Yuri Manga: Ninin ga Shinobuden, Volume 1

November 28th, 2006

At a rough guess, I figure I’ve reviewed about 150 yuri manga titles on Okazu. Of these, about a dozen have been in English, a number which includes the 100% Yuri manga titles from ALC Publishing. And of those, about half weren’t even reviewed by me, but by guest reviewer Sean Gaffney (who owes me a review, which is why I am mentioning him by name to shame him into action. ^_^)

So it still feels weird to me to do reviews of manga translated into English. ^_^

As you may remember, last week when I was able, at last, to see one of the books I slaved and sweated over on an actual bookstore bookshelf, I also picked up a copy of the first volume of the 2×2=Shinobuden manga.

It got points with me right off the bat for having the original cover. The Japanese title Ninin ga Shinobuden is featured prominently across the right half of the cover. The translation is in the upper left corner where it says in English 2×2=Shinobuden The Nonsense Kunoichi Fiction. I realize that I’m waaaaaaayyyyyyyyy in the minority on such things, but I really do prefer things to be changed as little as possible. I really am one of those old fogeys who remembers the day when you had to watch a nth generation VHS raw with a typed out translation. I’m not saying everyone should have to suffer for their art, but I like when the translators remain as transparent and non-intrusive as possible.

(I have just learned that some people are watching the newly released Marimite OVA with *my* notes in place of the typed out translation, which feels kind of weird, somehow… lol)

Here’s my obligatory honorific rant: Barring insanely popular series like Naruto, who, exactly, do the publishing companies think *buys* manga? Is some random 10-year old really likely to pick up Shinobuden, or Read or Dream?? I mean really. As far as I know, ALC Publishing is the only manga publisher out there that always-always-always keeps the honorifics intact. It’s true that there may be people buying our books who do not know what “-san,” “-chan,” and “-kun” mean, (in fact, more of a chance, I think than with most manga, since the larger G/L/B/T community is unlikely to know of these and other cultural relics) but I look at it as an opportunity to educate and entertain. And, dammit, the honorifics are so much more precise at placing people in relationship to one another! Please, Viz, Tokyopop, Seven Seas, Dark Horse, and everyone else – leave the honorifics in!! There just is no freaking reason to not call Shinobu “Shinobu-chan.” There just isn’t. There’s notes all over the book, and you’ve left the technique names in Japanese – why not just add one more thing?

Okay, rant over.

The first volume of the Shinobuden manga will be instantly familiar to anyone who has watched the anime,  Ninja Nonsense.) It begins with naive female ninja-in-training Shinobu on a important training mission to retreive underwear from high school girls. Her first target is Kaede Shiranui, who she immediately befriends, and quickly falls for. Shinobu’s sweet, kind of sad attempts at getting closer to Kaede are hampered by three things – 1) her own social dysfunction; 2) her master and fellow ninja’s intrusive perversion, and; 3)Kaede’s just not interested.

Kaede remains the only one in the book with three brain cells to rub together, and the main plot complication is “wackiness ensues”, but it was an amusing read for an otherwise unencumbered evening.

Technically, I think Infinity Studios did a pretty good job with the book. It’s an A4 size – the same size we use at ALC Publishing, with no color pages, but good overall reproduction. There are copious notes throughout, often crammed into teeny spaces which made them hard to read, as various cultural and series-specific things are explained/described. But, seriously – you’ll take space to define “shuriken” but not leave in and explain “-chan”? I’m just never going to understand that…sigh.

None of the sound effects were translated at all. This does not bother me in the least, as I never notice them. (I received a complaint about the untranslated s/fx in our first printing of WORKS, but honestly, I never figured anyone would care – I never, ever notice them. That was corrected for the second printing, so if you get a copy now, it has translated s/fx.)

One thing they really managed well, was the various “voices” of all the characters. It’s not that easy to do, and it comes across well here how different Shinobu and Kaede are, as well as how different they are from the other characters.

There are, at least as far as I can tell, no changes or edits from the original – this still remains a fairly pervtastic book, that mocks the FanBoy even as it caters to him. ^_^

Ratings:

Art – 6 Cute in that Mediaworks kind of way. Not my taste, but not really bad.
Story – 6 Depends if you like physical comedy or not, mostly
Characters – 7 Somehow, despite her cluelessness, or maybe because of it, Shinobu is awfully cute
Yuri – 4- Shinobu is, undoutedly interested in Kaede, but for this volume at least, there’s no return on investment.
Service – 6 Not really high enough to be a turnoff, but still vaguely irritating

Overall – 6

If you like wacky ninja comedy, this is definitely worth a read. If you’re looking for something more on the romantic or serious side, give Shinobuden a miss.

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