Cypress Catwell is a staff editor for Anime Feminist, podcaster for ChattyAF, contributing reviewer, and journalist for the Anime News Network! If you are interested in becoming an editor in the anime industry this is the Q & A for you! If not, we recommend reading on to get a glimpse of how life can be as a professional in the anime industry.
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A: Cypress, you are a staff editor for Anime Feminist, podcaster for ChattyAF,
contributing reviewer, and journalist for the Anime News Network. How do you balance your schedule?
C: This is a question I get asked a lot because I’m a bit notorious for wearing a lot of hats: I think it’s one of the things people have come to identify with me, alongside my passion for queer media and my love of City pop music. A lot of me wearing multiple hats and doing so many gigs is a holdover from when I first got into the industry and was entirely freelance: plus, I just like to do a lot of things. The way I balance it all comes down a very meticulous Google Calendar: I use Google calendars for everything, partially because my day job as a light novel editor keeps me busy, I’m autistic and have ADHD, and also because I’m human and forget. Having a regular stream of notifications has really helped me stick to deadlines and get what I need—and what I want—done. It’s how I’m able to balance it all and still budget in time for myself, which I sometimes also slap on my Google calendar, just to make sure I take lots of breaks.
Speaking candidly, I did make the choice in 2022 to step back from doing so much: namely, I stepped back from doing weekly reviews at ANN. My ability to keep up was starting to flag, largely because of private reasons, but also, because I was just doing too much. I knew something had to give: if I didn’t yield at least one place I worked, I’d be the one to give, and it wouldn’t be good for my morale. So, I made the decision to downsize and step back to doing less, but more impactful, things. Going into 2023, it’s easily been one of my best decisions. I have more energy to write the things I really want to write, and I can pour a lot more into my work at Anime Feminist and ChattyAF.
A: What was the most challenging event in your career you had to overcome? How did you overcome it?
C: Honestly, the shift from freelancer to in-house was incredibly hard, especially since I started right in the thick of year one (2020) of the pandemic. I’d just moved back from Japan in Aug. 2020, largely because of personal reasons but also, because I didn’t want to potentially get stranded in-country in a field that wasn’t a good fit for me. I decided that I’d start picking up freelancing gigs to tide me over until I got gainful employment. I’d love to say that I got that pretty quickly, but it took me until December 2021 to get a job that allowed me to make more than a few thousand in a year. A lot of my early days were sending cold emails to people: it was a lot of sending a form letter with a few tweaks, my resume, and just…crossing my fingers. Sometimes, the work was paid: a lot of times, it was paid in review copies of things, which ranged from PDFs to physical items.
Still, against all else, I kept on going because I knew if I could just demonstrate what I could do at the right place and right time, I’d land something that paid me a bit more. And ultimately, all that hard work did payoff: I started working for a publisher in December 2021, and have largely been able to step back from hustling as hard as I'd think what helped me overcome is my belief in myself: it took a lot of therapy and personal
growth, but I really learned to never give up on myself, even while expressing how anxious I was online or when I was blogging about my fear that I’d never find stability. What also, realistically, helped me overcome this was setting boundaries, which is hard when your income and stability depend on taking on gig after gig. I can’t necessarily pinpoint when, but at some point in 2021, I just hit a wall: I got really tired, my chronic fatigue caught up to me, my exhaustion became more and more, and I just had to start saying no to projects that paid too little and asked too much, or worse, asked all my time on a voluntary basis. I had to put myself first.
At this point, I was only making maybe 1k a month so saying no was really, really hard. I was at a point where I budgeted daily out of fear of never having enough, of running out of savings before another gig came through. Even with that, practicing saying no really helped me keep myself up to keep saying it once I had a job that paid a lot more. It saved me from myself, essentially.
A: Do you have any future goals or projects you are looking forward to?
C: Oh, so many! I’m working on a bunch of mature rates games, and I’m really excited about what that’ll allow future Cypress to do. Adult media is really important to me, especially with how it pertains to the LBTQAI+ community and to BIPOC creatives. I’m also getting my first chance to work with horror, which is a genre that I can’t stomach in movies but love when it comes to literature and visual novels. I can’t name a lot of things because I’m under NDA for most of the work I did in 2022 but here’s what I can say: watch my Twitter (@pixelatedlenses), my retweets, and specifically, my quote retweets. You’ll find out all the neat things I did very, very soon!
A: What is your favorite manga you have translated or proofread so far?
C: These days, I don’t proofread manga as much as I edit light novels. My favorite LN I’ve worked on, thus far, is easily Qualia the Purple, which I had the honor of serving as editor for. It’s a romp of a good time, and it really pushed my ability to understand string theory and quantum physics, two things I spent hours research just so we’d have our ducks in a row with the translation. I’m also quite proud of my work with visual novels: I’ve done a number of big budget titles, including Idea Factory International’s Cupid Parasite (I worked on Gill and Raul) and Sekai Project’s Watamari—A Match Made in Heaven Part 1. The latter is a yuri visual novel, and as a yurijin, I was especially excited to get to work on a queer piece of media. That said, I do have a manga series I think of fondly: Campfire Cooking in Another World. I had the joy of proofreading this series in 2021, and now, it’s got an anime in 2023. It’s always nice to see things I worked on, even if briefly, get a bit of a media glow-up.
A: Any advice for aspiring editors/writers?
C: My biggest piece of advice is to do as much skill training as you can. Learn not only to edit, but to copyedit and proofread. Even if you choose to specialize in one thing, it’ll help you appreciate what others can do. I am, by trade, an editor and a proofreader, but this year, I’ll be taking some copy-editing courses, just so I can become a better editor and appreciate what my publisher’s copy editors can do. My recommendation? This class on Udemy. It’s one of the best courses out there, and routinely goes on sale.
I also encourage prospective writers and editors to read, read, read. Pick up books, listen to audiobooks, engage with graphic novels, comics, and manga: it all counts and it helps you grow. Study English by reading outside your comfort zone: if you like fiction, pick up some non-fiction. If you only read romance, take a walk through a horror novel. If you like hard sci-fi, pick up some fanciful fantasy. If you’re going to go into translated and localized media specifically, then read outside your language pair as often as you can. Reading outside what your personal preferences are makes you a better writer, reader, and editor: it’s my secret for being able to be flexible when it comes to hopping genres in my day job.
A: Lastly, of course. What is your favorite anime/manga if any?
C: Super Cub: it’s just gotta be Super Cub, which is a Spring 2021 anime that’s had amazing staying power in my mind. A lot of it is because of how grounded the series is: it follows Koguma, a lonesome girl, who finds joy in sharing a new hobby with two equally lonesome girls who are still figuring out their femininity and lives. I wrote one of my most important pieces on this series in the same year, and while I’m in a very different position than when I wrote it, I think it speaks to just how deeply this anime affected me.