But today is Review Rednesday! And it's Noragami! Eeeeeeeeeeee!!!!! Favorite series ever! Oh my goodness, you guys, this volume was so good! Or maybe not good, as far as what happens in it, but so well done. Anyway, here's volume 18. Spoiler level: I haven't read the review yet, but I'm gonna guess and say super high.
Oh my goodness, this volume. Oh. my. goodness. When we wrote the cover for it, we thought about making the tagline "OOOOHHH NOOOOOOOOO!" Every time I look back on it, I can never remember what happened in the first half of the volume because the second half is so very OOOOOOOHHHH NOOOOOOO! And actually, when our editor sent us the third chapter, she was like, "Be warned, it's a sad one." And we were like, "Great, thanks for telling us that Kazuma dies." But that wasn't what happened at all! We wouldn't describe it as sad, so much, as...I don't know, but I think it's too early to be sad. What happened in the fourth chapter to Tsuyu, though, that was sad.
And then! after we did a rough draft of that chapter (chapter 70; sorry, I keep jumping around), just about as soon as we got access to it, because right now the best way to deal with Noragami is to translate each chapter as we gain access to it, so when we have a whole volume, we can just go through and edit it, thus getting it to our editor that much faster... Anyway, after we translated the chapter about Yukine getting put in a box, we had to wait THREE WHOLE MONTHS before we got the next one. I think our editor got swamped with work or something, and that's probably why, but man, of all the places to leave us hanging. Yukine is our favorite character! And of course the matter isn't resolved yet, but things have only been exacerbated! Aaaaaaahhhhh!!! Seriously, that's a worse cliffhanger than the end of volume five, and volume five was pretty bad. On the bright side, because we had to wait so long for chapter 71, we also have immediate access to the next two chapters after it, but we haven't looked at them, because we do not have that kind of time. Also, it makes sense to write the review first.
So! let's get to the summary. What happened in the first half again? Oh yeah, Yato beats Takemikazuchi and gets him to negotiate with the Heavens for him, then Bishamon fights Koto and almost beats him, which is why something happened that got Yato and Yukine in a lot of trouble. I have to tell you about this. The scanned version of chapter 69 was maybe made by somebody who was busy and distracted, because first of all, the pages where the Heavens split open were out of order, so we saw them before Yukine screams, "Yato, stop her!" As if that weren't confusing enough. The scan was missing four whole pages. Four! And guess which pages they were! First, we were missing the two pages where Sekki does some serious damage to Shiigun and destroys the watchtower. So when we got chapter 70, we only had a vague idea of why Yato and Yukine were in trouble. It was weird, because we did have one panel with the destroyed watchtower, so we were like, "I guess that's what it was, but I was sure Adachitoka was a better storyteller than that, and Takami-san wouldn't have let that slide, either..." We were relieved (and annoyed) to find out it made much more sense. The other two missing pages were the ones that had Shiigun surrounding Yato and Yukine, so we also didn't know how they had gotten captured. I assumed it was some kind of non-linear storytelling, or cutting ahead to save space or something. Once again, super relieved (and annoyed) to find out that it really did make sense. But we did get the book, so we were able to see it all in the proper order and satisfy all our doubts about storytelling quality.
So anyway, Yukine went ballistic and destroyed a watchtower, then he and Yato got captured, and Yato did a very admirable job of pleading their case before the Heavens (he was using super polite language in the Japanese, by the way), but then Amaterasu came down and put Yukine in a box. And as if that weren't bad enough, the only way to maybe even try to get him out of the box was for all of our favorite gods to risk the lives of all of our favorite shinki in a bet to see if maybe the Heavens are wrong about all this. Which reminds us, we thought about editing our note about the Trial by Pledge to include another example of an ukei that we have right here in the good ol' US of A: Groundhog's Day! See, in actual practice, ukei doesn't necessarily require placing a bet. You just say, "If this happens it means this, but if this happens, it means the other thing." So Groundhog's Day, when we decide whether or not spring is here based on whether or not a groundhog sees its shadow, is very much that kind of thing.
But anyway, I repeat, OOOOOOOOHHHH NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!
So let's get into the details. First, the sumo match with Yato and Takemikazuchi! When we did the first draft, we had no idea how hilarious it really was. But then we looked up the rules of sumo, and oh my gosh. Did you notice that in the first match, Takemikazuchi flips Yato so he's on his head, but he himself has both feet firmly on the ground? And Yato's all, "I'm still in!" Oh man, that's hilarious. We're now speculating that maybe the reason Takemikazuchi was wearing leopard skin instead of tiger to begin with is that in Kami-Kami Kaeshi, Takemikazuchi's character design was clearly inspired by Yorihisa from Haruka: Beyond the Stream of Time...who wears a leopard print jacket. Of course, we have no idea if Adachitoka reads Kami-Kami Kaeshi.
Amaterasu. After we translated chapter 70, I had this theory, because she looks just like the girl that helped them back with all the Yomi business, that maybe she and Tsukuyomi were actually twins, and it was Tsukuyomi that helped them (since the light in the sky really did look like the moon) and Amaterasu was, like, the evil twin or something. But after translating chapter 71, I think that may not be the case. It's very subtle (or maybe I just think it was subtle because Athena was holding the book and I was staring at the computer screen most of the time), but you can see the pain and sadness in her face as she goes through the whole trial by pledge thing. She doesn't want to kill anybody's guides! Also, and I don't think this came across so well in the English (sorry about that!), but when Daikoku first steps forward, her speech pattern gets very casual. We're really not sure what that could mean, but I think it indicates some caring about all of these characters.
Meanwhile, doing research for the trial by pledge and learning more about Susa-no-o's utter hatred for Amaterasu has us more and more convinced that that is Koto's true identity. We haven't done enough research to know why Susa-no-o hates Amaterasu so much, but there was something in Takeru's story in KamiAso about the accidental death of someone he loved, I think? I don't remember. But the point is, we think Koto is Susa-no-o. Also, after hearing Takeru introduce himself in KamiAso IF, I kind of wish we hadn't put those hyphens in the name. Ah well.
Now speaking of Daikoku! AAAAAAAAAAAHHH!!! We're pretty sure he's going to survive. First of all, fate or chance or whatever it is that's controlling the outcome of the trial by pledge clearly favors big, burly men. Second of all, we know that Yato and Bishamon aren't traitors...although I guess the whole reason they pointed out that it's really just a bet is to say that right and wrong have nothing to do with it. Hrm. But! they don't generally cut to a commercial break if they're going to kill the guy. If they're going to kill him, they kill him and then cut to a commercial. My current theory is that somebody has interrupted the proceedings, but we won't know until we get to that next chapter. Thinking about it, we're kind of behind schedule now, which is especially awesome because today already started with a long phone call from Gaston to say that he'll be coming to Disneyland for two days this week. And we're behind schedule on the physical book we're supposed to be translating.
But anyway, let's talk about Kunimi. First of all, that was some much-needed humor injected into what is probably the scariest, bleakest chapter of Noragami yet. And it was really funny. "You don't mean the eternal vacation, do you?" ...Somehow without the pictures, it's too scary to be funny. But! I knew immediately that he was going to be okay, because when Ebisu said, "Okay, I volunteer," I remembered Old Ebisu and thought, "Oh yeah, because he's really lucky!" That and how are you supposed to build any suspense if you kill two of them right off the bat? Kunimi's dead: YOU LOSE! Yeah right. And man, how scary is it that Daikoku came last? With a score of one to one, it's anybody's game already, and his god is Kofuku! I'm just like, "You just keep being afraid that he's going to die, Kofuku. That's probably the surest way to keep him alive!" You know, like when she bet on Bishamon to save Yato way back when. Oh, but it was so touching when he volunteered and Kofuku was so scared for him. Incidentally, we thought about having a note when we had Daikoku say, "It's killing me," because we've read some reviews where fans take things super super seriously. This is why we hesitate to translate words of gratitude to, "I owe you one," because we don't want the fans saying, "Aha! Now that character is in that other character's debt! We'll see how that plays out later!" No, it was just a figure of speech. And that's how we meant it when we had Daikoku say it. He really said, "I can't endure it!" And we couldn't come up with anything that sounded as pained and as Daikoku-y as "It's killing me." But we figured if it was literally killing him, either he would die in the trial by pledge anyway, or Yukine would be saved and he wouldn't be dying anymore, so it wouldn't cause any undue speculation. These are the things we (over?)think about when we translate Noragami.
I also have to give a hand to Tsuyu and Kiun, who were both so great in this. Especially Tsuyu. And Tenjin! Oh man, that was so sad. All of a sudden, the most important person in Tenjin's life is gone, just like that! And the readers got virtually no foreshadowing for it. Suddenly she was just gone. I was so shocked. I was sure it was going to be like, "Okay shinki, now you have to do this scary task, and whoever doesn't die wins!" I didn't think it would be like, "Okay, one of you is dead now." Dang. Of course, after we did more research about the trial by pledge, and after we heard more of the explanation from Take and Ebisu, it made a lot more sense, so it was during the second draft phase that Tenjin and Tsuyu's last scene together was really poignant. I'm still holding out hope that they'll be able to undo the whole thing, but they might just make Mayu Tenjin's new guide.
I have to tell you something about that, too! You might be thinking, "But they have to undo it! Everybody knows it's the Three Sacred Treasures!" Well. When we were doing research on them for the note, we went to the Wikipedia articles for each individual treasure (they're only in Japanese, but man, all the detail), and for the jewel (Mitama), it says that...I don't remember where exactly. In some...things? They don't count the jewel as one of the Sacred Treasures, and it's only the Two Sacred Treasures. !!! That does not bode well for Daikoku, but that's all the more reason I think the trial is going to be interrupted.
And then there's Yato! Oh my goodness, Yato! What was that business!? It looked like he was going to use his shadow to kill Amaterasu or something! Aaaaaahhh! And the other interesting thing to note about that is that Takemikazuchi saw it and maybe knew what it was. At the very least, he realized something was going on and it wasn't good. Speaking of Takemikazuchi, I didn't mention his exchange with Kiun. Awww, Kiun! He's all, "I don't mind if you want to send me to possible death." I can see why Takemikazuchi would be annoyed about it. "Is that because you want to serve me or because you're such good friends with that miscreant!?" Poor Take-chan. (See, when you read it without the accent mark, you can see why we had to put the accent mark on it when Yato calls him Take.)
But then there's Yukine!!!! OOOOOOOHHHHH NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! And his name is breaking! And he's freaking out! I was musing about how, if he's stuck in that box for, say, a century, you'd think that at some point, he'd just get used it, like, well, I guess I've been here for a hundred years and it hasn't done anything to me, so that's just how life is now, huh. But then Athena pointed out that he'd probably lose his mind before that, so that would lead to some interesting new Joker-like character upon his release. Kind of a terrifying thought. Please let him out of that box!! Aww, Daikoku... (Thinking about people really wanting to get Yukine out of the box.)
But speaking of the box! Emishi! Arahabaki! Shiigun! Nana! As soon as Yato explained that Shiigun is also called the plague of locusts, I was like, "Wait a second, we've already had a plague of locusts..." I didn't get as far as Athena did. She was all, "And that plague was Nana. So who do you think the burier originally belonged to, hmmmmmmmmmmm?" ...I guess we don't have a whole lot more to say on that, except that man, that Arahabaki gives us a right smart bit of trouble when a-translatin'. Seriously, it's always ridiculously hard! And when we read over it for the final draft, I was like, "Wow, those lines are really good. Somebody's making this look easy." I was so worried before we did the final read-through. I was like, "It's going to be awful!" We actually started watching Beverly Hillbillies. Because when we got super desperate about, "I don't know how to hillbilly this up!", we would pull up the script for So Dear to My Heart. (We had already gone over the examples in our dialect book three times, and gone over the long list at a blog twice, and looked at the Wikipedia Appalachian English article...) So we thought, "Man, we need to get a steady diet of hillbilly dialect. If only there were, like, some show or something we could watch, about hillbillies... Heeeey..."
We had a similar experience with Takemikazuchi. He was driving us nuts, too, and it still hurts me to think it's our own darn fault for having him talk that way in the first place. But he talks fancy in the Japanese, too! It's just a lot easier to fancify Japanese; you just use n instead of nai, and stop using contractions. ...I think there's more to it than that, but what, you expect me to remember his lines word for word? We don't even remember his English lines word for word, and we wrote them! So we'd been spending a lot of time at ShakespearesWords.com, and we were still just agonizing over it, and I was like, "If only there was some movie character we could always imagine when translating him, so if we can imagine that character saying it, we'll know it works..." And then it occurred to me, and I was really annoyed that it didn't occur to me sooner, Thor, god of thunder. For years now, we have had in the American mainstream a thunder god character who talks fancy, and it never occurred to us that maybe he could talk the same as a Japanese thunder god who talks fancy. At any rate, then we went to IMDb to look at Thor quotes and get a feel for how he talks, and after that it helped me breathe easier when I could read a Takemikazuchi line and hear Chris Hemsworth saying it without it sounding kind of funny. (There's one line that was still kind of iffy, but we couldn't think of anything we liked better, so we kept it.)
And I have spent so much time on that second half that I haven't even mentioned the adorable flashbacks with Bishamon and Kazuma! We don't know if this came across as much in the English as it did in the Japanese, so we even started to write a note to make sure it got in there, but then we weren't sure if it was an actual meaning of the word or just a strongly implied one that comes from usage in that circumstance, but when Kazuma tells Bishamon that he wants her to follow him faithfully, that verb "tsuite-kuru" is used...well, I don't know if it's commonly used, but it was an example provided at Weblio (an online J-E dictionary)...where the word was used to described a wife who is faithful to her husband. In other words, Kazuma was proposing to Bishamon. And since it came in the same chapter where he shows jealousy at Daikoku treating Kofuku like his wife... Also it was just really sweet. Kazuma can be so cute...the perv.
And I think that covers everything. Of course, if there's anything we missed, we'd be more than happy to talk about it!
PS: Athena just mentioned Arahabaki's dialect, which reminded me! You know how in the note about Shiigun we say that his name is from the chinquapin tree? Well, another word for chinquapin is chickapin! And Chickapin Hill is where Br'er Fox lives, and where Splash Mountain takes place! And since all that is from Song of the South, we feel a connection to it. Plus, since it's a hill that's probably nearish to the Appalachian mountains, it once again reaffirms our choice to give Arahabaki a hillbilly dialect.
Oh man, that book. That series. Oh man. So good.
Anyway, for this week's releases, we have...nothing! But tune in next week, for our review of Complex Age volume 5!
Today I'm thankful for getting to read another Noragami review, modern Japanese translations of kabuki plays, the hope that one day we'll be done with this episode of Kabukibu! (ideally that day will be today), donuts to make things better, and the realization that after this episode of Kabukibu! work should feel fairly easy for a while.