Interview: Cross Infinite World’s Charis Messier Talks COVID-19, Hitting New Digital Highs, & Major Trends

Since their launch back in 2016 Cross Infinite World stuck out due to their commitment to publishing shoujo and josei titles in a market that didn’t have too much of them. Now? Well…aside from a few works, that’s still a major focus for them. But a lot of events, alongside just general growth, has had them branching out to do new things.

In this interview with their President and Lead Translator, Charis Messier, come learn about COVID-19’s impact on the company, alongside what she’s seen change over the past couple years, some of the company’s hit titles, and what’ll be next in the future.

TheOASG: So after making sure we’ve had some sort of interview or involved you in an article since Cross Infinite World’s inception in 2016, the last time we touched base was back in 2019 about the state of the industry. So I guess simply, what’s been new over the last year and a half?

Charis Messier: Thank you for interviewing us again! We have started to pick up more series, hire more translators, and put out more books over the last year and a half. We’re hoping to steadily increase our releases as time goes on too.

In what ways did COVID-19 impact you and Cross Infinite World? 

We’ve made some pretty big changes to our release schedule during COVID-19 to give translators and the rest of our staff more time to work on things, since everyone has been affected differently. We’ve made our deadlines more flexible too so that there’s room to give extensions for staff who have health issues or needed to take care of family members. 

We have seen more than enough reports that there has been a massive boom in manga sales over this pandemic period. Light novels I imagine are also experiencing a bit of a boom too, so can you share how the company’s been doing over this period? 

While our print sales dipped a bit, digital hit new highs and has allowed us to expand. We are very grateful to everyone who has chosen to spend time reading our books during these tough times. 

Have you noticed any major trends in any way over this time period?

Isekai still remains at the top of the leaderboard as much as people complain about it! As I’m sure you’ve probably already noticed, the Villainess and Time Loop genres are also picking up traction in English too. They were already very popular in Japan, but the interest in them has picked up here too. It’s amazing how many variations you can find of the same story formula. 

Is there anything that prior to the pandemic wasn’t something that was done before but has occurred over this period that you think will be here to stay?

Zoom calls with staff are likely going to stick around. A lot of our staff already work remotely, but I do think that might become more common in other industries too. 

What’s your thoughts on where the market is at now, where we have Japanese companies choosing to enter the English market themselves?

I’m actually surprised it took them so long! It’s interesting to see which companies choose to hire a translation team and which choose to go the agency route. It will also be interesting to see what series they choose to bring over based on their own market research, versus having input from publishers here. 

As one of the publishers that’s been focused on publishing shoujo and josei titles at the start, how have you seen the market change since 2016?

It’s been amazing to see how many companies are picking up shoujo titles now after we showed there’s a market—one that was there long before we showed up, too! There has definitely been an influx of Villainess titles. The market could have never expanded this much without a dedicated fanbase. 

So primarily you’re publishing shoujo and josei works, but you did release something that is consistent with your catalog — isekai — yet falls under the shounen catalog. What can you tell us about licensing Apocalypse Bringer Mynoghra?

Shoujo and josei are our primary genres, but one of our secondary themes is picking up unique titles with strong female characters, and that’s exactly what Apocalypse Bringer Mynoghra is. Atou, the evil civilization of Mynoghra’s Hero unit, is such a strong female main character, she fit right in with what we were looking for. Also, a lot of our staff are avid strategy game players, and Apocalypse Bringer Mynoghra delivers on the strategy game elements. 

Should this lead to a few more licenses moving forward that won’t be shoujo and josei over the next couple years?

While shoujo and josei will always be our primary passion, we have been open to other genres from the beginning—Emeth and Little Princess in Fairy Forest being a few examples of that. If a title fits our wheelhouse or interests, we won’t hesitate to pick it up. We do have a couple more unique stories coming down the pipeline that we hope to surprise everyone with too. 

Seeing the number of reviews for it, what do you believe has made The Reincarnated as the Last of my Kind a title that has resonated with a lot of people?

Reincarnated as the Last of my Kind has a lot of elements that the current reader base enjoys, but it’s also a story about found family, and I believe those heartwarming elements really connected with readers, especially during these times when being with family has become more difficult because of the pandemic. 

I kinda need the backstory for Mofu Mofu. What were your initial thoughts first on its long name (Since I Was Abandoned After Reincarnating, I Will Cook With My Fluffy Friends: The Figurehead Queen Is Strongest At Her Own Pace), and then what excited you the most about bringing this over in English?

We spent probably a week trying to decide on how to translate its title! At first, we thought we should shorten it, but it started to grow on us, and we just went with it. But we did learn an important lesson through that: certain retailers have a character count for titles, and Mofu Mofu’s is way over that count…

I actually read the story during a trip to Japan for fun and fell in love with it, so I was really excited about the prospect of making a story I enjoyed so much available to fans in English! I’m glad everyone seems to be enjoying it just as much as we do!

Cross Infinite World’s newest title, Return From Death, brings in a new work from Eiko Mutsuhana — what should readers be looking forward to when this comes out next month?

Readers who have read Eiko Mutsuhana’s other work from us, Hello, I am a Witch and my Crush Wants me to Make a Love Potion!, will already know what an incredible writer she is and how engaging her couples are. Return From Death is the kind of story that makes you laugh, cry, and gasp along with the characters. It’s got everything from wand-wielding magic school lessons, time travel, and romantic tension that makes it impossible to put down the book! Definitely check it out at the end of this month! 

Can you share what’s next on tap to go from digital to print in 2021?

The following series will all be getting a print release this year:

Reincarnated as the Last of my KindReset! The Imprisoned Princess Dreams of Another ChanceAs The Villainess, I Reject These Happy-Bad Endings!

So the last manga title that Cross Infinite World’s released was Gleam back early in 2019. Is it a case where light novels became the main focus or is manga just currently on the backburner for now?

Light novels have definitely become our main focus for now, but we are still interested in publishing more manga series in the future. 

So on August 17, Cross Infinite World moved into audiobooks. Can you share your initial lineup of light novels that’ll be in audiobook format? 

We’re starting with three series. The first two are Reincarnated as The Last of My Kind and Reset! The Imprisoned Princess Dreams of Another Chance!.

The third we will be announcing a little later, but it just might be a title that we’ve talked about during this interview!

What made these titles the best to launch with? 

They are all series that appeal to wide audiences and have been best sellers for us.

Who will be doing the voices for the audiobooks? 

Cassandra Morris (Leafa in Sword Art Online, Totooria “Totori” Helmold in Atelier Totori: The Adventurer of Arland, Sothis in Fire Emblem: Three Houses) and Graham Halstead (Tomohiro Nagatsuka in A Silent Voice, Albert Pitt in Aria The Animation) have been cast to narrate Reincarnated as the Last of my KindSura Siu has been cast to narrate Reset! The Imprisoned Princess Dreams of Another Chance!

How long has the company been planning to jump into this space, and what should we know about this new endeavor?

We’ve considered audiobooks from the beginning, but didn’t want to venture into them too soon. We’re working with some great talent at Podium Audio, so everyone can look forward to really high quality audiobooks of their favorite series!

What’s surprised you the most throughout the audiobook production process?

We’ve partnered with Podium Audio for the production of the audiobooks and we were surprised by how smooth the overall process has been. It was definitely fun creating audio clips of our own on how to pronounce some of the more Japanese sounding terms in the books for the narrators to hear and practice. 

While audiobooks have long been a thing, at least for light novels it wasn’t terribly consistent across the board. Now all of a sudden we got Yen Press launching Yen Audio, One Peace Books with Shield Hero, and now your company jumping in. Is this just the natural next step as light novels continue to grow in the market?

Audiobooks have started to get more popular for light novels in Japan lately as well, so it’s definitely the natural next step as they grow in popularity in the English market as well. There is definitely a demand for it! Also, audiobook sales in general have boomed during the last year, making it an even more appealing market to tap into. 

Is this going to be a test run or do you see Cross Infinite World doing more audiobooks over the next couple years?

This is a test run for us right now, but we hope it does well enough to bring over even more series. 

So Cross Infinite World’s gone from digital only to printing select titles to now doing audiobooks — what should fans be looking out for from the company over the next few years?

Fans can look forward to a greater selection of titles from us! We have a great lineup of exciting new series to announce in the upcoming months, and hopefully more print and audiobooks to reveal as well. Most of all, we just want to thank the fans for supporting us. That means everything to a small publisher focused on niche genres! 

The post Interview: Cross Infinite World’s Charis Messier Talks COVID-19, Hitting New Digital Highs, & Major Trends appeared first on TheOASG.

Leave a Comment