Here we are with our grand finale of review weeks, another Review Rednesday! Featuring Noragami 17! But first, an advertisement for this week's releases! Okay, less of an advertisement and more of a notice. This week's releases feature Livingstone 4, the final volume! Also, on Facebook, Kodansha said The Prince in His Dark Days 2 was coming out today, but when we checked their website a couple weeks back, it said it's not coming out until next week. So...I don't know.
But anyway, on to the review! Spoiler level: I'll go ahead and say moderate.
We're starting this review in the twenty or so minutes we have before we leave for the orthodontist. I don't know if we'll finish before we have to go, or if we'll even work on it when we get back, because we're also in the middle of our Fire Force translation. I think that's a pretty good situation to reflect the whole circumstances behind translating this volume. Everything was happening in a whirlwind, and it was almost impossible to really get into anything. We managed to focus pretty well for the first draft of this translation, which is good, because that's when we get to read it for the first time, so that's when we want to be paying attention for our own sakes, but then everything else came along and now it's hard to remember what happened.
That doesn't mean I don't remember! But the tradition with Noragami is to talk about what made it so ridiculously hard to translate, and then
talk about what happened, and I think this time we struggled with it so much that I can't even remember what the struggles are. That's not true; it just means that I have to focus harder to remember. Athena says the struggle is that Yato and company weren't in this volume very much, which means pretty much everybody who spoke was somebody who gives us trouble. I know we brought it on ourselves; I'm pretty sure most translators in the industry would either translate everyone pretty much the same way, or impose arbitrary speech patterns based on their own new creative version of the story...which might be what we did, too, but we like to think it was based on the actual Japanese usage in the original text, and not just, "This character looks like s/he would talk like this!"
Anyway, yes. This volume had a lot of Takemikazuchi, a curse, an incantation, and plenty of Bishamon and Kazuma. It's uncanny with Kazuma. Even though we don't have him using any kind of a fancy speech pattern, somehow, whenever he's talking we're struggling with the text. I don't know how he does it. The curse and the incantation really slowed us down, because in previous volumes they've usually been pretty straightforward...okay, that's not true. Curses...I'm just calling it a curse because that's what it was this time, but the spells that aren't what we decided to translate as incantations. You know, like the naming ritual and the ablution stuff. The stuff like that has always been cause to slow down and look up every possible meaning of every word. Thankfully, this one was short, and probably didn't have any direct ties to Shinto rituals...we think... At least, I think...yeah, we Googled some of the phrases and didn't come up with anything, so I'm pretty sure it was just specific to Noragami.
And then there was the incantation, which drove us nuts, because the second half, sure, we can see how that amounts to thunder being locked up in the sky, but that first half! It was like, "How in the world is this relevant!?" At least we knew from experience to Google it and see if it exists outside Noragami, which of course it does, but we couldn't get much more information than that. It's in the Shin Kokin Wakashu, it's anonymous, and according to one uncorroborated source, another old Japanese book says it came to a famous nobleman poet (Fujiwara no Takato) in a dream. It would have been nice to get the context of the dream... Maybe that would have explained its connection to lightning. Oh well. Anyway, we translated the poem based on the modern-language translation provided at various websites, but then since it didn't seem to have anything to do with lightning, I panicked and spent about half an hour or so looking up every single word in the first half of the poem so we could put them all together and see if there was some connection to lightning that we didn't see before. The verdict: as far as we can tell there's not, but if there's something like a "hafuri" "haburi" situation going on, maybe there could be.
And thinking about this reminds me of why this turned out to be such a whirlwind project. Our editor gave us the deadline, and it was a day after the Japanese release of the book, so we were like, "Ha ha, that's a funny joke. We'll put it on the calendar, but we can be pretty sure it won't actually be due until later." So some other editors came along and gave us more deadlines, and we were like, sure, no problem, that Noragami isn't really going to be due then anyway. And then our Noragami editor came along and said, "Okay, so I can't get you the book yet, but here are some scans of the first two chapters in it." And we were like, "Oh snap, this deadline means business." And so it became one of five books that were all due around the same weekend (two on Friday, three on Monday). Anyway, since we were translating straight from the magazine instead of the tankobon, there was some concern, since we know that manga artists get to go through and check their manga for errors and stuff before it gets printed as a tankobon, and what if they change the song? That would be frustrating, but of course we can't assume that that will happen, so we just translate what's in front of us.
Other than that, I think we were just really tired, and the fatigue combined with the knowledge that fatigue tends to make us careless had me freaking out that what if we're not giving Noragami the treatment it deserves and it turns out all wrong and aaaaaahhh!? which had me unreasonably stressed out and didn't help anything. And that (in addition to poems and dialogue) is why this book was so hard, even though this particular volume doesn't seem like it was especially difficult as Noragami goes.
Now, as for the story. Wow. It feels like so much happens and like not much happens at all. I mean, Bishamon gets to Koto in the middle of the first chapter, and we still don't know how that fight turns out by the time the book is over. Oh, but Koto is so much fun to translate. He's a jerk, but he's adorable and he talks fun. He had this one pose that was just so cute and punchable. It's on the last page of chapter 64. Man, that guy. I still wonder about the kid Yato's father is possessing, though. I wonder if Yato's father will have to leave him at some point other than the kid being killed, and if he'll be a character in the future. Also, not surprised that the stray knows her past.
All the stuff with Nana was pretty intense. We had to laugh when she said, "It's a good day to die," though, because that's a song in Galavant, and the one side that's not made up of fighters sings, "It's a good day to die, but not as good as other days," and goes on about how no totally that's okay, we'd be happy to put this off and die some other time, thanks. It's actually a pretty nice song, too. That's Alan Menken for you. But anyway...
...that's when we took a break to go to the orthodontist. We got back and our schedule exploded, so we have to finish this review so we can cross Noragami off the list and redo our whiteboard.
So anyway, Nana. It's fun that she speaks another language. She doesn't really, probably, but it's fun anyway. There's a note, you can read all about it. But I'm not surprised that she wasn't too broken up about her death, because you don't get to be a super powerful shinki if you get hung up on the injustices of your past. That was something that kind of bothered me about the whole gods' secret thing, because it's no secret that they're dead, so surely not all of them are going to be bitter or angry about their deaths. But Athena's explaining it to me right now, and she says that most of the people who died of old age and were like, "That's okay, I've lived a good, long life," are probably going to be like Rusty Old Sword Guy in the ha clan, and not be much use in battle, which is why we don't see them very often. So the shinki that get all the screen time are likely to be bitter because they died before their time, and that's why Sakura/Tamanone had to (from the storyteller's perspective) have been raped, because she was too good a person to want revenge, but being violated is going to make it even harder to get over, which is probably why in the very end she wasn't demanding revenge, but release through death. Aww, poor Sakura/Tamanone.
And of course, that leads us to a new theory about Yukine's death. But we're not really ready to talk about that one.
So let's change the subject. Kazuma! My, my, my, that Kazuma. Of course his actions are not all that surprising, but they're still a little shocking, like, "Oh no, what have you done!?" Stinging Bishamon, tsk, tsk. That's kind of a conundrum, isn't it? In his desperation to save her life he does something that could result in her death. Well, we're sure it will all work out in the end...whether or not we end up with an adorable little girl Bishamon as a result has yet to be determined. But anyway, we wanted to point out that when Oshi was talking about how Bishamon had already been showing signs of treachery, the word she used for "sign" was "kizashi", which uses the exact same kanji that is Kazuma's name! And that's when we were like, "So basically Kazuma means 'foreshadowing'. Has Kazuma just been the vessel for foreshadowing all along?" He was a blessed vessel, then Yukine became a blessed vessel. He was using spells, now Yukine is using spells. He's losing his mind and his morals trying to save Bishamon, Yukine's showing signs (kizashi?) of being ready to lose his mind and his morals to save Yato...
Speaking of Yukine saving Yato, it was so cute when Yukine tried to tie up Yato to keep him from telling Takemikazuchi about the crafter! Aww, man, those two are so fun. "We're gonna use the power of our friendship!" They're the best. Oh, and that picture at the end of Chapter...67? Yeah, 67. The one where Yato holds Sekki over his eyes and you see Yukine, and it's like they're the same face. It might not make sense to describe it like that, so just go look at it, because it's awesome! And it's pretty. And you know what else is pretty? Pictures of Takemikazuchi. He may be a jerk, but he is a handsome jerk.
And speaking of Takemikazuchi, awwwwwwwwwwwwwww! Oh man, can you imagine when the current incarnation of Takemikazuchi was born, what it would have been like to have those be your first moments of consciousness? Poor kid, no wonder he grew up to be a jerk. I'm glad that Kiun has at least some scruples about how they treated him growing up, but I'm more glad that he's finally taking steps to fix it...like a thousand years later. Little Takemikazuchi is so cute. Adachitoka draws the most adorable children. (Speaking of such things, when Koto was telling Bishamon he was going to punish her...) Oh but that line where the old Takemikazuchi says he hopes Kiun will stick with him. That was hard! We're sorry if it doesn't sound good. We worked and worked on it, and we found something we liked, and maybe it was something about being an ally, but I don't remember, because! then we got to the very end and Yato was talking about shinki being able to keep up with their gods, and he said Yukine will always be his mikata, which is what Take-chan wanted Kiun to be, and we were like, "Aw, darnit, now it has to match." So we changed it, and I think it works pretty well, and at least it sound pretty good (if you ask me), so I think it's better in the end, but as usual, we wonder if it lost some nuance along the way. We also suspect Kiun is going to have an "aha!" moment based on that exchange, but we won't know until the next chapter. If he doesn't, we'll be like, "Ugh, Kiun. We changed that line just for you."
Anyway, this was another great volume. It had some good themes, too. I really like what Tenjin said to Ebisu about not learning from total affirmation or total denial. I think it's really important to remember that, because (if my Facebook feed is anything to be believed) people are always divided into two sides, and it's always all or nothing--if you don't agree with every single point on this side, you're the enemy. So I really love that Tenjin points out that it can't be all or nothing, you never get anywhere that way. The answer is usually somewhere in the middle.
And I think that covers everything. Very good as usual. I hope next time we work on this series, we won't be so pressed for time.
Addendum: I think I mentioned somewhere in this review that we worked from digital files (I don't have time to read the thing and find out, are you kidding me?), but I'm saying it again in case I didn't. It's really only relevant because we were sent the actual printed book later, and we have now done the necessary bonus page translations. You know, character descriptions, cover flap comments, gag manga--that kind of thing. ...Oh, and also the eight extra pages that are magically at the end of Chapter 67. I will tell you, they were NOT there before. They even had a blurb on the page right before Yukine tells Yato to change him back saying there wouldn't be a Noragami the next month. That kind of caption is only at the end of a chapter! And they were a really good eight pages, too, so I'm so glad we didn't miss them.
There is a reason that I wish they had already been there, though, and that's that guess who does most of the talking on them! That's right--it's Takemikazuchi. I keep asking myself, "Why, why, oh why did we make him talk fancy?" Because he DOES talk fancy, that's why! Then they show him as a teenager again and I'm like, "No, seriously, why
did we make him talk fancy?" Because he still
talks fancy, stupid! Get it through your head! And I'm really glad that that's the answer, because otherwise I would be questioning our judgment so hard. But then he's talking fancy but in short sentences and we're like, "Why, why, oh why does he have to talk fancy?" It's a challenge, is what I'm saying. But I'm liking him more and more as a character. It's really impossible to hate any of the characters in this series.
Finally, I would like to say that we are on team Takenoko no Sato. Sorry, Kiun.
Addendum the second: We were thinking about funny things we've translated recently, and Athena was remembering the gag comic about Takemikazuchi passing out copies of Yato's book to everybody, and then the conversation turned a lot more serious, because she pointed out that when you think about Take-chan's past, it makes sense that he would be so desperate to get a blessed vessel, because becoming a blessed vessel is a sign of absolute loyalty, and he has a history of being betrayed and killed by his own shinki. In fact, Kiun only knew him the one day before he was replaced, so as far as Kiun
knows he was only replaced once, but as far as the other senior shinki know... Anyway, the point is, all Takemikazuchi wants is to be loved, and to know that he can trust that love, so it's no wonder he wants a blessed vessel. It's not about power at all. Awwww...
Addendum the final: Incidentally, those eight pages did end up in the magazine the next month, which we only point out because it means we get to brag about how we knew that, which is that we saw them when the Kodansha editors showed them to us when we visited them.
If I'd remembered that Noragami reviews are always extra long, maybe we would have posted this earlier today so we wouldn't be in such a rush to get ready for our plans tonight. This week has been so busy. Anyway, tune in next week for...ugh, I don't have time to decide now! How about a vote? Your Lie in April, That Wolf-Boy Is Mine, Devil Survivor, Missions of Love, or if you reeeeally want, we can let Fire Force jump ahead in line. What say the readers?
Today I'm thankful for finishing our first draft today, probably having time to get ready before we have to go, getting to review Noragami (aww, I love Noragami so much... Snap out of it, there's not time!), getting to wear our new shirts tonight, having a lovely night at the temple last night followed by Joe's Italian Ice featuring the very best flavor Monster Mash.