Reviews: Translation

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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I’ve got a feeling you could use a little smile

Kozue Amano
Aqua, book 1

Now for a change of pace from scenery-porn science fiction manga about airplanes. Time for Kozue Amano’s scenery-porn science fiction manga about gondolas: Aqua! Specifically, 2001’s Volume One.

By the opening years of the 24 th century, humans had terraformed Mars. Owing to a slight miscalculation re the amount of ice present, 90% of Mars is ocean-covered. The colonists have renamed Mars “Aqua” and embraced the possibilities of a largely ocean-covered world.

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Beyond This Horizon

Hitoshi Ashinano
Kabu no Isaki, book 2

Onwards to volume two of Hitoshi Ashinano’s Kabu no Isaki , first published in 2009. The world is big, the planes are small, and Kajika may have lost her shot at Isaki.

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If the sky that we look upon should tumble and fall or the mountain should crumble to the sea

Patema Inverted — Yasuhiro Yoshiura

I stumbled across Yasuhiro Yoshiura 2013’s animated film Patema Inverted by accident. An image search for something else turned up Patema Inverted ’s eyecatching cover. As has been well-established, I am a sucker for a pretty cover.

Patema yearns to find a world beyond the tunnels and corridors she grew up in. One careless step later, and she plummets down into an endless abyss. Luckily for Patema, high school student Age is in the right place at the right time to prevent Patema from falling up into the endless sky.

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Embrace transience the way the grave will eventually embrace you

Children Who Chase Lost Voices — Makoto Shinkai

I decided to review Makoto Shinkai’s 2011 fantasy film The Children Who Chase Lost Voices for two reasons: the first was that I had just tried and failed to watch Age of Ultron. This DVD’s bright cover made me hope that Shinkai’s animated work was not filmed in what I have come to think of as Macular Degeneration-Vision (unlike Age of Ultron) . The second reason: the last few pieces I have reviewed have been pretty death-heavy (as has real life, for that matter). Since I had heard this was a particularly Studio Ghibli-esque work, I was hoping for something upbeat.

I was snookered. Sure the film was Studio Ghibli-esque, in the same way that Grave of the Fireflies is Ghibli-esque.

While still a girl, Asuna had to learn how to take care of herself. Her father is dead and her mother works long shifts to support the two of them. Asuna spends hours in the countryside by herself, listening to an archaic radio set, one of the few mementos left by her late father.

One day, she is attacked by a monster.

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The places where long ago people used to linger

Yokohama Kaidashi Kikō — Hitoshi Ashinano
Yokohama Kaidashi Kikō, book 14

It has taken me four months, but I have finally arrived at the 14 th (final) volume in Hitoshi Ashinano’s Yokohama Kaidashi Kikō. Like the golden age of humans, the series has come to an end.

Cherry blossoms fall

A YKKless night looms
Weasels rip my flesh

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The End is Nigh

Yokohama Kaidashi Kikō — Hitoshi Ashinano
Yokohama Kaidashi Kikō, book 13

Welcome to the thirteenth review of Hitoshi Ashinano’s Yokohama Kaidashi Kikō. How happy I am to have read thirteen volumes of this manga! And how sad, because that means after this one there is only one left.

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One Life Isn’t Enough

Yokohama Kaidashi Kikō — Hitoshi Ashinano
Yokohama Kaidashi Kikō, book 12

Once more into Hitoshi Ashinano’s Yokohama Kaidashi Kikō! But at a cost; at my present rate I will finished the whole series well before August is over. I should have picked some lengthier manga series on which to fixate.

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This dewdrop world

Yokohama Kaidashi Kikō — Hitoshi Ashinano
Yokohama Kaidashi Kikō, book 11

Volume 11 of Hitoshi Ashinano’s Yokohama Kaidashi Kikō is much like the previous ten volumes: quiet moments, mysteries, and not much in the way of answers.

Well, one answer: Ojisan is still among the living, at least for now.

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After a while, the sunflower wilted and died without thinking of our feelings.

Yokohama Kaidashi Kikō — Hitoshi Ashinano
Yokohama Kaidashi Kikō, book 10

You may have been concerned when I skipped a week but never fear! I do intend to finish reading all of Hitoshi AshinanoYokohama Kaidashi Kikō. Which brings us to volume ten. It is a very … Yokohama Kaidashi Kikō volume of Yokohama Kaidashi Kikō.

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Home Again, Home Again

Yokohama Kaidashi Kikō — Hitoshi Ashinano
Yokohama Kaidashi Kikō, book 9

I had an interesting experience as a result of last week’s review of Yokohama Kaidashi Kikō, volume eight. Someone attending an event I was co-hosting showed up on a scooter much like the one Alpha rides, specifically because I reviewed YKK. That’s awesome! And now I am a little worried about how people will commemorate the MilSF and Cosmic Horror books I review.

Ahem. Back to Volume Nine of Ashinano’s Yokohama Kaidashi Kikō.

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On the Road

Yokohama Kaidashi Kikō — Hitoshi Ashinano
Yokohama Kaidashi Kikō, book 8

Volume Eight of Ashinano’s Yokohama Kaidashi Kikō covers more than a year in the lives of the character. It’s more … um, “action filled” is the wrong term… informative about the setting than were previous volumes.


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The Homunculus and the Lunatics

The Rolling Bootlegs — Ryohgo Narita
Baccano!, book 1

Ryohgo Narita’s light novel Baccano! The Rolling Bootlegs won the Dengeki Gold Prize when it was published in 2003. Translated into English in 2016 by Taylor Engel, it is the first volume in the ongoing Baccano series. Narita’s tale of criminals and lunatics, alchemy and murder is capably illustrated by Katsumi Enami.

Nothing provides results quite like foolish shortcuts. The boatload of alchemists on their way to the New World in 1711 learn this the hard way. While they may be almost immortal, immune to age and injury, they are not invulnerable. All of them can still die at the hands of their immortal companions. Since the killer absorbs all the memories of the victim, there is incentive to murder. A strong incentive, as only one of the alchemists knows how to brew the elixir of immortality. It takes less than a day for the ambitious Szilard Quates to start murdering his fellow alchemists for their knowledge and power.

Twenty-two decades later in Prohibition-era1 New York…

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Takahiro, You Idiot

Yokohama Kaidashi Kikō — Hitoshi Ashinano
Yokohama Kaidashi Kikō, book 6

I ran into an unexpected problem with the book I planned to review today. But of course, since you do not know what review was intended, you should be perfectly happy to read a review of Hitoshi Ashinano’s Yokohama Kaidashi Kikō, book six. At least I hope you will be.

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Just one more chip

Yokohama Kaidashi Kikō — Hitoshi Ashinano
Yokohama Kaidashi Kikō, book 4

I should just admit to myself I have no self control when it comes to binging on series (novels or comics). But will I? NO. I am going to kid myself (again) with “OK, just one more volume of Hitoshi Ashinano’s Yokohama Kaidashi Kikō and then I will stop. Really.” Because that could totally happen.

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We Are Both Better Than We Should Be

Yokohama Kaidashi Kikō — Hitoshi Ashinano
Yokohama Kaidashi Kikō, book 3

Well, I misspoke. Apparently I cannot resist dipping into the YYK archive at least one more time. Volume three of Hitoshi Ashinano’s Yokohama Kaidashi Kikō offers more enigmas and mysteries, but not a lot in the way of concrete explanation. Ah well.

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It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)

Yokohama Kaidashi Kikō — Hitoshi Ashinano
Yokohama Kaidashi Kikō, book 2

I am going to skip my usual practice of giving the publication date of the work I am reviewing because … as much as I hate to shake your faith in me as an all-knowing sage of SFF, I must admit that I am not sure when volume two of Hitoshi Ashinano’s Yokohama Kaidashi Kikō was published.

In this volume, author Ashinano returns to the twilight world of his protagonistAlpha Hasseno, cafe owner and Alpha 7 M2 series robot. We are given eight short pieces; seven that show Alpha’s world as it is, and one that hints at how it got that way.

Sorry about the tiny cover art. I could not find a larger image.

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Where Time Flows Lazily

Yokohama Kaidashi Kikō, — Hitoshi Ashinano
Yokohama Kaidashi Kikō, book 1

Hitoshi Ashinano’s science fiction manga series Yokohama Kaidashi Kikō (Yokohama Shopping Trip Diary; popularly known as YKK) was serialized between 1994 and 2006.

The climate changed and the oceans rose. Humanity’s cities have either drowned or have become mere shadows of what they once were. The last remnants of humanity are slowly dwindling away into extinction. The general decline poses many challenges to Alpha Hatsuseno, proprietor of a small coffee shop some distance from the much reduced Yokohama, but she accepts them with inhuman calm.

Alpha, you see, is an android. Humans may be doomed but their technological children are doing just fine. As is the Earth.

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The Director is God

The Sigh of Haruhi Suzumiya — Nagaru Tanigawa
Haruhi Suzumiya, book 2

2003’s The Sigh of Haruhi Suzumiya is the second in Nagaru Tanigawa’s Haruhi Suzumiya manga series.

Audaciously self-centered Haruhi is determined to provide her school’s upcoming cultural festival with a movie of unparalleled quality. The fact that nobody asked her to do this isn’t going to slow her down at all. Haruhi didn’t get where she is by caring one jot about other people’s preferences!

At least the project will distract Haruhi from her failure to find the time travelers, aliens, and ESPers she is convinced must be concealed within the general population. And anyway, what could go wrong with a simple film project?

Quite a lot, if the auteur behind the film is an unwitting god. Which Haruhi is.


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From India

It Happened Tomorrow — Bal Phondke

The good news about having read 1993’s It Happened Tomorrow is that I can now put a push-pin into India on a map of nations whose science fiction I have reviewed on James Nicoll Reviews.

On the minus side, it was not a particularly good book.


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Trash Talk

Planetes — Makoto Yakimura, Gorō Taniguchi, Ichirō Ōkouchi

I love quasi-plausible SF set in our solar system, especially SF that tries to be at least semi-plausible. For a long time, Anglospheric SF had little interest in that particular literary niche. I was forced to look abroad. Which eventually resulted in my exposure to the 2003–2004 26-episode anime series Planetes, adapted by Sunrise from Makoto Yakimura’s manga of the same name.

Ah, the bright and shiny world of the 2070s! Space travel is, if not routine, at least common; oil has been replaced by lunar helium three 1, thus ensuring the continuation of energy-intensive civilization. Prosperity abounds!





For the people working for Technora’s Half Section , prosperity is unevenly distributed. Space is just where they happen to work. The Half Section, more correctly called the Space Debris Section, are the garbagemen (and women) of SPAAACE!


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I have no idea what was up with the post office full of kiwi fruit.

Revenge — Yoko Ogawa (Translated by Stephen Snyder)

Yoko Ogawa’s collection Revenge was first published in 1998 as Kamoku na shigai, Midara na tomurai. Under the current title it was made available in English in 2013 by Picador.

Revenge includes eleven macabre short stories. The collection is not long but it is very good.



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