I finished this month’s Harta!
The table of contents highlights いやはや 熱海くん as 好評連載 and I assume the magazine will call literally anything within its pages 好評 but I will choose to believe anyway that this means everyone likes いやはや 熱海くん and it will run for a very long time.
新連載 #1 this issue is 悪魔二世 by 志波由紀.
It’s about a mysterious girl who reportedly is the child of the devil. The kind of first chapter that leaves more questions than answers!
新連載 #2 this issue is 犬火の兄弟 by 吉田真百合, involving roughly, a lone human among canine guardians of a mountain, cast out along with his best friend. Seems intriguing! The artstyle mixes fantasy and cute characters in a nice way. The author’s previous work is ライカの星, which I have but have not read.
ことり文書, by 天野美樹 ends this issue after three volumes. It’s about the growing bond between a rich girl neglected by her absentee parents, and her butler. It was never one of my outright favorites, but it’s very good-natured and was always pleasant to come across in the magazine.
Dungeon Meshi is sure looking like it’s near denouement territory at this point! I felt a little emotional at the book potentially being closed on the main setting this installment. The developments in the last couple of chapters have been… pretty wild!
I also read 超ビジュアル！ 歴史人物伝 西郷隆盛, a kid’s biography of Takamori Saigo, from the same series as a general history I enjoyed in the past. I read this one because in my backlog system, the television slot drew the taiga drama 西郷どん next, since I’m curious about those and that happened to be the one first in the queue. I’m intimidated at the prospect of a long historical drama listening-wise though, so I read this as background preparation, essentially.
I think it works pretty well in that capacity! It’s brisk and easy to read and I’ve found I’m a sucker for reading about history so I went through it quite quick once I got going. Saigo seems like an interesting figure. Since he played a role in the 幕末 period, I was vaguely familiar with him from past history books, and from 龍が如く維新 (where his stand-in is Goda for what that’s worth). This is a decent way to get more familiar with the highlights, roughly: an important Satsuma domain leader, twice exiled or run off to islands amid the power/ideological conflicts in the wake of the arrival of the black ships and the lead-up to the end of the shogunate, involved in quelling Choshu forces in the 禁門の変, but at Ryoma Sakamoto’s instigation, negotiated the alliance between Satsuma and Choshu that brought success during the Boshin war that ended the shogunate, during which he negotiated a bloodless end to the siege of Edo Castle. Then left the subsequent Meiji-era government over his plans to be sent as an envoy to Korea being nixed, and led a failed war against the Meiji government, 西南戦争, ending in his death.
I’m a lot more used to reading history in Japanese, including for more advanced students and adults, than I was when I read that general 超ビジュアル！ volume, and the for-kids tone does rankle more now than then, and it’s probably less appropriate for a biography like this in general.
No matter how accurate and measured your history-telling is, attaching friendly handsome character art and manga to it is going to color the narrative at least a bit, and I did feel that here. The book portrays Saigo mainly I’d say as a kind and thoughtful leader, with his love of dogs highlighted, and an example where I think that colored things is during the bit about the dispute in the Meiji government around Korea, my impression from this book was that Saigo was probably against those wanting to use military force against Korea, and his wanting to go there was to prevent that. Whereas I get the impression from other sources that rather he was on the side of using force, and his going there was in some way to further or threaten that.
I guess what I mean is I feel like I know better various famous details of Saigo’s life story, but didn’t feel like I knew how to feel about him, and was still hungry afterwards for analysis. Looking for other books I found one that’s specifically about various intellectuals interpreting Saigo’s life in the years since his death (since it’s confusing if you look at it from a simple perspective of the conflicts of the era being tradition vs. modernity or that kind of thing, since he both was important in the successful revolution, and fought a seemingly retrogressive subsequent unsuccessful revolution afterward), and that seemed very very dense but interesting in exactly the kind of way this one was never going to be, and so I bought it and read a bit and the background of this book did seem extremely useful to have to understand that one. So anyway we’ll see if I make any additional headway into that one, and how it turns out if I do.