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Alethea & Athena
Fire Force volume 4 
5th-Jul-2017 07:07 pm
We're back from Anime Expo and of course we want to tell everybody about it! But we were also exhausted and slept in and then had some odds and ends to take care of for the new anime we're translating and then we finally got back to work on the manga that's due today (and still not finished), so we've been half hiding from the internet and we will reply to comments later, I promise. But! since it's Review Rednesday and we already have a post written, we figured we might as well post it. I know you're all excited to read what we think about Beasts of Abigaile and Land of the Lustrous, but Fire Force got here first, and I don't want to neglect it, because I love that series, too! So, without further ado, here is our review of Fire Force volume 4! Spoiler level: pretty high.

Things are really heating up in this volume! Aaaahh ha ha ha...ha. Anyway. I think the most important thing that needs to be addressed in this volume is the afterword. It's not our fault! None of it is our fault! (Denial?) First of all, we didn't even know the Japanese title of the series before we knew the determined-by-somebody-else English title, so (we keep reminding ourselves) our translation can't have anything to do with Ohkubo-sensei being told that "fire soldier" is lame. Second of all, by some freak miracle accident, we somehow managed to not notice, even a single time in the whole of volume one, that the helmets said "fire soldier" to begin with...of course, that makes me wonder if we made him feel bad by leaving "fire soldier" out of it... But I just want to be on the record as saying we didn't say that "fire soldier" is lame. We really wonder where he got that idea from, though, because I like to imagine that, when dealing with approvals for stuff like that, people are generally polite. Although we can totally imagine his editor just joking around with him and not being polite about it, so maybe it was just a matter of how the message was relayed. I don't know. But I do know that if we had noticed the words "fire soldier" on the helmets, we probably would have used them. [Reminder: When we translated volume one, we translated "fire soldier" as "fire officer."]

Anyway. This volume. What happened again? Right, we find out who it is that's working for "the Evangelist," that guy gets killed...okay, I don't think I can properly review this volume without talking about him anyway, so it's Rekka. Let's just put that out there. No one who's paying any attention should be very surprised anyway. Karim was just too caring a guy. (Although the way they try to pull the "surprise villain" thing in entertainment these days... This is why I like anime and manga. There tends to be a lot more character consistency.) Rekka's kind of a fun character to translate, though. We were going for "excessively peppy motivational speaker." I don't know if I mentioned this in the review of volume three, but he made us think of that famous tennis player that got mentioned in Noragami. It was just so cute how he was like, "Come on, Tamaki, you can't let the children see you like this!" And yet he was still a terrible person.

So apparently the organization he's working for is trying to turn the earth into a second sun. What I'm having a hard time figuring out is why in the world anyone would want to do that. It really just doesn't seem like a great idea. Is it about...like...okay, so that famous scientist guy who was all for demoting Pluto to "dwarf planet" said that he didn't like the idea that a planet as minuscule as Pluto would be in the same category as our super awesome Earth (I'm paraphrasing, of course). Athena says she got the feeling he doesn't think Earth should be in the same category as Saturn and Jupiter, either. So the point is, do some people have this idea of some kind of a celestial body hierarchy? So the Evangelist and his organization want to raise the Earth's status in that hierarchy or something, for some weird pride reason? ...From Rekka, that almost kind of makes sense. As for the rest of the organization...

Anyway, speaking of the rest of the organization, this is a big spoiler coming up, so if you haven't read the book and want to, stop reading right now. Sho's location has been revealed, and are you kidding me? He's an actual knight? Shinra and/or Arthur is going to be very unhappy about this. ...I don't have a whole lot else to say about that, but I think that is the biggest question on my mind currently in this series: how is Shinra going to take it when he finds out his brother is a knight? And probably also turning people into Infernals. ...Well, we always knew he was going to turn out to be working with the bad guys. Not really surprised that he's a commander, either. Speaking of that, though! We wanted to get the right term for the leader of an order of knights, and we really hoped it wasn't "captain" (as seems to be the common translation, based solely on The Seven Deadly Sins), because "danchou" is decidedly not the same word as "daitaichou." So we did some Googling and Wikidepia-ing, and discovered that the number one leader of a chivalric order is actually a grand master. But, since we've been in so much agony over whether or not "captain" was the right word for "daitaichou," we wanted to put Sho in a position that was a little more vague, and maybe not quite so grandiose, in case he was only in charge of one detachment or something like that, and that's why we went with commander. We also came up with several possible translations for the name of the order, so as of this writing, even we don't know what it's going to be in English!

And since we're focusing on individual characters, this volume has a lot of Tamaki, but actually not a lot of the "lucky gropee" condition. I just wanted to talk about it, because we read about that in an interview recently. Apparently the condition came about, once again, from Atsushi Ohkubo's contrary nature, because you have a lot of "lucky gropes" but never the other way around. But in the interview, he revealed that he actually doesn't really enjoy drawing it, because he's always worried about whether or not Tamaki is cute enough for the readers. At that point, he started talking about wanting to do a hot springs scene, but only with the guy characters, and then they started talking about a firemen calendar kind of thing, but it would be full of big buff guys, so they weren't sure if the girl readers would like it either, because in Japan even the men realize that the big buff guy is a male fantasy and not really something women find attractive.

And then there's Benimaru. He makes me question our choice to Westernize all the names in the manga we translate. On the other hand, there are a lot of Japanese people who sign autographs in romaji with Western name order, so I guess it's about whatever sounds coolest.

And that reminds me of Amaterasu. Our big question about Amaterasu is this: is there a person inside it? It just seems like there would be, because apparently all of the fire powers have to be used by people, or they could just use the bugs without putting them inside people. And does that mean the natural Infernals are caused because Tokyo gets all its power from Amaterasu? And if the adolla burst belongs to the offspring of the sun god, who is Shinra's father, anyway? And why was Huo Yan Li not in shock after losing his arm? He was even standing upright! Is he a cyborg? But there was kind of a lot of blood on the floor with his arm...which also means the wound wasn't cauterized, so he should have been losing even more blood, because, as previously mentioned, he was still standing! And does the Tokyo Empire cover only Tokyo, or the whole world? Only Tokyo would be a pretty small empire, so maybe it's all of Japan, but based on Benimaru's proto-nationalism, it would have had to be taken over by a non-Japanese entity. And Raffles is certainly not a Japanese name. (I wanted to call him Ruffles, but some Googling indicated a mixed martial artist who went by Raffles, and that seems like the kind of thing a shonen manga artist would name characters after.)

Anyway, speaking of proto-nationalism. We're actually not sure the term is used in the same way we're using it in Fire Force. Someone on the internet said something about how, since "proto" means first, it means you put your nation(ality) above all else, which is not untrue of Benimaru, but what we were really going for was the "first" as in "the Japanese people who ruled Japan before whoever's in charge in this series." Linguistically, it's technically accurate, but I don't know.

Anyway again, it was awfully convenient that Shinra has an errand to run all by himself right after everybody said, "Hey, dude, the Evangelist's coming for you." But I like the scenes with Joker. He's fun to translate, and he always has the information that we want.

And I think that covers everything we wanted to talk about. After volumes two and three, I was a little sad that I didn't like the series as much as I did with volume one, but I think it's picking up again...at least as far as my liking it. As far as its difficulty level...well, that's picking up, too. Man, this volume was hard to get through.

And there you have it. Boy, what a fun series, even if it does raise a lot of questions.

As for this week's releases, we once again have a grand total of nothing! Tadah! But tune in next week, for our review of The Beasts of Abigaile! Why did we choose this one? Because we're still going in alphabetical order and I especially wanted to still go in alphabetical order this time because people seem to be forgetting that you don't include "the" when you're alphabetizing titles. So tune in next week for our review of Beasts of Abigaile, The! Volume one!

Today I'm thankful for having another lovely Anime Expo, having a Cheesy Bites pizza to help us recover, getting to sleep in this morning, being on track to finish our translation today even if it happens a little late but that's okay because! I'm also thankful for our plans to take the rest of the week off.
6th-Jul-2017 12:32 pm (UTC)
Woohoo, Fire Force!! Thank you for the reminder that I haven't read past volume 1 yet. I need to go to the comic shop again today for their birthday sale, so I'll look for the rest! (I can't read the rest of this review because I care enough about it that I don't want to get spoiled :) )

Yay, Beasts of Abigaile(, The)! Be assured, my comic shop had shelved it with the B titles (I guess working in any kind of book store, you better know how to alphabetize things). I'm looking forward to that review as well! And I hope things slow down and allow you to feel caught up on work/sleep/life in general by next week! I'm glad you're taking the rest of this week off!!
6th-Jul-2017 03:57 pm (UTC)
Yay, more Fire Force! It really is a fun series; we hope you keep enjoying it!

I'm glad some people still know how alphabetization works! To be honest, I don't even remember exactly what it was that had me annoyed about it (Athena says probably Crunchyroll or Anime News Network), but it clearly bothered me enough to remember that it did happen.
6th-Jul-2017 11:48 pm (UTC)
They didn't have Fire Force!! (only volume 1. maybe someone bought the others...?) But I did add it to my subscription list, so I'll get future volumes automatically, and I put 2-4 in a shopping cart on B&N's website (with the thought that they're always sending me coupons so I can use one of those next time I get one). In the meantime, I wore my Daifuku earrings today and got to tell the cashier they were from Noragami, so maybe she'll look into it! :D

(edited for icon)

Edited at 2017-07-07 02:48 am (UTC)
7th-Jul-2017 01:16 am (UTC)
Aww, bummer! But I guess you have plenty to read in the meantime! And yay for spreading the Noragami love!
8th-Aug-2017 05:31 pm (UTC)
Having caught up, a month later:

Karim!! That guy! Occasionally I'd read one of his lines and think "that's a little redundantly worded..." and then I'd remember who was talking. (most of the time he was so redundant that there was no mistaking it though :D) I'm glad he didn't turn out to be the bad guy because I want his weirdness to stick around. (sorry.)

I AM sad about Rekka being the bad guy though, because I wanted his starry eyes to stick around too. What a shame! It was a surprise to me so I guess I'm bad at this stuff (or delusional when I latch on to a character that I like some aspect of...)

All of the afterwords have been fun so far. I was really amused at v4's. (sorry to all involved, or not involved as it may be.) I could see someone telling him "it sounds a little silly..." and him interpreting that as "it sounds totally stupid" even if no one else would've said it quite so harshly. But also I think it's fun to see the recognition of the international edition(s), and all of this when it's only 4 volumes in! On that note, you're right about how much and how fast everything happens in this series. I think I much prefer that to say, a shounen manga about biking that spends like 6 volumes on a ~2-day race (these estimates are a guess because I can't actually remember).

I also have to say that I had volume 3 on the bus yesterday and I'd already started reading it the night before, so after I sat down and started reading again, the very next page I turned to was the girls' bath scene and I was like "REALLY, shounen manga?!" (I skipped ahead and didn't even try to read the spread until I got home later...) But it's not too bad most of the time. Poor Tamaki, though. (does that really count as a reverse on the trope? it's got the same results... but I don't want to read the actual reverse either.)

Raffles and Ruffles are both funny names! I'll be in trouble if I ever have to take that guy seriously, but this series doesn't seem to take much seriously itself (that's why I like it). Regarding name order, I think most publishers have a policy of westernizing it anyway (especially Viz, which shounen manga readers would be plenty familiar with) so we're probably all used to it at this point. But that scene with Benimaru was fun, and I did like the note explaining that they use western order even in the original.

(edit for one more thing, from volume... 2?, whatever had the Combine-thing. When I read that I could only think of the farming equipment, so if it comes up again and seems relevant, maybe a note of explanation would be helpful for other similarly confused readers.)

Edited at 2017-08-08 08:38 pm (UTC)
9th-Aug-2017 01:24 am (UTC)
Yeah, there were some times in the Japanese where Karim was less redundant, and we were like, "Huh...?"

Rekka was a pretty fun guy. He could have stuck around and still been fun as a bad guy if the bad guys didn't have to go and kill him.

That's a good point about the fire soldier name thing. Especially based on the afterword from volume six, Ohkubo-sensei definitely seems prone to hyperbole. We agree that it's fun to see the recognition, especially since we're the ones working on it! We were kind of hoping for more on it in later afterwords, but so far, no such luck. Maybe next time.

Wow, what a great time to come across a fan service page! Hopefully anyone who would have caught you would not jump to the conclusion that the whole book was like that. I mean, it wasn't Ken Akamatsu. It's kind of surprising, though, because there really is a relatively low amount of fan service. Thinking about Blaire the Witch... As for Tamaki, yeah, the results are the same, but you do soooorrrt of get to see the girl's side of it...if you read her profile in volume seven. (Spoiler alert: she thinks co-ed PE should be illegal.) Anyway, even that seems to be toned down as the series goes on. Of course, you never know when they'll ramp it up again. In volume five, there's a joint interview with Ohkubo-sensei and Hiro Mashima of Fairy Tail fame, and Mashima-sensei demands more Tamaki. ...So far, Ohkubo-sensei hasn't really complied, though. She's in it, but not much.

Haha, yeah, I feel like there have been so many bizarre names in fantasy anime/manga/games that we've learned to roll with it. When we worked on Type-0, there was some discussion about changing names for reasons of taking things seriously, and we were like, "Aww, come on, it was fun playing Final Fantasy XIII and joking about keeping Hope alive!" We still took him seriously as a character, too, so I think it's about balance. Or something.

(Haha, yeah, as city girls we were unfamiliar with either type of combine. I think I thought about writing a note, but I was like, "Eh, it's an English thing; people can look it up." But we will consider writing a note anyway, because technically it's not an English thing so much as a Russian thing.)
9th-Aug-2017 01:58 am (UTC)
I'll be paying more attention to the character profiles in every volume now, for sure! I went back and read them and that's how I learned the scary-liutenant-guy likes to cook! That sort of thing makes it interesting. And more work for you, sorry, heh heh.

Yeah, the fanservice in the series really isn't too bad overall (and it does often seem to show up more in early volumes of series than later ones) but the timing was pretty funny. The bus wasn't that crowded so it's likely no one else noticed anyway, but it still flustered me a little. The joint interview sounds interesting! And volume 6's afterword too! So many things to look forward to!

(random sidenote since I thought of it: the font the letterer used for several of Rekka's lines in this series is the same one I use for Ginger & co's signs in Kigurumi Guardians, and for Kotoko when she's being extra... Kotoko. that may also have contributed to my former attachment to him...)

It's in my nature to not take things seriously (unless they really are serious real-life matters) so I have no problem laughing over Raffles (keeping Hope alive sounds like fun too!). It was maybe kind of an issue when I was lettering the Type-0 manga (and the Betrayal Knows My Name manga was another such case before that) but I do derive amusement from that sort of self-serious tone... :)
9th-Aug-2017 03:54 pm (UTC)
Eh, profiles are the least of our concern. It's a copy-and-paste job for the format, and then we fill in the blanks. There's very little "but what's the best way to word this?"--profiles are one of the few places where it's okay to just say "it means this." We do have to do conversions and figure out shoe sizes and eyesight, but that's usually a quick Google.

The hidden powers of fonts... Oooh...
9th-Aug-2017 04:16 pm (UTC)
Oh oops, I was actually thinking of the character bios at the beginning of each volume, which you pointed out in another review are (slightly) different every time.
9th-Aug-2017 04:55 pm (UTC)
Aaah, yeah. That kind of thing tapered off pretty quickly, fortunately. Ohkubo-sensei has been taken off guard by the quick release rate of tankobon for a weekly manga more than once, so my guess as to what happened is that originally he wanted to write new descriptions for each volume, but then he just didn't have the time. For volume seven, most of the profiles were the same, with maybe a little tweaking on a couple of them.
9th-Aug-2017 05:00 pm (UTC)
Ahaha, okay!! Good to know—I won't suspect the letterer of slacking off and copy-pasting if they look too similar :) And man, I sure don't blame him for cutting back on the extra stuff like that. The weekly manga schedule gives me anxiety just to think about...
9th-Aug-2017 09:38 pm (UTC)
Yeah, it's amazing what some people do!
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