But now it's time for a review! Fire Force 16! Spoilers ahead!
We actually haven't been working all the time, so we probably could have written this review a while ago, but we've been procrastinating it, because we still haven't recovered from burnout enough to be okay with sitting at the computer any longer than necessary. In fact, there's a good chance I'm going to blow this off right now and go watch an episode of anime or something... Yeah, I think I'm going to do that. I'll finish this later!
And we're back! ...A week and a half later! We just finished a first draft with lots of time left on our CD, and since we're now five reviews behind, we figured we ought to actually get to this. I admit a major driving factor in my ditching the review writing last week is that I had absolutely no memories of what happened in this volume. But I've had time to think about it, and we've actually done a little more work on it since then, so I thiiiiink I know what happens now! You see, this was a time travel series, which means Kodansha wanted to release the English version so quickly that we had to translate volume sixteen before it actually existed. So this time, instead of relying on the human-error-riddled scanning process, we accessed the (legal) digital releases of the individual chapters that made up this volume so we could get a translation of all of them turned in two whole weeks before the actual volume hit Japanese bookstores. I'm pretty sure that by the time this is posted the reason for the time travel will have been made clear, so let me just tell you right now that we have known for more than six weeks now that Atsushi Ohkubo is going to be at Anime Expo, and it has been a little trying keeping it secret with our AX buddy Cecille complaining every other day about how AX should have announced some guests by now (they finally announced Ryo Kitamura today). But she's not a Fire Force or Soul Eater fan anyway, so it's not really that hard, because it's not like it would make her day or anything.
It did, however, make our day, because Ohkubo-sensei is one of the few manga artists we know of who has paid any attention to our translations and given a positive reaction. In fact!!! the number one most important (to us) thing that we will always remember about this volume is the cover page to chapter...whatever it was...we think it's the third chapter in there? The one with the guy suffering from tephrosis as the picture. I think we mentioned this on Facebook, we were so excited about it...oh wait, no, it was here on LiveJournal. But the point is! next to the guy who was turning to charcoal, there, in English and everything, on the original, untouched page, was the word "tephrosis." And I think we went over the whole tephrosis thing in the review for the volume where it first showed up, but the main thing is that we made that word up...sort of. Instead of doing the easy thing and just making it "ash disease," we found a thing about Greek suffixes (I think it was specifically for medical terms) and put that with the Greek word for "ash" we got from Wiktionary, and came up with a word that was already being used for something that's different but ultimately has the same result. Too many details. The point is, we made up a word, and now it has been immortalized in the official Japanese artwork, and now the artist who did it is coming to Anime Expo where we can meet him, and maybe somebody who made something we care about will know who we are, and that is huge. And that is why this is currently my favorite volume of Fire Force.
...Now what did happen in it? Oh yes, I remember now. Shinra and Licht go to Haijima Industries to rescue the children! We also meet Kurono, who gave us a bit of trouble with his whole Grim Reaper/Death schtick. He asks the kids to call him Shinigami-ojisan, and Uncle Death definitely sounds better than Grim Reaper, and we know Death is the standard for the character in Soul Eater because his son is Death the Kid, but when it's all by itself, we're worried that Death isn't going to come across the same way, so it just feels awkward sometimes. I think we got it to work, and if not, our editors probably did... But he's an interesting character, and definitely shows Ohkubo-sensei's tendency of being as contrary as possible when designing anything at all. Kurono is all, "No, I want to fight the easiest opponents possible." What I really appreciate about it, though, is Ohkubo-sensei's commitment to that character trait. Saint Young Men went on sale a little over a week ago, and one of our main complaints about it is that sometimes the characters are a little inconsistent in their personalities for the sake of a joke. But that is not the case with Kurono. ...Karim sometimes loses his repetitiveness, but in most cases, you can see that when an Ohkubo character has a quirk, that quirk will always be there. (He's been letting up on the lucky lecher thing, too, but I think most of us agree that we're okay with that. And it's been more of a gradation sort of thing than a sudden out of character moment.)
We also have little Nataku Son, who is super adorable. I mean, of course he can sometimes be super creepy, but such is the nature of Atsushi Ohkubo characters. Poor little guy, though. All he wants is to go home. We translated this volume right after they announced that Tomokazu Seki would be playing Rekka in the anime, and we were like, "The guy's hardly in it, but if you want to cast a superstar seiyuu, okay!" And then we got to these chapters and we were like, "...Okay, so I guess Rekka's not gone for good." He's pretty fun to translate, so I'm certainly not going to complain. But dang, I feel for Nataku. I don't remember exactly if it was his mother that got killed in the scene where he got his powers (way back in volume four), but whoever's mom it was, it would have been traumatic to see that, and it would have been traumatic to get his powers, and then he gets taken away to this cold, heartless facility where they keep beating him up in an effort to get him to make fire, and to top it all of, he has this over-zealous, hyperactive motivational speaker living in his head now. I just want Company 8 to take him home with them! Or take him back to his mom, if she's not the one that Rekka turned into an Infernal.
So Shinra and Licht come along to "visit" Haijima Industries, and it's so great, because the Haijima personnel are acting like it's a normal thing, but Licht doesn't even hide the fact that he knows they're going to kill him. That's another thing I love about this series--it's not acting like it's smarter than the readers. We all know that Licht is a spy, so when the big reveal comes, everybody's like, "Yeah, duh." But anyway, they start doing some adolla tests, and we learn about Kurono's powers and everything. There's some mystery about that--we know Kurono has tephrosis in his right arm, but he keeps using his powers anyway. Since he only likes beating up on weak people, it would be easy to assume that he's lazy, but he probably gets some kind of a rush from asserting his superiority, so it would be less a matter of laziness and more a matter of doing it for kicks. So I was sort of thinking it was weird that someone who doesn't want to do any hard work would use his powers to the point of getting tephrosis, but it's probably more like an addiction of some kind. At any rate, the bigger question is that his black smoke powers seem to be connected to his tephrotic arm, so did he have black smoke powers before his arm started carbonizing, or did the black smoke make his arm carbonize faster, or is it just artistic license all around? I'm a little curious, but I don't think I'll hate the series if I never find out. The important thing is that his powers are appropriately creepy-cool.
So Kurono gets Shinra to use his Adolla Burst, and that gets Nataku's Adolla Burst working, and that gets all the scientists to freak out, and meanwhile Company 8 and the Evangelist's team are on their way, and mostly we felt like this whole volume was a lot of fighting and not much plot movement. But that was fine by us, because fighting is easier to translate. ...I mean, mostly. Lots of big pictures and sound effects are easy to translate. Explanations of what's going on are significantly less easy to translate, and that reminds me! Vulcan and that angel lady talked a lot. Of course we forgave Vulcan, because he's our favorite, and he was going off about how you can't just pick any random name with an animal in it--there's an art to it. And we think it's important for people to have standards in life. I loved that whole argument, though, because it was just so fitting of everyone involved. I remember having a really hard time with some of the dialogue in that battle, though. But I've blocked the specifics from my memory, so I couldn't tell you about them. Basically it ended up being the stereotypical kids' show "our friendship saves the day!" sort of development, but that's exactly why we love kids' entertainment, so I'm totally okay with it.
I'm not sure what to make of the angel lady. I...just don't know. I mean, I can sort of relate to her, as someone who deals with kids relatively frequently, but I'm simultaneously not sure they're as easy to manipulate as she claims and suspicious that she may be right and I just need to get better at it. I do think it's rude to rename somebody else's toys, though. I had a little girl try to do that with my snake plushie and I was not happy about it. Oh, but the thing about Dominions was interesting. At first, we saw the name of her robot, and we were like, "Okay, so it's a minion, but like more so," because "do" is basically an emphasizer, so for example if something is do-pink, it's like, really pink. Then we figured we ought to look it up, and it turned out to be even more super appropriate, and we learned something neat about angelology. Let that be a reminder, kids: always look it up!
So the Evangelist's team shows up, and we learn a little bit more about their organization, and how each of the pillars has a Guardian. ...I think that's how we translated it, but I don't remember. (Don't worry; we'll check when it comes up again. Always look it up!) And I'm not sure I have any more to say about that, but we were glad to know for sure that Arrow is a woman. Normally we wouldn't care one way or the other, but it's so much easier when we don't have to avoid gendered pronouns. Then there's Inca's Guardian, whose name, I just remembered approximately a minute ago, is Ritsu. We were talking about it earlier (we took another break in the middle of writing this) and just calling him/her the maid. We suspect that Ritsu is going to turn out to be male, but that's based solely on the character's shoulders, and sometimes the art can be misleading. So here we are dancing around pronouns again. I understand that singular they is perfectly acceptable, but I still think that if you know someone in person, and were, for example, constantly working with them, you would know what their preferred pronouns are, so you would be using them and not just using "they" because the translators are afraid to commit. But dang are Ritsu's powers creepy. I wonder how you discover you can do something like that... I mean, I guess depending on how the world is built, you could make sure only creepy necromancer types would ever develop those sorts of powers, or you could say that there are people who have those powers and never learn about them. But either way, learning about them would require a certain disregard for human life.
Anyway, my favorite chapter in this volume was when they were playing keep away. I felt really bad for Nataku, but it was still pretty funny. There's the one page that has three or four guys all reaching up to catch Nataku, and it's just such an out-there version of keep away that it's too absurd not to be amusing. Then they started throwing around basketball terms... I do hope that kid gets to go home soon.
The volume ends with Ritsu making a giant Infernal and Kurono taking a call from his boss that was pretty hilarious. And now Haijima and Company 8 will be working together against the Evangelist! Dun dun DUN! This was a pretty fun volume despite all the time travel and tricky dialogue, and we hope you enjoy(ed) it!
Oh man, what a great series. The anime just started, too, and Anime News Network had all their reviewers post their thoughts on it. Two of them were like, "It's not as intellectual as Dr. Stone..." And we were like, "Yes it is, it just doesn't rub it in your face." In Fire Force, the characters are smart (even Arthur sometimes), but they don't feel the need to point out to everyone that they're smart all the time. And it's not there in the first episode, but some of the fire powers get to be insanely scientific. I mean, thermoacoustic cooling. Come on. Even Arthur's powers and how they relate to his knightly delusions are based on science.
...Sorry, little rant there. Basically what I'm saying is I think the main character in Dr. Stone is an arrogant jerk, and I kind of hate him, but I really like all the characters in Fire Force, and I'm thankful that Fire Force is the series I get to work on.
Anyway, our month of no new releases continues, but tune in next week for a very special review of Sailor Moon Eternal Edition 5! ...Okay, so it's pretty much a normal review, but it's about Sailor Moon!
Today I'm thankful for getting to try out a fun exercise machine, getting to refill our spell energy in Wizards Unite, getting to translate another Fire Force blurb today, getting to watch Gorizilla again, and Pizza Hut giving 50% off all week.