Anyway! It's Review Rednesday, and last week I totally forgot to tell everybody what they needed to have read this week! Sorry about that! But now you can go read it real quick, and then come back and read our review, right? We present to you In/Spectre volume 3! Spoiler level: mild?
For the sake of my concern over whether or not we can meet our two surprise December deadlines, technically we should be working right now, but for the sake of getting stuff off the to-do list so as not to feel completely crushed by the number of things we feel obligated to do, we're going to write this review. (As an aside, technically, the writing of reviews is entirely self-imposed, but that doesn't mean it's a bad or useless thing to do, and I don't know, maybe some good will come of it.) Also, we finished this translation a whole four days ago, and since the project we're currently working on is eating our lives, I've already forgotten all about it.
No, I haven't; I've just shoved it to the side of my brain. I remember it! I think. I may need to uncrumple it.
Let's see, this is the volume where Kotoko Explains Everything. Seriously, it's probably worse than the exposition central that was Devil Survivor 6, but it somehow managed to be done in a way that didn't feel as much like an info dump, even though that's totally what it was. Seriously, they just stand around explaining stuff with literally no forward movement of the plot for at least half the book. And that means our favorite thing! Long sentences! Did I say favorite thing? I really meant the opposite of that. ...Okay, they may not be the exact opposite of our favorite thing, because at least usually when stuff is being explained you don't have to worry about character voice. But man, this volume was tough. Oh, but because they were explaining stuff, we didn't have to worry about making it sound like dialogue that wasn't an explanation, because it literally was an explanation. (Sometimes we'll come across a phenomenon in a series where the author doesn't know how to reveal information by "show not tell," so you get oddly specific dialogue that sounds like an info dump when it's supposed to be a conversation. Or at least that's how it comes across to a non-native Japanese speaker. The point is, it's hard to make that stuff sound natural.)
Nevertheless, it was slow going. I may or may not have mentioned in the review to volume two that this is the series (the series or a series) that makes us question whether or not we really know Japanese. Some of the lines just have us going, "...I thought I understood Japanese, but that made no sense." I wonder if those are the lines that Shirodaira-sensei reads and criticizes. Incidentally, we do have pretty much the same problem as Shirodaira-sensei when we go back and read our old works. Sometimes, we'll be like, "Who's the chucklehead that came up with that ridiculous translation?" "Oohhh, yeah." And sometimes, we'll be like, "Wow, that was genius! Who thought up that line?" But we don't feel awkward in those situations; just pleased with ourselves.
Anyway, aside from being ridiculously hard to translate, this volume was pretty interesting. I love how it goes into the psychology of rumor-mongering with the whole kamaitachi thing, and how it's very aware of the fact that just because something is rational, and just because something is the truth, doesn't mean that's what people want to believe, and so they don't. Actually, that's a big part of why I find people to be so frustrating. But it makes for an intriguing plot device. They have to explain that a ghost that really exists doesn't really exist. It kind of reminds me of the Darth Jar Jar Star Wars theory. I really want that one to be true... I wonder if I could somehow get George Lucas to tell me off the record. Because I suspect that, true or not, the prequel saga would have been more compelling if the storyteller had been allowed to follow through on his vision. ...On the other hand, The Phantom Menace is the most boring of the three...
But I digress. Theories. Did I mention our theory from volume two that Karin Nanase isn't really dead? That she somehow got her sister to take her place, and it was actually Karin that invited Hatsumi's friends up to Hokkaido? Ever since they said that the police didn't get fingerprints from someone who had been positively and legally identified as Karin Nanase, we've been suspicious. And "Hatsumi's" insistence that Karin wouldn't die such an ugly death seems more like something Karin would be adamant about than Hatsumi.
Our other theory is more fanciful. The person that Kuro doesn't want Saki to know about. Our guess is that it's his cousin, who didn't actually die. Based on the flashback in volume two, she seemed like a much more significant character than somebody who was just in the background and the hospital and died before anything really got started. Our guess is that whatever happened to her happened because he tried to get a future for her, and maybe that future involved her getting mermaid-kudan powers, too. Or maybe she had already gotten those powers before, or at the same time Kuro did. And of course her powers would be stronger, because that makes for a more effective villain. And she used those powers to kill Karin Nanase and have the internet create her ghost.
We have no idea why she would want to do that, but the evidence is in the ghost from the construction site. Unless Karin Nanase herself (or Hatsumi) had the power to talk to ghosts and told him what story to give to anybody who might come asking around, it doesn't really make sense that Karin would have just let things happen the way they did, especially based on "Hatsumi's" testimony (still can't commit to the idea that they didn't switch places). ...But on the other hand, it's possible that Kotoko really had gone to the construction site before Kuro showed up, and told the ghost what to say in the presence of mixed company. ...On the other hand, when would she have had time to do that between learning that she was going to have to tell Saki everything and going to see the ghost? So maybe that theory doesn't hold up.
So the idea that Kuro's cousin controlled the future seems to carry the most weight, because if Karin and Hatsumi had switched places, then Hatsumi would have had to be feeling pretty suicidal, too, since whoever it was just let the beams fall without any kind of resistance. And maybe she was. Or maybe her reflexes were just that slow.
Anyway. That's the fun thing about mystery series--trying to put all the clues together and see if you can solve it. And this one has the added bonus of not being episodic, so there are a lot of clues and a lot of time to add everything up.
But then there's the rivalry between Kotoko and Saki. Kuro is still being an enigma, but it seems like he does genuinely care about her. I mean, really, what's this business about, "For you, I'll die as many times as it takes"? Much as he doesn't seem to truly hate her, there's not a lot of evidence (yet) that he would have ever grown a fondness for her. I guess we'll learn more about that in future volumes. But! now Saki's potential other love interest has been taken out of the picture, so... And speaking of that, we're sad to see him go. He seemed like a pretty decent guy. But we all knew it was going to happen as soon as Kotoko said, "As long as nobody confronts her, we won't have any casualties, at least not tonight." Sigh.
Definitely interested to see how this unfolds. But not exactly thrilled about translating it.
And there you have it! Tadah! Last week I also forgot to tell everybody what new translations of ours had been released, but that's okay, because there weren't any! But this week, a new volume of My Monster Secret hit bookstore shelves! I don't remember which one. Six? Athena thinks it was six, too. And tune in next week, for our review of Fire Force volume 3!
Today I'm thankful for an enjoyable break from the daily grind, that break turning out not to be too long (seriously thankful for that one), strawberry rose twists at Maurice's Twisted Treats, finding an alternative ice cream source when we didn't make it out of Disneyland in time for Joe's Italian Ice, and having more time to work tonight.