Thursday, August 18, 2011

K-On! manga US vs. JP review and comparison (vol. 3)

The third volume of Kakifly’s original K-On! manga is here, and as a random person on the internet, it is of course my sacred duty to review it. The first two volumes were adapted into the first season of the TV anime by Kyoto Animation, and this third volume consists of the chapters that would eventually be turned into the first half of the second season (so, yeah; spoilers!).
As with every volume of K-On!, this one opens with a special chapter that wasn’t serialized in Manga Time Kirara (and in this case, wasn’t adapted for the anime either). It’s a short chapter, in which the five Keionbu members celebrate the new year.
Other chapters has them working at a maid café, encountering a stalker, celebrating Valentine’s, cleaning the club room, failing at recruiting new members, struggling to make a career choice, going on a class trip to Kyoto, having trouble with the rainy season, having trouble with the heat during summer, facing a weird request from Mugi, and going to a music festival. Lastly, there’s a chapter focusing on the younger three characters – Azusa, Ui and Jun – and a special chapter featuring a flashback to the beginnings of Mio and Ritsu’s friendship.
The older four begin their final High School year in this volume, and we get the first signs of an impending ending to the series as Azusa briefly comes to the realization that she’s going to be alone in the club soon, before dismissing the thought as depressing – leaving the potentially tearful goodbyes for another day and another volume.
The English version from Yen Press compares to the Japanese original much the same way the first and second volumes did. The two editions are of equal size and look pretty much the same. As before, the “bonus comics” inside the cover on the Japanese edition are moved to the back of the book, which works out just fine. Curiously, one of these pages has a note saying “© Kyoto Animation”. As far as I know, KyoAni has nothing to do with the original manga… If it’s a joke, I’m not getting it.
Once again, the English edition has color pages that were reduced to grey tones for the Japanese tankoubon, and there are actually even more color pages this time. Nicely done.
What has irked some fans this time around, though, is the translation. The continued use of “Pop Music Club” and “Azu-meow” is to be expected, but the adaption of the Kyoto dialect into profanity-laden urban speech in the English version has not fared well with some readers. Frankly, I think it is justified criticism. Mugi’s speech about the Kinkakuji is translated thusly:
“Yo, dis Kinkakuji hea… Dis bitch was all burned out an’ shit back in 1950. Da one dey gots hea is some new shit dey rebuilt afta. An’ the trut’ is, dey be callin’ it Rokuonji, yo.”
I think that speaks for itself. To be fair, the translator does account for his choice in the translation notes, and this rather unfortunate incident is pretty much contained within one page… In my opinion, hardly enough reason to howl for the blood of anyone involved or to pass on buying this book. Not when Yen Press got so much right.
And now, to wait for the “final” volume, coming in December…

1 comment:

  1. Personally, I loved the use of Ebonics. Mugi's line made me lol heartily.

    People complaining about "Azu-meow" and "Pop music club" are just rabid weeaboos who've gotten used to the fansubs. Heaven forbid US companies translate words into fitting, natural sounding English-equivalents.