Sunday, September 20, 2015

Bonus Chapter: “200 Yen”

Bonus Chapter
Title: “200 Yen” (200/Ni-hyaku En)
Length: 23 pages
Adapts: Nothing!  The first original side-story

In Short: 12-year old Saitama deals with problems all adolescents must face: school, bullies, and giant mutant piggy banks.

Milestones: So, the first chapter fully original to the Murata remake (but presumably ONE still wrote the story).  It’s the first and so far only extended look at Saitama’s childhood, though we get a glimpse of kid Saitama in Punch 14.  If you’re reading through the printed editions in order, this will be your first encounter with (the person later known as) Mumen Rider.  On the same note, it’s stated that the frequency of monster appearances is increasing, a recurring idea throughout the series, formally explained in the main story in Punch 40.  Saitama wears a shirt with a not-so-subtle reference to ONE's other manga series, Mob Psycho 100, the first of such shout-outs.

Timeline Stuff: This story is set when Saitama is 12, placing it ten years before he begins training to be a hero (at age 22) and thirteen years before the proper start of the series (when he’s 25).  A news broadcast says that it’s been 9 months since a monster last appeared back in July, putting this story in April, which not coincidentally is when the school year begins in Japan.  The broadcast also notes that data from the past ten years shows that monsters are appearing more and more frequently.  We can see that this trend has continued up into the present timeframe of the series, with monsters now appearing on an almost daily basis.

Translation Notes: More a cultural note than a translation note, but 200 yen is worth about 167 US dollars at the current exchange rate.  The exact exchange rate constantly fluctuates of course, but generally speaking one yen is closer in value to a US penny than a US dollar.  Case
in point, the smaller Japanese paper bill is for 100 yen, while 1 yen is a small coin.  The bullies make fun of Saitama for only having such a small amount of cash on him, and at the end when Saitama tells the teacher the bullies stole 200 yen, the teacher assumes Saitama is just screwing around with him.  To someone raised in the US, 200 of a currency automatically sounds like a lot, so there’s a danger of this joke being lost without that bit of context.

Speaking of culture, at the end of the chapter Saitama freaks out when he remembers that he forgot to put out his trash for “burnable trash day”.  In Japan you have to sort your trash into categories, which are collected on different days, similar to recycling being collected on a separate day in the US.  The Viz translation glosses over this and just says “garbage day”.

The name of the latest monster of the week: 怪人・豚の貯金バコン/Kaijin: Buta no Chokin-Bakon.  So, the typical Japanese word for a piggy bank is 豚の貯金箱/buta no chokin-bako.  This breaks down to /buta=pig, 貯金/chokin=saving money, and /bako=box.  The wordplay here is that by sticking on ‘n’ onto the end of bako, it’s morphed into bakon, which sounds kind of like a generic Godzilla/Ultraman Tokusatsu monster name, which have a tendency to just take the name of whatever the monster is based on and stick random extra bits on (and, in the Japanese writing system, using katakana instead of kanji to write the name).  See for instance Mothra, and (from earlier in OPM) Slugrus and Kamakyuri.  As it happens, Bakon looks like it ought to be a play on bacon, what with the pig connection and all, but I’m fairly sure this is just a coincidence: in Japanese, the English word bacon is actually written as ベーコン/bēkon.  Meanwhile, バコン/Bakon happens to be how the Japanese write the name of the Cambodian temple of Bakong.  One learns the darndest things researching monster names…

Oh yeah, the 怪人/kaijin bit at the beginning is just describing the creature as a monster, and isn’t part of the name proper (that’s why it’s separated from the actual name with the mark, equivalent to : in English).  So overall, this name could be adapted into English as something like “monster: Piggy Bankon”.  Which still ends up sounding like a joke on “bacon”.  In Viz it’s simply “monster: Piggy Bank”.

Saitama: A disaffected 12-year old just entering his first year of junior high school.  Spends his time between classes reading books on basic physical fitness (a reference to his future training regime, perhaps?).  When he forgets to do his homework for his third day of class, he doesn’t understand why the teacher makes such a big deal of it, landing him in even more trouble.  Later when heading for an after class meeting with his teacher, he stands up to some bullies who try and extort money from him, even though he can’t fight worth beans, and only has 200 yen (~1.67 USD) on him anyway.  Then when a piggy bank monster suddenly appears and takes his 200 yen instead, he chases after it not only to get his money back, but also perhaps because it “came from outside my everyday, boring life”.  In the end he’s tackled by the monster and loses consciousness for an hour, but still manages to make it back to the school staff room in time for his teacher to chew him out for being a slacker.  Walking back home, he wonders how he can go on in life being so weak.

Flash forward to the present day: Saitama has saved a kid from a monstrous snowman and is telling him the above story from his childhood.  He assures the kid that there is no perfect way to live life; he was scared of society when he was little, and things aren’t much easier today, even though he’s become so strong.  When an even more gigantic snowman monster appears ahead, Saitama is nonchalantly confident he can defeat it, but suddenly freaks out when he realizes he forget to put the trash out for garbage day.

Piggy Bank(on): Monster of unknown origin that appeared in City-Z, nine months after another monster appearance in July of the previous year.  Appropriately enough, it looks like a giant piggy bank (about the size of a small car) with human-like arms and legs sticking out in place of pig feet.  Primary MO: tackling people and demanding they give it their coins.  It first appeared one day shortly after 4 PM and fled after severely injuring several police officers, leading to calls for the government to mobilize Special Forces against it.  The next day it attacked the bullies at Saitama’s school, getting Saitama’s 200 yen in the process, and tackled Saitama in a back alley after he gave chase.  In the end it was surrounded and defeated in a joint maneuver by the police and Special Forces (this makes it sound like a pretty strong monster, although on the flipside none of the humans it attacked ever died, and it’s apparently not fast enough to outrun Saitama).

Scummy Upperclassmen: Two bullies with ripped school uniform who lure lowerclassmen out behind the school and extort money from them.  The black-haired one uses this money so that his little brothers can buy lunches.  Or so he says, anyway.

Nameless Student who Commutes by Bike: A nameless student.  Who commutes by bike.  Obviously grows up to be Mumen Rider.  A new student at the same school as Saitama, he has a strong sense of justice and turns up to defeat the scummy upperclassmen, but gets his clock cleaned.  This will be a running theme.  Frankly this whole joke feels a little too "prequel-y" for my taste, but at least Saitama and proto-Mumen Rider don't actually meet or anything.  And it does help solidify the idea that the two of them are really two halves of the same coin, something else that's going to become a running theme.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Punch 8: “This Guy?”

Punch 8
Title: “This Guy?” (それコイツ/Sore Koitsu)
Length: 24 pages
Adapts: Chapter 8 of the original web comic (15 pages)

In Short: Genos struggles mightily to defeat Armored Gorilla, the third strongest warrior in the House of Evolution.  Meanwhile, Saitama gets around to defeating the second strongest, Beast King.  Eventually.  When he feels like it.

Milestones: The first use of named special attacks in the series (suitably enough, Beast King busts out a move with some fancy-pants name, and Saitama counters with just “Consecutive Normal Punches”).  First time we see Genos actually defeat somebody.  Not too many more moments like that down the road (spoilers).  And this chapter closes out the main story of volume 1 of the collected release (but it’s followed by a new side-story, original to Murata’s remake of the series).

Adaptation Notes: While last chapter was no longer than the web comic chapter it adapted, this chapter returns to form with eight additional pages, consisting of expanded fight scenes and two-page spreads.  In this new version, we see Beast King’s Lion Slash technique cut entire houses to ribbons, and even take out his allies Slugrus and Frog-Man as collateral damage.  Speaking of milestones, this marks the first time actual dialogue has been added in the remake: Slugrus recovers from Saitama’s attack (!) and asks Frog-Man if he’s alright.  Then Beast King yells at them to get out of the way, and after his Lion Slash kills them, he says this is simply the Law of the Jungle and that Saitama is next.  This whole little scene was added for the remake.

ONE drew Beast King naked, but Murata decks him out in animal skins and chains across his chest.  He dramatically snaps the chains when he flexes his muscles, in order to show that now he really means business.

The face under Armored Gorilla’s helmet is, well, I assume it’s supposed to look like a gorilla, but ONE drew it like this:

Murata draws it much more like an actual gorilla.

Ground Dragon, meanwhile, looks exactly the same in both versions.

Translation Notes: More character names!  First, the straightforward one: “Armored Gorilla” is straight-up simply the English words “armored” and “gorilla”, written in Japanese (アーマードゴリラ/āmādo gorira).

Less straightforward: “Ground Dragon”.  Like with Armored Gorilla, this is the English words “ground” and “dragon” written in Japanese (グランドドラゴン/gurando doragon)
See, the Japanese word for “mole” is mogura, which is more often than not written in hiragana or katakana (もぐら or モグラ), but when written in kanji is 土竜.  These kanji literally mean “ground dragon” (=ground, =dragon) and would on their own normally be read as (among other things) tsuchi and tatsu, but stick them together and through the magic of Japanese they’re read as mogura and mean “mole”.  For some bloody reason.  Therefore the joke with the character’s name is that it directly translates the kanji for “mole” into English.  Viz explains this very succinctly in a footnote, so I suppose I technically wasted my time writing all that.  Oh well.

In contrast to Armored Gorilla or Ground Dragon, Beast King’s name in Japanese is 獣王/Jū-ō, Japanese for “Beast King” rather than something in English name, for a change (=jū=beast, =ō=king).  This, by the way, is quite reminiscent of Leomon’s special attack over in Digimon: 獣王拳/Jū-ō-ken, “Fist of the Beast King”. 

Speaking of special attacks, Beast King’s attack name has a pun in it: 獅子斬流勢群/Shishi-zan Ryūseigun.  The first bit’s simple enough: 獅子/shishi=lion, /zan=cut or slash, therefore “Lion Slash”.  But the next bit’s tricky: 流勢群/ryūseigun is a play on the Japanese word for “meteor shower”, 流星群/ryūseigun (流星/ryūsei on its own is Japanese for a meteor or shooting star).  The joke is that the character for star (/sei) in the middle there has been replaced with the character for military strength or force, /sei.  So they’ve swapped out one character read as sei for another one with a different meaning.  Homophone-based wordplay like this is very common in Japanese.  Viz quite nicely handles this pun by translating the attack as “Lion Slash: Meteor Power Shower”.

Saitama’s attack is as simple as you’d expect: 連続普通のパンチ/Renzoku Futsū no Panchi; with 連続=renzoku=consecutive, 普通の= Futsū no=ordinary/normal, パンチ=panchi=punch (it’s the actual English word punch).  So Consecutive Normal Punches.  You could alternatively translate it as something like “Rapid-Fire Normal Punches” if you wanted it to sound a bit cooler, but that probably defeats the point.

When Beast King kills Slugrus and Frog-Man, he says弱肉強食/Jaku’niku-Kyōshoku, literally meaning that the strong eat the flesh of the weak.  So basically survival of the fittest, or the Law of the Jungle (as Viz translates it).

So, 手も足も出ない/te mo ashi mo denai is a stock Japanese phrase for being completely helpless, incapacitated, or at the end of your wits.  Literally it means to be unable to move your hands or feet, but in practice it’s used metaphorically in all sorts of situations where you’re unable to do anything, or simply not sure what to do.  So the joke in this chapter is that Saitama gets sucked into the ground and Beast King declares that this is precisely what the phrase te mo ashi mo denai refers to (手も足も出ないとは正にこのことだな).  In other words, Saitama literally can’t move his hands or feet, so a phrase which is usually used metaphorically in this case happens to literally describe what’s going on.  It’s a bit like if a cat literally grabbed your tongue and someone went “Ha! Talk about ‘cat got your tongue’!”  Anyway, this is all pretty much lost in translation, so Viz just has Beast King say “he can’t move his hands or feet!”

After Beast King gets killed, Ground Dragon runs away saying “あんなの聞いてない!”  As Viz translates it, this is literally something like “I’ve never heard about that!”  I think though, maybe, that the idea is that Ground Dragon is trying to pretend what he just saw didn’t happen.  Somehow I’ve gotten it into my head that this is a colloquial use for 聞いてない, but I’m having trouble finding any source to back me up, so I may just be crazy.


==Good(ish) Guys==

Genos: Seeing the cybernetic Armored Gorilla makes him immediately wonder if there might be some connection to the mad cyborg that destroyed his hometown, and so he has several questions to ask.  Despite the massive difference in their sizes, Genos can block Armored Gorilla’s punch with his own arm.  At first his incinerator cannons are ineffective against Armored Gorilla, but somehow he emerges victorious in the end.  Sadly, we don’t get to see exactly how he wins.  Maybe the anime can fill this bit in?

Saitama: Finds being submerged up to his neck in dirt relaxing, but when the time comes he effortlessly climbs out of the ground.  Later, he just as easily digs through the ground to chase after Ground Dragon (see the Monster Association story arc for possible inconsistencies regarding Saitama’s ability to tunnel quickly through the ground, if you want).  His “special” attack: the deadly Consecutive Normal Punches, which turn Beast King into confetti.

==House of Evolution==

Armored Gorilla: The self-proclaimed third strongest warrior in the House of Evolution.  Normally talks in a stereotypical “robotic” way, but this turns out to just be his way of acting cool.  Though his thick armor seems impervious to Genos’ cannons, in the end Genos manages to remove all four of his limbs, and his helmet to boot.  Nevertheless, he’s confident Beast King will make short of work of Genos…but when it turns out Saitama has already pulverized Beast King, he quickly changes his tune, becoming all cooperative (and dropping the stupid “robot” speech pattern).

Ground Dragon: Pretty much just a talking mole.  With the kanji for “mole” on his chest (土竜, as discussed above).  That’s about it.  He turns out to be the one who pulled Saitama underground at the end of last chapter, which is apparently his preferred method of incapacitating opponents so that he doesn’t have to bother with them fighting back.  If he has any other special abilities, we don’t get to see them (but, like the others, he’s supposedly part of the House of Evolution’s “elite force” for exterminating humanity, as Professor Genus claims in Punch 9).  He makes a run for it after Saitama effortlessly escapes from being submerged and kills Beast King, but to no avail.

Beast King: Looks so much like Leomon it’s not even funny.  The second strongest warrior in the House of Evolution, according to Armored Gorilla, who also thinks Genos has no chance against him (I guess we can assume this is true, but we’ve only got his word for it).  Deeply pissed off over Saitama’s complete nonchalance in the face of (supposedly) certain death.  He first threatens to poke Saitama’s eyes out, then when Saitama climbs out of the ground he instead unleashes his patented Lion Slash technique, a series of claw slashes that cuts several houses (and a few of his allies) to shreds.  When this proves ineffective against Saitama, he busts out the Lion Slash: Meteor Power Shower (pretty much just more of the same), but his entire upper body is reduced to bloody lumps of flesh by Saitama’s counterattack.  Following his death, Saitama carries around his eye by the stalk.  Ew.

(As we’ll see in some of the bonus content for volume 2, the crows around Saitama apartment mutate after eating Beast King’s remains.)

Slugrus and Frog-Man: For some unknown, possibly unknowable reason, Saitama didn’t bother killing them last chapter, a mistake Beast King is happy to correct.  By the way, ONE has a running joke throughout the character popularity polls he ran in the original web comic, about how Slugrus will turn out to be the series’ final boss.