First of all, the frontispiece...that's what it's called, right? the picture that goes before the title page? but it's also the title page, so maybe it's just the title page...anyway, whatever it is, it's adorable. Also adorable: little Ebisu. Like, oh my goodness, he is so stinking cute. The cutest is on the first page of Chapter 35.
So this volume focused mainly on Ebisu and his goals and motivations, and it's funny, because Adachitoka says now he's shown his true colors. And he's been kind of ambiguous up until this volume, but you always got the sense that he was maybe not the nicest guy...and then the twist is that he's like the nicest guy EVER. He's so cute and so sad. And when his hair is messed up, he's incredibly attractive.
There was some discussion, though, about why it would be that Ebisu looks older than Yato. I mean, based on everything they've said about Ebisu, it wouldn't make sense for him to be older than Yato, because Yato's been around at least since Bishamon's shinki all destroyed themselves. The discussion was really short though, because we were in the middle of working, so there were constant distractions (by which I mean work). It went like this:
Me: Why is it that Ebisu looks older than Yato?
(pause while we continue to work on this passage)
Athena: It's not the years it's the mileage?
So yeah, now Ebisu is one of my favorite characters! Too bad he's dead. Speaking of his death, there was the very sad part where he says he doesn't want to die, and then he dies. (Athena just looked up the page for fact checking purposes. Oh my goodness, he looks so sad.) And there's a sound effect, and we struggled a little with that sound effect, because we didn't want it to sound too silly when the scene is so dramatic and sad, but how do you deal with a sound effect like that? We described it to each other as, "It's like a kapow, but squishier."
Incidentally, I kept some notes about our reactions to things in the volume so we could put them in the review, because we tend to comment on the story while we're working and we wanted to share! I have something written here that says, "Aww, Ebisu opened a vent!" because that's what Kofuku does; she opens vents. And she calls herself Ebisu, so now we have both Ebisus opening up vents, and we thought it was cute. But then we added, "But I think Kofuku's true love is Daikoku...ten." And that's probably not fair either, because Daikoku Daikoku is probably her true love, but I was thinking of the other Daikoku, Okuninushi, and it took me a second to realize that it didn't come across that way. So I added the ten.
We do think that Kofuku probably has or had a crush on Okuninushi, though, based on the way she acted when she saw him at the Divine Council, and the way she named her shinki. Of course, that might have been a strictly business-motivated move, and maybe she just glomps everyone, but who can say?
Most of our other notes involved Yukine and Hiyori. Team Yato is our favorite favorite group of characters, so this volume didn't seem like quite as much fun because they weren't in it so much. Maybe if we could have sympathized with Ebisu sooner...it was hard, though, because the first time around, they're making all kinds of references to Shinto mythology and we're like, "Whatever, it'll make sense later," so we didn't understand the full meaning of everything. The second time we went over it, we were constantly interrupted by having to stop and look up Shinto terms and names and stuff, so it was almost impossible to get emotionally invested in anything. I thought maybe it would be nicer the third time through (for something that has so many interruptions during editing, it is almost imperative that we go over it a third time to make sure everything still makes sense and important words didn't get left out while everything was being changed), because it would be a nice leisurely read...but by then we were just too tired. Our brains were smashed.
And most of the smashing was caused by a single page. I love Okuninushi, but I'm really mad at him right now. He's the one that said something that caused us to do research for three hours or so without finding the answer to the question. According to Okuninushi, he was feared as a spider and/or a bear and was sealed away because of it. We thought, "Oh, this should be no problem. We'll just look up Okuninushi and see what kind of stories there are about him being sealed away."
Can you guess how many we found? If you guessed zero, you'd be right! Unless it counts when he said, "Okay, fine, Amaterasu. Your kid can have Izumo, and I'll go retire to Yomi for a while." That still doesn't tell us anything about spiders or bears, though! We did find out that there's a ninja move that's named after spiders, with the alternative name of Okuninushi. And on Yahoo! Answers (the Japanese version), someone asked a question and someone else came along and said, "Yeah, because Okuninushi is a spider. And a snake." And that was all they said! Nothing about why he's a spider or a snake, just that he is, like everybody just knows that. And the only thing we found about bears was some thing about some term that can be pronounced kumo or kuma (spider, bear) and arrrrrrgh!
So we gave up and decided to move on. Then Ebisu is asking Iwami about all his names, and Iwami says yeah, if you count all your saijinmei. I'm tired just remembering it. That turned out not to be a simple dictionary search, either, because saijin (without the mei (name)) is a Shinto term that seems to refer more to a shrine than a god (like, it's the list of gods that are worshiped at a given shrine). But saijinmei is not so common a term. We Googled it and came across a list of some of Okuninushi's saijinmei. And we were still pretty bummed out about losing the battle with bears, so we took every single one of those names and checked them at Wikipedia to see if maybe one of them was a bear deity.
As it turns out, one of the names took us to the page of gods enshrined at Kumano (bear field). And! two of those gods had been sealed away! What! We were sure we had it! This was the bear that was sealed away! ...Or maybe not. The name that was given to Okuninushi was not one of the names of the gods that was sealed away. The frustrating thing about that is that the one that was sealed away and the name given to Okuninushi were both gods that were born from someone's saliva at the time Izanagi was running from Izanami. So they're like twins, but only the one that wasn't Okuninushi got sealed away. Assuming we're even reading it right. But the point is AAAARRRRRRGH!
So when we ordered manga today, we ordered a local history of Izumo part one. We would have gotten part two, too, but they were both $20, and we weren't ready to spend that much. We're trying to make sure we have enough money to go to Japan.
But back to our other review notes. First of all Kouto! This is what I wrote about him: "Oh, that Kouto. He's either Yato's dad or some other creepy stalker type." Seriously, why is he following Hiyori like that? And why does he have to be so stealthy about it? [And why was I suddenly spelling his name with a U?]
And speaking of Hiyori, this is what I have written about her: "I'll be fine as long as I don't get my lifeline cut." Not dangerous foreshadowing at all. Suddenly the last chapter title makes sense.
Turns out, she wasn't the one who died in that chapter, but she hasn't found Yato again yet, so she's still in trouble. It did occur to me that if they're going all the way to the underworld to rescue Yato, that definitely seems like a potential situation for Yukine to get promoted again. But man, this volume. There was so much action in it, it was like nothing happened!
And of course we can't do a volume of Noragami without commenting on Yukine. First of all, on page 54 (Japanese version), when he forbids Hiyori to go to Izumo, we had to ask, "Do hands really look that weird when you point at people like that?"
Second of all, we tend to look at his outfits and think, "That's an odd fashion choice..." And then we remember where he probably gets his clothes. On the other hand, if he's working for Kofuku, does she pay him? This sounds like a question for Stray Stories. Too bad that magazine got discontinued. Surely there ought to be a volume two someday!
Yukine was pretty great in this volume, though. He always is, because we play favorites! But his battle with Kugaha was really cool. I just like it when they talk through the battle. But the psychological warfare was pretty great. I'm not sure I like Kazuma's way of putting it, where you just look down on everybody, but I do think it's important to be confident.
Speaking of that battle, we were a little unsure about having Kugaha shout, "Strays rule!" The alternative was, "Strays are the best!" and that just doesn't sound quite so victorious. But we weren't sure if the kids say "rule" like that anymore, so we went to Urban Dictionary to find out. Then all the definitions for "rule" were like fifteen years old, and we were like,"Hrrrrm..." But then we found one for 2008 that had the definition we were looking for, and we thought, "Close enough!"
We had a super hard time with this volume, and not just because of research, either. There was the aforementioned "Strays rule" line...speaking of which, it wasn't until more than an hour after we turned in the script that I finally made the connection, "Oh, Ebisu thinks he's like a stray because he and strays have multiple names!" D'oh. But that is an interesting fact that's now been emphasized: every god in this series has more than one name, even Tenjin, who hates strays so much. I wonder how that aspect will be explored in the future of the series.
But anyway, I have a note that is a classic example of what makes Noragami so hard. Yato had a line that was basically, "Is now really the time to be saying that?" We get the feeling that for any other series, we would have had no trouble coming up with a good way to word that, and yet for Noragami, we agonize over it. That's why, when I'm feeling really insecure, I wonder if we weren't the right choice for translating this series. But on the other hand, I think the struggle comes from loving the characters so much that we want to make sure they're saying the line in the most perfect, in-character way, with the best level of humor and/or drama to fit the situation. It's not even that important a line!
Then, when we're agonizing over such things, we think, "Okay, fine, we'll look up the Japanese word." And then we ask ourselves why we didn't look it up when we went through it the first time, to which Athena's response was, "We knew what it meant then."
And now we don't know what it means. But the difference is, we know the word well enough to know what it means, generally, so in the first pass we just type up a translation and move on. In the second pass, we want to make sure we get all the nuance right, so we look it up to make sure we know what the nuance is. We also sometimes go to Weblio's J-E dictionary to see if it offers up a really good English word that we might not have thought of. That's one of the really tricky things about translation: sometimes the best word isn't easily accessible in your vocabulary. And that's why we're grateful for dictionaries and other translation tools.
Anyway, despite how exhausting this volume was to translate, it was really great, and we hope you all enjoy it, too! And we hope the new Ebisu is as nice as this one, but we're still sad to see him go. Oh man, how awful was that--it's okay if you die; we'll just take care of the next you. Maybe he actually survived somehow?
Today I'm thankful for getting to reminisce about Noragami 9, the lovely rainy weather, finishing volume two of Corpse Party (it's always a relief to finish a volume of that series), getting to translate another fun chapter of UQ Holder!, and still having lots of cookies to eat.