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Alethea & Athena
The Beasts of Abigaile, volume 1 
12th-Jul-2017 03:57 pm
Sorry for not posting yesterday. I was busy having a nervous breakdown and also working. But the matter has been resolved now, so I have a lot more mental capacity to post. Maybe not so much physical capacity, though. But that's okay, because we've already written today's post! It's Review Rednesday, and this week we're featuring the first volume in what promises to be classic shoujo manga, The Beasts of Abigaile! Spoiler level: high. I mean, for a first volume.

Our second series for Seven Seas, and I admit I don't like to admit that I like their titles. I'm getting over it, but man their format is infuriating. It didn't give me quite so much trouble for this series, because there's not nearly as much text as in My Monster Secret--the script for Abiagile was about 60% the length of our latest Monster Secret scripts.

Anyway, at some point our boss at Seven Seas sent an email...oh right, now I remember. Seven Seas announced Dreamin' Sun, and we emailed our boss to ask if we could work on it. Boss emailed back some time later and said no, sorry, they were going to go ahead and let the translator of Orange work on it, but here's a list of a bunch of new stuff, what's your pleasure? Well, we were a bit wary of new Seven Seas titles, because we see the covers of a lot of their titles, and we get quite enough of that from Ken Akamatsu, thank you very much. So we did some research, and we still weren't quite sure, so we asked lyschan to advise, since she's more well-informed about non-Kodansha magazines, and eventually we decided it would be safe to ask to work on Beasts of Abigaile. Also, the summary at Amazon Japan was intriguing, as was the very enthusiastic review saying, "This is classic shoujo manga!"

So did it live up to the hype? ...Yeah, I think so. I'm not really showing it very much in this review, but we liked it a lot. Nina is super adorable, and the story is pretty standard shoujo fare, but that's exactly why we like it. Actually, at first, it read a lot like a Harlequin manga. "Life is hard--I need a break. Fortunately, I can just pick up and go to this remote beautiful country where I'm sure to meet a handsome man who's probably royalty even if he is a little...shall we say 'beastly.'"

I would recommend reading the book before reading the review, because this is going to go into some detail about series details, but in case you just can't wait, it's about a girl, Nina, who has moved to the tiny country of Ruberia to get a new start after running into some bullying at her old school in Japan. But before she can get started at the School of the Rich and Famous (everyone in Ruberia is super rich, and apparently very good people), she gets bitten by a wolfboy and carted off to the werewolf school, which is actually more like a prison, because gasp! she's become a wolfgirl herself!

As for her transformation. Oh my goodness, there are so many questions. We already know it wasn't Roy's bite, or at least not just Roy's bite, because we don't doubt that he really has bitten a bunch of humans before. There's the matter of her pricking her finger on the sparkly magic rose--that seems like the most likely suspect, because it is so very fairy tale. Possibly it was a combination of the prick and the bite. The fact that the bite was healed by the time she woke up on the truck is interesting, but whatever it was that changed her DNA probably figured it might as well heal her while it was at it. I suspected the rose from the moment she got pricked, especially because the mysterious hooded girls were so excessively apologetic, but then we find out that they're slaves who tend to be abused by humans at the slightest provocation, so it's likely that they, like the other lugas, don't know anything, either. [Note: We realized later that it's actually loup-ga, likely a derivative of "loup-garou," the French for werewolf. I don't know if it got changed for volume one, but I sure hope it did.]

The other suspicious factor is the old man who was on the scene when Roy showed up. His hair is in two tufts like Nina's was before her little buns turned into ears, so I wouldn't be surprised if he's a luga, too. But speaking of ears, that was something that bothered us at first--if they're wolves that turn into people, why do they have two sets of ears? Well, Gilles (that's pronounced "jill", by the way; we made it French so as to make it not a girl's name, and because Gil would probably be read with a hard G, which would be wrong) explained that the lugas have features of both humans and wolves, so maybe that's a symbol of that, but it is still a little weird. They talk about how they have such a stronger sense of smell, but I have to wonder about hearing.

There's also a rather outlandish theory that when the human revolution took place maybe the original luga alpha, the King Luga, ran off to a safe place to regain his strength--a place like, say, Japan, and while we're supposed to think that Roy is the king or the prince or whatever, it's actually Nina that's descended from the original alpha! Gasp!

There's also the matter of the Abigaile guard people knowing that she was human when she got attacked, so why did they even put her on the truck? Did they do something to her? Angelica's pretty suspicious and seems to have some sort of witch powers, so maybe her father the headmaster does, too.

So basically, there's a lot of mystery surrounding the whole premise of the series, and depending on how it goes, it could either be very cool or very annoying. As long as it all adds up, it's fine.

As for the leading men. Based on the cover, it seems like Roy is going to be the one she ends up with. His name means king, by the way. We're kind of over the whole "antagonist turns boyfriend" thing...okay, it's not that so much as the "mean guy turns boyfriend while still mostly being mean" thing, so at first I was really hoping that they'd go a different direction and let Gilles be the love interest. But then there was that first scene with Angelica, and I was like ugh, never mind. He just seems a little weak-willed with her, and that annoys me. On the other hand, if she has some kind of dirt on him, or is using magical powers on him, then maybe he would be a better choice. Then Dario showed up and turned out to be a guy (he uses a very feminine speech pattern), so I was like, "Hey, cool, right now anyone seems better than the current options." Renji/Range wasn't that appealing, either. We're not sure how his name ended up being spelled. We went with Renji because it's more name-like, but we had a note about it because Ruberia is way more European than Japanese, and it would take some serious creativity to get a more name-like word that sounded like it came from a European language.

But speaking of Dario, we read through the script the third time, and I think his speech did come across as more feminine, so I'm pretty pleased with it. But we don't know if this series is getting a rewriter or not (as of this writing), so I don't know how it will end up. [Note: We picked up a copy at Anime Expo and checked the credits. There is a rewriter on it, so our dialogue is probably not even really in there.]

So Roy is a jerk. This is not a surprise at all. I was a little surprised when he made it a point to look for Nina--I was like, "Oh hey, he can take responsibility!" But that wasn't it at all. Oh well. But then that makes me wonder how he knew she was there to begin with...maybe he watched them put her in the truck with the little lugas. But that means if they did do something to her, he would have seen that, too. But he did know that she was a luga now. Maybe he woke up from the tranquilizers after she changed, and that's when he saw her in the other truck. That would make sense. Okay.

Anyway, I appreciate that Nina still mostly acts like she's not interested in him. The kiss had me wary, and it still has me wary, but it was also done in a way that could have just been a, "Look, I just want to get this thing done and if you're not going to let me until I kiss you, fine, I'll kiss you." Roy's profile also suggests that he's really a nice guy deep down, so surely that's going to come through eventually. And he's sure to have some tragic past. Just as long as they don't have a relationship where he's constantly mean to her but she lets him get away with it because she loves him so much. I think that's unlikely, though, because Nina does have that great attitude, standing up for what's right and everything.

Well, I think that's all I have to talk about it. So far, it's definitely got an interesting premise, and Nina's a great character, and there are a lot of questions I'd like to see answered. Definitely looking forward to volume two!

And that's all for The Beasts of Abigaile. This week is another week of no releases that we were involved in (unless you're watching Princess Principal, *nudgenudge* (it's a steampunk spy series, you know you waaant toooo)), but tune in next week, because we will be posting our review of the first volume of Land of the Lustrous!! Huzzah!

Today I'm thankful for today's dentist trip being a lot less devastating than yesterday's, finding some neat craft kits at Target, getting to have some Italian ice on the way home, getting to go to Cow Appreciation Day with Sister D yesterday, and Sister D being very understanding of my nervous breakdown.
13th-Jul-2017 02:15 pm (UTC) - Lys
Relying on Lys for advice on what manga to work on is definitely a good idea xD

Sorry to hear about what's been happening to you personally. Glad you're feeling a bit better.
13th-Jul-2017 09:34 pm (UTC) - Re: Lys
She does usually have pretty good taste. XD

Thanks for the support! Things are much better now. Details in today's post.
13th-Jul-2017 10:31 pm (UTC)
Oh man, sorry about whatever's going on that gave you a breakdown!! (was it the dentist stuff or other things as well? ...i too will tune in to today's post for more info :) )

I'm glad you like Abigaile (as of this review writing) and also that the script is much shorter!!, since I'd feel partly to blame if it didn't turn out well! (also I will say relying on me for advice on what to work on is maybe not the BEST idea because look at my schedule, I don't know when enough is enough. but you're already there too anyway, so.) It is so shoujo-y, in a good way. I liked your Harlequin-manga-esque summary!! That really is about it... I agree that Nina is probably the best part right now. What a good girl :D I too am hoping for a not-a-jerk love interest to take the lead. Princess Comics could probably get away with one of the more unlikely guys being it, but they did put Roy on the first cover...

I feel like I remember reading Luga in volume 1 (and wondering what that was supposed to be). We'll see if they update it for 2. Also if you ever take on more titles for SevenSeas maybe just tell them you can do the adaptation too and have them send you their adaptation guidelines or something? They'd probably pay you extra! (in my mind, adapting your own scripts wouldn't be that much more work since I assume you do some of that as you translate, but maybe I'm wrong. but at least you'd only have to type it out in the dreaded format once!)

The two sets of ears bothered me too. Now I'm trying to rationalize it by... well, I dunno. Like maybe they're vestigial organs that aren't actually used anymore, but were passed down from the original wolfpeople who somehow transformed from regular people?? (if that's how it works.) Well, but still it doesn't make sense for a body to create a whole separate new set of ears that look wolf-like, instead of the existing ears to just gradually evolve in appearance. Think of all the internal networks that'd have to be rerouted! So all these wolf- and cat-people should be drawn with animal-esque ears that come out the sides of their heads where human ears are. Also from an artistic sense, unless everyone has fluffy hair covering the sides of their face, they'd look weird with nothing there. (admittedly, several of them do have fluffy hair on the sides of their faces and the artist still bothered to draw the ears poking out behind it...) Anyway, I suppose it's not really supposed to matter how it all works biologically or evolutionally, we just go with it.
14th-Jul-2017 01:39 am (UTC)
Haha, we wouldn't have blamed you! We are fully aware that our choices are ultimately our own responsibility. (And you're right, we can remain quite unaware when enough is enough without your help. I believe we mentioned that we're translating anime now.)

Anyway, yes! It is so very shoujo-y. Probably the most shoujo-y thing we've done in a long while. And of course we love that. Roy being on the first cover definitely makes it hard to believe they'd go with anyone else, so I guess as long as he's sufficiently repentant about being such a jerk maybe it will be okay. There's been plenty of other shoujo stuff where the guy was a jerk at first but turned out to be pretty awesome by the end. ...Now I want to watch Princess Tutu.

Aw, darnit, I guess we didn't find out it needed to be corrected in time. (Why not? We translated volume two back in, like, March? *checks* No, it was December. Maybe we forgot to make a point to point it out. Or maybe they decided the French pronunciation was too confusing.) We should definitely ask about doing our own adaptations. I mean, we basically do the same amount of work anyway, it's just we're a lot more, "Not that it matters," with My Monster Secret, which has a lot more words, so when we're busy, it's a lot easier to say, "Eh, they're gonna change it anyway, so no need to be a perfectionist." ...But then they probably would make us do the even worse version of the format (for now they let us get away with not putting everything in bold; we've seen excerpts of adapted scripts, so we know that they just have the adapters do it).

Volume two has some character design sheet type things that explain the purpose of the second set of ears! We felt much better about it after that. Actually, Ryoko Fukuyama's Monochrome Kids has animal people, and the original character designs did have the ears on the sides of the characters' heads. It looked pretty weird; it was fairly obvious why she changed it. But the characters also all only have one set of ears. Anyway, considering the way owl ears work, I think it's really just a matter of evolution where the ears will end up, even if it is a humanoid with animal ears, so I'm generally okay wherever the ears are, as long as they look good and have a logical explanation for there being more than one set.
16th-Aug-2017 01:23 am (UTC)
I just got this from the library yesterday and read it today. The editors did go with "lugas" instead of "loup-gas." I think that might be less because they didn't get your note in time than because they were afraid too many English-speaking readers wouldn't get the loup-garou connection (although personally I was delighted to read such a good explanation of the otherwise erroneous-looking "g" in "luga") or wouldn't know how to pronounce the term if it was written with the first syllable basically in French.

So far Roy strikes me as less of a genuine sadist/sexual predator/natural-born bully (like the male lead in "Black Bird" or, in non-supernatural shoujo, overbearing rich boy Ryutaro Tachibana in "Hot Gimmick") than somebody who's determined to dominate or intimidate everybody else because if he doesn't seize control/scare everyone else into submission, there'd be too much risk of others exerting control over him. Roy's contemptuous attitude toward the well-behaved, "pet-like" Gilles ("Tamed by the humans. Tamed by a girl. You have less dignity than a pet") suggests that he regards *not* constantly rebelling and throwing his weight around as a slippery slope that would ultimately lead to becoming a pathetically submissive "weakling" like Gilles--or at least Roy's idea of Gilles. While this doesn't prevent Roy from doing a lot of obnoxious and sexist things, I got the impression that he wasn't primarily interested in sexually harassing Nina for its own sake, but as what he thought would be the most effective means of bringing a new female member of the group under his control. Thankfully, this seems to be a lot less effective so far than Roy expected.
18th-Aug-2017 01:13 am (UTC)
Aww, darn it! Loup-ga is so much more elegant...but I agree it would be confusing pronunciation-wise. Of course, there could have been a margin note.

Of course I have very little doubt that Roy will turn out to not be a genuine bully, but, at least as far as our own interpretation, he did a pretty good job of hiding it. This of course makes us wonder if the English adaptation tweaked his dialogue to soften him a little...for example, our version of the line you quoted was "tamed by a female" (the word he used was mesu-inu, which specifically means female dog, which should be even more insulting even without using the English word for that, because they're wolves, not dogs, and I think we probably wanted to use "female" because the alternative is too slangy and wouldn't be as othering or something, but that was over a year ago, so what do I know anymore). Without knowing the adapter's intent, I can only guess that it's because "female" is more misogynist or something...there's a subtle difference which I can feel but not really explain.

...On the other hand, most actual bullies are just scared children who are "determined to dominate or intimidate everybody else because if he doesn't seize control/scare everyone else into submission, there'd be too much risk of others exerting control over him," even if most of the risk is imagined. Roy only gets a very small pass because the risk is so very real. Either way, he's still a jerk. I'm all about forgiveness, but until he starts shaping up, I don't have to like what he does.
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