Tuesday, December 6, 2011

K-On! manga US vs. JP review and comparison (vol. 4)

The fourth and final (for now, at least) volume of Yen Press’ English version of the original K-On! manga has arrived! So is it good, or does it suck shimapan? And how does it compare to the Japanese edition? Let’s have a look and find out!
After the traditional volume collection-only chapter (a hilarious six page special where the five girls end up impersonating each other), the first few 4-koma chapters concern themselves with the preparations for and execution of the school’s culture festival. The rest of the volume deals primarily with college entrance exams and impending graduation. In between it all, the girls manage to find time to celebrate Christmas and New Years’ Eve together, pay a visit to Sawako’s place and – as always – chit chat and drink tea. There are plenty of laughs to be found, and maybe even a touching moment or two.
Reading this after having seen the anime is quite interesting –  roughly the first half of the volume saw a fairly straightforward adaption in the second season, yet the events of the second half were to a large degree ignored by the TV version (probably because of the fact that the manga was still ongoing while the anime was in production). Even so, the broad strokes are more or less the same, and both versions eventually arrive at pretty much the same conclusion.
Now, then – how does this English edition from Yen Press stack up against the original Japanese one? Well… pretty much the same as the previous three volumes. It has the same size and dimensions, and sticks pretty close to the original design.
As usual, the “bonus comic” (and, in this case; Kakifly’s afterword) are printed on the cover of the Japanese edition, hidden behind the dust jacket – while the English edition, not having a dust jacket, moves them to the back of the book, which works quite nicely. Strangely, the illustration of a sleeping Yui accompanying the afterword is a lot more detailed in the English version(!).
The English edition also includes four pages worth of translation notes in the back, as one would expect at this point after the way the previous three volumes handled things. Readers who were upset at Mugi’s Kinkakuji speech in Vol. 3 might be happy to hear that aside from the previously established “Pop Music Club” and “Azu-meow”, there aren’t any unexpected peculiarities in the translation this time – not that I noticed, anyway – though some may cry “censorship” at the toning down of Sawako’s doorbell in Ritsu and Yui’s imagination. This is such a minor point, though, and not particularly surprising, that I doubt a lot of people will notice or care.
"Fuck You!!"

Not "Fuck You!!"
As an added bonus, this volume once again features a bunch of color pages throughout – in fact, all but one of the chapters begin with a couple of color pages this time. The Japanese edition features only the special opening chapter in color, but as a tradeoff it is printed on glossy paper. Which is nice and all, but in my opinion it’s better to have all the pages that were originally printed in color in the magazines remain that way in the volume collection than it is to have a few glossy pages.
All in all, I am very happy with Yen Press’ work here, and I’m glad to finally have the complete K-On! manga in English… that is, “complete” until the Japanese side of things gets around to publishing more volumes.

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