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Alethea & Athena
Noragami volume 14 
25th-May-2016 04:45 pm
We got hit with a scheduling problem and we don't know what to do about it, so we're stalling by updating LiveJournal. See, we're working on one book that's allegedly due on June 3, which is not a problem in and of itself. We have another book due on June 7, which is also not a problem, especially since under normal circumstances, we'd have the first book done several days before June 3, thus giving us even more time on the second one. The first wrench in the works came in the form of a trip to visit family, which is something we really don't want to pass up on, but is looking like it might take more days than we can spare. We could still do it with a little elbow grease, though, if not for...the second wrench! Dun dun DUN!

We got an email today about a series that seems to be flying low under everyone's radar, because suddenly we all realized that the next volume needs to be translated, and fast. Ideally it will be finished by June 6, but it can potentially wait until June 10, and it may have to. We would probably just start working harder and say what will be will be, but it's a little hard, because we're pretty darn sure the first book won't actually be needed for another month or two, but the last time we tried to ask for an extension from that publisher, all we got was, "How about you turn it in before the next workday, instead of at the end of that Friday?" So not only is the sooner deadline one we think can be put off, but it's for a publisher we don't like as much and we suspect they won't even look at it until days after we turn it in (which is understandable; everybody's busy). But we don't </i>know</i> how urgent it is, which is why we tend to prioritize based on deadline generally. So we're trying to decide if we want to put it off in favor of titles that we're pretty sure are more urgent, and we're kind of at a loss.

But in the meantime, it's Review Rednesday! And a volume of Noragami came out last week! I'm pretty sure we have a backlog of non-Noragami reviews to post, but since Noragami is still on a monthly release schedule, I think we'll go ahead and post the review now. Spoiler level: pretty high.

We should maybe be working right now, because we may actually need to finish three translations this week instead of the two we originally thought. But the last several days have been so hectic that the only method of survival is strict compartmentalization, and I'm already afraid we don't care about what happened in this volume as much as maybe we normally would if we hadn't been rushed and stressed and distracted beyond reason.

So anyway, what DID happen in this volume? Oh yeah. Tsuguha! Of course that's the main thing, but it doesn't happen until the last chapter, so let's talk about the other stuff first. Actually, I think what caught my attention the most was Hiyori's brother! When she first started telling Yato that he was back, my question was, "Is he worshiping the same god that possessed the real Koto? Because something's fishy here." The timing just seemed too perfect. On the other hand, it was a pretty major crisis for his family, and he's not heartless after all, so maybe he really did go back out of the kindness of his heart. Also, he didn't seem as easily moved to tears as Hiyori led us to believe in volume nine. Or was it eight? The one where she runs off to Yomi.

Oh, but speaking of the chapter where Hiyori tells Yato about her brother being back, I just want to say that I'm not entirely in agreement with Ebisu's philosophy about religion. He does make a good point about people saving each other, and I think that often the divine helps people by sending other people, but it's not because ONLY people can save people, but because we're all learning to be like Christ, and if we want to do that, we have to learn to save people, too. But I digress.

That chapter was just a bunch of Yato angst, and I kind of think he was being a bit of a baby, but they've been saying all along that he hasn't really grown up, and who of us has, really? And when he found out about Hiyori's birthday, that was awesome.

As for Hiyori's brother! I kind of suspected that maybe this mysterious Kai'i Sera was related to Hiyori somehow, especially when he started talking about not wanting to take over the family business, but I was still suspicious of Hiyori's actual brother, and this artist guy didn't seem that bad. I will say that it was an interesting challenge figuring out how to get him to tell his story about his friend without giving the whole thing away. Why did the painter and the ghost have to be different genders? I think we did a pretty good job of not making it obvious that we were avoiding pronouns, so hopefully what will happen is that the readers will get to the plot twist and think, "They're helping the her!? But Sera said... *flipflipflip* *reread* ...Oh." Of course, I'm betting that some astute readers will be like, "Aha! I knew it was going to be the ghost when they refused to use any pronouns!" I think the "this person" might be a bit of a giveaway. Fortunately, though, Sera is a new character, so it could just be that he talks funny. (We also considered the possibility of letting the reader assume that Ryoichi Uno is a trans woman, which would make "she" a completely acceptable pronoun, but I don't know how many readers would assume that before thinking, "Oh, they must be talking about somebody else.")

Then at the end of that chapter, Adachitoka subtly reveals that GASP! he really is Hiyori's brother...and I forgot where I was going with this, because I interrupted myself to add something to an earlier paragraph. ...Oh right! That was when we realized that Adachitoka also subtly revealed that Hiyori's family has been able to talk to ghosts and stuff all along. I was like, "Do you realize, they just confirmed that Hiyori's family CAN see ghosts?" and we were like, "Whoa." Because in the last volume, their mother was talking to Hiyori's spirit form. I think I mentioned in that review that we weren't sure if it was because she could see the supernatural or if it was because she was possessed by an ayakashi, but now I think we know for sure. Still not sure why she would have charged into the mob with a knife (or broken glass or whatever it was), though. It really doesn't seem like the best way to defuse such a dangerous situation, especially one taking place in a hospital. Oh well.

Anyway, the next chapter engendered a typo which has been giving me more amusement than I would normally expect. Maybe I'm just that tired. But Yato tells Hiyori that the black thing is like a grim reaper, and for some reason, I typed "grim reader," which we decided to define as a reader of very disturbing literature, and now it makes me smile inside every time I think of it. Hiyori's grandmother seems like a nice lady. It looks like she's lived a good, long life, too, so we weren't too shaken up by the news of the grim reaper. It was pretty awesome when she pulled that bow and arrow on Yato, though.

And then, there was the last chapter. Of course, they were building up to it the whole time, and man, I really hoped they were going to find a way to fix it, because Tsuguha gets all the rotten luck. I was pretty disappointed when Kazuma killed her anyway, but I guess I was just in too much of a rush to let it get me down. Or maybe I was with Kazuma, "It was the right thing. It was the right thing." That's just how the stories go sometimes. I do think that it didn't feel like some stories do when they just go around killing off characters for the dramatic effect--it feels like this really is an important part of what's going to happen all around. But man, poor Tsuguha! She gets all the rotten luck, as indicated by the way she died. That was pretty awful.

But the scariest part! Oh man, poor Kazuma, trying so hard to do the right thing. When that image of Tsuguha's head flashed across his mind, I was like, "Oh no! Is he gonna turn!?" Not to mention the fact that Yukine's name has been nicked, too! Aaaaah! But the scariest part! Was when Kazuma cast that spell on Yukine. I don't know if that scary monster thing showed up because it was Kazuma's most powerful use of that spell yet, or if it was just because, since it was Yukine, we got to see what it looked/felt like from the perspective of the victim, but either way, it was intense. And the best part! was when Yukine broke free of it. Awww, that's our little Blessedito (<--not sure I'm attached to that term, but I'm kind of digging it here). But it was also so sad, because he trusted Kazuma! And I love it all, because I guess I'm a sadist, but they're both trying their best to do the best that they can with the information and the goals and the loyalties that they have. But oh man, how is this going to play out in the next volume!?

Then there was the Godfathers. It was pretty funny, but we hated it. All the yakuza terms! But it was called the Godfathers, so we wanted to use American mafia terms as much as we could, and wouldn't ya know it, the yakuza and the mafia don't actually have quite the same organizational structure? I think we managed to get it all close enough, but it was really hard to pin Kofuku's role in the family. The term was motojime, which refers either to the person supplying all the money for something, OR the boss, like of a gambling establishment. Either one kind of worked, so we went with underboss...but then Ebisu's role (wakagashira) turned out to be more of the underboss role, so we had to change it. The list of mafia terms that Wikipedia gave us didn't seem to have anything that matched for Kofuku, so we just went with racketeer. But once we got all the terms out of the way, the whole story really is pretty good. I'm also happy to see a reference to multi-level marketing schemes, in a twisted kind of way, because that's what Jamberries are! ...Which reminds me, we need to order some more.

I think that covers it. Kind of a rushed review for a rushed translation. Hopefully we'll have more yoyuu for the next volume.

Whew, that was a fun review. What a nice pick-me-up before we dive into the scheduling madness.

Today I'm thankful for managing to finish that chapter of My Dear Cramer (it was so hard! it took so long!), making a little bit of progress on another book (which we may or may not set aside), having plans to see the fam, getting to be amused at The Godfathers now that there's some distance between us, and it still being cool enough for Page to burrow under blankets.
26th-May-2016 12:17 am (UTC)
Knowing that publisher, if you explain the situation, they should understand and be able to clarify what needs to happen when, for them to stay on track. I think they don't have a great concept of what weekends are (or even what normal weekday working hours are...) and that may be why they didn't realize last time that giving you an extension consisting of saturday and sunday doesn't really help anything. Maybe propose a new deadline that you think would be better, and see what they say. This publisher also lately is fond of sending me partial scripts, so if you could finish the first half by the original deadline and the second half later, or some other arrangement, they might be up for that too. (lettering from partial scripts at a time is not my favourite thing, because i feel less efficient if i have to switch back and forth between tasks, but sometimes it's the only way...)

Oh, Noragami!!!! Oh, this volume!!!

Oh, grabbing half a dozen volumes (or 3, anyway) every time I read one of your reviews... I found the Hiyori's brother crying reference toward the beginning of v9. I do think that line is consistent with his overprotective-big-brother characterization. Whether he really was near tears, or was exaggerating for effect, or Adachitoka were the ones exaggerating for the sake of establishing his character (since he isn't shown at the time, we need some way of perceiving his reaction to her suspicious running off and using him as an excuse), I don't quite know, but...

Yeah, I don't agree with Ebisu's perspective on religion. Like, at all? But of course, because these characters exist in a very different religion than what I/we believe is the truth. It's established that human desires/wishes create these gods, which is the opposite of a God who created all things (and not because He needed us—He's totally sufficient in himself). So the gods of Noragami(/shintoism) exist for humans, while according to the Christian faith we all exist for God. (our pastor just referenced the Westminster Shorter Catechism's "What is man's chief end? To glorify God and enjoy Him forever" on Sunday.) Everything Ebi says makes sense in the context of the series so I'm not complaining that it should be otherwise, but it is a reminder that while religious beliefs can share similarities or a common root, that doesn't make them all true or right, and a reminder to think about what I read and weigh it against what I know.

I keep forgetting how much I enjoyed some of the earlier events of this volume because of the last chapter. But the Iki family reunion was really fun and happy and I was relieved that Yato being a dork and distancing himself from Hiyori (and going through creepy withdrawal symptoms) only lasted one chapter. Phew. Oh yeah, going back to the previous chapter, I didn't notice the pronoun avoidance until the second read through when I knew what was coming and what to look for. So it worked on me, anyway. (also... oh yeah, was this the one I read ahead before you had and made you sad? sorry again for that, and for bringing it up, but I realized I must've been skimming/not comprehending a lot of it (and/or I was half-asleep, which is likely, by my usual reading-before-bed habits) because I remember being surprised by the "the ghost girl was the friend!" twist when I read it in English.)

Now the last chapter. I still think the scariest part was the flashback Tsuguha kept getting. That falling face, ugh man. I still flip quickly past those pages every time they catch the corner of my eye. Creepy creepy. It's just the worst for poor Tsuguha :( :( :( The monster/skull that showed up behind Yukine during the spell I found more beautiful[ly rendered] than scary, although it was also incredibly heart-wrenching because of the betrayed trust. Ohhh!! I was so proud of Yukine breaking through the spell but it still hurt. Hurts. *sniff*
26th-May-2016 06:54 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the encouragement! We emailed our editor and he said it would be okay to turn it in later, so we've arranged our schedule accordingly and things are looking much better now. The only problem is now we're in high Kingdom Hearts mode, which makes it difficult to switch over, even if it is Noragami. (The same would happen in reverse.)

But back to Noragami...

That's the thing about the crying, though! It does fit with an overprotective big brother persona, but "overprotective brother" is not the type of impression he gives when we actually meet him in this volume. ...At least, I don't think it is. This volume seems so long ago... The point is there might be some details I'm forgetting that made him seem more like an overprotective brother in that volume than I'm remembering.

I don't think that Shintoism works exactly like it's described in Noragami. I could be wrong, but nothing in our research has indicated that people who worship Shinto deities necessarily believe that those deities only exist because people wished for them (they have a divine creation story and everything, after all). On the other hand, I think a lot of modern people of all religions believe that the stories were made up and they just like to follow them, like the people in the Tinker Bell extras who, after making up a story in their heads, are glad to know that when they see grass growing through the sidewalk, it's the fairies (that they made up) who did that. And the way people worship superheroes and Star Wars these days...

Anyway, like I said in the review, I don't think Ebisu is 100% wrong--even the way you describe the purpose of existence isn't entirely at odds with his philosophy. If man's chief end is to glorify God, one way to do that would be through helping His other children, and thus people are expected to at least help in the work of salvation. But of course, that salvation wouldn't be complete without Christ's Atonement, which is where Athena and I have our major disagreement with Ebisu--he seems to think (like many people today) that God is unnecessary, and we disagree. Of course, based on the way the Noragami world is set up, that may be true for that world, and that's okay, because it's fiction, but we feel the need to point out that we disagree, because people (including us) do use entertainment to help them clarify their belief systems.

Aaaaanyway. Yeah, this volume was actually pretty lighthearted until the end. Yato is so silly. More and more, it becomes clear that he never really got a chance to grow up. And yay, the pronoun avoidance wasn't obvious! We just have a thing about it since Akito, and because of that increased sensitivity, we're super aware of times when writers are clearly avoiding using pronouns. It's silly a lot of the time, too, because there was one episode of Psych where they were trying not to use pronouns, but nobody knew who the people they were looking at were, so they totally could have used whatever pronoun they wanted and nobody would be like, "Ugh, how dare they use 'he' when the culprit turned out to be a woman!" And sometimes in video game translations...

I don't know, I didn't think the face was that creepy. I guess we all have different things that hit our creepy buttons. I flipped back to the skull thing, and that definitely creeped me out more, especially with that weird contraption keeping the jaw open. Of course, I might have a higher sensitivity to that right now, since I've recently had so much dental work done... Oh, but poor Yukine! And poor Kazuma! And poor everybody.
26th-May-2016 07:52 pm (UTC)
...is that to say you're translating KH now? *panicking a little* (but it's a good thing if so, but my schedule, but more KH finally, but...)

When Yato "onii-sama"s Masaomi, I though his reaction went to defensive-instinct pretty quickly, and he seemed to keep a suspicious edge through the conversation/introductions that followed (compared to his interactions with Yato earlier, when he was more just generally condescending). Then (I just noticed this one while flipping through last night) when Grandmother shoots the arrow, we see him with his arm protectively around Hiyori. ...I guess those bits, along with the way her parents also tend to be protective of her, and the expectation that in manga all big brothers are protective of their little sisters, convinced me?

And I appreciate all you had to say in the review (and now in your comment) on the topic of religion(s) and God! I wasn't trying to disagree with you about how much we should disagree with Ebisu :) His comment was just one that made me think, "Whoa, that's different" when I read it. (as a fan, I may have also been disgruntled with the notions that Yato shouldn't pursue his own wish, and that near-shore-dwellers [aka Hiyori] shouldn't be close to the far-shore.) I agree that, of course, we should be the ones taking action to help people (while recognizing that we are equipped and enabled to do so only by God working through us... but yeah, I would for sure say that He wants us to do this). I also agree that it's all too easy to set our faith/beliefs on our own ideas, whether that's admiring the fairies in the grass or making God into a reflection of my own human, culturally-influenced understanding of the world and right/wrong, rather than accepting Him as He is revealed in the Bible. All good stuff to think about! And this is why I love Noragami even when I disagree with its (or it's characters') worldview :D

Ahaha, ohh yeah, I can't blame you at all for heightened sensitivity to depictions of jaw-torture :( I hope this break before the next procedure lets you regain some comfort!
26th-May-2016 08:54 pm (UTC)
Oh, all very good points. Thanks for the reminder! And pointing out when Masaomi was protecting Hiyori! That's so adorable!

Yeah, I love Ebisu, but I just don't always agree with him. Actually, we've come across his view on religion a few times before, and of course we never agreed on it then, either. (But come to think of it, it was always in anime or manga or video games, so maybe Shintoism does have something to do with it, after all.) Anyway, yes! Learning about other religions really is great...even if the reason you're doing it is to understand a comic book. XD

Thanks! I hope so, too!
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