Before I launch into today’s review, I have another news item of interest that I want to add to yesterday’s news.
English manga guru and editor of Manga: The Complete Guide, Jason Thompson, has named Yuri Monogatari 5 one of the hottest translated mangaof the autumn. Thanks Jason! We think so too.
Okay, so on to today’s review!
Aqua was the predecessor to Aria and is pretty much exactly the same, only a little less refined. This volume is the first of the “new” Aria volumes by Tokyopop. I can’t say I was hugely impressed. I admit to having some actual expectations of quality for this volume, so when I got it, I was disappointed. See – there’s that thing about expectations, again. Not having them makes everything so much easier.
The story of Aqua Volume 1, is delightful, whimsical and fluffy – exactly what one expects from another sojourn on the planet Aqua and the in city of Neo-Venezia, specifically. Volume 1 follows the ironically named Mizunashi Akari as she travels to Aqua to take up a position as a gondolier-in-training at Aria Company, and her adventures once she gets there. For a previous look at the story, here is my review of Aqua in Japanese.
Yuri is confined to Aika’s raging case of akogare. As this is the beginning of the story, her case is a bit more persistent and crushy than it will later become. If you were to read this first, you could easily be half-convinced that Aika’s pretty far gone. It’s a cute, classic “schoolgirl crush”-type crush. ^_^
For the story and characters – I agree with most other reviewers, Aqua is great. But technically…
Aside from the not very attractive new logo for Aqua, the cover of this volume is also burdened by the cover art used for the second release in Japan – a picture I really just don’t like. The first cover was ever so much more attractive. I know it’s just me being old and grumpy – but the picture makes me feel like my eyes won’t focus right.
The reproduction of the color pages in black and white is simply *bad*. Very, very bad. And the reproduction quality for the entire volume fades in and out without rhyme or reason. Maybe it was a printer error, maybe it was something else, but it irked me. Alot. I’ve had similar problems putting together the Yuri Monogatari series, but I’m working with multiple artists and systems, and varying levels of understanding about DPI and format. Tokyopop wasn’t. So what was the deal?
My only other complaint is just me being a total asshole. ^_^ (Hey, why should today be any different?) The preview at the back of the book, which is titled Aqua, Volume 2, is inexplicably actually a preview for Aria, Volume 1. I guess the editor hadn’t read the manga and wasn’t familiar with the actual story. But I was kind of surprised that that wasn’t caught.
Now, the thing that Tokyopop was trumpeting about the new acquisition and the eventual release of their own editions of Aria 1-3, was the new and improved translation. I had no problem with the original ADV translation, but that’s probably because I wasn’t paying attention. I read those first volumes in English once – a million years ago it feels like – and haven’t looked at them again.
I will give TP total props for leaving in all the honorifics. That was great. It was so great that I never even noticed that they were there, because I was just reading the story, not squicking at “Miss Alicia” and the like. So total thumbs up for that, TP. In asshole mode once more, I didn’t much like the font they chose for the words – and you know, I’m not sure I ever really felt that strongly about a font before. There was just something about this one. My last completely absurd LFG complaint is that, while I understand completely that they had to change some things to differentiate from the ADV translation, changing “embarrassing lines are prohibited” to whatever it was that they used just to make sure it was different, felt forced and awkward. AND they were changing the meaning of the words, which is unforgivable. Use “embarrassing lines are forbidden!” or something, if you must. But again, that’s me doing that LFG thing where if it’s not exactly the way we want it, we fans lay on the ground and kick and scream until we get a lollipop. ^_^
Objectively, if one had no expectations, Tokyopop did a fine job, with the exception of the rendering of the color pages. Those were just…bad. As an adaptation from the Japanese, linguistically is volume is good, but technically not so much.
Art – 6
Characters – 7
Story – 7
Yuri – 2
Service – 1
Translation – 8
Reproduction – 4
Overall – 6
For my part, I’m probably going to give this volume to the library and stick with the original Japanese volumes when I want to spend some time with Akari and the crew.