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Alethea & Athena
Noragami volume 6 
19th-Aug-2015 04:23 pm
It's Wednesday, and you know what that means! This week, just one thing we translated hit bookstore shelves, and that's Noragami 6! That being the case, we thought about skipping this week in favor of getting our Disneyland report posted, but ultimately we decided against it, in no small part because I still feel super rushed about everything, and it's quicker to post something I already wrote. (Another thing on today's to-do list: write more reviews.)

So here it is! Spoiler threat level: ...Medium...?

Okay, this review might suffer from two potential handicaps. First, we're listening to our very singable Koe no Ouji-sama playlist, and second it's been almost a week since we turned in the translation we're reviewing. Oh, Noragami, we're sorry! We don't mean to neglect you!

First of all, oh man, what a relief about Yukine. I mean, we knew he wasn't going to die--he's on the cover of volume 7, and he needs to get his hilt first. That was the really interesting thing (to us) about his evolution--he still doesn't have a hilt. At least, we don't think he does; it's drawn funny, so maybe there is one (or two) but it's really narrow.

So we figure he'll probably evolve again, and there's even more evidence for that based on the name "blessed vessel," a fact I didn't consider until after we turned in the translation. If you've read the translation notes, you'll know that the word we translated to "blessed" is "hafuri," which is the name of a type of Shinto priest. That being the case, we did think, since it is a Shinto term, that maybe we should keep it in Japanese, like with ayakashi and shinki. But then again, technically, it really would be pronounced houri, or would it?, and that's all kinds of confusing...

Anyway, we decided to translate it because a hafuri isn't a really important kind of priest, it's like a low-ranking priest. And it didn't occur to me until during the past week that maybe it goes shinki, hafuri, negi (next level of Shinto priest)...and then whatever the next rank is. And in that case maybe keeping it would have been better, but maybe for the sake of fans being able to say the names, translating it is better anyway. So I figure we'll just translate the next rank, too, and have another excuse for a fascinating(?) translation note. This is, of course, assuming that negi is an easily translatable word (most of our research just listed the terms in Japanese with no attempt at translation; the Japanese sources only had the kanji, which is one (or maybe two; I don't really remember) we weren't familiar with).

Anyway, we were pretty excited to find out that Negi Springfield was named after more than just a leek, but a little sad that we didn't know that before the series ended.

But back to Noragami. What happened again? Right, Kugaha. Kugaha reminds us of the Mormons on Facebook who complain about the LDS Church. He's all, "We need to change it because it's stupid!" when really what he means is, "Look at meeeeeeee!" ...Not that we know that for sure, but the point is, we are sometimes surprised at how frequently our opinions and reactions to things match Yato's.

Speaking of Yato, I think we mentioned this in our volume four review, but the whole thing about, "Hey, instead of all being like, 'No, I'm supposed to be happy, so I'm going to act happy, dangit!'" as opposed to just talking about when you're having a problem. It definitely seems to be a major theme of Noragami, and that's one of the reasons we love Noragami! It always drives us nuts when someone's like, "No, I'm not supposed to cry!" Why not? Is there some kind of rule against crying?

Oh! That was the other thing! Toma. Is it us, or is she totally the Stray? The first thing Athena noticed about her was, "Hey, that's the same obi Stray wears." Also, Yato gives us strong reason to believe that the Stray is behind the masked ayakashi, and Toma's instrument form is a pot lid. Pot lids are shaped a lot like masks (or at least the masks worn by ayakashi in Noragami). And after what happened to her, she didn't have much choice but to become a stray. Unless she died, which they never said for sure. So our theory is that Yato found her and took pity on her because he's a nice guy, and if you look carefully, you can see he has a real soft spot for shinki, and then she went all psycho so he decided to back away.

...Oh wait, maybe he didn't decide to back away, because the only reason he wasn't using her at the beginning of the series is that somebody else was using her. So another possible theory is that Toma's wrath turned her into...oh, I forget what it's called, but whatever it was Michizane turned into before they had to appease him by worshiping him as Tenjin. Tatarigami? I don't know. And then the Stray could be a shinki for Toma, too.

Anyway, the fact that the Stray is not a pot lid as Hiki doesn't mean that she can't also be Toma, because so far nothing has said that a ghost will always become the same type of instrument for every god. The only potential contradiction is that Kazuma didn't show any sign of recognition when he saw the Stray. But she did have shorter hair, or maybe that reaction didn't make it into the final cut.

Oh, here's something else to talk about. Did you know that it's possible to come up with any number of words for "guide" in Japanese? We didn't, but we do now. And it's not so easy to replicate that in English. So they were talking about Bishamon's old guide, and we figured that "michitsukasa (guide)" was a title and not a name. We tried to come up with something nice and old-timey to translate it to, but the thesaurus didn't help, French didn't help, we couldn't find a Latin version, and that wouldn't have worked anyway because Latin isn't an old form of Japanese. And whenever we thought of scriptures that talk about guiding, they just had the word "guide" in them. So we're like, "Aw, what the heck. We'll just use 'guide.'"

And then at the very end, after everything, Kazuma makes a reference to the old guide, and we're like, "How do we make the distinction so that readers know we're talking about the old guide?" And we thought about it and thought about it, only we were tired and crunched for time, and came to the conclusion that we should just have faith in the readers' ability to figure it out. So...we hope it wasn't too confusing! [Note: Later we found out that michitsukasa is a title.]

And finally, there was the triumphant homecoming. Oh, it was so sweet! And Daikoku being all, "You owe me! I bet on you!" The scene where he and Kofuku made that bet was so heartfelt and so touching, the way Kofuku was so frantic to do something to help, and how that was the only thing she could do. And it worked! Awww. Kofuku's so great.

And then he really did keep his promise to Tenjin! What! He cut his ties with Hiyori, and then there's a whole chapter of not talking about that at all! Aaaaaaaahhh!! But she, too, is on the cover of volume 7 (with Yukine!), so ...and as I was typing that, Athena got up to check, and she reports that it looks like Hiyori, but with Yato's blue eyes and crown, so... Suddenly I'm a lot more anxious to find out what happens next.

Today I'm thankful for getting to talk about Noragami, making good enough progress on work that it's probably...? okay to stop when we did, getting some accidental extra sleep this morning (apparently we needed it, and it turned out not to cause too many schedule problems), finally having time to start getting caught up on reviews, and having fun at work today.
20th-Aug-2015 01:14 am (UTC)
Oh, Yukine!!!! I love him. I didn't see a hilt either so that must be waiting for another upgrade :D

Waaaaaaait, Tôma as the Stray??? Hmm, hmmmmmmm... I thought/read it as she just died. Hmmmm. I dunno, the obi is close but not exactly the same (Stray's has alternating thick and thin white stripes, Tôma's are all consistent weight and even spacing). Plus in the v5 flashback with Yato and Stray (when Kazuma goes to ask them for help) she's wearing a totally different kimono and obi (and no ghost-headband). ...But that just means she's capable of changing her clothes if it suits her. Was she a Stray then? There aren't any other names on her hands/feet that we can see so maybe not. But I also think their eyes are different: Stray's are more round and Tôma's have a bit of a point at the corners (cat-like?).

It seems like you're right about ghosts not always becoming the same instrument (Tomone was some kind of sword? and now as Mayu she's a pipe for smoking, right?) Maybe the god can have an idea of what kind of instrument they want, weapon or tool or whatever (with how good it is being based on the ghost him/herself), because otherwise it'd be way too inconvenient if Yato's new shinki turned out to be, like, a cat toy or something useless. Hahahahaha.

I don't remember anything being confusing about the guide(s), so whatever you did must have worked! I also think translating hafuri was a good choice. Blessed vessel is a term that means something when I read it, and while it's nice to keep some terms for flavour/tradition (especially if they're used so commonly they become easily recognizable? and/or are already fairly common, like ayakashi), it's also nice to know what's being talked about. I think you've hit a good balance with that!

And the rest of my thoughts are too intertwined with volume 7, so I'll leave it at that (except that I'm cackling over the last paragraph of your review. bwahaha. but of course I felt the same frustration-confusion-impatience as you at the time... Oh man and the v7 cover, hahahaha. Ahhhh this series—!!!!)

(I need a Noragami icon, but in the meantime I somehow feel like Tsuyu could fit right in, as another eccentric personality.)
20th-Aug-2015 01:34 pm (UTC)
I know! He's sooooooo cute!!! I'm excited to see all the different shinki levels! (We're thinking there's at least three total.)

Yeah, we have a lot of implausible outlandish theories about Noragami, and we're pretty sure most of them are turning out to be wrong, but it's too early to say. Toma's death wasn't final enough for us. If there's no body, nothing is certain. But you made some good observations about how different she looks from the Stray, and we think you're right.

As for shinki, and what they turn into, my current theory is that it depends on the shinki and the god. Yato is a fighter, so most of his shinki would ideally be weapons, and Tenjin is more about education so maybe his shinki would be helpful for that. On the other hand, it's not like Bishamon was thinking, "Gosh, I could really use an ear piercing," when she named Kazuma. At least, it seems unlikely. We also have reason to believe that gods can recruit shinki who already have certain aptitudes.

Yay, the guide thing wasn't confusing! Thanks for the feedback! After all the talk about name honorifics, I think my current policy is to translate it if there's a reasonable English equivalent, which we think is not true of the terms we did not translate, like shinki and ayakashi. But we don't translate terms like sushi or karaoke, either.

Ha ha, yeah, this review was a little tough, because there's kind of a lot of stuff in it that has us going, "But now that we've translated more, we know that..." There's this urge to type followups, but they would be spoilery!

(We totally need a Noragami icon, too, and you even gave us pictures so we could make some! But we have so many other things to do! Aaaahhh!)
20th-Aug-2015 04:29 am (UTC)
I have an OT question for you. In our area, we still have LDS members who go door-to-door, but in my experience, they've always been young men. We were talking about this in a group I was in (the discussion was not in any way negative - someone was lamenting the fact that the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts don't go door-to-door when selling cookies and popcorn anymore, and someone said that the only people who do still come to your door are Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons), and someone said that she had a couple of young LDS women come recently, and I wondered if this was something new, or if it just wasn't common in this area. And since you're the only LDS members I know, I thought I'd ask. And btw, when speaking of your church, is it considered offensive to call you "Mormons"? Do you prefer "LDS members"? I ... don't know these things, and I wouldn't want to offend you in any way. ♥
20th-Aug-2015 01:41 pm (UTC)
Oh, questions! We like answering questions; it makes us feel important. The answer is that sister missionaries have been a thing for a long time, but haven't ever been quite as common as they are now. (In fact, we just read an article about one of the first sister missionaries here.)

For men, it's considered part of their duty to serve a mission, but for women it's more of an optional thing. They recently lowered the age requirements for missionaries, too, so there was a sudden surge in missionary numbers (both male and female). We also have senior couple missionaries (usually a retired husband and wife), but they usually take care of the logistical side of things, so they don't go door-to-door as much.

It is not offensive to call us Mormons, but we do like for everyone to know that the full name of our church is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, because we worship Jesus Christ, not Mormon. I think the official name for members of the church is Latter-Day Saint, but we're okay with just Mormon. In fact, there's even a documentary called Meet the Mormons (which is available on Netflix and pretty neat to watch).
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