Negiho: Mahora Little Girls
Neither of us remembers the details around getting this assignment, so we checked our emails, and it looks like it happened when we were having a slow work period. We emailed our editor at Kodansha to see when the next time he'd need anything would be, and he told us about it...well, mostly he told us it existed, in a way that said we were assigned to translate it. We may or may not have looked it up on Amazon Japan before we got the book.
Anyway, the basic idea is that it's all the characters from Negima!, only now Negi is the age you'd expect a teacher to be, and all his teenage students are preschool girls. It was really cute, and we enjoyed it immensely, but it was really hard, because of all the different comedic elements.
Chachamaru was especially difficult, because in her Negiho incarnation, she wanted to become more human (she's a robot, for you non-Negima! readers out there) by developing a sense of humor. Since she didn't have her own real sense of humor, she studied other comedians. We wanted to handle it in a way that wouldn't slow the readers down, but would also keep the purists (like ourselves) happy. So we localized it all, attempting to make jokes or use more domestic references that applied in the same way as the Japanese ones, and had a long list of notes explaining the original gags. I seem to remember being pretty happy with the results.
There may or may not have been some trouble dealing with the different musical stylings of the various class members, in the chapter when they decided to start a band.
This is also the book that had us think, "Wow, if Ken Akamatsu (derivative) works can consistently pass the Bechdel Test, either we need a better feminist test, or Ken Akamatsu isn't as evil as people think he is." Sure, there are the chapters that involve the little girls trying to get Negi's (or Kotaro's) attention, but there are also a lot of chapters that are just about girls being friends. Most notable to me is the one where Yue agonizes about whether or not to tell Nodoka that her book isn't as good as it could be.
We did read a review that mentioned how there were certain elements that were way too sexual for this cast of preschoolers, specifically citing the chapter where the girls try to increase their bust sizes. We suspect that particular reviewer doesn't realize how common a theme that is for girls. In fact, soon after we read the review, we went to a birthday party for our friend's one-year-old, and some of his 2- to 5-year-old cousins were stuffing water balloons in their swimsuits so they could have breasts. Nobody thought there was anything sexual about it--little girls spend time around grown-up girls, and realize that the grown-up girls are shaped differently. The onlookers we talked to just laughed and said, "They want to look like Mommy!"
...We happened to think that chapter was pretty funny.
Favorite character...in this version of Negima...maybe Natsumi? Or Evangeline. She was hilarious. I think some Evangeline fans might have been horrified by what the manga artist did to her, but...it's all in good fun. We know she's a total bad donkey.
On the translation difficulty scale...I really don't remember, but I'm going to go ahead and give it a seven. It was one of the titles we worked on that was challenging, but we felt really good about it when we were finished.
Today I'm thankful for fun alternate universe manga, finishing work at a somewhat normal time despite having a UQ Holder! chapter to translate, having plans to get root beer floats tonight (at the ward activity), our package from CD Japan having made it across the ocean, and the UPS guy knowing where to deliver our packages even when they're accidentally addressed wrong.