Japanese reading report

This week I front-loaded a lot of my reading since I expected to be too busy with Thanksgiving, but I ended up having more time than I expected after all.

First of all I caught up with the WK book club and read the next few chapters of 本好きの下剋上 in the first two days. Following up from the successful proof-of-concept paper, this bit was mostly about setting up to actually produce and sell it. My favorite little moment was when マイン tried to flop down on the fancy sofa in the merchants’ guild and found out that it was just a chair covered with brocade. This chunk was really smooth; I timed myself again and it took me 3:05 to read all 45 pages; average of 4 minutes per page with a best speed of 2.10.

Read 古見さん vol. 17, which gets me totally caught up to what I have on hand. The developments are…not exactly what I was hoping for out of the series? I guess I’ll have to wait and see.

Next I caught up with SPYxFAMILY (vol. 3, 4, and 5). I stocked up on these a while ago and for some reason never got around to them. Some good developments here, including the introduction of an actually good dog character. I’m continually impressed by how the constant misunderstandings are funny rather than frustrating and how a lot of the tension actually comes from “how will they get out of this situation without blowing cover” rather than actual danger per se.

Last manga of the week was Persona 5 vol. 1. Obviously it’s majority review but it’s actually a pretty decent adaptation and I’m enjoying it.

Finally, I listened to about an hour of the 氷菓 audiobook. As before there’s a lot I’m missing but there’s also been some stuff that I understood this time which I either missed or misunderstood the first time around. Still not much of a fan of the narration or main character though.

Japanese reading report

This week I read three more volumes of 古見さん (14, 15, and 16). I’m almost caught up to my current 積ん読 (will probably hold off on buying the rest of the 単行本 until I have a few more things to buy with a coupon). There was some nice character focus in this block, first from 井中 (very underused) and then from 阿瀬, who I was surprised and pleased to see fleshed out beyond the chapter that introduced her.

Stayed on track with 本好きの下剋上. The last chapter ended with some good clearing of the air between two of the main characters and, very importantly, a successful trial run of the paper-making process. I decided to time myself while I was reading this week and found that I was averaging about 4:15-4:30 per page — a slight improvement from last time I tried it.

Listened to a bit more of the 氷菓 audiobook. Really probably not enough to mention but I’m mentioning it anyway.

Japanese reading report

My three manga volumes for this week were ゆらゆらQ vol. 1, ゆるキャン vol. 2, and 古見さん vol. 13. I stayed up to date with the 本好きの下剋上 bookclub, listened to the audiobook of 氷菓, and played some 真3.

ゆらゆらQ is a new series by the author of 甘々と稲妻, so as soon as I saw it I had to pick it up. It’s really cute; the main character is a fox girl who for some reason still looks like a tiny child because she can’t control her glamour abilities like her siblings can. The scenarios are really funny and I love the art so I’m definitely planning to stay current on it. As a bonus, the book also contains the first chapter of おとなりに銀河, which is another series by the same author that seems to be running in parallel. Ironically enough it’s about an overworked mangaka…I hope he’s doing alright.

I stocked up on all the ゆるキャン volumes a while ago but never got around to reading them. Vol. 2 brings us pretty close to where the first season of the anime left off if I’m not mistaken, so I’m planning to catch up before the new season airs.

古見さん is as good as ever. I feel like I read this one really fast for some reason.

本好き is still leaning hard into the intricacies of making paper. As of the last chapter they’ve collected all the materials and tools they need to actually start, and the next chapter is literally called 紙創りの始め so hopefully we get a payoff soon. One amusing development involved someone finally noticing that マイン knows a lot more than any normal 6 y/o should reasonably be able to, which feels like it’s been a long time coming. Learned a cute new grammar point; とばかりに (N1).

I had a long walk to take towards the middle of the week and decided to revisit 氷菓 since it’s been about six months since I finished reading it. It’s still pretty hard to follow honestly, but it was good practice.

Finally, I’ve put in about 7 hours of the Nocturne remaster. Not really sure how I feel about it as a game/story but the writing is definitely interesting, lots of variety.

Japanese reading report

This was a pretty good week for me in manga. I read four volumes in total; トニカクカワイイ vol. 3, 俺物語 vol. 1 and 2, and 歌うヘッドフォン娘. I’m back on track to double my initial goal by the end of the year, if I do decide to pursue that.

トニカクカワイイ is something I might continue reading at some point; at very least I’ll check out the anime. I’m not really sure what it’s going for in terms of big plot stuff but the romantic comedy aspects are nice.

I watched the anime of 俺物語 ages ago and didn’t remember much about it except that it was hilarious and adorable. No plans to continue this one immediately; just trying to make a dent in my ebook library.

歌うヘッドフォン is another one from the backlog; I bought it ages ago because it was a oneshot by the same writer/artist as the first manga I ever tried to read. Nothing super special; good art, some funny gags, but it ends without any real resolution and leaves some threads untied. I’m not sure if it was intended to be a oneshot but it is, so I guess that’s that.

Kept up with 本好きの下剋上 vol. 2. Learned an awful lot about how 和紙 is made, holy smokes — some of the words they were using weren’t even in my dictionary so I had to do some extra research. Not a lot else to say about this chunk, still enjoying myself.

Last (and also least) I started playing the 真3 remake. I swear it took me like an hour just to enter my name; for some reason they just give you a list of every possible kanji grouped by one (nanori?) reading. Pretty bad UX but at least they give you space for four characters per name. I’ve made it through a couple of the first fights so far and I’ll be playing more this coming week.

Book review: 秋の牢獄 (Autumn Prison)

Immediately after finishing 本好きの下剋上 vol. 1, I decided to blaze through another book before the bookclub moved on to vol. 2. 秋の牢獄 is another book by 恒川光太郎, the author of 夜市, and I bought both books at the same time (along with one more, 雷の季節の終わりに) without any knowledge about it beyond the fact that I was really enjoying the writing style. Originally I planned to finish it in two weeks (about 10 pages per day), but it ended up taking me just 11 days, which beats out しあわせの花 as my fastest book so far. I feel like I could have finished it in just a week if I had hustled a little more; the first story (72 pages) took me just three days.

As with 夜市, only the first story in the book is actually called 秋の牢獄, and this first story was my favorite of the three by far (while the others were good, they’re also not as straightforward to summarize so I’ll only be covering this first one). It follows a woman who wakes up one day to discover that it’s November 7th for the second day in a row. Everything that happened yesterday is happening again today, from the weather to the classes at her school to small talk at lunch. Day after day, November the 7th never ends; no matter what she does, everything resets at midnight and she wakes up in her bed at home the next (the same?) morning. It’s not long before the repetition starts to take its toll, but just when it’s becoming too much to bear, she discovers she’s not alone — there are other “replayers” just like herself, some of whom have been stuck in November 7th for hundreds of loops.

Some of the Replayers take full advantage of their effective immortality, since everything (including death and injury) are rolled back at the end of the day. Of course, it’s not all fun and games; in one sobering example, one of the other Replayers wakes up every morning to the sound of his wife getting ready for work, knowing full well that today is the day she intends to cheat on him — over and over again. Interpersonal conflict among the Replayers is briefly touched on and the implications are equally uncomfortable — since it’s impossible to move house, you would do well to avoid making an enemy who would then be able to repeatedly target you day after day.

As if all that isn’t bad enough, this world is also home to a mysterious and terrifying entity known among the Replayers as “the Lord of the North Wind”. Nobody knows who or what it is — some believe it to be a hungry predator that traps people in the loop until the time comes for them to be harvested; others say it’s a benevolent deity who will free you from the loop. The only thing anyone knows for sure is that once you’ve seen it, it won’t be long before you quietly disappear.

The sense of unease, despair, and eventual acceptance throughout the story is incredibly effective. I’ve really come to enjoy this author’s work and I’m excited to read 雷の季節の終わりに, which will be an interesting change of pace as it dedicates a full book to one story. As with Night Market, Autumn Prison is not available in English but I would heartily recommend it to anyone who can read Japanese.

Japanese reading report

This week I found myself in a bit of a slump. Despite easily passing the halfway point in 秋の牢獄 by my last report, it took me a while to finish it up this week. I guess part of it could be that the third story in the book just wasn’t striking my fancy like the other ones. Overall I still enjoyed it, but it never got to the point where I was anxious to read more. Still, 11 days is my new record for reading a standard-size Japanese novel, and that feels pretty good.

Throughout the week I read two volumes of トニカクカワイイ, which I got for free since there’s an anime adaptation in the works. It’s pretty evident that there’s going to be some important plot stuff happening sooner or later (involving the moon), but for now it’s just a cute little romantic comedy that I’m quite enjoying.

I started on 本好きの下剋上 vol. 2, which I’m once again reading with the WK book club. Since I wanted to finish up my other book first, I’m a little late, but I did have time to finish the prologue and the first two chapters, so I’m on track. Sounds like we’re getting right into the paper-making; there’s already been a lot of technical talk about the right types of trees to use when making Japanese-style paper. I have a bit of a leg up here since I already went and watched some videos about it while reading the previous book, but there’s still a decent amount of totally new vocab.