In the meantime, it's Review Rednesday! And this week we have the final volume of Complex Age! Wait, really? The last volume is out? Yes, really! And here's the review! Spoiler level: it's the last volume, dude.
Well, Complex Age has come to an end. It was an interesting look at how people approach their hobbies. I have to say, that Cospedia was maddening. It was the shortest, but in a way, the hardest. It was especially frustrating during the edit, because we could see how close we were to the end of the script, but it was taking absolutely forever to get through! So many words! So much to look up! Aaaaaaahhhh!!! I admit, the feelings were exacerbated by the fact that we've spent the last few weeks working until bedtime. It's been tough.
Anyway, this volume had a lot of stuff that made us go, "Seriously?" Oh, but maybe I should give a quick summary. Nagisa goes to visit Nori, who says hey you can quit your hobby and have a life, or you can make a living out of your hobby! That's what Athena and I did, and we don't have a life, either, so the idea that it has to be one or the other is a little hard to shake. I do like to think there's a happy middle ground, though. We're just bad at being social, is all, which is probably why most people get so obsessed with hobbies. (We saw a t-shirt the other day that said, "Anime: Because people suck," and we thought, "...Yeah." This, of course, is not a good attitude to have if you ever want to have friends.)
Moving on. Nagisa went to a flower-viewing party with her cosplay gang, and this is where things got stupid. They go to Aya's house, because she's drunk and needs company until she passes out, and Hayama finds Aya's Ururu costume, and, not having been there for Nagisa's whole "Aya's a better Ururu" angst, decides to put it on her before anyone can stop her. Nagisa sees it, and now, because Aya has so much more experience and is a good enough cosplayer to be featured in Cosplay Mode, she really IS the perfect Ururu, even though she's drunk. Maybe the drunk part is what really sent Nagisa over the edge, like, "She can be a better Ururu in her sleep! What have I been doing with my whole life?"
You may have already realized that we didn't exactly relate to Nagisa's problem. The truth is, we related to an extent. I mean, we've had a ton of experiences that made us think maybe we were failures as translators. It was actually kind of like the filler comic, where Sakuma-sensei talks about rolling on the floor and despairing of everything around her, and then hopped back up and went right to work. That's how we usually deal with it, because those deadlines aren't gonna meet themselves. And that's one of the reasons we were so annoyed with Nagisa's subsequent actions. The other reason is, okay, so Aya can do a great Ururu cosplay, but who cares? She'd rather be Lily. Someone has to be Ururu, so it might as well be you, Nagisa. It's a hobby, for crying out loud, cosplay who you want. It's not like there's some sort of invisible cosplay judge that will revoke all your cosplay rights if you're not THE best cosplayer of any character you choose to cosplay. And it's not like I don't get that feeling of inferiority, but the other thing is, when we do worry that maybe we're not really the super awesome translators we like to think we are, we get over it by telling ourselves that we're still pretty darn good, and it's not a competition anyway, so as long as you do your best and put out a good cosplay/translation, that's what's really important.
So when Nagisa went home and tore her Ururu costume apart, I just wanted to smack her with it or something. And she had this look on her face like, "I'm so sad that I have to do this, but I have no other choice!" and we were like, "You HAVE a choice, stupid!" I know. We shouldn't call people stupid. But man.
It got better after that. She realized she was too obsessed with cosplay to ever truly give it up (to which my response was, "You think?"), and set about looking for ways to reasonably go on with it (to which my response was, "It's about time!"). As someone who's been making a living with my hobby for almost a decade and a half, it's hard for me to see why it wouldn't occur to people. I guess that "practical" mindset runs deep sometimes.
Then there was the cosplay cabaret club chapter, and that was pretty cute. Hase is adorable, and I still maintain that he is the most sensible character in the whole series. He's just like, "Yeah, I have a hobby, and I'm going to keep doing my hobby because why should I stop?" I don't know if I mentioned this in my review of volume five, but we came up with this theory that one of the biggest joys of having children is that, no matter how silly your hobby gets to be at "your age," if you pass it on to your kids, you can do it forever and no one will think twice because you're doing it for the children. It also sounds like a pretty cool start for a family artisan business. The chapter was also dangerous in that it made cabaret clubs seem like maybe a nice place to go if you're sad and lonely and friendless and need someone to talk to about your geeky hobbies. And I don't know--maybe they are. But they have a sketchy reputation, and I don't know if that's justified.
Then there was the wedding chapter, which had us going, "Are you for real right now?" I mean really. "Gee, I wonder where Kimiko got that beautiful dress. I mean, it's not like she has a friend who makes elaborate clothing in all her spare time or anything. Wait, you mean somebody did make it? Somebody IN THIS ROOM!? It was you Nagisa!? I don't even believe it!" And then there was Nagisa's letter to Kimiko. "I heard you were getting married, and I had such a hard time figuring out what I could do for you. If only weddings involved some kind of fancy, elaborate, almost costume-like attire that could be an iconic representation of someone's special day. If only I had the talent to contribute to a wedding ceremony. What can I do? WHAT CAN I DO!?" ...We may be exaggerating a little, but come on. "I only wish I could be there to see you open the box with the dress in it, which, by the way, I really hope you get it in time for the ceremony; I only sent it six months in advance, which is why I won't have time to hop on a train and deliver it to you in person." Okay, so Nagisa had at least two jobs and design school at this point, so she probably really didn't have time, but they could video chat. Or, since it was SIX MONTHS in advance, surely someone could have made arrangements. (I should also point out that in Mormon culture, more than a year is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa
So that all seemed a little silly to us, but it was a pretty dress, and it was a nice chapter overall. And then we find out that Nagisa has started a made-to-order costume business, and once again, we're like, "Took you that long to figure it out, did it?" I mean, seriously. "I only have, like, one talent for anything ever. If only there was some way I could turn that into a profitable endeavor that was also related to the things I love..." Especially considering how many times in the series it's been pointed out that some cosplayers buy their costumes. But I'm really happy for her that she figured it out. So it all worked out well in the end, but the journey seemed a little circuitous.
And finally, there's the chapter where Nagisa asks Hase out, so it looks like there's a chance she can have a hobby AND a life, and that's pretty exciting. ...I suppose I'm implying that to have a life means to find a mate and get married, since Nagisa did technically have a social life with her cosplay friends. But who knows, maybe Hase's just a fling. And besides, I happen to believe that marriage is part of a happy life, or else why would so many people complain about being single?
Anyway. It seems to me that everything Nagisa thought about her hobby in this volume is something that Sakuma-sensei has felt about drawing manga. I'm not sure I can expound on that very well, but the main thing is, this was a series about hobbies, and specifically hobbies that seem weird to "normal society," whatever that is. I guess the main point is supposed to be that there are all kinds of ways you can reconcile your hobby with societal expectations, but I think the real moral, if you look at it, is to just make your hobby your job and nobody can give you guff about it. The sad thing about that is the implication that as long as it gets you money, anything is acceptable. I'm not sure I care much for that message, but I really can't argue with it. Our mom was waiting for us to grow out of our hobby, but once it was clear that we could support ourselves with manga translation, she was totally cool with it. But in that case, it could just be that a mother worries about her children and whether or not they have, you know, food and stuff.
So, as I've said a few times, we don't exactly relate with the characters in the series (except for Nagisa's fault-finding, eh heh...), but it was an interesting look at some of the valid concerns people have when they have unconventional hobbies. It could be a pain in the butt to translate at times (mostly because of the cospedia), but it was fun. I think if anything, I would have liked to see more costumes! And it would have been nice to explore the idea of different people cosplaying different characters, and the different things they bring to it and stuff. But I don't think that really fit with the overall theme of the series. Anyway, I hope you all enjoyed reading it!
...And that review is an example of what can happen when we really let ourselves let loose with the snark. I'm sorry, Nagisa and Kimiko. ...But it was pretty funny to read...
Anyway. This week, there were two whole volumes of manga released that we translated! Two! It's amazing! It's like, we translate two books a week and now we see...a not quite as small fraction of them actually making it to print. Tadah! And those two books are...! ...Hold on, let me go check. Beasts of Abigaile 2 and Nekogahara 3! Two very, very different titles.
And tune in next week for our review of the sixth and not-final volume of In/Spectre! (By which I mean that volume six is the end of the manga adaptation of the original novel, but the series is going to continue anyway! Read the book to find out more!)
Today I'm thankful for finishing work relatively super early, having a highly amusing review to read, getting to translate an interesting take on hobbies, Fire Force reminding me how much I love my job, and having time to either get ahead on work or catch up on anime.