Reviews: Translation

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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‘Cause Two Can Keep a Secret If One of Them is Dead

Orbital Cloud — Taiyo Fujii

Taiyo Fujii’s Orbital Cloud is a standalone science fiction thriller. Originally published in 2014 under the title Ōbitaru Kuraudo, Orbital Cloud was translated into English by Timothy Silver. The Haikasoru edition was published in March 2017.

Even in 2020, putting objects into orbit is still the domain of national governments and billionaires. Observation of objects in orbit, on the other hand, is something well within the grasp of the motivated amateurs like Kazumi Kimura’s website Meteor News. Meteor News, focused on shooting star prediction, is among the first to notice SAFIR 3’s bizarre behaviour.

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It’s a Shame We’re All Dying

Dawn — Yoshiki Tanaka
Legend of the Galactic Heroes, book 1

1982’s Dawn is the first volume in Yoshiki Tanaka’s ten-volume Legend of the Galactic Heroes, a series of space-opera novels . It was translated into English by Daniel Huddleston.

The Milky Way is divided between two great powers. On one side, the autocratic Galactic Empire, with twenty-five billion subjects. On the other, the democratic Free Planets Alliance, with thirteen billion citizens. The Empire refuses to admit the right of people to live outside the Empire and has sought to conquer the Free Planets ever since they discovered the existence of the Alliance. The Free Planets, founded by escaped serfs, are determined to remain free. The balance of power is such that neither side has been able to win a decisive victory. The war has lasted over a century.

Two military geniuses enter the arena.

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I Only Wanna Play a Little

The Crimson Labyrinth — Yusuke Kishi

2006’s The Crimson Labyrinth is a stand-alone thriller by Yusuke Kishi. The English-language edition was translated by Camellia Nieh.

Yoshihiko Fujiki had it all: a high-status job, a wife who adored his salary and company housing. Japan’s economic woes stripped all that from Fujiki: first the job, then the wife and finally his home. Only after he loses everything does Fujiki grasp the transience of success.

Living hand-to-mouth in a squalid apartment, it might not seem that Fujiki has much to lose. He knows better. As far as he has fallen, he can still far farther. Fujiki has seen his future and it’s bleak.

Waking up stripped of his recent memories in an alien labyrinth still comes as a rude surprise.

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Where the winds of limbo roar

Shin Sekai Yori — Yusuke Kishi

I was so annoyed by last week’s Translation Review selection (the Shin Sekai Yori manga) that I hunted down a fan translation of the novel on which the manga was based. Should a North American publisher ever print this or another translation, I will review that as well, with an appropriate link. Hint, hint.

Yusuke Kishi’s 2008 Nihon SF Taisho Award-winning Shin Sekai Yori is a standalone SF novel.

A thousand years from now, Saki Watanabe and her schoolmates, Satoru Asahina, Maria Akizuki, Mamoru Itou, Shun Aonuma, and Reiko Amano think that they live in a kindly world, one in which they are protected from danger. Fiends and karma demons cannot be current dangers; they are merely the stuff of summertime ghost stories.

Poor coddled teens! They are not safe. Fiends and demons are very real. However, the biggest dangers the children will face will be those created by their own society and their own choices.

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Beautiful Futures

Kozue Amano
Aria, book 12

Finally we reach volume twelve of Kozue Amano’s Utopian manga Aria. The end.

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Not Long Before the End

Kozue Amano
Aria, book 11

[Due to a technical problem, this is an early draft only]

Volume 11 of Kozue Amano’s Utopian manga Aria! The penultimate volume! Will Akari graduate? I cannot say. But someone will….

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Fifteen Feet of Pure White Snow

Kozue Amano
Aria, book 10

Volume 10 of Kozue Amano’s manga Aria is very nearly the final volume of the series. With only a handful of volumes to go, will Akari ever graduate? And will she be upset if she does not?

Not graduating is, it seems, a very real possibility.

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And the Dream Was Just the Same

Kozue Amano
Aria, book 9

Once more into the Aria archive. This time is volume 9 of Kozue Amano’s utopia: melancholy, longing and deathtraps await!

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Stars when you shine, you know how I feel

Invisible Planets: An Anthology of Contemporary Chinese SF in Translation — Ken Liu

Ken Liu’s 2016 anthology Invisible Planets: An Anthology of Contemporary Chinese SF in Translation is exactly what it says on the tin: an anthology of contemporary Chinese SF in translation.

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Fallen for the fear

Kozue Amano
Aria, book 7

Volume seven of Kozue Amano’s Aria brings the calendar around to spring once more. With warm weather come unexpected revelations, not least of which is that a surprising number of Aquans struggle with doubt and paranoia.

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And the seasons they go round and round

Kozue Amano
Aria, book 6

Another volume of Kozue Amano’s Aria; another season of the year. By book six, Akari is passing her second winter on Aqua (formerly Mars), but she is no closer to becoming a full Undine.

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The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night

Kozue Amano
Aria, book 5

Volume 5 of Kozue Amano’s Utopian manga Aria sees Akari into her second autumn on Aqua, the water-covered world once known as Mars. She seems no closer to graduating from apprentice Undine to full Undine than she was in the last few volumes; the delay has consequences in this volume.


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Time Goes Rushing By

Kozue Amano
Aria, book 4

Volume 4 of Kozue Amano’s Aria continues the series’ steady progression through the years. It is summer once again in the city of Neo-Venezia. Aria’s training will lead her to unexpected destinations and she will discover an elemental acquaintance she had heretofore overlooked.

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Here comes the sun

Kozue Amano
Aria, book 3

Aria does not speed through the years as quickly as did YKK. Still, by the time volume three of Kozue Amano’s Aria opens, a full (Martian) year has passed since Akari first arrived on the no-longer-Red Planet. It is Aquan spring once more. What grim sights and anguished travails await our unfortunate heroine?

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Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

Kozue Amano
Aria, book 2

Aqua’s year is twice as long as Earth’s, but it too has its seasons. In the previous volume, winter was looming. In this one, it arrives. What grim fate awaits poor Akari in this, the second volume of Kozue Amano’s Aria?

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Give me a boat that can carry two

Kozue Amano
Aria, book 1

2002’s Volume One of Kozue Amano’s Aria picks up where Volume Two of her Aqua left off. Akari Mizunashi is still a would-be Undine on Aqua (a renamed Mars, after human terraforming efforts tapped unsuspected reserves of water). She is still recounting her adventures in a series of letters sent back to a friend on distant Earth.

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A Path to Happiness

Kozue Amano
Aqua, book 2

The second collected volume of Kozue Amano’s Aqua was also the second and final volume under that title. In 2002, the series moved from Monthly Stencil to Comic Blade and the title became Aria.

Unfortunately, the only versions of volume two I can access leave out two of the six chapters. James has a sad.

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