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Sailor V #2
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The second and final volume of Codename Sailor V is here but has it fixed some of the issues that plagued the first volume?
Visually this English language release of Codename Sailor V #2 looks fantastic. Like the first volume, it's quite a bit bigger than the original Japanese release though the artwork doesn't suffer at all and is actually easier to appreciate in this size format (which is the typical size for an English manga).
The cover also looks better with this release with the shiny cover really helping the colours pop a lot more than the original.
Somewhere where this volume improves on over the first is in the lettering. Almost immediately I notice just how much better the dialogue and sound effects looked. The choice of fonts is much more varied and appropriate here compared to the first volume whose lettering fell flat and looked rushed. A look at the back credits confirms that a new letterer was indeed hired. Here's hoping they keep this one for future volumes.
First time readers of Codename Sailor V are really in for a treat with this last batch of stories which continues the stand alone stories of the first volume though gradually builds to a dramatic climax involving past life memories, a potential love interest and some rather good character growth for Minako and several supporting characters.
This volume really has a fantastic mix of comedy, drama and action and I really want to give it five stars though it really wouldn't be a proper review if I didn't mention the "Chinese people eat cat" stereotype and the dated racist portrayal of Mary Lin-Lin who is given a rather offensive style of speaking that made reading the final two chapters very uncomfortable.
Both of these issues were present in the original Japanese (and equally offensive there) so this isn't an issue exclusively with the English release. Part of me agrees that media shouldn't be censored during translation though another part of me would have actually liked, at least Mary Lin-Lin's dialogue, to be politically corrected.
The real fault lies of course with Naoko Takeuchi's original writing of the character and the fact that it wasn't updated for the re-release. Because of this I can't give full marks for the Story even though I enjoyed it overall.
After reading the first volume I really hoped that Kodansha would fix all of the issues in future releases though unfortunately it looks like a quality release just isn't something they care about.
While the story points are all included in this translation (nothing left out or censored) a lot of the dialogue still sounds unnatural and had me going "Who speaks like this?" several times while reading and looks incredibly rushed.
The translation is also very inconsistent with identical phrases and words being translated differently, left in Japanese or translated into English depending on what page you're reading.
While I'm very much against Japanese words and honorifics in a professional translation (they really have no place in an official release) I would have preferred them either all left in or all translated, not randomly interpreted differently whenever the translator sees fit.
As a result of either lack of understanding, rushed work or perhaps both, honorifics continuously disappear and reappear and characters switch between languages sometimes within the same panel. A good example is Motoki who is called "Onii-san" in the original Japanese has so far been called "Big bro", "Bro", "Onii-san" and "Big Brother" within the first two volumes of Sailor V and Sailor Moon alone.
Another good example is in this volume on page 123 where the girl uses the honorific "chan" for both her puppy and Artemis though for some reason the translator decided to call Artemis "Mr" and leave the puppy with a "chan" attached (see pic).
This inconsistency continues throughout the entire volume involving sound effects which are sometimes translated to an equivalent English sound effect or sometimes simply left in Japanese. As a result, dogs are saying "wan" on one page and then "woof" on the next. What's really strange though is that half of the time the sound effects are changed from the original Japanese but given a completely strange sound effect instead (which is not English). A lot of Sailor Moon fans who can't read Japanese seem to think that these sound effects are what the Japanese sounds like but for the most part they're not. An example is the Japanese effect, "Bata Bata" for Minako's feet running which is "translated" as "TMP TMP". Surely "Stomp Stomp" would have sounded more natural.
Where the translation really lets the release down though is in some of the name translations such as "Deburine" who was strangely changed to "deVleene" and while "Kaitou Ace" was translated into the English "Phantom Ace", "Nyan Nyan", "Wan Wan" and "Chu Chu"'s names were all left in Japanese.
The translation could have been so much better.
For a full list of the translation/adaption issues in this volume, check out my Manga Mistakes page.
I am an absolutely HUGE fan of Sailor V and if I was reviewing the original manga I would give it very close to five stars however this is a review of this individual release and not of the franchise as a whole that I love.
While the original story and artwork (especially in the second half) are amazing, this English language release by Kodansha is a big let down and there really is no reason for any fan of the series to give it anywhere near five stars.
The dialogue is nowhere near the level of quality it should be. Quite a few fans have commented on how it reads more like a text book or someone's translation notes which I would agree with and a lot of people have emailed/messaged me asking me if I knew why the manga wasn't translated by a native English speaker (it was).
Even if the script doesn't bother you, there's no denying that the translation is inconsistent to say the least.
Fans wanting a professional level translation of the manga will be disappointed by the inclusion of Japanese words.
I love Codename Sailor V and anything Sailor Moon related but this release has been very rushed and fans deserved at least someone proofread the translation for consistency before publication.
(not an average)
Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.co.jp
Barnes & Noble.com
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