Anime Expo totally broke our streak of writing a review almost as soon as we finished a translation, so we actually turned this book in five days ago...and that was after editing the second half, after another five-day break. Of course, it's not as bad as what happened with Forbidden Scrollery 2, where we stopped writing the review mid-sentence and then didn't get back to it for ten days.
Anyway, Wake Up Sleeping Beauty is, I think, the last new series in our latest batch of new Kodansha series, by which I mean, Kodansha announced a bunch of print titles, like, maybe six months ago? [as of that writing in July 2017], and now we've finally translated the first volume of all the series we took on. We saw that the title was related to Sleeping Beauty, decided we didn't need to know any more about it, and accepted the offer without question. And I really don't know what we were expecting the series to be about, but I can tell you it certainly was not that.
So the story is about a boy named Tetsu who, for reasons that have really only been hinted at, has decided that he can't go to college, he's going to go right into the workforce. His dad will have none of that, so he makes him a bet: if Tetsu can hold a part-time job until he graduates high school, he won't make him go to college. And as it so happens, his dad runs a housekeeping agency, so he's able to hire Tetsu and assign him a house to work at right away. But there's more!
This particular house has an outbuilding (I'm really glad I learned that word from American Girl; translating "hanare" was a nightmare until then) where supposedly resides the rich couple's daughter...and of course they're ashamed of her or something, because all of the housekeepers have been told to stay away from it. And of course this wouldn't even be an element in the story if Tetsu didn't end up meeting this mysterious daughter, Shizu. ...Who actually turns out to be pretty normal. Tetsu takes pity on her and invites her to sneak out and watch a meteor shower, where he realizes that he's totally in love with her. Even more surprising (by which I mean actually surprising) is that he tells her as much. She's kind of bummed about it, though, because she was really excited to have a friend, and there's kiiiind of a major problem with Tetsu being in love with her.
The next time Tetsu sees her, she barely recognizes him! What! So now Tetsu is heartbroken and humiliated, and he's ready to wash his hands of the whole affair when she tracks him down at the grocery store. She's acting like the girl at the meteor shower again, which is nice for him, and she apologizes, and he's all, "Well, if you have multiple personalities, you can't help it." This was just a theory his friend introduced to him, but he decided to stick with it. She plays along and reintroduces herself as Harumichi, one of many people living inside Shizu, who also happens to be male. And probably not gay, based on his lack of romantic interest in Tetsu. But what he really wants is a friend for Shizu, so he really hopes Tetsu won't reject her.
After days of agonizing, Tetsu decides he'll be her friend after all, and he even does his best to make life better for her! He invites her on an outing and tries his best to do things that girls find to be fun, but she's not really the "fun" type...or really the "anything" type. She doesn't really know who she is, actually. But they don't have a lot of time to talk about that, because they run into some kids from Tetsu's old soccer club, and he stops to play a game. I really appreciate that he apologized for boring her, too, because if I had been her, I would have probably been bored, but she did push him to do it, so there you go. After the game, they let her in on the fun and let her practice a penalty kick...which ends up hitting a kid in the face. It hit him pretty hard, too, because Harumichi's hobby is bodybuilding, so she's got some good muscles on her. Athena says if it had been her, she may still have had the muscles, but she probably wouldn't have even hit the ball, so the momentum of the kick would have made her fall flat on her back. But this was an important plot point, so Shizu had to hit a kid in the face.
This traumatizes her, and while Tetsu runs to take the kid home, she runs off to the haunted pool. I forgot to mention that Tetsu's little sister was talking about the Seven Mysteries at her school...did we go with Mysteries for this one? We've dealt with so many stories lately that have Nana Fushigi, I'm having a hard time keeping track of how we translate it. Why can't we just translate it the same way every time, you ask? Because we used to always do the standard Seven Wonders, and then we worked on Persona Q, where the game already had it as Seven Horrors, and then we were like, "But they're not always horrific..." and I don't know but for whatever reason we went with Seven Mysteries in Hanako-kun. So that's probably what we went with for this one... But I don't remember. The point is, at the elementary school, a long time ago, a little girl drowned and now she's haunting the pool. The reader will not be surprised to find that Harumichi warned Tetsu to stay away from places like that. And of course, now that's exactly where Shizu is.
And that's where Tetsu finds her, only now she's not acting like Harumichi or Shizu, she's acting like the ghost of the drowned girl from the ghost story. Dun dun DUN! By the way, did I mention Tetsu has a paralyzing fear of ghosts? This got brought up at the very beginning of the book, and the author never let us forget it, which is why we figured, when Harumichi said it wasn't exactly multiple personalities, we figured Shizu was haunted. This theory was confirmed by Shizu's great grandfather, who is also possessing Shizu, in an interview with Tetsu at the hospital. He explains that, since Shizu has this condition (being easily possessed), he knows there are ghosts that would use her body to do harm to the living, so he's formed an alliance with Harumichi and other ghosts to keep her safe. But what she really needs is for someone to teach her how to deal with living people, so won't Tetsu please still be her friend? Well, he is conflicted between wanting to help someone in need and wanting to stay far, far away from any and all ghosts, but it doesn't really matter anyway, because he figures he's fired. Sure enough, Shizu's mother calls him in very soon.
But! far from firing him, she wants to hire him to be Shizu's personal housekeeper! By now, Tetsu's pretty much convinced himself that he just can't do the ghost thing after all, so he tries to decline, but Shizu's mother is a shrewd one. She knows that Tetsu is trying to earn money because of something going on with his mother (who's at the hospital; we suspect she's in a coma, but this hasn't been confirmed), and she basically blackmails him into taking the job. It's understandable, though; she really does care about her daughter, and she's had to deal with the situation for years with no hope, and now here finally is some hope. Why? Because when Shizu woke up from her coma, she asked about Tetsu. For the first time in her whole life, Shizu has shown concern for something. So Tetsu takes the job, but he's not going to be nice about it.
And that leads me to a discussion about "yoroshiku." ...Okay, I actually don't have much to say that hasn't already been addressed in the translation note, but I will say that boy howdy is that a difficult phrase to translate. I kind of think that if we had ritual expressions like "yoroshiku" in English, we might have a lot fewer stories about people being awkward and not knowing what to say, because "yoroshiku" is kind of a good catch-all. On the other hand, Shizu was kind of awkward about saying even that, so I guess awkward people will always be awkward. Anyway, we went with "let's be friends," and we hoped that the connection from when she first said "let's be friends" still worked and didn't seem forced or anything when it came up again at the end. The tricky part was that when Tetsu said he was going to be her new housekeeper, he, too, said "yoroshiku," which would be what got her thinking about saying it again. But he said it in super formal polite "yoroshiku onegai shimasu" form, which was to show that he was being stand-offish. So I hope that came across too. I really don't remember how we dealt with it, but I know we didn't have him saying the same phrase. And I hope it didn't seem random that she would be saying "yoroshiku" again.
Anyway. I guess what I was expecting from this series was some light shoujo fluff. This is...sort of that, but also combined with a ghost story. It can be pretty serious at times, too. So in that sense, maybe it's more like the original fairy tales, which were meant to be a little scary. And you can tell there's a lot of stuff going on that we don't know about yet, like Chihiro! They really don't talk about him at all--he just shows up in two scenes, and he gets mentioned by name once. Our guess is that he and Tetsu played soccer together and were best friends until Tetsu decided to be all angsty and stuff. So we're definitely interested in seeing how the story unfolds.
The author says the only thing she has in common with Tetsu is his fear of ghosts, but we have something in common with Tetsu, in that none of us can ever seem to get enough sleep and/or rest. We kind of took it personally when Harumichi made Tetsu promise to take better care of himself. We're trying! Our schedule's a little light this month, so we might actually succeed, but we also have a bunch of extracurriculars, like Comic-Con. So we'll see how we've been doing by the time this gets posted. [...Not so good.]
Also, I wonder if there's a reason for Shizu's condition, or if the condition is the only explanation we're going to get for her being haunted.
I feel like I didn't post many opinions in there, but that'll happen sometimes. My opinion is, we like it! And it gets better as it goes, so I recommend it!
Now let's post that My Monster Secret review so we can be caught up again!
Hold on while we remind ourselves what happened... Okay, first there were the feathers, then there was the birthday party, then there was the slump, then Karen captured Ryo, then Mikan found Nagisa, then Akane granted Nagisa's wish, then Shimada went on a date, then Youko and Asahi went to the amusement park. Wow, this series has a lot of stuff per volume. No wonder they're talk talk talking all the time.
Ummm...it was really funny. The end.
I mean, I assume it was funny. I did like a lot of the jokes and everything. It's just hard to fully enjoy the humor when there's soooooooooo muuuuuch typing to do. But anyway, as good as this series was before, I really think Karen just makes it better. She's so great. I think the best was when she was calling to get that extra wine glass. Or when she's all, "How unfortunate for you--now you will be forced to have a good time at the amusement park!" And it was cute how she thought Genjirou was having a good time back in the day. And of course when she wanted to grant Ryo's wish for women but she didn't want to impose on anybody else. She's so nice! Oh man, she's the best.
Now I remember! There was a theory. Mikan mentioned that the school's seven wonders had to have existed before all of their classmates started attending, which means there would be other people who caused them. So does that mean that Nagisa had a parent or other relative attend the school in the previous generation, too? Or did she just get included when Karen got bumped off the list? Maybe it was Nagisa's relative that caused the tragedy of Touko and Genjirou! ...Or not. Only time will tell. We just found out that there are like eleven more volumes after this one (as of this writing, on November 4 ), and a new one comes out in Japan every two months. That's great news for people who like the series, but somewhat intimidating for those of us who need to fit it into our work schedule.
Oh right, in this volume it's confirmed that Okada likes Mikan. I mean, it's been hinted at before, but this volume is where it's like, "No, seriously, people." I do think that all of the crushes are so cute. I don't even know who to root for, because I like Nagisa a lot. And that reminds me! Shiho! Masuda-sensei really had us going when Shiho sort of fake confessed her love to Asahi. I was like, "Whoa, he actually made it plausible that Shiho would go after Asahi!" And of course he left it kind of open-ended about whether or not she really did like him. But here's the great thing about it, and it's the great thing about most of the harem comedies I've read, and it's that the guy is actually really nice and the kind of guy where you can understand why all of those girls would be interested in him. And since they're all brought together by their secrets, it also makes sense that these girls don't know any other guys that they might be interested in.
And then there's Akari. In this volume it's revealed why she has the opposite problem, and that was the kind of thing where most people can be like, "Yeeeeah." We're kind of with her on it, though, since we're sort of in her boat. If you don't have a single prospect anyway, you might as well dream big. The important thing is to keep an open mind and don't reject people just because they don't fit your perfect profile. And, based on the chapter with her and Shirou, we can see that it's not just that she's too picky.
Speaking of Shirou, he was in the chapter with Karen and Ryo, and I just wanted to mention that chapter because it was so funny. It was a little frustrating that the misunderstanding went on for so long, but the important thing is that Karen is hilarious. Ryo is pretty hilarious, too, in a Yato sort of way. So put them together and it's just a great comedy recipe.
But I think my favorite chapter was the one with the Ferris wheel. As a longtime fan of shoujo manga, I like to see the relationship developments. And Youko and Asahi are such a cute couple. But I do want Nagisa to find happiness, too. Oh, but the way Karen tried to orchestrate it, too, how she was like, "They think they're not a couple now, so I'll trick them into going on a date!" She's thinking along the right lines, anyway.
Sooooo yeah. This was another really funny volume. It's kind of amazing how one volume can have so much filler and so many important story elements all at once. And just because I forgot to mention it, the part where Asahi ran off with little Nagisa in his hands (and the part leading up to it) was just too tragically funny.
Whew, another fun volume. It makes me feel even more rushed, though, because we're always so rushed and this series is so time consuming.
Anyway! This week's releases include...nothing! Seriously, what are we so busy for?
But tune in next week, for our review of Kigurumi Guardians 3! It's sure to be hilarious.
Today I'm thankful for today's work being easy enough that we can prooobably finish it before Gaston gets here, Danish butter cookies, Page not being too disruptive, giant plush snakes, and getting(?) to take the day off tomorrow.