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Sailor Moon Returns: reviews of the manga vol. 1 and Codename: Sailor V!

Sailor Moon is back! I got the first volume of the re-released, re-translated, revised English manga, as published by Kodansha USA, the American branch of the original publisher of Sailor Moon. Mine wasn't packaged up quite as securely and pretty as [twitter.com profile] moonkittynet's was, but it didn't arrive damaged...at least, not by the packaging.

Turns out my page 159-60 was cut improperly though, resulting in a garish sticking-up amount of paper on both the top and sides of the book. I'm going to review my copy and then promptly return it to Amazon in the hopes of getting a new copy that isn't so fashmoogled.

The first thing folks who know their Sailor Moon manga will notice is that this is based off the Japanese re-release, which took place in 2004. That re-release was timed to coincide with the Japanese live-action series, which is why there are some "new" art pieces included that might otherwise look a bit odd to Sailor Moon fans.

Furthermore, those re-releases, like most other Japanese manga, had dust covers. Apparently English readers can't be trusted with dust covers, so we got the artwork printed on a slightly-larger copy of the book, printed (thank god!) in the right-to-left way. Therefore, I'm assuming images haven't been severely edited, cut, or otherwise cropped. It certainly didn't appear that they had.

The color on the cover is crisp and clear, and I can't detect any noticeable differences between it on the English re-release and the original Japanese re-release.

Regarding the new glossy color pages--those are the same in English and in Japanese. The first image is of the Sailor Moon from the live-action--that is, what she'd look like if she was drawn manga-style. That's why she's got the Cosmic Heart Compact instead of her usual round Transformation Brooch, but she has the manga-only barrettes in her hair, and her usual red-gem tiara, crescent moon choker, and the Moon Stick (Crescent Moon Wand). The same applies to the simplified "chibi" or SD version of Sailor Moon on the contents page; she has a heart for the same reason.

Odd, but not related to the translation at all, but why does the color image of Princess Serenity (you can tell because of the style of her dress that it's Princess Serenity, and not Neo-Queen Serenity) have Neo-Queen Serenity's crown? The image hasn't been edited for the English re-release or anything (it was like that in the Japanese, too), but I just found it weird.

As Brad (of MoonKitty.net) mentioned in his review, it is odd that Kodansha opted to keep the honorifics instead of a) cutting them out entirely, because they're not THAT important; b) trying to translate them, because YES, they can be translated; or c) including their usual honorifics guide, the way they do with their other titles. That last one really surprised me, because I expected it, and I even looked for it in their Translation Notes at the end of the volume, but they didn't have any! I guess they *are* assuming that the majority of their readers, being long-time Sailor Moon fans, will already be familiar with the honorific system?

There's not all that much to make translation notes on in Sailor Moon, at least not if you're an old Moonie like myself (not "old" but... you know!). Still, I was surprised to find what things they DID make notes on, and not others. For example, the Translation Notes include mention of the puns that each of the girls' names are (Usagi Tsukino sounds like "Rabbit of the Moon" and so forth), but they make no explanation whatsoever of why "everyone calls" Haruna Sakurada (Usagi's homeroom teacher) "Haruda!" It's another pun, because her name sounds like "Cherry Blossom! Flower" when read with her surname first. Her surname includes "da," which can sound emphatic in speech. Ah, I guess it's not that important... :P

TYPO #1: page 28, Usagi admires the Transformation Brooch. BROOCH. Not "broach." Broach is a verb, meaning "to break through." Though the Japanese ブローチ (boo-roh-chi/burochi) sounds more like "broach" than it does the English word for the jewelry item (boo-roo-chee), there is a definite difference in both English pronunciation and spelling. Though, "brooch" does somehow relate back to the word "broach," it's just that the dictionary clearly defines them as separate items.... The typo is repeated on page 29.

TYPO #2: page 35, Sailor Moon introduces herself as the Guardian of...Beauty and Justice?! Uh...actually it's "Love," (she says "Ai to Seigi no..." as everyone who knows the slightest bit of anything Japanese Sailor Moon) but hey, it could be worse. They didn't translate it as "Guardian of Meatloaf and Justice!"

Some oddness on page 36. I wonder why they opted to use the word "Murder" when the villains are attacking Sailor Moon, instead of "kill." The Japanese phrase is more commonly translated as "kill," and it sounds more threatening coming from a villain, I think. Meh.

DID YOU KNOW THAT?: on page 46, we see one of the older designs for Sailor Moon. How can you tell? She's got a white choker instead of the magenta-red one we see her with in the "official" artwork, including the cover of this book. Other than that, you can't see much else of what changed with Sailor Moon's costume, but she went through the most costume changes PRIOR to actually becoming a Senshi, never mind after she actually did! This is true in both the anime AND the manga!

Luna oddly refers to the [Moon] Princess as "Princess-sama." This ties back to the fact that the translator opted not to translate all of the honorifics--but he did translate some. For example Motoki Furuhata, the "Crown Game Center" guy, is called "Bro," rather than the friendly "Onii-sama," which yes, does LITERALLY mean "Big Brother," but is often translated as "Mister." But that'd be awkward in English, because "Big Brother" might be taken literally ("are they related?!" No) and "Mister" sounds formal and weird. So instead of opting for a normal, English-sounding equivalent (like, oh, HIS NAME?), they call him "Bro." That's somewhat for good reason, since Usagi doesn't actually find out his name until later in the volume.

Anyway, back to Luna: she actually does say "Princess-sama" in the Japanese, but that sounds weird in English. Why not call her, as Brad suggested, "Her Royal Highness, the Princess," or something like that? There are lots of fun phrases in English for denoting royalty, like "Her Majesty," and so on. It's interesting if only because Luna has a specific speech pattern in Japanese: she sounds intelligent, but sometimes "off," using turns of phrase that aren't quite Japanese. For example, the honorific "sama" does have a specific kanji associated with it (様), but Luna uses the katakana (サマ: whether she did it for emphasis or not, I'm not sure) instead.

TYPO? #3: Page 61, this might just be a nitpick on my part, but when you're referring to CDs, it's "disc" not "disk." You have a hard DISK, but you use optical DISCS. We no longer use floppy DISKS (which were actually featured in the original Japanese release of the manga; the revision edits them to be CDs...and I suppose if the manga ever got edited again, they'd be changed to miniature USB flash drives?).

TYPO #4: Page 74, the youma that's attacking Ami and her fellow Crystal Seminar classmates threatens Sailor Moon: "I'll slice you into hash!" What? In the original Japanese, she basically said "I'll cut you up," but a better English translation that makes sense might have been "I'll cut you to pieces!" or "I'll slice you to ribbons" or something--but HASH?! Huh?

TYPO #5: Page 86. I want a good explanation for this. Why the heck wasn't "Sendai Zaka" translated? a) It's got a perfect English equivalent: "Sendai Hill," and b) it's A REAL FREAKIN' PLACE. There's just no excuse for it. The translator further compounds his error by not translating the simple words that mean "the top of Sendai Hill" (which is where the "Demon Bus Line" arrives) and "the bottom of the hill," which is where the D Kingdom Embassy is located.

Page 93 is an example of a too-literal translation. Rei senses evil approaching Hikawa Shrine, right as Usagi is arriving. She thinks "One of you heathens who would bring evil calamity even to a sacred shrine?! I will not allow that!" It just sounds awkward. Yes, Rei is supposed to be graceful, attend a private girls' academy, and generally come across as more refined than Usagi and even Ami, but that just sounds BIZARRE in English.

I think a better translation might have been "One of those who would bring harm to this sacred shrine...I won't allow it!" After all, in the original Japanese, there's no mention of "evil," and "calamity" is a bit extreme of a translation for "wazawai (災い)." Sure, it can also be translated as "catastrophe," but it's also used in phrases about "misfortune." It's a typical exaggeration word, and I doubt Rei is the sort to jump the gun and assume all misfortune is the disastrous sort.

Anyway, skip WAY ahead, because it's all fairly tolerable (and hey, I was right: it's better than Mixx!) up until page 194. Sailor Jupiter says something that I frankly can't parse out in English OR in Japanese: "Sailor Jupiter! It's true! That's what...I used to be!" In the Japanese, she says "セーラージュピター そうー あたし そ・う・だったんだわ" The translation is pretty literal and accurate, but I just don't understand it. It's not like Sailor Jupiter immediately regains her memories from the Silver Millennium and knows she "used" to be Sailor Jupiter--that simply wouldn't make sense. She does talk about being drawn to the school, to the neighborhood, for some reason, but NO ONE just "transformed" and suddenly "got it." Not even Venus! Maybe something more along the lines of "Sailor Jupiter...I understand! I see, THAT'S why I'm here!" It's more like there's something in Jupiter's head that she's thinking but not saying, because the words by themselves don't seem to have a subject that they're referring to. She does, very emphatically (hence the two dots next to "sou") say that she understands/she sees [something], and it's about herself and things that have [recently] happened to her, but that's about all I can glean from it.

TYPO #6: Page 239. In the Translation Notes, they refer to Motoki saying "glamor," but that word means something different from "glamourous," which is what Motoki actually said (in English, グラマー) The inclusion of the "u" makes a big difference, even though it requires the note to say that the Japanese usage of the English word means something different from the actual English word. Hey, maybe they should have used the phrase "talented" instead?! Haha!

Sailor V has a special place in my heart. Many, many years ago, I attempted to start up a scanlation group without really knowing what was involved. I owned (still do, actually, though they're not in the greatest of condition) all three of the original Japanese Sailor V manga, and Mixx had no plans to translate it. Sure, you could read a text-only translation by Alex Glover, but it wasn't the same. Reading a manga is no fun when you have to constantly refer to a script or printed-out wad of pages with the English on it.

Well, the project didn't have enough volunteers, and I didn't have the resources to get all the pages properly scanned so they could be edited. Others stepped in and ended up doing the job, but frankly, they were half-assed. I attempted to re-start Project: Sailor V as part of my "Souten Studios" project, but again, I just didn't have the resources. Alex Glover's translations were pretty damn good, and better translation projects like Miss Dream did come around, so I was content with that.

Now, we FINALLY have an "official" English translation, and it's...well, it's okay. Good, even! Here's the thing: while I'll agree that translations often have no place overlapping original Japanese wording, sometimes it's necessary. And other times, it makes more sense to just overwrite the original with a translation.

For example: on page 1, we see Minako in her gym uniform. Her name is printed on the shirt. Sure, we understand from her speech that her name is Minako, but those who don't read Japanese/Chinese characters won't know that what's on her shirt is her name. What if it was her school's name instead? To me, it would have made more sense to translate the writing on her shirt.

But I can understand the opinion that to change the Japanese sound effects in manga is tantamount to altering the actual art, so I can understand why it's more common--especially in Kodansha/Del Rey manga--to put the rough approximation of the sound "in English" in smaller, English letters.

And then an example of overwriting that doesn't make sense: on page 12, the sign above the door says "For first year students, class B." Why not just leave it the way it was: "1-B!" We see in the artwork that it's a sign above a door, so clearly, it's room "1-B." The fact that Japanese classrooms are organized by year and section is something that could be included in the Translation Notes--it's not really all that relevant to the immediate story. Plus, the Notes would be a perfect place to explain that, in Japanese schools, it's the teacher that moves around, not the students. So once a student is assigned a section (because their year is a given: you either graduate from the previous year or you don't), they're stuck there. Not to mention, later on in the volume, they DO leave it as "1-B," so what the heck?! (It's weird: the Japanese actually says "中1コースBクラス," while later signs have her in class "1-3." So I'm not really sure if it's a different room or what...)

TYPO #1: Page 47, Minako is telling Artemis that he's a "crossdressing" cat, and she explains her logic by telling the story of the Greek goddess of the hunt. Only, she says "...who's brother was Apollo." No, Minako, it's "whose brother!" Possessive and contractive are not the same thing! :( But that's purely a translation error, not a "Minako!ism."

I've realized something: even though Sailor Moon went through more costume changes in her design before debuting, it's Minako whose artwork as a Senshi is more inconsistent. At the start of "volume 3" in the Sailor V manga, Sailor V has crescents on her glove rings--they only appear sometimes. Her strap on her pumps also has a crescent, but that's a bit more consistent--what ISN'T consistent is the color of that strap. Sometimes it's navy to match the rest of the shoes, and other times it's lighter (white to match her choker, perhaps?). And then the stripe on her sailor collar, sleeves, and skirt is sometimes just red, and other times has white bordering the red. Page 83 has another example of this.

The same applies to Minako's school uniform: it's just supposed to have one white stripe on her sailor collar and one on the sleeve cuffs, as well as her bow-holder (not sure what you'd properly call it, but it's the thing that holds her front ribbon in place, like a napkin ring), but in some illustrations, there's a red stripe in the middle of two white ones.

Page 100: Weird translation "Detective, your misunderstanding needs to be cleared." Yup, more examples that make you go "Who talks like that?!" This is why I emphasize the important of proofreaders and editors. If you don't read your own works aloud, then you might not realize how awkward things sound. A better translation would have been "Detective, we need to clear up this misunderstanding you're having," or "Detective, you've misunderstood [the situation]."

Page 103: The English translation left out a letter; Petite Pandora is described as "Pretty Young Model" in the Japanese, but for some reason, it's "Pretty Young Mode" in English, even though later on, Petite Pandora refers to herself by the full title, "l" included.

Page 120: I mentioned this before, but why "murder" instead of "kill?" It just sounds so weird, even if it makes sense in English. Also on this page, Minako's brooch for some reason turns into a crescent. I don't mean "a crescent reflecting off her brooch," the way there's a crescent on Usagi's Transformation Brooch, but it actually IS a crescent. It remains this way for the rest of the chapter.

Page 132: This is just something odd I noticed; it's not translation or re-release related. Why exactly did Minako and Hikaru go to the Dark Guys' concert in their school uniforms? I get that Japanese school uniforms are costly and often indicate a status, but...I don't know, it seems odd. Maybe it was more common to do that back in the 90s?

TYPO? #2: page 139: I'm not sure if this is really a "typo" or not, but the eldest of the "Dark" idols introduced in this chapter is called "Shizukahime Dark." Why not just call her "Princess Shizuka Dark," unless her given name is actually supposed to be "Shizukahime..." Is that really a given name in Japanese? I know "Shizuka" is, but "Shizukahime?" And I guess they're all supposed to be related, with the last name "Dark," hence the reason why the "Dark" comes at the end of her name, not the beginning, like the triplet brothers (Dark Guys). Their individual names aren't given, and the other family idol pair is "Twin Dark."

Page 154: Is it just me, or did Amano (a.k.a. Sailor V's Umino) notice Minako transform into her "G.I. Fighting Girl" outfit using her Crescent Compact? He made this weird comment about him "going as a ninja," which I guess has to do with the idol contest and Amano's weirdness...

Page 156: Minako calls herself "Debuting Idol Beauty," but I think a more accurate translation would have been a "BEAUTIFUL Debuting Idol," since the Japanese placed emphasis on the "Bijin" (beautiful person), and not on the "shinjin" (rookie, debuting star) or "idol." But hey, it's technically still a valid translation, so....

Page 162: Sailor V is saying she has to get ready for the day when the "true" enemy reveals itself, since the Dark Agency's Fluorite that she just dusted is clearly not the big boss behind all these weird attacks. But then she says something odd as she passes by Usagi, admiring the poster for the Sailor V game at the Crown Game Center: "Right. For that day too. See?" I would have translated the "See?" as "Right?" instead, but otherwise it's pretty accurate. I just don't get it. Does that imply that a) Minako is breaking the fourth wall addressing us readers that know Usagi is Sailor Moon in the future or b) she actually does remember something of her past from the Silver Millennium? She's never given any genuine hint of it until now, because it's always been Artemis or "Boss" telling her everything. So what "day" does Minako also need to prepare for?

Page 180: We meet Rei for the first time, and we get the impression that she's upper class just from her speech. She reminds me a bit of Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation, because she doesn't use contractions! "There is a disquieting atmosphere in there. It is ominous." Really, Rei? YOU'RE OMINOUS! Who talks like that?!

Also TYPO #3: Rei's classmates say game centers aren't ominous, "their" odorous. Grr, get your their/there/they're right, people! This kind of typo, above all others, really bugs me. I learned this in third grade, when is everyone else going to get it right?! It's not that confusing!

Page 222: Dark Agency Hawaii branch member "Hibiscusy" complains that Greece is a "huge continent where [she] can't even suck a tenth of the energy [she] can in Hawaii." I get that Greece is bigger than Hawaii, but it's still an island, not a continent. It's not even attached to the main European continent! Is Hibiscusy that stupid, or is it a bad translation?

Page 226: Hikaru smartly points out that Minako won a free trip to Hawaii, but she came back with a Grecian rug...except, the rug has hieroglyphs on it. It's Egyptian! Hey!

Page 243: Minako says that Saito, her latest crush, reminds her of someone. Considering the more-than-strong resemblance he bears to Kunzite, it's not surprising, but I have to admit, the first time I read this story (ages ago), I was bummed that Saito wasn't Kunzite's disguised form (the way Zoisite disguised himself as Prof. Isono). It makes sense though, considering the new big bad, Danburite, reports to Kunzite. But Kunzite isn't really the type to get his hands dirty if he can help it, leaving all the disguising and defeating of the annoying "Guardian Sailor V" to his minions. :P Still, I'm betting Takeuchi made Kunzite resemble Saito (or is it the other way around, even though we have yet to meet Kunzite in the Sailor V manga?) on purpose, because of the backstory she came up with for Venus and Kunzite in the Silver Millennium.

Page 270: There's a weird tense shift as Minako reminisces about her feelings for Saito. She says "I'm really, really...more than I ever dreamed...am in love with you, but..." A better translation would have been "I'm really, really...more than I ever dreamed...in love with you, but..." Is there a difference between the phrase "love you" and "in love with you" in Japanese? Even if there is, there's just no excuse for such an obvious tense shift! It just requires the "am" to be moved to a different part of the sentence, after all....

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