But then I was like, ah what the heck. Noragami is an ongoing series anyway, and I'm pretty sure our reviews have very little effect on sales anyway. And most of all, Hiyori's birthday was yesterday! So in honor of Hiyori's birthday, here is our review of Noragami 15. Spoiler level: moderate.
Oh my gosh, you guys, this volume was so hard! It nearly destroyed us! We think it might be the hardest one so far, except for maybe twelve. Ohhhh, volume twelve... *shudders* But twelve just had the poems that broke our brains, and other than that it wasn't so bad. And technically we brought it on ourselves, by wanting to spice up the dialogue and try to make it as rich as the Japanese instead of just having everybody talk all the same and boring. So if you were to ask us what happened in volume fifteen, we'd say, "Bishamon and Kazuma and Takemikazuchi and Emishi." Because those were the things that occupied our brain space for the majority of working on this volume.
Kazuma actually wasn't so bad this time, because his speech is relatively normal and he was panicking and/or being casual most of the time, so it was fine. It's just that, in the past, when we'd get really stuck on a line, most of the time, we would end up saying, "And of course it's Kazuma!" It was always Kazuma. But this time it wasn't! Woohoo!
Instead, we had Bishamon and Takemikazuchi. We sort of remembered when he showed up in the past (volumes nine and ten), we had him talking a little fancy like Bishamon, and then he was being an arrogant jerk, so it was like, "Eh, just have him talk like Peter Pan, it'll be fine!" But then we looked at it, and he actually does use fancier Japanese, much like Bishamon. (Which reminds Athena: Three times, they said "chi ga sawagu"! What!) So we sighed and said to ourselves that we might as well keep it up. It was fascinating, though, because we had a website (I think it's called ShakespeareWords.com) opened up so if we wanted to use a word we could search for it on the site and it would tell us if Shakespeare ever used it. If he had, we're like, "Okay, we have a winner!" The hard part, though, is that it's not like there's a Shakespeare play that covers the content of everything Takemikazuchi or Bishamon says, and even if there is, we certainly don't have time to read them all, so there was constant uncertainty and a lot of guesswork, and I think overall Bishamon ended up sounding fine, but I'm worried that Takemikazuchi sounds inconsistent. But there's nothing we can do about it now; we've already turned in the script.
And then there were the Emishi. Oh man, the Emishi. They're great, and I like them, but this volume has really reminded me that dialects are not our forte. Athena described editing this volume by saying it was like wading through a brick wall. It was bad. Bishamon and Takemikazuchi were bad, and then there were the Emishi. And they talked a LOT. Like, way a lot. Even though they were only on a few pages! So much exposition... so much exposition...
Anyway, as for their dialect. We could tell that they were using a dialect because what kind of translators would we be if we couldn't recognize non-standarad Japanese, and besides the dialect was pretty thick. After researching the Emishi, we learned they're pretty much from the Tohoku (northeastern) regions of Japan (like, all of them), and they're also from Hokkaido. In other words, they're from up north. (Our handy-dandy Japanese dialect guide confirmed this.) Our first thought was, "So, like...Canadian?" So I started Googling how to speak Canadian (I know real Canadians have told me that there's not really a Canadian dialect, but Rutt and Tuke from Brother Bear indicate that there is some kind of non-standard dialect going on up north, whether or not it's common, and that's what we thought we'd try to go for), but then Athena thought, "Hey, we have this handy-dandy North American dialect book, too. Maybe we should check it out." She pulled it out and opened to the table of contents, where she spotted a section on the Mountain Dialect. "What! Mountain dialect?" she thought, "What's that all about?" So she turned to that section and started reading the description of the people, and it seemed to fit the Emishi attitude perfectly, except for the part about them being wary of outsiders, because they liked Yato so much. But then we were like, "Oh, duh, of course they like Yato. He beat up Takemikazuchi!"
And so we chose to go with the Appalachian dialect, and we're a little worried that people will think it's racist somehow to have the indigenous gods of Japan talking like hillbillies, but it matched! They were using a rural dialect! And talking like a hillbilly doesn't mean you're not smart, and I think you're being prejudiced (classist or something) if you think that hillbillies can't be intelligent.
But that wasn't the problem we had with the dialect; the problem is that they just don't come naturally. We don't know all the words! How would we ever come up with the word "rimptions" on our own? (According to our dialect book, apparently "rimptions" means "plenty".) So for every line practically, we pulled out the dialect book and read all the sample sentences to see if one of them had a word that would be appropriate to use. And the whole time, we're like, "This is due on March 11th, which ends in three hours! We don't have TIME to read Huckleberry Finn!" (The idea being that if we immersed ourselves in a world where that's the language, we would be able to feel it more and it would come more natural-like.) On the final read through, we really enjoyed going over Emishi lines (they were a lot of fun), but still worried that people would think it's a very inappropriate choice. Nevertheless, my favorite line of that whole volume is, "Well, ain't you the knowin'est new folk I ever seed." (One of the reasons we started making final read-throughs a more common thing is that when things like accents and dialects come up, it's important to make sure it's not too over the top. We did lay it on pretty thick, but I thought it was fun enough to read that I think it will be okay. And who knows? Maybe the editor toned it down.)
And as the icing on the (carrot) cake, Daikoku and Kofuku had to come along and end sentences in -pyon. Fortunately, there were only two lines of this, and it wasn't too hard to come up with rabbit puns (an idea shamelessly stolen from the Persona 4 translators). We also turned to Bugs Bunny for a little bit of help.
But speech patterns weren't the only doom this volume inflicted upon us. There was a song! Arrrrrgh with the songs!! When we first came across it, we thought, "That's okay; it's probably some traditional matchmaking song that's been around for centuries, so we can probably find some blog somewhere that quotes the song, and if they really want to show off their knowledge, they'll tell us where it came from!" Either that, or we'd just Google the lyrics and there would be something all about that song, because it's an ancient tradition, right? Wrong. ...Well, probably wrong. There's still a possibility that it exists in a local history somewhere and just never made it to the internet. But we did find out that it quoted the Kojiki pretty directly, so the prevailing theory is that Adachitoka just found some appropriate passages in the Kojiki and slapped them together to make some kind of matchmaking song. It took us well over an hour to get that finalized.
And then!! there's the double meaning of hafuri. Of COURSE there's a double meaning of hafuri. Why wouldn't there be? This is Noragami. Everything means a million different things. Why didn't we see it coming!? Actually, maybe we did, because the term first showed up way back in volume six, and we don't remember all the research we did. But Adachitoka is so clever, they found a double meaning that wouldn't come up so easily because the word as it's used in modern day has diacritical marks! So the "bury" version of "hafuri" is a word that is now pronounced "haburu" (it was likely pronounced "haburu" then, too, but they didn't use diacritical marks, so it would have been written "hafuru" anyway). And for all we know, "hafuri" as in "blessed" might have also been "haburi" but evolved differently. The point is, it was too late to find a word that could mean both.
Although! we did find some interesting etymology on the word "bless". Apparently it comes from some Old English (I think) for "consecrate with blood". So that would have been cool, to use "blood" for the other meaning, but it was enough of a stretch that the risk of it coming back to bite us later was higher, so we decided to stay closer to the literal meaning.
And those were all the things in this volume that killed us. And it may not have been quite so bad if we'd had an extra day to work on it, but we had to go off to Disneyland. We really need to learn from this mistake and tell Gaston no the next time he tries to take us to Disneyland on a week when we have just enough time to finish Noragami at a non-lethal pace.
So let's get back to the other fun stuff! This volume was kind of sneaky, in that it seemed to mostly just be goofing off, but it actually seemed to have a lot of little tiny things that are going to add up to big things later. First and most importantly, Yukine! OOOOHHHH NOOOOOOOOOO!!! He had a weird dream!? AAAAAAAAAAAHHHH!!! It's kind of awesome how that whole thing happened in just two pages. Like, "This is a potentially very bad thing that just happened, but we don't have time to talk about it, k'bye!" And! oh my goodness, Adachitoka, you're so sneaky! And malicious! Putting Yukine's name right there on his collarbone where we can always see it, but we can never see the part where Chiki nicked it. It's like, "Wait, Yukine had a weird dream? Quick, check his name to see if it's okay! ...Gah, can't see! NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!"
Then there's the fact that Takemikazuchi is using the stray. I mean, of course he is. Why wouldn't he be? She's everywhere. And speaking of Takemikazuchi, wow, what a jerk. He was so mean to little Ebisu! (That scene where Ebisu accuses Yato of betraying him is the best, though.) I'm kind of with the Emishi on this one--yeah, you show Take-chan what-for! The name he gave her is pretty interesting, but we didn't write a note about it, because I think it might make a better note later. Plus, this volume had plenty of notes without it. But anyway, Kiun said that it was a different shinki that killed Ebisu, so the obvious assumption would be that it was the stray. But then she was with Yato down in Yomi...or was she? We'd need to go check volume nine to see if there's some point where Yato is like, "Hiki, where are you!?"
And then, of course, there's the matter of Hiyori's soul mate. I think we all wanted her to be tied to Yato, so that's nice, but it's probably not insignificant that Daikoku pointed out why Kofuku should never be allowed to do any of the matchmaking. What does Hiyori's future hold!? Oh, but the names of her other potential soul mates were hilarious. We're hoping it's okay that we made up names for them so that the readers wouldn't have to check the notes in the back to have any idea what's going on. There was some discussion about pronunciation, too. We wanted the homeless bum to be Homale SubAmu, because "bamu" sounds closer to "bum" than "bumu", but we weren't sure if the readers would be too attached to American pronunciations. We went with our favorite anyway, but we did change all the Rs to Ls, because when we were discussing Karuto, we would remind ourselves of the American pronunciations of "Naruto", and we realized that there was no way the Ls were going to work unless they were explicitly stated.
And the burier! She's a fascinating character. I'm sure there will be plenty of things to write notes about in regard to her in future volumes. Also, I hope it's okay that we call her the burier.
Oh, and the one Emishi guy totally looks like a Kazuya Minekura character. It's uncanny. We would say to each other, "Especially in THAT frame! And that one! And that one. And that one. And all of them." It was like, "Are you sure we're not reading Saiyuki?" I'd believe that Adachitoka were fans. And speaking of their fannishness, Abe! We saw his first name, and we thought, "The most likely reading of those characters is probably Katsumasa, but we'd better do a little research to be sure." So we plugged the name into Wikipedia to see how many 勝真s came up, and suddenly there were a ton of articles talking about Haruka: Beyond the Stream of Time 2. And we remembered, oh yeah, there's a guy named Katsuzane. He's Tomokazu Seki's character. ...And Abe's friend's name is Seki. And Abe is another character in Haruka. Hmmmmmmm... And Haruka takes place in historical Japan, so it definitely seems to fit the interests of a manga artist who would draw something like Noragami.
And now Athena is looking at Yato's Divine Council outfit, and that reminds me, the loom! When we first saw the sign on the door, we thought, "Oh boy, is this Tsuru no Ongaeshi?" And then it was! But more importantly, we saw Yato at that loom, and we thought, "WE should get a loom!" Athena is the Greek goddess of weaving, after all. So we went to Amazon right then and there and looked at looms, and decided they were kind of a big investment (not super expensive, but not exactly cheap), so we should at least not rush to buying one when we're distracting ourselves from work.
Of course, now I want to point out that we don't let ourselves be distracted from work for very long usually, but this volume made us want to be distracted a little more frequently. We even put off working on it on the day it was due to go order manga, but that didn't take TOO long. We also distracted ourselves in the guise of research! I pulled up volume two to check how we'd worded something way back when, and I came across the scene where Yato introduces Kofuku and Daikoku, and the dialogue was just so much fun we couldn't help reading it. We thought, "Wow, we used to be so clever..." (<--keeps us humble...ish)
And then there was the stuff about Stationmaster Tama. We maybe spent more time reading about her than we should have. We ignored all the articles and things that came across our Facebook feed, so we actually knew surprisingly little about Tama when she came up in the manga. And we don't like our notes to be based solely on Wikipedia articles--we like to check multiple sources to make sure we're getting it right. (Unless it's something little, like, "this is a food made of this.")
Anyway, this was a really fun volume, but the fun was overshadowed by the massive challenges it presented. But now I will leave you with a final thought that I wrote down during the initial translation phase so I wouldn't forget. It's in reference to page 104, after Takemikazuchi picks Ebisu up and says hello very rudely: "Aww, he got his nose. And he's not happy about it." Man, that Takemikazuchi is a jerk. But it was still really cute.
Oh man, that's good stuff.
Today I'm thankful for making good progress on work today, being sort of maybe close to finishing our costumes for Anime Expo, getting to reminisce about Noragami 15, our twitchy cat tail arriving yesterday, and Page having a new favorite spot while we work on costumes.