As we were finishing up this volume of Noragami, we were excited because of the freedom that would soon be ours, but then it really hit us that we wouldn't have any more Noragami for a while. This is especially unfortunate because there was a line at the very end of this volume that may or may not have been helped with more context. Ha, ha, ha. But the real tragedy is that we won't be seeing Yato and friends for a while, except in review [by which I mean going back and rereading stuff]. If we have time.
Actually, all the overwork was starting to really get to me, to the point where I was annoyed at...well, not Noragami exactly, but...I don't know, the readers? I really am happy that it's so popular, but I was thinking crazy things. I wanted this volume to end on a terrible cliffhanger so I could sit back and laugh as everyone realized what a terrible thing it can be to have monthly releases of a series before the series has ended. I'm glad it didn't actually end on a terrible cliffhanger, although Bishamon's fate is still pretty uncertain. As soon as she named the burier in volume 15, I started to think things weren't looking good for her. I mean, obviously her plan can't succeed, because Koto's going to be around for a while. So what does that mean? Well, there's a good chance it means she's going to die. On the other hand, I didn't expect the Heavens to get involved, even though really that's the logical chain of events. Why would they just leave a super powerful, super hostile prisoner unguarded? That would be silly.
Anyway, this volume! This series! It's sooooo good! There's so much to say, but we just finished it and we have a vacation ahead of us and I'm really not sure I can focus.
Well, first let's talk about Bishamon's clothes. The armor that Nana gives her is pretty cool looking, and I really liked the animal skin skirt that Nana also wears for a cape...until I realized that that pattern is what you see on Bambi! Oh no, she killed Bambi! Aaaaaaaahhhhhh!!! Deer don't have spots when they grow up, you know. Fortunately, there was an ad on one of our online dictionaries that showed a pig, and Athena remembered that oh yeah, Japanese boars have spots! It's probably a boar skin! Whew.
Now speaking of Nana. She is an interesting character. You have to wonder who she served when she became the burier, and the thing is it would have had to be someone like Koto to get her totally sealed away like that. A god who tried to kill Her Excellency. Speaking of Her Excellency, I don't think we've mentioned this yet, but we go with "her" because Amaterasu is generally portrayed as female, so we're kind of terrified about what Amaterasu will look like when she(?) finally makes an appearance (assuming she wasn't the mysterious figure who helped everyone get Yato back from Yomi). This series has already proven that it doesn't mind changing the expected genders of gods, thanks to Bishamon and Kofuku (the god of poverty is usually portrayed as an old man). On the other hand, the gods who are female in Japanese mythology have stayed female (see Benzaiten and Sakuyabime), so we have hope. Of course, there was always the option of keeping the Japanese title, but since there is a reasonable English equivalent, we wanted to go with it.
But back to Nana. Her attitude is very interesting. She obeys Bishamon when they're fighting the Heavenly army, but when Bishamon tries to get her to fight Koto, she gets rebellious. Obviously this is going to be partly because she doesn't want to do anything Bishamon says unless Bishamon's goals happen to be the same as hers, but we also know that Koto is a god, so... Of course, Koto hasn't expressed any recognition of Nana, but a shinki's instrument form changes depending on the god and he hasn't seen her in human form. She hasn't expressed any recognition of Koto, but he's possessing a human that she hasn't seen before.
Athena's now pointing out to me that he did know later on (probably thanks to the stray, or possibly because he figured it out around when he told Bishamon she was looking good) that Bishamon was using the burier, but maybe by then he didn't want to let on. Now it was the stray that told Yukine about the burier, so the question is did she learn that from Takemikazuchi (who would have been the first on the scene) or from Koto? Well, I'm sure it will all be made clear.
The thing is, as they point out many times, the army that's fighting Bishamon is made up of a bunch of warrior gods who are confident that they won't die. So there are some gods that we'd expect to see that haven't shown up yet...or at least haven't been given any screentime. The big one in question is Susa-no-o, the Impetuous Male Deity, who is well known to have been antagonistic to Amaterasu. So have we just not seen him yet? Or is he the burier's former master, or is he Koto, or both? If only I remembered why he flayed that horse and threw it into Amaterasu's chambers...
Anyway, if she belonged to Susa-no-o (I don't know if I want to keep using hyphens on that name...), then she's probably the famous sword that also shows up in Kamigami no Asobi. I think it's the Totsuka no Tsurugi, and it has some other names, too, like Kusanagi or Amenokumo...something something with a lot of kanji. So basically now I'm just showing off our knowledge of Japanese mythology, but it's partly out of excitement because it's like, "Hey! I know about that!" AND it's related to one of our favorite games.
But speaking of showing off our knowledge, did you all enjoy that note about Higashi Fushimi Inari? We saw all the torii, and we were like, "Hey, that's Fushimi Inari!" and then we were like, "No, it's not! That's in Kyoto, and they're still within running distance of Hiyori's school in Tokyo!" So we Googled all the Inari shrines in Tokyo and looked at a bunch of pictures until we saw one that had those same fox statues that Yato almost gets knocked into, and we were like, "Aha!"
But also, back when we were working on volume fifteen, we got an email from our editor asking us to write a note about Senso-ji in volume fourteen, and instead of saying, "Yeah, we thought about doing that, but all the pertinent information is pointed out by Ebisu in the dialogue," we actually wrote a note. And then we were like, "Oh, snap, now we have to write a note about all the shrines." We mentioned it to our editor, and she was like, "Maybe just the famous ones?" and we were like, "Yeah, right, like we know anything about the fame level of any of these shrines." It's not like Google searches come with a fame meter. So we thought as long as we were showing off anyway we might as well go all the way with it. And that's how we found out that, because Bishamon is a syncretic deity (a Buddhist deity fused with Shinto deities), he is sometimes counted as the same person as Takemikazuchi. And in fact, the shrine where Hiyori usually goes to contact her (where she transported down to Nakatsukuni in volume 15) is actually a shrine to Takemikazuchi. But we left that part out of the note, because we thought it might be confusing, and make the readers think that this was an important piece of information. It may be, but we can note it when that becomes clear.
And now here I am, hardly having talked about the story at all! Koto is...himself in this volume. We love to hate him. And he's fun to translate. His conversation with Bishamon was great. "You're a talkative one." "I know, right?" But the best was his conversation with Hiyori. I think it's worth pointing out that Hiyori still calls him -sempai, and he still calls her -chan. It really adds a little extra depth to their relationship. (But I felt bad for Yato when I realized that oh, wow, she really does call him "Fujisaki-sempai". At least there's no heart mark.)
Yukine is a punk in this volume. But he's been a punk before, and at least now he's doing it out of love. I love that Yato's calling him on it, too. "You're sounding like the stray." "You look like you know something. What's going on?" "Noooothing..." (That's not how we translated it; it's our imaginactment.) I just love to see Yato and Yukine interacting. It's the best!
Oh and little Ebisu! He's so cute, and wants so badly to help. He even almost offered to give Kunimi some time off! In the atrocious manga at the back, I mean. But it still shows how much he cares! And speaking of the atrocious manga, we want to let the record show that it took us a whole hour to edit those few pages. This whole volume was really tough! There were so many words that were so carefully chosen in Japanese. So many times, we would look something up and see more than one definition listed, and we'd be like, "Yup, it's all of those." It mostly happened with Kiun. The line about playing with fire was a good example of multiple meanings being in play (see the note for more details!), but the worst was when he told Takemikazuchi not to get himself killed. That one took us more than half an hour to figure out, I think. It was bad. The other really bad line was from Yato, though. The one about happy endings with Bishamon. It was especially frustrating because we knew exactly what it meant, but we don't know how people talk about that stuff in English, or if they even do, so we spent a ton of time researching it and ultimately finding very little. I think we dealt with it pretty well, though.
But speaking of gag manga and Kiun again! How were we supposed to know that Adachitoka was going to come back and make a Febreze pun on Hafuris! Arrrrrrgh! I mean, of course if any pun is possible, chances are Adachitoka will make it, but it was just so far off the radar. We translated "blessed vessel" for the first time TEN VOLUMES AGO! That was at least a year ago! None of these chapters were even published yet, let alone the gag manga that goes with them, which were probably drawn not more than two months ago. It was pretty hilarious, though. Bravo, Adachitoka! ...And I'm sorry about fab threes. So, so sorry. So very, very sorry. But if you guys want to see the commercial with Shuzo's face in the sun, here's what you can Google: 松岡修造 ファブリーズ 太陽
Also in regard to the atrocious manga, oh my goodness, it's a good thing we translated Kamakura Monogatari, or we would have had no idea what that Smartphone Sable business was about. We would have just called it smartphone cookies and been done with it! And speaking of fortunate things that help us write more informed notes, Takemikazuchi's talk about locusts. We still don't know why locusts are the emperor of insects, but thanks to a Google search on the origin of the kanji, we came across the origin of the kanji for the number seven. Talk about serendipity! So the first note we have about Nana is based on the research we did when we thought, "Hmm, I wonder if this seven thing is significant..." As you can read in the note, it didn't yield a whole lot of fruit (but the thing about the warrior equipment was pretty cool). Then suddenly we Google the kanji for locusts and we get an article on the gruesome origins of certain kanji, which we thought would include the one for locust since that's what we were Googling, but it didn't! Instead, we got the number seven, but hey, that was really cool and relevant! Yay!
But back to the story itself. Right, Kiun! This is a very interesting thing that has occurred. I feel like a lot of the time in action manga, you have these characters power up, and then they just keep powering up as more powerful enemies appear. But what happened in this one is that Yukine powered up...and then Kiun and friends managed to overpower him because they don't have that powerup! And in the same chapter, we have Kazuma, Mr. Super Powerful of All Time, overpowered by someone else who is (supposedly) not a blessed vessel. So basically what they're doing is, instead of powering everybody up a million times, they're saying, "You know, maybe that power up isn't so great after all."
But what I really love about it is how Kiun rallies his fellow shinki. Ever since volume seven, Kazuma has been telling us that the secret to overpowering the enemy is to have a superiority complex. But here Kiun says to the others that looking down on an opponent is the same as scorning yourself. So his power, and the power of the other un shinki, comes not from looking down on the enemy, but respecting them. I think that's super awesome, because nobody likes it when people act like they're better. It's like the first shall be last and the last shall be first.
Still, much as I love that philosophy, the panel where Yukine is sticking his tongue out at Takemikazuchi is adorable.
Oh, speaking of the gag manga again. (My thoughts are all over the place; could you tell?) The one with the Emishi was a pain, because that's where the guy's dialect gets so thick that the original Japanese had to have a standard Japanese translation. But we couldn't find anything in the Appalachian dialect material we had that would make those particular phrases unintelligible! So we just did what we could and told the letterer to delete the margin note. But! more importantly, the idea of catching and cooking locusts seems pretty hillbilly, so it helped put Athena's mind at ease about making the Emishi into hillbillies. So that was nice.
...Well, I think that covers everything we wanted to say. I'm sure there's more, because this series is so rich with everything. Of course, we're open to more discussion!
Addendum 1: I just remembered! The conversation between Koto and the stray! It was interesting the way they kept pushing each other's buttons. It's like they're so used to manipulating people that they can't stop doing it even to each other or something. And of course, Koto always wins. But man, those two.
Addendum 2: We were just writing on our LJ about how people who like Saiyuki should read Noragami, and that reminded us of something we were thinking about Nana! She is SO much like the Kazuya Minekura version of Son Goku! Her story is practically identical! She lost someone important her, tried to kill the most important person in the heavens, then was imprisoned for hundreds of years until she was freed by a blonde with violet eyes. And then she was really hungry. The main difference is that the one thing Goku had when he was imprisoned was his name, and Nana's name was deliberately taken away from her. Also, she actually hates the Heavens, while Goku was just a little kid who had no idea what was going on.
Oh man, this series. So good. So, so good.
Today I'm thankful for getting to go back and read our review of Noragami 16, getting to go to Disneyland with Gaston, making good enough progress on work so far that it looks like this detour isn't going to totally destroy us, that Japanese Febreze commercial, and remembering that we have neat RDJ shirts to wear to Disneyland today.