Miss Dream Year In Review – 2014

by Dan Bednarski / MarioKnight, 12/31/2014

Hello everyone! It’s hard to believe, but another year has passed! It has been a hell of a year, with so much going on here at Miss Dream and in the Sailor Moon world in general. Just as I did last year, I have gone through anything and everything that we’ve done this past year. From expanding our scan collection, to keeping up with all the new happenings, to a server change, and so much more, 2014 has been a very busy year. We have had updates of some variety for the majority of the weeks, doing our best to bring everyone more content as often as we can.

We ended 2013 putting together groundwork for 2014. The expansion of Deimos to include Phobos and Mars had been completed, broken pieces of old software were fixed with a custom solution for the galleries, and limits were configured in such a way to not break networks another time. Though I have to admit, doing so was impressive. With another release of the manga looming, as well as the possibility of the new anime, we had to be prepared to ensure the stability of the site to focus on everything coming our way.

Raw Scan Bonanza

Sailor Moon Kanzenban Volume 1
Sailor Moon Perfect Edition
Volume 1

2014 started off with two big additions to our raws section. December 2013 saw the start of the perfect edition (kanzenban) Sailor Moon manga release in Japan. This release saw new cover art, bigger pages, and updated artwork. We would start putting up our scans in January 2014, staying a month behind the release dates in Japan. Unlike most books since we had begun use of the auto-feed scanner in 2012, with this release, Elly and I scanned each page manually with a flatbed scanner. We wanted to ensure the absolute best quality that could be provided at 600 DPI. The results were amazing, both in how they look as well as file size. Normally, we would do a bulk torrent after the end of a release set, however it was clear to see that this would not be sufficient. Each volume required its own torrent, as they were all at least a couple of gigabytes in size, upwards of six or seven in the later volumes! With each month, two volumes were released, where we would post our scans of the previous month’s. The first half of 2014 saw all ten Sailor Moon volumes and both Sailor V volumes shared with everyone, saving people from having to open theirs to enjoy it.

Sailor Moon / Naoko Takeuchi Individual Scan Archive
Sailor Moon / Naoko Takeuchi
Individual Scan Archive

The second big addition to our raws section was a culmination of a year and a half of work, our massive individual chapter scan archive. As many of you likely know, Sailor Moon was originally published in the monthly Nakayoshi magazine in Japan before being published into books. We had begun our Nakayoshi section in 2012 for the purpose of showing the original publishings. While doing so, we had decided to scan entire magazines in which brought upon the Nakayoshi section. For the individual chapters, we had opted to scan then manually via the flatbed for better quality. We did the same for other works of Naoko Takeuchi in Nakayoshi, Nakayoshi Deluxe, RunRun, and other similar magazines. In January 2014, we were finally ready to post this massive archive online. As of this typing, nearly all of Sailor Moon’s chapters are available in this format, a number of Sailor V’s chapters, as well as the majority of Naoko Takeuchi’s work, including stories that did not get published into separate books (PQ Angels, Love Witch, and others). We are very proud to be able to share this section with all of you, so Sailor Moon and other works can be enjoyed in their actual, original format, previously believed to be lost in time.

Our raws expansion did not end there. We continued to scan issues of Nakayoshi, Nakayoshi Deluxe, and RunRun. We also started to collect and scan issues of other Japanese publications, posting older issues of Animage, Animedia, Out Entertainment, and various others. It is our goal to share as much Sailor Moon related media as we possibly can, and we are happy to do just that. Best of all, we are proud to expand this to other languages outside of just Japanese and English. While we did expand our scans of English magazines and articles, we have also added three more languages in our raws section with French, Spanish, and Chinese products! Our German section was also expanded, and the new Chinese section has two sections to it! And finally, we posted online four Japanese fan publications throughout the year that cover Sailor Moon to varying degrees. Hands down, the most popular of these four was the Sailor Moon 20th Anniversary Memorial Book, which is the absolutely most detailed account of every Sailor Moon media type with so much information that can’t be found anywhere else. Surprisingly, this book was one of the most downloaded items on Miss Dream in all of 2014!

Project eBook Launch and Growth

This past Spring, Anna decided to start a very lofty project: take our most popular offerings and put them in more specialized mobile formats. This technically began last year when we launched the doujinshi plugin, but it was decided to make this happen on a grander scale. With her hard work through the year, all of our scanlations are now available in multiple formats (save for one due to its irregular size, currently being tinkered with). This covers Sailor Moon, Sailor V, and Naoko Takeuchi’s other works. A number of English Sailor Moon releases from the 1990s were also made into eBooks, such as Guardians of the Order’s role playing books, the Smile novels, Scholastic books, and the Scout Guides. Prior to this, taking our downloads on the go required a bit of work. Now, you can just download the format best suited for your device and enjoy!

Sailor Moon Mayhem!

Sailor Moon Crystal
Sailor Moon Crystal

2014 was a really big year for Sailor Moon. We already went over the perfect edition manga above, but after a couple years of teasing, the new anime, Sailor Moon Crystal, started to finally happen. Just the fact that it was given a name, which we leaked prior to the official announcement, was a significant milestone after a year and a half of empty promises. Soon, more pieces were finally coming together more swiftly than before. Come July 2014, the show would finally start airing as an ONA, with an episode coming online twice a month. Elly and I would hold a livestream reaction session following the first episode, and after a month, Elly would compile an editorial summarizing the fandom’s reactions to the new anime. We created a special page for everything for Sailor Moon Crystal, including fansubbed trailers we had translated, and much more as things happen. Among these were details of Japan’s BluRay and DVD releases, with scans of the products going online not long after. As recently as this weekend, we posted a fansub of the latest trailer, and we will continue to do so. Because there is an official sub available for Sailor Moon Crystal, the decision was made to currently not translate this ourselves.

Sailor Moon Petite Etrangere
Sailor Moon Petite Etrangere

As steam was starting to pick up for Sailor Moon Crystal, a new musical, Sailor Moon: Petite Etrangere, was announced. This would continue from the previous year’s La Reconquista, retaining much of the same cast in the process. Just as we did with La Reconquista, we made a separate page to focus on everything for Petite Etrangere as details were announced, interviews happened, and more. There was a web broadcast of only the final performance, which we used to create our eventual fansub, as well as creating a collection of the songs as they were performed on stage. Because the performance was overnight Saturday going into Sunday, we were unable to repeat the amazing turnaround we had last year, however it was still completed in about a week’s time, in conjunction with working full time in that week. We were very happy to bring the latest musical available to everyone as soon as we could, and we hope that this is a sign of a trend of annual musicals.

And we can’t talk about Sailor Moon without mentioning the bombshell announcement of Viz picking up rights to the entire classic anime! Though we never formally announced any plans to translate this ourselves, certainly this announcement put the thoughts in the back of our minds to a halt. Part because a commercial release is on the way, part because this means we don’t have to. They wasted no time in not only starting the hype train, but starting a weekly posting of the show on their online network, Neon Alley, as well As Hulu. After the first few episodes were online, Elly posted an editorial of her thoughts of their translation of the first four episodes, and another following the next two. We haven’t really watched beyond that to give opinions on what they did since then, however I personally enjoyed the dub episodes they showed us at Otakon some months later. I have their first BluRay/DVD set on my desk as I type this, I’m looking forward to watching it and seeing how they’ve been doing. In any case, it is certainly exciting to have episode 67 available for the first time in North America ever as of earlier this week, a 21+ year journey to do so. Even more exciting is the official crossing of the ocean for Sailor Stars, over 18 years for that journey by the time the subtitled version starts to get posted should the schedule not change. Various specials and the movies are also coming, where we still await news of plans. Currently, Viz only has broadcast rights to the new Sailor Moon Crystal which is translated by Toei. It will be interesting to see how that may or may not change as time goes on. It’s going to be a fun ride, and we’re going to do what we can to stay on top of things.

Miss Dream on the Road

Miss Dream at Otakon
Dan, Jen, Katie,
Elly, our friend Chris
Dan visits Kodansha USA during Otakon
Dan visits Kodansha USA
during Otakon

We did more than just work on content for Miss Dream throughout the year, we did a fair amount of traveling as well. I mentioned Otakon above, which was a meeting ground for Miss Dream staff members. Elly, Jen, Katie (aka ainomessage), and myself, traveled to Baltimore for the annual convention. It was wonderful to get to spend time outside of the internet together, as well as meet many of you. With Sailor Moon’s popularity being sharply revived, it was an amazing gathering of fans, filling up one of the biggest rooms in the Baltimore Convention Center! There was also a nice dinner where Sailor Moon fans gathered and took up a good chunk of a nearby restaurant. We were able to gather a lot of promotional material to give away later in the year. Viz had events to make the experience more interactive with lots of posters and other fun merchandise, while Kodansha USA had an unstaffed table with 2015 calendars. Naturally, I posed for a picture in front of this empty booth, the timing was just too perfect to pass up given the events that went down in 2013. Much like any communication I sent to them directly back in that point in time, there was no response from them on this picture. Or maybe they tried to complain to Twitter to have it taken down and failed as is their MO. The world may never know.

Sailor Symphony Group of Fans
Sailor Symphony Group of Fans

Elly, James, and I would make multiple trips to New York City throughout the year. One visit was particularly special as it was the only performance held by the Sailor Symphony, led by iconiQ director Bobbi. Through the year, he had successfully crowd-funded all of the expenses necessary to put together the event which saw a full orchestra perform many songs from the Sailor Moon anime. The performance was simply amazing, and those who were unable to witness this should definitely check out the recording posted online. Amidst his crowd-funding campaign, Bobbi had a Sailor Week event, in which Elly and I had participated in a fun interview with him. While putting together this editorial, I learned that he announced a couple of days ago that this will be coming to Los Angeles this July! We very highly recommend that fans on the west coast who can go do so!

Other NYC trips included the three of us meeting up with Katie again for some general shenanigans, as well as a couple of run-ins with the Sailor Moon Meetup group there once or twice. Anna also made a trip over to us for a fun little vacation. It’s been great to meet more staff members in person as well as more fans, which we hope will continue!

Fifth Anniversary Celebration

This October marked the fifth anniversary of Miss Dream! We wanted to do something special for this milestone, and put together a prize package that y’all seemed to drool heavily over. While the automation I was hoping to have in place ended up failing as it went live, the response to this contest was remarkable even without it. Everyone’s responses to the topic of what had kept your love of Sailor Moon alive over the years were wonderful, and the emotion a number of them contained was completely unexpected. We took a bit of a hiatus during the weeks the contest ran to focus on that rather than content, which was certainly needed. All in all, there were about 300 entries, and one very happy winner. We’re happy that everyone enjoyed this as much as we did. It’s still hard to believe everything that we have accomplished in these past five years.

Site Improvements

When 2013 ended, it felt like things were really set in stone in regards to any server-related need. I might have still had some work when it came to Phobos at home, but at least the servers powering Miss Dream itself were put together and linked in a great setup. This would unexpectedly change in late February. I could type a lot of detail about how unhappy I was about the events of this day played out, as well as how I personally felt that the setup of the datacenter (or at least the switch in which Deimos resided) was fundamentally flawed at that point in time. I will spare all of you that, as part of the rant would make it seem like I would be whining about my previous employer where outside of that particular day I had no problems with them, and the other part would be detailing the flaws in their network/switch setup with my thoughts on. The tl;dr of that day is that Deimos’ port on the switch was reduced to 1/10 of the available bandwidth on a day where I was asked to work (and did) in which I had previously requested off (which was approved).

Phobos
Phobos before I
brought it home

It was immediately apparent that Miss Dream could not viably function with this new speed restriction. It was time to go shopping, where direct downloads were disabled and torrent seeding off of Deimos was turned off, to have at least the site itself remain functional. A week or two later, a provider was chosen, the only one who I could find that could meet our needs at a reasonable price. Because of this new monthly bill, we made the donation section much more prominent, as this server costs nearly $300/month to keep online. (Obligatory please donate to help off-set our costs for hosting, as well as help us acquire new materials to provide on the site) I would then spend the next few weeks configuring this server for our needs, and transfer everything over. Thankfully, I was able to get the speed restriction lifted for this purpose, drastically reducing the amount of time that it could have taken otherwise. In late March, everything was back to 100% status on the new server, which took on the name Deimos. As for the old server, when I left that job in early April, it came home with me. Since then, that is now Phobos, powering our needs at home and also acting as an off-site backup system.

The server migration is not the only change made behind the scenes in Miss Dream this year. The theme we had been using for the site was actually getting worse for our needs over time, in terms of how it was looking as well as its performance. Maybe the updates were working for those who didn’t touch up on it much, but this was not the case for us. Throughout the first half of the year or so, Laura had been working on building us a new theme from the ground up. This would not only have the site more visually appealing, it would also drastically increase the performance, as well as be coded in the newer responsive format, making mobile browsing so much better. This was finally launched in July, and was very well-received. She wouldn’t stop there, as over the next month or two going online in September, she would finalize new code four our lyrics section, formatting that to be much more organized on both the front and back ends.

The fun doesn’t even stop there for the year. To prepare for where the future seems to be leaning towards, I spent some time in October to be able to make the switch to fully utilize https. To spare y’all from reading boring technical details, what this means is that your browsers will now show a green lock (or equivalent for whatever browser you use) for every page within Miss Dream, including downloads. This went thankfully painlessly, with only about a few hours of downloads working sporadically. There might be a few pages that show a yellow lock (or similar) which will be resolved as I find them. I was hoping to do a massive audit of the site, however this has yet to happen. In any case, I am happy to see the improvements that have been made all year long in Miss Dream’s look and overall performance!

Fandom Services Launched

Fandom Services
Fandom Services launches!

In late 2013, we opened a page here where you could commission us to translate projects. The response and work flow this generated was better than we expected, so much in that we decided to launch a new brand separate from Miss Dream this past spring. Work would begin over the summer to put together a new site, to better streamline quotes, invoices, and file distribution to clients. We tested these functions in the late summer and fall, and finally had everything pieced together to bring it live earlier this month. Fandom Services is our new translation and digital service company. We have been happy to have had so much of your business throughout the year, and are excited to expand on this business in 2015. Please check out the site and consider hiring us to serve your translation needs!

Looking Forward

So there you have it. 2014 has been a hell of a productive year, and we hope to continue the momentum going through 2015. It’s hard to predict what might happen, as the Sailor Moon revival kicked into gears no one saw coming along with donations of materials from around the world were sent to us. However, there are goals we do hope to achieve in the new year. We already have more worldwide scans in progress to add yet another language’s translation to our archives. It was also stated in our fifth anniversary videos that we would like to get the groundwork going to be more of a digital library. It will certainly be a lot of work, but everything will be more organized and streamlined on both the front and back of the site once this can be put into place. We hope to have a scanlation of the perfect edition manga release going, it’s certainly highly requested. I apologize that this hasn’t really gotten off of the ground, between me being pretty busy to manage it and not as many people to work on it as we had when doing the shinsoubon translation. On that note, if you are good with Photoshop, please consider signing up to help get this project moving faster. I also hope to run a massive audit on the site sometime in the next few weeks before I restart school, as while I appreciate that y’all let me know when there’s issues, I don’t want anyone to see any issue. My perfectionism will be the death of me someday.

I just realized that it has been some time since I have shared some fun, hard stats. Sadly, we didn’t hit the terabyte yet, though we are coming very close at a whopping 992 GB! The raws sub-domain continues to dominate with 745 GB. What I didn’t expect though I probably shouldn’t be as surprised, is that the gallery sub-domain uses a bit more than the downloads sub-domain, with them using 123 GB and 120 GB respectively. Within the galleries are 178,094 individual files spread out over 1,107 albums. Getting close to the 1,200 milestone!

Thank you to everyone for their support this past year and beyond. I am grateful to all of our staff members to make everything possible, and everyone who has donated materials and money to make it so we can still stay up and continue to expand. Thank you to all visitors for enjoying our site, as well as leaving valuable feedback we use to help improve things. It’s been a great ride, and I am really looking forward to what the future holds.

One Response to “Miss Dream Year In Review – 2014”

  1. Селена_Мун

    Обожаю этот сайт, и очень надеюсь, что однажды для всей коллекции, что тут имеется появиться страничка для торрент-файлов, где можно будет скачать все что только возможно, касательно вкусняшек. С Новым Годом и Рождеством!

    Reply

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