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Alethea & Athena
Complex Age volume 2 
2nd-Nov-2016 04:23 pm
It occurs to me that maybe it would be a good idea to let people know what all we translated that came out each week. This week, we had four of our translations hit the shelves: Your Lie in April 10, Devil Survivor 8, That Wolf-Boy Is Mine! 2 (but didn't volume one come out, like, a week ago? (I know it didn't; it just feels like it did)), and even more shockingly, Missions of Love 13. Hopefully that series hasn't been abandoned by everyone. We still really like it.

As for this week, the next review on our list is for Complex Age 2! We've seen surprisingly little talk about this online. Everyone loved volume one, and yet this book has been out for over a month and nothing. And we had our comp copies more than two months ago, so it really seems like a long stretch of silence. But now we're going to talk about it! Spoiler level: moderate.

This is the volume that almost got away from everyone. We all realized it needed to be translated with very little time before it needed to be finished, which was awesome (she said sarcastically) because we had about a million (actually, this time it was maybe only about a thousand) other things to do and a trip to Fresno in the works. Still, it wouldn't have really been a problem except that Anime Expo is coming up and we have a lot of stuff we're super excited to do...that we can't do until we've finished our work. And I kind of feel bad for saying that, because it makes it sound like I don't like this series, but I do! It's just hard to do the editing phase (which involves reading something we already read) when there's so much new stuff waiting for us.

Anyway, this volume features Hayama from Sales, who apparently doesn't have a given name. She and Nagisa both seem to use cosplay to become the people they really want to be, which is sort of an interesting concept. It made me think about why Athena and I like to cosplay, and when I really come down to it, it's because we like the attention. That, and it's fun to wear something out of the ordinary. And we want to express our love for the characters and/or series, of course.

Hayama and Nagisa also both share the fact that they're hiding their cosplay hobby, which I think I mentioned in our review of volume one is something we don't really relate with at all. Maybe it's because we found a job that lets us work from home, so we don't have to worry too much about what other people think. Still, we'll tell people at church about it, and they seem to think it's cute. Maybe we're just lucky because, as adorable twins, we can get away with being unusual. We do kind of agree that you have more cosplay options when you're younger (we're not sure if it's really a good idea to cosplay a character that's less than half our age, for example (*coughhiyoricoughcough*)), but that just lets you exercise your creativity a little more to find characters you can really pull off. On the other hand, sometimes I do think it would be nice to cosplay, like, a Disney princess or something. But there are two things about that--one, you can come up with, like, a "what would she dress like if she were older" thing, and two, Disney princesses are so mainstream. Anyway, I think it's all good as long as you feel good wearing it.

So yeah, the main conflict in this volume is about people finding out that Hayama and Nagisa cosplay. Let me tell you, I was very relieved to find out that Nagisa's parents knew all along. I mean, they would have to be pretty oblivious not to know she was doing something. I thought they'd be more okay with it, though, since Nagisa had to find an interest in anime somehow and I like to imagine that she just really loved watching it with her parents. So I was disappointed in Nagisa's mother, and then her father came home and called her mother "Sawa-chan", and I was like, "Oohhh, she's the lady from Chapter 0!" and then it all made more sense. And I'm really glad that her father is still okay with it.

As for Hayama and her coworkers, oh my goodness, it's just...Japan. I don't know if this series is an accurate reflection of the general Japanese attitude toward cosplay, or if people who like to dress up in weird costumes just assume that everybody thinks they're weird because of the natural insecurity that comes with being human, but if it is an accurate reflection... Just pick up your book and look at the sign for the restroom at the bar that Hayama and Nagisa go to after Hayama's cover is blown. Look at it! How can an establishment for normal, "serious" adults have a sign like that and still turn around and say that adults shouldn't dress up in costumes? It doesn't make any sense! But to Japan's credit, all the Japanese people we've met were very very friendly, and seemed like they wouldn't be too hard on someone for their taste in fashion. It's always been my personal opinion that people's insecurities make them feel like society is shaming them more than it actually is. (On the other hand, we did actually have people in sixth grade making fun of us for liking cartoons. We just ignored them and they went away. People we respected way more than them also liked those cartoons. And then the mockers grew up to wear Rugrats toys on their backpacks in high school, thus proving that it's all ridiculously arbitrary.)

Anyway, the other thing about this volume was the location shoot. Oh man, how awesome would it be to do one of those? Actually, while we were working on this volume, our Japanese photographer friend posted a bunch of pictures on Facebook of when he went to photograph some other friends of his at a cosplay studio, and we were so jealous! Then we were doing research because the cospedia mentions websites that have information on places you can go to take cosplay pictures, and we were like, "Oooooooohh..." And we want to do it SO BAD, but we have no idea what costumes we would even wear, nor do we have time or money. But it's definitely something to think about next time we decide we can afford to go to Japan.

And it also occurs to me that it might be a good idea to mention what's up next for review, so people can be ready next week! So coming next week: First Love Monster 5!

Today I'm thankful for getting to work on another fun chapter of UQ Holder!, Page's love of packing paper, getting to watch season four of Elementary, the idea of cosplay photo shoots, and having paid the rent.
3rd-Nov-2016 01:35 am (UTC)
Oops. I need to read this... especially since I swiped one of your comp copies like two months ago when you got them. I think maybe v1s get more coverage from reviewers because they're new series? But v2 should still be important to cover for those who weren't fully convinced to read the series based on the first vol or its reviews.

Also maybe you can post these more frequently after all? Since you're translating half of Kodansha's series and had a month's worth of reviews come out just this week... And the review of The Prince in His Dark Days hasn't been posted yet, right? (which also came out like a month ago, but which I have read :) )
4th-Nov-2016 04:28 pm (UTC)
Your theory about why it hasn't gotten as much attention from reviewers would hold a lot more water if we couldn't easily find reviews for Fruits Basket 6, Haikyu!! 3-4, Assassination Classroom 13, etc. etc. Our most charitable theory is that when the editors switched, so did the plan for sending out review copies. Or maybe they just haven't gotten to it yet for similar reasons to yours. It's not as "exciting" as other titles, so that might make it easy for it to fall through the cracks.

The review frequency is a tricky thing, because, yes, we did have a bunch of translations come out this week, but sometimes we'll go a whole month with only one or fewer. We looked ahead on releases of our translations, and it seems like the pace kind of averages out--sometimes there were be a bunch all at once, and sometimes nothing for three weeks...which is pretty much how it's been all along anyway. And that being the case, it might not be such a bad idea to occasionally post an extra one, or have a review week so we can work through the backlog, but...

...The other thing to consider is that, we just don't know what everyone's read, so we could have a big spurt on posting reviews, but that could just result in a bunch more reviews of things that people want to read, but haven't, and then when they finally do read them, they might not want to go back to find them. (This is of course assuming more than two people are reading these reviews at all.)
5th-Nov-2016 09:29 am (UTC)
Judging by the TV and newspaper coverage of big conventions like San Diego Comic Con and New York Comic-Con, a lot of non-fans even in the U.S. appear to regard cosplay as some kind of bizarre variation on kids playing dress-up even after they're supposedly old enough to have grown out of such things. And yet Halloween and Halloween costumes for adults have become a booming business (although you can still find censorious articles online insisting that Halloween is just for kids and nobody over thirteen should be allowed to go trick or treating). Maybe part of the bemused and/or amused attitudes toward cosplay often discernible in TV news reports comes from the sort of "designated day of misrule" tradition in which it's okay to violate social norms by wearing outrageous or deliberately eye-catching costumes as long as you do it on the same day everyone else does--i.e., on holidays like Halloween or Mardi Gras. If you do stuff like this at what mainstream society considers to be an inappropriate place and time, even in the U.S. you risk getting censured or ridiculed. Your outfit and behavior may not be any odder than what many other people do on Halloween, at theme frat parties, etc., and there may be a whole community of other people out there who also cosplay or dress up in Gothic Lolita fashions. But the larger "mainstream" community doesn't know or care about that. So they tend to rationalize what they do as normal Halloween (or whatever) behavior, while cosplay is viewed as eyebrow-raisingly eccentric because it's done outside the realm of what society at large considers the "appropriate" occasions for dressing up and drawing attention.

And that's just in the U.S., where individuality and doing your own thing are supposedly considered virtues. In Japan, where there's much more emphasis on fitting in with the group and not making waves, at least some people would probably regard doing something as "childish"--or, in Hayama's case, sexually provocative--as dressing up in costume as a sign that at heart you're an irresponsible parasite who refuses to grow up, or even a potential menace to society subversively rebelling against your proper role.

I think the reactions Hayama got from most of her co-workers were particularly bad because many of them already disliked or were intimidated by her uptight demeanor and habit of sternly rebuking others' mistakes, as when she reprimanded Nagisa in volume one for getting one of the teachers' names wrong. When the flighty underlings discovered Hayama's sexy cosplay photos online, it was like finding out that the prim and proper hall monitor was actually a stripper in her spare time. So they went out of their way to make sure everyone in the company saw the pictures that "proved" Hayama was just a closet slut whose sternly businesslike attitude at the office was merely evidence of insulting hypocrisy, rather than overzealous devotion to duty.

If they'd found out Nagisa often cosplayed as a Little Red Riding Hood-like magical girl, they would have made fun of her, too, but probably in a less determinedly malicious way, since Nagisa didn't come across as considering herself superior to most of the other workers in the office. Nagisa might still have felt humiliated enough to consider quitting. But at least her style of cosplay merely leaves her open to charges of acting excessively immature off duty, rather than presenting the kind of sexually provocative image that in Hayama's case could conceivably have led to her being officially reprimanded or even fired for besmirching the company's image, if she hadn't broken down and quit first.

Possibly if Hayama had been able to keep her cool and simply look the meddling clerical worker in the eye and say, "Yeah, that's me. So what?" when confronted with the photos, the whole thing would have blown over. But in Japan that might not have worked either--especially with a cosplay persona that even Nagisa thought verged on R-rated.
6th-Nov-2016 02:06 am (UTC)
You make some good points.
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