Monday, February 13, 2012

Volume 3 (After Much Delay)

First of all, I must apologize for this very belated post.  A number of exciting and time-consuming life events occurred around volume 3's release date (a new job as a teacher, wedding dress shopping, and planning a trip to Japan in June, among other things) and I ended up shoving this blog onto the back burner, where it quietly simmered for a while.  We all know Sailor Moon doesn't belong on the back burner, so without further ado, let's push that Life-a-roni & Cheese aside, pull volume 3 forward, and cook up some tasty analysis!

....right after I give a big thanks to Miss Dream for providing high-quality scans of the Japanese reprint manga and Mixx manga, which are free for everyone to download and use as they like.  This cuts down my workload considerably, because now I only need to take pictures of Kodansha's re-release.  Don't forget that you can click pictures to make them bigger!


The binding on this volume was tighter than the previous two.  There were many times when I had to stretch the book out quite a bit just to read some text that was being sucked into the crevice.

The Japanese reprint includes two bonus "Punch" comics that are mysteriously absent from Kodansha's release.  What the hell, man?  Now I have to pull out a screenshot from your company's webpage:
I do not think these mean what you think they mean, because excluding content is neither accurate nor true to the original.

EDIT 7/2012:  Kodansha stated at San Diego Comic Con that Takeuchi is the one who did not allow the Punch! comics to be included.  See this liveblog of the event.

Nothing gets me jazzed about writing quite like typoos....I mean, typos.  They are unacceptable in any published work, but are even more so in ones that have separate editors paid to catch 'em all.  The first line should read, "they're not here!"  I imagine that Flanagan (the translator) mistakenly wrote "there not here" and then the editor glanced over it, noticed a missing 're, and just glued it on without actually comprehending the initial spelling error.


Yeah, yeah, my comparison images are nothing fancy.  Wanna fight about it?  This Tetris-like picture illustrates two criticisms originating from the same scene.  Number one, Flanagan's messed up his grammar.  Beryl should say "since" like she does in the Mixx version, not "from". "BUT WAIT!" you may say.  "Given Flanagan's love for the ellipsis, perhaps Beryl is starting a new sentence with 'from ancient times...'!"  I've included the next panel to show that this is not the case.  Like Kunzite in volume 2, Beryl seems to be having a hard time getting those pesky words out of her mouth, and just babbles in fragments.  Beryl, here's how speech works:  (1) brain creates a complete thought (2) speech apparatuses work together to turn that thought into sound (3) thought-sounds are understood by human listeners.  Don't skip step 1, or else things might get a little confusing.

First of all, LOL.  Second of all, why?  Maybe some people will think I'm being silly, and to that I say, NO YOU.  Because that's probably what Princess Serenity would say in Flanagan's Sailor Moon world. I get that Serenity is a little childish, but poo on you?  I hardly think that's an appropriate translation of "Venus nanka".  Nanka, used as it is here, emphasizes a word (in this case, "Venus") with a cynical, negative, or differentiating tone.  The next thing Serenity says is that Venus has never been in love before, and so doesn't understand her romantic situation with Endymion.  Therefore, saying "Venus nanka" is a way to differentiate Serenity and Venus in a mildly disparaging way.  I think Mixx captured this much better.

Oh hi, this is the very next page.  The problem here is the "right, Kunzite?"  Endymion is NOT the speaker of the previous line!  Kunzite sympathizes with Venus by saying, "must be tough..." and then Endymion scolds him by sharply saying his name.  Two people are speaking two different lines here, and I am stunned that Flanagan screwed this up by attributing both lines to Endymion.  Why would Endymion even say such a thing about the love of his life, and while wearing a perturbed expression, to boot?  Even though Kunzite's description of Serenity makes her sound like a pet dog in the Mixx version, and the verb "be" is missing from his sentence, at least his dialog is properly attributed to him.  Actually, you know what?  Both Mixx and Flanagan dropped the ball here.  No poimts for either of you.

Oh, Asanuma.  You were a nice side character until you got dropped like every other side character in the Sailor Moon universe.  But what's this about "bearing a whiff of a secret?"  A whiff is not something that one bears.  You can catch a whiff, or get a whiff.  I think Flanagan wanted to use "scent", but decided to add some flavor with a snappier word that unfortunately doesn't make any sense in this context.

OMG HE HAS SUCH A MAN CRUSH ON MAMO-CHAN ROFL.  Again, I think Flanagan is trying to add some flavor to the translation, but this is just stupid.  In the Japanese, Makoto is reporting on something that Asanuma said; you can tell by the grammar of って at the end of the sentence.  He certainly didn't say (at least publicly) that he has a "man-crush" on Mamoru.  Flanagan removed the reported speech element and presented the text as Makoto's appraisal of the situation. 

I'm not a fan of Flanagan's wording (right).  Mixx's is much smoother and more poetic.  The way in which words are arranged syntactically and spatially (in the case of manga) has an effect on their emotional impact.  For example, the text in the Mixx manga builds towards a powerful central idea of falling in love again.  "We'll find each other..." (ellipsis and space to create a pause) "and then..." ellipsis and space to create a pause; a phrase that makes us anticipate what's coming next) "we'll fall in love again." (emotional conclusion)  In Kodansha, we don't get that same buildup because Serenity makes 5 separate statements, one of them bizarrely worded--"the only love for me is you!"


This gets its own section because it pops up multiple times and it bugs me in a special way.  This is supposed to be a nonsense sound that people make when they are regaining consciousness (Motoki on p.9), getting choked (Sailor Moon on p.12 and 16), and possibly when other stuff is happening that I'm too lazy to find.  The reason this bugs me is because nonsense sounds are supposed to be nonsense, like "hurk", "blargh", and "uuunng".  "Urn" is a legitimate English word.  The example above reads like Sailor Moon is trying to call Endymion's attention to an urn.  It doesn't matter if my brain knows that there is no urn; it needs a split-second to reassure itself of that fact, and in that split-second, my face is a combination of "haha!" and "what?"


This panel has already secured a spot in Sailor Moon infamy.  I could just let it speak for itself, but it won't use the proper vocabulary.  So here I go.

::walks outside and screams at the top of her lungs::
::comes back to the computer::

Now let me tell you all the reasons why this is the worst thing in the world.

(1)  In this day and age, there is no excuse to ever get the names of any Sailor Moon attack, character, or item wrong.  The series has been out for over a decade and we have the fucking Internet.  If Flanagan was honestly confused about how to translate this, because he obviously is not a Sailor Moon fan and that in itself makes me rage, he could have GOOGLED IT.  He wouldn't even have had to ask a real human being, although that also would have been an option for him.

(2)  スパークリング (spaakuringu) is a real Japanese word used to mean "sparkling".  Yes, you can find it in a dictionary.

(3)  Since lots of wacky foreign loan words can be represented in katakana, Naoko takes certain measures to prevent her young readers from getting confused.  One way she does this is by separating individual words.  See how スパークリング and ウイド and プレッシャー are all written as separate lines?  That's because they're three separate words: "sparkling", "wide", and "pressure".  The panel on the right shows the same thing with Venus's "Venus Love Me Chain", except Naoko also helps out by putting a little dot between "love" and "me" just in case you might mistakenly read them as one word.  Boy, she sure makes translating a snap!  What kind of stupid asshole could mess this up?  Oh...

(4)  "Spark Ring" honest-to-God sounds like someone making fun of a Japanese accent.  Most East Asian speakers have difficulty differentiating English "R" and "L" sounds because they don't exist as two independent sounds in their native language.  That's why parodies of how East Asians talk always include sloppy R and Ls.

(5)  Everyone has their sore spots about how Sailor Moon has historically been treated in the US.  One of mine is that proper names have often been used inconsistently, so that Black Lady is Black Lady in one chapter, then Wicked Lady the next, or Momo changes to Mary, or all the myriad examples you can pull from the dubbed anime.  How hard is it to pick a name and stick with it, I asked?  This, like the "Princess Beryl" blunder in volume 2, ruins the manga forever because it will have to be corrected, and once it's corrected, BOOM, we have inconsistent fucking names AGAIN!  After all these years, we're still  going to hear someone or something referred to as one thing, only to hear them referred to as another thing later!  WHY?!  This is like a living nightmare for me, and I will never forgive Kodansha or William Flanagan.


Well, after that lovely conclusion, why don't we take a look at some nice things that Mr. Flanagan has done for us in volume 3.  ::eye twitches::

After giving some examples where Flanagan's experimentation with "flavor" went wrong, here's one that I think turned out to be a success.  Yes, what Venus says is technically closer to what Mixx translated, but Flanagan's take is much more dramatic.

This whole page is a good example of improved accuracy, but I wanted to keep the image small.  Kunzite explains some details about Queen Metalia, including her weak point.  He's a lot more specific about why now is the time for Sailor Moon to attack.

Of course, Mixx didn't want to use the name Chibiusa, so they changed all the dialog that explained why she came to be known as such.  Chibiusa says that her name is Usagi, then scampers off.  Usagi asks Mamoru where "that chibi Usagi" went.  They find her sitting on a swing, and Mamoru ad-libs the name "Chibiusa" and calls out to her.  It's endearing, and certainly one of the reasons why Chibiusa takes to him right away.  Mixx using "kid" is just cold.  At the very least, they could have used "little Bunny", since she said her name was Bunny.

Here's some more of Mixx's self-inflicted problems with Chibiusa's name.  Since she hasn't given her "real name" yet in Mixx's version, they throw out the actual dialog here and replace it with an introduction.  It makes much more sense for Usagi to grill Chibiusa about what the hell she did to her parents at this moment.  If some weird kid who fell from the sky had hypnotized my parents, I wouldn't scream, "WHAT'S YOUR REAL NAME?!" 
Rei's classmate, Kotono, is talking about spontaneous combustion.  As they have in the past, Mixx tries to fool us into thinking that this story takes place in America by editing her statement about the multitude of cases in both Europe and America, and removing any mention of Japan.  Uhh, the text on that newspaper looks pretty Japanese to me, sooo....nice try.

This panel was a weird little pet peeve of mine back in the day.  "Someone's gonna come!" is just a really poor way of expressing "people are coming!"  The Japanese uses the verb "to gather", so Flanagan nailed this.  Not like it should be hard to nail, of course.  Also, let's all pause for a moment and share a nostalgic chuckle about Tuxedo Kamen's use of the verb, "un-morph".  Remember how Sailor Moon used to use the word "morph" all the time, probably because of the popularity and precedent set by Power Rangers?  Good times, good times. 

No, they weren't.

In this scene, Mamoru is talking about his school to Asanuma, who wants to become a student there.  Mixx improperly has him comment on the nature of the students.  He's actually talking about the nature of the school itself.  The word ハングリー (hangurii) in katakana does not mean hungry as in wanting food; it means driven / motivated.  So Mixx just totally effs this up by saying that the students are all "filthy and starving."  Okie doke.  Mamoru looks pretty clean and fed to me.


So volume 3 has a couple of very frustrating errors.  After "Princess Beryl" in volume 2 and "Spark Ring Wide Pressure" here, I'm feeling a little nervous about future volumes.  I'm not sure how many translation DERPs I can stomach, and I'm just really mad that Kodansha didn't get someone who actually cares about Sailor Moon to translate this.  Like, how hard would it have been?  I'd bet that most people who translate manga have read / watched Sailor Moon at one time.  Especially if they're going to advertise this reboot as being super accurate and complete, why would they just grab some random dude, and not someone who is familiar with this very popular and repeatedly adapted product?

Anyway, check back soon, because I recently watched the SuperS anime again, and I have a lot of thoughts I'd like to share.


  1. Another good review...the Spark ring...that sucked all the vibe out of it. Keep it up!

    1. Thanks! I almost fainted when I read "Spark Ring". Lol.

    2. Love your reviews! Keep it up!

    3. I can kinda see where "spark ring" comes from because thats how it sounds. how does wide pressure sparkle anyways? lol

  2. URN!
    Thanks for making me laugh so much :D
    Great reviews!

  3. I have a question since you didn't address it in your entry -- do you think "Spectre" was a good choice for the translation of Ayakashi? I realize we don't have a word for a ghost appearing at sea during a shipwreck and spectre is one of the best approximations we could make, but do you think going with the latter and easier definition would've been better? I've seen a lot of people thinking Naoko most likely meant the "Weird/Strange/Suspicious" definition instead (since the sisters aren't ghosts but definitely weird, and Weird could've been a reference to Shakespeare) and that it's the better choice since it's easy to carry over into English, and was wondering what your thoughts on the matter were.

    1. I honestly don't ponder or agonize too much about names unless there is a really blatant error (like Petite Roll), and the modern usage of "ayakashi" seems to fit either translation. For example, if you look this up in the Kojien, which is like the Webster's dictionary of Japan, the first entry is about a maritime ghost, and the second is about ghostly or suspicious things in general. So, personally, I guess I'd accept either one, though "Four Weird / Strange / Suspicious Sisters" doesn't sound very threatening.

    2. I can understand that. :) Personally I didn't mind too much either way, but after seeing some discussion about it I did wonder and thought who better to ask than you. :) And I'm glad I did, since I didn't know about the Kojien dictionary or its definitions. Spectre is definitely a fine term them, and good point about Weird/Strange/Suspicious not sounding very threatening haha. And Spectre fits them too, with how paranormal they are.

  4. Kodansha's preamble to Reincarnation reads like a Mojo Jojo speech.