After 島はぼくらと and 香君 I was deliberately looking for something shorter to read and remembered 霧の向こうの不思議な街 from a past book club. This children’s book from the 70s was apparently an inspiration for Spirited Away. I haven’t been able to conform this, but it makes sense.
I personally liked the premise: a girl gets lost and discovers a village hidden in the mist where common sense kinda doesn’t apply and everything is possible. There she meets a bunch of very different people (and non-people) and has to work in order to stay. The old womon that owns the place is a lot like Yubaba in Spirited Away.
But to be honest there wasn’t much character development. The girl was pretty outgoing from the beginning and she never really struggled. She’s certainly no Mary Sue, but her outspoken personality was pretty much able to solve all problems pretty quickly. I also found it a bit hard to believe that she developed such a strong emotional bond to the others living in the house in just a few days when the interactions were rather limited.
Overall it was… okay, I guess? Not too exciting and a bit simplistic, but then again I’m not the target audience. Speaking of which, I find these books aimed at younger children that only use few kanji a bit hard to read, especially words you usually only see in kanji are suddenly written in hiragana.
I’ve also read 世界から猫が消えたなら which, as expected, I didn’t like much. But hey, I also didn’t hate it, so that’s something, I guess?
It’s one of these very saccharine books that tries very hard to make you cry – as you might’ve guessed from the premise. A young man learns that he’s about to die from cancer in his late 20th and gets the chance to extend his life by a day each – at the cost of having one thing precious to him disappear from the world.
It’s written in an extremely digestible first-person style with occasional humorous/sarcastic remarks and all the supernatural elements exist entirely to build up the drama. Over the course of the book the guy meets his ex-girlfriend, recounts the life of his cat, his late mother and the complicated relationship with his father.
It’s short (226 pages) and so easy to read that you can breeze through it in a session or three. And the reason I didn’t dislike it more is probably because the book mostly sticks to mundane drama instead of more sensationalist (darker) topics like suicide, abuse etc.
After finishing the book I noticed that the author, Genki Kawamura, has worked on some really good and well-written movies and was like – how? But then I realized he usually works as a producer, not a screenwriter. Makes sense.