The fourth and final volume of Livingstone. It was a pretty satisfying conclusion, but I have to say, some of the stuff that happened in the middle had me going, "That's dumb." Not everyone is going to freak out and get themselves killed from seeing a ghost or a zombie. I mean, most people probably would at first. But what really got me was when Sakurai saw Soga dissolve into a mass of stainbeast goo, because at the time, I didn't realize that it wasn't actually happening, it was just like a vision or something that Sakurai was having. And I thought that would be the stupidest thing to happen just because he saw someone from his life who was dead. It didn't make sense that seeing a ghost of the past would suddenly make you disintegrate. But then that turned out to not be what happened, so after that I was a lot more okay with everything.
Azusa is a fun character. Her lecture at the beginning of the one chapter was pretty daunting, but not unexpectedly, it turned out to be fairly simple as far as translation is concerned. We didn't have to look anything up. And the really scary thing was that, at least in the Japanese version, it looked like part of the text was cut off, but then it turned out not to be, so it was much more translation friendly than when they were reading Soga's memory. That was by far the worst thing. It was a kind of cool trick, but all the sentence fragments! But what took up the most time was looking up all the Okinawa sights. Fortunately, no one used a heavy Okinawan dialect, because our dialect book says the Okinawan dialect is basically incomprehensible to people from mainland Japan. We did decide that the best match for Okinawan dialect would be a Pacific Island dialect--not just surfer dude, but specifically from the native people's, but fortunately we didn't have to use it, because that also can lead to accusations of racism (they did the same thing in Final Fantasy X, and one time our brother-in-law commented on Facebook about Wakka's racist accent). In all honesty, there were hints of the Okinawan dialect, but they were mild enough that we didn't think it was necessary to do anything with them.
The other challenge! was figuring out how to deal with Amano's switch from ore to boku and back. If you've read the book, you'll know how we did it! (And you might have noticed that we kind of did nothing when he switched back. We thought about having him say, "Sorry, miss," but while that would be a more mature way to address the woman, it would also be more polite, which isn't really Amano's thing. So we toyed with the idea of "Sorry, lady," instead, but that would be more childlike, so you see our dilemma.)
One disappointing thing about this volume is that they hinted at Sakurai's past and how he came to figure out what about his powers and maybe how he got into the cleaning & collection business...and then they didn't give us any more! I can see why, though; it didn't exactly fit anywhere in the narrative. That is something I've wondered about this series, though. How does one get a job in this business? And how do Azusa and Nagisa know so much about all the different things they can do, while Sakurai knows nothing? Isn't there, like, some kind of an employee handbook that teaches all the ins and outs of the job? Sakurai doesn't necessarily seem like the type to skip the reading, but I might believe that he would start to do it and get tired of it or confused and frustrated and rage quit or something. The point is, I can understand why Azusa is so exasperated with him.
I did still think the reason for Makoto's death was kind of dumb. I have a hard time believing that the soul's plan would be at such variance with the body's plan. But that goes back to my disagreement with the entire premise, so in the context of this story, I guess it sort of works.
The reason Sakurai gives for Amano to keep living was the best.
So overall, I think it was an interesting series, and a fun ride. It was supposed to be thought-provoking, and I didn't really get that from it, but that's because I already have my own thoughts on the matter. But the characters were interesting, and so were most of the episodes. So it was a good series, and I'm thankful that we had the opportunity to translate it.
PS: We really didn't feel the need to write a note about this, but it might be a point of interest, so I'm mentioning it here. When Sakurai talks about an "identity crisis", we looked up a bunch of things and determined that this is what we call it in English-speaking psychology, but the more colloquial term for it in Japanese translates roughly as "eighth-grade illness", because it usually happens to kids in their second year of middle school. We thought about calling it an eighth-life crisis (midlife crisis in your 50s, quarter-life crisis in your 20s, eighth-life crisis in your teen years), but when we looked up "identity crisis" at Wikipedia, it explained that it tends to happen to teenagers and is pretty much exactly what Sakurai told Amano it is, so we went with it. Why mention it anyway? Because when Sakurai remembers his own identity crisis, he looked to be about in the eighth grade.
As for this week's releases, we have...nothing! So tune in next week, for our review of The Prince in His Dark Days volume 2!
Today I'm thankful for getting to go to Disneyland with friends again, the beautiful lip gloss compacts we got in the mail, Marie Callender's chocolate satin pie, getting to translate Livingstone, and having a new CD to listen to someday when we have time (lol).