This volume was featured in our first attempt at a Disneyland office. We figured if we ever wanted to really try for a change, we had to just get up and do it! So we ordered the Chromebook, and when it arrived, the next translation on our list that had a physical book to work on (if we're working from digital files, it helps to have two screens) was this one! So we packed it up with the Chromebook and took it to Disneyland! ...But then the Chromebook didn't want to let us use Google Docs without internet, so we got absolutely zero work done. But we did use the book to give Farley the Fiddler a little lesson in Japanese, an event which still surprises me a little in that he was actually asking about it, and it wasn't just us getting carried away with being language nerds.
Of course, the failed attempt at a Disneyland office then put us behind schedule, and since we had so many other things going on, it actually resulted in us putting off the translation of this particular book, in favor of other digital titles for more demanding clients. Nevertheless, I'm pretty sure this review will still be posted before the one for the book that took priority. (Note that as of this writing, we're more than a little peeved at companies that insist that we absolutely MUST have this thing turned in more than six months before it's going to be available for English reading. It's nothing personal; just that we're dying (hopefully not literally) of overwork and we wish they would cut us some slack.)
But let's talk about the actual book, shall we? This book features the return of In/Spectre after the defeat of Steel Lady Nanase. For those of you who didn't read the afterwords, the manga was based on just one book by Kyo Shirodaira, which normally would mean that when they beat Steel Lady Nanase, that would be the end of it, because there was no more original material. But for whatever reason, they decided, possibly because the manga was so popular, that they were going to revive the story as a series. I like the idea because there were still some loose ends (in my own mind) about the original story, and I'm hoping they get tied up. The side of me that wants a vacation doesn't like the idea because dang is this series hard. I mean, I like it and all, but let me tell you if there is really a genre that is harder to translate than most, I would say it's probably mystery. I imagine that mecha tends to have a lot of techno-babble which would be tough to deal with, but on the other hand, it doesn't always, so I don't think you can say the whole genre is necessarily very difficult, especially because once you get used to all those terms, you're set. But we've translated no less than three mystery series, and every one of them involves a lot of tedious exposition. Of course, ideally the finished product doesn't come across as tedious, but it's important to review a lot of details, so when translating it, it can be very tedious. And repetitive. And! you have to be very careful with your wording, because even that can affect the clues. In fact, it usually affects the clues a lot.
For example! in this book, there was the whole chapter called "What the Snake Heard," or whatever it ended up being (once we've finalized it, we tend to forget all about it because we don't have the brain capacity to remember all the details when we no longer have to, especially with so much else to work on), which means that the thing the snake heard is kiiiiind of pivotal to the whole story, so it needs to be translated very carefully. And to make matters worse, since it was a key clue in the whole thing, which involved about a bazillion different theories (as is this series' wont), there were multiple ways to interpret it. So the woman who's disposing of the body says, "Umaku mitsukete kurereba ii ne," or something close to that, but the important thing is, there is NO SUBJECT in that sentence. The zero pronoun strikes again, and this time, it hit us right where it hurts. And there was no object, either. It just means roughly, "I hope [someone] finds [something]," and the context will change who and what those someone and something are. So there was a lot of discussion about who exactly the woman wanted to find what, and we had to come up with a translation that would fit every one of those interpretations. The hardest part was the who, because fortunately(?) there were really only two options: the police (or a witness who would tell the police) and the giant snake. But the one is a "they" and the other is a "he/she/it." And if she said, "I hope he/she/it finds it," then the snake almost certainly would have argued the semantics on that one, too. For the something, we decided "it" would cover all the possibilities. But for the someone, while we still think the snake would have been picky about, "But I'm a he. If she meant me, should should have said he," we think that the singular they is common enough these days that, with Kotoko's explanation, and the idea that Aoi didn't know the snake's gender, "they" wasn't entirely unreasonable. Incidentally, the snake's gender never was specified in the Japanese text, but we went with male because he was demanding fair virgins (specifically female ones). We understand that that's not definitive proof, but we didn't want to bother dancing around pronouns too much.
But speaking of this story with the snake! I really liked it, because it points out that the point the snake insisted didn't make any sense ("if she wanted me to eat it, she would have said, 'I hope he eats it'") isn't a fact set in stone. Everybody has their own ideas of what makes sense and what doesn't, and what makes sense to one person may not make sense to another. Of course, if you take that too far, then you might as well throw internal story logic out the window, and in fact I feel like many storytellers do in this day and age, and that that's a problem, so maybe I shouldn't be so happy about this whole "just because you think it has to be that way doesn't mean it really is." And yet I am. I don't know if that's contradictory or not, but I will say I think that it's situational. In this situation, we agreed with Kotoko. Just because having the snake eat the body was Aoi's ultimate goal, it doesn't necessarily mean that it's what Aoi would have said out loud. And in fact, the snake would have to find the body before he could eat it, so finding the body would have been one of Aoi's hopes.
And I think that's all I had to say about that. Aoi looked kind of like Karin Nanase, so we did briefly entertain the idea that she was the real Karin Nanase enjoying her new life, and she killed whatsisname because he found out her secret. (We came up with the body-switching theory early on, and it still hasn't been disproven! We have no reason to believe that the ghost who saw her die knew who Karin Nanase was, or that he could have properly identified her, especially if the fake happened to be Karin's sister, who would have had a family resemblance.) That turned out not to be the case, which is fine, because seriously I need to just let it go (or do I?), but the important thing is that Aoi was pretty funny with her, "I guess there's not a giant snake after all..."
The other stories in this volume include the really cute one about the cafe. We kind of appreciate Kotoko making the distinction between cafes and diners, because we still don't have any closure about the English logo for Happy Cafe. Yes it's a cute idea to make a smiley face out of a coffee stain, but coffee stains are totally a diner thing. Cafes need to be more...elegant or something. And I'm not sure I have much to say about that, either, except that we'd appreciate it if Kotoko would not make us do research on sex museums. Oh, but that reminds me! Since Kuro was always taking her to places that supposedly had anti-couple curses on them. Several years ago (2005 to be precise), there was an internet radio show featuring Akira Ishida and Miyu Irino, and it was to promote a Yukiru Sugisaki CD drama, and they were representing the DN Angel side of things. So one of the corners they had on their show was about famous couple spots that were supposed to bring good romantic luck, but since Akira Ishida is a major skeptic, he said, "And tell us about the bad luck ones, too!" So immediately a couple sent in their report, but they saved it for the last episode anyway because it was just such a perfect thing to wrap it up with. They found out about all the anti-couple curse spots, and they were curious and/or skeptical, so they decided to visit some and see if it affected their relationship. They went on a tour of a bunch of these spots, and their relationship ended up stronger than ever. I think when they sent in their email, they said they were happily married or something like that, so they suggested that one couple good luck charm might be to tour a bunch of bad luck spots. It was sweet.
And there was the story about Kajio and Jujoji, who just both have funny names. That story was really good, too, and another example of how you have this idea of how things would have to play out based on your own deduction, but if you don't know all the factors, it could throw off your reasoning. This is why we don't usually confront real live people with our theories, by the way. We know that there could be factors that are completely invisible to us, and it can be very embarrassing, like I'm sure it was for Jujoji, if you end up being wrong. I think I will just not tell very much about what actually happened in that one, because it's definitely worth the read, but I will talk about how funny it was that Kajio was obsessed with Kotoko the whole time. For those of you who haven't read it yet, it's these two guys in an unagi restaurant, and they start out by talking about how you just can't go into a fancy unagi restaurant by yourself. Incidentally, we Googled this, because we weren't sure if it was just a "it's weird to go certain places like movie theaters and stuff without a friend or date" sort of thing, or if there was some specific reason unagi restaurants would be worse. Most of the links we got were just about people saying, "I do it all the time, who cares!" with other people saying, "No way, I would be too embarrassed!", like it just depends on your personality and/or upbringing, but there was a slight indication that it would be extra weird for a young girl to go specifically into an unagi place alone, and it didn't say why, but I'm guessing it has to do with every reason Kotoko said she was there.
Also, despite it all, we felt bad for Kajio at the end. He tried to repent! I almost think he and Yukie deserve each other. They're both kind of crazy. And I really liked the bonus manga about when Jujoji found out what happened after they parted ways. Bwa ha ha.
And that's that. It was a fun volume (probably even more fun for people who weren't translating it; so many words). And it looks like the next volume is going to go into the next major story arc, which apparently will be a nod to Pinocchio. How many Disney references will there be? Surely Shirodaira-sensei knows that Walt Disney didn't invent Pinocchio, right? I mean, I love the Disney references, especially when they reference old classics, but I also want people to realize that Disney is not the be-all end-all of good storytelling, and I want them to realize that Walt Disney did a lot of retellings. I don't know; this topic is too complicated to cover here. Anyway, I'm looking forward to finding out what happens next! (And also sort of dreading the hard work it will entail. But it's always good to challenge yourself.)
Wow, that was a fun and difficult volume. We hope you all enjoy(ed) it!
This weeks new releases include nothing! But tune in next week, for our review of My Monster Secret 10!
Today I'm thankful for reminders of how silly Kotoko can be, quick review-posting breaks, making relatively good progress on work today considering, the lovely weather outside, and neat uses of floriography.