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Alethea & Athena
Livingstone volume 1 
11th-Nov-2015 05:13 pm
tadah
Here it is, another Review Rednesday! Today we have a brand new series, Livingstone! Spoiler alert level: none, unless you don't want to know anything about the series at all.


Well, it's the weekend so we have time that we'd rather spend playing video games, but it's probably a good idea to get this written now. Besides, we really like Livingstone, so we want to make sure to talk about it!

We were first offered the title a few months ago, I think. (I'm writing this on May 23.) It was a really long time ago. We told our editor that we really wanted to do it, because we like this editor, but we don't get to work for him very often. And he had recently offered us Maria the Virgin Witch, which we really agonized over, but eventually we all decided it was probably too "adult" for us and we turned it down. So we really didn't want to say no again, but were ridiculously busy, so we said as much and suggested that if he didn't need the first volume translated for a while, like maybe until May, we could do it. He was cool with that, so the title was ours!

A little while later, he asked us when we thought we could have the first volume done by, and said he wouldn't need it until July. We were like, "Oh, certainly we can get it in before July!" and suggested a deadline in May. Actually a week ago. We finished it yesterday. Eh heh heh. We thought it would be okay, because he said he didn't need it until July, but things came up, and they all decided they wanted it sooner. So the Monday after we said we could have it in by, he emailed us and said, "So, hey, you said you could get this in..." and we were like, "Eh heh heh heh... Sorry!" And we felt a little like Ritsu from Fruits Basket, but what's done was done. That was the week we were in denial about how much work we had to do, especially because we were sure we could get an extension (and we thought we had said the Monday and not the Friday before, so we miscalculated how long we had to email and ask for an extension).

Fortunately, he didn't need it need it until June 3, and we were like, "Oh, we can totally do it by then!" And we did! We got it in yesterday (May 22)! But we still feel a little bad about how it all went down. We need to be more careful in the future.

Anyway, as for the series itself, we had no idea what it was about! I mean, we did a little bit of research when the title was offered to make sure it wasn't too mature for us, but somehow either that never involved a summary of the premise, or we just forgot it right away. I did remember seeing an unfavorable review of it on Amazon Japan that talked about how it was trying too hard to be deep and philosophical about death.

There was one other thing we knew about it, which we found out when we got our copies of the books to translate: there were apparently two main characters, and one of them looked like a slightly grown-up Yukine (from Noragami, for those of you who for some reason aren't reading Noragami even though we will disown you as friends until you do). So we were excited to get started on it, for very superficial reasons.

And now I will tell you all what it's about, so you can know, unless you'd rather not know (because sometimes it's fun to be surprised about something, but if that's true, I guess you probably wouldn't be reading this review yet, or you've already read the book, but anyway), in which case skip this paragraph...and maybe stop reading the review until after you've read the book. The main point of it is that a person's soul is like... Okay, I have to say that as I try to write a summary of this, I flashback to Disney's Alice in Wonderland, when the March Hare is trying to explain what an unbirthday is.

Okay, so the idea is that a person's soul has, like, a plan for the soul's life, which so far seems to mostly just include how long the soul is supposed to live in each body (because when the body dies, it goes into the next body for reincarnation), but anyway, if a person dies in an accident or a murder, unless that accident or murder was part of the soul's plan, the soul shatters into pieces which stain the place where it happened, making it a negative point that throws off other people's souls' plans. So to prevent that from happening, you have Sakurai and Amano, whose job it is to clean up those spots, and if someone is trying to kill himself or herself, then they make sure the soul leaves the body without breaking, so it can go on to its next life and not make a negative point.

And that's all just the premise, so there's plenty of story that we haven't told you. And now that I've written the premise, it seems to make a little less sense than it did when we were just reading (translating) the book, so go read it, and hopefully the premise won't seem so flawed. I do think that the premise is a little flawed, and not just because it's not what I believe about the purpose and existence of souls. I mean, it keeps saying over and over that a person's life is 90% planned ahead of time, but they keep running into these "unplanned" accidents. But the point is to create a starting point from which to ponder the issues that are brought up in the series.

We like the series mostly because of the characters. Sakurai and Amano (he's the Yukine-lookalike) are a lot of fun. Amano even acts kind of a lot like Yukine! It's fun to translate both of them. There was one part where Sakurai got really really mad, and we think a lot of people would probably have been swearing at that point, but Sakurai seems a little too goodie-two-shoes for that. Usually if we don't want someone to swear, then we'll write around it or something, but Sakurai seems just the type to use fake swearing when he's upset enough (and he's a little high-strung), so that's what we did! We just really liked that.

We did have a bit of a problem with Megumi Kanzaki. She uses a feminine speech pattern, but in a vulgar kind of way. So we think we got her attitude right, but then somebody commented on how she talks like a woman, and we were like, "Is that going to be lost on the readers? ...Probably. But at least she talked about girly things like makeup and spa treatments?" Maybe if we'd had her call someone honey, but I don't think there was a good place to put it in the conversation in which it was brought up. Ah well.


And of course this reminds us that we have two reviews to write, soon to be three. And to add to the list of things we need to catch up on, we do remember that there was a chapter of Fruits Basket Another last Friday. At least it should be really easy to access if we get to it today. We have so many things to catch up on. We haven't watched this week's Sailor Moon SuperS! (Speaking of which, this is my reminder to people who were interested and didn't have time before to check out the last two episodes with the Amazon Trio, because they're SO GOOD!!! (Of course, if you still don't have time, let us know and we'll remind you again later.))

Today I'm thankful for finishing our first draft of Your Lie in April, the Pizza Hut Triple Treat Box and its amusing packaging, having a lovely time at the Relief Society activity last night, getting to work on Livingstone, and reminders to catch up on Fruits Basket Another.
Comments 
11th-Nov-2015 11:11 pm (UTC)
Hahaha. Nice timing on that reminder!! (but really, thank you for remembering!)

I've been curious about Livingstone ever since... well, not since they asked me if I wanted to letter it because I said no thanks then, but since I found out you were translating it (after turning it down myself) and went "Aww man..." (it's okay now because I don't want to think about what my life would be like with another series). But still, Noragami isn't the sort of series I would normally pick up either (how did I even start watching it, anyway? it must have been part of my soul's plan :) ), and yet I adore it, so I do think I ought to take more chances. How do you like the series now that you've translated more volumes?
12th-Nov-2015 02:43 am (UTC)
Ha, ha, ha, I know, right? It sort of occurred to me last week (which I think was light for you?), but never at a time when I was posting.

Haha, yeah, it's probably good for your sanity that you turned it down. But we definitely agree that it can be fun to try something outside of your normal "thing", especially when it turns out to be awesome like Noragami. However you decided to watch it, we're glad you did! We're pretty sure you were inspired.

As for Livingstone, we've only done one other volume so far, but we're still enjoying it. As I said in the review, the premise is flawed, but other than that, the story is pretty solid, and the characters are fun. In volume two, the writer says something about how the series went on hiatus for a long time while he and the artist and the editor all had Life going on, and his perspective changed during that time, so the story's going to go in a different direction than originally planned. I think I like the post-hiatus stories just a little bit better, so we'll see how that turns out.
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