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The Abh Nation, formally known as NationSafugnoff, has been loyally dedicated to the Seikai universe of Hiroyuki Morioka since Janurary of 2003! Interview with Kara Stambach Print E-mail
Written by ACIDSTEALTH   
Friday, 15 September 2006
The following is an interview of Kara Stambach from TOKYOPOP, with This is the original text which has not been modified or formatted in any way. Kara Stambach is the editor for the English translation of the Seikai no Monshou (Crest of the Stars) novels. 

AnimeOnDVD Interview with Kara Stambach
Hey Kara!

I've compiled a list of 10 questions for you to answer at your leisure.  Take your time and don't worry about rushing these back to me.  Jury duty this week killed my momentum on the book, so I still have a few chapters to finish!  ^^; 

What I have read though is quite enjoyable and you guys have done a great job.  I hope it pays off!!


1)  First, please give us a quick introduction about yourself and how you came to work on the Seikai series of novels. 

Okay, let's see. My name is Kara Allison Stambach; I first started writing by experimenting with fan fiction in college. I have a BA in Film, Mythology, and Japanese, and a Masters in Fiction Writing. I love cats, motorcycles, ballroom dancing, and rollercoasters. I'm addicted to the TV shows House and Lost; my favorite authors are Hesse, Cisneros, and Yoshimoto. If you've a burning desire to learn more about me or my editing process, I have a TOKYOPOP blog here:

I moved from Baltimore, Maryland to LA to take the position of Junior Editor of Manga Novels at TOKYOPOP, Inc. in June of 2005. Crest of the Stars was therefore assigned to me the moment it became licensed.

2)  Were you a fan of this series before joining the project?  What do you like most about the story?

To be perfectly honest, I wasn't aware of its existence. I was an anime otaku of sorts, but I hadn't seen too many animated Sci-Fi series--my preference being Shojo and BL stuff--so the world of Seikai was brand new to me. The people in the office that were familiar with the property were very excited, so I immediately rented the series, read all 3 manga TOKYOPOP did, and opened a topic thread on the TOKYOPOP forums to investigate the material and fandom.

I have three things I love about the series:

1. World-building: Morioka-sensei spent such care developing an entire culture, language, political climate, progressive science . . . it reminded me of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings and Larson's Battlestar Galactica, in some ways. I was impressed with the amount of anthropological detail.

2. Characterization: It was very clear from the get-go that characters operated within the parameters of their upbringing, and the clash of their social norms only served to highlight their similarities as people. Morioka-sensei is very adept at writing strong, unique characters.

3. The fans: I've never met a more passionate, considerate, or intelligent bunch!

3)  There are some who have said that this title was arguably one of the hardest to translate out there.  How did TOKYOPOP and everyone working on this project approach such an arduous task of translating and adopting this title?  How long did the whole process take to complete?

I would agree that this is one of the most difficult projects TOKYOPOP Novels has faced to date. Sue Shambaugh was our translator. She threw her back into it and did an absolutely amazing job. I then brought on Ben Arntz as the rewriter, and even though this was his first project with us, I think Ben did a fabulous adaptation. He kept the integrity of the world and the characters, but polished the book into a succinct and understandable read. I then edited the book to get it consistent with the Manga Novel format, tweaking a bit to get the right page count, toning down any awkwardness or redundancy in the prose, working with Production on the cover and interior, etc. etc. After that, I tackled the Baronh in the Glossary and the narrative with the Fan Consultants. The entire process took about 8 months.

4)  What aspect of the adaptation are you most proud of?  On the flip side, is there anything you'd like to improve upon for future releases? 

Actually, I have two sources of immense pride.

First, being able to work for the first time ever with Fan Consultants. Daniel Bonnell, Troy Christopher Haskin, and Larry S. Moreland II read every page, offered suggestions and criticism, and spent long hours on the phone helping me go over ever single Baronh word to make sure I got the proper phonetic spelling . . . While I'm certain they would have preferred "true" Baronh, it was TOKYOPOP's decision to go with the phonetic spelling so that Sci-Fi readers who were totally new to Seikai (and perhaps to anime, manga, or light novels altogether) could enjoy Baronh as it is supposed to sound, without being confused by a lot of extraneous silent letters and foreign symbols. They were instrumental in that process. (The book does offer a pronunciation guide and a list of resources for people who are interested in learning true Baronh.) Speaking as an Editor, I loved being able to tap these self-taught experts and work together with fans to get their opinions, learn about what they love, etc. etc. I'll definitely be using Fan Consultants for other series.

Second, Production Designer Tomas Montalvo-Lagos worked on the Gaftonosh cover design and the black and white interior art on the title page and space breaks as a personal favor to me, and I think his work is amazing. It's striking, classic, and mature--certain to appeal not only to fans who recognize the Gaftonosh and Imperial insignia, but also to fans of original-English Science Fiction.

For future releases, I just want to keep on doing my best to have the highest quality product--an appealing read for English-speaking audiences that respects the original creator's vision and the fan's desires whenever possible.

5)  Will the same team be working on the remaining two Crest novels?

I'd never think of breaking up our dream-team. I simply couldn't be more satisfied with the work each of them is doing.

6)  This October TOKYOPOP is launching their Pop Fiction line of young adult books which feature a couple of the Japanese light novels like Seikai.  The Pop Fiction books will be place in the "Fiction" or "Literature" sections of bookstores, whereas Seikai will be place in graphic novels.  Why wasn't Seikai chosen to be one of the Pop Fiction launch titles as well, given the close release dates?

Pop Fiction is a series of Young Adult novels translated from around the globe. More information about what they entail can be found at the Pop Fiction website:

Crest of the Stars is everything I could want in a Manga Novel. It is an intricate Japanese light novel that has an anime, a manga, and a truly Sci-Fi feel; it doesn't really deal all that much with teen issues or Young Adult topics, it doesn't really compare to other books on the YA shelves, like Harry Potter or Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. It is an awesome piece of Science Fiction with strong manga and anime ties, and it absolutely belongs in the Manga or the Sci-Fi section, depending on the bookstore, because that's where its fans shop.

7)  Do you believe that this book has a broader appeal to sci-fi readers rather than just the manga/anime otaku market?  Are there any plans to get this book reviewed by more prominent sci-fi magazines and/or websites (like Kirkus, Locus,, etc.)??

Absolutely. I think Sci-Fi fans would really enjoy this series, and I would eagerly welcome reviews from the Sci-Fi mainstream. 


8)  Many of the fans from the forums are hoping for hardcover editions of the book?  Any plans for a hardcover release like TOKYOPOP has done with other titles in the past? 

At this point in time there are no plans to have hardcover Manga Novels. If Crest of the Stars novels sell like crazy, we could see about combining volumes 1-3 in a special hardcover edition someday, but at this stage of the game, it's far too early to tell. 

9)  Are there any other Japanese light novel titles that you are scheduled (without violating any NDA's of course) or would like to work on in the future?  

Yes. But if I told you about that, I'd have to kill you, so stay tuned! 

10)  Finally, the big question on everyone's mind.  Will we see the following Seikai no Senki (Banner of the Stars) novels released by TOKYOPOP after Crest finishes? 

TOKYOPOP has only licensed Crest of the Stars. Again, if sales reflect that people just can't get enough of Seikai novels, we will absolutely look into Banner of the Stars, but it's, again, still far too early to tell.


Thanks for the opportunity to answer your questions. I'm honored to speak with you.


Kara Stambach 

Interview by 

Last Updated ( Friday, 16 November 2007 )

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