all yourself? or are you doing it with a group of translators?), tone itself doesn't always come into play if narration isn't your job.

Otaku News would like to thank One Peace Books for helping us arrange this interview and Molly Rabbitt for giving such great answers.

Usotoki Rhetoric is out from October 13th 2022. You can pre-order it from, and all good booksellers.

Source: One Peace Books
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