But it's Review Rednesday! And I'm sure you're all dying to know our thoughts on Saint Young Men volume three! Spoilers ahead! (For whatever can count as a spoiler in this series.)
We considered not writing a review of this to spare everyone our negativity, but on the other hand, I kind of want to rant about it. But back to the first hand, we do want people to like it or dislike it based on their own experience with it and not because of anything we had to say. But on the other hand again, maybe you've already read it and just want to discuss it. I don't know. The point is, we hated it. We really, really hated this volume. And I guarantee it's not just because this series seems to always be a rush job that refuses to go faster. But that is certainly part of it. It's like, "Hey, I'm gonna reference some obscure thing that nobody knows about so I can make a not-funny joke!" So then we have to do all the research to make sure we're translating all the words around it correctly, and...it makes me tired thinking of it.
It's not just the obscure references that we have to research that bother us, either. There are events in the Bible and in Buddha's life that were written in ancient scripture and therefore don't quite make as much sense in a purely modern context, and this series brings them up with an attitude of, "Wow, can you believe how crazy these ancient people were? That doesn't even make any sense!" Like it's so superior for being ignorant of how that stuff worked. And we're like, "It makes perfect sense in the historical context! Do some research!" I'm speaking, of course, of the whole thing about the trumpets sounding to signal the end times, and how Buddha was like, "That sounds like the kind of thing you should use words for," and we're like, "Yeah, maybe in the days of instant streaming and immediate emergency broadcasts, but not centuries before we even had telephones!"
And speaking of things that don't make any sense, we're still baffled by the whole Jesus and Buddha living in a low-rent apartment in Tokyo deal. I know it says they're on vacation, but it still doesn't make any sense. Why do they have to keep their identities secret? ...I guess that's so people don't mob them? The real estate guy talked like he'd figured it out, and that didn't seem to be too big of a problem.
...I don't even know what I'm talking about anymore. Let's go back to the beginning. The first story is about...trying to stay cool in the summer. And there was the thing about ghost stories, and it brought up the walking on water story again. And they ended up going to a restaurant for the air conditioning. Oh my goodness, when the waitress said the customer is God, we were like, "What are we supposed to do here?" Because in the original Japanese, they didn't say, "They say the customer is king," because the saying in Japan is "the customer is God." And they freaked out about how she figured out who they were, and we were like, "Yeah, but why?"
They went to a hot spring resort, and this was one of the first ones that just really upset me. I don't remember why exactly, which might be for the best, but I'm pretty sure it was the Fanta spring that did it. Like, it seemed like there was no attempt at all to understand what the Sacrament (or the Eucharist or Communion or whatever you want to call it) is really about. Maybe the manga artist went to a service where they used Fanta or grape juice instead of wine and thought it was funny? But if not, it's like, hello, obviously grape juice (and by extension, wine) is the drink that most closely resembles blood. (On the other hand, I guess all the vampires drink tomato juice, but come on guys. Tomato juice is way too orange.)
The part where Jesus talks about not being able to sleep the night before the trial bugged me, too, because that was the night Jesus suffered in Gethsemane. It was only one of the most important events in the history of the world (or the history of Christianity, if that's what you prefer to believe), and it was just shrugged off as, "I couldn't sleep." Gah. When we did the research to make sure we wrote the note accurately (I mean, I think we know, but there are smarter people out there who have put it into more eloquent words; we like to use this biography), we read about Gethsamene, and it was just so sad and heart-breaking to think that Jesus suffered so much for all of us, and this is how it got treated.
I don't know if I was relieved or more exasperated to learn that Buddha's story gets the same treatment. The way Rahula's story is treated seems to show a certain lack of research...or maybe the details were fudged over for the sake of "comedy." And let me tell you! the story about Kukai making the hot spring! I wanted to mention it in the translation note, but I seem to remember not being able to fit it in, so I'll tell you (possibly again) right now. Even in the manga dialogue, it says that Kukai hit the ground with a vajra. The picture has him holding a shakujo. These are two very different things! It took a split second on Google to see the difference! Gah!
...I will admit, it does feel a little vindicating when the manga artist proves that they're not trying. But on the other hand, it's like, "Then why should I have to do all this research?" Well, because I actually care about telling these Men's stories correctly. So here we are.
I did think that the idea of the apartment with the portal to the afterlife was a cute idea. It really would have been a win-win situation for everybody, since they would get a cheap apartment with all those benefits, and the landlord would have long-term tenants, and no mortals would have to deal with the hauntings. I was really bummed out when they didn't get it.
The archangels all seem like fun characters. There's less about them in the scriptures, so I'm a little more open to creative license on them, but it's going to depend on the attitude. It's been weeks since we translated this book, though, so I don't remember anymore. We did roll our eyes when Michael pulled out the trumpet, though. It's just like, "No, you can't accidentally signal the end of the world. That's not how it works." And if he was prone to doing that, maybe they wouldn't put him in charge of it?
And there was a deep cleaning episode which was annoying, and a school sports day episode which was annoying... I'm sorry, I should be nicer. I don't think I have anything really productive to add at this point. Except for a thank you to the Shipley twins, whose Google-fu helped us find the source story about Buddha throwing elephants. That one gave us so much trouble! And then there was Brahma wanting Buddha to be a manga artist. I might have liked that one if we weren't already like, "But why should they need money?" They need money so they can stay in their cheap apartment in Tokyo, but they don't seem to be particularly happy, so why are they so set on staying there? They have multiple places that they could go back to. It's just...it doesn't make any sense.
I will say I thought it was cute when Kandata wanted to save the cockroach. And Mara's attempts to get Buddha's attention are mildly amusing.
Ah, ha, ha... Yeah, sorry about this, everybody. This is why our little sister thinks we hate retellings of myths and fairy tales. We don't hate all off them. Just when the writing seems lazy. But! you may or may not be happy to know that we were reading in Philippians on Sunday, and Paul was talking about how, thanks to his getting arrested, lots of people are talking about Jesus, and some people are saying great things, and some people are saying very not great things, but the point is they're all talking about Jesus, so he counts it as a win. In other words, all publicity is good publicity. And that was a reminder to me to think more kindly on this series.
Anyway, this is the only release we have this week, but next week, we have two! Volume two of A.I.C.O Incarnation, and volume 10 of In/Spectre! We...actually have not written a review of AICO, so maybe we'll write one on the spot next week! Or maybe we won't! We'll see what happens!
Today I'm thankful for getting our work done, having plans to go to Disneyland with friends, getting to watch an episode of Miraculous, getting to order a Nintendo Switch, and our shiny new Saiyuki bracelets arriving today.