地球星人 🌏 Book Club ・ Week 12

地球星人 ・ Week 12

Week 12 19 February 2022
End page 235
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End phrase End Chapter 5
Pages 20
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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 ネタバレ. 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. How should Natsuki’s friends have reacted to her confessions? Was it inevitable that Natsuki got the responses that she did, or did she have bad luck in her choice of confidants? How do you think their reactions affected her?

  5. How does Murata utilize humor while describing a situation that might otherwise only seem horrific or tragic? In what ways does this emphasize, alter, or undercut the book’s themes?

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ネタバレ :slight_smile:

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Wow took 9 weeks for someone to catch that.

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The whole husband storyline felt absurd to me, like a scene from a slapstick comedy randomly inserted in the book. I’ve seen men get randomly violent in Japanese media, but I was never sure how realistic that was. Is it in any way considered normal for a father to chase his adult son all the way up a mountain (a 3-4 hour drive) just to beat him up in front of his wife and a stranger? So badly that he breaks a tooth? If that’s in any way considered normal, then the so-called “factory” seems to have a way to keep them in tow indeed. (“Hey brother, would you please have sex with me so that I can be an alien? Thanks” :thinking:)

(Did Natsuki seriously offer to kill her father-in-law with a sickle???)

I guess it would be more natural for a husband to take his wife along instead of leaving her alone in a faraway place where they were vacationing, but is it really so unheard of for a man and woman, relatives no less, to stay alone together? Is it a Japanese thing, is it Yuu and Yota being overly prudish, or is it just because of their history (but that was when they were children, water under the bridge, married now, etc)?

Yuu is SO uncomfortable around Natsuki. Extremely so. They only managed to have a semi-natural conversation when Yota was there. I didn’t quite get the part about Yuu’s mother. Did the family disown her or did she disown Yuu? How did Yuu keep attending family gatherings in any case? (or did the family gatherings stop completely after the incident? I think this was mentioned but I forget).

I love how Natsuki deals with anything over-dramatic as if she’s watching a TV drama. I can relate somewhat - extreme drama is so common on TV and so uncommon in real life that it’s easy to instantly disassociate when you come across it, view it as just another movie unfolding in front of you. Of course, it fits Natsuki’s character and her tendency to observe the world from a distance very well.

Regarding the friends. There is unfortunately a very real bias in favor of good-looking sexual predators (and against good-looking victims). The latter “had it coming”, the former “wouldn’t do that as they could have anyone they chose” or “surely the victim wanted it/enjoyed it”. It’s disgusting and infuriating. On the other hand, I kind of get the first friend’s reaction up to a point. Some confessions just feel false (because they come from someone who you wouldn’t expect to get so personal with you, because they’re said at a peculiar time and maybe not in the tone you’d expect, etc.). She was just a kid, she knew the extremely good-looking teacher (and had heard only good things about him) and Natsuki’s tone and timing might well be a bit off, seeing as she’s not very comfortable in social situations and she had no one to copy for that. It was easy for her to see it as bragging I suppose. But she still should have given her the benefit of the doubt at the very least.
The second friend was older and more experienced though. She seemed to get it, but apparently could only link it to her own, much more harmless experiences. She was well-meaning in trying to get Natsuki out of her shell, but I’m surprised she was so pushy, and that she (or Natsuki herself for that matter) never thought to suggest professional help instead.

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Reading all of Kanae’s justifications for why Natsuki deserved what she got was frustrating. They are all too familiar… Though it is very heartening to see that the notion that ‘anything but enthusiastic consent isn’t good enough’ is becoming increasingly mainstream these days. Does anyone happen to know if a similar development is taking place in Japan?

Miho’s viewpoint was also grating. She did at least acknowledge that Natsuki was a victim, but when she got frustrated that Natsuki wasn’t dealing with her trauma the way she wanted her to, she started downplaying it. Again, frustrating to get such a sense of ‘I’ve seen this before!’ while reading this line of reasoning. I love (and hate) how Murata shows us these different responses that Natsuki gets. It really drives home the hopelessness of her situation. Even when people do believe her, she still doesn’t get the support she needs.

Also holy shit a scythe again :flushed: I thought that was going to end badly. I chuckled at 「いや、本当には助けないでほしい」:grin: And the way she dryly observes: 夫の横で、由宇は必死に、「やめてください」「落ち着いてください」と縋りつづけていた。私よりずっと、夫の妻のようだった。

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I liked that part a lot, too. I actually laughed a bit when I read it, too. It’s interesting that the 洗脳 thing for her to do is exactly what Yuu did, which was not helpful at all, and just comically played out the drama. Natsuki offers a real tangible way to help, but Tomoomi doesn’t want it–he seems to just want to play out the drama scene as well–do the earthling stuff. And there’s probably some self awareness that Murata is writing into this chapter, that this is literally a scene in a drama-the one she wrote-the one we are reading-and how we are unable to turn away, and like Natsuki, gawk at the ridiculousness of it that omk3 pointed out. She’s really guiding us, through Natsuki’s eyes, to looks at these situations from a very ‘meta’ position, not just as someone watching/reading a drama, but as someone thinking about the way we portray, act out, and view those dramas…

I read that totally as it being awkward between them. I don’t think Natsuki particularly cares, but given their well-known history, relatives and friends who are part of the factory would question their motives. Possibly Yuu is scared that deep down inside he still harbors feelings for Natsuki, and is afraid that he’ll fall off the earthling wagon.

I’m not sure if I remember everything, either, but the gist that I got was that since Yuu’s mother had parentified him, learning about the incident with Natsuki was probably traumatic for her and splintered the relationship that they had, and disconnected his mother from Yuu who she was relying on to keep on keeping on.

Yes, absolutely, and I think Murata did a great job at illustrating that point. As you say, The first friend she told didn’t believe her because she knew the victim was good looking. In the second case, Natsuki let Miho believe that the teacher was fat and ugly. I think this was the point there, more so than the being older and experienced part..

They were actually talking about this in a recent episode of バイリンガルニュース where they talked about some recent research, possibly this:

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The drama-like scene really was a bit odd and felt somewhat misplaced but I think that’s kind of the point and makes it work. With all the stuff about the Factory and the Alien Eyes and stuff like that, culminating into a scene like this, it’s meant to be absurd, imo. Especially Natsuki being aware of it.

On another note,
shortly after I watched some more Asadora and there was a scene too with the 夫 being a bit too violent to his son in front of guests/strangers. And it reminded me of that scene because it felt a bit too over the top as well despite it being a not too serious drama.
Not too much later, but different scene, there also was the mention of being the Heroine in a Drama. :sweat_smile:

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Holy cow, when she said there was a sickle nearby, I immediately went, “Don’t you even.” At this point in her life, then, she has to be aware of what she did to her teacher, right? And to then not only have the option to kill someone in that way again, but to verbally offer it up as a suggestion…I’m not sure what to think. She tries not to laugh as her husband is about to get pummeled by her father-in-law because it reminds her of a sitcom, but her solution is assuredly un-sitcom like. I kind of wish we were given a little bit more. What made her break from that image and go for an even more violent solution? Is this related to her shaking earlier, when her husband was talking about his plan? Is this how she dissociates as an adult (we haven’t seen her do so until now)? Part of me also wonders if it was just the father-in-law the she would’ve killed. For all I know, she might’ve tried to kill them all. Gah, I don’t know.

As for Question 4, I’d like to think the response wasn’t inevitable. That being said, I think it’s hard when the person you confide in is connected to the situation, even if it’s tangential. The article @maskedkoala linked also makes a good point, and there’s been plenty of incidents where people had a hard time thinking a “good-looking person” would do something wrong, or, at the very least, they shouldn’t be too harshly punished for what they did. I understood her second friend’s point of view more than the first one, but her pushiness was certainly off-putting. I agree that Natsuki does need to move on, but it’s obvious that no one ever knew how to help her in that regard. The obvious result is that she gave up trying to tell anyone about it, avoiding any kind of closure.

I have no idea where the story is going to go from here. My guess would be further down hill for our “alien” couple.

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Yup. That was the first time we really saw adult Natsuki show some signs of remembering what she did. I do feel that it might not the last we see of the scythe. I can’t quite believe that Tomomi decided to go with the whole incest plan… like what did he expect? That his brother would just say okay? To me, it tells me that while he has feel pressured in the past by his family, he probably did not experience the level of trauma that eitehr Yuu or Natsuki did previously. Otherwise, I feel like he would be more fearful of the consequences of his actions. To be honest, while I think that the fathers reactions was completely inappropriate and unexceptable, this is probably the least sympathy I’ve felt for the husband so far. Because of his actions, he’s not only put himself in danger, but also Natsuki.

I did find it interesting continuing references to TV dramas - when the sister had visited, Natsuki had also described her voice sounding as if she was playing a part in a drama. I feel that it relates to how she sees humans as having a role to play in the world. In that way, the lines between reality and fiction seen just as blurred to her as they were when she was younger. To me, this is a sign of her disconnection with the world. I agree with others, that the final scene had almost a slaptick feel to it. The casual “Do you want to save you?” and the response “I’m good” once he sees the scyth :rofl: I have to give it to Murata… she has a real talent for dark humour.

As for the confessions to her friends… it was definitely sad to read the reactions. Especially the first.
Miho’s approach was, as someone else said, more mature and while I do think that her attempts to get Natsuki to move on from her trauma by getting it on with a randoms stranger to be misguided, it definitely felt real in the sense that I remember having those kinds of thoughts about a perpetually single and awkward friend I had. I remember having conversations behind their back that they just needed to chill out about sex (and possibly come out as gay). Never told this to their face (thank god I was at least self aware enough not to do that), but I now cringe when think about those conversations I had with others… In reality, what they “needed” to do to be comfortable in their skin was to come out loud and proud as Ace. Once they did that in their own time, they became much happier.

But back then, I didn’t really think of that as an option. Didn’t help that the idea of being Ace wasn’t really around then but yeah… I don’t even think that I thought everybody needed to be in a relationship (I was totally on board with rad feminist old maids) more that relationships were the answer to helping them feel better in their own skin. Don’t really know how to explain that logic now, because it now makes no sense to me anymore.

TLDR people are still idiots in their early 20s… and I wish that Natsuki had had been giving better ways to heal from the trauma rather than essentially being told that all she needed was to get laid.

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