地球星人 🌏 Book Club ・ Week 10

地球星人 ・ Week 10

Week 10 5 February 2022
End page 193
End % 59
End phrase End Chapter 4
Pages 20
Last Week Click!
Next week Click!
Home thread Click!

Please remember to set this thread to “watching” in order to stay abreast of the discussion.

  • I’m reading along (I’ve read no further than the end of this week’s section)
  • I’m reading ahead (I’ve read beyond the end of this week’s section)
  • I’ll catch up soon (I haven’t yet finished last week’s section)
  • I’ve read this book already but I’m here for discussion
  • I have no intention of catching up or the club has already finished, but I’m using the forums as reference

0 voters

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.

Spoiler Courtesy

Please follow these rules to avoid inadvertent ネトバレ. If you’re unsure whether something should have a spoiler tag, err on the side of using one.

  1. Any potential spoiler for the current week’s reading need only be covered by a spoiler tag. Predictions and conjecture made by somebody who has not read ahead still falls into this category.
  2. Any potential spoilers for external sources need to be covered by a spoiler tag and include a label (outside of the spoiler tag) of what might be spoiled. These include but are not limited to: other book club picks, other books, games, movies, anime, etc. I recommend also tagging the severity of the spoiler (for example, I may still look at minor spoilers for something that I don’t intend to read soon).
  3. Any information from later in the book than the current week’s reading (including trigger warnings that haven’t yet manifested) need to be hidden by spoiler tags and labeled as such.

Discussion Questions

Feel free to use these questions as a framework or a starting point for responses. I also encourage people to post their own 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. Describe how Natsuki’s dissociation progresses through the chapter.

  5. Were Natsuki’s actions in this chapter justified? Is she guilty of a crime? Was she even capable of controlling her actions?

  6. How do you think Natsuki felt surrounded by people singing Mr. Igasaki’s praises? How should she have felt? Why did she volunteer to help hand out fliers?

2 Likes

Such a rollercoaster of a chapter! I raced through it holding my breath the whole time.

My reactions went something like this:

“Killed her magic? At Igasaki’s? Oh no oh no. Natsuki, why would you say yes? You could just stay home. Wait what? What are you doing, Natsuki? What on earth do you have in mind, Natsuki? Oh no she’ll be found out. This is weirdly trippy, what’s going on? Oh no it’s going to be bad. Wait what… What did you do??? No seriously, what did you do?”

I was glad to resume the story from where we left it. So she did turn violent after all, only far, far earlier than I could ever suspect. And of course she only killed a witch, which is exactly what any magical girl from a different planet is supposed to do.

The whole scene in the house was brilliant. So surreal, yet I felt like I was there with her. So scared for her sake, but also of what she might do. So confused, as she was, about what might really be going on.

The witch story was very interesting. It seems to me like she wanted to reconcile what she knew about Igasaki with what everyone else seemed to think about Igasaki. So he wasn’t really a bad man, he was possessed by a witch. Defeating the witch would set him free. The constant voice of Pyuuto drowning out any doubts she might have… It’s not clear from the narration if she ever really let herself realize what happened. She seems to be very good at lying to herself, but in her “conversation” with Pyuuto she nearly blurts out about things having possibly happened in a different way, but Pyuuto interrupts her and she never asks again.

And here’s her explicit wish to be expertly brainwashed by the factory, so that she actually fits in instead of pretending to fit in (now that she knows no spaceship is coming). Her mimicking of others also starts here. She copies Shizuka’s reactions and expressions, and even actions, when she helps out with the leaflets. She’s going through the motions of being an earthling. She feels like an imposter because she’s an alien pretending to be an earthling, but does she also feel she’s an imposter when she’s helping to find her teacher’s murderer?

Her comment about people pretending to be shocked and outraged but in fact being secretly fascinated by gruesome crimes was on point as always. She’s a really shrewd observer of human nature for someone so young.

So apparently schools had incinerators on their grounds until 1998. But were they so easily accessible as it seems? Could anyone just throw anything in? That sounds so much more dangerous than just toxic fumes…

I wonder how it would go if she were caught. I don’t know if she could be held responsible for her crime, I mean legally. She was a child, she was being abused by the victim, and she was suffering from “temporary insanity” at the time. Would she have received the help she needed, I wonder? Or would she have been much worse off?

Edit: Nearly forgot to mention the little detail of 終わり written on her calendar. I got chills when I read that. So she had planned it even before going there. Most probably before her mother decided they’re not going to Obon this year - was her furious reaction partly due to her plan being thwarted? A mere child making long-term plans about her own death. And so matter-of-fact. No long, dramatic farewell letter, just a tiny scrawl in her calendar. So sad, and so chilling.

15 Likes

Welp, read it in one go. When a Murata story reaches a climax, I just can’t tear myself away.

Gonna have to process this for a bit, I think.

What was with Igasaki thinking he was being stalked…?

10 Likes

Maybe he actually was? He was supposed to be really good-looking after all. In which case, maybe the stalker saw things, and might play a role later in the story. Or maybe this was just a convenient narrative device so that suspicion would fall elsewhere.

10 Likes

You might be onto something. Didn’t one of the witnesses mention they saw a 白いワゴン車?

This choice to jump back and forth between times is interesting. Before this week, there was a feeling like “OK, I guess she survived that incident with the teacher and found her own ‘normal,’” but others found it jarring–rightfully so, because there was, and still is something missing between how child Natsuki becomes this version of adult Natsuki. And as I think someone else had pointed out, it’s interesting how she doesn’t really talk about the events of her childhood when she is an adult. How does she get here? It makes for a very compelling story…

I can’t have imagined it would have gone well for her. At that point there was no proof of him being an abuser, and I doubt anyone would have believed her. As for punishment for children, I did find this story that seems to indicate that they can’t be tried in criminal court, but can face custody in a special reformatory–not to mention the guilt that the general public would have thrown on her.

Real life news about trying children in criminal court–very dark and sad:

10 Likes
This chapter

The over-the-top story telling was nice this chapter, but perhaps there were a few too many ‘convenient narrative devices’ this time. It seems a bit unbelievable that she would go completely unnoticed throughout all of this. But the book is not done yet, so this might still backfire later.

Good point. Maybe because of this, indeed.

Word of the week for me: ミイラ. So apparently this is based on the Portuguese word for myrrh and the kanji form is 木乃伊, which is a Chinese translation of the Dutch word ‘mummie’ (according to the 大辞林). So here we have a pronunciation based on a Portuguese word for something that is tangentially related to the actual meaning and the kanji form is based on the Dutch word for it. Fascinating. :smiley:

鎌 was also an interesting word for story-reasons, of course :wink:

Does anybody know more about まあだだよ? Apparently it was also the title of a Kurosawa movie, but that actually makes it harder to find information about its meaning/use. It seems like some kind of set phrase? Maybe used by parents? (Is the Kurosawa reference on purpose?)

6 Likes

I think it’s just まだ+だよ with the first vowel elongated.

6 Likes

Haha, indeed it probably is (now I can hear how it is pronounced in my head). Sometimes an answer is so simple once you know it :smile:

(Should I have used a spoiler tag?)

2 Likes

No, I think you’re fine as is. I wasn’t sure if it had been hidden under your drop down or not, so I did it just to be safe. :sweat_smile:

3 Likes

Interesting step back to the past in this chapter. It was reassuring to know that Natsuki is presently living a quiet life with her husband so the outcome of her deeds could not have been too bad for her.

I do not think that she is morally guilty as she acted in a kind of trance and did not even realize what she had done when she learned that Igasaki had been murdered. Her suspicion grows only gradually - first the weapon of the crime, then her stained backpack. With ピュート’s help she manages to push it back and doesn’t feel guilty of anything.

But I suppose that if she had been caught, justice and society would have condemned her as there was no proof for the teacher’s pedophile background - or possibly other students could have stepped forward to help her?

9 Likes
Whelp. That was a ride.

I really thought that Natsuki’s retaliation would be a slow simmer: I had wondered what had happened between her and Igasaki after she returned and had somewhat assumed that the abuse had continued until she aged out of his class and he had moved on to a younger victim.

Oh no. How wrong I was. In many way, however, the seeds had already been planted earlier. She had already decided that she had rather die than face him again. So if her decision to end her own life had been usurped than the only option left was to get rid of Igasaki. So that’s what she did.

  1. Describe how Natsuki’s dissociation progresses through the chapter.

There are lots of clues for this: being told by the Aliens that she is once of them but will have to stay stranded on earth. Her conviction that there is actually an evil witch behind everything. And then eventually her full out of body experience. I appreciate @wiersm observation that things worked out a bit… too conveniently but I think that gave it a bit more of a otherworldly vibe that worked well for me.

What I found especially interesting is that after the deed was done, she put asides her magical girl powers. This felt to me a way to close that chapter of her life, as a sort of survival mechanism.

  1. Were Natsuki’s actions in this chapter justified? Is she guilty of a crime? Was she even capable of controlling her actions?

Its hard to say her decision was justified - I am pretty firmly against vigilante justice or capital punishment - but I do think that her decision was understandable and as such, I can’t condemn it. It’s clear that the adults in her life have completely failed her. Plus she is still a minor, with a developing brain: I feel that in most cases when children do awful things its usually because there is something horribly wrong with their environment. Though I admit that sometimes compassion is hard supply… I’ve definitely read about a handful of pretty horrific crimes commited by children, as well as the ones someone else linked above.

As for how she was able to control her actions… not sure. While there was probably a small part of her that was aware of what was happening, I feel that she had managed to convinced herself that it really was just a witch. I am wondering if we will see this come back to haunt her. In the first sentence of the English version it suggests that this chapter was a conscious flashback: “Being back in Akishina, all kinds of childhood memories began resurfacing” I did not find that the Japanese suggested the same, so interested to see how these memories play into her future interactions and whether she confesses to others what she did.

  1. How do you think Natsuki felt surrounded by people singing Mr. Igasaki’s praises? How should she have felt? Why did she volunteer to help hand out fliers?

I think this ties into her decision that she wants to be brain washed. It’s easier for her to pretend that she is like all the others and actually cares about the death. It’s hard for me to know how much she believes the lie, but I think its probably easier for her to go along, in some twisted way. Otherwise she would have to admit to herself what happened.

I’ve got a bit more time on my hands in the coming days, so hoping to catch up by an extra week! But definitely running out of weeks to catch up, ha. Ah well. If it were not for the fact that my Japanese reading speed is still painfully slow I would have probably have read this over the course of a coupe of days. Really want to know what happens next!

11 Likes

I’m surprised at how quickly I finished the reading from this week. I tried so hard not to scroll ahead in the vocab sheet or skim to look ahead for what might happen next. (I was mostly successful).

Question 4

It’s pretty interesting how Murata adds on sound and sight to Natsuki’s list of symptoms. Overhearing her teacher’s voice through the phone in her right ear, and then making that the ear that can hear Pyuuto…it’s like a direct correlation of him leading her into trouble. It kind of reminds me of the most traumatizing scene (you know the one): her teacher keeps repeating himself in a way, building tension toward whatever the climactic action is. The same happens here: Pyuuto does a lot of repeating (“the witch is gonna kill you”; “the world’ll be destroyed if you don’t do something”; etc.), even after Natsuki defeats the “blue demon.” His initial repetitions lead her toward trouble (murder), but the residual ones are kind of like echoes. She mentions wanting to ask him more about what happened, but he instead repeats his thank yous to her. If his voice didn’t end up going away, I wonder if it would have led her to fully admitting to herself the crime that she ended up committing. Honestly, that likely only would’ve made her mental state spiral even further out of control.

Question 5

I know the taking of another human life is wrong…but I wasn’t necessarily all that upset by Mr. Igasaki “succumbing to the witch,” so to speak. It’s kind of hard to say if she’s guilty of a crime, considering she’s a minor in the eyes of the law. Others brought up interesting points regarding this. I think it’s easy for us to say that she isn’t because we have the full story. I fully believe she wouldn’t have murdered him if he hadn’t done anything to her. Along with that, a lot of her other issues (depression, suicidial thoughts) are pretty strongly tied to her lack of a loving household. In that case, her parents are to blame. It doesn’t seem right to convict a child of a crime when the closest “trusted” adults in her life physically, sexually, and emotionally abuse her. With how messed up her senses were, it’s also hard for me to say that she was fully in control of what she was doing.

Question 6

If she opted for mimicking Shizuka rather than speak for herself, odds are she at least felt some unease with it. At the same time, she probably handed out the fliers because, again, she felt some kind of unease around him being killed: guilty conscience, wanting to fit in with her friend and appear “normal,” probably both.

Thinking about it, I can see how her changed physical sensations could solidify to her the idea of the “factory” using people for their body parts. This point in her life has a number of her own “malfunction,” and although she reasons it out as being the fault of “the witch” (for her ear and eyes, anyway), all of her changed senses point back to her teacher, someone propped up by participants in “the factory”: he’s liked by the other students; her mother contradicts Natsuki’s sort-of protestations and turns it on Natsuki; the newspaper states he’s a victim not only of a murder but also a potential stalker; her main friend rallies others to help hand out fliers to find witnesses and bring the murderer to justice. Those on the outside aren’t reacting unreasonably, but I can see how Natsuki could subconciously end up thinking, “all of these earthlings who are part of the factory are fully on the side of this prominent figure who is also part of the factory.” With her still not being able to taste anything in her adulthood, it’s like “the factory” permanently has control over that body part, maybe due to her not being able to move on from what happened. Her mind and body have been in conflict with “the factory” this whole time: she wants to be brainwashed, but she also doesn’t want her body parts to be used, even though her mouth is no longer really hers, in a way.

I hope this makes sense. I feel like I went on a bit of a tangent.

Earthlings vs. Aliens

I think that, when Pyuuto tells Natsuki that she’s actually an alien from his planet, it hammers home the idea of her being an outsider. She did something taboo in our culture: commit murder. From consuming past media, I’m somewhat aware of how harsh Japanese society can be if you’re found to have committed even a minor crime (ex. blacklisted celebrities caught smoking weed). Obviously, she’s far from the only criminal in her community, but her actions have put an even bigger wedge between herself and everyone else she knows. It makes sense that at the end Pyuuto flat-out tells her she’s not an earthling. Killing Igasaki was possibly the final piece to make her feel like she’s completely removed from everyone else. Her “otherworldly” experiences during it only adds to that.

10 Likes

slowly catching up

Well that was wild! And brutal.

chapter

The last one or two sections dragged on a bit (which is part of why I didn’t make a lot of progress for a while and fell hopelessly behind, oops) but this one sucked me back in. Somehow I didn’t expect there to be another time jump. After the first one I had kind of automatically assumed that nothing else noteworthy (to that extend, at least) had happened… obviously that was very wrong.

Wouldn’t the father at some point notice that his tool thingy (that Natsuki used) is missing? Combined with this kind of tool being connected to the case you’d think that would seem suspicious. :sweat_smile:
I’m definitely wondering if Natsuki as an adult has a clearer idea of what really happened here or if this sort of mental diconnect is/was permanent.

On an unrelated note - that extreme level of supervision Natsukis parents put her under is pretty intense. Wonder how long they kept that up.

… on to the next one.

10 Likes