by Dan Bednarski / MarioKnight, 12/30/2013
Hello everyone! It’s hard to believe that with all my time here, that this is actually my first editorial for Miss Dream. With 2014 only days away as of this typing, I want to take a moment to reflect on everything that was accomplished here in 2013, and taking this chance to talk about more of things that happen behind the scenes that I really can’t touch upon in great detail during my weekly update postings. I went through each update for the year to compile a list of everything that was posted, and it’s amazing the amount of content we were able to post throughout the year. Even more amazing is that for all of the weeks, only 3 weeks (maybe 4) didn’t have any updates at all! It’s funny, as throughout the year, Elly and I would constantly feel behind and unaccomplished. Seeing this list certainly made us feel otherwise. It’s certainly been quite the journey.
In the tail end of 2012, many things had been implemented or changed to allow for 2013 to become the explosive year that happened. On the outside, the site became easier on the eyes with a better design in place. The back-end saw a massive organizational restructure, and I had successfully set Deimos up to seed torrents. Thankfully, this went from me being crazy in a lull of time to an absolute necessity in order to handle what was in store for 2013. If I had been told how much was going to happen here in 2013, I wouldn’t have believed that we would have done as much as we did.
The Cherry Project by Naoko Takeuchi
What We Accomplished
To run down, this year we posted nearly all of the Nakayoshi and other related magazines that are on Miss Dream. The Nakayoshi project has been certainly one of the biggest in terms of scope and one that I would like to thank our anonymous donor for. Like us, this individual wanted to have high-quality scans of each individual Sailor Moon (and others of Naoko Takeuchi works) chapter as they were posted in Nakayoshi (and other similar) magazines. I forgot how it got started with them, but it was a perfect pairing. Our donor had the finances to buy the books, and we had the ability to search, obtain, scan, and process them. It has been a very big wi all around, becoming so successful that I had to start Nakayoshi Rush in May, posting no less than five issues a week! We have given extra attention to those individual scans which is why they are not up yet. These scans have been done manually as opposed to the auto-feed scanner that we use for the entire magazines. Thanks to our donor’s backing and Elly’s drive to search out these magazines anywhere and everywhere, this project has been a massive success. What has started as “this would be cool if we could find these” has grown to us only being three issues away from obtaining all of Naoko Takeuchi’s work as published in Nakayoshi!
Speaking of obtaining the works of Naoko Takeuchi, we also completed other milestones regarding her stories. On Miss Dream, we have raw scans of every book that she was involved in creating! We also finished translating all of her manga works! The winter months saw us release The Cherry Project in its entirety. In the spring, we had completed all of PQ Angels and Love Witch. Toki Meca would have its Nakayoshi-only chapters complete in August, including its prequel that was printed years before the actual story!
Other translated material posted through summer 2013 includes the 1998 Declaration of Rehabilitation by Naoko Takeuchi and Yoshihiro Togashi, videos in the form of the Sega Saturn cut scenes, the PGSM mini-dramas and screencaps, and the musical Sailor Moon Shin Kaguya Shima Densetsu Kaiteiban MARINAMOON FINAL!
Sailor Moon on the cover of Nakayoshi magazine
Sailor Moon Image Scan Additions
This year, we became a raws powerhouse like never seen before. We went from having the most common releases with some nifty extras scanned and posted between Japanese and North American releases, to having multiple portals of the two regions, posting a great number of Sailor Moon doujinshi, and we added German official releases to the mix! For North American releases, we completed Chix Comics releases, Smile magazines that contained Sailor Moon, a number of magazines that featured Sailor Moon in some way or form (thanks to staff member Pixeluna who joined us this year!), licensed books we found by chance, the card game and role playing books (thanks to staff member CyborgArmGun who also joined us this year), and other assorted merchandise. The Japanese section grew a lot as well, even taking Nakayoshi postings out of the mix. Various magazines with Sailor Moon content were added, PGSM scripts were found and posted, as were books of the live-action show, and a musical pamphlet section would begin as well.
A collection of Japanese Sailor Moon doujinshi (donated to us by another donor who wishes to remain anonymous) was also posted. We were able to scan the entirety of the German Sailor Fanbuch series of books.
This segment of time also saw us begin to utilize bulk download torrents. In the spring, we put together batches of sections that were complete together. In my infinite wisdom, I did not have the foresight to spread out the posting of these torrents or capping overall upload speed, shortly throwing flags in the network until I put this cap in place. Oops. ^^;;; PGSM was finally given a bulk torrent download with the completion of the version 2 files.
Another big accomplishment was staff member Misty continuing and completing the error and comparison guides for the Kodansha Comics USA manga releases, with the last one being posted last week.
Elly also made special pages compiling information for both Naoko Takeuchi and her editor/manager, Fumio “Osabu” Osano. Despite the international love for Sailor Moon, not much was publicly known about the creator of the series or the editor in chief at Nakayoshi who was responsible for so much of its success, and since Elly works for Fumio Osano, she wanted to correct this gap and get information out there about the two of them :)
Miss Dream’s Sailor Moon 20th Anniversary Media Campaign
Sailor Moon 20th Anniversary Gashapon
Early in the summer, Japan started to announce and release a ton of new Sailor Moon merchandise, on top of announcing the first major Sailor Moon production in a decade in the form of a new musical, Sailor Moon: La Reconquista. As news came from both of these things, we were translating information as fast as it was being released. Thanks to our relationship with Osano Fumio as his translators, we were given slight head starts before some announcements were made! Our news postings were even cited by news-specific sites such as ANN and Crunchyroll, which was an honor! We did keep on top of everything with the new musical, and our Sailor Moon La Reconquista page features translations of literally EVERY interview, advertisement, and video related to the musical.
If this wasn’t enough, it was announced that NicoNico Douga was going to do another Sailor Moon talk show event. After the twitter live translation we did for the 2012 event (and me accidentally shutting off the network card on the server for a half an hour back then trying to upgrade things =P ), we wanted to do much more. Pixeluna had already been helping out with various site programming, and she had put together a wonderful setup to make this event as interactive as we could. We would end up streaming the even live from my laptop for all to see as things happen, with a chatroom and a twitter app updating every time we tweeted a translation. This event led to the single most busiest point that Miss Dream has ever had. Even though this was really early on a Sunday morning for the states (4AM or earlier pending time zone), if I recall correctly, we had around 4,000 visits on that day alone. More impressive is that the initial hour of the event almost reached 1,000. A server overload sadly prevented this from occurring. Thankfully, literally the second someone reported site issues, I was able to get to my office in a record 5 minutes and have things back in control within three minutes of my arrival. All in all, it was one hell of an experience. James was able to blitz making the fansub of the event, which was available for download within about 12 hours or so!
This would not be the only event where we had this setup, as we did close to the same with the first God of Backstage interview, as well as the Animelo Summer Live 2013 which would show us two of the songs from Sailor Moon: La Reconquista for the very first time! These were translated swiftly thanks to the help of staff member Ainomessage, with fansubbed videos of the songs available very shortly following each performance. Because there was an interview between the songs, I think the first song translation was actually posted before or during the second song performance! The event contained many more franchises and performances, which I let my laptop stream for those interested as I slept.
Miss Dream Takes On Sailor Moon: La Reconquista
Sailor Moon: La Reconquista.
Sailor Moon: La Reconquista was set to have a few performances streamed live on NicoNico Douga’s premium feature. In the days leading up to the first streamed performance, we had been able to establish a method to view it here in the states thanks to the generosity and support of ainomessage.The translation work was split between Elly, Izam, and James, while I was preparing the dedicated Sailor Moon: La Reconquista page and final batch of translated material for posting. Elly came up with the idea of making a soundtrack of the songs, and I went to work on timing each song. At that point, only the first few songs had been translated, and I certainly wasn’t going to get help finding times of when each song started and ended. The pamphlet thankfully had the song listing which was a big help for me. We were able to get a lot of content prepared and posted to get y’all even more excited for the performance, posted just a couple minutes past midnight on Sunday night. Time from the start of the performance to the availability of our fansub: 44 hours. That was amazing. We also did the other performances and an updated soundtrack from the final event in an ultimate pack which was completed about a month later.
This massive event would test Deimos like never before. I had taken precautions into place to help account for this, however I apparently did not do enough. Due to actually causing connection issues for an entire switch, I was forced to disable direct downloads for a few days. By that point, you could download the whole performance in literally three minutes from a torrent at least since there were so many seeds. I ended up implementing a method to limit connections and speed for direct downloads. I hated having to do that, however it was necessary to keep my server from no longer being hosted. Fun fact, due to the precautions previously mentioned, the Sailor Moon: La Reconquista page itself never appeared offline, even for the 30 minutes where the ethernet cord was unplugged. CloudFlare is full of win for this reason, and I highly recommend their services.
Improvements to Miss Dream’s Site Functionality
Miss Dream Galleries Come Back Thanks to Coppermine!
There has been some fun programming added to Miss Dream in 2013 as well. With Pixeluna around with her knowledge and expertise, both better URL organization and a new plugin was born. Both the scanlated and raw doujinshi pages are running this new code, making everything sortable and easily found. The ability to download from these sections is available outside of the pages, keeping the gallery pages available for those who would still like to use them. Speaking of galleries, what a rollercoaster year this was for them. Elly had noticed some performance degradation with the NextGEN Gallery plugin we were using to power our galleries early in the year, in which I was able to give some band-aids to allow her to still work until I could do something more intense. Well, in early August, they released a massive update to the plugin. It was certainly a lot cleaner looking and seemed to have more functionality in the backend, however this is where the kind words end. This update made the plugin literally a site-killer. I rolled back to the previous version to keep the site functional. Apparently someone at this point saw that an update was pending for a plugin and thought it would be a good idea to update it even though I was very vocal essentially everywhere about how the new version was horrible. If you want to see me pissed off, doing something like that which causes the server to crash with less than 2 weeks away from achieving a year of uptime is a good way to do this. I still get a bit angry when I’m reminded of that night. By this point, we hit a wall, since my band-aids were no longer good enough to process new galleries. However, I couldn’t upgrade where importing appeared to work. I had to shutdown all of the galleries. NextGEN quickly realized how badly this new version was NOT ready to roll out live, as it was causing issues all around. We only needed it for the most basic functions, but it appears that there’s an invisible line of how much you can have in that table before MySQL queries just hang for no reason, and don’t complete until a timeout error comes up. In hopes to expedite the few concerns I had with it, I bought Pro. However my detailed descriptions of issues have still gone unanswered to this day, as I look at the changelog when new versions are released. I obviously canceled this and got my money back within a month. It’s a great plugin, don’t get me wrong, but it’s clearly not ready for high-usage sites.
I spent at least a month of free time dedicated to coming up with a solution. I am really proud of the final product, where I’m using Coppermine Photo Gallery on a separate sub-domain to power a database and thumbnail generation, and my own written code to pull the few values I need from that database and get just the images. One staff member from Coppermine was able to whip up a quick solution which made gallery importing much easier within a few days, which was awesome. I suppose I could code a plugin for others who might want to do something similar (like I did with phpBB almost a decade ago following the SMU CMS completion), however I just don’t have the time to support so many people with that. I am really happy with how that turned out, it was an intense weekend redoing every gallery, but well worth it.
Our VPS backbone, “Lady Mars”
Much like the tail end of 2012 setup 2013, December 2013 is setting up for 2014 and beyond. This time last year, I was barely finding use for one of the hard drives in Deimos. Not long after writing this, I will be ordering a fourth drive for the server. The need for it has become apparent. Two other servers have been made for different purposes to help out the load. Over the summer, a laptop has been purposed to act as a file server within our house and set to synchronize with folders within Deimos. That has been named Phobos, to coincide with both the theme and that a decade ago, I ran a server out of my house with the same name for a few years. To lessen the strain on Deimos, a VPS was created named Mars just less than a couple weeks prior to this typing. This VPS now hosts the Miss Dream site and databases, so Deimos can focus on the sub-domains that hold all of the downloads and gallery pictures. The name Mars was given to round out the trio. Deimos and Phobos are supplemental to Mars, which is the case with the servers and Miss Dream. The trio of servers will let us prepare and host content with much more effectiveness and even better stability than before. I am very excited about this new setup. I’m just about done tweaking Mars up, and it has been working wonderfully so far.
I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t take this time to share some fun stats that really show just how massive Miss Dream is. As of this typing, Coppermine states that our galleries contain 143,242 files in 915 albums! In terms of filessize, the gallery sub-domain is a whopping 84GB in space! The download sub-domain which contains all of our translated work is surprisingly not much bigger, clocking in at 86GB. The raws sub-domain certainly rules all, taking up 528GB of space! This gives us a grand total of 698GB of content on Miss Dream! Factoring in site files certainly brings over 700GB here!
Miss Dream at Conventions
Some of the Miss Dream staff at Senshi Matsuri. Quite possibly our largest staff meet-up in history. ^^;
We were also involved in events outside of running the site. Late June saw a new mini-convention, Senshi Matsuri, begin in New York City. This was a day-long event to celebrate Sailor Moon and fans, where we were asked to host a panel. It was decided at some point we would have a trivia giveaway, and the attention we got was massive! We overflowed the room we were given – we easily had over 100 people packed into a tiny classroom, with over 75 entries into our raffle contest to win a set of 20th anniversary shinsoubon edition Sailor Moon manga. It was a very fun experience and nice to meet whoever we could. This convention will be expanded this coming year and we are looking forward to it!
This year’s Otakon probably had the biggest gathering of Sailor Moon fans from all over the country attending. I made my way there as always, and even successfully brought Elly with me. We took over a restaurant one evening with the sheer number of us wanting to meet up together. These were both really fun times.
DMCA Battle – Miss Dream vs. Kodansha Comics USA
This year had another fun victory that I am really proud of. As this has not been pending for many months now, I don’t mind mentioning this. We survived a DMCA from Kodansha Comics USA. In early March, an email was sent to us as well as my office, requesting a take down of our scanlations for Sailor Moon and Sailor V, linking each single chapter/act page in it. For those unaware, our scanlation was completed before they released their first volume, and had started before they even announced they had a license. Because of this, and the fact that their license only allowed them to use the images for their work, not giving them any ownership of images or any sort of previous work, I responded to them directly. In my response, I stated clearly that we were not hosting any of their work, that our translations used the Japanese books in which I cited several instances of such, and that only Kodansha Japan could submit such a request. A few days later however, they added to the ticket in my company’s system, inquiring why no action had been taken and why no response had never been received. I find that last bit funny since my entire email was actually quoted in that response. I then filled out a template to be sent through our ticket system back to them. As with the initial request, a counter-claim has a time frame in which there must be a response, in this case it was 14 days. The response to the counter would essentially be setting up court to determine which party is in the right. If no response to the counter was made, then the claim is no longer in effect and future claims can not be filed. I was willing to take the risk, since we are not hosting any of their content, they just happened to obtain a limited license which certainly did not cover previous translations, official or otherwise. I guess we will never know for sure, as they did not respond within the 14 days, or at all for that matter. Therefore, as long as their release does not appear on this site, Kodansha USA can not make any claims on our translations. I guess it is a bit of a hollow victory since it was awarded by default due to inaction, however I did follow the legal protocol, so that’s that. Victory!
Sailor Moon Perfect Edition Volume 1
2013 has certainly been a highly eventful year. It has definitely been one of the most exciting years for me, and it’s been a lot of fun being able to provide the internet with so much content since coming on the staff. Running the servers and managing this site has been wonderful. It’s been a lot of work and very stressful at times, but looking back and seeing what was accomplished really makes things worth it. I’m looking forward to what 2014 has in store for us. The new anime may or may not be looming, so I guess we’ll see how that goes and what role will be played, there’s just not any info that any plans can be made with. One thing I’m really looking forward to posting is the individual chapter scans from Nakayoshi and related magazines. Something like this has always been kind of mentioned in passing, but was never attempted. Soon, this will be fully available. I can’t wait even more for this because I manually scanned probably around 85% of these myself. Many hours have been sunk to ensure that these are the highest quality possible. There have been days where if I had off from work, I would have two scanners setup to maximize what I could accomplish in a day. A little less than a month ago, we had a scanning party where myself, Elly, and Pixeluna each had a scanner going through the chapters left as we watched Sailor Stars. A lot of time in 2013 has gone to this project, and while I’m sad it isn’t ready by year’s end, I can’t wait to see the reactions and everything that comes from these.
Speaking of scans, the Kanzenban books look glorious. Elly and I each scanned a book manually for the best quality possible, which literally took a full work day each. These scans will kick off what I’m assuming will be a very fun 2014. It’s been a fun ride, and I hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as us. Here’s to a fun 2014 on the way!