地球星人 🌏 Book Club ・ Week 9

地球星人 ・ Week 9

Week 9 29 January 2022
End page 173
End % 53
End phrase End Chapter 3
Pages 24
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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) needs 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 are the similarities and differences between Natsuki and her husband’s worldview? How do you think Yuu will react to this grownup Natsuki?

    [コンビニ人間 Spoilers] How would you compare Natsuki to Keiko and Tomoya to Shiraha?

  5. Describe an experience where you revisited something from your childhood (place, person, book, etc). How did your nostalgia compare to reality?

  6. How does Murata contrast the Akishina house with city life? In what ways does she emphasize nature’s omnipresence? How might this nature motif tie in with the rest of the book?

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I felt the whole description of visiting a place that is very vivid in your memory but you haven’t seen for a long time to be very accurate. Everything is familiar, yet somehow different. Everything tends to be smaller, duller than you remember, especially if your last memory was as a child. Teruyoshi’s description too - how he gradually turned from a relative stranger to her familiar uncle with every word, it all felt so very true. It’s often the case with family - even if you lose touch, the mutual interest and connection is still there, and sometimes it doesn’t take much to resume the relationship many years later. Not always the case of course.

I found Natsuki’s lack of commentary on Yuu very interesting. She doesn’t really share her thoughts on him with the readers at all. Not during the journey, when I’d expect her anticipation and nervousness to be unbearable, not after they meet, not even after he says things that show him to have grown while she has remained frozen in that day 23 years ago. She only says she feels a little betrayed when she suspects he left in order not to meet her, and she describes his physical appearance a little, but nothing about how she feels about seeing him after all these years.

I don’t think we knew about Natsuki wanting to be “brainwashed” by the “factory” before this - I kind of feel like Akishina somehow revived her old connections to the world. She now wants to be part of the factory, she is curious about her cousin’s children, she’s generally far less detached than before. She even describes the house itself as being more alive compared to the one in the city - it’s made of wood, it breathes, it’s full of little creaks and signs of life. She’s somehow more grounded here. I’m very curious to see what tomorrow brings. I hope the change of chapter doesn’t bring another huge time jump.

I want to see Yuu’s side of the story too at some point. He’s still such a mystery. As a child, he believed that becoming an adult would set him free, and from the little we’ve seen so far, he may have been right. He’s an adult and free of his mother in a very complete sense, and he seems to have grown and be at ease with himself, the alien stuff only a vague childhood memory. But this is all based on a few words, so I really want to know more.

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What impressed itself upon me most in this week’s reading was how much Natsuki is stuck in the past, especially when contrasted with Yuu. She seems to remember every little detail about those Obon gatherings, while Yuu seems to have forgotten a lot. She is still stuck in the worldview she cultivated as a child in order to cope with the horrors of her day to day life, while Yuu seems to have left it behind as he has grown into a ‘fully-fledged Earthling’. I wonder if Yuu has truly moved past his childhood, or if he is keeping up appearances :thinking:

I do hope that Natsuki and Yuu will address the events of their previous meeting. It feels weird to leave it hanging, especially if there is another time jump.

And yet again, there is the silkworm room! :eyes:

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Indeed. They do get a frequent mention, don’t they? Which reminds me, Natsuki slept in the altar room. Is that something common? I would think that using this room for everyday purposes would be frowned upon, but I don’t really know. There must be a multitude of empty rooms in that house if so many people managed to live in it in summers past, so I wonder whether Natsuki choosing it is somehow significant. It may be another way for her to connect with the past, her family, and by extension the world around her?

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This was another very nice section! Putting these three people together in one house (a house that is so important to Natsuki, no less) is a brilliant move by Murata. I’m really curious how this will develop further!

I thought Natsuki’s husband was great this week

He is like a stand-in for readers like us who are marvelling as much as he is at all of the nature and the traditional Japanese features of the house.

Compared to Natsuki, he’s more of a conspiracy-thinker, I feel, with all the references to brainwashing (if only all conspiracy-theorists were as lovable as he) whereas Natsuki sees ‘the factory’ more as a fact of life and not necessarily conspiring against her.

We might not have heard about it before, but I think her husband brought it up, so I took this as something that they have talked about more often.

I loved how Yu was signalling to Natsuki at some point that he needed to be saved from her husband (助けを求めるようにちらりと由宇が私に目線を寄越した). When a man starts talking about the ダウンロード of 宇宙人の目, I’d probably feel the same :smile:

I also thought it was pretty funny that Natsuki suggested that her husband could sleep in her grandmother’s room, but of course he wants to sleep in the silk worm room instead. :joy:

There was one sentence using 得意 in a way that I did not really understand.

私は雑魚寝は得意だから夫と寝室が同じでも平気なんだけれど、夫はあんまり得意じゃなくて……

First of all, this is Natsuki expressing that she wouldn’t have a problem sleeping in the same room as her husband, right?

Like I said, I don’t really understand the use of 得意: it’s almost as if Natsuki is boasting that she’s good at sleeping together with other people, which doesn’t seem very appropriate :sweat_smile:

I guess she just means that she has experience sleeping communally, maybe referring to her childhood when they slept with the whole family at the house?

Some nice words this week

Actually a word that we also had last week: I find スキンシップ an interesting word (I saw that the dictionary even has a warning that ‘skinship’ isn’t an English word :slightly_smiling_face:). That scene was also kind of cute with Natsuki’s husband leaning against her. Is this trip really changing him?

目尻: one of those words where I’m pleasantly surprised to find out I guessed the correct meaning from the Kanji.

I don’t know.

I keep wondering: What did Yu make of his life? What is he actually doing at that house from day to day?

He may be free from his mother, but so far I haven’t gotten the impression that his life has been very successful. Is he happy with this life? I guess we’ll learn more about that.

Maybe it’s because I used to have an unemployed uncle who lived in a holiday apartment owned by my grandmother who never really ended up well in life. The similarities to Yu’s situation are giving me some negative vibes.

Some final random things:

It was good to see Natsuki finally getting some support from her family (aunt and uncle) this week, even if it’s only because she is properly married now.

The green was pressing in even more than before and again, we had plenty of insects this week :ant:

And another reference to the house smelling of ‘living things’… what’s up with that?…

The chapter ended with some nice bed-time descriptions again.

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Could somebody reply to the home post? I’m not able to post more than 3 times in a row since I’m not the topic owner. Or @Mods, would you mind making me the owner of this club’s home page?

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It’s a skill she has, while her husband doesn’t. I think she really is saying that’s she’s good at it, not that she has experience with it. (Though it probably is a cultivated skill in her case. But that’s us interpreting.) Her husband must have found out that he isn’t good at sleeping in the same room with others somehow, so he probably has at least some experience with it. He’s just not good at it. :wink:

What’s inappropriate about this, btw? I keep wondering.

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All set, thank you!

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Ha, well, maybe it’s just me then, that I find this a strange thing to say.

About the inappropriateness

It was half-meant as a joke because of the way it sounds in English (“I’m really good at sleeping with people”) but I’m sure that that double entendre is not present in the Japanese :smile:

But I also meant it seriously in the sense that 得意 seems to me as if she’s boasting about this and that almost comes across to me as if she’s making fun of her husband’s anxieties. That just seems appropriate to me, especially since they are talking to someone who is almost a complete stranger to them (to the husband at least). Then again, this chapter is full of awkward conversations… :smiley:

It also seemed out of character to me because last week she seemed to be putting a lot of emphasis on her husband and her leading separated lives and that seemed as much her wish as his. I could understand if she was now just saying that she doesn’t mind sleeping in the same room as him, but presenting it as something that she is good at goes a step further.

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Yeah, the double entendre isn’t really there in Japanese, I think. 雑魚寝 is a very specific kind if ‘sleeping together’. If you haven’t already done so, an image search will quickly give you an idea what kind. :smiley:

… Possibly this is the only kind of ‘sleeping together in one room’ she knows.

To me her describing her ‘skill set’ in that way didn’t come across as boastful or mean. She and her husband are very removed from societies ‘niceties’ and, from what I could tell from their conversations, (try to) speak to each other in a very matter of fact, straightforward way, communicating their needs clearly. And while the husband gets emotional quickly, she seemed to stay very neutral throughout.

So while it can maybe seem… boastful? Like she’s poking fun? From our perspective of (more or less) socially adapted people, I believe she is really just informing Yu about their respective skillsets, to provide an explanation for why they won’t share a room.

I think she just want to lead life the way she wishes to. Sharing her room seems to be not a big deal to her, aside from how she doesn’t want to conform to society’s idea of a ‘normal marriage’. :thinking:

I feel like at this point it really comes down to how we, as readers, interprete things. I don’t think there’s necessarily a right or wrong to any of it.

8 Likes
On Nostalgia and silkworms

Another somewhat quieter week: in a way the return to Akishina was somewhat anti-climatic. Not in a bad way: precisely because of the lack of commentary of Natsuki on Yuu, I feel that all the tension is just bubbling under the surface. I appreciated how everything about Akishina was just a little bit… off. Having moved several times as a kid, I have this feeling every I visit a city I previously lived in. Everything is just a bit different. The scale of the place is off. I thought Murata did a good job capturing that feeling.

I somewhat wonder whether things would be different if her husband wasn’t there. In some ways, I’m not sure it would be. Where do you even begin with such a complicated past? At least with the husband there, there is someone to break the ice a bit. Even if he’s annoying at times, ha.

I find this an interesting observation considering that Yuu was the only thing that Natsuki found hadn’t changed. He was exactly as she remembered, almost like a ghost. And yet despite this, he seems incredibly disconnected from the past. Considering how little we actually know about Yuu, I do increasingly feel like the Yuu we are seeing is really a construct of Natsuki and not the real him. That is the danger of nostalgia: you stop seeing the real person and only what you think are. We haven’t seen him yet on his own terms, and I wonder if at some point that it will come to a head between the two of them. Does he resent what happened between them?

  • What are the similarities and differences between Natsuki and her husband’s worldview?

This is the first time we have been explicitly told that Natsuki wants to be brainwashed by society, though in many ways this is a continuation of how much she wanted to please everyone as a child.
In that way, that is the tragedy of the abuse she Natsuki, she is unable to simply conform. Even conformity is sad in many ways, but it can bring peace and contentedness. And that has been ripped away from Natsuki

In some ways, I wonder about the gendered aspect about how Natsuki and her husband react differently - while men definitely get pressuredto be productive members of societies, I feel that woman often have the double pressure of having to act like ladies while they are doing it. So he just wants to burn it all down, while she just wants the bliss of fitting it in.

  • How does Murata contrast the Akishina house with city life? In what ways does she emphasize nature ’s omnipresence? How might this nature motif tie in with the rest of the book?

I am still mulling this over… I feel like the continued references to the silk worms is important, but I’m not yet sure what it will be yet. I do wonder if the silk worms is some sort of metaphor for society? In traditional silk productions, the silkworms are killed in the process in service of the silk production. In some ways it mirrors the way that Natsuki has been describing the society as a society, as a world which just uses you for parts. I feel like the silk worms will come back with a vengeance later on. I really have no idea where things are going to go from here, so looking forward to reading forward. I had family over the weekend, but my calendar is clear for the rest of this week, so hoping to read a bit more :slight_smile:

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Finished this section yesterday. Not much to comment on: everyone here pretty much hit the nail on the head with things they’re anticipating (wonderful responses as always). I really like @AmomentOfMusic’s thoughts on the silkworm metaphor. After reading that, I’m definitely leaning toward that interpretation myself.

Gonna keep pushing through!

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