Japanese reading report

This week I most notably finished 風の道しるべ, three days ahead of my end-of-the-month goal, and wrote a little about it over here. Overall takeaway is that it was better than 片羽の蝶 but not quite as good as しあわせの花.

At the beginning of the week I binged 13 episodes of ゆるキャン to get caught up to the latest of season 2. Also watched two episodes of 五等分の花嫁 (since I never finished season 1 and want to catch up to season 2 here as well) and one episode of 干支魂…the former is of course all review and the latter was pretty tough at times. I wish there was a manga or something for 干支魂 so I could go back and get clarification on what I’d missed, but I wasn’t able to find anything.

Now that I was caught up with novels, I was finally able to get some manga reading in (albeit only the last two days this week). I read ゆるキャン vol. 3 and the new 十三機兵防衛圏 anthology. ゆるキャン is almost totally comprehensible when I’m watching the anime but I do tend to get lost when they explain new camping equipment, so reviewing in the manga is super helpful. The anthology was great but also really short? 111 pages is by far the shortest 単行本 I’ve seen so far. A couple of the 4コマ strips at the end were familiar from twitter, which was kind of funny.

Finally, yesterday I started reading 京都寺町三条のホームズ vol. 1. I picked it up after really enjoying the manga a few weeks ago and decided to make it my novel for March. My current goal is to read 4 “pages” (however my ereader actually measures that) per day at least, but I’m already head of pace at 23 pages / 14% read. It’s one of those books where new technical vocabulary is often explained for the benefit of the protagonist and reader alike, so I’m able to read it pretty fluidly despite having no experience in the world of Japanese antiques.

Book review: 風の道しるべ (Signpost of the Wind)

The third (and final?) 鬼滅の刃 spinoff novel comes to a close as my second book of the year. For the first week I read at a pretty leisurely pace as I was also reading 本好きの下剋上 at the same time, then sped up in order to finish before the end of the month — ultimately taking 13 days to read the whole thing with three days left before the end of the month.

I keep typing (and then erasing) “I enjoyed this book”, and I’m not sure why. It’s true! I just can’t help but feel like I’d be damning it with faint praise. The fact of the matter is, these stories were never going to hit the same emotional beats as the original manga series considering the framework they had to work in. I liked it quite a lot more than the disappointing 片羽の蝶, but I feel like しあわせの花 was stronger overall.

The titular first story, while it struggled with pacing a bit, got nearly half of the total page count all to itself and did a great job of connecting some dots that I totally missed from the main series. It isn’t until fairly late in the game that we learn that Sanemi and Genya both have 稀血, the rare, powerful blood that demons are constantly on the hunt for. In 風の道しるべ, we see him putting that blood to work by purposely cutting himself over and over again (to the chagrin of Shinobu and Kanae) as the scent drives demons wild and allows him to get the upper hand. Not only does this explain why Sanemi has so many scars despite being ostensibly an excellent fighter, but also lends weight to the scene where he tries to goad Nezuko into attacking him by holding his bleeding arm in front of her. This is exactly the type of development I was hoping for

There were moments that expanded nicely on certain characters, and the one chapter which focused on Inosuke was hilarious, much like The Trouble with Fortunetelling from the first book. One chapter follows Tokitou in the wake of the attack on the swordsmithing village, and while ultimately nothing of importance happens plot-wise, it’s a good opportunity to showcase his dramatic character growth. As usual, the Kimetsu Academy chapter felt like a waste of time, but you can’t win ’em all.

片羽の蝶 left me quite cold and if I hadn’t already had this one on my shelf I don’t think I would have bought it, so I’m glad it worked out this way. I doubt there will be another KNY novel coming out now that the series is over (though the same author did work on the Mugen Train novelization, so who can say), but I think I’d probably keep going if given the opportunity.

Book review: 本好きの下剋上 vol. 3 (Ascendance of a Bookworm)

This review comes late, not because I forgot to write it, but because I totally failed to prioritize my novel reading goal and have only just finished my first one of this year. In hindsight it might have been a better idea to read something more lightweight in order to catch up, rather than the ~460 oversized pages of very dense text that comprises this book, but oh well. At least I’m way ahead of the wanikani book club now!

Following up from the cliffhanger at the end of the previous volume, this one wastes no time in raising the stakes regarding Mayne’s terminal illness. While some of the tension is alleviated due to the fact that there are currently 23 more books in the series, it does add a sense of urgency to the entire book. The final act had me reading two extra chapters beyond my daily goal just because it go so exciting.

As with the rest of the series so far, I really enjoyed this installment. With the exception of the epilogue chapters, which are always a bit of a drag, the storytelling and characterization are as good as ever. There’s less of a focus on production of new inventions and more focus on the politicking involved with disrupting the status quo, all of which is handled in an engaging way despite the potentially dry subject matter. I won’t be moving on to vol. 4 immediately since I’d like to get a bit ahead of schedule before reading another huge book, but I’ll definitely be looking forward to it.

Japanese reading report

This week I finally finished up 本好きの下剋上 vol. 3. Feeling very positive about this pace (I ended on the exact day I planned to). I have to say, the last few chapters were kind of rough. After the climactic confrontation last week, the epilogue and everything after it just made the book feel like it was overstaying its welcome…not to mention, yesterday’s chapter was written entirely in keigo, which felt like driving over speed bumps the whole time. In any event, I enjoyed this book a lot and will be moving on with the series soon.

I also read a bit of 風の道しるべ here and there, finishing story #1, then reading all of #2 about half of #3. This current story is the best one so far since it has Inosuke and the author captures him quite well. Planning to finish this one up in the coming week.

Worth mentioning: yesterday I set up a Japanese google account so I could play Nier Re[in]carnation and spent maybe an hour on it. I’ve never played a gatcha game before so I don’t know how long I’ll stick with it, but so far it’s pretty nice. The worldbuilding is interesting and I’m able to follow along with the spoken audio just fine, though some of the UI text is short-lived enough that it’s impossible for me to grasp everything before it fades away. Good speed-reading progress I guess?

Japanese reading report

This week I decided that completely cutting manga out was just getting me down, so I decided to let myself read manga at night again. Started up ゆるキャン vol. 3 and read it a little at a time while I was falling to sleep; probably just a couple of chapters here. I also decided to rewatch the anime before getting into the second season (four episodes this week).

I made really good time on 本好きの下剋上 vol. 3, making up for my missed goal from last week and reading all the way to the epilogue last night, bringing me to exactly 75% of the way through. The last few chapters were really exciting and climactic (fitting for the end of an arc) and I kept getting swept along even though I was planning to stop.

I also started reading 風の道しるべ in parallel (the last 鬼滅の刃 spinoff novel so far) at a more relaxed pace, but still planning to finish it by the end of the month, which would get me totally back up to speed on my yearly goal. Unlike the other books so far this one devotes almost the first half to the titular story, which is focusing on 実弥 before he becomes 風柱. There’s a bit of interesting lore regarding his scars which fits really well with a few key points despite not being mentioned explicitly in the manga as far as I remember. I have to admit I wasn’t incredibly excited about this one after the last book left me kind of cold, but so far it’s off to a good start.

Japanese reading report

This week I stayed mostly on track with 本好きの下剋上 vol. 3, though not quite enough to get me to 50% — I think I read six chapters total out of eight that I would have needed. There have been some interesting developments as paper production ramps up and it seems like some political intrigue is about to kick off.

I also watched all of 京都寺町三条のホームズ, which I saw a few episodes of a long time ago and dropped for some reason. I really enjoyed this watchthrough and will be looking for an opportunity to read the novels. There was rather a lot of 関西弁, but fortunately it was fun rather than frustrating to follow. I would have liked to use jsubs or subs2srs to review some of the stuff that got away from me, but I guess that’s what the books are for.