地球星人 🌏 Book Club ・ Week 2

地球星人 ・ Week 2

Week 2 4 December 2021
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Please remember to set this thread to “watching” in order to stay abreast of the discussion.

  • I’m reading along
  • I’ll catch up soon
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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 ネトバレ. If you’re unsure about 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. What do you think drove Natsuki and Yuu together? Why might they feel such an affinity towards each other?

  5. How does Murata’s language paint the Obon scene? Do you have any childhood memories or traditions that you remember so vividly?

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This bit made my spidey Murata senses tingle:

とも両親ともていないが、なぜか由宇にはそっくりだとよくからわれるのだった。

There must be an actual, real-life reason why both Natsuki and Yuu feel like they don’t belong in their families. It’s like they’re subconsciously picking up on subtle cues (e.g. Yuu’s mother telling him to call her by her first name, Natsuki’s mother openly favouring the older sister and putting down Natsuki), but for want of knowing the truth they have concocted a fantasy narrative to explain these feelings :thinking:

Also, is it just me or are there some warning signs that Yuu is being abused? For a start, there is Natsuki noticing he seemed to have become smaller over the past year, but also the way he seems to be parentified/spousified by his mother(?):

由宇はおばさんのことを名前でよぶ。美津子さんが、そのほうがいいっているそうだ。美津子おばさんは一番で、三年離婚してから由宇恋人のようにえるようになった。毎日美津子さんのにキスをしなくてはいけない、と由宇ので、「本当のキスはとしてね」と約束していた

After some wikipedia’ing I also wonder if this might be some ominous foreshadowing, though perhaps that’s a bit of a stretch.

からをとったんだよ、とえてもらったが、をどんなふうにとるのか、それからがどうなるのかはそびれたままだ。

Also, this bit entertained me:

手伝ができる年齢になったたちは台所って夕飯準備参加する。

It seems to be almost universal that when there’s a big family gathering, the women do all the cooking and the men never see the inside of the kitchen (but do get served first!) :stuck_out_tongue:

As for the bit that gave me the most trouble… にのせて。I was so used to it being Obon, that it took me way too long to realise this was about trays lol.

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Your tricky vocab was mine as well but I am glad that you clarified that. I haven’t started on week 2 yet (decided on a whim to join in yesterday and crammed all of week 1 in a day). Thank you for setting this up! 地球星人 this is a book I’ve been wanting to read for a while now but didn’t want to read it alone. :sweat_smile:

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Yes, exactly the same for me!

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Thoughts on the two children based on this week's reading:

Yuu worries me. The fact that he hasn’t grown at all, and that he was hiding alone in the attic in total darkness, might hint at some sort of abuse like @Phryne suggests. There are children who chose to call their parents by their first name, so I wouldn’t read much in this alone, but his being certain he is an alien, and totally matter-of-fact about leaving this planet for good at some point (not to mention that he thinks his mother is better off without him), shows a very alienated, lonely child. I hope he’s going to be alright, and I worry that he’s most probably not.

On the other hand, our Natsuki is very intriguing indeed. She seems strong and independent, yet she too is very alienated from her family. Other than the rice serving scene, the significance of which I’m not very sure of (I mean, it wouldn’t mean much on its own, she herself admitted she was serving clumsily), we haven’t really seen any strange behaviour from her family towards her, but she seems to actually encourage the three of them to be together without her, without any hint so far that she resents them for it. I guess we’ll find out more soon enough. But it can’t be normal for a 10 year old to randomly decide she’s not part of her family and that they’re better off without her. She just reacts to whatever her family situation is in a seemingly more active and self-assured way than Yuu’s passive spaceship waiting.

I’m also interested in this Teruyoshi uncle. He gets mentioned a lot, and he seems to give some special attention to Yuu, even though he has three boys of his own.
All in all, I have an uneasy feeling, and I’m very eager to read on.

As for the silkworms, what a lovely scene Natsuki paints in her mind, with the beautiful white moths fluttering about in the house. Of course they would never be allowed to emerge from their cocoon, because that would destroy the single filament that it’s made of. I actually visited a silk making museum this summer (not in Japan, although Japanese tools were also on display). Very interesting, and very unsettling at the same time.

I’m loving the summery feel of the book. Summers in the countryside spent running about with people you never meet during the rest of the year feels very nostalgic somehow. I can almost hear the cicadas. And that huge house of the grandparents, with nooks and crannies to explore, an attic full of old books and toys… An unopened well full of mystery (I assume), fireworks, strange traditions and rituals. It all appeals to the child in me very much.

I found みそっかす a very interesting word. Miso dregs, but also a child who gets left out of games, or a good-for-nothing.

She doesn’t yet in this week’s portion, does she? Doesn’t this week stop directly before the 迎え火?

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Yep, I thought the same. Maybe not necessarily about him getting thinner but definitely about his mom starting to treat him like a lover…

The part that gave me the most trouble was the gazillion of relatives and how they all connected to one another… This time around I didn’t try to remember them but maybe I need to reread some bits later on? :woman_shrugging:

Also, I would like to ask those people who already know the story about a potential trigger: It was mentioned that one of the cousins has secretly uncovered a well. This made all of my alarm bells ring loudly as I‘m pretty claustrophobic and one of my worst triggers around this is about people getting stuck in wells… So I would like to ask you if something like this is going to happen at some point? That would be super helpful, thanks!

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The gazillion relatives may well turn out to be a problem if they have a more active role in the future. As not even Natsuki remembers them all I’m not very worried for now, but I highlight every new name I encounter just in case, so I can easily refer back to it if need be.

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Ah, I was referring to the Obon family reunion in general. But I see how that’s confusing because they’re about to go to the festival.

This got to the heart of what I was going for with that question, because this section evoked a really strong sense of nostalgia for me as well. Your whole response had some great insights and was really nice to read.

Spoilers for beyond this weeks reading (I suggest that only @NicoleRauch look): Don’t worry, there are no well scenes or anything I remember as claustrophobic. But you might want to never, ever, read Wind Up Bird Chronicle by Murakami (another favorite of mine).

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True, but in this case I took it to mean that perhaps Yuu isn’t actually her son (which seems to be hinted at), which is why she doesn’t want to be called mum, or else that she doesn’t want to be called mum because it breaks the spousification fantasy (or both!).

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I want to reassure everyone that nope, the reader isn’t expected to remember every relative :stuck_out_tongue:
Teruyoshi uncle is the only one I remember by name from my English read. (Apart from Yuu and Natsuki families, of course.)



That was fast :flushed:

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:sweat_smile: I find I go through periods where I’m fine with being in the middle of a bunch of things and periods where I want to churn through them one by one to pare down, and I’m in the latter at the moment so I read the first third of the book through chapter two yesterday (oof) and was going to try to finish reading the rest later in the day but ended up getting distracted by other things. Planning to read more/the rest soon though! So that was probably a more honest poll answer than “reading along”…

Definitely agree that at least from the part I’ve read, the extended family is safely catalogued in my head as “Yuu and Natsuki’s families” / Teruyoshi / everyone else.

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If you’ve ever seen the movie Summer Wars, a lot of what Murata depicted reminded me of it, especially with the long table and tatami area where the relatives can sit down and eat. Summers at my grandmother’s in the countryside were a lot like this, except that I was bored to death because there wasn’t any internet connection. Additionally, there were also snarky remarks from relatives even as I tried my best to help out. I totally related and felt bad for Natsuki!

Edit:
I just read up on Murata and found that she grew up in Inzai which is exactly the place I was thinking of whenever Natsuki mentions New Town, Chiba. Didn’t put 2 and 2 together at first and thought she was talking about a fictional place.

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I’m sorry if I’m being too much of a gushing Murata newbie, but that was another very enjoyable read! The way the scenes are described and the sentences flow is just nice for someone at my level. I hadn’t expected to enjoy a Japanese book in this way so quickly.

So many things this week.

Natsuki having trouble keeping track of all her family members (facial features scattered to the edges of their faces; is that a standard Japanese expression? kind of creepy…). The descriptions of the house, the silkworms, the insects flying around and the darkness keeps creeping in…

For me it’s a bit too early to tell but they clearly share their escapism. Like others have commented, we might be afraid to find out where that stems from.

My family never had gatherings of this size, but it definitely reminded me of similar scenes in movies. There’s a real sense of chaos with all the aunts and uncles and cousins. It’s vividly described; I could just hear the aunts あらあら-ing in my head.

I started wondering whether there is an uneasy relationship between Natsuki’s family and the rest. Her mother and sister seem to be outsiders (海 people vs 山 people - which I’ve noticed to be a common distinction that Japanese people make) and even her father seems to linger a bit in the vestibule, added to that that they are late (because of traffic, but is that really the reason? they never confirm that there was traffic, I think) and maybe even her sister’s carsickness. Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but to me it feels like they don’t really want to be there.

Indeed. That was an unsettling passage and also that her disappearance magic involves holding her breath.

Word of the week for me: 家族水入らず

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Some tricky parts language-wise for me this week:

1. 手土産なんてよかったのに、いつも悪いわね

One of the grownups says this near the start and it might be on of those standard expressions that I’m not familiar with yet. But is this saying that she’s happy with the gifts? What is the 悪いわね at the end expressing?

2. ほら、二人が綺麗になったからって照れないで

This is in a part where Natsuki describes that some distance grows between her and her cousins and then the grownups say things like this. Is the 二人 Natsuki and her sister? I got a bit confused about whether they are the only girls there (maybe they are the only young girls?). This is then saying that they shouldn’t be shy because they are so pretty?

3. こんな人いただろうかというようなでっぷりと太ったおばさんが手を叩き

Here, is the …ような clause modifying the でっぷり (“so fat that you wonder if such a person actually exists”)?

4. 私も連れていってと何度もねだったが、いつか迎えに来るから、の一点張りだった

This is right after Yuu promises that he won’t leave without telling Natsuki (if I got that right). It took me a while to figure out who was being stubborn/persistent in this sentence (was Natsuki persistently begging Yuu?) but in the end I settled on Yuu being persistent that she should come out to meet him sometime. Is that correct?

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手土産なんてよかったのに、いつも悪いわね

Only guessing here, but I think the 悪いわね is like the “Oh, but you shouldn’t have” we say in English when someone brings gifts.

ほら、二人が綺麗になったからって照れないで

This is said to the three boys who seem shy around the two girls, so yes, don’t be shy because they (Natsuki and Kise) have gotten pretty.

こんな人いただろうかというようなでっぷりと太ったおばさんが手を叩き

こんな人いただろうかというような is a separate part from でっぷりと太った I think, so I wouldn’t connect them. It was hard for me too to wrap my head around it. こんな人いた (there was such a person) だろうか (I wonder, I’m unsure) というような (like, as if?). Putting it all together we get, maybe, “like I was unsure there was before” which is horribly awkward. A fat aunt I’m not sure I had seen before maybe?

私も連れていってと何度もねだったが、いつか迎えに来るから、の一点張りだった

Those missing pronouns are killing me. I read this dialogue several times and I was never sure who was meant each time. I think Natsuki asked to accompany him, and he insisted that he would come meet her some day. Probably.

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I just read back a bit and I saw that Yuu says something about いつか迎えがくると思う last week and that 僕はずっとそれを待っているんだ。At first this confused me even more, but:

Apparently the 迎え is something he is waiting for. Maybe he means the spaceship? All this time I had been thinking that he was looking for his own spaceship because it might have crashed on the mountain or something, but maybe he means that he is waiting for (and searching for) a spaceship from the aliens to come out and pick him up. If that is correct, then he is being persistent because he simply believes that the aliens will come for him at some point and then he simply has to go. I’m not sure in that case how he intends to inform Natsuki before leaving, though. Does he expect the aliens will wait so that he can go to Natsuki to tell her?

Edit: But then surely Natsuki could go with him… okay, I’m still confused :upside_down_face:

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Oh right, true, he’s been waiting for the aliens to come get him, so maybe this 迎えに来る is again about the aliens coming for him, and not him coming for Natsuki? Would it hurt to insert some pronouns here and there, really? It’s probably clear to a native speaker or more experienced reader in ways I can’t even suspect at the moment.
As for how he’s going to say goodbye, I’ve wondered about that too. He may intend to send a signal from his spaceship or something, who knows what he has in mind.
Hmm, he made it clear that Natsuki can’t come with him earlier on, if I remember correctly, which is why I was confused when he said he’d come for her. I’m thinking you’re right, this was about the aliens picking him up. He seems to be very sure that there are rules about no earthlings tagging along.

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Finally caught up with this week’s reading!

Thinking of this is my first time reading an actual book in Japanese, I’m very happy how easy it is to visualize those scene from Murata’s language.

This sentence gave me a lot of trouble too. When I read it again as, 「いつか迎えに来るから」の一点張りだった, の made a bit more sense.

According to Jisho, 一点張り means “sticking to one point; focusing on one thing​” or “always making the same bet​”. So I interpreted the sentence as, “No matter how many times I asked him to take me with him, one day I’ll come to see you, was his only answer.”

Please correct me if this feels wrong!

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I’m quite sure I saw “探す” somewhere… here it is:

僕、お盆のときにここにくると、いっつもこっそり宇宙船を探してるんだ。でも見つからないんだ。

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Yes, that is what I meant. He is apparently 探す for a spaceship that is coming to pick him up (迎えくる) is what I’m thinking now.

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