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Alethea & Athena
In/Spectre volume 1 
14th-Dec-2016 01:47 pm
We got home from Disneyland last night and decided to check our email before going to bed, thus discovering a few work emails that have thrown our schedule into chaos! ...Okay, more like minor disarray, but the minor disarray combined with having plans for this evening and sleeping in this morning has our schedule for today specifically in a bit of a chaos. So what do we do? We stall!

...Actually, I think this is less stalling and more making sure we get a review posted today, since our plans this evening are for an uncertain period of time, and we don't want to end up working right up until we have to leave, then coming back late and not having time to post. Not on a Review Rednesday, anyway! (There may be a little stalling, but I'm actually pretty excited about the work we're doing. The stalling is mostly because of being indecisive about what takes priority.)

This week, we present our review of In/Spectre volume 1! Spoiler level: moderate.

We better get this review written before we totally forget about it! So this is a review of In/Spectre volume 1, which means now we've finally finished the first volume of all the new titles we were assigned back when our editor asked us what we wanted to translate. This is the one we said we definitely wanted if we could only have one, so it's maybe a little ironic that it's the last one we really worked on--and after two volumes of Wolf-Boy and Dark Days, no less--but on the other hand, our preferences don't control release dates, so.

We translated about the first half of the first chapter a few months ago, actually. They wanted some first chapters for previews, but in this series, one chapter takes up a whole half of a book, so our editor said it was okay to just do twenty or thirty pages. I think we did about fifty and turned in about forty, because there was a nice, like, "What!?" sort of moment right when Kotoko asked Kuro to clarify if it was him or the kappa that got scared and ran away, and it seemed like a good hook. But we had originally translated a fair amount of Kotoko's explanation about how she's a god of wisdom. But the point is, all this time, I've been telling myself I need to remember to include in the review that when we had Kuro say, "I'm sorry, are we back in 1950?", what he really said was, "What era are you from?", but Athena immediately came up with that translation and she credits Gilmore Girls for the writing style. We liked it so much that we kept it. Whew, now I've gotten that off my chest.

Anyway, this series tells the story of a girl who has been chosen by all the supernatural creatures of Japan to be their god of wisdom. She falls in love with one Kuro, who was already taken by a woman with whom he was madly in love, until circumstances forced them to break up. Kotoko manages to convince him to date her, and then the story jumps to two years later, where Kuro's ex-girlfriend is working as a traffic cop in a far-off town, still pining for Kuro despite being the one to break it off. And then, rumors of a dead idol wielding a steel girder start to pop up all over town, to the point where you can't just write them off anymore, and what will happen next!?

And that's it for the summary that doesn't give too much away, I hope. If you don't want any spoilers, it might be better to stop reading now, but I don't know what I'm going to write yet, so we'll see. [Edit after writing a few more sentences: there are spoilers.]

Kotoko is an interesting character, because she talks in a different way. Not like she has a fancy speech pattern or anything--she just uses teineigo--but I guess it's her turn of phrase that's different. Or maybe it just seems that way because we made her talk that way when we translated her. But she is a little eccentric, so I think it works.

We agree with Kotoko and Saki that Kuro is adorable. I was a little disappointed when I found out that his powers come from mermaid flesh, because that's so cliched. I mean, maybe it's not, when I think about it, because really as far as I know, there's just the Rumiko Takahashi series about mermaid flesh, and in UQ Holder! there's a character whose immortality comes from eating mermaid meat, but it just seemed so...normal. He's supposed to be this big scary guy, but he just ate mermaid flesh. And in UQ Holder!, that kind of immortality is treated as kind of weaksauce, so it was a bit of a letdown. On the other hand, the other thing he ate was apparently so terrible that he didn't want to talk about it even after confessing his secret, so maybe that one will be more interesting. Saki said it's beef specifically that makes her ill, and seafood, so since the seafood is clearly a reminder of mermaid meat, then the other thing is probably cow-related. We don't know much about bovine yokai, though, so we couldn't even speculate.

Speaking of Saki and Kotoko, we didn't write a note about this because we don't have any proof and we don't know if it's significant, but there are two goddesses in Japanese mythology named Sakuya-bime (who recently appeared in Noragami and whose name is a reference to flowers) and Iwanaga-hime, the former being beautiful but fragile and the latter being ugly but as long-lived as the rocks. The guy in the legend was given both to wed, but he only married the pretty one, so their father was like, "Your kids' early funerals, dude." The point is, they were sort of love rivals, the two princesses.

We had trouble with the one-leg, one-eye thing, because she kept saying stuff about how it shows up in mythology like this or like that, and we'd Google it every time to verify, but we rarely found more than one example. And we were like, "I know Hephaestus/Vulcan was lame, but I don't remember anything about him being blind..." And then we found a thing about a Norse god of the forge being stung in the eye, but the legend (or at least Wikipedia) didn't specify if it blinded him; it only made him pause for a second (that's why Mjollnir's hilt is too short). Also, it didn't say anything about one leg or even lameness. We did find some interesting information on a Hawaiian ceremony that involved human sacrifice of an eye that was eaten by somebody...we didn't have time to read the thing too carefully, and also, gross. There also may or may not have been something about a similar Egyptian ceremony. Fortunately, I think the series glosses over it enough that we didn't need to write a note about specific legends...and if we do, our editor will probably email us back and tell us which ones so we'll know what to look up.

Anyway. So far the series is definitely intriguing. I look forward to reading more of it, but I kind of hope it's not as wordy. Oh my goodness, so many long sentences...

And that's it for our volume one review! ...It's not really very exciting. Sorry. But it is kind of funny. And if there's anything we didn't touch on that you'd like us to comment on, go ahead and ask in the comments!

As for our translations that had releases this week, we have a grand total of one! Complex Age 3! Check it out for the further adventures of Nagisa and her cosplay companions!

And tune in next week, for our review of Your Lie in April volume 10! (We'd better get that one posted soon--we just got our comp copies for the finale!)

Today I'm thankful for fun new things on our schedule, having a lovely time at Disneyland with Gaston and Alice, Page finally getting off the keyboard so we could post this review (I undid it, but she added a serious amount of the letter P), our Christmas Tokyo Treat box arriving (with lots of chocolate!), and learning that the beignets at Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen in Downtown Disney are in no way inferior to the best beignets in New Orleans.
14th-Dec-2016 07:52 pm (UTC)
I was amazed at how much I really enjoyed In/Spectre. It pretty much hit all my fan buttons. I can't wait for Vol. 2.
15th-Dec-2016 02:23 pm (UTC)
We're glad you enjoy it!
14th-Dec-2016 08:27 pm (UTC)
" sort of moment right when Kotoko asked Kuro to clarify if it was him or the kappa that got scared and ran away, and it seemed like a good hook."
I enjoy that part as well, what a nice twist, I thought.

"Your kids' early funerals, dude."
ha ha ha. I thought that in ancient Japan (the time of the legend), men were allowed to have more than 1 wives/concubines, right?

I really enjoy volume 1, I have to reread it to see if I have questions later tonight. Thanks for this awesome review :)
15th-Dec-2016 02:25 pm (UTC)
Yeah, it is nice how they suddenly spring that on you.

Yes, polygamy was a thing in ancient Japan, and the father did offer both of his daughters, so that the prince's children could be beautiful and long-lived, but the prince just hated the idea of marrying Iwanaga-hime that much, I guess.

We're glad you liked it! We will be standing by if you do have any questions.
14th-Dec-2016 11:37 pm (UTC)
Yeah, well, having the preview stop there was kinda NOT FUN FOR THE LETTERER. :( I had to wait SO long to find out what happened next!!

It's okay though.

I left myself a note of silly things that reminded me of Noragami while I was working on the series. References to goats, for one thing. Also capybara? and yurufuwa. (but those might've been from v2...) (of course, yokai/ayakashi as well (and I could even use the same font!), but that's obvious.)

Also, um, somehow I don't think I got Saki's connection between eating meat and Kuro eating yokai. I guess I was just thinking of it as a more general meat -> animals -> yokai thing?? (or yokai being carnivores??) That doesn't really follow so I don't know how my brain settled on that. But it being because of what Kuro ate makes SO much sense. Duh lys. Let's just say I was a little distracted while lettering because it was a really rushed project when I finally got around to finishing it, and while you lament the long sentences, my gripe is the SO MANY sfx. (at least, it seemed like a lot compared to Noragami...)

Ohh, the two rival princesses story is an interesting possible connection. (I'm laughing at your take on the father-in-law's comment.) I'm rooting for Kotoko this time, though. She's such a little pill♥ Hahaha, I totally just took the series at its word about there being all kinds of stories about sacrificing an eye and/or leg. It sounded convincing enough. That Kotoko.
15th-Dec-2016 02:33 pm (UTC)
Ha, ha, ha... Well at least we know it was a good hook. Imagine how many people would be dying to buy the volume after reading the preview!

It reminded us a lot of Noragami, too! I think it was mostly the ayakashi stuff, but there was definitely a Noragami vibe going on.

Haha, yeeeeah, rush projects do tend to mess with your brain... I want to say there are fewer sound effects later on, but since the long sentences are what stick in our minds, we really couldn't say.

Maybe the long-lived princess will win this time! (She is the main character, after all...) We're glad the stuff about eye/leg sacrifices sounded convincing!
15th-Dec-2016 02:50 pm (UTC)
But I think the preview was only for like booksellers and marketing people, not actual readers. I guess maybe if it hooked them enough to stock the book, that's still a good thing... I just checked though, and the preview of v1 on Kodansha's website does contain the whole first chapter (88pgs).
15th-Dec-2016 04:24 pm (UTC)
It's been our experience that they hand out free booklets with about four or five previews of different titles at conventions. We always assumed it was for something like that, although at AX this year they didn't seem to have anything but the Attack on Titan anthology preview. I hoped they had a new preview book for Comic Con and later.
16th-Dec-2016 06:16 am (UTC)
I haven't been able to get hold of this yet, but my interlibrary-loan request for volume one of "That Wolf-Boy Is Mine" finally came through a couple of days ago. So I left a long comment about that on your Review Rednesday post about it from back in October.
17th-Dec-2016 12:03 am (UTC)
Thanks for the heads-up! Your comment has been replied to.
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