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Alethea & Athena
Let's Dance a Waltz, volume 1 
22nd-Apr-2015 10:37 pm
tadah
It's Wednesday, and not one but two books we translated hit bookstore shelves yesterday, so it's time for a review! (It would have maybe been time for a review earlier, but apparently Wednesdays with Walt is in high demand these days and we had to go to a later show. Then we had stuff to do after we got home.) So we have a choice between Let's Dance a Waltz and Your Lie in April, and we decided to go with the former for marketing purposes. We figure more people are looking forward to Your Lie in April, and are going to buy it anyway, so we want to wait to post our review of that until they've had more of a chance to do so. On the other hand, it seems like more people will be undecided about Let's Dance a Waltz, so maybe a review of that will encourage you to check it out!

So here it is! Spoiler threat level: low (but if you want to know absolutely nothing that happens until you read it, you might want to wait until after you've read the book to read the review).


The assignment for Let's Dance a Waltz came kind of abruptly. Our editor kind of said, "I have a list of assignments for you, and I want to add Let's Dance a Waltz." And we were like, "New series? Sweet!" We were really excited about it because we're fascinated by ballroom dance, and because Gaston has some involvement in ballroom dance, so maybe now one of our real life friends might be interested in actually reading something we translate. This hope is a bit thin, since there's no way he'd go out of his way to get it and we don't know if we'll get comp copies. And he prefers to do all his reading with his ears. But anyway, we were excited nevertheless.

Then we kept having Harlequin books come along, and they're always due within like four days of the assignment. It was like, "Okay, just have to finish Say I Love You, and..." "Hey, could you do some Harlequin manga?" "Sure! Okay, just finish the Harlequin...okay, good this is going really fast, then we finish Say I Love You..." "Hey, that was awesome. Could you do one more Harlequin manga?" "Can we do it a week from now?" "We kind of need it sooner than that." "Well, those last two went super fast, so it should be no problem. Sure! ...Wait, this is taking forever! RAARRRR!!! We just need to finish this stupid ridiculously long book, and then we'll finish Say I Love You, and then go to Disneyland as per our plans with Gaston, and why aren't we finishing this book before Disneyland? Okay, book finished, Disneyland, then Say I Love You, and THEN..." "ALERT! ALERT! Big Hero 6! Baymax has landed! Drop everything and get to work!" "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!"

So then we had a meltdown, and then we finished Say I Love You, and then we finished Big Hero 6 manga. Big Hero 6 manga is great to get to be able to work on, but I have to admit it's just not as fun as our other Disney project, so that brought motivation levels down again, and it didn't help that there was a lot of talking in the first half. But anyway, we finally finished it (eight days ago from the day I'm writing this, but it feels like an age), and by then we were like, "Eh, who cares about stupid old ballroom dancing anyway." We were prepared to be less than excited. But we were still looking forward to translating a Nakayoshi title, because those tend to be really easy and help us feel like there is such a thing as free time in the world.

And it was finally time. Since we were going into it cold, we had to guess on what music would be the most appropriate to listen to while working on it. We knew it was about ballroom dancing, and we know they have balls in Ouran High School Host Club, so we decided to go with that. Immediately after we started translating, we knew we'd made the right choice. Tango is like Tamaki with a clue. He's a fun character to translate, and he really helped us get our motivation back. It helps a lot that he's very pretty. And he does ballroom dancing! That is just so incredibly appealing. It's enough to have us yelling at the manga because he's only fourteen.

Then there's Hime, who is very very cute. She's overweight when the series starts out, which I think will be appealing to many readers, but she has low self-esteem because of her looks, so we can see where that might come across as fat-shaming. It's totally not a fat-shaming manga, though, because Tango is interested in her regardless of her size, and when he tries to ignore his feelings it's more because of his own angst than anything about her looks.

Of course, there's also some stuff about the man leading the woman--one of Hime's good qualities is that she's such a good follow--which generally is a topic that rubs people the wrong way (including us), but in the context of ballroom dancing it should be fine, right? It's not about superiority, it's just about trust. Also, we're noticing (after trying to lead a choir) that some people have an incredibly hard time taking instructions, and we can definitely see the value in learning to follow the leader sometimes.

All the characters are great, though. I like Yusei, or as I like to call him, Yusei: Agent of Destiny. In the first chapter, he says he sees a spotlight shining on Tango and Hime--the spotlight that only shines on a perfect dancing pair. Somehow he seems to have the magical ability to determine who's the best dance partner for whom. After that, he does everything he can think of to make sure Tango can't run from Hime, and Tango comments that he thinks he's destined to never escape her, so obviously Yusei is working for destiny. Athena just kept saying, "If yuusei so."

Incidentally, we put a macron over the U in our translation (ideally you already know that by now, because you've read it). You may also have noticed that we put accent marks (if the editor didn't remove them; we thought about telling him it's okay to tell us to cool it with the accent marks, but by the time we turned the translation in, we forgot) on Hime and Sumire's Es. I'm not sure why we're suddenly so obsessed with making sure all the diacriticals are in place all of a sudden; it may be an effect of working on Kingdom Hearts manga. But it's just come to my attention that, to someone completely unfamiliar with Japanese pronunciation, those names might look like Highm and Soo-meyer. And that's just awful. (It reminds me of when Pokemon was getting started in the States, and our friend found a Squirtle toy that had the Japanese name of the pokemon (zenigame) on it, and he said he was sure all the kids who saw it were thinking, "What kind of game?"

I think that's mainly what we had to say. Except that whenever Ando-sensei draws the characters in their dance positions, it's like, "Waaaaah!" So beautiful. (Especially Tango, mmmm.) Also, we did start watching Dancing with the Stars, but despite our fascination with it, I'm not sure if we'll keep it up, because Kingdom Hearts.


Ah, we were so naive back then (in regards to free time, not the manga series). We reread that first paragraph and were like, "Whoa, it's deja vu all over again." Anyway, that's what we have to say about the first Let's Dance a Waltz. It's a super cute series, and we hope everybody likes it!
Comments 
23rd-Apr-2015 05:33 pm (UTC)
Diacritical marks... From a letterer's perspective, they can be a bit of a pain if the accented letter isn't supported by a particular font. On the other hand, I do realize they can be helpful for pronunciation. I guess I don't really mind them. É is usually supported, and I can deal with placing the little tiny accent juuuuust right over the letter on the few occasions it's not. Ū isn't supported by, like, any of my fonts, but I replace them with Û and the editor hasn't told me to change it, so...... (I'm pretty sure I saw the ˆ used in other Kodansha/DelRey manga and that's why I did it. Wikipedia says this is a common substitution but I admit I didn't actually research the appropriateness of such usage until just now.)

I did think the diacritical marks looked a little weird in the Waltz preview Kodansha posted on tumblr the other day (they seemed disconnected from the letters they were supposed to belong to, like the letterer was using a font that didn't support them at all and had to add all the marks manually?? why would you do that...?), but probably people who aren't obsessive perfectionist know-it-all letterers won't care or notice.

Anyway, to move away from that incredibly nitpicky little topic... I have all the sympathy in the world for the opening paragraph of your review :) And I also want to say, you could (probably) get comp copies if you just ask!! (like I just did today.)

As for the manga itself, from the preview I'm more interested in Yūsei and Sumiré than the main couple, but your review does make me want to give the series a try sometime. I'll try and ask my library to buy it. I passed on buying it during the recent Kodansha sale at RightStuf, but I did order a couple more volumes of Missions of Love instead... so forgive me please? :)
24th-Apr-2015 12:35 am (UTC)
Ooh, that's helpful information! It makes me feel less bad about not putting accent marks on Es. Yeah, we used to use circumflexes instead of macrons because they're prettier, but then we did Negima and we were being consistent with that and it just stuck, possibly because it's what they use on train station signs and stuff in real life Japan.

I'm sorry the accent marks turned out weird in Let's Dance a Waltz! It's too late to change anything about it, though, because we've already turned in the last volume. I wanted to say we'd keep it in mind for the future, but we almost never know who's going to letter something.

Oh my goodness, the first paragraph of the review. It never ends these days! Maybe it's a sign that the manga industry is doing well? You're right, though, we could probably get comp copies if we asked, but after actually reading the series, and based on his reaction to Fullmetal Alchemist, we're not sure he's ready for shojo manga (or if he ever will be).

All four characters seem to have a pretty even amount of page-time...maybe... I can't think right now. And don't worry, the only series you're required to read if you want to keep being our friend is Noragami, and you already have that one covered.
23rd-Apr-2015 08:26 pm (UTC)
I'm waiting for my copy to be shipped. I like this author's story and art. I wonder if Tango's parents named him Tango because they are into ballroom dancing or Tango can be a Japanese name. It's going to be interesting to say something like "Tango dances a Tango?"

Edited at 2015-04-23 11:27 pm (UTC)
24th-Apr-2015 12:35 am (UTC)
Aww, we hope it gets to you soon! I think you'll find a satisfactory answer to your question about Tango's name when you get the book, but for now, the short answer is yes.
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