But first, it's Review Rednesday! And this week, we finally get to post our review of one of the delightful new shoujo titles we've been working on, That Wolf-Boy Is Mine!. Spoiler level: moderate.
This is one of the titles that we asked for when our editor said, "I wanted to talk to you about new titles. Is there anything we announced recently that you want to translate?" And then we said, "If we can only have one, we want In/Spectre." And he said, "You can have more than that," and we said, "Okay, then we want Nekogahara and Wolf-Boy." Actually, before our first response, we did some research on all the titles that were announced...well, the ones that looked interesting at first glance, and we checked reviews at Amazon Japan for the shoujo ones specifically, because the last shoujo thing we were assigned that was a Kodansha title (it's a Yen Press title Stateside) was one we are starting to seriously dislike, so we're more than a little wary.
But this one involved animal boys, and the summary Kodansha USA gave compared it to Fruits Basket, and it takes place in Hokkaido. The reviews weren't all positive, and the one negative one said that it was all very cliched, which...actually wasn't necessarily a problem. There are some cliches we don't like, but there are also some cliches that we do like (they become cliches for a reason, after all), and more importantly, "it's so cliched" is the type of reasoning people tend to use to describe why they don't like something when they don't want to take the time to figure out why they really don't like it. (Have you noticed? People tend to have stock reasons. One person we know used to always say "the characters are flat," and another person we know used to always say "it was predictable," until we pointed out that when you watch it the second time, every movie is predictable, so she switched to "it's formulaic.")
So we put it up as our second/third choice, for all the reasons listed above, and the fact that it's shoujo (we still love it, even if we're wary of it), and the fact that it takes place in Hokkaido means that maybe they'll be using a Hokkaido dialect, which means we might get to use more of the mountain dialect we used for certain characters in Noragami. We got especially excited about that, because we had recently watched So Dear to My Heart, where they use a mild highland dialect, and we thought it would be so nice to have the characters talk like in the movie we love so much.
Well, if you've read the book (and we hope you have!), you know that they talk normal pretty much all of the time. I guess TV is making all the standard dialects more standard. There was still one phrase that was a northern-Japan specific phrase, but we couldn't immediately find an obviously highland version, so we just translated it to standard. (It's in chapter four when Rin says "What's up?" Normally that would be a "doshita?" but in northern Japan, it's "nashita?") But anyway, that turned out to be a good thing, because we really are not dialecticians, so now the series is going to be a lot easier to translate.
Not that it's the easiest thing in the world. It's not super hard, either, but there were some parts that we spent kind of a lot of time on. The most time consuming part was when the boys were explaining about animals living as humans. We had to do a lot of research...okay, so we didn't have to do it, and it didn't even end up in the notes, but we wanted to be sure we couldn't say anything definitively before we decided not to put it in the notes. See, the tanuki priest that gets mentioned...according to Wikipedia, there's a real life grave for him at a temple called Gugyoji in Ibaraki Prefecture, but the only other sources we could find to corroborate that were sites that seemed to be quoting Wikipedia. The homepage for Gugyoji mentions nothing. I thought it would be a nice bit of trivia to add to the note, but since we couldn't verify the source, we figured it would be best to leave it out. We also had some trouble looking up Kuzunoha, but mostly because the kanji for her name is a little weird.
So as for the series itself...we like it! I agree with the reviewer that it does have a lot of cliches, but that's mostly just in the setup. The characters and how they deal with the set up are different enough that it's still interesting. For example, the wolf-boy who's actually more like a dog--he's adorable and not really what I'd expect from a wolf-boy character. Senri (the cat) is pretty great, too, because I feel like I don't see a lot of sleepy cat characters, but according to Jeopardy!, cats sleep 20 hours a day, so it makes a lot of sense. The heroine, Komugi, is pretty standard, but let's just call it "classic". Rin is a little cliched as the overprotective friend, but I love him anyway. I've always had a fondness for foxes, and then Ylvis came out with their supercalifragilisticexpialidocious (I was trying to think of what word would describe the awesomeness better than awesome, and then I remembered!) music video, and now they're my favorite! And of course there's the nostalgia factor after going to the Fox Village (they, too, have signs telling tourists that none of their foxes have echinococcus). The point is, Rin is my favorite for silly reasons like that, but I love all the characters a lot.
And one reason I love them is that they're perceptive! Komugi started acting all careful about what she said and it doesn't take long before Yu thinks, "Somebody told her about my past, didn't they?" So much of entertainment these days seems to center on annoying misunderstandings that it's always immensely refreshing to see characters who can put two and two together.
The series does seem to have taken a lot of pages from Fruits Basket, like with the hypnosis and Yu's angsty past. It's like he's Momiji and Kyo combined! And they're some of my favorite characters from Fruits Basket, so that's pretty great. Yu is also my favorite character. He's just so friendly and helpful and caring. But he doesn't want Komugi to be in love with him!? Oh no, why!? We'll just have to find out later. The preview (which may or may not be in the English release) makes it look like Rin is going to be pretty awesome in the next volume.
And speaking of Rin! The fact that he's living as a human just so he can play video games is pretty hilarious. (And he likes RPGs! That's our favorite genre, too!) Of course, there's been some indication that that's not the real reason... Suspicious...
And I'm not sure I have a whole lot more coherent thought about this. The point is, it's just a nice shoujo manga with fun characters that we like a lot, and we enjoy it, so I hope all of you will enjoy it, too!
(One last thing I made a note of while translating this series. When they say "short homeroom," they use the "kanji" SHR. So we looked up SHR at Weblio, and all it gave us was several dictionary entries that told us it meant "spontaneously hypertensive rat". That was not very helpful, but it does seem oddly appropriate.)
Today I'm thankful for the Disney chocolate cookies we got from Tokyo Treat (so many characters were represented!), getting to talk about Wolf-Boy, the feeling that we're doing a pretty good job on this current translation, finally finishing that trial in Ace Attorney, and it being time for dinner.