But we actually enjoyed this book, so let's talk about it! Spoilers ahead!
Oh my goodness, this series, you guys! I can still hardly believe we're translating it! As some of you may know, we did the original translation of Fruits Basket for TokyoPop waaaay back in the day, and then Fruits Basket another started up, and we translated it for funsies and we thought back on our old Fruits Basket translations and thought, "Man, we were so inexperienced then. I don't suppose anyone would license rescue the series and let us fix our shoddy work..." And then! Yen Press did license it! What! We panicked. We immediately emailed our boss and asked if we could translate it!
...but they already had someone else. And they thought it would be better to have consistency with all the other things they licensed from Natsuki Takaya, so we didn't get to translate Twinkle Stars or Liselotte, either. And did you know! that TokyoPop was close enough to getting the rights to Twinkle Stars that they had already asked us to translate it? Oh man. Not gonna lie, that was a pretty sad day, when we found out we couldn't do any of them for Yen Press. Our understanding is that there were legal issues, probably with TokyoPop owning our translation or something (we would have done a new one from scratch, without even looking at the old ones (because those files are hidden deep, deep in old emails, in an account that might not even exist anymore, and the hard copies we have are lost in all our boxes, and would have been changed by English adaptation writers to the point where we would have been like, "No. We're changing that," anyway.)), so there were no hard feelings toward anyone, but we were sad about it.
We consoled ourselves by telling ourselves it wasn't meant to be, and it just meant there was something better in store for us. Lo and behold, a few months later, one of our Kodansha editors asked us to translate Sailor Moon. Tadah!
But this is supposed to be about Fruits Basket another. We actually have no idea what happened between us not getting to retranslate the original series and us getting to translate the sequel. We figure if it was any of our business, they would have told us. For all we know, all the other Takaya-sensei stuff just proved to be too text heavy to handle, because Fruits Basket, like Sailor Moon, tends to take up a lot more time than you'd expect. The difference is, since Fruits Basket is generally shoujo fluff, the time is mostly consumed by typing up the massive amounts of text, which are then easier to deal with in the edit. Sailor Moon edits are ridiculously hard, because sometimes it feels like all exposition all the time. King Endymion seems to speak in short novels, is what I'm saying. But the point is, one day out of the blue, our boss at Yen Press emailed and asked if we wanted to do Fruits Basket another, and we were like, "Are you kidding!? Of course we would!" And thus we have been reconciled with two series that we had loved but been estranged from.
So. What's it about again? Oh yes, Sawa. Sawa is...pretty much your typical Natsuki Takaya heroine, actually. I think she's like a combination of Tohru and Sakuya, but without any friends. She had a bad experience with friends when she was a kid, and has sworn off of them for the good of mankind. Some fleeting flashbacks with her mother indicate that her mother is also part of Sawa's confidence problem, telling her that Sawa just isn't likable, which certainly is not going to help someone recover from a situation where her friends just up and tell her they don't like her anymore, for no particular reason. And I have to say, the timing for us getting back to this series was amazing, because very soon before we started work on it, we had a friendship end abruptly when we inadvertently offended someone. (I've since come up with the theory that she wasn't really offended, just didn't think we were that compatible after all and wanted an excuse to not worry about the relationship anymore, but since I have no proof, I have to consider the possibility that she really was offended. Either way, I felt like I was being utterly innoccuous, so I'm just as confused about why she left as Sawa was about why her friends left.) So it was kind of nice to have this reminder that, just because people do leave their friends for reasons that baffle the person in question, it doesn't mean that everyone will hate them forever.
Of course, this wouldn't be shoujo manga if Sawa's life weren't in for a major change. She gets in trouble with her teacher for being late and is rescued by none other than the very son and heir to Yuki Sohma's glory. Of course they don't ever mention Yuki by name, but we all know it's him. And then basically the story revolves around Sawa meeting all the other Sohmas and learning life lessons along the way. None of the original characters are mentioned by name, but Natsuki Takaya makes sure to insert details into the dialogue to let us know exactly who descended from whom. And I like it, because it all makes sense with the story, instead of randomly having the Wicked Queen from Snow White have a daughter. You know who the Wicked Queen's daughter is? Snow White. Not Raven or Evie or whoever. But I digress. (If you want to get technical, yes, Snow White is her stepdaughter, unless you want to go with the original original Grimm's version, before they edited it, when the queen really was Snow White's biological mother.)
And...we like it. The end. Oh! That reminds me. The names! First, the most obvious thing we noticed was Sora and Riku. I mean, the names mean sky and land, respectively, so they make sense as twin names, especially fraternal twins, but we also know that Natsuki Takaya is a big Final Fantasy fan, so it seems highly unlikely that the connection to Kingdom Hearts is purely coincidental. Also, Mutsuki and Hajime. There's a character in Final Fantasy: Type-0 named Mutsuki, which, some of you may know, is the Final Fantasy that we actually got to work on. And here's the very interesting thing about it. It doesn't come up in any of the scenes we translated (which is weird, because we translated at least 90% of the game, I'm pretty sure), but there are hints that in the super secret super happy ending, Mutsuki and Ace end up as a couple. (There may be hints before that that Mutsuki is crushing on Ace; it's been a while, so we don't remember exactly.) And Ace, as we all know, is the first (or Hajime) in a deck of cards. So we like to think of Mutsuki and Hajime as a platonic Mutsuki and Ace, which we especially like to do because Ace is played by our beloved favorite voice actor, and oh my goodness, he would make such a good Hajime. He'd make a good Mutsuki, too, for that matter. And he can sound tall enough to be Riku, too, but he's not usually known for his tall voices.
Anyway. We were glad that Ruriko and Takei mostly showed up in the first half of the volume because...we sort of...cheated...a little bit on this volume because, if you were paying close attention at the beginning of this review, you will have noticed that we started translating this series for funsies back when it first started. (We stopped because our schedule exploded and never calmed down, and then Yen Press licensed the original series, and we were like, Who cares about anything anymore.) And so we had mostly already dealt with their overblown monologues. And oh my goodness, such an amusing job we did of it! We did tweak things, though. There were some lines that we thought worked better with more context, and there was a line of Ruriko's that had a pun in it that we apparently didn't even try for the first time around, which was silly in retrospect, because the English version was obvious (so beside myself that my side hurts).
The little extra chapters that take place between the main chapters are hilarious. "I found it to be quite bravo-worthy." "Wait, everyone?" Bwa ha ha. Poor Hajime. I don't really have much to add to that except that you should read them because they're great. And that I still love Megumi. Actually, I'm not sure if I liked him that much originally, although I'm sure he must have grown on me at some point. At any rate, he's super awesome now. I kind of want to direct the English dub, because when we write these lines in English, we imagine very specific deliveries. "I'm a teacher... I wouldn't do that..." You have to say it with the shifty eyes voice, but not with shifty eyes, and it's a very specific shifty eyes voice (there are different varieties).
Sawa remains the biggest mystery of the series. First of all, she wears her hair in two bunches throughout the entire volume so far, so why is her hair down on the cover? It makes me think that's not really her. Second of all, what happened to her elbow? Did Shiki push her down the stairs? Did all her friends dump her because the pretty Sohma boys liked her better? It's clear that the Sohmas all know who she is, and I kind of wish she would question that more. But I'm sure we'll find out all about it eventually.
I have to mention Amane! She's one of those manga characters that gives me hope for humanity until I realize they're fictional. But the fact remains that she is great. Also, she has the same name as Hanako from Hanako-kun, so we're like, "All the names!!!" I think there was another name that we were like, "There's another one!" Oh, right, it was Kinu, because that's close enough to Kinuha, based on the way names work in Noragami. There's a Sawa in Farewell, My Dear Cramer, too (and she's adorable).
Anyway. I think that covers it. I like the story, and just like with all of Takaya-sensei's works since Fruits Basket, I think there's a lot we can all learn about being human. So I'm excited for the next volume!
Aww, it's nice to read a review from someone who likes the series. I hope people are willing to give it a chance despite all the online reviewers hating it. You just have to remember that it's not Fruits Basket Part Two. It's Fruits Basket another. That's a different thing.
Anyway, this week we have two new releases! My Monster Secret 12 and Toilet-Bound Hanako-kun 7! And tune in on Thursday for our review of the first volume of The Voynich Hotel!
Today I'm thankful for the kittens all snuggled together in the cat carrier (if their mother had joined them, we would have snatched them all up and whisked them away to the shelter), fond remembrances of Fruits Basket, getting to make more progress in reading Karneval, getting to work on Land of the Lustrous today (oh my goodness it's been forever), and finally managing to finish the simulpub chapter we were working on that proved to be surprisingly tricky.