Sunday, August 19, 2007


It's been too long since I've done one of these posts. This, though, as the title says, is just a brief note. I can't do a full set of notes for vol. 17 until I can borrow a copy from the library, but flipping through a copy at my local bookstore I noticed one important difference between the original and the translation. I can't discuss it without revealing a major spoiler involving Akito; so don't proceed unless you've read at least through Chapter 98 (the third chapter in vol. 17).

Some people may have come across this post via a search engine, without seeing either of the "cuts." And since the book just came out and this is a major, major spoiler, I'll leave some spoiler space.


In Tokyopop's edition, in the pages immediately preceding Kureno's revelation that Akito is female, he repeatedly uses masculine pronouns when speaking of her. So does Shigure (on p. 70), who also knows the truth about Akito. Even after Kureno tells Tohru Akito is a girl, he calls her "him" on p. 97. Not only is this inconsistent on Kureno's part, it may make readers question whether Akito really is female. In the Japanese original, Kureno never refers to Akito by the Japanese equivalent of "he" or "him," and says nothing which would imply that Akito is male.

In fairness to the translators, it's a lot harder in English than it is in Japanese to have someone talk at length about someone else, avoid revealing their gender, and still sound natural. Japanese, like English, has third-person pronouns, but they are used much less frequently than their English counterparts. Most often, the person being talked about is left to be inferred from the context. For instance, in the sixth panel on p. 70 Kureno says in English: "I couldn't leave him." In the Japanese, he says "Tsukihanasu nante dekinai," which translated word-for-word is "forsake anything-like cannot." (Note that this sentence is missing a subject as well as an object.) It's also much more common in Japanese than in English to use the person's name, rather than a pronoun, something Kureno also does in these pages.

Still, this is such a crucial point that I would have preferred it if the translators had avoided having Kureno speak of Akito in male terms, even if the result is somewhat unnatural-sounding. (I only noticed one spot where it would be really awkward.) And the references on p. 97 to Akito as "him" were presumably just mistakes.

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Saturday, August 04, 2007


In my last post I said that I had hated the Christopher Nolan-directed movie The Prestige but that was a story for another day. Today is that day. Like a science fiction monster that takes on the form of what it devours, the film superficially resembles Christopher Priest's novel, but on the inside it's pure Hollywood: the sets, the acting, and above all the dialogue, which is full of confrontations staged to make a point and fake "emotional moments."

That alone would be enough to make me dislike the film, but I have other problems with it as well. They're spoilery, and hence below the fold.

I don't object to the movie's reordering of the plot, though contra Abigail Nussbaum, this doesn't make its story better than the book's, it just makes it a different kind of story. Nor do I object in principle to turning Angier into a murderer, although I wasn't convinced by his transformation as shown in the film. But his being so obsessed with revenge upon Borden that he's willing to not only risk murdering Borden's assistant Fallon -- who as far as Angier knows is entirely innocent -- but kill himself up to one hundred times just to set a trap for Borden? Sorry, but I can't buy that.

In addition, the movie makes a change in the Borden plot which creates two plot holes. In Priest's book, the two Bordens are never seen together, even for a moment. It is this that makes their sharing one life necessary, as Angier deduces: the "out" Borden swaps places with the other Borden each time the trick is performed, and there's no opportunity for them to switch back until the next performance. In the movie the duplicate Borden, disguised as Fallon, is regularly seen with the undisguised Borden. This eliminates any need, except perversity, for them to share "Borden's" life and Sarah's bed. Also, wouldn't someone figure out that Fallon is Borden's double in disguise?

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Wednesday, August 01, 2007


An explanation of the ending of The Prestige (the book) below the fold. Spoilers, obviously.

First of all, the man in the vault is Rupert Angier. To be precise, he is the reunion of the "spectral" Angier with the corpse of the "corporal" Angier, as the former describes at the end of Part Four. This is shown by the fact that the handwriting on the label of Nicky's prestige is Angier's.

Second, and more importantly, the prestiges in the vault are not dead, but, in Andrew Westley's words, "frozen in life, made inert without being made dead" (from Part Five, section 4). That Nicky's prestige can communicate with Andrews means that Nicky's mind is still inside, and presumably the same is true of Angier's prestiges.

I've seen complaints that Angier's section overshadows Borden's, but the ending makes it clear that this is intentional: Angier is the principal protagonist, and Borden the secondary protagonist.

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