I'm a librarian who loves anime, manga, and reading a wide variety of genres.
[If you want a review of the story, check out my 2015 post about Tokyopop's release. This particular post is limited to comments about Woodbury's fan translation.]
I wanted to read Youko's arc all in one go, so I went straight from Woodbury's translation of the first book to this one, which takes place right after Youko's defeat of the pretender Empress and the death of the Emperor of Kou.
Keeping in mind that Tokyopop's release of this book was an absolute embarrassment to traditional publishing – eight whole pages of text were missing from the hardcover edition – I think that Woodbury's fan translation could be an acceptable alternative. However, I didn't like his translation of this book as much as his translation of the first. There were no translator’s notes (maybe too much work?), and I noticed many more errors (typos, missing words or letters, and possibly a couple misused words).
I also didn't like the way he chose to translate certain things. For example, in Tokyopop's release there were “flying sages and oracles” and “grounded sages and oracles” (108). Woodbury translated those as “wizards of the air” (46) and “wizards of the earth” (74), with the word “wizardess” used if the person was a woman. Considering that these people generally didn't have powers beyond the immortality granted to them when they were listed in a special registry, I thought that “wizard” implied more magical powers than they really had.
Woodbury also used the word “pegasi” to refer to, as far as I could tell, any winged riding animal. In his version, a character said “'I'm looking for a pegasus'” (237), taken to mean either a bird youma (a rideable flying bird) or a sansui (a flying blue horse). In Tokyopop's release, the same character said “'I want a demon steed'” (365), which I felt was a better and more general way of putting it.
On the plus side, I did tend to like Woodbury's decision to give Youko more casual speech patterns, although it sometimes made Keiki and Youko's relationship seem a bit too comfortable, more like Enki and Shoryu, who'd had 500 years to get comfortable with each other. Tokyopop's release gave readers this:
[Keiki speaking] “'You tell me not to worry, and I find you in the middle of all this? And what exactly did you have my sirei do? They're filthy.'
[Youko speaking] 'I'm sure you have complaints, and I'll be happy to hear them later. Right now, I need you to take me to the officers' tent of those kingsmen on the field.'” (624)
While Woodbury's version went like this:
“'So this is what happens when you tell me not to worry? You have dragged my shirei through all this grime as well?'
'Listen, you can bitch to me all you want later. For now, take me to the encampment of the Palace Guard.'” (409)
As you can see, Youko's way of speaking to Keiki is more relaxed than in Tokyopop's translation. I have no idea which version is truer to the spirit of the original Japanese text - I just got a kick out of Youko telling Keiki to stop bitching.
I'm glad I have my paperback Tokyopop release of this book, and will probably use it for any future rereads because I liked that translation a bit more. However, it's good to know I have an okay alternative just in case the nearly two-inch spine of my paper copy falls apart.
When I reviewed Tokyopop's translation, I debated between giving it a 3.5- or 4-star rating. This time around, it was more like a 3- or 3.5-star read, due to how distracting I found some of Woodbury's translation choices. The climactic moment when Youko revealed her true identity to everyone who thought she was a random mysteriously well-armed and well-trained girl named Youshi was still awesome, though.
(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)