Oh man, we've been working on about three or four different books all at the same time. Okay, not at the exact same time, but we'd work on one for a while, then pick up another one before we were finished, then another one... I think we only had three going at once, but we did not write a review of Forbidden Scrollery first, so it feels like we have a backlog of four reviews, when in fact it's only one, because we haven't actually finished any of the three next books on the list.
Anyway, this! is probably the narratin'est volume of manga we ever done translated. (We used some hillbilly dialect in one of the three as-of-this-writing unfinished books.) At least, it's the narratin'est for this series. I know that In/Spectre has a lot of info dumping, and Devil Survivor was ridiculous with the exposition in later volumes, but I think this is the one that is the narratin'est, because in In/Spectre, it's more like logicking, and in Devil Survivor it's more like explaining. But the result is the same. It's just blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah all the time, and we're like, "Just stop talking! I have about six or seven books worth of material I have to translate in the next two weeks! My brain can't take all of this! Aaaaaahhhhhh!!!! ......" (<--that's me running out of energy)
So first we have the info wars. Oh my goodness, this one was really hard to translate! I don't even remember why, just that it was tough. It might have had something to do with Mamizou disguising herself as Reimu. I'm so glad we didn't completely neglect her old-person speech in previous volumes. But when Kosuzu called her on it, she over-corrected, and I'm not sure if we dealt with that the best way we could have. We went valley girl with it, because the point is Mamizou usually talks like an old person, so now she was trying to sound young, and we're not up on all the young people talk, so we just went, like, to our roots and stuff.
The story was pretty interesting, because you know that ZUN had modern technology in mind when he came up with the scenario. The whole "fake news" thing, oh my gosh. I like that he presents both sides as getting offended of being accused of things, but has them both admit to being guilty to an extent. It's just like real life--we have caught fake reporting on both sides of the political spectrum, and it's like, "Guys... Don't go spreading information around just because it agrees with your confirmation bias." Of course, it's easy for us to say that because we don't share things on Facebook very much. Facebook is an interesting thing to consider in all this, because it's word of mouth and news at the same time, in a sense. At any rate, the whole surveillance society thing was the one that makes you think, because it points out that yes, people do stay in line and you have fewer troublemakers, but on the other hand you have less freedom. People aren't behaving because they want to, but because they're afraid not to. Is it really better that way? Personally, I think no, but maybe some people disagree.
Next we have another story about stories. And it was about mystery stories! We like mystery stories! But we hate translating them! (This is a fairly recent discovery. And we don't really hate it, per se, but we do rate mystery among the most difficult things to translate, and we're already tired and swamped.) This one was a little extra fun, because we got to look up an Edgar Allan Poe quote. And "fun" is meant sincerely and ironically at the same time, because I do like finding quotes, but this one was changed from the original, so we had a harder time finding it, and oh my goodness, did Poe like to write fancy. I am definitely with Kosuzu on the "hard to read" opinion. But I agree that it's interesting anyway! Maybe even a little more interesting for me, because I understand all the "outside world" stuff. Anyway, Akyu and Kosuzu decide they should write mysteries for a Gensokyo audience, so Akyu writes some, and Reimu gets hooked, and it's cute.
But you can't just have a chapter about, "Hey, let's write mysteries!", you have to have some kind of conflict, so there was a whole thing about a murder that happened waaaaay back when, and only Akyu remembers it, because she gets reincarnated and remembers everything. But tanuki were involved, so Mamizou knew the story, too, and now Akyu was finally able to get closure, even though I think Mamizou only told the readers what really happened, and Akyu still doesn't know for sure. But the significance of this is that now Mamizou is aware of Akyu, and since the author kept talking about how we were getting close to the heart of the story, and most of these chapters seemed like filler, I feel like that's going to be important.
Then we have another story about stories! Kosuzu decided to have a ghost story marathon, and actually it was pretty fun, but oh my goodness all the narrating. But this one was a little bit different, because there was a different narrator for the three(!!!) different stories that got narrated (in addition to the narrator of the overall manga), so it was fun to deal with the different storytelling styles. Mamizou's story was the best, because she told a story that had to have taken place in the modern-day (didn't have to be Japan, but it had technology no one in Gensokyo could be familiar with), so the reactions as everyone imagined what was happening and tried to make sense of it were pretty classic. In the end, Akyu drew more attention from Mamizou by finishing the whole ghost story marathon herself.
And then, there's the typhoon story. Fortunately, this one wasn't nearly as narraty as the previous stories, and we're so glad it was the last story and not the first one, because that way we can finish by going downhill instead of rockclimbing, by way of strenuousness metaphors. The story was very simple. There was a typhoon, Kosuzu went out in it, she got knocked out, she got rescued. But! this is the story that really gives us clues about things going on behind the scenes. We learn that there is an unidentified Someone protecting the human village, and they've enlisted the help of the Gensokyo youkai to do it. Kosuzu only felt like it was okay to go out in the typhoon because the tengu were making the wind weaker in the village, so the storm didn't seem so bad. ...And that's really all there is to that one. Marisa's pretty funny in it, though. She was like, "Extreme weather!? That means rare items!" and then she's like, "...or maybe I'll stay inside."
So there you have it. Without deviating from the standard formula at all, the series continues to inch closer to having something of an ongoing plot. Who is protecting the village? Why? Do they do it for altruistic reasons, or is it something nefarious? Only future volumes will tell!
Well, there's nothing like a review written during an even busier time to let us know that things aren't so bad right now. They could be next week, but for now, we're okay.
We think! we have a new release this week! And it's In/Spectre volume nine! Anime News Network listed it in new releases, and Barnes & Noble has it available to order online, so we're pretty sure it's legit, even though Kodansha USA didn't include it in their "this week's releases" Facebook post.
And tune in next week for our review of Hatsu*Haru volume 5!
Today I'm thankful for getting our work done, getting our laundry done, getting to watch a TV show, memories of Forbidden Scrollery, and Studio C's "Most Annoying People on Your Newsfeed" song.