Anyway, let's post our review of it! Spoilers ahead! ...I mean, there might be spoilers, if somehow you haven't read or seen Sailor Moon before. (I can't believe we wrote this review almost two years ago.)
Oh my gosh, you guys, we're translating Sailor Moon! At one point after we agreed to do it but before we got the books, we told our editor we weren't entirely sure we hadn't dreamed that email exchange, it just seemed so unreal. The timing was interesting, though, because by then we were so over Sailor Moon. I mean, first, we kind of had to force ourselves to get over it a little, because when Kodansha USA did the re-release back whenever it was a big deal (the files we have say, like, 2011, we think?), they didn't ask us to translate it, and our best way of coping with that kind of thing is to stop caring. We were brats about it, too, like, "Sure, get him to translate it, when you have adorable shoujo-manga-loving former shoujo twins right here just waiting for the assignment. Fine. Whatever, I don't need Sailor Moon. The manga wasn't as good as the anime, anyway."
Then Sailor Moon Crystal came along and did absolutely nothing to improve that opinion. It had so much hype about "finally being true to the manga," and meanwhile Viz was streaming the original anime, which we watched and said, "Guys, all the character development that makes you like the series comes from the anime you're condemning so vehemently." They weren't actually condemning it vehemently; that was just our overreaction to all the hype. Then the series started and, for all its being true to the manga, it wasn't (in our opinion) very good. We thought it took itself too seriously, and while on the one hand, we saw scenes that we remembered vividly from the manga, there was a lot of stuff that had us going, "What? Huh? Why?" and we couldn't remember if that stuff was in the manga or not. The main scene that had us going, "Okay, this series doesn't make any sense." was in the Sailor Jupiter episode, when the ghost bride had Makoto captive, and she had some inner monologue about how she really wished she could get married but it just didn't seem to be in the cards for her, and then Sailor Moon starts some speech to console her, and first the angst was over the top, and second we didn't realize that Sailor Moon's powers included mind-reading. And then we saw some friends on Facebook talking about how glad they were that this new anime was around, it made so much more sense than the original anime! And we were like, "Oh, like how Venus totally let them almost kill Kunzite back in the finding the silver crystal episode, but then she's randomly like, 'No, stop! Don't fight them--we love them!'" Suuuuure, it makes more sense. (They were probably referring to other stuff, but we weren't close enough to them to bother arguing.)
Anyway, the point is, we were so over Sailor Moon, and especially the manga. To the extent that we did not get any Sailor Moon gachapon, either of the times we went to Japan this year (2016). It was kind of sad, too, because Sailor Moon is the series that introduced us to anime, and it was our very first manga. We wouldn't even be in the manga business if not for Sailor Moon. We loved it very dearly at one point, and we were always grateful to it, but, like with Disney princesses, we just got to a point where we didn't want to go out of our way to be fans of it anymore. We're kind of hipster like that (they're all so mainstream now). Although we did totally decide that they're going to get our beloved favorite voice actor to play Pegasus when they decide to animate the Dead Moon Circus arc, long before our editor approached us about this assignment.
But despite all this, when the assignment came, there was no way we could pass it up! I admit that part of this is because we like to accept high-profile titles. But another part of it is that we did always have that love of Sailor Moon; it was just buried for a while under all our more recent passions. Nevertheless, we did make it a point to cool our swelled heads about it by telling ourselves that everybody already has at least one edition of Sailor Moon manga; only the die-hard fans are going to buy this one. We're still telling ourselves that, but it doesn't carry quite as much water now that we've seen that Sailor Moon and Sailor Moon Crystal were among the best-selling anime DVDs of August 2016.
So first, let me talk about this edition. But Kodansha USA hasn't announced it as of this writing, so I can only talk about the Japanese version. It's a bigger size than a lot of manga, and oh my goodness, the covers are gorgeous. We only have volume one in our possession, but we saw them all when we went to Japan, and the art is beautiful. And the Japanese edition has all of the pages that were originally in color, in color, so there's plenty of beautiful colored artwork to look at. And there's one more chapter in volume one than there was in the previous editions, so it's a pretty hefty book, at 288 pages. Athena had a tough time holding it up during translation, especially when Page came over and demanded attention.
We started the translation soon before our family visited for a week-long Disneyland vacation, which meant we sort of had two weeks to work on it, but sort of had only one week to work on it. That's okay, we thought--it's Sailor Moon. It's a Nakayoshi series, for one thing, and when people would ask us what manga they should pick up for help learning Japanese, we would always recommend it because we knew it would be easy reading, especially with half the words being in English. We would finish it in no time.
We were wrong. This series is waaaaaaaaay more talkative than we remembered. It's obvious when you think about it; the bad guys have a new evil plot that has to be explained in every chapter. Did you hear about that Crystal Seminar? Did you hear about the demon bus? Hey, what's the deal with this new video store? Etc. etc.
Nevertheless! The work was very enjoyable, and if it hadn't gone on so darn long in the middle of a slightly unseasonable heat wave, we wouldn't have cared about the extra time at all. In fact, before we started to wear down, whenever a CD would come to an end, we would be surprised, like, "Oh! Break time already?" ...Of course, part of that might be from the fact that we wouldn't have made it through very many pages yet. But the other part is that time does fly when you're having fun.
We did approach this translation just a little bit differently than usual. Technically the assignment was to revise the previous translation, but you know us--we never just revise an old translation; we just do an overhaul on the whole thing. Still, because it was a revision assignment, we did check the previous translation on every line, and there were some things that we thought were really good, so we stole them! Ha!
And this is where I feel like we should talk about the previous translation. Of course, we were getting over Sailor Moon when those volumes came out, and we read all our manga in Japanese anyway, so we never saw those translations before, but we had heard that the fans were not pleased with them. We can think of one very scathing critique in particular that had us a little nervous about leaving -sans and -chans. (We did anyway, because that's how we roll.) Now it was our job to read those translations and fix them up, so I think, based on what they were like, we can explain what went wrong with them, and it isn't necessarily any indication of the skill of the translators and editors involved.
First, you'll remember that a few paragraphs ago, we discovered that this series is a lot more work than we expected. We imagine this happened to the previous translator, and therefore he must have been really crunched for time. Try as we might to maintain work quality, when you're fighting the clock, there's not always a lot you can do.
Second, this is an extremely high profile series. It had been around for a while, it had an enormous fan base, and that fan base included people who were familiar with the series in Japanese. This means that the slightest mistranslation can get result in excoriation. That being the case, the translator and editors were probably terrified of taking too many liberties, lest it create an uproar. Unfortunately, on the opposite end of the spectrum, this can result in overly stiff translations, which, while generally accurate, are not natural in the least. That's why we're very grateful for the advice we got when translating Type-0, to loosen it up. I know I've discussed this before, but the image I got when we were given that comment was not, "You mean you want us to translate unfaithfully!?" Somehow I got a picture in my mind of, like, clothing. Imagine wearing clothes that are too small for you--they're so tight, you can't move and you can't breathe. A good translation is loose enough to let the wearer (the meaning of the words) move around comfortably, but not so loose that the wearer is totally swallowed up in fabric (the translation). The idea is to dress up the meaning so it looks good.
All that being said, we are extremely grateful for the opportunity to spruce up this series that we loved so much and now love again, but we're also glad that they didn't ask us to translate it the first time, because that would have been before we had the opportunity to implement that Type-0 advice and really learned to polish our skill as translators. What I'm saying is, if we'd translated it then, it wouldn't have turned out as well as we hope it did now. And we like to think it turned out pretty darn good. I think it might be a good resource for adaptation writers, to see how to take a pretty darn literal translation and make it sound natural without changing the meaning too much. (And of course, that's assuming we have any idea what we're doing, so Athena's reaction is, "You think you're pretty hot stuff, don't you?" to which she replies, "As a matter of fact, I do.")
I've been writing for forever and I haven't even touched on the story! Oh my gosh, you guys, it's so much better than I remembered! It's true that if you're a fan of anyone other than Usagi or Tuxedo Mask, you're pretty much out of luck as far as getting to see lots of your favorite character, but it's still a fun read. And there are minor details we noticed this time around involving other characters that we either didn't notice before or forgot, so it's not like there's nothing for fans of the supporting characters. For example, when Jadeite singled out Rei and said he liked her from the moment he saw her, and when Nephrite possessed Motoki and had him seduce Makoto--that didn't match the ghost bride's MO in the least! Clearly, Naoko Takeuchi knew all the characters and their relationships the whole time.
And how did we not know that Hikawa Jinja was based on a real shrine? Oh, speaking of Hikawa Jinja. It might be Hikawa Shrine in the final version. Because this series has been so beloved for so long, it has a lot of jargon that the fans have been passing around for years (decades now, wow). That being the case, our editor wants to be very careful about how we ultimately translate them--we want it all to sound good, but to go with terminology that the fans can agree to. I mean, obviously "ginzuishou" is going to be "silver crystal," but even though we turned in the translation last night, we haven't finalized the "maboroshi no" part. The previous edition, and subsequently all of the recent Viz anime translations, went with "legendary," but we saw that and thought it was a little mundane.
It's not inaccurate, though. When you look up "maboroshi" in a Japanese dictionary (specifically the one available via Yahoo Japan), one of the definitions is (roughly) "something that nobody's sure whether it really exists or not." Technically, legendary means something similar--it's been told about for years and years to the point that we don't know if it's based on fact or fiction. But "maboroshi" also means "illusion," and when we hear it, we think of something mystical and magical, like in a fairy tale, and for some reason in my mind legends and fairy tales are separate. (Athena explains that this is because when we were growing up, Shelley Duvall had "Faerie Tale Theatre" and "Tall Tales & Legends". Separate shows for separate genres. ...I wonder if either of those is available on Netflix. (Athena adds, even before I typed "for some reason," she thought, "Legends are more like Frontierland." Fairy tales are obviously more like Fantasyland.) And that's why we prefer not to go with "legendary," but since we don't have a final translation on that, I won't go into our reasoning too much more than that. The point is, there's a lot of deliberation to be done, and no decisions will be made until our editor has immersed herself in the Sailor Moon universe and gotten an idea of what just feels right.
Why didn't we do that, you ask? Well, because we just don't have the time (not that we wouldn't like to, of course). And besides, she gets final say, anyway, and we're more likely to say, "I don't care if they did it that way! Our way's better!" (You may have noticed we're a little opinionated.) That being the case, I am prepared to go to the mat with anyone who tries to tell me that "evil spirit, be exorcised" is better than "evil spirit, begone", regardless of whether or not that's what Viz is using in their new subtitles.
And I'm still not talking about the story very much! Oh my gosh, you guys, Usagi and Mamoru are so cute! Our favorite is when Usagi and Luna are on the bus, and Usagi says, "Just talk!" to her, and then Mamoru's there and he says, "Yeah, Luna. Just talk." For one thing, that panel has always been one of our favorites; I don't even remember how Tokyo Pop translated it back in the day (even then, we mostly only read our manga in Japanese, so we probably didn't register it), but just that picture of both of them. And Mamo-chan looks so good in glasses.
It was kind of funny when we were reading through our second draft (to make sure everything still flowed after all the changes), because in the Sailor Mars chapter, Tuxedo Mask was all, "Who is she?" and I was like, "Dude, you go to her house, like, two chapters later." But then I remembered that the chapter between those events was where he picked up her handkerchief, which had her name embroidered on it, so of course he knew who she was, and I was like, "Wow, they really do make it make sense and pay attention to detail and stuff!" ...At least, they do when it comes to important plot progressions. There are a few dialogue issues. For example, in the Sailor Mars chapter, Luna tells Usagi that they're supposed to meet Ami at the arcade at five, but then they're at the arcade and have been for a while, and Usagi says, "It's five o'clock, Ami. Should you be here?" and we were like, "Uhh...that's when you agreed to meet, isn't it?" It's just a minor detail, though. The only other one we noticed was in the Sailor Jupiter chapter, Usagi gives her speech and then Makoto says, "Control? Trick?", as if she's just heard someone say those words, but those words were nowhere to be found, possibly not even in the whole book, let alone in the last few panels. We suspected Usagi's speech got edited, and then they forgot that the lines were supposed to connect. This happens with translators, too. (This may also have happened when Luna is explaining the situation to Usagi for the first time, and Usagi says, "My brooch is glowing!" and Luna says, "Still don't believe me?" and we were like, "What exactly was that supposed to be a reaction to?")
And all of this is very much the type of thing that would get someone a membership to the "Please Please Pleeze Get a Life Foundation" (see Animaniacs), but it's kind of our job to notice these things, so hopefully you'll let us indulge.
But speaking of Usagi's speech! We don't know how it's going to be finalized, since our verson doesn't quite match either the new anime dub or the old one (the new one seems to nod to the old, with the, "I fight for love and justice!" stuff). We watched the original DiC dub over and over and over again (just for the first season and R, by S we were watching raw videos our friend managed to procure through internet channels), and yet we couldn't remember how they usually did the speech. I think that once we memorized the Japanese version, the English one got tossed out of our memory files. It doesn't help that the English version wasn't done exactly the same way every time (at least, I'm pretty sure it wasn't... Gimme a break, I haven't watched dubbed Sailor Moon in over a decade! (Unless you count the less than five minutes total we watched while doing research.)) So we just made up our own version, which we think was pretty good. The way it comes out in the first chapter, it worked really well to take a page from Darkwing Duck's book, to have her repeat, "I am..." But we'll see how it ends up.
As for Usagi, we had a lot of fun translating her. I like to think we're extra qualified, because one of the things that drew us to Sailor Moon back in '95 was that we were the same age. And she liked to play video games. Other than that, I don't know if we're all that similar, but the point is, at least we know how people talk about video games. Or, at least we know how girls like us talk about video games. Actually, even though our little sister is exactly like Sailor Venus, we used her as our model for some of Sailor Moon's dialogue. But the point is, I know she can be annoying, but it's fun to translate the way she whines about having to fight evil. I think it's important to do your job without complaining, but I can't say I don't relate to wanting to complain anyway. People say she's the most annoying, but I think she's the most relatable. And since the other characters acknowledge that her bratty behavior is not exemplary behavior, I don't have a problem with her being a brat, especially since I know she grows out of it.
Rei and Makoto were kind of interesting dailogue-wise. When Rei first shows up, she talks extra fancy, like saying "yurusenu" instead of "yurusenai". (Just take our word for it; people don't usually talk like that. For Noragami fans, that's like Bishamon style speech.) I admit, we're glad she didn't keep it up. But the slight problem was that when she was talking fancy, her sentences were so short, it was hard to come up with ways to get the fanciness to come across. But maybe that's a good thing, since in the end, she just started talking like a typical ojou-sama. Makoto, on the other hand, uses a slightly vulgar speech pattern, probably to emphasize her street fighter image. That presented a challenge when she was fighting the ghost bride, because we think her line when she lifts the bride over her head was supposed to be ironic--using a vulgar particle at the end of her sentence while talking about a girl's pure heart. We struggled on how to reflect that irony, since we thought swearing would be the easy way out. Also, this is a Nakayoshi series, so we're trying to keep the swearing to a minimum, in large part because there are some girls in our ward at church who we might want to recommend it to, and one of them got all, "Ooohhhh, you said a bad word..." when Athena used the word "stupid" in Sunday school. (The word "stupid" is in the book, probably several times, but you know what we mean.)
Aaaanyway. This book is a lot of fun, and we put a lot of work into it, so we really hope all the Sailor Moon fans will enjoy it. I still feel like I haven't discussed the story enough, but I've already been writing for at least an hour and a half. I'll just say my favorite chapter is Mascarade (we made it French so we could have "costume ball" in English [then our editors changed it]), and I love the part where Tuxedo Mask is begging Usagi to help him fix the mess he made, and the following chapter when he reveals his secret to her. That's another part where I was impressed at the attention to story detail--if Luna were paying attention, so far all of the characters' names have been a pretty good indication of who they really are and what side they're on. The name Chiba Mamoru (defender of earth/the land) should be a decent sign that he's not their enemy, but! since he doesn't know if that's really his name, it's still sort of ambiguous maybe. Plus, (we discover later) the Earth Kingdom did turn against the Moon Kingdom, so even if he is a defender of the earth, that wouldn't necessarily mean he's on Luna's side. Oh! and the fact that they always refer to their antagonists as "the enemy" until they finally see the braimwashing video where Zoisite names the Dark Kingdom! Such good attention to detail!
So yeah. If you're up in the air about whether or not to invest in yet another copy of Sailor Moon manga...well, if you're trying to be frugal don't worry about it, but I would definitely recommend it! I'm sure Kodansha USA will do a beautiful job with the printing, and we know they have a good letterer on it. And we think the dialogue will make it pretty fun, too. We hope you check it out!
And there you have it. I don't have any more to add. But! Sailor Moon isn't our only new release this week! We also have Nekogahara 4 and Waiting for Spring 8! ...Those are two very different series.
And tune in next week, for our review of In/Spectre volume 8!
Today I'm thankful for oh my goodness the Sailor Moon Eternal Edition is finally out!, work not thoroughly killing us today (only mostly killing us), being done with Arahabaki for this volume, Yato's nickname for Arahabaki, and the super yummy chocolate cupcakes we scored at Bread Day.