Reviews: Translation

My Old Familiar Friend

The Kubishime Romanticist — NisiOisiN
Zaregoto, book 2

2002’s The Kubishime Romanticist is the second in NisiOisiN’s Zaregoto series.

Gloomy Ii-Chan has put crime-solving behind him and focused on being a jaded, unenthusiastic college student. Despite Ii-Chan’s best efforts to remain disconnected, he finds himself sparring with serial killer Zerozaki Hitoshiki. Worse yet, fellow student Aoii Mikoko insists on befriending him.

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Every Demon Wants His Pound of Flesh

Hiromu Arakawa
Fullmetal Alchemist, book 6

Viz’ Fullmetal Alchemist (3-in-1 Edition), Volumes 16–18 includes Volumes 16, 17, and 18 of the original Japanese manga1. Story and art are by Hiromu Arakawa; English translation by Akira Watanabe; English adaptation by Jake Forbes; touch-up art and lettering by Wayne Truman. The original manga appeared in 2007.

Still processing the revelations of the last few issues, Alphonse and Edward Elric head north to the Briggs’ Fortress, the kingdom of Amestris’ primary defence against neighbouring Drachma. In any sensible universe, Briggs’ commanding officer Major General Armstrong would be the most terrifying aspect of the trip. But as this is Fullmetal Alchemist, there’s far worse waiting for the brothers than one ruthless senior officer.

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No Colors Any More

Kubikiri Cycle — NisiOsiN
Zaregoto, book 1

2002’s Kubikiri Cycle is the first volume in NisiOisiN’s Zaregoto series. The 2008 English translation is by Greg Moore.

Exiled to Wet Crow’s Feather Island, Akagami Iria surrounds herself with the world’s best and brightest, people at the pinnacle of their chosen fields. But one resident, nineteen-year-old Il-chan, is no such genius. His lesser status gnaws at him. There’s no cure; for him, study and practice would be futile. But the fact that he knows he is a comparative dullard means that he is aware of his mediocrity — which fact bars him from the Garden of Eden that the truly dim enjoy.

Il-chan is on the island because his best friend Kunagisa Tomo is there. Kunigisa is a genius in her field of computer science. Outside her specialty, she is incapable of even minimal self-care or day-to-day competence. It’s Il-chan’s job to protect her from her own tunnel vision. Why would he do this? Well, certainly not because he’s in love with Kunagisa. That would be attachment and attachment is a fool’s game.

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Heavenly Blessed and Worldy Wise

Stratagem — Yoshiki Tanaka
Legend of the Galactic Heroes, book 4

First published under the title Ginga Eiyu Densetsu, 1984’s Stratagem is the fourth volume in Yoshiki Tanaka’s Legend of the Galactic Heroes. Tyran Grillo’s translation was published by Haikasoru in 2017.

In any other era, military genius Reinhard von Lohengramm would have been just as successful at conquering the breakaway Free Planets Alliance as he has been at commandeering the reins of power in his native Galactic Empire. Fate was unkind to Lohengramm; the Free Planets have their own military genius in academic Yang Wen-li. Thus far, the Free Planets remain free.

Scheming merchants and disloyal aristocrats may be about to hand von Lohengramm the means to finally defeat the Free Planets.

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A Low Below The Low That You Know

Fullmetal Alchemist (3-in-1 Edition), Volumes 13–15 — Hiromu Arakawa
Fullmetal Alchemist, book 5

Viz’ Fullmetal Alchemist (3-in-1 Edition), Volumes 13–15 includes Volumes 13, 14, and 15 of the original Japanese manga1. Story and art are by Hiromu Arakawa; English translation by Akira Watanabe; English adaptation by Jake Forbes; touch-up art and lettering by Wayne Truman. The original manga appeared in 2006.

I’m cheating somewhat here. No local source has the omnibus. I tracked down the individual volumes. That should suffice.

Edward and Alphonse’s cunning scheme has paid off beyond their wildest nightmares. The brothers and their allies have managed to capture the homunculus Gluttony.

But their triumph is brief.

Once free, Gluttony sets out to even the score for its fellow homunculus, who died in the flames sent by pyromancer Roy Mustang. Gluttony’s plan succeeds beyond all expectation. Gone: expendable Prince Lin, Gone: Edward and homunculus Envy. Oops.

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The Wheel Breaks the Butterfly

Dendera — Yuya Sato

2009’s Dendera is a standalone novel by Yuya Sato. The 2015 Haikasoru translation is by Nathan A. Collins and Edwin Hawkes. 

Every inhabitant of the Village who manages to make it to age seventy (despite a life of hard labor, disease, and famine) is rewarded by exile to the Mountain (in winter) where, they are told, they can expect a quick death and Paradise thereafter. 

Eager for Paradise, Kayu Saito cheerfully heads up the mountain. She is outraged not to find her Elysium.

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Grain for Grain, Sun and Rain

Gene Mapper — Taiyo Fujii

Taiyo Fujii’s Gene Mapper is a standalone futuristic thriller, first self-published in 2012. The 2015 English translation is by Jim Hubbert.

The great red-rust blight was a tragedy for the ten million Asians who starved to death as a result. For companies like L&B, it was an opportunity to replace unreliable natural crops with their carefully designed and wholly owned commercial seed. L&B promises a reliable food supply and security from famine to the world’s twelve billion people.

At least, that’s the plan.

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The Kindness of Strangers

Goth — Otsuichi

Otsiuchi’s 2002 Goth is a collection. Most of the English translation was done by Andrew Cunningham, although one section was translated by Jocelyne Allen. The Haikasoru edition was published in 2015.

Morbid, expressionless Morino was a loner until she recognized a kindred spirit in a fellow student (who, being the narrator, feels little need to name himself in these stories). The pair bond over their shared fascination with gruesome murders.

Morino is particularly valuable to her murder-obsessed friend because although she remains completely unaware of the fact, Morino attracts killers, just as rotting meat attracts flies. Pheromones?

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What I Wouldn’t Do

The Unit — Ninni Holmqvist

Ninni Holmqvist’s 2006 dystopia, The Unit: A Novel, was translated in 2008 (from the author’s Swedish to English) by Marlaine Delargy.

Dorrit Weger lived her life on the margins of Swedish society: never marrying, never having children, settling for a series of occupations that, no matter how personally satisfying, left her perpetually on the brink of insolvency. At age fifty, she is removed from her decaying house, separated from her loving dog, and consigned to the Second Reserve Bank Unit for biological material. The Unit takes in dispensable people — authors, artists, homosexuals, and other non-conformists whose occupations are of no real use — and transforms them into valuable resources, as experimental medical subjects and involuntary organ donors.

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Hello, Is It Me You’re Looking For?

Hiromu Arakawa
Fullmetal Alchemist, book 4

Viz’ Fullmetal Alchemist (3-in-1 Edition), Volume 4 includes Volumes 10, 11, and 12 of the original Japanese manga. Story and art are by Hiromu Arakawa; English translation by Akira Watanabe; English adaptation by Jake Forbes; touch-up art and lettering by Wayne Truman. The original manga appeared in 2005. The English translation appeared in 2013. Volume 1 was reviewed here. Volume 2 was reviewed here. Volume 3 was reviewed here.

Eager to clean up loose ends, the homunculi have released Barry the Chopper’s former body into the wild. Although Barry’s soul is housed in a tough metal body, that soul is still connected to his body by his spiriti. The plan: body will naturally seek out soul, and in so doing lead homunculi Envy and Gluttony to their disloyal servant.

It was a plan as straightforward as it is doomed. Now Barry’s old body is on the run and might lead enemies directly to one of Father’s lairs (Father being the big bad and the creator of the homunculi).

There’s worse to come.

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When the Dark Comes Here

Hiromu Arakawa
Fullmetal Alchemist, book 3

Viz’ Fullmetal Alchemist (3-in-1 Edition), Volume 3 includes Volumes 7, 8, and 9 of the original Japanese manga. Story and art are by Hiromu Arakawa; English translation by Akira Watanabe; English adaptation, by Jake Forbes; touch-up art and lettering by Wayne Truman. The original manga appeared in 2004. The English translation appeared in 2011. Volume 1 was reviewed here . Volume 2 was reviewed here.

Al receives a tantalizing unsigned note. It suggests a meeting in an isolated location. Although he is only fourteen, Al is canny enough to suspect a trap. But he is also familiar with the meeting location and composed entirely of metal … so Al is understandably confident in his ability to handle any trouble he might encounter.

The results are mixed.

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You’re Watching Snow, You’re Minding Sheep

Hitoshi Ashinano
Kabu no Isaki, book 6

The sixth and final volume of Hitoshi Ashinano’s Kabu no Isaki was published in 2013. Much to my surprise, this volume contains answers to a few of the nagging questions unanswered in earlier volumes—just not the answers I expected.

Spoilers ahoy!

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The Place Where Light and Darkness Meet

Hitoshi Ashinano
Kabu no Isaki, book 5

The fifth volume of Hitoshi Ashinano’s Kabu no Isaki was published in 2012.

In volume four, Isaki, Kajika, and Sayori braved the Tate Road to get a better look at Mount Fuji. Having arrived at their destination, they discovered that proximity does not guarantee a good view of the thirty-eight-kilometre-tall mountain. What next?

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Follow, Follow, Follow Me

Hitoshi Ashinano
Kabu no Isaki, book 4

The fourth volume of Hitoshi Ashinano’s Kabu no Isaki was published in 2011. There has been no officially sanctioned English edition so far as I know.

When last we saw our characters, Isaki was on his way towards Mt. Fuji, with the package he is delivering for boss Shiro. The package is a mere pretext for the trip. Kajika and Sayori are using the fact that Shiro mistakenly gave Isaki the wrong package as yet another pretext, for following Isaki.

In a world mysteriously ten times larger than in our time, what could go wrong?

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I’ll Fly Away

Hitoshi Ashinano
Kabu no Isaki, book 3

The third volume of Hitoshi Ashinano’s Kabu no Isaki was published in 2010. There has been no officially sanctioned English edition of which I am aware.

Just as in volumes one and two, the world is filled with marvelous things, many of them everyday items magnified tenfold. Isaki is still trying to make a living flying a Piper Cub that belongs to semi-retired celebrity pilot Shiro. The world may be transformed into something rich and strange, but planes are still cool.

People familiar with volumes one and two may be thinking “Finally! Answers to all the mysteries!” Hahahaha! Dream on.

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Like a Bird in a Foreign Sky

A Small Charred Face — Kazuki Sakuraba

2017’s A Small Charred Face is the American edition of Kazuki Sakuraba’s 2014 book Honto no Hana Wo Mise Ni Kita.

The English-language translation is by Jocelyn Allen. A Small Charred Face contains three novellas about the Bamboo, or as others call them, vampires.

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The Dreams That You Dare To Dream

Sea of Wind — Fuyumi Ono
The Twelve Kingdoms, book 2

1993’s portal fantasy Sea of Wind is the second volume in Fuyumi Ono’s Twelve Kingdoms series. The 2007 English language edition was translated by Alexander O. Smith and Elye J. Alexander.

Taiki spent his childhood wracked with guilt for continually disappointing his judgmental grandmother, who never fully explained what he had done wrong. Small wonder that the ten-year-old leapt at a mysterious summons from another realm. Bye granny! Destiny awaits!

Destiny and, it turns out, heavy responsibilities and great danger.

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Leader of the Pack

Chiho Saito
Revolutionary Girl Utena, book 2

Volume 2 is the second half of Viz’s The Revolutionary Girl Utena Complete Deluxe Box Set, which collects all of Chiho Saito’s popular manga, Revolutionary Girl Utena.

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A Time to Kill

Red Girls — Kazuki Sakuraba

Kazuki Sakuraba’s Red Girls: The Legend of the Akakuchibas was published as Akakuchibaki no Densetsu in 2006. The 2015 English language edition was translated by Jocelyne Allen.

No one would have thought that the foundling Manyo was marked for great things. A mysterious mountain-dwelling clan had left the infant in Benimidori, an insignificant rural village. Fostered by a local family, she grew up as just another rustic in a small town notable only for the old Akakuchiba iron works and some recent shipyards. But fate had other plans for Manyo.

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Sew Your Fortunes On A String

Hiromu Arakawa
Fullmetal Alchemist, book 1

Viz’ Fullmetal Alchemist (3-in-1 Edition), Volume 1 includes Volumes 1, 2, and 3 of the original Japanese manga [1]. Story and art are by Hiromu Arakawa; English translation by Akira Watanabe; English adaptation, by Jake Forbes and Egan Loo; touch-up art & lettering by Wayne Truman. The original manga appeared in 2003. The English translation appeared in 2011.

Wait! Are you confused yet? As my editor was confused? “You already reviewed Full Metal Alchemist!” Yes, but I reviewed the second volume in the series, not the first. Which was checked out and never returned to Kitchener Public Library.

On a war-wracked continent, two young brothers wander from town to town. Although Edward Elric is only fifteen and Alphonse Elric is just fourteen, both are skilled alchemists. Indeed, their skill is only outmatched by their boldness, which is why they are searching for the Philosopher’s Stone.

The Stone might be able to give Ed back his missing arm and leg and Al back his missing body…

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Once in a Lullaby

Sea of Shadow — Fuyumi Ono
The Twelve Kingdoms, book 1

1992’s portal fantasy Sea of Shadow is the first volume in Fuyumi Ono’s Twelve Kingdoms series. The 2007 English language edition was translated by Alexander O. Smith, and Elye J. Alexander.

Yoko Nakajima’s oddly coloured hair, lighter than any proper Japanese person’s hair should be, makes her an object of suspicion to her parents and schoolmates. It’s true that her hair has been its present colour since birth, and that she is to all appearances a normal, hardworking student and dutiful daughter. But isn’t that just the sort of facade a covert nonconformist would adopt? Her reluctance to assimilate by dying her hair black only underlines here oddity. Although if she did colour her hair, that would also be bad (her school forbids hair-colouring [1]).

But things could get worse, and do. Accosted by a stranger, given a magic sword and the ability to use it, attacked by monsters, Yoko is transported from Japan to the strange world of the Twelve Kingdoms.

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That’s No Moon That’s Waiting There

Endurance — Yoshiki Tanaka
Legend of the Galactic Heroes, book 3

1984’s Endurance is the third volume in Yoshiki Tanaka’s MilSpaceOpera manga series, Legend of the Galactic Heroes. The 2016 English language edition was translated by Daniel Huddleston.

Two civil wars have ended; both the Galactic Empire and its deadly enemy, the Free Planets Alliance, are at peace. Reinhard uses the respite to consolidate his control over the Empire, becoming Emperor in all but formal title.

The FPA uses peace for an entirely different purpose.

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We All Want To Change The World

Chiho Saito
Revolutionary Girl Utena, book 1

The collective Be-Papas and Chiho Saito’s [1] Revolutionary Girl Utena, Volume 1 is the first of two volumes in the Revolutionary Girl Utena Complete Deluxe Box Set. Utena first ran in the monthly manga magazine Ciao from 1996–1997. Translation is by Lillian Olsen.

Rescued as a child from drowning by a mysterious stranger Utena knows only as “Licky-lick” [2], Utena vowed to be worthy of her savior, the man she yearns to meet again. She will live a strong and noble life.

The Japanese schoolgirl will become a prince!

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No One Ever Died From Wanting Too Much

Ambition — Yoshiki Tanaka
Legend of the Galactic Heroes, book 2

Ambition is the second volume in Yoshi Tanaka’s Legends of the Galactic Heroes space opera series. It was translated into English by Daniel Huddleston.

Kaiser Friedrich IV is dead! Long live the new Kaiser! As soon as the warring factions within the Empire settle just who that new Kaiser will be!

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Baptisms of Fire

Hiromu Arakawa
Fullmetal Alchemist, book 2

Viz’ Fullmetal Alchemist (3-in-1 Edition), Volume 2 includes Volumes 4, 5, 6 of the original Japanese manga [1]. Story and art are by Hiromu Arakawa; English translation by Akira Watanabe; English adaptation, by Jake Forbes and Egan Loo; touch-up art & lettering by Wayne Truman.

The first thing a stranger might notice about Edward Elric is his prosthetic arm and leg. The first thing they might notice about Edward’s younger brother Al is his huge metal body. More on those detail later. Both are skilled alchemists. Both are not yet teenagers. Both are members of a military organization, trading service for training.

As Volume 2 of the omnibus edition opens, Al and Ed have gotten their asses soundly kicked by a stabby, shape-shifting woman named Envy and her minions [2]. Death is a distinct possibility.

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