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Alethea & Athena
In/Spectre volume 2 
8th-Feb-2017 03:54 pm
I kind of want to apologize for getting so upset yesterday. We've gotten to translate a ton of wonderful and amazing titles; it's really not the end of the world just because somebody else gets to do the same thing. And it really is very exciting news for all the people who have been waiting and waiting for the chance to read Chihayafuru in English. I do want to be a brat and say we probably would have done a better job, but that, too, is entirely unfair, since we have no idea how much effort the translator who is working on it is putting into it. I also kind of want to be a brat and immediately buy all the Japanese volumes so we can be ahead of everybody for a while, but we probably shouldn't splurge like that right now.

But anyway, it's Review Rednesday! This week we present our review of In/Spectre volume two!

It occurs to me that if we want these reviews to be a nice thing to remember our translations by in the future, it might help to have a little blurb about each book to remind ourselves what they're about. In this book, we find out about Karin Nanase's past and the allegations that she killed her father, and there's a lot of fighting between Kotoko and Saki about who's the better girlfriend for Kuro, even though Saki still can't get over her fear of yokai. And there's a lot a lot a lot a lot a lot a lot a lot a lot a lot alot a lot of talking. We also find out the other thing that Kuro ate, and by the way, we are pretty fond of the English title of that chapter.

We were having such a hard time with it, because we knew that Kuro's situation is that for whatever reason he ate two kinds of yokai meat when he was a kid, and we knew that one of them was mermaid/ningyo. And the title is the other "mazarimono (mixed-in thing)," and we were like, "How in the world are we supposed to describe that in a nice, neat chapter title?" So we kept going, "The other...thing he ate. The other...ingredient (one of the dictionary suggestions for mazarimono). The other...blended thing. The other meat." And I was like, "Man, I wish we could use something like 'the other white meat,' but 'the other yokai meat' just doesn't work." So we were throwing things out there, and Athena was like, "The other wight W-I-G-H-T meat?" And we were like, "!!!!" So we raced to Dictionary.com to look up the word "wight" to see if maybe we really could use it, since when it shows up in video games it's usually a specific monster and we weren't sure if it had to be a specific monster or not. But it didn't! And we were like, "It's brilliant!!!" And we were very excited. It did occur to us later that the young kids reading this book might not get the reference, but that's okay because it's still catchy. The reference is really not important at all.

I think we have three main thoughts about this volume. The first is like, "Oh my GOSH, stop talking!" So many words... So many words... I don't think it would have bothered us so much, except that the week we worked on it was the week Gaston came over to crash on his way down farther south, and he showed up at after midnight, and then we talked for two hours because we're always starving for human interaction, and then when he came back up north, of course we went to Disneyland, and then we stayed up until 12:30 and woke up at 5:30 so we could go to the Pancake House and still get to the park by opening (which we still failed to do, sad). We're still trying to recover from the sleep deprivation, so we've been having a hard time with the words and getting them to come out properly and stuff. I think our translation ended up pretty good regardless, but I couldn't say for sure in my current state. And I think we probably still would have been like, "Wow, guys, do we have to have so much exposition?" Like, seriously.

The second thought is okay, police people. Good job identifying the dead body as the girl who checked in to the hotel. You still haven't proven that the girl who checked in to the hotel was really Karin Nanase! Our guess is that it was really her sister who ended up dead. It still doesn't explain all the ghost appearances, though. Like, is there some sort of paranormal science experiment going on, where some shady organization has created a ghost that they can control at will? Maybe Terada is right about organized crime after all! But she's still a real ghost!!! Waaaaaahhhh!!! I mean, the whole supernatural science thing has already been established as a thing in this series.

And speaking of that! The third thought we had was dude, why don't you try, like, not serving the mermaid flesh with the kudan meat, but have them eat the mermaid to gain immortality and then give them the kudan? It seems so simple! But I guess maybe Sakuragawa the Deranged didn't want a bunch of non-prophetic immortals wandering around? I don't know, it just doesn't seem like he's worried about how humane it would be to, for example, feed them the mermaid meat and then have the kudan meat give them a bad reaction that they would be suffering from for all eternity. On the other hand, maybe that's where he draws the line, like, "Okay, I don't mind slaughtering people for my own personal gain, but even I'm not so heartless as to make them suffer to the end of time."

Of course, none of that stuff...well, except maybe the first complaint...made this book any less of a fun read! The banter between Kotoko and Saki is rather entertaining. The massive amounts of exposition did make it a little trying, but at least Karin Nanase's TV show was delightfully ridiculous. We didn't write a note about Flatty McWashboard. I think the readers will know that that wasn't her original name, which was Sentaku Itako, which means "Laundry Boardgirl," and that just doesn't sound like a name. The note would have been like, "The readers may have guessed that Flatty McWashboard is not her real name. He real name is this, which means the same thing." But the point is, the Japanese reader would have been able to laugh immediately upon reading the name Sentaku Itako, but an English-speaking reader wouldn't, unless they were also fluent in Japanese, but they'd have to be fluent and not just studying. So we opted for the quick laugh instead of the educational opportunity. It's not really something that would come up in conversation, barring extenuating circumstances. Anyway, Flatty even almost sounds like a real name. It rhymes with Patty!

And because there was soooooooooooooo much exposition, the story progressed like not at all. Although we did learn a lot of stuff, so maybe it did progress some. We know what Kuro's powers are...or we have the gist of them, maybe without the details of how they work. And we know just about everything there is to know about Karin's backstory, except for the stuff that's going to be revealed later for shock factors and stuff. What was Hatsumi's testimony about Karin's death?

But! it seems like all the groundwork is in place and now the story can move along. ...Although I'm guessing there will be an extended flashback about Karin and her father, and one about Kuro and his cousin and how she got to be in the hospital. And probably one about Karin and Hatsumi. Or maybe they'll surprise us and reveal the information in non-flashback form!

And all of this sounds like I'm complaining, but I really do like the series! It's just the wordiness I have trouble with, and since it's based on a novel, all that stuff was probably in the prose before. In fact, it's kind of like we're translating a novel, which might be why this series makes us worry about whether or not we really have what it takes to translate manga anymore. But the point is, just because it's given in the form of a spoken narration instead of a prose narrator narration doesn't mean it's any less interesting. There is a little bit of, "Come on, people don't narrate like this!" but then you think about how it's done, like two police discussing a case, for example, and you're like, "No, I guess it makes sense after all."

Anyway, the point is. I like this series and I'm interested in seeing what happens next and how all the characters interact now that Kuro has joined the group. And if we're really lucky, they'll be done with the long narrations for a while.

Oh man, we just translated volume four (I still have to write a review for it!), and I just have to laugh and laugh at that last sentence. Boy I hope we managed to make the long narrations come across as more interesting than just big info dumps, because this series sure has a lot of them, and people did enjoy the first volume, and I'm hoping they continue to enjoy it.

But anyway, we actually had some translations released this week! Two of them! Say I Love You volume 17 and Fire Force volume 2! And tune in next week for our review of My Monster Secret 5!

Today I'm thankful for having a kitty that likes to spend time with us, having ice cream, getting to try prickly pear sorbet, currently having a slightly more relaxed schedule, and new music from our favorite hammered dulcimer player.
9th-Feb-2017 04:20 am (UTC)
I'm catching up on all the lj I forgot to check this week. (I should/could still be working... but...)

I'm sorry about Chihayafuru :( (and also sorry for bringing it up again if you'd rather just move on now.) Ah, Kodansha Digital... I suppose this is the good and the bad of their being such an ambitious company.

Anyway, In/Spectre!! What joy. Lots of words. As long as they're in nice tidy blocks that fit in their bubbles, I don't mind so much. (easy for me to say...) My book club recently read an Agatha Christie novel and I learned I don't like to make predictions or solve the mysteries—because I hate and fear being wrong, and I am very likely to be wrong when reading an author whose goal is to surprise their readers. But it's fun to read your guesses! And it's also fun to follow along and experience the twists and reveals in the author's own timing! It does seem like slow going with this series. I keep thinking "and next they'll reveal the solution, right?" and then it's the end of the volume and I'm still going "?????" But it's all very interesting.

Wight Meat was so great!! Also Flatty McWashboard. Poor Flatty.
9th-Feb-2017 05:41 pm (UTC)
Yeah, right now I'm telling myself that if they consulted the print editors, the print editors decided we were too busy. We had told one editor at Kodansha USA that we wanted to translate Chihayafuru, but he's not working there anymore.

Yes, so many words! We feel like we could probably translate prose now without too many people complaining, there's so many words.

What!? You don't like making predictions!? But that's the best part! Actually, Spiral (an earlier work of Shirodaira-sensei) had a twist that was so shocking (being shocked is also a lot of fun), we never saw it coming! But then the afterword said that some of the fans had already figured it out, so we were like, "We gotta up our game."

But anyway, yeah. It's so weird with this series, because there is so very much talking, and yet the story never seems to go anywhere. But it still (doesn't) happens in a way that's interesting enough to keep you coming back. Suddenly it reminds me of that one season of Smallville where every week the commercials for the new episode said, "Lex finally turns to the dark side!" and he never actually did, so eventually we were like, "This show isn't even interesting anymore, and it's clearly not going anywhere, so..." But the difference is, this series is still interesting.
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