...Okay, so it may not be our first manga review ever, but it's the first review...wait, I'm confusing myself. The review for the first book that was released since we started writing reviews right after translating said books. Yes, I think that's accurate. The first of these reviews that was ever written was for Say I Love You 8, but I guess English-translated manga has varying incubation periods. Or something.
Anyway! it's very good timing, because we just happened to get our copy of Big Hero 6 the movie today, and now the manga is out, too! So without further ado, here's our review!
Spoiler threat level: low (although there is a kind of big spoiler for the movie, but it's a spoiler we knew about before we saw the movie, so maybe most people did, too?)
So we got to translate the Big Hero 6 manga. We had an inkling it would happen for a while before Yen Press announced it. See, our editor told us they were picking up the Kingdom Hearts novels, and knowing our history with prose, but also knowing our history with Kingdom Hearts, she decided to let us take another test to see if our prose translation skills had improved sufficiently since the last time we failed at prose.
We were pretty excited, and we did our best! We thought we did pretty good. But we'll never know for sure, because we were told that they went with a different translator because they wanted us available to translate another Disney property they were looking into. As soon as the new title hit, we would be expected to DROP EVERYTHING and get to work on it. We were very confused, because what the heck other Disney property could there possibly be? Then Anime News Network reported that there would be a Big Hero 6 manga, and we thought, "Ooohhh."
Then the date for Chapter 0's release in Japan came and went, and we heard nothing, so we were kind of grumpy about that. Then Yen Press announced that they'd licensed the Big Hero 6 manga, and we still heard nothing, and we were like, "What's the deal!?" Are we translating it or not? Did Disney come along and say, "On second thought, we want our translator to work on it."? Are we not going to get to translate Kingdom Hearts novels or Big Hero 6 manga?
To be honest, we weren't expecting much from Big Hero 6 as a movie anyway. Usually when we see an American thing trying to be anime, it tends to fall flat in our opinions, and Disney hasn't really been keeping our expectations very high these days. Nevertheless, in our wildest daydreams, the manga assignment led to an invitation to the movie premiere! I mean, if they wanted a quality translation, we'd have to see the movie for familiarization purposes. That's just logic. But that didn't happen either.
The movie premiered, and by then we'd at least been told that Yen Press wanted us to work on it. We went to the special early showing for Disneyland annual passholders to take care of familiarization, and because of it, we ended up telling Mom and Gaston about the potential manga assignment, because their Halloween plans and ours kind of revolved around them knowing the importance of us seeing that early screening. Of course we told them not to tell anyone, and of course they were both like, "Who am I gonna tell?" Mom probably forgot all about it, but the very next time we went to Disneyland, Gaston's all telling cast members and everything. Ugh.
As for the movie itself, we actually liked it! Yay! I think the key is in making me believe that the characters actually care about each other. But then we were even more edgy whenever Big Hero 6 came up. The uncertainty was really getting to us.
Fortunately, we got home from our second day at Disneyland after Gaston blabbed and had an email with the message "Baymax has landed!" This was very exciting, but also very deathful. Some of you may remember that at that point we were about two days away from a Say I Love You deadline and we still had a fair amount of work left to do on that volume. We don't usually get stressed about deadlines--if we're running late, we can just push ourselves a little harder--but we were almost at our limit already. We'd been pushing ourselves for about a week before the assignment hit, and then we wiped out any energy reserves we might have had by spending two days at Disneyland. It wouldn't have been a problem if we hadn't had a sudden new project to work on...but then we did.
Still, we were pretty excited! I mean, it's a Disney project, for a movie we really liked! But then it started to get to us again. There were two major problems. First, we'd only seen the movie once, and about two weeks previous to translating this book, so when it got to the parts where the dialogue looked like it matched the movie, we started to freak out because how in the world are we going to make it match!?
Fortunately, for the most part that turned out not to be a problem after all, because of problem number two. It's an AU story. We don't know if it was deliberately AU, or if the manga artist didn't understand the way the story was explained, or if they made changes to the story after telling the manga artist what the story was going to be and didn't tell the manga artist about the changes...which we're pretty sure is what happened with Aunt Cass. In the manga, Aunt Cass is their mom. That caused for quite a bit of confusion for us, let me tell you what. (And by "confusion," I mean something more like "hair pulling," as in pulling our hair out due to frustration.)
That was probably the worst discrepancy between the manga and the movie, because it was the first one we came across. By that point in the manga, while the stuff that happened was different, it could still conceivably be happening within the framework of the movie's storyline. Since we didn't know the story was going to go off the rails later, the aunt/mother thing was quite the translators' dilemma. We solved it by leaving alternate lines for everything, for the editor to ultimately decide. (Although there's at least one line where we should have given an alternate but didn't.)
Then there were things that were different probably because of cultural reasons--namely, the villain's name. In the movie, his name is Yokai. In the manga (and possibly the Japanese dub of the movie), his name is Kaijin, which translates roughly as "human yokai." We suspect this is the work of the E-J translator, who may have thought, "But he's not a yokai, he's a human being. That would be confusing to Japanese viewers." Translators are notorious for taking everything way too seriously (we know from our own experience). But hey, for all we know, it would be confusing to Japanese viewers. We just translated it to phantom, because it was Hiro and his friends talking about the masked man before he'd introduced himself to anybody, and they just needed something to call him.
I think that's most of it. I like how in the manga it goes into why Hiro didn't have any friends, but I like how in the movie Hiro didn't want to go to nerd school because he thought it would be boring (that part's not in the manga; in Japan you usually go to your own grade and deal with it--if it's not challenging enough, you go to a more elite school (or so manga has led us to believe)). I think Hiro seemed just a little too dependent on Tadashi in the manga. But on the bright side, in the manga, there's hope that Tadashi is still alive! And since Tadashi is by far the best character, that's a very happy thing.
Today I'm thankful for getting our copy of Big Hero 6 the movie (we got the manga like a month ago), having some extra time with which to write a review or two (we're starting to get a backlog! yikes!), getting to translate the Big Hero 6 manga, managing to have some extra time today, and having the next volume of Kingdom Hearts II to work on soon.