Reviews: Translation

Simple Gifts

Adachitoka
Noragami, book 7


Adachitoka’s Noragami Volume 7 collects issues 24 to 27 of the adventures of the stray god Yato. The manga was first published in 2013; the English translation dates from 2015. Included are:

  • 24. “Always” (ずっと一 “Zuttou”)

  • 25. “When Sleeping Gods Are Provoked” (触った神の祟り “Sawatta Kami no Tatari”)

  • 26. “How to Worship a God” (神様の祀リ方 “Kamisama no Matsuri Kata”)

  • 27. “Do and Due” (業と業 “Gyō to Gō”)

Yato is a god, but even a god suffers when snubbed by a friend.


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And Then Marched Under a Chair

NieR: Automata: Long Story Short — Jun Eishima & Yoko Taro

2017’s NieR: Automata: Long Story Short is Jun Eishima’s novelization of Square Enix’s computer game of the same name. The original story is by Yoko Taro. Translation is by Shota Okui.

Seven thousand years ago, aliens conquered the Earth, or rather, their Machines conquered the Earth. Humanity’s last refuge is the Moon. Just as the aliens act through their artificial servants, so too has humanity left the war for Earth to their creations, the YoHRa androids. Between android and Machine, there can be no peace.

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A Million Miles Away

City of Ash and Red — Hye-Young Pyun

Hye-Young Pyun’s 2010 City of Ash and Red is a standalone horror novel. The 2018 translation is by Sora Kim-Russell.

Although in no way a remarkable worker, the unnamed protagonist is promoted to a post in the head office of his pest extermination company. The office is located in an unfamiliar city, Y, in even more unfamiliar country, C.

He finds himself a figure of envy for his co-workers. But the loss of his friends (if grudgingly tolerant co-workers can be considered friends) is just another blow, following upon a nasty divorce. He can only hope that the transfer will let him rebuild his life.

Or perhaps not. Perhaps the transfer is merely the first step in another, even more epic catastrophe.

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Sweet Little Lies

Adachitoka
Noragami, book 6

Adachitoka’s Noragami Volume 6 collects issues 20 to 23 of the adventures of the stray god Yato. The manga was first published in 2013; the English translation dates from 2015. Included are:

20. “Prayerful Oath” (神祝き、呪きき “Kamuhosaki, Hosakiki”)

21. “Don’t Go — Stay with Me” (消えないで、傍にいて “Kienai de, Soba ni Ite”)

22. “What Must Be Done” (為すべきこと “Nasubeki Koto”)

23. “Guiding Light” (道標 “Michishirube”)

The last volume ended on something of a cliffhanger, as Yato’s shinki (ghost servant able to manifest as a weapon) Yukine was shattered by Bishamonten. Perhaps it’s significant that Yato is god of nothing in particular, whereas Bishamonten is a god of war. Poor Yukine; no doubt that was the end for him.

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A Kiss With A Fist

Rumiko Takahashi
Ranma 1/2, book 1

Ranma 1/2, Volume One collects the first fourteen chapters of Rumiko Takahashi’s best-selling manga. This volume was first published in Japan in 1988, Gerard Jones and Matt Thorn’s English adaptation of Volume One was published in 1993.

Soun Tendo surprises his three daughters with the news that long ago he agreed to marry one of them to Ranma, the son of his good friend (and complete stranger to the girls) Genma Saotome. This marriage will secure the future of the Tendo family dojo and the indiscriminate grappling school of martial arts.

Soun and Genma’s contract did not specify which daughter would marry Gemma’s’ son, Ranma. Soun is happy to leave that detail to his daughters. Oldest daughter Kasumi and second oldest daughter Nabiki graciously agree between them that they should grant the youngest daughter, Akane, this precious opportunity. Akane is shockingly ungrateful.

As soon as Genma and son arrive at the dojo, the sisters notice previously unmentioned details that could well complicate the betrothal. Genma is a large panda. Ranma is human … but also a girl.

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Life Line

Akihito Tsukushi
Made in Abyss, book 2

Made in Abyss Book 2 includes issues 9 to 16 of Akihito Tsukushi’s archaeology adventure manga Meido in Abisu.

Riko is determined to find her long-lost mother Lyza, who disappeared into the kilometres-deep Abyss. Riko and her robot boyfriend Reg have sneaked out of the orphanage and headed into the Abyss. Foolish kids. There are many dangers in the depths; if they do manage to reach the bottom of the Abyss, they cannot return. Or so it is said.

Their journey has hardly begun when they realize that someone is pursuing them.

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The Stars Align

The Elder Sister-like One — Iida Pochi

The Elder Sister-like One is the English translation of Iida Pochi’s Ane Naru Mono.

Security, happiness, a loving family: Yuu has had none of these since a car crash left him an orphan at age five. Passed from one resentful relative to another, Yuu has finally landed in his uncle’s household.

The uncle is too obsessed with Dark Knowledge Man Was Not Meant to Know to care much about Yuu. However. Yuu’s uncle does provide him with shelter, clothes, and food. This benign neglect is more than Yuu’s other relatives gave him.

When his uncle descends into madness, Yuu must find the uncle’s health card in order to call in the health services. Failing to find it in the house, he ventures into the storehouse, the one part of the household his uncle had declared off limits. There the unprepared boy finds himself face to face with the sanity-shattering reality of Shub-Niggurath, the Black Goat of the Woods of a Thousand Young, who appears, possibly for marketing reasons, as an extremely buxom, scantily-clad, be-tentacled, obviously demonic woman.

Being somewhat naive, Yuu jumps to the conclusion that Shub-Niggurath must be an angel.


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Starts With A Goodbye

Adachitoka
Noragami, book 5

Adachitoka’s Noragami Volume 5 collects issues 16 to 19 of the adventures of the stray god Yato.

  • 16. “Hell” (地獄 “Jigoku”)
  • 17. “Yearning for Someone to Trust” (寄る辺を求めて “Yorube o Motomete”)
  • 18. “Naked Sword” (抜き身 “Nuki Mi”)
  • 19. “Prayer” (願 “Negai”)

Of all those who despise Yato, none hate him more than the war god Bishamonten. Bishamonten’s hatred blinds her. She is also blind to the dangers she incurs by her greed to recruit as many ghosts as she can, ghosts who will serve as her shinki, servants1. Both blindnesses are weapons that her enemy will use against her.

Unfortunately for Bishamonten, that enemy is not Yato, but someone she considers her closest ally.

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That Sacred Core That Burns Inside Of Me

Huang Jin Zhou & Hiromu Arakawa
Hero Tales, book 1

Hero Tales, volume 1 collects the first three issues of Huang Jin Zhou and Hiromu Arakawa’s Jūshin Enbu.

Taitou hates the Empire. Reforming the corrupt state seems impossible. At least it is for a hot-headed young man living out in the sticks. He settles for beating up imperial functionaries whenever they pass by his home town.

Taitou has potential of which he is utterly unaware. His grandfather knows full well what power Taitou has within him and how to enable Taitou to draw on it. Step one: orchestrate Taitou’s humiliating loss to another martial artist.

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If Your Wings Are Broken

Adachitoka
Noragami, book 4

Noragami, Volume Four collects issues 12 to 15 of Adachitoka’s on-going series about the stray god Yato and his peers:

  • To Kill, or Not To Kill” (きる、きらない “Kiru, Kiranai”),

  • Omen” (兆し “Kizashi”),

  • Her Memories” (彼女の思い出 “Kanojo no Omoide”),

  • That Which Withers” (枯れゆくもの “Kare Yuku Mono”).

Having survived his servant Yukini’s flirtation with corruption, Yato must now figure out how to help his human friend Hiyori.

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Down to the Bottom

Akihito Tsukushi
Made in Abyss, book 1

Made in Abyss, Volume One collects issues one through eight of Akihito Tsukushi’s SF manga.

Riko’s world is thoroughly explored, save for one location. On an island in the middle of the Beoluska Sea there is a tremendous vertical cave structure known as the Abyss. Scattered here and there throughout the Abyss are marvellous artifacts of a long-vanished civilization. Bold Cave Raiders, as Riko’s mother Lyza was and Riko hopes to be, delve deep into the Abyss in search of wonders.

There are a few problems.

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Wash Me Clean

Hikaru Nakamura
Arakawa Under The Bridge, book 1

Arakawa Under The Bridge 1 collects volumes 1 & 2 of Hikaru Nakamura’s manga Arakawa Andā za Burijji. The 2017 translation is by Andrew Cunningham.

Brilliant, hard-working, driven, and wealthy, Kou Ichinomiya has striven his whole life to prove himself worthy of one day inheriting the Inchinomiya Corporation. Key to this quest is Kou’s steadfast adherence to the family motto: never owe anyone.

Calamity strikes when Kou tries to recover his trousers from the bridge where they have been hung by teenaged hooligans. Bad enough to fall into the river below. Much worse to be saved from drowning by a homeless stranger. Now Kou owes Nino and he will do anything to pay back the debt to her before his judgemental father finds out.

All stoic Nino wants is love.

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Nothing’s Gonna Change Our World

Flight — Yoshiki Tanaka
Legend of the Galactic Heroes, book 6

First published under the title Ginga Eiyu Densetsu volume 6, 1985’s Flight is the sixth volume in Yoshiki Tanaka’s Legend of the Galactic Heroes1. Tyran Grillo’s translation was published by Haikasoru in 2018.

Reinhard von Lohengramm finally outmanoeuvred his rival Yang Wen-li. The Galactic Empire finally reabsorbed the Free Planets Alliance. A man more vindictive than Reinhard might have had Yang executed. Reinhard allowed Yang to retire.

All that is necessary for this peaceful state of affairs to continue is for high ranking persons to do nothing to rock the boat. Of course, patience is such a difficult virtue to cultivate.


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The Pain That You Drive Into The Heart Of Me

Adachitoka
Noragami, book 3

Noragami Book 3 collects issues 8 to 11 of Adachitoka’s on-going series. Although just how long it will be on-going is open to question in these issues.

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Two Suns in the Sunset

Vestiges — Laurence Suhner
QuanTika, book 1

Vestiges is the first volume in Laurence Suhner’s QuanTika trilogy. Although Suhner writes in French, I was able to find an English translation of at least this first volume.

Having failed to terraform Mars, humanity transfers its colonizing enthusiasm to the nearby AltaMira system. Only six and a half light years from the Solar System, AltaMira is within reach of sub-light starships. Like the Solar System, it has an Earth-like world with a breathable atmosphere in the double star’s habitable zone. More or less. The “or less” is thanks to an eccentric orbit that dooms the world to snowball status for most of its year.

It is also the site of humanity’s first contact with an alien civilization — or rather, the relics of one. A structure dubbed the Great Arch orbits Gemma and is clearly artificial. It is also seemingly inert and impenetrable. Its secrets have been well hidden. That is about to change.

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Dragons Live Forever

Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters — Gen Urobuchi, Kōbun Shizuno, Hiroyuki Seshita

2017’s anime film Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters is the first in a trilogy of animated films about the big galoot. It was written by Gen Urobuchi and co-directed by Kōbun Shizuno and Hiroyuki Seshita. Voice actors include Kana Hanazawa, Yuki Kaji. Mamoru Miyano, Daisuke Ono, Takahiro Sakurai, Tomokazu Sugita, and Junichi Suwabe.

Humanity was seemingly helpless in the face of the kaiju, in particular Godzilla itself. Timely first contact with not one but two highly advanced aliens — the pious Exif and the technologically sophisticated Bilusaludo — proved humanity’s salvation. Not because the Exif and Bilusaludo were any more adept at fighting giant, indestructible monsters than the humans. They weren’t. But with alien help, a handful of humans was able to board starship Aratrum and flee towards the possible haven of Tau Ceti e.

Twenty years later….


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Just a Slob Like One of Us

Adachitoka
Noragami, book 2

Noragami, Volume 2 collects issues four through seven of a series from Adachitoka. It’s the tale of a minor god’s efforts to establish himself in modern-day Japan.

Minor god Yato is not well known, but he has profound effects on those who meet him. Yukini may be dead, but his spirit has been recruited to serve as Yato’s reluctant sidekick and magical weapon. Schoolgirl Hiyori Iki has gained a wonderous ability to astrally project! Even if she cannot control her potentially fatal condition, this is still a profound effect. Right?

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Their Just Reward

Kotono Katō
Altair: A Record of Battles, book 1

Altair: A Record of Battles, Volume One collects the first fasıls (as the author calls her chapters) of Kotono Katō’s manga series.

The continent of Rumelania is dominated by two great powers: the Türkiye stratocracy and the Balt-Rhein empire. Both are limited meritocracies, both are expansionist. Türkiye prefers persuasive annexation; Balt-Rhein has opted for outright conquest.

Mahmut lost his family and entire clan to war when he was a young boy. Determined to prevent another destructive war, he is the stratocracy’s youngest pasha and perhaps its most idealistic. Alas for Mahmut’s pacifism, it only takes one great power (one clearly based on the Holy Roman Empire) to start a war.

In fact, it only takes one faction within Balt-Rhein to bring Balt-Rhein and Türkiye to the brink of war.

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We All Want To Change The World

The Erinys Incident — Tani Kōshū

The 1983 novel The Erinys Incident is part of a future history series by Tani Kōshū. The 2018 Korudahan Press edition was translated by Simon Varnam.

The 2099 Outer Planet Revolt was as bold as it was unsuccessful. Tactical success failed to compensate for strategic errors. A year after it began, the Revolt was crushed by TerraLune’s AeroSpaceForce. Occupation of the rebel planetary systems followed, then status as quasi-independent states under the eye of the ASF.

A generation after the Revolt, the diehards of the Outer Planet Alliance are ready to try again.

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Please Don’t Insist

Masamune Shirow
Ghost in the Shell, book 1

Masamune Shirow’s 1991 Ghost in the Shell, volume 1, collects the first eleven chapters of the serial post-cyberpunk manga. The 1995 English translation is courtesy of Frederik Schodt and Toren Smith.

The 2030s! A wonderful era of realistic robotic servants, cybernetic brain enhancement, and advanced prosthetic augmentation. All are valuable tools in the endless struggle between nation-states. As well as the battle to contain terrorists/freedom fighters/mafias. (Which label to apply depends on your POV.)

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One Life For Yourself, And One For Your Dreams

The Empire of Corpses — Ryoutarou Makihara

The 2015 anime The Empire of Corpses is director Ryoutarou Makihara’s adaptation of a 2012 steampunk novel by Toh EnJoe1 and Project Itoh.

Victor Frankenstein taught the world how to re-animate the dead. But one crucial component of Frankenstein’s research was lost: the art of imbuing the reanimated dead with an actual soul. Others may call the dead back to life, but none will be able to replicate the will and soul of the One, Frankenstein’s first creation. No matter: necroware suffices to restore a semblance of life to the dead, a semblance that sentences them to unpaid labour under the direction of the living.

Doctor John Watson is determined to rediscover the lost method of soul restoration. He is so determined that he persists in his researches even though they are illegal: reanimation is a closely held state secret. He succeeds in resurrecting a dead friend, but fails to restore his soul. The reanimated man is an empty shell, which Watson nicknames Friday.

The British Empire is adept at dealing with amateurs like Watson. Soon after Friday is reanimated, Watson is arrested. M, head of the Secret Service, offers Watson a choice: a lengthy prison term or service as a British agent overseas, there to use his recherché talent in the interests of the empire. Watson takes the second option.

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Black Stars And Endless Seas

Makoto Yukimura
Planetes Omnibus, book 1

2015’s Planetes Omnibus Volume 1 collects the Yuki Johnson translation of Phases 1 to 12 of Makoto Yukimura’s near-future hard-SF manga, Planetes. The Japanese original first saw print between 1999 and 2003.

By the last quarter of the 21st century, humanity’s glorious space ventures include crewed facilities in orbit, the Moon, and beyond. Gone, the energy concerns of the old days. Lunar helium three1 provides all the cheap energy humanity needs, at least for the moment. It’s a wonderful shiny future in which humans can engage in all manner of exotic occupations.

Hachirota “Hachimaki” Hoshino is a garbage collector.

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Saving The World From Solomon Grundy

ONE & Yusuke Murata
One Punch Man, book 1

One-Punch Man Volume One collects Punches 1 through 8 of ONE and Yusuke Murata’s ongoing manga.

Salaryman turned superhero Saitama wrestles every day with a terrible burden.

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Party in the Sun

The Thousand Year Beach — Tobi Hirotaka

2002’s The Thousand Year Beach is a standalone SF novel by Tobi Hirotaka. The 2018 Anglophone edition was translated by Matt Treyvaud.

The Realm of Summer is a pleasing simulation of perfect summer in a Southern European seaside town, an idealization of something that would no doubt prove sadly flawed in real life. This perfection has been unsullied by human tourists for a thousand years (at least by the inhabitants’ virtual clocks), leaving them free to enjoy their lives without the complications humans would inflict.

All things end.

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In Dreams I Talk To You

Voices of a Distant Star — Makoto Shinkai & Sumomo Yumeka

2002’s Voices of a Distant Star is a standalone original video animation by Makoto Shinkai. It was later the basis of a 2004 manga by Sumomo Yumeka.

Noboru Terao, obviously (although inarticulately) smitten with fellow student Mikako Nagamine, expects to spend his years in high school mooning after Mikako. Unbeknownst to Noboru, Mikako has volunteered to join the UN Space Army. Mikako will not be attending high school. She will be travelling across the solar system and beyond.

They are determined to remain in contact. Physics will not be their friend in this matter.

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