One of the things that kind of bummed me out when we were planning to go to Disneyland today is the idea of missing Review Rednesdays, especially since Kodansha posted on Facebook about Devil Survivor 1 coming out yesterday. We had read over our review for that one after translating volume two, and remembered it being a pretty fun read, so I was excited to post it! And so that is one more reason I'm glad our plans got shifted. So here's the review! Spoiler threat: mild.
We went to Disneyland almost immediately after we finished this translation and stayed there for the rest of the night, so we almost forgot to write this review! Fortunately, when I was writing up our review of the new Matterhorn upgrades, Athena thought, "There was another snowman thing we did yesterday...what was it...? Oh yeah!" So now we're writing up our review of Devil Survivor 1.
The first time we heard of Devil Survivor was when we were reading the afterword to Durarara!!...5? I think it was volume five. But the point is, Ryohgo Narita seems like a pretty nice guy, and whenever the Durarara!! illustrator has something new going on, Narita-sensei tells us about it in the afterword (she says, as if she's managed to finish more than five of Narita-sensei's books (we've been busy, okay?)). And so in one of the afterwords, there was mention of a video game that Suzuhito Yasuda did the character designs for. Also, it was part of the Shin Megami Tensei series, home to Persona, and we knew a few people who liked Persona a whole awful lot.
So we'd always been interested in this series and never found a chance to get into it...until! our boss for Kodansha Japan (the stuff we do for Crunchyroll) asked us to translate the Persona Q manga. It was more like, "They want you to do the Persona manga. The first chapter is due in two days." And that's how we were thrown into the world of Persona and Shin Megami Tensei. Fast forward a few weeks later, and one of our editors at Kodansha USA said, "Hey, you're doing the Devil Survivor manga, right? Since you're doing the Persona Q manga?" And we were like, "Sure!" Only it was more like, "Um, not if you need volume one any time soon..." because we were ridiculously busy at the time (now we're only busy; hopefully next week we'll only be sort of busy, and after that we'll have a vacation! [real time update: I think that was when we took three days off in June.]).
Some time later, the books arrived, so we were relieved that we got to work on it anyway. The idea of it always kind of amused me, because here's a video game with character designs by a guy who draws manga for Kodansha, only the manga for the game (also published by Kodansha) is not by the same guy. It kind of makes sense, because the other guy is doing another manga (Yozakura Quartet); he has time to do character designs, not a whole other manga. But it's still kind of odd.
Anyway, our first impressions of the manga were based solely on the covers of the first two volumes, and they were, in order, "Oooh, shiny!" and "What is up with her boobs?" The main girl in the series, Yuzu, has magically floating breasts that apparently need no support whatsoever despite their abnormal size. Not entirely uncommon in anime and manga, but somehow it seemed even more odd with her. Maybe it was the loose top.
After we took the books out of the package to look at them, they sat on the piano bench, staring at us every time we passed by, and reminding us that we didn't have time to play video games. Until one day when we magically got a day off, sponsored by our power company. (We kept forgetting to pay the bill, so they shut the power off. We can't work without our computers, but the 3DS was fully charged!)
The game is about three friends in Tokyo who get wrapped up in some big apocalyptic thing that involves demon summoning. Also, there's an email that predicts what's going to happen every day, so there's a bit of a focus on changing fate--like, "Just because the email says we're gonna die doesn't mean we have to!"
Starting the story out was hard, because there was a lot of repetition (like they really want to make sure the player KNOWS all the details (like ALL the details), so they keep hammering them in), and we aren't exactly fond of the English voice acting. But we play it in English because we need to be familiar with the English translation style, and Shin Megami Tensei fans (unlike Kingdom Hearts fans) have "better" things to do than type up the entire game script to post on the internet, so we can't just play it in Japanese and check the internet later.
Fortunately, though, the manga takes out a lot of the repetition, so we're not constantly shouting at the manga, "Yes, I already know! Thank you! I don't need to hear it a fifth time!" (We might be okay going up to twelve under normal circumstances, but we've been busy and pressed for time.)
Anyway...so, unlike with Kingdom Hearts, we don't try to match the script exactly, because that would just be a headache. Fortunately, unlike with Persona Q, this manga does seem to be trying to put a little variation in the story, so there are plenty of scenes in the manga that weren't in the game, so we're not constantly like, "But how did they say it in the game!?" It's more like, "That's an original scene. We're cool."
Let's see...also in the manga, the main character talks a lot more. In the game, I guess they're trying to make sure the player can relate to the main character as closely as possible, so he only talks when the player is given a choice of what to have him say (sometimes there's only one choice, but you still have to choose it). That doesn't really work for a manga, so the artist gave him a personality and everything! It's kind of a typical shonen manga personality, but we like the typical shonen manga personality ("I have to save my friends!"), so we're okay with it.
There's a priestess in the game named Amane Kuzuryu, and when we translated the manga, we saw what the kanji were...and they mean "nine-headed dragon." She's Hydra! That's not a good sign.
Our strategy for dealing with game-based manga is (ideally) to play the game first so we know all the context, but because of time constraints, we're kind of playing Devil Survivor alongside the manga. As in, we're not very far in the game or the manga, but as long as we can stay ahead of the manga before we translate it, we think we're okay? Actually, there is a possibility that that could backfire, if the game starts to lead us to think one thing only to psych us out later and say it was actually another thing. But as long as we don't stray too far from the source text (which generally isn't our style anyway), we should be okay.
I feel like this review isn't talking about this book so much... Well, g'bye!
Today I'm thankful for finishing the translation we were working on, getting a very good night's sleep last night (the weather may finally be getting cool enough to not need to avoid any kind of blanket!), having a job that introduces us to interesting video games, having a rousing Linda Linda sing-along, and having plans to go to Disneyland with a good friend tomorrow.