Even More Carnage (Narutaru Vol. 10)
Censoring works by way of translation can come back to haunt you, and Narutaru shows that in its later volumes. I’ve written before of how for some reason or other the official English translation of the manga toned down Tamai’s love for the Russian Su-27 jet. In the Japanese it’s clear he thinks it’s the best airplane of its kind. Later on we see Shiina traipsing around in a T-shirt with the Russian word for “airplane” and we can safely guess from it that Mr. Tamai has been to Russia. In Volume 9 he finally goes there to train with the Russians and it becomes clear he speaks the language fluently. The presentation of Tamai’s Russophilia flows much better if that very first statement is conveyed clearly. And if you think it’s odd to even think of this craft as the best in the world, well, his opinion is shared by many [see here and here].
But the most striking way in which translation censorship changes (for the worse) the reader’s experience has got to be the switching of Norio’s dragon child’s name. In Japanese the child is called Vagina Dentata, a name that harkens back to stories of females with toothed vaginas which make the would-be male trespasser regret his crime. In the English the dragon child is called Neuter. Oh brother.
See, we gradually get to learn that Norio is pretty much in love with his friend Tsurumaru, and what’s more, Tsurumaru knows this is the case. The problem isn’t that Tsurumaru isn’t gay (he doesn’t seem like the sort of person who would get caught up in gender roles and images) but that he is obsessed with impregnating others with his seed. When Norio warns Shiina not to trust Tsurumaru because he isn’t interested in Love but only in Reproduction, Tsurumaru quips: “But aren’t they the same thing?!” For him Love = Reproduction, and if Norio is to be loved by him then he needs a vagina. But he doesn’t have a vagina, so the dragon child becomes a substitute of sorts.
Norio does show his love through the Vagina Dentata, as he basically lets himself get raped and killed as he guides the dragon child to help save Tsurumaru. That he gets raped is part and parcel of the symbolism behind his name. If he had his Vagina Dentata with him, the rapist would have regretted it, and this is exactly what the myth of the Vagina Dentata is all about!
I was very shocked to see him die. It made me unhappy. Sure, Shiina got torn to pieces at the end but she’s the main character so I expect her to be back in full form in the next volume. As for Norio, there’s no coming back…
Volume 10 was a weird experience for me. The basic conflict that shapes it disappointed me a lot, because it was a rehash of the basic conflict in the last volume. Volume 9: Mr. Tamai helps a woman who is seeking her son (who is associated with a dragon child) while the Russian government is bent on capturing Mr. Tamai. Volume 10: Tamai’s daughter helps a woman who is seeking her son (who is associated with a dragon child) while the American government is bent on capturing said dragon child. Too darn repetitive!
That said, the details save it. The course of the conflict is very well done. America sends its AC-130 gunships to hunt down the dragon child, and this kind of plane is such a beast that this is truly a case of employing a monster to get another one. Gunships circle their prey and fire away from the guns on their sides, circling and circling until everything is rubble. You see the AC-130 doing just that against the dragon child called Tarrasque. Plus real-life AC-130s boast nicknames such as: Azrael, Ultimate End, Ghost Rider, Grim Reaper, Nightstalker etc. Dragon children’s names are not as nasty, I don’t think! And when Hoshimaru whacks the AC-130, the F-16s drop by and start doing this:
I’m excited and horrified at the thought of what the final two volumes might contain~