Wow, this book took up almost all of our brainspace for the entire month of February, but because of that, we've now translated three and a half other books, so Sailor Moon seems like a distant dream... I was really hoping that wouldn't happen, because that makes it harder to remember all the things we wanted to say. First of all, I can say that the reason this one took up so much brainspace is that they decided they wanted the translations that much faster! And that means all you readers have showed Kodansha that you love Sailor Moon! So good job!
Okay, where to begin... We started with Kaolinite bringing all the Witches 5 back...oh, and Mistress 9! This is where we got really into the research on what the numbers for Mistress 9 and Pharaoh 90 are all about. I'm not sure we found anything conclusive, but you can read all about it in the notes!
And now we're skimming over our script to remember all the details of what happens, and that reminds me about the brilliance of how Sailor Saturn got introduced. There's a lot of layers of information working together, and since Osano-san said the only time they actually sat down to plot out the ending was for the Stars arc, it almost seems like a miracle that it all worked out so perfectly. So first, we have the Outers come along and say yeeeah, there's another Sailor Guardian, but she only shows up when it's time to wipe everything out and hit the reset button, so we Do Not want to see her. Then we have Hotaru, who is Chibi Usa's new best friend, and she has this tragic family life, so we feel bad for her, but oh no! She's going to turn into Sailor Saturn! ...And I think I had some other thoughts about that, like how Sailor Moon has never seen Sailor Saturn before, so when Hotaru went all Mistress 9, most of the characters were like, "Oh no, we've activated the Destruction!" They didn't know what Sailor Saturn looked like...but on the other hand, the fact that Mistress 9 didn't transform into a sailor suit should have been a pretty solid tip-off.
Anyway, on the other hand, you have the Death Busters, and nobody knows what they look like because they take over people you already know. So I think what I'm saying is it was pretty brilliant with all the "but is Sailor Saturn on our side or not...?" business, but my thoughts have gone all over the place (at sixes and sevens, as Freddie Highmore just told us in a video about British slang (assuming we understood that one correctly)) and I don't think I can be coherent about it anymore.
So let's move on. Hotaru stayed inside Mistress 9 to protect Chibi Usa's soul and the Silver Crystal, and I agree with her that that was a pretty gutsy thing to do. But let's go back to the labyrinth. I interrupted my train of thought on that. Kaolinite brings the Witches 5 back and they create the labyrinth, but we're still in discussions with our editor about whether it will be...oh wait, no, we settled that. It's going to be Labyrinth Mugen, because we decided to keep the Japanese word for the school. See, when we didn't know if we were going to keep that, and when we translated the table of contents, which meant that we didn't realize the labyrinth was the school (we had seen this arc in Sailor Moon Crystal, but that was a while ago, too), we wanted to have it be French: Labyrinthe Infini. We keep wanting to play with other languages and our editors keep saying yeah, let's not do that. And we're like, "Whyyyyy?" But it doesn't really affect the overall story that much, so we're not that upset. (And in our editors' defense, they do let us get away with it sometimes, like with psycholiths in Livingstone...and I think they kept tephrosis in Fire Force, but now that I think about it, we never did check. But Sailor Moon has more fans that might lynch us, so we're more cautious with that one. The less popular titles, we can do whatever we want. Then there was Mechdrasil in Edens Zero, which is completely wrong from a purely meaning-wise standpoint, but from a "this is what image it conjures" standpoint is perfect.)
I digress. The point is, the Witches 5 basically isolate each of the Guardians and remind them of how much time and effort they're spending on Sailor Moon, and don't they wish they could do other things with their lives? And because we were also working on this volume at the same time we were slowly making our way through Kingdom Hearts III, we could relate like nobody's business. ...We might have time to beat it next week...sigh...
So stuff happens, and all the Guardians are together again, and Sailor Moon and the Outers go to the basement to confront Dr. Tomoe! (I call him Dr. Tomoe because his original voice actor was at Anime Expo one year, and he was just walking around so someone asked hey are you Tomoe, and he's like, "Yes, I am Dr. Tomoe!" There was an adorable little girl dressed as Sailor Saturn, too, so they got a picture together.) And Tomoe was interesting, because we're trying to work out his dialogue so it sounds natural, and we finally hit on something that flows okay, and we're like, "Wow, that sounds overdramatic." And then we were like, "You know what, he's your stereotypical mad scientist. Overdramatic is the right dramatic." Then when we read through the script a final time to make sure everything sounded okay, I really loved all his lines. ...Well, at least the ones in the scene where he fights Sailor Moon. But man, that dude is crazy.
Of course they kill him, and then it's just Mistress 9 and Pharaoh 90, and all the dramatic big fight scenes happen. The Inners all died! Oh no!!! We're not sure how many times it's been now. Let's see, they died in the Dark Kingdom arc...did they die in the Black Moon arc? We don't think so...
Anyway, now we're back to Hotaru being super strong and protecting everybody from inside Mistress 9. Let me tell you, that was some tricky dialogue to deal with, Hotaru and Mistress 9. Hotaru's all, "She's ripping me apart! It feels like I'm being ripped apart!" Thanks for being so repetitive, Hotaru. (It wasn't repetitive in Japanese. (The meaning was, but the words weren't.)) But! I just remembered, at some point while we were working on this part, we had the PDF of the previous edition for comparison up on the laptop, and our cat...well, you know how cats' favorite place to sleep is the laptop while you're using it for work. She was lying on the keyboard, and then she shifted, and somehow she activated the feature where the computer will read PDF files out loud. This was a very interesting experience, and unfortunately it's almost impossible to replicate in only text form. But I can tell you that Chibi USA was pronounced "Chibby yoo-ESS-ay." It was kind of awesome.
So Hotaru decides she has too many souls to protect, and she leaves Mistress 9 to give everybody their souls back and then fade away into nothing... Awww, poor Hotaru. It was a pretty touching scene. And I have to tell you, for some reason, we thought with some of the trickier lines...like, there were some lines that we were like, "Okay, I know what the individual words mean, but put them together and I have no idea what you're talking about," so we thought that maybe if we heard the voice actors say them out loud--you know, since they're native Japanese speakers--the intonation and stuff would help us figure out what they meant. So we'd pull up the episode of Crystal and cue it up to that scene...and without fail, those lines would have been left out of this version. It's almost like the anime scriptwriter didn't know what those lines meant, either. Sheesh.
But the point is, Hotaru basically tells Chibi Usa that she feels like they're soul mates, and I was like, "Wow, I knew they were friends, but I didn't realize they were that close..." I still totally ship Chibi Usa and Helios, though. Anyway, the main thing is, after that I got this image in my head of Hotaru and Setsuna calling meetings of the Chibi Usa fan club. Then, right before the Outers take off on their new mission, Michiru was all, "I really was fond of you, Chibi Usa," and we're like, "Hey, there's another member!" I think Mamoru would probably join, too, and Usagi would be furious. (It also reminded us of our days in Japanese 101, where they had some videos to introduce the bit of dialogue we would be learning to say, and there was this recurring character in all of them named Carter-san, and it was like everybody wanted a piece of him. Chibi Usa is the Sailor Moon equivalent of Carter-san.)
I feel like I ought to have something about the big dramatic finale. We liked it a lot, because it had a lot of big pictures with minimal text. ...But it also had Sailor Saturn giving a bunch of exposition, which was less welcome. You're right, Saturn, you are an unwelcome guest. (I'm sorry! I didn't mean it! We read those lines on our final readthrough, and they sounded pretty good, so thanks for the confidence boost!) Seriously, though, I think it's great that she's self-aware about how nobody wants to see her. I mean, it's a huge bummer for her, but I like it when people aren't oblivious. And she doesn't mope about it, she's just like, "It's what I do." And then there was the part with her sending Pharaoh 90 back to the Tau System, which made us wonder if that ridiculousness in the Avengers was inspired by Sailor Moon. All Iron Man had to do was redirect the missile, and momentum would do the rest! You're supposed to be a super genius scientist for crying out loud! Ami would have known. Sheesh.
And then Hotaru is a baby again...oh wait! I forgot to mention! There's a page right after Chibi Usa transforms and goes off to help Sailor Moon, where Mamoru's like, "It's time for me to go, too," and oh my goodness, every panel on that page is so much the best. (We heart Mamoru.)
Anyway, Hotaru is a baby again, and the Outers go off to raise her, and then we go off to the beginning of the Dead Moon arc. Dun dun DUN!!! It was funny, because when the guy gave them the black pencil boards, we were like, "Why is this guy randomly handing out eclipse gear? Out of the kindness of his heart?" And then we translated the sign about the astronomy group, and we were like, "Ooooohhh!" And we just love it when things are explained like that. Even if it is all, "Here, have a convenient plot point." At least they make it make sense. Like in the Emperor's New Groove. "What are the odds of this leading me out here?"
Wow, this review is chock-full of references to other things! Sorry. Like I said, my mind is all over the place.
We did have to consider a little bit before deciding to go with "fair maiden" from Pegasus. Technically he only says "maiden," but that just sounded weird as a form of address...unless it had an adjective! Some other thing we had translated recently reminded us of the word "damsel," though (oh! it was Hatsu*Haru! that series is seriously good, you guys, you should check it out! (if you like shoujo comedy)), and we liked it, so we had to put them on the scales. We were like, "When people hear 'maid,' they think of housekeepers, anyway, even though the housekeeper maid is just a shortened form of housemaid which means maid of the house, which means girl of the house, which means the girl who cleans and stuff." But it wasn't maid, it was maiden, so maybe it was okay. Damsel immediately calls to mind "damsel in distress," which, personally, we're okay with, but some people would be like, "That insinuates that they're weak!" It doesn't though, because, like maid, damsel just means girl. It's only when she's in distress that she's in distress, which doesn't even necessarily mean that she's weak, it just means she has some problems right now that she may or may not be capable of getting out of without any assistance. But assistance would probably be appreciated, if we're honest and admit that no man (or woman) is an island.
Anyway, the winner was decided by Googling "fair maiden" versus "fair damsel," and we went with the one that got the most hits. Sometimes it's more important to be understood than to use fancy words.
And now we're on to part two of this review. We only had time to review the main story part of the volume before, and now almost a week later, we had a chapter of Edens Zero that went so fast, we still have a significant amount of time left on the CD we put in for background music. So now we're reviewing Sailor Moon while listening to Fairy Tail music, which is kind of weird now that I think of it, but oh well. The Fairy Tail composer did the music for Sailor Moon Crystal, so it's not entirely inappropriate. Anyway, on to the short stories!
First we have a Chibi Usa Picture Diary, and the main thing we remember about it is that we learned more about Vega than we ever hoped to learn, and yet still not as much as we wanted. Although to be fair, it wasn't about quantity so much as about a specific fact that continued to elude us. We were going to confirm the thing about brightness, you know, in case for some weird reason maybe Japanese astronomers have a different scale for star brightness than American ones or something. Like how they use a different measure for visual acuity (that we have to look up every time we translate a volume of Fire Force (except for volume 14, thank you, Joker)). For better or worse, the translator of the previous edition had already done enough research to tell the readers (and now us) that Vega is no longer considered the fourth brightest star in the night sky and the brightness had been changed accordingly, but for some reason we still insisted on confirming that the magnitude Ami told us in this story was accurate at the time she said it. We thought maybe some astronomer or somebody would be nerdy enough to have an article or blog post on the internet explaining this is what the brightness was, this is why we decided Arcturus was brighter (this much we did find--it was Arcturus that jumped ahead in the brightness rankings), and this is what we did to tweak the numbers so now Vega's magnitude is this. No such luck. We did find out that Vega was the star they used as their base for assigning magnitudes to all the other stars, and that little tidbit did nothing to ease the frustration of not being able to find what all went into changing it. Eventually, we just had to settle for finding an old almanac from 1994 (thank you Google Books) that was the only place (and a couple of other almanacs from around the same time) that listed Vega's magnitude as 0.1. And then we went with the magnitude listed on Google, and dispensed with an explanation on how magnitude measurements work. If the astronomers can't explain it to us, we can't explain it to the readers. And we were so incredibly tired of working on that one panel. And we weren't even done yet! We still had to look up all the stuff about Altair!
But our hard work paid off in the end, because in Kingdom Hearts III, there's a special Gummi Ship you get from collecting all the pieces in the one Gummi exploration area, and it's called Vega. And the teeny ships that go with it are Deneb and Altair, and because of all our research, we knew that they make up the Summer Triangle! So we felt rewarded.
The other thing I remember about this story is that it kind of seemed like maybe what happened was that Naoko Takeuchi had been getting a lot of fan mail about how Sailor Moon has taught girls that they don't need a man! and she was feeling contrary or in love or something and was like, "Guys, we at least need them for breeding!" I mean, she obviously wasn't very serious about the whole thing, based on the criteria Chibi Usa and her friends used for what makes a guy desirable. Incidentally, we wanted to use "deep pockets" instead of "bulging wallet," but that didn't go with the "bulging muscles" word play, like, at all. I mean, maybe we could have had a translation note instead, but since it was a little punny in Japanese (zairyoku meaning financial strength as opposed to tairyoku meaning physical strength), we wanted the words to be connected in English, too.
And then there's the thing about how all the little girls talking about gaman, and all the teenagers being like, "Whoa, what happened to childlike innocence!?" ...I don't think I have anything else to say about that, except that we think our translation was not a stretch, and that it conveyed the right meaning...
I do feel bad for Shokujo, though. I hope she finds a good hobby. The names that were used for the Tanabata story were pretty nonstandard, by the way. That threw us off. ...Okay, Kengyu was fine, but Shokujo was not listed as any of the alternative names for Orihime on any of the Japanese sources we found. And that reminds me of the Weaving Girl Asterism, and oh my goodness, the hardship we had figuring that one out. We were like, "If they really call it that in China, there should be some evidence on the English-speaking internet!" It took us forever to figure it out. Eventually we got it when somehow we stumbled across Wikipedia articles about Chinese astronomy (which you would think would be the obvious thing to look up, but our ethnocentric minds didn't come up with the idea that, oh hey, maybe the whole world doesn't use the Greek constellation names, or that there would be a whole branch of Wikipedia articles devoted to those other versions (and us Fushigi Yuugi fans, too (incidentally the Weaving Girl Asterism is in Uruki)). Then we were further thrown off by the fact that there are actually more than three stars in the Weaving Girl Asterism, so that did not help, let me tell you. (I think the ones Ami named are just the brightest in the asterism. Incidentally, I really like the word asterism.)
Okay, I need to stop rambling about that and move on. (Now you have tasted a tiiiiny modicum of what we went through. See? You didn't want to read about all that astronomy stuff, either, did you!? ...I kid. Astronomy is awesome. But it would have been nice if there were readily available explanations geared toward non-experts like us to make our job easier when we're constantly working overtime. No seriously, I'm moving on now.)
The Luna story! I know it has it's own title, but I always know it as the Luna story. I guess I just never took to the title "Princess Kaguya's Lover." In fact, if our editors didn't put a stop to it, you'll see that we changed it! If our editors did put a stop to it, we'll just tell you our version was "The Courtship of Princess Kaguya." (I should probably point out that while Athena and I have very little attachment to whatever the fans know something as in English and will change it without remorse (sorry fans...), our main editor has more compassion and won't take all the familiar terms that you have all come to know and love unless we can provide some darn good reasons. (Except in the case of the Crescent Moon Wand, because even though Moon Stick had gained more currency, Moon Wand was older...or something. I don't know her reasons, just that it was her idea and we liked it soooo much better, so we were like, "Cool. We'll write a note.")
But anyway, the Luna story! I...kind of hate it? (I also hate upspeak, so what is wrong with me? is something you might ask on many levels.) I don't hate it hate it, but I lose patience with it very quickly. First of all, it's more about Kakeru and Himeko than any of the characters we've all come to know and love. So it's like, "Why should I care about them?" Especially because of ALL the narration. So much research we had to do about the Youth Astronaut Club or whatever it was (we did the research, we typed the right words, and we promptly for got them, but! we did find the club's website and it's still alive today, and they will welcome people of all ages and nationalities, so you can totally sign up now and that actually seems pretty cool but was unfortunately irrelevant to our translation). Also, Himeko...it wasn't such a super massive trope back when she was first written, so I can't really blame her for it, but I'm kind of really sick of the "warrior princess" thing. I mean, tough girls are fine, but it rankles me when a story goes out of its way to say, "Look at her! She's tough!" A lot of the time it comes across (to us) as saying that a woman is worth more if she's acting like a man, and as a woman who likes feminine things, I find that to be offensive. (On the other hand, I'm all about being yourself regardless of what "society" tells you you should be like, so if a woman happens to like more masculine things, that's fine. Just don't make me feel like you're belittling my girly hobbies.)
That's not to say that I don't like Himeko as a character. She knew what she wanted and what she cared about and she was willing to work to get it. I liked Kakeru well enough, too, I guess. I think he was a little too "poor me" about everything. I mean, it's fine if he doesn't tell anybody about his heart condition because he doesn't want to make them worry, but apparently it was actually because he just assumed that nobody cared about him. Meanwhile, Himeko's over there trying to get his attention all the time. ...Okay, maybe not all time, since she was in the States most of the time. Speaking of which! the passage of time in this story... How long were those plane rides? We're not sure it was possible for all of the traveling to and from Florida that took place. And then there was the time that Usagi was like, "Why haven't we heard from you in three days!?" since the yuzu bath, which is traditionally done on December 22, but it had to be the 24th or sooner because Himeko had to get to the States...oh wait, we figured that out, because the spaceflight took off from Florida on the 24th, and it would have been the 25th in Japan. Never mind. I'm confusing everybody.
Let's get back to the real reason we had a hard time investing any emotion whatsoever into this story. Luna was being a lovesick teenager, and we have no patience for that kind of nonsense. (It happens in Disney's Sleeping Beauty, too, but in a way that requires very little patience.) She falls in love with this guy just because he rescues her from getting hit by a car, which I will grant you is a big deal. But then she gets all upset when he doesn't see her as a potential girlfriend, and we're like, "Hello? You are a CAT!!" You might not realize this about human beings, Luna, but we generally don't see cats as viable romantic partners, and in fact I'm pretty sure it's illegal in many countries. So if she were thinking about that, then the whole, "If only I were human..." thing would make a lot of sense, but her reasoning always seems to be, "I want to help him! But I can't because I don't have opposable thumbs!" Which, you know, is also a valid point. But for some reason there doesn't seem to be any connection between her species and how he sees her romantically (or a-romantically, as the case may be).
The other thing is she has Artemis! And he wasn't even being a jerk to her! He got annoyed once, and then everyone else picked on her! And I understand the trauma of crossing that street (believe me, I would be just as terrified in her situation; we had a few bad experiences on the bus, and it was years before we would take public transportation again, and they weren't even the kind of things most people would consider that bad (oh no, I didn't get off at my stop!)), but that's no reason to up and leave him the second somebody else comes along.
Even then, I would be okay with it, because people's feelings change and everything, and Luna's thing for Kakeru wasn't entirely unreasonable. But! there was one very important thing that made it very hard to feel like things were going to go anywhere with Kakeru, and that is Diana. First of all, until she starts saying, "I don't feel so good..." and fading away, we know nothing is going to happen with Kakeru. Second of all, even if Diana wasn't from the future, she is Luna's daughter! And Luna would just abandon her because some random guy pulled her in off the street and gave her candy? ...I may have a bit of bitterness about single mothers neglecting their children when they're dating. Well, anyway, Diana was pretty well taken care of, but Luna was still being annoying about the whole thing, and that plus all the research made this story not our favorite.
Speaking of the research! Houston, we have a problem. ...Actually, that one was pretty interesting. That one and the one about the spaceship that got hit by lightning (now wondering if any of those astronauts got superpowers...). Anyway, the Japanese version and therefore the previous version had that as CAPCOM, which is not technically incorrect, but first of all, and this may just be because in our minds it's the name of a video game developer, but it just didn't sound like they were addressing anyone. So we were like, "Okay, what can we do about this?" and we looked up capcom at...Wikipedia, probably, since it's where we usually go first, and it said that the call sign for the capcom in American missions is Houston, and we were like, "Houston, we have a problem!" And we loved it, because it sounded so authentic. (I'm sorry, real astronauts. We are just ignorant translators.) But we were like, "...Wait, they're at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Would they still be saying Houston?" So then we had to search all over the internet to figure that one out. It really didn't help that the first thing we found was a Quora question where somebody asked about either capcom or Houston, and the person who answered said that Houston is if they're calling the Johnson Space Center in (you guessed it!) Houston, but if they were calling the Tsukuba Space Center (for example), they would use the callsign for that one. And we were like, "Okay, but what about the Kennedy Space Center!?" And then we remembered that the Apollo missions took off from the Kennedy Space Center (as it even says in this very story), so we thought it would be okay, but we still had to figure it out.
And all this time, we were thinking about how our grandfather was working at NASA when the Apollo missions were going on, and we were wondering if we could explain it in a way that he could give us the information we needed, or would he be like our German-speaking friend (German comes up surprisingly often in Japanese manga) who can never give us the information we're asking for for some reason (we think he's trying too hard to figure out what we're asking, instead of taking our words for what they mean, although it's fair that he wouldn't understand how katakana works), and would we end up just with a big confusing mess for everyone? Especially because we haven't talked to him in years and we'd have to go through our mother, and that just adds another filter to confuse things. And did we even have time for all of that anyway!? Why isn't the internet helping us faster!? AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!
Anyway, eventually we figured out that by asking the internet if it's the Johnson Space Center that controls all NASA missions, or something along those lines, it would give us (we hope) the right answer. So what we found is what's in the notes, but oh my goodness, it was a journey to get there...and we're not even sure if it was the right destination. (If it wasn't, once again I say, "We're sorry, Astronauts!")
And through all of this entire thing, even after writing a note about Kakeru's name, we never thought to write a note about how astronaut comes from the Greek for "star sailor." Le sigh. (There's really not more to it that that, though, so it might not be a very interesting note.)
The main other thing I wanted to talk about was Himeko's space flight. I mean, okay, I get that she's so impatient to go into space for many valid reasons, but then she's talking about how next time she and Kakeru and their child will go into space? And it's implied that she somehow knows the day after the act that she's already conceived, which, you know, Naoko Takeuchi characters have psychic powers specifically for deducing that exact piece of information, but if she knows she's pregnant, should she really be going into space? I mean, of course she can just not tell anyone and they'll let her go, but think of the child! I think it may miscarry. ...On the other hand, our sister went on a bunch of roller coasters shortly after conceiving her son, and he's healthy. So maybe we're just overthinking things, or being overly critical because we were so annoyed at all the research we had been doing.
Anyway. Luna was cute as a human, and the ending with Artemis waiting up for her was the cutest thing ever. I think Artemis is an underrated character. The Outers were super cute, too, when they were getting ready for the party. In fact, Setsuna's line about how the lipstick looks great on Michiru is one of the first lines I remember ever reading in Japanese Sailor Moon manga. (The other one is from the Black Moon arc, when Esmeraude says, "Oo, kowai.") And Chibi Usa and Diana were adorable, too. Also, after all my bashing of Himeko and Kakeru, I do need to point out that we think it's super cute that he still believes in Princess Kaguya.
Incidentally, we recently read an article about dogs getting dilated cardiomyopathy (we were like, "Just like Kakeru!") from a bad grain-free diet (we have a friend who's a veterinarian), but when they went off the diet, the effects were reversed. So our theory is that Kakeru needs to just eat something other than konpeito (preferably whole grains), and he'll be able to go into space in no time! ...Not that we know anything whatsoever about medicine. Do not come to us for medical advice.
Oh man, we wrote that about a million years ago (like, eight months), so we had no memory of any of that...okay, we had one memory about it, but if we say it here, it could be a spoiler. But the point is, wow, what a fun read! I mean, for us, anyway. We hope you all liked it, too!
I'm still not really sure what's going on with releases anymore, but we're pretty sure Fire Force 17 came out yesterday! So tune in next week for our review of that!
Today I'm thankful for finishing our simulpub translations today, having time to read some Rave Master, getting to have some chocolate satin pie, having a nice cozy rainy day, and getting to work on a probably-not-text-heavy series tomorrow.