コンビニ人間: Week 13 Discussion [END]

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コンビニ人間 Home Thread

Week 13

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Start Date: September 21st
Previous Thread: Week 12

Reading:

End Page (PB) End Page (HB) End % End Phrase Pages
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Word lists - Learn the vocabulary for コンビニ人間

Discussion Rules

  • Please use spoiler tags for major events in the current chapter(s) and any content in future chapters.
  • When asking for help, please mention the chapter and page number. Also mention what version of the book you are reading.
  • Don’t be afraid of asking questions, even if they seem embarassing at first. All of us are here to learn.
  • To you lurkers out there: Join the conversation, it’s fun! :durtle:

Read-along Sessions

Come and read from the previous week’s section, join in the chat about this book or just lurk and listen. Readers of all speeds and abilities welcome - we are here to help each other out. Reading sessions will be held every Sunday at 9:30pm JST.

Week 13 session (in your timezone): Sunday, September 29, 2019 12:30 PM TZ

Participants

Mark your participation status by voting in this poll.

  • I’m reading along
  • I’m still reading the book but I haven’t reached this part yet
  • I’m skipping this book
  • I’m no longer reading the book

0 voters

3 Likes

This is still a really sad ending, but I’m at least happy she stood up to Shiraha and decided to get her Conbini job back. I guess, there’s meaning in reaching the end doing what you love, satisfying what you think is your calling in life… Great book :slight_smile:

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Is that a spoiler? That’s an actual spoiler isn’t it?

See I can learn!

I’ve been waiting all week for this thread - time to finish this book! :muscle:

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It is, so don’t read until you finish! :joy:

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I love how open the ending was. :smiley: I kind of expected things to not be resolve, what with how little book was left, and… Well. I’m satisfied. 恵子 standing up for herself for the first time was really something.

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Finished! :tada:

I actually like the ending(!). I had no idea how this was going to end until the very end which is saying something. The whole story in general was nothing like what I had imagined it could be from the nomination summary but I quite enjoyed it. I think even though it is not how the usual “happy ending” plays out, it is a happy ending in its own way. Because although it may seem she is just going back to the start and nothing has changed and nothing is better, she has finally realized that it doesn’t matter what others think or that she is supposed to live in a certain way, because she is happy being in the コンビニ, because she is wholly a コンビニ人間 and she doesn’t need anything else.
Of course we could argue about how healthy that really is but as long as she is happy and she isn’t hurting anyone…? I mean this is still fiction.

(Does it show that I always get a little carried away when we finish a book? It’s the “I just read a whole book in Japanese” high. Brb marking it as read on BookMeter.)

16 Likes

This was my first time reading a (not-aimed-at-children) novel in japanese. It was definitely above my level and I struggled a lot with all the vocab and grammar I had to look up; however, the satisfaction of having finished it was well worth it.

I’d like to thank everyone who participated in this book club, and specially to all those that patiently answered all questions, whether they were asked by me or by someone else. I’d have probably given up long ago without your help.

心から有難うございます! 勉強になりました!

Random thoughts on this book

I mentioned this in a post before, and I knew from the start that the intermediate book club was above my abilities, but the premise of this book seemed really interesting, so I decided to take the plunge.

The book didn’t quite go in the direction I expected, but overall I feel quite satisfied with it. I kind of expected a more introspective book - an inner look at how 恵子 perceived the world considering her condition; her overall lack of empathy and her shallow feelings; more like a description of the inner workings of her mind rather than a series of events of her life.

While the book did deliver quite well in that front, I felt it didn’t go to the depths I wished. At first it seemed to me that 恵子 was a very rational person; she built a “normal” persona for herself by observation and imitation. In this regard, she seemed quite sophisticated in some aspects (like how she’d take note of what brands of clothes other people her age wore, then lookup in internet blogs about people recommending those brands and then buying other brands they recommended, so that she didn’t seem like a straight copy cat :cat2: )

Other times, however, it baffled me how little thought she seemed to have put into other matters, mostly in her plan to marry 白羽. Given that many of her “friends” were married, and that she probably had plenty of time to observe her sister’s (and even her parents’) married life, it seemed very naive of her to think that was going to work (I mean, that “marriage” wasn’t going to fool anyone and make her seem normal, and it didn’t).

There are several possible explanations for this, I believe (like how she felt very pressured by her friends and family, so she might have taken a rushed decision), but I’d have really like to read what exactly she was thinking when she came up with that idea, or why exactly she thought it was going to work. Then again, it is not like I achieved 100% comprehension with my meager japanese skills, so there are probably many things I missed that might explain many of the contradictions I sensed in the book.

Probably because of my expectations towards this books, the parts I enjoyed the most were this moments of introspection and observation; stuff like how she was more worried about 白羽’s snot making bubbles in his nose rather than his ramblings on the 縄文 era, or how she noticed the saliva from one her “friend”'s husband flying over the meat in the barbecue while she was being criticized and ostracized.

I think the saddest moments in the book were those where 恵子, out a sense of helplessness at being unable to understand, simply asks “why”. Why did she have to search for a husband? Why did she have to look for stable employment? I feel many humans simply come to accept those things, never finding an answer to why society works the way it does either.

I think the most brutal moment for me, where I finally realized the depth of 恵子’s condition, was in this week’s reading; when the 義妹 from Hell, tells her quite frankly that the best thing she can do for humanity is to never pass on her rotten genes. 恵子 just nods, and think that’s very logical. She doesn’t feel sad, or attacked, or hurt. The heck, she’s even relieved she doesn’t has to force herself to have children with 白羽. After I read that part yesterday I just shook my head, closed the book, and went to sleep, because it was just too hard to digest.

I am quite satisfied with the ending. I am really glad that the author didn’t go for a fabricated happy ending that would have probably been either hard to believe or extremely rushed. Her moment of epiphany feels in many ways magical as well as logical, and it was a lot fun to read her exploits as a コンビニ女神, short as they were.

In the end, we know things won’t get fixed for 恵子, but at least we know there’s hope she’ll find some sort of closure and satisfaction in her life. And I am happy to take that little light of hope with me so that I can go sleep feeling way better than how I felt when I went to sleep yesterday >.<

Sorry for the long rambling :sweat_smile:

18 Likes

I finished a few days ago but want to share my thoughts.

I’m happy with the ending too. Even if it seems a bit mundane to most people, it feels like this kind of life is good enough for 恵子. She does have enough of a backbone to do do what she wants, even if it’s not what society expects of her. It would have been nice to have a turn around from the sister, with her accepting 恵子 the way she is. I feel like they’ll never quite be understanding of each other - but that’s just how life is.

8 Likes

This is what the author should name the sequel.

3 Likes

Sorry for not staying active in all the threads but I did attend the read aloud and I’ve finished the book. I loved it and I recommend it. In my personal opinion it was a comfortable read. I could also relate to the protagonist a lot because I’m actually slightly autistic as well. So all the people trying to fix her and not knowing whats wrong with her, and her obsessing over something weird that no one else understands hits close to home. I’m definitely not as bad as she is and I’ve learned corrective behavior pretty well on my own, it was just nice to see a different take on the experience from mine even if it was from a fictional character. I’ve said this in the chat but I love stories that are kind of a snippet of life. One that isn’t focused on some goal or having the character undergo some kind of character growth, but is just a cut out of a moment in time that tells a story of someone’s life as it is. If I explained that correctly. Anyways お疲れ様〜

12 Likes

Finished my first book since elementary school. Good book, will try Haruhi next!
Great selection guys. The discussion helped a lot.

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Repeat Club Discussion Starts Here!

3 April 2021

Read to the end!

Welcome to our final week! Congratulations to everybody who has stuck with it to the end.

Feel free to use past discussion for reference, but please don’t hesitate to post any questions or comments! The more we discuss the more we all learn, and the more fun it is! Also, I strongly recommend setting each week’s thread to “watching” to stay abreast of the discussion. Please try to mark any spoilers as such.

  • I’m reading along
  • I’ll catch up soon
  • I have no intention of catching up or the club has already finished, but I’m using the forums as reference

0 voters

Live Reading Sessions

The next live reading session will be 2021-01-24T03:00:00Z If you haven’t already, join the Japanese Book Club Discord. When the time comes to start, just enter the コンビニ人間 voice channel.

For live readings, we will take turns reading as much as we feel comfortable with (up to ~1 page), then go back and translate a section of our choosing together. Expect sessions to take anywhere from 1-2 hours, but feel free to join late or leave early as your schedule allows. We will be starting promptly at the designated time. Please post any questions regarding live reading session logistics in the Discord channel or on the home thread.

Vocab Sheet

Anybody should feel free to add to the vocab sheet. Read the guidelines on the first sheet- even if a word is not yet included you can use the spreadsheet as a tool to get help.

Discussion Questions

  1. What sentence/passage gave you the most difficulty? Feel free to request some help, or if you figured it out on your own break it down for the rest of us!

  2. What was your favorite new vocab word from this week’s reading?

  3. Was there any passage that you found particularly intriguing? Did it resonate with you (either positively or negatively)? Was it surprising? Offer any insight or new perspective? Was it just beautifully written?

  4. Please post your final impressions!

4 Likes

I already finished the book last night, time to share my impressions! I hope I’m not misremembering anything since I don’t have my copy on me right now :sweat_smile:

Summary

I only skimmed over the explanations in the back but I remember reading something about it being up to the reader to decide if it’s a happy ending or not. To me, it definitely reads like one. When she started rearranging stuff in that store something became clear to me that I never noticed that clearly before: she’s really good a her job. The phrase “no unskilled labour” immediately came to mind. Part-time work at a covenience store takes various skills, and after 18 years, she’s mastered them. She’d definitely be qualified for some sort of corporate position supervising several stores, if she can find a guidebook for the social aspect of that sort of job. But even if she “just” gets another position as a regular employee at a store, she’d be in her element. So honestly, good for her.

On another note, regarding that dialogue with Shiraha’s stepsister that went like “please never ever procreate” “ah, I see”, I’m really glad Keiko gave that idea up quickly. When she mentioned kids I was worried that that was gonna be the way this story ends, good thing we dodged that bullet :sweat_smile:

I’m proud to say that I have now officially read my first novel in Japanese :partying_face::partying_face::partying_face: Almost exactly one year after I got back into WK thanks to the first lockdown. Big thanks to everyone reading along, I really enjoyed the discussions on here, and without the vocab sheet I would have given up pretty quickly in the first few weeks :sweat_smile: This was a fun experience!

19 Likes

And you know what? You can also proudly say that you‘ve mastered the first step in the:

so nothing can keep you from ticking off this achievement :upside_down_face:

If you‘re interested, maybe you can find some other interesting book in the list at some point (of course only after you‘ve read enough of Murata‘s books)?

(In case you’re a bit overwhelmed, I recently came across this line in the tsundoku reader blog‘s review of the newest award winner, 「推し、燃ゆ」:
„Like the narrators of Sayaka Murata’s Convenience Store Woman and Natsuko Imamura’s The Woman in the Purple Skirt , Akari [the book’s protagonist] doesn’t fit in and finds it difficult just to get through the day.“ So there’s two recommendations for the price of one :wink:)

11 Likes

Huh! All I knew is that she has to deal emotionally with the fact that her beloved idol was involved in some kind of scandal. But I assumed she is supposed to be an average girl.


As for コンビニ final comments, I need a few more days, but I will post them :wink:

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Oh, I hope I did not spoil it for you :cry:

1 Like

I’ve been eyeing that challenge for a while haha it feels nice that I finally got started on it!

And thanks for the recommendation, 推し、燃ゆ sounds like it would be exactly my kind of book :grin:

4 Likes

Oh no, not at all, I was just commenting :slight_smile:

1 Like

I just finished the book and I really loved the phone conversation between Keiko and 鬼嫁
The ending was great too and what I loved about the first 1/3 of the book. The middle part with Shiraha showing up was painful at first but after all it was really well done, imo. I really enjoyed the book and looking forward to joining the other book at the end of April!

11 Likes

First of all, a little follow up and warning about 推し、燃ゆ - it ended up being too hard for me, I’m postponing it for now.


I also wanted to thank everybody reading along for lengthy discussions. It was extremely satisfying and made reading it as a book club worthwhile.


It was already mentioned both in the original Home Thread and by me and Belerith during one of the previous weeks, but I want to remind of and recommend コンビニエンスストア様 to anyone who finished.
It’s free in an e-book version:
Kindle | Bookwalker
But you can also order it as print-on-demand on Amazon.

It’s an extremely short (only 7 pages of text in the print version, the rest is just a filling) love letter sent to the コンビニエンスストア. It has sort of magical realism elements, with the store being anthropomorphic. It ties-in very nicely with コンビニ人間 and it’s very fun to read.

Official translation does exist and is also available for free.


As for my impressions about the ending and the whole book.

I liked the ending, and I think it is a happy ending, just not a perfect one. In a perfect one, she would be promoted to some sort of upper manager, responsible for supervision of stores in the whole area, I guess. :wink: That way she would get both “respectable” job and she would be able to help fulfilling konbinis’ desires.
But the real ending is much more realistic and grounded. It’s about being happy while choosing what’s available, getting to know one’s limits and not spending whole life chasing what’s impossible to get.
Trying to challenge yourself might be nice, but I think there’s a lot of worth with just settling with what you have and enjoying daily life. Especially if said challenging is only making you miserable, like what was happening with Keiko.
Even if after all she is just doing what she was doing at the beginning of the book, now she knows that alternatives are not for her. I think it’s great that she tried these alternatives, because previously she was continuously feeling doubts about her life choices, but I love the fact that after all her solution is accepting the fact that she’s コンビニ人間.
Of course, it wouldn’t be so great if she would be genuinely unhappy with her life, but that’s not the case here.

While I know that the character and the author are separate beings, it’s hard not to compare them due to the fact that Sayaka Murata also worked very long in コンビニ (and also because of previously mentioned コンビニエンスストア様). So I find it very sad that Sayaka Murata herself had to stop working in a store because she was bothered by fans.

Murata also comments on their similarities in this interview:

“People think she is having a hard time, but she is so pure, she doesn’t care at all. She has no doubts. I wish I could live like her, and not think about others,” says Murata, who is herself single and lives in central Tokyo.

I also wanted to comment on the title. I love it, and I’m sad it was lost in translations. To concentrate only on the English one, I think “woman” simply doesn’t fit, because focus on her gender is exactly what was bothering the main character. But I understand that “human” was deemed as too weird of an option.

Between Japanese titles, I can’t not compare it to Dazai Osamu’s 人間失格. Of course, the “feeling like an outsider” is not that rare theme, as seen even a few posts above, but since these two books share 人間 in their titles, and both contain autobiographical elements, I want to compare them. (There won’t be any spoilers for 人間失格.)

While the MC of コンビニ人間 finds solace in calling herself a different species, MC of 人間失格 is, just as title suggest, feeling disqualified as a human being, but struggling with finding an alternative. Between the two, Keiko definitely seems like a winner and actually I would love to read a fanfiction where Keiko meets 人間失格’s MC. :wink:
(And no, I’m not writing it myself.)

(And well, between the respective authors, from the outsider’s perspective, Murata also seems to lead a healthier life when compared to Dazai.)

And if anyone’s interested what Sayaka Murata herself thinks of Dazai’s works, we actually know the answer from this interview:

Your top five authors: I believe that novels are only completed once they become music within their readers. I can’t judge an author simply because I was not able to properly perform their music. Books that didn’t resonate with me probably provided someone else with a wonderful musical score. However, the authors who have given me wonderful music, especially when I was a college student, are Rieko Matsumura, Albert Camus, Kobo Abe, Yukio Mishima and Osamu Dazai.

12 Likes