I’m in despair! The lack of a consistent translation has left me in despair!
Writer/Artist: Koji Kumeta
Translation/Adaptation: David Ury
This volume of Sayonara, Zetsubou-sensei continues it’s formulaic examination of society through the lens of a teacher, who seems to be growing less suicidal as the story continues. This time around we have unwanted gifts, obligations, and getting caught up in other people’s drama.
I feel that each volume of SZS has a few good chapters and one standout chapter. One of the best of the bunch this time is the chapter on forgetting your age, which results in Chiri living out the life of a lonely twenty-eight year old, complete with a questionable mail order purchase. Another good one focuses on emergency phone alerts, which result in the ultimate destruction of the earth. My closest thing to a standout chapter for this volume is the one on contagious ideas, for it’s slightly frightening sight gag ending.
There is a newly introduced student in this volume, but she only makes a very brief cameo. Her name is Manami Ookusa, and she’s a teenage bride trying to pay off her husband’s debts. Pretty soon the author is going to run out of hairstyles for his female students.
Sadly, the translation on this text heavy series still seems to be below average when compared to the first four volumes. While the series still maintains its translation notes at the back of the book they are lacking in entertainment and information value. Space is wasted on explaining things that were already explained in previous volumes or which need no explanation. Meanwhile, chapter titles go without reference and the pun in the new student’s name is a mystery. There’s also an occasional slip up (such as translating the well known “Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure” to “Strange Adventure”), and lack of consistency from earlier volumes. Sensei’s catchphrase isn’t even “I’m in dispair!” anymore, which partially ruins a joke in the first chapter of this volume.
The usual extras are included in this volume: Kimura’s charge report, the author’s self-depreciating chapter notes, and the translation notes. There’s also one new added extra in the form of a “self anime” (not a flipbook!). The not-a-flipbook was in celebration of the anime being green-lit and it was outsourced to various assistants.
Sensei continues to point out the ways of the world, and though the novelty has worn off there are still humorous societal behaviors to be lambasted.
I don’t recommend marathon reading this book straight through. This is one of the few series where a break between chapters works to it’s advantage. I do wish the translator would’ve taken more care when he took over to maintain the quality of the first four volumes, or at least remained consistent with them. Now we play the waiting game to see when volume nine comes out, for Kodansha has yet to elaborate on their future release plans. Maybe absence will rekindle the joy I used to feel reading this series. Right now, I feel that it’s more of an obligation to keep reading.