地球星人 🌏 Book Club ・ Week 14

地球星人 ・ Week 14

Week 14 5 March 2022
End page 279
End % 85
End phrase 「暗いとき」の中にいた。
Pages 22
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. Is Yuu finally making decisions for himself? Or is this another instance of him just placating those around him? Why did he decide to go with Natsuki and Tomoya?

  5. Are the three Pohapipinpobobians actually acting purely rationally? Is there value in looking at things with an “Alien Eye”? Is there anything wrong with the way they’ve chosen to live?

2 Likes

Here we go again with the silkworm references: 由宇の作った布団の山を見つめながら、私は呟いた。それは、何か奇妙な生き物の蛹のように見えた。

The description of their new lifestyle sure is something special. I’m not sure they changed into aliens so much as into earthling animals :sweat_smile: It’s also echoed in the usage of 匹 (in previous weeks as well) and calling themselves オス and メス.

On the topic of whether Tomoya is a good influence or not. We saw him being the ringleader again this week, getting them to do the divorce ceremony, dragging them to the house and articulating a philosophy for their future lifestyle (‘receptacleism’). Though eventually Yuu becomes just as enthousiastic of a thought-leader as Tomoya. I get the impression Natsuki is more of a follower :thinking: She’s often the one asking questions, which are then answered (almost dogmatically) by the men. I hope the situation doesn’t get out of hand for her. It’s at risk of becoming more oppressive and cult-like than the society they sought to escape. I thought that irony was hinted at particularly well when they (briefly) considered having babies for the sake of continuing the alien race :upside_down_face:

11 Likes

I appreciated getting Yuu’s point of view at last. Then he surprised me by showing himself to be the most “empty receptacle” of all, just enthusiastically following the implied orders of anyone who happens to be closest, even when he said he’d stop doing exactly that. So now he’s Tomoomi’s enthusiastic disciple, apparently. I felt for Natsuki when she realized that as a child he was just going along with her just as he was with his mother.

I know I said I’d suggest to Natsuki that she move somewhere far away and begin a new life with like-minded people, but that’s not what I meant or expected at all. Setting aside everything else, I find it so absurd that their idea of “far away” is a place where everyone knows to look for them. Their world really is small.

Tomoomi, true to what we’ve seen of him so far, keeps finding new ways to complicate things. I agree with everything @Phryne wrote on that cult of his. Humans have been failing to create utopias since forever, and his idea of “alien” life is not even an especially novel one. This is very much in danger of getting out of hand. I wonder whether the problems will first come from within or from the outside (they’re bound to be found out sooner or later, either by their relatives or the neighbours they’re stealing from), but in any case this is not ending well.

I have to say, this book keeps surprising me with the directions it takes. The second part felt so different to the first part, and now again it’s starting to feel like a different book entirely.

Question:
「…あまり奇妙なことを言うと、変に思われる。一度変に思われると、これから生き辛くなってしみますよ」Who says this? I found it a strange thing to say out loud.

9 Likes

I’m just glad that through their alien eyes they were able to see the utility of a toilet for disposing of waste…

6 Likes

Yes, I also had trouble with that sentence, so I looked it up in the translation. It actually makes sense once you know: it’s Yuu telling Tomoomi that he shouldn’t say such strange things. Tomoomi mentioned the Factory in front of Teruyoshi and 夫の返事を、由宇は「智臣さん!」と慌てた様子で制した。This sentence is basically a continuation of that. Apparently, the 由宇は溜息をついて in the next sentence is telling us that it is Yuu saying this (with a sigh). I’m really finding it hard sometimes to figure out who is speaking when in Japanese books, though. It’s probably just that the sentence patterns for it are different in Japanese and I have to get more familiar with them.

7 Likes

Another interesting turn of events this week.

Question 4

I’m not sure if Yuu is placating Natsuki and her husband at this point. They were willing to leave him at the uncle’s house, but he actively went after them so he could join them. As @Phryne pointed out, in a number of instances he’s taking charge, whether it’s leading the conversation or coming up with ideas for their group to try out. I’m inclined to say he’s thinking for himself for the most part.

As for why he went after them in the first place, it might be because he lacks a purpose. His next steps after leaving Akishina were vague (find an apartment and job – where and what, exactly?), and even then I think he decided on that because he figured others would be happy about it.

Question 5

I gotta say, part of me thought this was pretty funny. They’re starting from square one to decide what is logical and what isn’t. Personally, I would find this level of “starting over” unnecessary, and it is a little worrying to see them take the idea of being aliens so literally. They don’t wear clothes when they walk around the house because they’ll get dirty, but it was fall when Natsuki and her husband visited the first time around. There’s no way it’s going to be warm enough with just the kotatsu and space heater.

I don’t really think they’re being logical. I think Natsuki wonders at one point why “factory people” don’t engage in the kind of training they’re doing, and sure, there are people who like to camp and hunt, but most “factory people” probably don’t find it logical to retread steps that our ancestors took thousands of years ago. They apparently will do research on their smartphones, and I’m curious how long that will last until they can’t use them anymore (I have no clue how much money her and her husband have saved up). Where do they get this information from? Articles written by earthlings, perhaps? This is heading into a criticism I had earlier: what do they think it means to be an alien? I don’t have any issue with them wanting to live an alternative lifestyle, but I can’t help but think they’re deluding themselves at least a little, even if they’re being “logical.”

I also don’t know how they can be training to study earth without engaging with any “earthlings.” Like others, my feeling is that the bubble’s gonna burst one way or another, thought I’m not sure how just yet.

Conversation Toward End of Chapter

So, Natsuki asking questions about sex and romance??? I wonder why she kept bringing it up. Are her feelings starting to change? She was relieved when both men decided there was no need to birth children, but I definitely got a strange vibe from her during this portion of the reading.

10 Likes

I’m thinking our Yuu may be a chameleon of sorts (or the ultimate empty vessel, as they currently describe themselves). I don’t think he was ever passively following orders - he actively shaped his behaviour so that the people around him would be happy with him. The “orders” he said he was following were always unsaid, they were basically what he believed to be people’s expectations of him. I feel that, ironically, while thinking that he’s finally free, he is actually just following the vibe of his new environment. The fact that he’s taking initiative in many cases doesn’t stop me thinking that he’s just molding himself to fit his new circumstances. This is a very interesting question posed by the whole book actually - where does our free will and initiative end, and to what extent are our actions, thoughts even, determined by society? It’s not just Yuu who changes himself to fit it - everyone does it to a lesser or greater extent, but a question I think the book is posing is, do we maybe do it to a much larger extent than we even realize? What would we do if we were completely free of others’ expectations? Is that even possible?

9 Likes

About Yuu: it’s interesting to see how Yuu is responding to situation. Before, he seemed to be holding back, concerned about public appearances, but now that they have found a way to hide from society, he seems to be fully going for it.

About the use of smartphones: yes, I also thought it was surprising that they are still using their smartphones. On the one hand they are trying to break free from normal Earthling behaviour, but they don’t seem to have any second thoughts about using smartphones. :thinking:

5 Likes

Well this is an… interesting development.

I agree that this is starting to feel kind of cult like, especially when they were talking about getting other people to join them by giving them the same kind of “training”. Where’s the ‘rationality’ in that? In theory it shouldn’t matter to them how everyone else lives.

I also raised an eyebrow at how they steal their food under the guise of rationality. Obviously stealing some food from a field isn’t the worst crime ever, but if that kind of thinking (if it helps me it’s the logical thing to do, regardless of whether it harms someone else) tranfers to other things it could get problematic real fast.

So far their new life style seems strange but still mostly harmless, but I feel like it might not stay that way. I’m a bit nervous about what’s still to come :laughing:

7 Likes

Yup 100% agreed. Having previously said something along the lines that you can’t be fully alien unless you go full “back to nature”… well that’s kind of what has happened, but in a way I think the life they are leading is pretty parasitic: I mean sure, they can just about survive while they have some money for fuel, but after that? What are they going to do? What about when there are no more vegetable gardens to steal from? I suppose in the past they felt they were given themselves fully over to the Factory, so the tables have turned somewhat. But I do think that the thing that is missing from all of this is any sense of joy or purpose, even compared to their previous visit to Akishina. It somewhat feels that having tried to become alien, they’ve left behind any of the joy that comes with being human.

Like others, I found it somewhat funny that talk turned so quickly to discussion of propagation. Is this a way of saying that the factory was inside them all along? I feel that it somewhat relates to Natsuki earlier observation that there was nothing really making them from doing something, that the pressure was at least partially internal. In someways, I feel that they haven’t actually managed to become Alien - they’ve just replicated a human existence, but stripping away any of the redeeming qualities that living in a society gives you. In some ways, this turn of event is a bit of a surprise: I feel that Murata is usually very sharp with her criticism of society, so its interesting to her paint the alternative in not a particularly friendly light, at least so far. Perhaps it will improve in the next page!

Alright, going to leave it at that… so close to being done!

8 Likes