Monday, July 30, 2012

Volume 6

O K !


Let’s skip me apologizing for the obnoxious delay on this review and just jump right into the delightful newest volume of Seeeraaaa Muuuun.

I absolutely love this cover.  It exemplifies the sweet, sparkly charm and cheer that makes Sailor Moon so appealing to millions of fans of all ages.  You wouldn’t dare call this Chibi Moon “the Scrappy Doo of Sailor Moon,” would you?  Scrappy Doo never looked this cute.  By the way, get your fill of those sexy boots, because the only other full-body cover picture we’ll get is on volume 11.

As far as what comes after the cover, I’m pretty happy.  I didn’t find any typos, misspellings, or grammatical errors.  The translation is accurate and, by and large, more natural-sounding.  Reading Tokyopop and Kodansha side by side, I saw many sloppy Tokyopop errors that were, by the grace of the Ginzuishou, not repeated in Kodansha, including 5(!!) instances where dialog is attributed to the wrong person.

Other general comments before we dive into the nitty-gritty:

Mugen – So, I really don’t care if “mugen” is left as-is or if it’s translated as “infinity”, but I like consistency, and saying Mugen Academy is located in the Infinity District isn’t consistent.  I don’t
understand why the academy is the only place in a whole island of places named Infinity Whatever that uses Mugen instead.

Ten'ô, Kaiô, Meiô – These romanizations are perfectly acceptable, but seem overly complicated to me, especially in the case of Haruka’s name, which has been invaded by an apostrophe.  What’s wrong with Tenou?  It’s nice and easy and doesn’t require me to find that stupid O with a hat.


Haruka being referred to as “she” before she is officially revealed to be female - Usagi and everyone else refer to Haruka as a "he" because they believe she's a man.  In Tokyopop, no one starts referring to her as a "she" until she reveals herself as Sailor Uranus and starts dressing as a woman.  In Kodansha, however, Usagi uses the feminine pronoun before she's certain of Haruka's gender.  Haruka doesn't make an appearance in womanly garb until later in the act, and her identity as Sailor Uranus doesn't come to light until the next act, so why would Usagi suddenly use "she" here?

Unlike English, Japanese doesn't require a subject in every sentence, and it uses the 3rd person pronouns for he (kare) and she 彼女 (kanojo) sparingly.  It's easy to talk about someone in Japanese without revealing their gender, whereas in English, you have no choice unless you want to sound a bit weird and use they and their for a singular subject.  Thus, the translators must decide which pronouns to insert.  "He" is the most logical option based on what the characters know at this point in the story.

One the other hand, Usagi is experiencing some serious confusion about Haruka's identity right around now, and just had a pretty kinky dream about him / her, so I could accept that as an argument for why she might say "she" at this very moment.  Furthermore, to quote Haruka herself: "Man?  Woman?  Does it really matter that much?"

I've decided to start commenting more on the story itself, rather than just the differences in translation and adaptation.  Those comments will appear at the end of this post.  I wish I could make a separate jump cut for them, but that doesn't seem to be possible.  I considered making a separate post for story comments, but decided against it.  If anyone has any feedback on how I should format everything, I'd love to hear it.

THE GOOD STUFF!

FIXING MISATTRIBUTED QUOTATIONS

As I said before, Tokyopop had a serious problem with putting the wrong words in the wrong speech bubbles.


On the previous page, Michiru remarks that Professor Tomoe has been expelled / ousted from most academic circles.  Mamoru then repeats that key word in this panel with surprise.  I'm not sure how "expelled?" ended up in Tokypop Michiru's bubble, but it's caused confusion for both the readers and Mamoru.

Tokyopop's panel makes it look like Usagi is trying to convince herself to come out of hiding, when in actuality, those words belong to Haruka, and Usagi's real thoughts just aren't translated.  I have no clue how this mistake could have been made.  I turn to the next page, and...


Both text bubbles belong to Makoto, and the smaller handwritten text belongs to Rei.  Tokyopop attributes the bigger text bubble to Rei and shoves her little, exasperated "M-Mako-chan!" in there for good measure.  I think it's pretty clear that both bubbles belong to the same person, because the Japanese "warui kedo!" is a connecting phrase ("sorry, but--!")  Besides which, all Haruka said before this was "what a coincidence (that we're both here on the same mountain)" so Makoto shouting "too bad!" at him seems awfully abrasive.


The scan of the Japanese manga cut off some of the text, but you can see enough of it to get the correct idea.  Kaolinite is warning Mimette not to be overzealous in the execution of her plan.  Tokyopop puts that warning in a bubble right in front of Mimette's face, giving the impression that she can boss around her superior without getting a daimon egg shoved up her ass.  Her evil plans for "the violinist" are completely excluded.


Hey, Tokyopop!  Why do you think that chunk of text saying "I washed it, but couldn't get the bloodstains out" is accompanied by a chibi drawing of Ikuko-mama?  It's because she's the one who said it.  She's not just popping in to remind you that she's still a character in the Sailor Moon manga. 

 OTHER NICE IMPROVEMENTS



 Tokyopop's translation can be read two ways, both of which are incorrect: 
(1)  "Everything around me seems like a dream now..." Usagi is supposed to be saying that the fight with Black Moon seems like a dream, not her current life.
(2)  "The vicious fight with the Black Moon over the future of the Earth seems like a dream now.  Everything around me...Peaceful days are here again."  The second half is a fragmented thought.
The future Earth is not mentioned in Kodansha and it should be, but I'm not nitpicky enough to dock points for that.


As I said at the beginning of this post, Japanese sentences don't always have a subject, which is why a mixup like this is even possible.  Haruka just gave Usagi some tips for a racing game that they're both playing.  By following her advice, she manages to catch up the other racers, but wipes out after reaching a speed of 300 miles per hour.  Tokyopop's take on the situation is entirely different.  Instead of putting the advice into practice, Usagi gapes at how fast Haruka is going and wipes out because she's presumably not paying attention to her own screen.

Even though there aren't any subjects being used here, the key word that tells us who's talking about who is bankai 挽回 , which means to make a recovery or comeback.  Usagi, the new and inexperienced player, is the one who needs to make a comeback in this race.  Tokyopop's idea about Haruka lapping the other drivers is not expressed anywhere in the Japanese.



Tokyopop demoted Chibiusa from class president to "on the student council."  It's hard enough getting some fans to believe that Chibiusa grows as a character and becomes worth her salt; we don't need the problem exacerbated by sneaky semantics, Tokyopop! 


Usagi just asked Haruka if she's a Sailor Senshi, and is freaking out about it because duuuh baka Usagi, she's a dude.  Haruka's response in Tokyopop is odd for two reasons.  Number one, "scout" is used for senshi, and it doesn't have the right connotation.  What do you mean, do I like "scouts?"  Like, Boy Scouts?  Is there fighting in the Boy Scouts?  Number two, what is a "battle game?"  Is that like, Bakuman or something?  Honestly, I would not know what to say to Haruka here.  Probably, "Uumm....no?"

At least "war games" is a phrase that is in current usage, and people do "play" them rather than "be in" them.  "Soldiers" would be better than "guardians", but this release has already made its choice for how to translate senshi, so I'm not going to keep shouting at that sailed ship.


Referring to Michiru Kaioh as an IT?  That's just rude.  I'd expect better decorum from someone who attends a violin performance.  On Kodansha's side, where did the o in Kaio's triangular hat go?  I bet the letterer got sick of finding it in the symbols menu just like I do.


"We can't stay here any longer" could refer to staying up in that tree; I'm pretty sure that's how I read it the first time.  As in, the enemies are swarming the premises, so this tree is no longer a safe hiding spot.  Of course, they're really talking about how they can no longer attend Mugen Gakuen as students, now that their cover has been blown.  There's no need for this ambiguity because the Japanese includes the word gakuen 学園, which means school / academy.

THE NOT SO GOOD STUFF!


Just think about Kodansha's grammar for a minute:  "He's the first genius racer in a long time that Japan can be proud of!"  Doesn't that suggest that Japan has had other genius racers but couldn't be proud of any of them?  I also don't prefer the word "genius" being used to describe a race car driver, not because I doubt their intelligence, but because "genius" suggests someone academically smart.  I probably would've used "brilliant" as a translation for tensai 天才 instead.

Ok, I can't really blame anybody for getting confused with this scene, and at the end of the day, who's talking to who doesn't really matter that much, but I just had to comment about this because there's an obvious discrepancy in the translations.  I am 99% certain that Kaolinite is talking to the Witches 5, not Master Pharaoh 90.  My two pieces of supporting evidence are the way keigo (polite speech) is being used and the fact that the Witches 5 are shown standing in front of her on the next page. 

Tokyopop's translation of the 3rd panel is correct.  In the Japanese, Kaolinite uses oshatta おしゃった, the polite / deferent rendition of "say", when referring to something that the Master said in the middle of her sentence, but ends her thought--as well as her thoughts in the preceding panel--using a casual verb form.  This indicates that she's speaking to someone equal to or beneath her in rank, which Pharoah 90 decidedly is not.

Now that we've established that Pharoah 90 isn't present and isn't being spoken to, we can draw a strong conclusion that the person or persons making the polite apology of moushiwake gozaimasen もうしわけございません in the first panel is one or all of the Witches 5 to Kaolinite, not Kaolinite to Pharoah 90. 

"Kyaan" really isn't a sound effect you're going to encounter in English.  "Yipe", on the other hand, is a classic and comical rendition of a shout.


I consider this to be Haruka's trademark quote, and it just doesn't have the same impact in Kodansha.  Thinking it's OK for a woman to lose to a man and thinking you will always lose to a man are two different beliefs.  The first one is more abstract and doesn't necessarily indicate that you expect to lose every time because you're a woman.  However, that expectation is exactly what Haruka is trying to challenge.


Admit it: you were starting to think we would get through this volume without any confusing sentence fragments.  This is William Flanagan we're talking about here; he always delivers.


Please, just picture someone you know in real life saying what Haruka says in Kodansha.  Besides sounding redundant, it's unclear what Mercury did that Haruka could've done without.  A yokei na koto よけいなこと is an unnecessary or uncalled for thing.  I like how Tokyopop adapts this as "meddled where she wasn't wanted" because it captures how her actions were unasked for and unappreciated by Haruka and Michiru while still sounding natural.

COMMENTS ON THE STORY ITSELF

THINGS THAT MAKE ME :)

In short, Sailor Moon is at its best when its a character story.  This first volume of the Infinity arc proves this, because the new characters provide the bulk of the excitement and intrigue.

The gender-bending tension and mystery caused by Haruka / Sailor Uranus


Full disclosure: I'm not a big fan of Haruka and Michiru, but I do find them more palatable in the manga than I do in the anime.  I especially like how we're treated to several chapters of Haruka's gender-bending, whereas in the anime, we only get one measly episode. Is Haruka a guy or a lady?  Is he/she a Tuxedo Kamen type character, or a Sailor Senshi?  Are Sailor Uranus and Haruka the same person, or are they twins or something?  These tantalizing questions keep you from putting the book down.

Equally tantalizing is the sexual tension between Usagi and Haruka.  She's obviously attracted to her (or at the very least, intrigued by her) and her attraction seems to be fueled by the fact that she can't quite pinpoint her gender.  I'm so happy that Takeuchi had the balls to have Uranus kiss Sailor Moon.  This just throws Usagi for a loop, and leads to an absolutely smashing dream sequence where Dude Haruka kisses Usagi, then changes into Chick Haruka as she pulls away (bottom half of the above image).  OH, THE CONFUSION!

At the same time, Mamoru has a couple of encounters with Michiru, though none of them are potentially scandalous.  Usagi and Mamoru become a bit jealous of each other's interactions with these two new sexy people, and have a nice makeup scene later in the volume where they honestly discuss their feelings.  It's so much better than the whole "Usagi is jealous of Chibiusa" angle from the Black Moon arc.

More mystery and intrigue with Hotaru


We see Hotaru alone and suffering from some kind of medical issue behind Mugen Gakuen.  She somehow heals Chibi Moon's wound just by touching it.  She's solitary and probably not well-adjusted.  Her dad is a crazy scientist connected to the Death Busters, and she needs a special amulet to control whatever her painful condition is.  She tells Chibiusa to stop hanging around her "because sometime soon, I'm going to stop being me."  She is a veritable enigma wrapped in a mystery.  Who doesn't want to learn more about her?

Chibiusa growing up


Chibiusa was too much of a little kid for most people to truly appreciate in the Black Moon arc.  She cried about her Mama and made stupid little kid decisions--like pilfering the Ginzuishou, the only source of protection for all of Crystal Tokyo--all the time.  Now, in Infinity, we can already see her character growing.  She helps Usagi and Mamoru settle their differences instead of just clinging to Mamoru and calling Usagi a dummy.  She participates in battles without curling up into a ball of tears.  Most of all, she makes an effort to befriend and help Hotaru.  That friendship will be the biggest source of her growth.


THINGS THAT MAKE ME :/

These are mostly smaller plot points that made me furrow my brow or chuckle.

Viluy's Breasts

Viluy's breasts are always terribly drawn.  In the left panel, one of her breasts has suddenly inflated to 3 times it's normal size; perhaps this is a defense mechanism, like that of a blowfish.  In the middle panel and the colored picture from The Materials Collection artbook, she's either not getting enough support from her bustier, or her breasts naturally take the shape of filled Christmas stockings.  Really, those cleavage lines are just not in the right places.

Atavism ain't no big thang


I lived in Japan, and you know what kinds of stories ran on the morning news?  Stories about families of ducks appearing in local ponds, and someone discovering asparagus sprouting out of the sidewalk in front of her house.  On this particular morning in Sailor Moon manga world, the news reported that a student had been horribly attacked by a monster, and police officially state that this is a case of atavism, or genetic regression.  Yes, humans devolving into mindless, primitive, murder machines has been confirmed by Japanese television.  But hey, no biggie.  Hakuna matata, as Timon from The Lion King says.  Chibiusa squees off to kindergarten or whatever the hell grade she's in with nothing but a "be careful out there <3!" from her dad.  Shouldn't he have at least driven her to school? 

Japanese teens owning helicopters


We need to suspend our disbelief to fully enjoy Sailor Moon and fiction in general, but I'm sorry, I am just not havin' this whole business of Haruka and Michiru owning helicopters and using them as their primary form of transportation.  First of all, where are they parking the damn things?  Japan is a crowded place, and schools, supermarkets, and homes barely have any parking spaces for cars, let alone HELIPADS.  Secondly, what kind of douchebag flies to school in a helicopter?  Third, these kids are 17 years old, for God's sake.  When I read manga after manga where teens are rich, famous, ridiculously talented, act like adults in polite society, own helicopters, and vanquish evil, I really start to feel like I wasted my youth.  So just do me a favor and stop being so pretentious, Haruka and Michiru, age 17.   

Paranoid Mamoru

Why does Mamoru respond to Michiru's coquettish comment with 100% seriousness?

"Your eyes are so beautiful...perhaps you were a prince in a previous life."
"HOW THE FUCK DO YOU KNOW ABOUT MY SECRET IDENTITY??!!!"

Hey, Mamoru, ya ever hear of flirting?

THE DAMN HAT! 


This plot development is both hysterical and nonsensical.  An amusement park opens up in the Infinity Delta, and Mamoru brings Chibiusa and a bunch of her little friends for a day of fun.  For some reason, Chibiusa decides to wear a big hat while riding on the rollercoasters, and nobody advises her against this, not even the amusement park workers.  So wouldn't you know it, her hat blows off her head and clear out of the park.  Again, hakuna matata and all that, so Chibiusa says she'll run out of the park and get it by herself.  Apparently that hat caught some serious air, because it somehow blew aaaallll the way behind the gigantic tower of terror that is Mugen Gakuen.  How is this possible?  And why is Chibiusa so delighted about wandering into a vortex of darkness by herself to get a stupid hat?  Just look at the contrast between her smiling face and the shadowy pillar of despair in front of her.

This is the best you could do, Takeuchi?  This was the only way you could think to get Chibiusa near Mugen Gakuen by herself?

Senshi on film

Since Luna and Artemis apparently sit at home all day reading newspapers and grooming each other, they have to rely on instant replays of the Senshi's battles to stay in the loop.  But how does this recording system work?  Is everything being recorded all the time?  If that's the case, wouldn't the cats have gotten that kiss between Uranus and Moon on film?  That's hot.

Lame action scene

Takeuchi is not the best at drawing action scenes.  Here, Michiru seems to be delivering a Shoryuken to one chick while Haruka uses her deformed leg to kick another chick.  I swear that Takeuchi only knows how to draw people's turned faces from behind using this one perspective; I've seen it more times than I can count. 

Kodansha's helpful sound effect, vwatch, really makes me feel like I'm in the middle of the action, too.

Don't reveal our identities

LATER ->

This is just ridiculous.  Plain and simple.  Chibiusa didn't reveal their civilian identities to Hotaru; she just revealed their Sailor Senshi identities, which, need I remind you, everyone does ALL THE TIME in this story.  And they don't just say, "I'm Sailor Moon, I'm Sailor Mercury, etc," using indoor voices.  They scream their names, their guardian planets, and their goals of punishing evildoers as if they were vocally tossing out business cards.  In fact, at the start of this battle that involved Hotaru, both Sailor Moon and Chibi Moon shouted out their identities to the mindless monster (who gave zero fucks) and to Hotaru who was sitting right there.  So what gives Usagi the right to chastise Chibiusa?

I could give an example from nearly every chapter that proves Usagi is full of crap, but I'm just going to give one more from this same volume.  In the first act, a student walking with her friends suddenly turns into a monster.  The five Senshi transform right in the middle of the street and give a big, half-page introduction to themselves.  After defeating the monster, Jupiter turns to another student, who clearly was watching the whole time, and tells her to call 911.  What's that about keeping your identities a secret?  Shut up, Usagi.

12 comments:

  1. Good review as always.

    Sorry about my comment in the last post. I thought the Tokyopop one was a joke, that it couldn't be true. I found vol 1 of the Tokyopop release in my library and after reading it found the dialogue was a lot more simple. "MOON FRISBEE!" made me laugh.

    I'm not sure what to think about the English and Japanese translations side by side in the dialogue. It shows indecision to me and that Kodansha tried to please both crowds of people.

    Some of the sounds effects were a bit unreadable.

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    1. "Moon frisbee" is funny; it reminds me of that one episode in the anime where Usagi got into a girls' finishing school by impressing everyone with her frisbee toss.

      I've started to just gloss over the sound effects. They're usually totally meaningless to me.

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  2. I was so sad when Haruka and Michiru were no longer able to remain in the treetop. So many good memories there! :(

    Okay, in all seriousness, this is another hilarious, intelligent, and entertaining review! I always look forward to them.

    I had a theory about some of the instances where Tokyopop's translation says things that aren't in the Japanese version. It might be one of the instances where dialogue was altered between the original release from the 90s (which Tokyopop used, of course) and the rerelease from '03-'04. Maybe Naoko originally DID talk about "the guy who owns the Infinity Delta" but removed it for some reason.

    I love your commentary about Naoko and action scenes. In that particular panel, is Haruka even making contact with that girl behind her? Like is she punching her? Cuz it looks more like Viluy's jagged word bubble just clunked her on the head.

    Also, since the Witches 5 are perfect vesselizations of Daimons, didn't Mimette technically already have a Daimon egg shoved up her ass?

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    1. Thanks! You are, in fact, correct about the translation of the text around Mugen Gakuen. I tried to get in the habit of checking the original release if the dialogue differed greatly between Tokyopop and Kodansha, but I just didn't do it here. The original dialogue DOES say something about the dude who owns the Infinity Delta, and I guess Naoko decided that info was irrelevant and changed it in the re-release. REDACTED!

      I definitely think that girl in the "action scene" is getting stabbed in the head by Viluy's spikey "!!" I don't know why Haruka is licking her lips like she's focusing on building a model either. This is one of those panels that make me ask, "why didn't Naoko redraw THIS one?"

      Finally, It's possible Mimette has already had a daimon egg shoved up her ass. I don't know the exact procedure for implanting a daimon egg, but the ass seems as good a place as any.

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  3. I keep meaning to ask. I read somewhere that Haruka and Mammoru have the same nickname for Usagi. So I was surprised when I saw Haruka say "Dumpling", a more literal translation of the Japanese rather than "Bun-head" I was confused.

    Did Kodansha change their minds about the nickname or am I wrong? Does the Japanese version have different nicknames?

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    1. Nah, the Japanese features the same nickname being said by both Mamoru and Haruka: "odanga atama." Either Flanagan forgot how he had translated it at the beginning, or he thought "Bun-chan" would sound too weird in the scene where Uranus jumps down from a tree and calls Sailor Moon "Odango-chan".

      Thanks for pointing this out! I didn't notice it before.

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  4. A Fan of Your ReviewsOctober 11, 2012 at 9:09 AM

    Out of curiosity, do you plan on doing comparisons for the short story volumes as well, or are like they Codename: Sailor V and just a possibility, not a guarantee?

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    1. A Fan of Your ReviewsOctober 16, 2012 at 12:38 AM

      Glad to hear it! :D

      Especially after seeing that Mixx being their typical selves covered up the fact Kakeru was pregnant in "The Lover of Princess Kaguya" short story on Tumblr the other day.

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    2. A Fan of Your ReviewsOctober 16, 2012 at 12:41 AM

      Ahhhh Himeko! Sorry about the mix-up. LOL.

      Delete
  5. I like Haruka and Michiru but I really don't what is Haruka's genies. In Anime, Haruka is a girl >_< but why he (I want to call he)is Hotaru 's papa. His action with Michiru as boyfriend.
    Why Sailor Moon is a Moon, how she can become Solar's System boss? Why everyone call her princess? I think Naoko-san should add Sailor Sun character.
    Sorry If my English is not good.

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    1. edit ^^ I like Haruka and Michiru but I really don't know what is Haruka's genies

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