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Alethea & Athena
Noragami volume 12 
23rd-Mar-2016 05:32 pm
It's Review Rednesday! Tadah! And much as we would love to post our review of Noragami 12, every time we see it mentioned online (except for on our LJ and lyschan's), it's usually mentioned like this, "I'm really enjoying Noragami, but I'm behind."

That being the case, we were going to hold off on it, but the other translations we did that came out this week were Devil Survivor, which we reviewed only two weeks ago, and Chaika: The Coffin Princess, which is not on a monthly release schedule and so will have a much wider gap between reviews even if we don't post it first. So! we're going to post our Noragami 12 review, and seriously, guys, if you're behind, catch up! You won't regret it!

Spoiler level: High...? Nothing is explicit, but perceptive readers could be spoiled. So go read the book, and you won't have to worry about it!

Noragami 12 came at the beginning of a long streak of not having any free time, but tonight! we were supposed to be working on some legal stuff but couldn't because of technical difficulties, so instead! we get to write our review of Noragami 12, and oh my gosh, you guys, this volume! Oh my gosh! It's just too amazing!

First, I'm sure you're all wondering--or at least those of you who were following our LJ at the time we were translating this volume--how it broke our brains. (To recap for those who weren't there or don't remember, Noragami 12 broke our brains.)

Here's what happened. The stray went to confront Yukine, and the scene was so amazingly awesome. The whole thing was just great! But anyway, when we translated it for the first draft, we just came up with some very rough translations for their incantations and went on our merry way, figuring we'd just look them up later, and write a note, and they'd be all interesting like the fire extinguishing incantation from volume 11. So we finished our first draft, and then we started our edit, and we got to the stray doing her poem. We looked it up and were not surprised to find out that it was another poem that's been around in Japan for a while. It has its own Wikipedia article. Cool, cool. We checked around to see if there was an "official" English translation of it somewhere, but there wasn't so now it was up to us! Of course it has a zillion wordplays, and it's a palindrome! That part had us going, "Nope, sorry, readers." Poems are hard enough without having to make them the same backwards and forwards. We just were not going to do it, nope, nope, nope. So we came up with a translation that we felt was pretty decent, wrote our note about where it came from and stuff, and then we moved on and eventually came to Yukine's poem.

We Googled it, just like we Googles all the other poems, only this time all we got were websites talking about Noragami. One site was a forum, and someone was like, "I Googled it and got nothing, so I guess it's an original poem." Fortunately, the stray's line about how he countered the poem reminded us that we had learned something about Japanese poetry back when we were in college, majoring in Japanese, and studying the history of Japan. All that's in the note, but the point is, we realized what was going on, and we were like, "Oh, that's cool! He returned her poem just like in Heian Japan when the nobles corresponded through poetry! That Yukine is so clever!" And we worked on it for a little while, and then we realized, "Wait a second... All the lines in this poem are playing off the lines in the stray's poem... *kghghrnkghnk*" That last bit is the sound of our brains breaking. They refused to work on that poem anymore.

So we finished our edit of that chapter and called it a day. Then the next day, we had a chapter of UQ Holder!, and some legal translations, and some extra little tasks to do, and a phone call from our sister, and our brains were broken and we were in denial, so we were like, "Cool, no Noragami today." (Even though we love Noragami ever so dearly!) And then our Disneyland associates came for not one but three days! They knew we were busy and expressed their concern, and we said, "Nah, it's cool. We're in denial about work. That's future me's problem." So we ended up explaining to them what all happened (only with less detail, because they're not familiar with the series), and then we were thinking about it all night after that! Turns out it was a good thing, too, because as we were going to bed, Athena was like, "I wonder if there's any wordplay we missed..." and she started reciting the stray's poem in her head (we memorized the poems so we could continue to stew over them, before we realized how broken our brains were), and thought, "Nakaki... na, name... kaki, write... to write a name... Oh, snap." And that's when we realized that both poems had double (triple, quadruple...) meanings that were especially applicable to Noragami and its whole world. And in Japanese poetry, if there's a question about whether a word means A or B, the answer is yes. Readers of volume twelve will already know that there is an alternate translation for each poem in the notes. There was just no way to fit in ALL the imagery in one translation. ...Okay, maybe there is a way, but we are not smart enough to find it.

And that's the story of how volume twelve broke our brains, and ended up taking two weeks to translate, but how the time off from it turned out to be a very very good thing.

Anyway, the volume itself! Oh my goodness, oh my goodness, oh my goodness!! First of all, back to Yukine and his poem! How amazing is that!? Yukine is SO smart! He not only returns her poem, but in a way that responds to both of the main meanings! Wow! And that battle was so intense. Just...wow.

And then there's Yato and Hiyori! Oh man, the way they fought. And the look on Yato's face when he finds out it's true that Hiyori kissed Koto! Ooohhh, poor guy! He's so in love with her, it's adorable. And the ocean of tears that followed! It's really amazing how well this series blends zaniness with drama. Maybe I'm biased, but everything just goes together so well. The scene with Koto and Yato especially. It's really silly and really serious all at once! Koto's all, "I need you to help me with this video game," but you can just feel the tension the whole time. So well done. This series is so great.

And Sakura! And little Yato! And Yato's dad! Oh my gosh, Yato's dad! He's so scary and evil, but on the other hand, there's the way he'll hug Yato, and just that one picture when he's holding him because he's not feeling well because he dumped Sakura in the pond or whatever that was. Little Yato is so cute! The picture where he gives Sakura flowers for the first time! Aaaaahh! His childhood is so messed up. Oh! Now I remember what I wanted to say about Yato's dad.

When Yato's dad explained to Yato about what he wanted him to do, and what his wish was, we looked up the word (we translated it to "cull"), and it basically meant "thinning of the herd/crowd", and I thought, "Oh my gosh, he wants to get rid of the crowds at Disneyland like we do!" And then I briefly reconsidered my priorities, but I got over that pretty quick. For real, though, my theory is that he's tired of answering so many prayers so he wants there to be fewer people around to pray. I'm not 100% tied to that theory, though.

I like Sakura a lot. I really appreciate that Adachitoka seemed to be deliberately trying to make sure she doesn't look like Hiyori. I mean, I don't usually have any problems with the "ancient immortal falls in love with a human because she resembles his lost love from hundreds of years ago" thing, but it's been done before, and more importantly, I think that would really diminish Hiyori's importance if it all started because she looked like someone Yato knew before. She's clearly a very important part of Yato's growth, and I like that it's all on her own merit.

Aaaanyway, back to Sakura. It's so cute, because she's like Yato's mother! We have a new theory that Yato uses "ne" for all his shinki names in honor of her, and not because he's unoriginal as we originally thought. And that again goes to show how amazing Adachitoka is, for making it look like Yato was just being not-very-bright, and then showing us that just kidding, there was significance to it all along. (Although on the other hand, it's pretty easy to write that in retroactively, if Sakura's true name hadn't been decided yet.) So yeah. Sakura's great, and I still hope there's hope for her, even though they pretty much already said nope. We did notice, though, that when the stray goes all water serpent on Yukine, she has some popping veins on her face that look somewhat like the ones on Sakura's face when she's told her true name... So we think it's possible for a shinki to learn his or her true name without...I don't know. Volume 12 doesn't really say exactly what happened to Sakura, but anyway, we think they can still go on being a shinki. But that's just a theory, too.

And then there's Yukine's cat. Oh man, his campaign to get a cat is brilliant. Especially when he brings Hiyori into it! It's funny, though, because while we were in the middle of translating this volume (remember, it took two weeks), they aired the episode of Aragoto where the narration over the preview for the next episode was Yukine meowing because he was practicing his cat speech for when he convinced Yato to let him get a cat. This was triply awesome for us, because first, it was awesome by itself, second, it reminded us of Yukine's cat campaign, and third, it was our beloved Yuuki Kaji meowing! So much fangirl love.

Finally, even though I think Yato's dad is super evil, we agree that Yato looks awesome in a kimono. Speaking of Yato's dad, Athena picked up on some interesting wordplay on the name Koto. Maybe we should write a note about that sometime... In case we don't, "kou" means "to ask" and is often used in reference to beseeching. "To" means "person", so Koto is the asking person, or the wisher. That makes sense, since it was his wish that brought Yato to life.

Oooohhhhhh man, this series! You guys! It's soooooooooooo good! And makes our brains soooooo tired! Oh, but it's worth it! At least, I think it is. We're so ridiculously tired right now that we were forgetting how much we adore this series, but you guys! It's SOOOOOOO good!

And now we're going to go be in denial about work some more, and go order a pizza. (Only like five pages of denial...)

Today I'm thankful for reminders of what an amazing series Noragami is, the animated version of the ski resort stray story being really really good, getting to work on another lovely series today, having plenty of chocolate which we might desperately need tomorrow, and plans for ordering pizza tonight.
24th-Mar-2016 03:20 am (UTC)
Oh wow. I think my brain is kind of broken right now (not because of too much work, but I'm taking in too many awesome things at once, reading this while listening to new music from my favourite musicians (the Gray Havens, you might remember them from my posts about their kickstarter a while back) and I'm just overwhelmed. Aaaaaaaahhh. Okay, turn off the music for a minute so I can use my brain.

So, thank you for letting me know in your comment last night how amazing and awesome the DVD with v15 is, because now I'm probably going to have to go and buy it for myself. Thanks. :)

And yeah, Yukine is so amazing!!! and clever and proud!! (which is a good thing for a shinki, it seems (I'm jumping ahead, though).) What a kid. From my memories of the time I read about halfway through the Tale of Genji, translating the poem in the text and then having a footnote below giving a completely different but also applicable translation was totally a thing. I liked how you put it, that "if there's a question about whether a word means A or B, the answer is yes." :D

(Oh my goodness I just noticed Koto is wearing crocs at the beginning of the volume. Ugh. But also hahahaha. Anyway—)

Beyond the poems that broke your brains (but that you nevertheless handled beautifully), thank you for reminding me of all the other great stuff in this volume!! Yato's childhood had a lot of tenderness and a lot of messed-up-ness, I agree. And the reunion-with-dad scene was just as excellently balanced between humour and tension (and what-a-jerk!!! when he showed off the photo. i start yelling at him in my head every time i see that page.) as you say. Ahhh and then with Hiyori!! Ahhhh!!!! Her conversation with her mom "a bug"/"oh, yuck!" is too perfect. So cute, those two.

I was confused for a bit when you said Sakura didn't look like Hiyori, so I looked back and of course you're right; I was just remembering Izanami whose appearance to Yato was a cross between both girls. (interesting to realize after the fact. also interesting that he recognizes Hiyori in her and not Sakura?)

I'm sure you're right about Yato's shinki names using -ne for Tamanone. I would also believe that Adachitoka planned to have at least some connection like that, even if they hadn't fully determined what her name or character would be that early on.

Yukine and cats!!! The best :D What episode of Aragoto was that, do you recall? (so I can watch just the preview segment...)

Edited at 2016-03-24 03:21 am (UTC)
24th-Mar-2016 04:09 am (UTC)
Ha ha, I don't think our brains have been overloaded by awesomeness in a long time...well, unless you count Noragami, but I'm still pretty sure that was from the difficulty level. Anyway, yay for happy new music!

You should buy 15, because it really is great! Oh my goodness, so great. There was a look on a character's face that was just so perfect, I want to use it to describe my reaction to all kinds of things like The Force Awakens. We need to screencap it and make an icon...

Ha ha ha, the Tale of Genji... We were supposed to read parts of that in college... And we probably did. I seem to remember reading the part about the princess with the red nose... We got that phrasing from our uncle who actually served a mission in Japan, but I don't think it's related. He would come over, and we would want to know if it was hotter inside or outside because at the time our apartment only had a swamp cooler which only did any good if it was hotter inside than outside. So we'd ask him if it was hotter inside or outside (because he'd just come from outside, and apparently we couldn't be bothered to go outside ourselves, or we didn't trust our own judgment), and he would say "yes", and that drove us nuts because we were desperate to turn on the swamp cooler. Somehow we've been using it a lot more lately to mean "both".

(The crocs! Oh man, we meant to mention the crocs! They're so perfect for him.)

We're glad you enjoyed the trip down volume 12 memory lane! Oh man, so much goodness!

I'm just impressed that Adachitoka is so good at making all the characters look distinct from each other! There's so much anime and manga out there where the characters all look the same, or at least very close to the same. But with Noragami, you can tell who's in what panel at a glance most of the time. It is very interesting to note that Yato sees Izanami as Hiyori and not Sakura...

Checking the list of air dates (thank you, Wikipedia!), the episode of Aragoto in question would have to be 10 or 11, with the slight possibility that it was 9.
25th-Mar-2016 01:52 am (UTC)
Very well, I will buy it! I was dithering over Amazon JP or CDJapan and I think I'll go with CDJ because I have more discount points to use there (and weirdly, they list a lower item price?) and I'm not in a desperate hurry, but for the record, Amazon's shipping rate for the item is ¥900 and CDJ's (cheapest/slowest rate) is ¥800. So now we know (...something).

Genji is a pretty intense read!! I don't know how far I would have gotten on school-assignment motivation, since self-determined motivation still took me two separate attempts over the course of a couple years just to get half-way through. (and there I stopped... but I still own the book from the second attempt (the first a library copy and also an older translation) so there's always hope... Anyway, answering "Yes" to an Either-Or question is highly amusing and I am in support of your continued use of it :D

Yeah, the character designs!!! Ugh, Adachitoka's art is so good. Sooooo good. Such an effortless-appearing blend of realism and stylization. How do they do it~?!

Thank you for figuring out approximately which episode it was! I'll do my own investigation from there!
25th-Mar-2016 03:50 pm (UTC)
We hope you enjoy it!

Yeah, it's funny, because I'm pretty sure The Tale of Genji is one of the things they have us read to help us understand the Heian culture, but I think if you don't already know a lot about Heian culture, it's super hard to read. I like to think that now that I know so much more, I would have an easier time reading it, but who can say, really.

SO GOOD!! Adachitoka is amazing.

Good luck with your investigation!
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