Ah, Forbidden Scrollery. This series really...I don't know how to describe it. It's like it's not really there, somehow, I guess? Like it's always a detour from what we really do. It probably doesn't help that we were supposed to do a book a month, but after we did volume one, our schedule was interrupted by Book of Shadows, and then again by Hanako-kun, both of which turned out to be more urgent(?), and hopefully have finally been announced by the time this review gets posted, since they were such a high priority.
Anyway. This is volume two, so I think I probably explained in the first review that this manga is based on a series of bullet hell video games that are known to the West but haven't been released in English. You can legally download the games in Japanese, and we found a review that says you can enjoy them without being able to follow the story. But you can follow THIS story, because we translated it for you! And let me tell you, it's kind of hard deciding what to do about certain terms, because there's a big enough English-speaking fanbase that it seems like people already have an idea in their mind about what it should be (for example, the Miracle Mallet was listed in the English Wikipedia article about the Uchide no Kozuchi, which is an item from Japanese folklore and gets its own article with or without the Touhou Project connection), but we don't always like to go with those translations. I will admit that some of it is pettiness, like, "But we're better translators!" I think we're fair, though. We did keep Miracle Mallet, after all. (I will say that one was extra special, because we can tell that alliteration is all the rage in J-E translation these days, and it kind of drives us nuts. Just because something is alliterate does not mean it is the best translation! ...This may just be the result of a firm belief that the item in Kingdom Hearts Union Cross should be "cookie crumbs," not "broken biscuit," but "cookie crumbs" is still alliterate, and I guess since the item comes from Wonderland, they would want to use the British word, except for the fact that Disney's Alice in Wonderland was written by Muricans...but they never referred to the cookies by name at all, so really it could have been anything.)
So this volume starts with...the thing...about the stuff...hold on, I got this...the tupai! Yes! Whew, glad I remembered that. (You'd never believe we edited that story just this morning.) So the resident vampire Remilia Scarlet has gotten her hands on a rare but utterly mundane (supposedly) creature from the outside world called a tupai. It's not magical, but I guess it's not entirely mundane, because it's a heavy drinker, which is a pretty unusual trait for animals. Meanwhile, the village is in an uproar about some mysterious creature drinking everybody's liquor. It takes forever for the characters to put these two things together, but that's understandable, because the party that's looking for the runaway tupai isn't really in contact with the party that's trying to solve the mystery of the disappearing spirits. I think the best part of this story is Remilia's maid Sakuya, and her description of the "tupai." "It's like a goblin, but pointier." Athena managed to figure out that Remilia's "tupai" was actually a chupacabra before Mamizou came along and told everybody, but after we saw what it looked like. And then I was like, "We should have known it was a chupacabra; they love chupacabra stories in Japan." And then I wondered where I got that idea, because the only place we really came across it was Negima!? neo. So yeah, Remilia's tupai was actually a chupacabra and th...
Okay, so in the middle of typing that, we got interrupted by...a phone call from Gaston, I think, but after that, we stopped typing and now it's been more than a week, so I really don't remember where I was going with that. Anyway, a chupacabra does seem like a good pet for a vampire...or maybe it's more like if a person had a pet monkey, because they have similar biology? I don't know. I'm tired.
What in the world happened after that? There were three other stories, and the second one was...the one...with the thing...the snake! That one was a pretty cool story, I think. Not sure if I have a lot of commentary on it, though. Marisa found a white snake and captured it with a nearby piece of cloth that happened to be! the Listening Hood. Oh right, there was a bit of a challenge with that, because it's based on a well-established folktale, so we had to see if there was already an English version going around, and it seems like the answer is yes, but in, like, a Crunchyroll anime, and I guess it's my translator snobbery that makes me say, "In that case, it's not official and it doesn't count." But we went with it anyway, because it wasn't bad, and "Listening Hood" is a little less clunky than "Listening Ear Hood." The point is, when you wear it, you can hear animals. I will also say that Akyu and Kosuzu imagining what the plants would say was pretty funny. So Marisa put the hood on and discovered that Reimu had come down with an incurable illness! Oooohhh nooo! So she goes and cures her, and that was pretty funny, too, but if I retell the whole thing there won't be much point in you reading it, so you'll just have to read it yourself. I guess that means I shouldn't tell you that the whole thing was orchestrated by...
Yeah, right. Like I'm going to tell you that! I mean, I might, if it seemed like it was an important point to lead into other story developments, but this series seems pretty episodic.
The next story is about a darrrrrrk and scaaaaary Noh play. Only it's not really dark and scary, it's just confusing. But then Kosuzu finds out its daaaaaaark and scarrrrry (scarry? like, scarred up?) secret! And mayhem ensues. Sort of. Apparently this story was a follow-up to the Touhou Project game, Hopeless Masquerade. Having not played Hopeless Masquerade, I can tell you that the story itself makes sense without any prior knowledge of the games, but I'm betting it would be easier to appreciate, because you'd be like, "Oh yeah, I know what this is about!" The same can be said of the final story in this volume, which was a sort of followup to Double Dealing Character. Again, I think the story makes sense without having played the game, but we did have to do a lot of research on the game to make sure we were getting some of the details right. Turns out for the most part, we could have just left our translations as they were without the added info, so that should tell you that it won't be too confusing. What might be confusing is that there's a youkai in that last story that's based on a Chinese proverb, and we were able to figure out what the Chinese proverb was saying basically, but not necessarily why that particular proverb would be saying that particular message. But if you look up the proverb, it will tell you that that's what it says.
Anyway. This series is kind of weird for us, because of the timing issues mentioned above. It always feels like a side project or something, like it's not really part of our real job. Nevertheless, it's there on our schedule and it's not going to translate itself, so we do have to remind ourselves that yes, it is part of our job. Fortunately, it's not difficult to translate, even with all the video game references. We saw a lot of Touhou Project cosplay at Anime Expo, so I guess it's a fairly popular series. Anyway, it's cute, and the characters are fun, so we hope you enjoy it!
Incidentally, we translate this series so infrequently that I still have a hard time thinking of it as a real thing. It is pretty cute, though. I hate to admit that the last couple of times we translated it, we were so swamped that I was mostly just annoyed at it for taking more time, but in retrospect, it really is a cute series.
This week features just one new release: My Brother the Shut-In volume four! Wow, that series is just racing along now, isn't it? It almost makes sense that we had to translate it so fast. But I still don't like having to do that. We blame piracy. If the pirates weren't so quick to steal manga, the publishers wouldn't feel so pressured to get everything released so fast.
Wait! Our sources tell us that there's another release today! Toilet-Bound Hanako-kun volume five! I do not know why news of this series never gets out, but this info is straight from Yen Press's official website, so it should be legit! Everybody check this series out so all the news sites can remember it exists!
Anyway, tune in next week for our review of Kiss Me at the Stroke of Midnight volume four!
Today I'm thankful for having some idea of what's going on, making comparatively good progress on Sailor Moon, being all caught up on Devils' Line (preview for the next volume has us thinking maaaaybe we're just not that interested in going on, but it was interesting enough while it lasted), the lovely Rapunzel bath set we got in our nmnl box, and having a T-rex in Love Nikki.