[2022] 多読/extensive reading challenge

I finally finished 貝に続く場所にて! Only took me what, about 7 months?

grafik

I really don’t know what to say about this book except that I never really knew what it wanted to tell me. It’s about a Japanese woman from Sendai living in Göttingen, Germany where she encounters the ghost of an old acquaintance who passed away during the March 2011 tsunami.

From there one her memories interweave with the townscape, sculptures of planets, art history, religious figures, the ghosts of other people. There’s a truffle dog who digs up objects that hold a special place in people’s memories and the entire book is full of symbolism and never really states anything in clear words.

I’ve read other books where I enjoyed the poetic, kinda flowery language (風立ちぬ comes to mind), but here I just had no clue what I was even reading for paragraphs on end. It wasn’t a vocabulary problem and probably also not a language problem first and foremost. I think could’ve gotten a bit more out of the book if I had done a bit of research. Survivor’s guilt is definitely a big theme, but there’s just so many things flowing together that it’s really hard to say what else.

I bought the book because of its premise, but I really struggled to get into it. I’m glad that I managed to finish it, but I don’t think I’d do it again and will probably drop other books that I just feel I can’t get into from here on.

That why I also won’t judge the book. It just flew over my head. It’s not unusual that I don’t completely get literary works – I definitely did have my problems with キッチン and 推し、燃ゆ. But 貝に続く場所にて was on a whole new level.

Maybe I’ll try to read some reviews. If anyone else reads it, please tell me your opinions.

Edit: I also thought it would be a short read with only 160 pages, but the text is so dense that it’s about the same length (93k characters) as many 300 page novels, so you definitely shouldn’t assume this is a quick read.

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Today I finished キキとジジ, the second Kiki spin-off book.

It describes Kiki’s and Jiji’s early childhood, from her birth to about age 10 when she decides to become a witch. It’s really endearing to read, especially because half of the book is written from Jiji’s perspective. Being a cat, he grew up faster than Kiki (but slower than normal cats), but their early relationship had some ups and downs.

It’s a very light reading, counting only 160 pages and plenty of lovely illustrations. Perfect bedtime reading material.

But my main reason to read both of the spin-offs now is because I want to buy the third one that came out last month. I’ll order it now so I can read it next month.

Next up is the essay collection 「作家」と「魔女」の集まっちゃった思い出. I’ve only read a few segments, will probably take it easy and focus on other hobbies for now. But I want to at least get started with 鹿の王2 this month. We’ll see how it goes.

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I just passed both 50% on ロクヨン【上】and 1000 pages read this year. :tada: Happy to say that after a few chapter ロクヨン went from an exhausting intensive read to a more comfortable and sustainable level of difficulty. There are a lot of characters to keep track of, though. I’m really excited that the plot seems to be developing into police corruption, as that’s probably my favorite subgenre of crime. Currently have 3 different plot threads running at once:

  1. The main character’s runaway daughter and the emerging details of family dynamics
  2. The breakdown of relations between media and police and the background as to why
  3. The famed ロクヨン case, a unsolved crime from 昭和64

Also despite being over 150 pages in I think only 2 days have passed if I’m keeping track of my timeline correctly?!

I stopped reading 共犯マジック and put it back on the shelf after about 20 pages. I might pick it up later, but unsure. It was frustrating to read (some of the words I was looking up I didn’t even know in English as astrology/mysticism aren’t topics that interest me) and I just generally wasn’t that intrigued after dragging myself through the prologue.

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I started reading パパの愛した悪女, another 赤川次郎 book though and have been enjoying it in a brainless way. It’s a very breezy read compared to ロクヨン especially. I’ve looked up <10 words in >60 pages and about half of those were just wanting to know the reading. Grammar is incredibly straight forward. Basically it’s about a girl whose mother ran off with another man and committed double suicide, bodies were never found, and then one day she bumps into the son of her mother’s lover.

To be honest the most interesting part of this book so far for me is the unusual formatting of the pages. Has anyone seen this before?


Two rows of columns per page.

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Only in magazines! :hushed:

Could there be a thematic reason to use this sort of styling/formatting/presentation?

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Oh interesting! I didn’t know magazines did this. I can’t really think of a thematic reasons for it, but I’m only a third of the way through the book. I will say another odd part of my copy is that it doesn’t have a summary on it anywhere, although it does contain the typical author details blurb inside the dust jacket. I got this off ebay and I’ve bought pre-print/not for public sale versions of English books used before so perhaps this is that? Or it’s a special “small” version as my copy is 186 pages and the listing on Amazon for the paperback is 280. :thinking:

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@d-hermit’s nomination in the advanced book club, Bakemonogatari, has that format too.

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I can imagine that it makes the text easier to read. Long lines (rows) make it harder to move your eyes from the end of one to the start of the next and with vertical writing that’s even worse because your reading along the long edge of the book, so I can understand why they would do it. With this format, the text is more like in a bunko book.

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I read 本好きの下剋上 books 13 and 14 over the last few weeks. Fast pace for me, but didn’t leave much time for anything else entertainment wise. I don’t want to get through 本好きの下剋上 too quickly, nor do I want to completely neglect my manga and anime, so going to take a break for a bit.

For the next week or two I’ll probably watch 古見さんは、コミュ症です on Netflix (not reading, I know) and read some manga. I recently read the first volume of まちカドまぞく, which was okay. Currently I’m reading the third volume of うらら迷路帖 so I can compare its difficulty to まちカドまぞく. Since my reading ability has improved I wanted to give it another chance. It’s definitely not as good as my favorite Manga Time Kirara series, but I’m curious where the story will go. So now that it’s (hopefully) less of a headache to read I wanted to continue it. It also works out nicely because the first half of volume 3 (which I just read yesterday) is the very end of the anime, which I watched a few years ago, so now I get to continue into completely new story. I’ll probably continue immediately into volume 4 before switching back to まちカドまぞく volume 2, which I already own. During all that, I’ll probably read a non-4-koma manga too, but not sure. Maybe おとなになっても volumes 4 and 5.

As far as books go, I want to make sure I’m not reading anything I’m super into when I start 薬屋のひとりごと with the advanced book club in two weeks. I don’t know how much time and effort it will take to read that, so I don’t want to be caught up in something else that takes up all my time. If I read anything in the next few weeks, I may read volume 4 of 魔法少女育成計画. While this book series is much more difficult for me compared to most other books I read, this volume is a collection of short stories about characters from the first three books. So even if it’s just as hard as the others (I assume it will be), at least I’ll be able to read a chapter here or there while I focus on 薬屋のひとりごと. That’s the plan at least.

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Not until you’ve mentioned it :smiley:

I just looked through my books and:

  • the Yui’s Story follow-up to Oregairu does that
  • 64 does it for dialogues (which kind of makes sense), but otherwise looks normal
  • Your Name does that a lot as well (it’s all over the place, actually)

With online (Aozora Bunko) books, I’m not sure, because I read them horizontally.


As a side note, I think 三月のライオン has been brought up here a while back and I picked it up as a personal recommendation. I think it’s beautiful and very nostalgic. Definitely can second the recommendation:

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Ohh interesting. I’m reading the ebook for 64 / ロクヨン and it hasn’t done that for dialogues yet - I’m about 70% done with 上. I have a paperback copy as well though (bought the ebook when I realized how many lookups I was going to have) and just flipped through it and don’t see that formatting at all. :thinking: My paperback edition is from after it was made into a show however, so I know there must be multiple editions.

I also have read Your Name, again an ebook copy, and it didn’t do this anywhere. I might have to see what I can search up on the internet relating to this as it’s interesting it’s both semi-common but also not something consistent across editions of the same book.

EDIT: 2段組 – 出版レッスン帳
It’s for space saving. Which actually makes a lot of sense for dialogues because there’s a lot of blank spaces on those pages in particular (article mentions that toward the end).

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For the past week or so, I have been trying very hard to read DanMachi volume 14.
At ~630 pages, it’s pretty much a door stopper. I am right now at the 550 page mark, 500 of which have been pretty much the textual description of this gif:

The rest being either weird fan service or “moral dilemma” (“we have no potion, no equipment, should we loot the corpses of other adventurers? But it’s wrrrrroooong”. Friend, when you started talking about 禁忌 I thought you were about to suggest to eat their corpse, but sure. Why is it (either) a problem? You’re going to die otherwise, and they don’t need their flesh equipment anymore)

So, anyway, whenever I got too bored with that book, I read some part of 悪役令嬢レベル99, which I bought just before new year along with a bunch of other random light novels.
It was surprisingly good! I mean, the writing isn’t so great and the illustrations are also pretty low quality, but I loved the plot. Obviously, as the title implies, it is yet another take on the “異世界d into an 悪役令嬢”, but it didn’t go the way I expected. Also, since it’s a one shot, the romance goes really fast.

What no one expected (not even the author, I guess, considering the あとがき) is that the book was successful enough to prompt the editing company to request a continuation. And thus 悪役令嬢レベル99その2 was born. Which I also ended up finishing before DanMachi 14 for the same reason as above. Plotwise, it is much weaker than the first 1, and the main character got dumbed down. I am guessing that, otherwise, it would not be possible to have any romance related plot at that point…

And I have now finished その3, thus reading almost twice the number of pages of DanMachi 14, but there’s not much we can do about it, I guess. その3 was even weaker in terms of plot, with basically no romance element (she is pretty much invincible at this point, and about to get married… not much room left in terms of classic light novel developments).

So, of course, I now have to check volume 4 to see what else the author could think of… Kinda like squeezing the very last bit of toothpaste out of the tube, I guess?

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I’ve started コーヒーが冷めないうちに. It’s one of the last books on my 2021 pile and I felt like reading something light today, so I just gave it a go.

I’ve almost finished the first part and… I don’t really like it. And it’s really mostly because of the writing style. It feels flat and contrived and the characters don’t feel authentic at all, more like gears in a system meant to evoke a certain emotion in the readers. It’s not the first time I feel this way (other examples are 夜市, カラフル, 星やどりの声) and I really don’t seem to like this kind of sentimental popular literature.

Some examples:

五郎は黙ってうつむいたままであったが、二美子は二人組に向かって、

「(英語で)彼の魅力はあなた達にはわからない。(ロシア語で)彼は彼の仕事において、困難に立ち向かう勇気をもっている。(フランス語で)あきらめない精神力をもっている。(ギリシャ語で)そして、不可能を可能にするための実力をもっている。(イタリア語で)その実力を得るための努力は並大抵ではない事を私はよく知っている。(スペイン語で)私の知る限り彼以上に魅力的な男性はいないわ」

と、口早に言う。

This scene made me cringe so badly. I had to raise my eyebrows when she was nonchalantly described as someone who “mastered six languages by self-study” during her school years (yeah, sure). But this scene was 中二病 level painful.

Then there are sentences like these:

そんな中、五郎が出向先に姿を見せなくなった。連絡もつかない。それゆえ誰もがこのバグは五郎のミスではないかと勘ぐりはじめた。責任を感じて出てこなくなったのだともちろん、五郎のミスだと確定したわけではないただ、負うべき責め、過失が重大であればあるほど、人は誰かのせいにしたくなる出社しない五郎は格好の責任転嫁の的だった。当然、二美子もそうかもしれないと疑いはじめていた。

I don’t enjoy this kind of descriptive style in the first place where everything is spelled out instead of conveyed through the actions itself. But this is just blabbering. The non-bold part is self-descriptive, why is there even a need to further explain it? And the statement about how human psychology works (“過失が重大であればあるほど、人は誰かのせいにしたくなる”) makes it so unnecessarily heavy-handed.

And let’s not forget the clichéd internal monologues than feels like a line from a badly written romance fanfic:

(もし、彼の夢が叶った時、彼は私と夢とどちらを選ぶのだろう? 考えてはいけない。比べるものでもない。でも……)

I don’t want to turn this into a rant or be overly dismissive. I already had a hunch what type of book this might me, though I had hoped I was wrong. I don’t hate it, but at this point the content even doesn’t matter – my opinion will probably stay the same. That being said, I do kind of enjoy analyzing what exactly I don’t like about it and it’s indeed very light to read, so I may still finish it. We’ll see.

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This is interesting to me because I listened to the audiobook for both this volume and the following book (この噓がバレないうちに) and really enjoyed them. It’s narrated in a super calming, chill manner and is still the easiest audiobook for a non-kids book I’ve come across. It’s definitely pop lit - or airplane novels as I like calling 'em :smiley: I enjoyed them both, but wouldn’t say they’re deep.
If you’re already disliking it though I’m afraid to say it won’t redeem itself much going forward. Maybe the last story, but I kind of doubt it. :sweat_smile:

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I believe it was a play before it became a book (and a movie). People who saw the movie seem to have liked it, and it appears the audiobook is equally pleasant. I know that when I’m consuming media in a relatively passive manner, as is watching or listening, I don’t really take the time to focus too much on the language or contemplate the deeper details of the plot, I just let myself get carried along by the story wherever it takes me. I’m sure I would have enjoyed it well enough in this way (although it probably still wouldn’t have been my favourite). As a reader though I tend to be much more demanding and I too felt that both the story and the way it was written didn’t work all that well. At first I thought it was the language barrier, it being the first novel I ever read in Japanese, but now that I’ve read more I can see the flaws of this book were its own. I frankly find it surprising that it won an award.

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I’m sooo with both of you here! I loved the movie and was looking forward to reading the book, but I dropped it during the first episode because I found the writing to be so lacking. It was flat and uninspired and was so full of repetitions that it was unbearable to me. E.g. I vividly remember 姿を消す to be used about five times in only two pages :woozy_face:
(And yeah, it was a play before it became a movie and book, but there are many written plays that are of outstanding quality, so that is not really an excuse, I’d say…)

To clarify this, we’re talking about the 本屋大賞, i.e. the Booksellers’ Award. The books are judged by the employees of bookstores across the country, and that comprises the rating the books get. In the first round, a shortlist of 10 books is determined, and in the second round people cast their votes for books on that shortlist. コーヒーが冷めないうちに ended up in 10th place :woman_shrugging: and in the same year コンビニ人間 came in 9th :woman_shrugging: :woman_shrugging: so I don’t think this award takes “quality of writing” into account as much as the other awards (that are being judged by a professional jury) and instead rather focuses on popularity, I guess.

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This explains why 謎解きはディナーの後で got an award - just checked and that’s the one! It was such a middling, mindless sort of detective comedy. I didn’t hate it but the whole time I was like “surely this isn’t award winning writing?!”

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Welllll, I finished volume 4 and inadvertently bought a bunch of other 悪役令嬢 light novels. It was an accident. Or, more specifically, a succession of absolutely unlikely coincidence that lead to that result.
Pretty much like the plot of volume 4.

Speaking of which, I do like the fact that there’s a reason given for the main character’s behavior becoming weirder and weirder over time. Considering she has technically reached godhood, don’t even need to breath, and can just erase the world (and then recreate it back) on a whim, there’s pretty much no reason to do anything anymore, except “for the lulz”.

So, she decided to go to the moon (after having a fight with her fiance since she doesn’t want to have a wedding ceremony, but he insists – reasonably – that it’s important from a political standpoint). Upon reaching low orbit, she went “wah, it’s so pretty! … m’kay, I’m bored already, time to go back”, and randomly landed in a house in the neighboring country. The house where her future brother in law was hiding while spying on said neighboring country. They don’t recognize each other, because he had so far refused to meet her in person. They keep interacting for days after she decided to stay there (she wants to remain away long enough to add credibility to her claim that she went to the moon when she goes back home). The other character involved in the brother’s plan knows both of them, but somehow doesn’t realize that they didn’t recognize each other, and somehow never mention something that would them understand that there is a problem.

Hilarity ensues.
I mean, it was honestly funny. It’s just 0% believable.

The final scene of the book was also pretty nice. (If you ever plan to read this series, don’t look, I guess)
The original plan of the brother was to organize a war (?) between the army of that country and her, and have her lose on purpose (and retreat). That would help the first prince of the neighboring country (leading said army) to consolidate his claim to the throne while diminishing the global threat that is the mere existence of the main character (since other countries will think she can be defeated and thus will stop the weapon escalation).
It was going well until the “聖女” from the first book (I don’t think she officially got that title in the end) doesn’t realize it’s fake and starts making fun of the main character. Upon singing ざーこーざーこー, the main character finally snaps and unleash her full godlike powers, putting the world on the brink of destruction. I like the way the author managed to transmit the feeling that her strength is beyond comprehension. In the first couple of volumes, she was “understandably” strong: at full power, she could blast away a whole city; given enough time she could defeat a whole country by herself. Now, her mere presence (when she doesn’t contain her power) affects the space-time continuum.

Anyway, I had a good time with that series. As usual, the plot is done in one volume, so it’s unclear if it will go on. However, since the author has gone so far, I assume we will at least keep going until the wedding ceremony.

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I finished reading the first volume of 吉川英治’s 宮本武蔵!
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I’ve been curious about jidai novels, and this author’s work in particular for a while now, and this seemed like a good place to start since it was apparently wildly popular and successful and has several major adaptations in various formats (or adaptations of the general story at least).

I enjoyed it! I can see why it would be a good fit for 龍が如く, because the format of the story is pretty similar to those games - centering on a protagonist guy with the notable traits of being extremely strong, and also kind of intense and unapproachable, who attempts to navigate through life, getting wrapped up with various incidents along the way. It’s got a bit more literary trappings in the form of poetic descriptions and explorations of morality and humanity, but it still works as a brisk adventure novel in a way too. The language is very difficult and very dense with words that use alternate or out-dated kanji (in an interestingly different way than Ranpo’s is), and I found it easy to end up (for better or for worse) kind of glazing over some of the beat-by-beat clauses while still keeping up with what’s going on. It would be good to watch or read a visual retelling of the story to make sure I really did keep up with what was going on… and fortunately there is plenty to pick from!

At it’s best it’s an engaging story with some lovely descriptions and some standout moments, tracking the central character slowly learning how to start being an adult after growing up a bit of a rogue and ending up on the losing side of the battle of Sekigahara. One particular strong point is that the characters are never quite one-note - a good example is the priest Takuan who can seem wise or frustrating in different moments. Or the old woman who seems like she’s going to just be there to be a jerk to the protagonist but gets to have a surprisingly brave moment of suiting up to go get stuff done herself - albeit still in a jerkish comical way in the end. And the side characters have a strong tendency to loop back into the story in a coincidental way after I would have guessed their story was wrapped up, which I appreciate, and makes me look forward to seeing how it all intertwines in future volumes.

The edition is laid out kind of annoyingly though – it turns out it’s just like a manga volume, in the sense that the story was serialized in chapters, and the volume break was picked I assume mainly for page count reasons. So internally this ends up being Book 1 and like, half or so of Book 2, and it ends kind of anticlimactically because of it. I don’t really know why they didn’t just make the editions match up with the “Book” divisions in the actual story, but oh well.
In this volume I particularly liked the stuff on the battlefield at the very beginning, in 宮本 village, and with the kid who cajoles him into becoming his student in Kyoto. I wasn’t as into the stuff about various martial arts schools (they tended to be heavy on proper nouns I glazed over and dialogue I didn’t understand very well) and Miyamoto constantly being cold to people who want to tag along with him - so far I still kinda think maybe the whole “wandering ronin” thing is just a guise to couch avoiding responsibility in some kind of sacrosanct masculine pursuit of technique and knowledge but he’s got a lot of growth ahead I suppose still so we’ll see I guess.

To keep momentum going without forgetting what was going on, and because I think it could be fun, I’m gonna try to keep reading further volumes with some speed - maybe roughly alternating with other books or something like that.
It feels more like a long novel than a true series (and again it tricked me into stopping in the middle of a story section), so it has more forward momentum urging me forward than other series, even if I like others I’ve been slower to read more, if that makes sense.

manga report

  • ふしぎの国のバード (6)
    Nothing in particular to say about this volume that I haven’t said about the series before. Getting close to caught up, which is exciting!
    The specific subjects dealt with this time around are interesting but also grim - funeral arrangements, house fires, 脚気… also a chapter centered around paper-making, which seems like the odd one out in retrospect.
  • かぐや様は告らせたい~天才たちの恋愛頭脳戦~ (10)
    Kaguya-Sama: Love is War is one of the manga series I enjoyed checking out every so often from the library in English, since it’s a reliably pretty fun. So this is picking up in Japanese where I left off there. Two elite dorks are into each other but could never be the one to confess first. The series does a good job making the characters endearing enough that you do root for them to figure things out, while also pretty mercilessly making fun of them.
    Nothing in particular to say about the specific volume! As expected… it was pretty fun. Seems like a good source of the more modern, everyday kinds of vocabulary, with topics like upgrading to a smartphone and exchangine LINE information, etc.
  • 獣神ライガー (1-2)
    This was something I picked up when I learned about Mandarake, as kind of a fun “hey why not” sort of thing. Because this is the original manga for an anime that was licensed out for the persona of a professional wrestler, Jushin Thunder Liger – who went on to be wildly influential and successful across a long-running career, only retiring in the last year or two, and still doing stuff like commentary for NJPW under the persona and mask.
    image
    I always got the impression the wrestler had long ago transcended the anime and manga he was ostensibly embodying, but I thought it would be kinda fun to have and read the original anyway (and as far as I know Go Nagai’s works aren’t available digitally). And it is cool to have!
    How is it though? … It kinda sucks! I haven’t read a lot of Go Nagai’s work (just a little bit of Devilman), but this seems like a pretty by-the-numbers Go Nagai thing. There’s a boy protagonist who’s a jerk and pervs on girls, there’s a smattering of tokusatsu type stock characters, big loud fights, a paper-thin plot, out-of-place nudity, and so on. I remember liking the second volume more than the first for some cool visuals in the climax, but overall this felt more garish and hollow than garish and compelling. Got the sense also it was pretty much just made for the sake of making the anime.
    It’s very funny to me that an all-timer pro-wrestler is ostensibly a character (?) from this kinda unremarkable shonen manga. Pro-wrestling’s fun!
  • 呪術廻戦 (17-8)
    I let a couple volumes of this build up so I could rebuild some momentum reading it… but the plot’s disjointed enough that it 100% switches gears between volumes anyway. Oh well!
    I enjoyed 17 with Maki tearing through people and some interesting exposition cooldown between arcs. 18 I thought was less interesting, but it’s building to some kind of death game arc that sounds potentially fun. My friend who’s hugely into JJK isn’t super enthusiastic about it these days though so that maybe doesn’t bode well. Was a very different experience reading these volumes casually without a dictionary compared to about a year ago when I was constantly looking stuff up and drip-feeding my friend any and all mildly interesting language tidbits I came across!
  • 17-21 and 22-26
    These are manga short story collections from Tatsuki Fujimoto, the author of Chainsaw Man and Lookback. I picked them up without really thinking about the titles - they just seemed cryptic and inviting somehow - but I quickly realized the maybe obvious: they’re the age of the author when these stories were written… I think if I’d put that together sooner I would have been a lot less quick to pick them up, at least 17-21. They’re pretty interesting and do certainly show promise, but they do definitely feel like very early career works - a bit rough, a bit garish, not feeling super tight and polished. 22-26, as you might expect, shows a lot of improvement. Stories I found memorable include the one about two sisters at art school, and one about suddenly waking up as a girl that made me wonder how Fujimoto’s doing gender identity-wise (the female self-insertish character in Lookback also kinda made me wonder that a little…)
  • 囀る鳥は羽ばたかない (1)
    I’ve been curious about BL for a while not really knowing anything about it, and I’d heard the name of this one in a couple places, so I tried it out!
    I kinda had trouble getting into it. I confess when it comes to yakuza men having strong emotions about each other it is easier to sell me on melodramatic shirtless rooftop battles than troubled scuzzy affairs. And the author seems to love tailless word balloons with a passion that I do not share. I did come around to some of the characters, and I have a few more volumes from the pre-ebook period when I was extra worried series would go out of print before I got around to reading them. So I’ll at least give the next volume a try too - but I’m putting it in my slate of series rather than powering through directly.
  • 九国のジュウシ (1)
    This is a Harta series that ended recently about a child raised by wolves in the Sengoku period. It’s extremely violent (LOTS of dismemberment), but… oddly sort of wholesome? The kid at the center of the story is an odd character - all but supernaturally powerful but surprisingly laid-back. I guess a way to describe the tone is somewhere at the midpoint between Vinland Saga and One Punch Man? Maybe? Like it’s not outright comedy, but it doesn’t really feel like outright drama either…
    I’m intrigued and will finish it up (2-3 more volumes I think) at some point soon.
  • ヴァンピアーズ (1)
    I didn’t really know anything about this and picked it up because I saw someone post about it on twitter once and the art looked good.
    It’s a really fun teen vampire romance! The art is extremely crisp and fun, and makes the two girls very endearing. Curious where it’ll go, and there aren’t all that many words so it’s a quick fun read and It’ll be easy to wind up reading the rest soon because of it.
    The provided English title is “Vampeerz, My Peer Vampires” which… sure.
  • 鋼の錬金術師 (1)
    Pre-pandemic, I volunteered at a used book store, and when someone donated a whole bunch of assorted manga in Japanese, the manager was generous enough to just let me take all of it rather than figure out how to parcel out and sell it. This is the first time I’m finally getting around to cracking open some of it! So I’ve got most of Fullmetal Alchemist for free because of that, which is obviously nice!
    I read a couple of volumes of the series in English but never got super into it – it’s definitely cool, and the artstyle is nice, but I guess maybe the opening episodes are a little bland and never sucked me in fully on their own. I’d like to power through a few more volumes and see if I’ll get into it more as more of the world and story build up! I’m electing to do that via adding it to the open series I’m reading though, rather than focusing on it singularly. Hopefully that still gives me enough momentum to get through.
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If you’re looking for some inspiration on what to read next: The Intermediate Book Club is currently voting for their next pick:

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The first I read is “悪役令嬢になんかなりません。私は『普通』の公爵令嬢です! 1”
The title is a lie, she isn’t 普通 at all. Also, she is pretty much 悪役.
So, err, I loved that book, even though I would not generally recommend it nor admit in person that I read it. In particular, I loved the take on how she got isekai’d. Her soul basically merged with that of the actual character. So it’s not like she got reincarnated/remembered her past life, it’s more like a dragon ball Z fusion. That gives a few interesting dynamics, as the person in charge of the body can either be the original 悪役令嬢 (as the name implies, she is very good at threatening convincing people, she is also very good at physical combat and dark magic, but can use all magic anyway thanks to the other), the isekai’d character (really good at wind/light magic but can use all magic types, for the same reason), or technically the fusion (but that’s only once their souls actually merge, so not yet).

However. I have to mention a few things:

  • there’s a lot of focus on the breast of female characters. Like, the first thing mentioned about the 悪役令嬢 character is that she has a huge rack (once adult; she starts at the 6 years old mark).
    Other characters are introduced in the like of:

泣きぼくろがセクシーな巨乳のお姉さん

or

絶世の美女です。胸は無いけど。

I had to double check it’s indeed a 女性向け light novel rather than 男性向け.

  • Around the third of the book, she meets the character she really likes (ディルク). A large portion of the text then turns into her unquenchable thirst appreciation of his body. Contrary to other light novels, the main character is also extremely proactive about trying to seduce him.
Spoiler

I think the only occasion where I didn’t the previously mentioned problem with breasts is when she used magic to turn into her 18 years old self and ask him

どうです、好みですか? 私、将来有望ですよぅ、美人だし胸もおっきく育ちますし

He then dodged the question, which, in DanMachi for instance, would lead to the character to say something like なんでもない and give up for the time being. Instead, we got the following loop:

There are also some, err, spicy scenes, but still mild enough to not get into the full TL territory.
It’s quite enjoyable if you like 美少年 (and older, considering that the characters age with the plot), but it’s definitely not a book I would recommend to a broader audience :sweat_smile: It’s already weird that there’s no age restriction and that people in, say, middle school might be reading this book. Also, way to give them complexes about their breast size. I think that 乳と卵 should be a mandatory read before this series.

Overall, not what I expected, but I had a good time, so I just bought the next volume for science. Right.

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