Kordo(偽の翻訳)was first a manga drawn by Sei Iwashi and lettered by Joanna Suzuki. Published by Kyoto Processed Ricepaper Concerns Press beginning in 1991, the comic was successful enough to interest TV Tokyo, which commissioned an anime series in 1993. Kordo the Series ran 197 episodes with 5 original video animations (OVAs) and remains in syndication with major Japanese satellite providers.

The series was popular enough with foreign audiences that fansubs were soon circulated with English subtitles. Exchanged at anime conventions, the bootleg tapes quickly became prized collector’s items, with even third-generation copies fetching $50-$100 par cassette. A petition to bring the series to English-speaking audiences in an official capacity garnered over 100,000 signatures–just enough for TV Tokyo to confirm that they had no plans for localization.

Occasionally, veteran fans of anime have wondered why Kordo has attracted so many fervent admirers. Its plot and storylines are typical of many “magical schoolgirl” tropes present in Japanese media, and the animation, while lush by anime standards, pales in comparison to deluxe OVAs with much more highly-regarded stories. Iwashi and Suzuki, who maintain strict control over their intellectual property and hand-drew many cels for the animation, have been silent on the matter.

Some have been so bold to suggest that Kordo owes its success to subliminal messages inserted into both the manga and anime. It’s certainly true that the animation has reportedly provoked occasional seizures and psychotic episodes, but that’s hardly unheard-of; the 1997 Pokémon episode “Dennō Senshi Porygon” (でんのうせんしポリゴン) famously caused over 600 such seizures. Skeptics point out that scarcity is a far more likely reason for the program’s success (at least overseas).

But when Iwashi and Suzuki announced a sixth OVA to debut for the series’ 25th anniversary, few could have known that the secret of the program was about to be finally, violently, revealed.

“Why do you have all the panels drawn backwards?” Rich said, examining Sadie’s artwork.

“You’re supposed to read it right to left,” she said.

Rich wrinkled his nose. “Why? That’s really confusing, not to mention counterintuitive.”

“Because it’s manga!” Sadie cried as if she’d been waiting for the question and the chance to educate its boorish originator. “Manga is written and read right to left!”

“But isn’t that because manga is Japanese and they read right to left?” Rich said, squinting as he tried to follow the flamethrower-toting faerie through the correct sequence of her adventures.

“Look at the translated ones in the library, they’re right to left too.”

“Of course not. They only translated the word bubbles and stuff,” Rich said, flipping a page and carefully examining a panel where the flamethrower faerie was suddenly tiny with stub limbs and wildly swinging a mallet. “If the whole comic was flipped it would create all kinds of problems. But you wrote in English and drew from scratch–very nicely, might I add–so it should be left to right.”

“That’s just not how manga works!” Sadie fumed.

“And your English text is left to right inside the bubbles on your right to left pages! If you really want to be authentic, shouldn’t you write the words right to left too? Or is that tfel ot thgir?” Rich could barely contain a smile at Sadie’s reaction so far.

“Give me that,” Sadie grumbled, snatching the comic back with an expression not unlike the flamethrower faerie. “Philistine.”