Advanced Japanese Book Club // Now reading: ユージニア

クォンタムデビルサーガ アバタールチューナーⅠ

(Quantum Devil Saga - Avatar Tuner 1)
Author : 五代ゆう (Godai Yuu)

Summary

Japanese

荒廃の地ジャンクヤードでは、勝利者を楽園へ迎え入れると説く〈カルマ教会〉の支配の下、
6つのトライブがいつ果てるとも知れぬ戦いを続けていた。
しかし、そんなトライブのひとつ〈エンブリオン〉のサーフらが交戦中、
謎の蕾と黒髪の少女セラに遭遇した刹那、世界の掟は根本から覆される。
彼らは状況を探るべく抗戦相手の本拠地を訪れるが、そこで悪魔の力が発動し……

English

In the post-apocalyptic Junkyard, a mysterious religious order known only as the Church watches over the brutal competition between warring tribes as they vie to unify six territories and thereby gain access to Nirvana, the promised land. In the wake of one particularly unusual battle, Serph, the leader of the upstart Embryon tribe, rescues a strange girl and discovers that he and his fellow fighters have gained the ability to transform into terrifying demon warriors. But these new abilities, along with this enigmatic girl named Sera, threaten to upend the balance of power not only in the Junkyard, but within the Embryon itself. Avatar Tuner, Vol. I opens the Quantum Devil Saga, a series inspired by the Shin Megami Tensei video games, which are widely popular in their native Japan and have gained a considerable following in the West. Translated into English for the first time, experience the story of Serph and his tribe as they fight not only to win, but to understand the supernatural forces that govern the Junkyard.

Length : 372 pages
Category : probably fast&easy

Availability

amazon.co.jp
eBook available

Personal Opinion

So I’m a big Shin Megami Tensei fan, and I heard about this series way back. It’s written by Godai Yuu, one of the scriptwriters for the Digital Devil Saga series of games. She unfortunately had to leave the project before finishing, but her contract apparently allowed her to write her own DDS novels, so she did, writing the story how she wanted, unconstrained by the needs of being a video game. Godai is originally a novelist, so no worries there.

This is not a novelization of the DDS games; the story line starts to diverge quite a bit even in book one (of five), for those familiar with the original games.

I’ve read the first two books of this series in English (the rest not having been translated…); it, like the video games, is couched in Hindu and Buddhist terminology and concepts. The book’s not super philosophical or anything, but there will almost certainly be names and proper nouns thrown around.

Pros and Cons for the Book Club

Pros

  • If you’re a fan of the Digital Devil Saga games, this is written by one of the games’ initial scriptwriters
  • Modern Japanese
  • Sci-fi/fantasy
  • There’s an English version (though it appears to be out of print…)
  • There are four more books if you like this one
  • Probably going to be some religious, specifically Hindu and Buddhist, terminology to learn

Cons

  • Probably going to be some religious, specifically Hindu and Buddhist, terminology to learn
  • The books revolve around characters turning into demons and eating each other; I don’t remember the descriptions being too over the top or anything, but slight content warning there
  • Sci-fi/fantasy if you don’t like the genres
  • This being book one of five, expect cliffhangers and such

Pictures/Sample

Bookwalker sample

Difficulty Poll

How much effort would you need to read this book?

  • No effort at all
  • Minimal effort
  • Moderate effort
  • Significant effort
  • So much effort my head might explode
  • I don’t know

0 voters

4 Likes

I’d recommend hard stuff, but I’m not familiar with any. :man_shrugging: Doesn’t seem unreasonable for the club to work its way from easier to harder in the beginning, at least; people will almost certainly keep finding more and more good recommendations as we read a broader variety of books.

3 Likes

Aaah. :heart:

I never played the 2nd game (I don’t think I finished the 1st, come to think of it - my PS2’s somewhere in storage so it’s a bit inconvenient to get back into :sweat_smile:) but I loved what I did play of it. The concept, the gameplay - I suppose the only bit relevant to this book is the concept and story, which -

I love you for even suggesting this. I wasn’t aware these existed. :heart: I’ve seen a lot of comics for games, but now I see I need to do some more research. :blush:

2 Likes

Aaah, another fan!! ^o^

I’ll admit, the books came to mind because while volumes 1 and 2 are in English, it’s looking less and less likely we’ll see the last three books translated. I bought vol. 3 digitally, but have honestly been a bit afraid to start it. :eyes: I figure if there’s enough interest here and we decide to read it, that’ll be the motivation I need to read through the rest of the series.

There are other SMT-related novels out there as well; could be fun to suggest the original Digital Devil Story books the first games were based off of, here or in the Intermediate club.

1 Like

No translation being available looks like a perfectly good reason to read it in Japanese to me! :smiley: So… you’d start the 1st volume with the club it it got chosen? And then the 3rd? I got a bit confused there. :stuck_out_tongue:

I don’t know how big the fan base is here (especially the older games (or, well, anything before Persona 3 I suppose) are niche, especially mainline SMT, but we also have an above average number of people interested in Japanese games in general, oviously), but I’d definitely be interesting in finding out what inspired these games. We’ll see how much interest there is in the general club. ^^

1 Like

Whoops, I wasn’t clear, haha. If the book’s eventually picked, I’d read them in order, 1, 2, 3… If it’s not, then I might just re-read books one and two in English and try the third in Japanese. I believe book #3 deals more with story that happens before the main events of books 1,2, 4, and 5, so it might not actually be a bad place to start.

Thankfully these books don’t really require any outside knowledge or interest in the games. If you like high school students unleashing demons on their classmates, etc., you’re good to go. :+1:

3 Likes

Thanks for tagging me, @Azmo! I haven’t been active lately (not even passive, heh) and haven’t read a lot recently, so I’m definitely interested.

Several of the suggestions sound appealing. 雪国 has been the #1 of the “classics” and I’ve wanted to read it for a long time now. Reading something from Murakami was also on my 2020 to-do list, so that’d be 一石二鳥.

I’ll also have a suggestion coming in a bit.

7 Likes

風立ちぬ (The Wind Rises)

Author: 堀辰雄 (Hori Tatsuo)
Year: 1938

Summary

Summary

The Wind Has Risen (風立ちぬ – Kaze Tachinu) is a Japanese novel by Hori Tatsuo, written between 1936–37. It is set in a tuberculosis sanitarium in Nagano, Japan. The plot follows a main character identified only with the pronoun “I” as he takes care of his fiancée, and then wife, Setsuko, who has been diagnosed with the disease, deciding to stay with her until her death.

The main character meditates about life and death as he sees her beloved’s condition deteriorating, finally moving with her to a sanatorium surrounded by beauty, and finally discovering that just like the wind rises he can still keep living after her death through the strong bond of their love.

Length: 110 pages
Category: short & suitable for “deep reading”

Availability

Free on Amazon, aozora.jp and other places

Personal Opinion

Hori Tatsuo is a beloved author in Japan. I’m not familiar with his writings, but I think his works have a very poetic melancholy to them I imagine I’ll find very appealing.

This novella is fairly short and not overly hard to read. I think reading it together will help us to notice small details or historic/cultural backgrounds we might miss if we just read it casually by ourselves.

The book also partly inspired the eponymous Studio Ghibli movie directed by Hayao Miyazaki. While the movie is no adaption and mixes things up quite a bit, I’m curious about the similarities.

Pros

  • very short (novella-sized)
  • free
  • beautiful language
  • famous classic
  • gentle (?) introduction to the melancholic appeal often found in Japanese literature
  • tons of material background material available (not sure how much in English, though)

Cons

  • occasionally dated language & kanji usage (e.g. 唯 for ただ and 其処 for そこ)

Pictures/Sample

In HTML format here: 堀辰雄 風立ちぬ

Difficulty Poll

How much effort would you need to read this book?

  • No effort at all
  • Minimal effort
  • Moderate effort
  • Significant effort
  • So much effort my head might explode
  • I don’t know

0 voters

8 Likes

Hey, welcome back :slight_smile:

image

Now that explains a lot…

13 Likes

Busted! :laughing:

8 Likes

I feel like my criteria for what constitutes what level of effort have changed a bit this past week, haha. Maybe I should read through the sample pages again…

3 Likes

Title drop!

5 Likes

It might be because it was late, but a bunch of sentences didn’t click. I could still follow the gist, though. I really hesitated about putting “moderate difficulty” though, since I had just told @seanblue to do that in such a situation :upside_down_face: but at the same time, it’s not on the same level as stuff on which I voted “moderate difficulty”, sooo… つい.

4 Likes

Has anyone read 銀河鉄道の夜? It’s in the public domain, including versions that have been updated for the kana reforms (as far as I can tell). The first page is pretty straightforward, but I haven’t gone beyond that to see if it gets more difficult. It’s also pretty short. Does anyone have any interest in that or know if it would belong in the easy or hard category overall?

1 Like

I have read it in English and a bit of the Japanese version a few years ago. I’ve also read a couple of other stories by Miyazawa. Since they are aimed at children, they are generally easy to read it terms of grammar. But outdated kanji usage is common (might not apply to all versions) and they use a bunch of words and expressions you probably won’t find in contemporary literature (also some dialect stuff iirc).

Miyazawa’s style can also be somewhat… cryptic? His stories generally aren’t the straightforward kind, it’s hard to describe. Weird things happen and may be treated as normal – I don’t think it’s a good comparison, but I sometimes got similar vibes from Through the Looking-Glass. So it’s often more of a style thing than the language itself.

I’m a big fan of Miyazawa’s works and wrote a bit about them when I visited his lovely hometown Hanamaki last year. There are also a couple of competent anime adaptions. Night on the Galactic Railroad’s influence on Japanese pop culture is huge, so I’d recommend reading it for that reason alone.

I think I’d be interested to read it again.

7 Likes

Heh, I almost visited Hanamaki last year, but in the end I just wound up sticking with Hiraizumi. Perhaps another time.

2 Likes

I definitely recommend it! I loved that place and they really love their Kenji. A really idyllic town that’s filled to the brim with tributes and references to Miyazawa’s works.

1 Like

And also wanko soba. :slightly_smiling_face:

How do you get around town, though? I basically came to the conclusion that I’d have to rent a car (which is one reason I went to Hiraizumi instead).

I used the buses and it worked fairly well. But I misread the timetable and missed my last bus home from the museum – which is in a fairly remote place, so I had to walk a few kilometers to reach the next train station. :sweat_smile: (Discovered some nice places that way, though!) But buses should be generally reliable during the day until early evening at the very least.

2 Likes

We already have 15 nominations :astonished:
(4 of which are missing from the OP; I should at least add mine :upside_down_face:)

4 Likes