Negima Manga Volume 20

Negima!: Magister Negi Magi, Volume 20

For detailed chapter summaries with review, those can be found here.

Having read these chapters as they came out in Japan, I’d forgotten that this volume ends on a terrible cliff hanger. ^_^; Well, if you are only following the Del Rey release, then you’ve got some time to wait to get a resolution whereas I only had to wait a couple of weeks or so (and that was tough). ^_^;;; Still, you have to hand it to Akamatsu-sensei for knowing how to make people go, WHAAA! I certainly didn’t expect him to get right into the action like this.

OK, it is time to rant about the adaptation/translation.

I became aware of the name Ikoi Hiroe thanks to Pumpkin Scissors. Ikoi Hiroe decided that even though Del Rey’s official policy is to retain Japanese honorifics (as seen spelled out in Del Rey books), this is a stupid policy, more so for a title not set in Japan and thus the policy can be ignored. Del Rey let Ikoi Hiroe get away with this and indeed changed how they do Pumpkin Scissors. (From what I’ve learned talking with translators, their adaptation and translation choices are rarely questioned, and that’s proven by how different translators make changes to how things are done.) Now, Ikoi Hiroe is not only doing the adaptations of Negima!, Ikoi Hiroe is also the translator. That means, no second set of eyes to make sure things are OK.

So, does this mean the honorifics are gone from Negima!?

Thankfully no — mostly. Within the scope of the Japanese characters, everything remains the same. So there’s still “ojousama,” “sensei,” and other stuff we’ve come to expect. Eva still addresses Negi as “Boya,” which is proper since that’s her nickname for Negi and not the Japanese way of saying “Boy.” And to give Ikoi credit where credit is due, Chachazero and the Chachamaru-type servant both address Eva as “Master,” which is how it should have always been. This translation of the word “Master” to “Mistress” just because Eva is a girl has always driven me batty.

Now, where Ikoi changed things up a lot is when Negi and company get to Wales. When Negi addresses Nekane, his former principle, or other person, Ikoi changes the Japanese honorifics used to western ones. Because of this, it now reads as if Negi is Nekane’s sister because in the west, we don’t use the term “sister” to mean anything other than one’s real sister OR in religious terms, referring to a sister in Christ or it is the title for a nun. Now, because we’ve been reading the different sister honorifics throughout the previous Del Rey volumes of Negima!, English-speaking audiences realize that “oneechan” can mean one’s real sister OR someone one looks to like a sister. So why not continue to use this? This is exacerbated when Ayaka talks with Nekane. Ayaka addresses Nekane as “oneesama” not “Ms. Nekane.” The are speaking Japanese to each other from what it appears to me in the original Japanese, so why not leave it well enough alone?

The problems continue, aided by an adaptation mistake on Ikoi’s part. As such, it appears that Negi is addressing stand as “Grandpa Stan,” “Uncle Stan,” “Uncle,” and “Mr. Stan” when in fact that’s not the case.

When Negi first sees the petrified Stan, he says, “Stan…,” then he says, “Ojiichan….” It appears that Ikoi interpreted that to mean “Grandpa Stan” but the thing is, Negi refers to his former school principle as “Ojiichan” and that man is standing behind Negi (made clear at the start of the next chapter). So I think this is an adaptation mistake because Negi sees Stan, starts to say his name, then calls out the “Ojiichan” to refer to the principle who’d escorted Negi down to the cellar.

Negi then addresses Stan as “Stan-san” but seeing the other guy from his villiage, he calls that person “Ojisan” (“Uncle” or a polite term to address a man who is in his 30’s+). So Negi is talking to two people in the moment as I see it — Stan and the uncle-like man and that’s whom he says to look at how big he’s gotten.

As you see, Negi actually speaks to three people as I see it but it comes across in the English as if he’s speaking to a single person — Stan. I do think it is clearer in the Japanese because while these family-type honorifics can be interchangeable, in English it is a constancy issue since Negi has specific ways he addresses folks.

So the problem starts with Ikoi making the mistake of having Negi address Stan as “Grandpa Stan” which would be understandable had that been the end of the volume and one didn’t have access to the next chapter. However, the next chapter to me makes it pretty clear that Negi had been made almost speechless at seeing Stan, then called out for “Ojiichan” before gathering himself and speaking to “Stan-san” and “Ojisan,” both of whom he knew well for having saved him that fateful night.

Does that make sense?

Then, there’s the Magic World where some people are hero-worshiping Negi as “Mr. Springfield” rather than “Springfield-sama” as it is in the Japanese. However, the one that really caused me to get really annoyed is Negi barking out orders in Japanese to people. Since McGuinness can speak Japanese and since Negi is speaking Japanese there, he simply calls her “McGuinness-san” but of course, that can’t be allowed. Nope, she’s not Japanese and must be addressed as “Ms. McGuinness” by Negi.

“But AstroNerdBoy, they are in Great Britain and the British people don’t use Japanese honorifics.”

I understand this argument but who’s to say that the people of the Magic World don’t use Japanese honorifics, and thus these English mages in a secluded village also use them? Considering the Magic World culture has a lot of things based on Japanese culture (which will be revealed to those of you who are only reading the Del Rey releases soon enough), that’s not any more unreasonable than forcing western honorifics into the mix. Remember, every mage you’ve seen in the series has a connection of some sort to the Magic World (whether they’ve been there or not). Also, there’s Chamo, who’s not Japanese but who’s a magical creature and he uses all the Japanese brother-sister honorific terms on top of regular honorifics.

I wonder how Ikoi will handle Fate addressing Negi as “Negi-kun?” Will that will be dropped because why would Fate, who’s worked in Japan and knows Japanese, use Japanese honorifics? Ugh.

Moving to topics that will matter to more people, lets start with the Shundo technique that Negi used. There’s nothing magical about it as it is one of those martial arts special techniques. However, Ikoi has apparently decided that a 10-year old wizard doesn’t use special techniques, even if previous volumes have correctly stated that they do. Apparently using the same justification for dropping honorifics in some cases, Ikoi has changed the Shundo to a spell and even has made up a name for this new spell — Space Fissure Movement spell.

What the….?!

Hey Ikoi Hiroe! This isn’t a spell, OK? It is a martial arts technique. Seriously, have you even read the manga? Do you even have a clue as to what’s going on? Or maybe you think Akamatsu-sensei made a mistake and have decided to correct him so that Negi is casting a spell and NOT using a martial art technique. Criminy! Even if you don’t want to use the “Shundo” term (which I think you should, especially since it WAS used in by Del Rey in the past), I’m told the actual translation of the technique Negi uses is “Empty Air Instant Movement.” There’s no way you can get that this is a spell if you’ve read the previous volumes of the manga. Besides, making it a spell now means that Kotaro and Kaede can now use magic since they use the same technique. *_*

Oh, but it gets better because apparently Ikoi Hiroe had cherries on the brain. Negi’s “Oukahouken” attack which I’m told means “Blooming Petal Crushing Fist” is now “Graceful Cherry Fist.” Setsuna’s “Ourougekka” which supposedly means “Gazing Moon Petal” is now “Cherry Tower Moon Flower.” Oooo! It rhymes! Somebody get me a brandy! My legs are shaking from the sheer excitement of it all!

Ikoi Hiroe doesn’t stop there. Oh no. Anya, who’s apparently Russian since her name is spelled out in Russian as (Аня) Анна Юрьевна Коколова, is listed in English as “Anya Yuriena Cocolova.” Аня is “Anya” but “Анна” is “Anna.” I swear, it seems as if Ikoi said, “Screw that! It’s ‘Anya’ all the way through. Besides, she grew up in Great Britain so I say her name didn’t retain any Russian aspects at all, no matter that Mr. Akamatsu spelled it out in Russian.” Further, Коколова should be Kokolova, which is the correct transliteration. This is so easy to get right, so why wasn’t it done correctly?

I know I’m going off left and right and I could do more of that. However, if there is a positive side to this, it is that there doesn’t appear to be any story rewriting. Had I detected this, I would have REALLY gone off. *lol*

In the Japanese tankoubon release of this volume, there is a nifty post card showing Negi and Anya from their cover poses, though now Anya is to the right of Negi and a bit in front of him. I wish Del Rey could have included that with their release.

In the end, we have the end of the training, some light shorts, and then the start of the action in the Magic World. It is a good volume and I wish that Ikoi Hiroe hadn’t done what they did (I don’t know if this is a man or woman) when it came to some translation and adaptation choices. I would advice Ikoi to not try to be clever and make things up because you think things would be better served that way. Just leave the honorifics as is, no matter who’s using them (and that includes creatures) and don’t turn martial arts techniques into spells. Thank you.

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14 Responses to “Negima Manga Volume 20”

  1. mastermack0 says:

    Woo! What a rant you had. But I agree 120%! I was surprised they didnt use either shundo or Empty Air Instant Movement. But yes, Del Rey sure can disappoint. But I can’t wait for the next volume (though I know what happens). I’ve told Del Rey off twice and they never seem to change.

  2. AstroNerdBoy says:

    Well, this won’t be enough to make me stop buying the Del Rey volumes for sure but I do hope that things improve.

    Anyway, I did neglect to mention that in chapter 181, a small speech bubble from Yue is empty (she comments on Negi losing) and the Del Rey adaptation has Negi call Kotaro “Kota-kun,” which he NEVER does. Only the girls (especially Konoka) have done that.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Are you quite all right? No offense, but maybe you should pop some tranqs before you blow a gasket over what doesn’t look like a big deal at all. Uh, this sounded more like a psychotic episode than your usual style. Again, no offense. I was just really surprised with this sudden explosion of anger.

  4. AstroNerdBoy says:

    I’m guessing on a subconscious level, I’m letting my lack of a job get to me a bit. ^_^; I shouldn’t since God’s taking care of my sorry butt and in the end of the day, manga isn’t a big deal.

  5. Anonymous says:

    No, i agree with Astro. If they mess things up, we lose out on possible foreshadowing. Negima has a complex storyline (like wahts happening the magic world) and cahnges can affect our understanding.

  6. I knew you’d get fired up over those modifications. It was milder than I expected actually, knowing you as I do. 😉

  7. Anonymous says:

    Ah, I see. That would explain it. Hang tight, mate, and good luck with the job hunt.

  8. proscientia says:

    I agree that this volume was a little disappointing, when compared to a lot of the other volumes. (If it sounds like an angry rant, sorry. I’m not letting off steam, but just adding comments because I like writing comments about things that interest me).

    For me, it started with the lack of connecting “sweetness” with “naivety” in Paru’s goading of Yue and Nodoka regarding Negi, and instead putting something a little awkward as Haruna’s retort to them stating that she invited to eat shaved ice. I also noticed that the flow was a little awkward in other parts because of the reasons you mentioned above. Although this wasn’t done here, I don’t mind minor rewritings of the story as long as it doesn’t affect important content (which is sometimes difficult to tell unless the whole story was read in advance). For example, in Tokyopop’s version of Love Hina, a line had to be altered because honourifics were mostly neglected. Because the atmosphere (well, up to volume 10, after which the sexual dialogue in increased relative to the scanlated version I read, though overall this was a minor problem) and most of the important points were kept intact (although there seem to have been many slight rewritings), I thought their version was decent. Regarding these translation issues, on the one hand, I’m a little discontent, but on the other hand, for a lot of jobs, where a “B” result is sufficient, an “A” result might not always be achieved. There could be a lot of factors contributing to this, so I can’t really judge.

    I wonder if the translators/adaptors are enthusiastic about their job (this is not meant to be a criticism). If they are, then I’m surprised that inconsistencies between volumes show up so often because I’d expect them to have reread volumes. I wish the inconsistencies were less frequent because it could make reading difficult for someone who only looks at the paper copy. On the other hand, having to do this for a living might make it less enjoyable. Because I am somewhat dependent on Del Rey bringing it to North America, I’ll accept it — once my thesis is done, I might send a couple messages to some North American manga publishing companies, hoping that if enough people write, companies might change a little. A positive thing about Del Rey’s manga is that I usually learn one or two interesting things from the appendices each volume (though I wish they were longer).

    Well, from another comment, people might realize that I referenced something from a chapter which hasn’t arrived in North America. The short answer to this contradiction is that I’d like a paper copy and that I’d like to support the infrastructure for bringing manga to North America. I could order my volumes from Chuang Yi or Tanoshimi, but I figure that I’d get the most consistency from ordering from the same company as opposed to switching companies in between. It would slightly hurt the North American manga industry too (not that that would be a bad thing in the long run — if it forces Del Rey to respond to competing companies by improving their work). Actually, if I order another version of Negima, I’d prefer a different language — either German or French, which I plan to do once I have more money. I’d like to rant more about the topics in this paragraph, but making the comment any longer might be nuisance.

    Also wishing you good luck with the job hunt!

  9. StrangeBrew2 says:

    I’ll agree with the others who have stated their disappointment. One thing that angers me is that Anya in this adaptation calls Nekane “Negi’s sister.” She does nothing of the sort in the Japanese. She calls Nekane “oneechan.” Changing that to Negi’s sister is a rewrite and it sucks. This current translator better get it in gear or else I’m not buying any more of the Del Rey Negima manga.

  10. AstroNerdBoy says:

    I think I forgot to mention that in my own rant. ^_^; It is true though. I just went and looked in the tankoubon and you are correct.

  11. Stumbled across this while checking up on how Del Rey’s translation efforts of Negima are going.

    For the record, I quit Del Rey after six or so volumes (the creative liberties to make Negima more “hip” and “funny” were so so bad.. and the translation was pretty spotty as well) and switched to Chuang Yi (who also have their own problems, since they can’t reference anything too sexual in nature).

    As it stands I haven’t quite figured out if Del Rey are still pun happy and going nuts with their clumsy collequillisms and internet slang (are they?), but the latest translation snaffus is enough to make me hesitant.

    Seriously, things like changing a martial arts move to a magic spell from one volume to the next. While the translator clearly failed at that step, isn’t their some kind of EDITOR in charge at Del Rey who is supposed to catch inconsistencies like this? Reminds me of the early volumes where i’d wonder how certain glaring errors could slip through.

  12. AstroNerdBoy says:

    The first five volumes were adapted by Peter David, and I ranted hard about his stuff, especially in volume 1. Over time, the colloquialisms and puns died down and outside of renaming “Master” to “Mistress” for Eva’s servants, I didn’t really have any complaints.

    What’s really frustrating about volume 20 from Del Rey (beyond everything I already ranted about) is the translator/adapter had already been working on the series as the adapter. So in my mind, that means that Ikoi Hiroe knew full well how things had been done, did not like those choices, and was determined to change them.

    I didn’t have a problem when Del Rey made changes that actually improved manga quality (such as having Chamo use the term “Aniki” rather than “bro”) but changes for the worse, as happened here, are just frustrating.

    As to the editor, well the adapter acts as a kind of editor for Del Rey. When the translator is also the adapter, they are putting all the eggs in one basket and thus in my mind, it is easy for mistakes to slip through.

  13. Milch says:

    This is very interesting, I didn’t know that’s how they operate. However if Ikoi Hiroe was the adapter before and the adapter is the de facto editor, I think he/she could have changed things even before, so maybe it’s not his/her decision. That would be even worse. I also don’t think these can be called mistakes if it’s all done deliberately.

  14. AstroNerdBoy says:

    I feel pretty confident these were deliberate choices. It is a shame, really.

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