I do understand that people have reasons for disliking them, but ultimately it just comes down to a stylistic choice, and we and our editor agreed that we wanted to keep them. We kept all the place names in Japanese for a similar reason--the series takes place in Japan. If you went to Japan and tried to find your way around, all of the places listed on the map and on the train station lists would have words like jinja in them. I mean, really, do you want us to name Sailor Moon "Bunny McMoon"? ...I mean, obviously that's an extreme example, but I hope it gets the point across. And of course, I can't force anybody to like it my way, either, so... I don't know.
Anyway. We have a review to post! Spoilers ahead!
We've actually been under the illusion of having more free time lately, but we still hesitated to write this review, because we knew it would probably take forever, partially because Sailor Moon reviews have always taken a long time (usually because we get so into it we can't stop talking) and partially because this particular volume took so long to translate that I think it will take extra long to write this review as we try to remember what all happened and stuff. And there are so many things we want to use our free time on. But we do love Sailor Moon, and it's looking like they're wanting to speed up the release schedule, which means we're going to need to start on volume six very soon, which means we're going to need to get this written before we have more thoughts to sort out.
First of all, as previously mentioned, this volume took us about a billion years to translate. Not only because it's the thickest volume so far, but also because...well, frankly, I'm not sure exactly why, other than that we were attacked by a ton of other work. But the point is, we started translating it on July 25, 2018, and we finished it on January 14, 2019. So it took us almost six months to complete. Of course, six months is the equivalent of about twenty years as far as my ability to remember timeline details, so I couldn't say for sure, but I remember we were about halfway through our editing process when we recorded the ANN podcast shortly after volume one came out, which would have been about mid-September. I don't remember if this was before or after the official recording ending (we think it was after, but the podcast guy was still recording anyway, so maybe it was included), but our editor pointed out that we were getting ready to turn in the translation, and we said, "Ah ha, ha, ha..." and she said, "They're laughing because they're still waiting for me to get back to them on some questions," and I don't know if we said it out loud or just using our twin telepathy (we don't have twin telepathy, but I can guarantee we would have been thinking the same thing at this moment), but our response was, "Or because we still have about a third of a billion years worth of work on it." For real, you guys, I don't know what it was about this volume, but our script was one hundred (and one?) pages long, and for some reason, we managed to edit only about five pages a day sometimes. It was scary. We were like, "Well, if we have about a month with nothing else to do, we can get this done, no problem!"
Part of it was research, and oh my goodness, let me tell you how much time we took on research. ...Actually, I won't, because I don't remember exactly, but I assure you it was a lot of time. The worst was when we took like three hours (in the days of Google, that's a long time; ooohhh, imagine if we had to translate this series with only physical books in a library... *shudders*) trying to figure out if there was a scientific and/or mythological reason that Sailor Neptune would be a violinist. This we cannot blame on the book. We also cannot blame the book for all the time we spent researching the cost of having a cell phone in Japan back in 1995. (We did not bother to check if the prices in the articles we found had been adjusted for inflation.) But back to Sailor Neptune, as you may have realized from the lack of a translation note, we never did find the answer. I remember back in the day when we were first fans of the anime, we just assumed she was the artist because she was a Pisces, and we didn't need much more explanation than that...which is really weird, come to think of it, but we were also more into astrology back then. (We never assumed it actually had any control in our lives; we just thought of it more like a personality test.) On top of the research about Neptune's relation to violins, we also had some more fruitful research as we tried to figure out just how expensive the Marine Cathedral is in the grand scheme of Stradivarius violins. We also had to check to see if the Marine Cathedral was a real violin. As far as our research told us, it is not, but there is a violin that's just the Cathedral.
And the other thing that took us soooooooooooooooooooooooooooo much time to figure out was the Thyoron Crystal. We were determined not to give up the quest on that one, because the previous version was just a straight romanization of the katakana, and that made no sense to us. We were like, "Yeah, right, after all this careful(?) world-building and attention to mythology and astronomy and astrology and gemology and Christianity everything, you're trying to tell me that Naoko Takeuchi just made up a word and had absolutely no fancy spellings in mind? I don't think so." It was a nightmare, though. We tried everything. We checked the Tokyopop version (we figured the Crystal translation would just be copying the previous Kodansha edition, so we didn't bother with that), we checked other language versions...and they all seemed to match the Tokyopop version... We remember finding one spelling that led us to the name of a fancy kind of astro-turf (Athena says that was from the German edition), and that had us thinking maaaaybe it was kind of appropriate. But it still just didn't sit right. In the end, we just started Googling every spelling variation that could ever possibly work, which, believe me, is a fair amount when you have t/th, l/r, and the "ai" diphthong involved. Fortunately, we didn't have to try too many before we tried Thyoron. We only got, like, two hits, I think, and one of them was for Shakespeare! Yes! If Shakespeare used it, it must be legit! ...But then it looked like Google was giving us something that was actually "thy oron...[something]."
Nevertheless, and I don't remember how it happened, so I can only attribute it to a miracle, we came across a Latin translation of an Ancient Greek encyclopedia. (Maybe it was the other of the two hits, but it was still a miracle.) We found the cover page and Googled that, or we looked it up at Wikipedia (this was about a million years ago, you'll remember), and somehow we found an English translation...or we Google translated it. I don't remember. By the way, never use Google translate if you want a decent translation of something. There's a fairly good chance you'll get the gist of it, but you're guaranteed to miss a lot of detail and nuance, and probably you'll get some wrong details about random fruit or something because of homonyms. But anyway, I think we actually did find a site that translated the Suda into English. (You know, she said to herself as she typed this, you could try to find it again for proof. Nah, I already did that work.) The point is, the entry for Thyoron seemed wildly appropriate with all of the other terminology used by the Death Busters (...I feel like the grammar in that sentence is wrong; oh well, I'm off the clock), so we went with it! And it really did seem to click, so we felt very accomplished after that whole ordeal. But dang, to finally find the word we want in a Latin translation of an Ancient Greek encyclopedia...
And that was just in the first few pages, so now we're starting to see why this translation took so amazingly long. On the first day of editing, we got through three pages--not of our 101-page script, but of the 389-page manga. So that was encouraging. (By which I mean, it was the opposite of that.)
And seriously, guys, that's all I remember.
...Okay, that's not true. I remember thinking that male Haruka is incredibly sexy and I wish he'd stick around longer. But then I remember how he yanked on Usagi's pigtails, and I'm like, "Never mind, he's a jerk." Seriously, that is the rudest thing. That kind of thing can result in a dull headache that lingers... (We're speaking from experience.)
Oh, I should probably address the Mugen Academy thing. I know this is going to be controversial. In fact, it was one of the questions we were waiting for our editor to answer (it wasn't holding us back, though, because it was a simple search and replace). Personally, I like the sound of Infinity Academy, and I agree that the Japanese readers would immediately know what "mugen" means, so in terms of reader experience, it does create a difference. But on the other hand, names are a massive gray area in the realm of "how many terms should we translate?" I mean, we're not calling Usagi "Bunny O'Moon," after all. And "mugen" fits better with the whole Triangle Isles business, since one of them is Mugenzu. We couldn't translate the others because A)one of them is based on a real place, and B)they're supposed to share their names with the Outers. This fact is even commented on by Usagi. (Of course, then you'd think they should own the land, too, but whatever. We didn't write the story.) So we could have left Mugenzu untranslated and translated Infinity Academy. We'd need a note to let the readers know the connection, but our translations of this series are nothing if not riddled with vaguely relevant notes, so no big. And that's why we had to ask our editor--we couldn't decide. She told us to go with Mugen Academy, and I'm sure she had many reasons, but the one I remember her specifically mentioning in her email is that it helps maintain the air of mystery about the place, and I'm like, "That's legit." So we have no objections. I will tell you, though, that if you put the emphasis on the "gen" instead of the "mu," it does sound a little nicer phonetically (and is closer to what it sounds like in Japanese), so go ahead and do that.
And while we're on the subject of terminology, I don't know if our editor decided to change our spellings for hostia and daemon or not. We decided to use the Latin ones instead of the French and Greek because we liked them better. That's really our whole reason. The reasons for why we like it better are in the translation notes. Plus, if you spell daemon with an I instead of an E, it looks like an untranslated Japanese word, when in reality, it's an untranslated Greek word, and...well, it's just confusing. If you know it's the Greek word, you'll probably be like, "Huh, I guess it's probably related to demons," whereas if you think it's a Japanese word, it could be anything. In fact, in Japanese, it means "big gate," "big emblem," or "big question." So we go with the Latin spelling, because then you'll be all, "Oh, that's one of them fancy Mediterranean words that's related to demon, right?" And then you don't have to slow down and read the note, and it's much better. (Italy is in the Mediterranean, right? <--we're geographically challenged)
Anyway, we learned some pretty neat stuff about...well, stuff! Like Cipollino marble, and devitrification...you will hopefully have noticed the note about Ptilol. We were determined to find out if there was some reason that Cyprine and Ptilol had to be one person and then two. As twins, we're not always fans of the whole "they're practically the same person!" business. There's a difference between being two parts of a set and being some kind of mini hive mind. I will say that, either way, I adore their costumes.
Can you tell I'm just rambling because I don't remember the story? Well, I'm not! ...I only sort of am. We are legitimately that nerdy about all the stuff I was rambling about.
Okay, so let's review. First there's Pharaoh 90 and his vision about the lights. And oh my goodness, we were trying to figure out is it one light or multiple lights, is he talking about the Silver Crystal or the planetary protection... We determined, thanks to Kaolinite's reflecting pool, that most of the time it's multiple lights, but there's the one specific light that is the Silver Crystal. We think we worked it all out to correctness. And if you give us a chance to read it over again, we will be prepared to fight anyone who disagrees. Unless they're right, but we're pretty sure we got it, at least to the point where we can say, "Eh, I've heard it both ways." And then Rei and Mamoru both had the same vision...
And this is way too detailed, because way too much stuff happened to go over all that much. It's the Death Busters. Vesseling! Oh my goodness, that one gave us trouble, too. That's even, like, the main thing I remembered about reading this arc in the manga back when we were in college and knew enough Japanese to read the series and not be totally lost, is the word "utsuwaka," which literally means "changing into a vessel," and can be transitive or intransitive. The previous edition has "vesselization," I think, and we were thiiiiis close to just going with that, because it is technically not incorrect. But we couldn't shake the feeling that it just sounded a little too silly. I don't know at what point we remembered that even Shakespeare verbed nouns so it should be totes cool to do that here, but boy am I glad we did. Except! that we then looked up the word "vessel" just to be sure, and found out that it's already a verb! And it means "to put something in a vessel." That's not exactly the part of the process the Death Busters are talking about when they say "utsuwaka." But ultimately we decided that A)once the human body was made into a vessel, they would then put their kind into the vessel, so there would be a correct vesseling either way, and B)what percentage of the readers are going to know the difference, really?
...And typing all this reminded me that at some point in our edit we decided to look up quotes from Invasion of the Body Snatchers. I don't quite remember why... Athena reminds me that they were talking about the invasion, and how it was happening without people knowing, like all that stuff about, "They're already among us!" Because let me tell you, there were some lines that were translated rather awkwardly in our rough draft, and for whatever reason we could not brain in proper English. So we were resorting to previously written scripts, because we were like, "What would you say in this scenario?" "I don't know, I've never been in that scenario!" "Well...what did they say in Invasion of the Body Snatchers?" I mean, that movie is pretty much the same thing, and it's not unlikely that Naoko Takeuchi had seen it and was thinking about it, and it's pretty much the same thing that's happening, only I don't think they're copying their victims' memories. (We never actually saw the movie, but we knew it existed because they did parodies of it all the time in the cartoons we watched as kids and teenagers.)
I really do want to talk about the characters. My memory is just having a hard time accessing that information. The one scene that really stood out was when Chibi Usa had Usagi and Mamoru make the Holy Grail for her. (This may be because that was the scene we were in the middle of when our translation went on a weeks-long hiatus.) Anyway, I thought it was interesting that the "I'm better than everyone" Chibi Usa would have somebody else do her homework. My theory is that, at first, she really was only going to get Mamoru to help, but then she saw that he and Usagi were having a fight, and she decided it was more important to solve the family crisis. I remember having some witty banter with Athena about it at the time, but it was way too long ago now to remember what we said.
You would be right in assuming we had fun with Haruka's nicknames for the Usagis. We really liked using "Buns." It's short, it's to the point, we feel it fits perfectly with Haruka's personality, and it just sounds fun. But it's definitely better when you know it's an abbreviation. On the other hand, if I think too hard, I remember "Buns of Steel," and I'm like, "That's NOT the kind of buns we're talking about!"
Okay, very late in the game, I did think to take down some notes of funny things that were said during the course of this translation. Unfortunately, it was so late, we only have two. One is Athena's comment, "Sometimes I look at Sailor Neptune and just marvel that she has yet to stab herself in the throat." I mean, look at her choker! That decoration is so pointy!
The other one is, "Darn you, IKEA!!!" That one confused me for a second, but then I remembered why I said it, and I had a good chuckle. They were talking about the Talismans (more research--what's the difference between a talisman and an amulet?), and how they should never be brought together, and how they were going to bring them together, or they weren't, or what the what, and I typed something about "assembling" them. And Athena was like, "You can't say that, because it sounds like they poured the pieces out of the box, and they're going to put them together to build each individual Talisman." And I was like, "Oh my goodness, you're right," followed by, "Darn you, IKEA!" (Alternatively, it may have sounded like they were going to put all the Talismans together into some form of modern art statue.)
I feel like I ought to talk about Sailor Pluto for some reason. And yet I have very little to say. I will say that it was pretty cool when we looked up why the Omega Area would have an omega-shaped aura and found out exactly how many infinities were involved in this arc. Like, wow. It never occurred to us that the Tau Star System could also be a reference to the Hebrew letter. Very nifty.
...I really like all the characters, but I don't have much to say about them. I really liked how Rei was like, "Yeah, I was trying to resolve the issue without getting Usagi involved." It's true that she's probably the most powerful of all of them, but Rei is right that you don't put your most valuable person in danger if you don't have to. And I liked Makoto's insistence on celebrating birthdays. And I always enjoy Minako's fangirlishness. And I don't really have anything to say about Ami. I like her, but she's just not quirky...oh, I guess she is quirky, insisting on giving everybody study materials. It's nice that she wants to help her friends succeed.
The Witches 5 gave us a fair amount of trouble. As if introductions weren't hard enough, they had to go and add their level to everything. ...Come to think of it, we never did any research on why the Witches 5 would have levels. We just associated it with video games, and let Kaolinite explain the rest. And then there's the names of the classes they're all in charge of. Most of them were pretty straightforward, but we're sorry we couldn't help on "professional." Like, professional what? ...Thinking about it now, I wonder if we could have found it with more research, but dang if we didn't already do enough research on this volume. (I assure you we tried. But maybe if we'd specifically done a search on professional and...I don't know, something that would lead us to a Japanese article or blog post about Sailor Moon and what all the Mugen Academy classes were.) Cyprine and Ptilol are still our favorites.
I haven't said anything about Hotaru! ...Do I have anything to say about Hotaru? She was the favorite of both of our best friends in high school, so I guess I figure there's nothing left to say because we've been over it so many times. Only we haven't really. I never really paid enough attention before, so I was glad to finally learn how old she's supposed to be. I really like her friendship with Chibi Usa, and I'm kind of amused that, at least back when we got into Sailor Moon, Chibi Moon was utterly despised while Saturn was the Best Thing Ever. I'm not sure why, but it amused me.
And I just remembered! Super Sailor Moon! All of the Guardians learned that Sailor Moon's new form was Super Sailor Moon because that's what Chibi Usa called her when she saw it. And Chibi Usa only knew the name Super Sailor Moon because Neo Queen Serenity told her about it. So in a way, Usagi got to name the form herself! Or something.
I do think all the Christian symbolism in this arc is pretty fascinating. I'm not sure I have a whole lot more to say on it than that, though. I also haven't said anything about Michiru, other than about her stabby stabby choker. I like that she's not as much like, "No, we're not working together, stay away!" By which I mean, when the Talismans tell her to talk to Sailor Moon, she listens. And this makes me wonder about Haruka, because at first, he seems like he can't stay away from Usagi, but then once the secret is out that she's Sailor Uranus, she's like, "Nah, we're done. Stay away forever." Maybe it was her male form that wanted to be close to Usagi, and by giving it up, she was able to draw that boundary to say, "Nope, we have to work separately." Either that, or she was just that ticked off that Ami ruined their academy infiltration plan.
That reminds me of a line we were kind of proud of, so hopefully it doesn't get changed. At one point, Sailor Uranus tells the Inners, "I don't remember ever saying we were friends." And I think that's pretty much how the previous edition had it, which is fine in and of itself, because, you know, it's what she said. The problem was, to give it a dramatic pause I guess, the line broke up in the middle, and in Japanese that meant that it ended with the "nai," which meant until that point, there was hope that Haruka was not going to totally deny that they could ever work together, but...dramatic pause...no they can't. So if you leave the English translation as is, then you get this weird pause like this, "I don't remember ever saying we were...dramatic pause...friends." And it's kind of like, "Wha...?" (Okay, we just checked. The previous edition had it as, "I don't remember ever mentioning we were...dramatic pause...allies.") But you couldn't just break it in a different place, because the second bubble was way smaller than the first one, so we had to get creative. And this was before the whole Holy Grail construction scene, it was many many many weeks ago, and I don't remember what thought process went into it, but we ended up with (and I'm copying it here in case it got changed), "Did we ever say we were on your side? ...dramatic pause... I didn't think so." And I'm just like, "See how much nicer that sounds?" I'm grateful for the inspiration that led us to that.
And, well, I think that's all I have to say on this one. Of course if there's anything we missed, feel free to ask about it!
Wow, I did not remember that we had our Bunny O'Moon rant in this review when I typed up the introduction up at the top. Funny coincidence! But oh man, this volume. Great story, but it does make me tired to remember it. I probably mention this in the review of volume six, but our editor didn't immediately hop on board with all our term changes, so we did end up having to do the research all over again, to explain exactly how we got from Point A to Point L. ...I think ultimately we won the case, but if I'm remembering wrong, I just hope this review doesn't end up being too confusing. ...It probably is anyway. Oh well. Sorry, everybody!
Anyway! We thought we weren't going to have any new releases all month, but it turns out we were wrong! We have two new releases this week! Love in Focus 3 and Waiting for Spring 11! And just in time, too, because we had run out of manga to review. So tune in next week for our review of the third and final volume of Love in Focus!
Today I'm thankful for getting to look back fondly on Sailor Moon 5, finally having our fan set up, not needing to set up our fan until this week, having new releases this week, and getting to sleep in again this morning.