Japanese reading report

Quick early report before I hide myself away and work on the latest episode of サマータイムレンダ. This week I read seven volumes of manga, watched six episodes of anime, and started a new readalong novel. I also listened to a new record of eight audiobooks at mixed levels of focus.

I’ll start with my novel this time. After putting it off for weeks due to lack of time, I finally got back to Tandem and touched base with some people I’d been chatting with. One of them to whom I’d recommended サマータイムレンダ to in the past, mentioned that he had finished reading the series and found it “quite difficult”. He gave me a counter-recommendation of 君の膵臓をたべたい, which I’ve heard about for years but had never gotten around to checking out, so I took this opportunity to start. I considered reading the manga but decided that I would probably get more out of the novel, so I shifted my schedule around and started reading. I also grabbed the audiobook, which is definitely the highest production value I’ve experienced to date — different voice actors for each character (of course I’m picturing the main girl — a complete fiend for meat who’s voiced by 堀江由衣 — as Chie from Persona 4) and the occasional sound effect to set the scene. I’m 17% through it after the first two days, listening at 1.5x speed. Budgeted myself a little over two weeks but I might try to go faster. I feel like I can kind of see where the story will go from fairly early on, but we’ll see.

My other audiobooks this week were, in order with focus and time: スーパーカブ vol. 3 (low, 6:13), 虚構推理 vol. 1 (low-med, 10:24), 獣の奏者 (med, 8:24), 化物語・中 (low, around 6:00; I was already half finished), 化物語・下 (med-high, 7:42), 鹿の王 (extra low, 6:53) 京都寺町三条のホームズ vol. 1 and 2 (med-high, 8:42 and 8:18); a total of about 48 hours since I listened mostly at around 1.3x speed. I won’t go into each one in depth but just a few observations:

  • スーパーカブ still has a really hard time holding my attention.
  • The story structure of 虚構推理 was surprisingly different from the anime and in retrospect I’m quite impressed. I feel like Kotoko is more annoying than cute in the book though.
  • I’ve heard about 獣の奏者 on a number of occasions and since it was new to Audible I decided to try it out. Despite knowing literally nothing about it, I was largely able to follow even though I would lose focus here and there. Predictably, my favorite parts were when ユーヤン (a girl who speaks a foreign dialect which is implemented as 関西弁) was in the scene.
  • Suruga and Nadeko’s arcs in 化物語 had a hard time holding my attention, but I was considerably keyed in for Black Hanekawa. Something I couldn’t have noticed when I watched the anime all those years ago was that the cat spirit uses 俺 when speaking. Unfortunately the performance of the third book was comparatively very lacking. I often struggled to figure out who was talking, or even to notice that a new character was supposed to have taken over.
  • 鹿の王 failed to keep my attention at any point and as a result I have no idea what it’s about. All I remember is hearing こそすれ. There was a bunch of politics I guess. Considering it’s by the same author as 獣の奏者 I was surprised that I didn’t care for it.
  • 京都寺町三条のホームズ is a lot of fun and I think listening to a story you’re already familiar with is probably where this approach is the most effective. The narrator is from Kyoto herself, so she nails the intonation when people speak dialect, and her performance is great throughout. I’ll be listening to the next two volumes as well before I readalong for vol. 5.

Caught up on 組長娘と世話係 and よふかしのうた, along with finishing 見える子ちゃん and one episode of それでも歩は寄せてくる. Nothing really to point out here, except for one translation error I happened to catch without even seeing the subtitles. Essentially they translated a sentence containing 好きなだけ as meaning “only [Sakurako] likes him” (as in, it’s a one-sided crush) when it should have been “it’s just that she likes him” (as in, that’s as far as it goes; they’re not dating). My sister scoffed from across the room and I immediately knew they must have made a mistake. Thought that was kind of fun.

Alright, manga time. First was 魔女と野獣 vol. 2, which I really need to read more of. It falls a bit flat here and there but it’s pretty gripping and has good worldbuilding implications. This volume spent a good amount of time following a different crew, which makes me curious for the structure going forward.

Next, はぢがーる vol. 2, another series I should prioritize. I don’t know how it’s going to go on for three more volumes since it seems like it’s close to endgame already, but maybe the last Love Challenge is really super difficult or something. I found out this week that the author has a new series out so I’m looking forward to that getting a volume release.

Since I’m being held back on ゆびさきと恋々 I decided to try out another 森下suu series, 日々蝶々 (vol. 1). Basic premise is: school beauty has been progressively alienated by her peers as everyone treats her as perfect and unapproachable, which has left her with almost no friends or social skills to speak of. It’s not a terribly interesting premise and at least so far the execution is only okay.

むとうとさとう is always there for me when I need something quick to check off my daily manga volume. I read vol. 6, which leaves me with just one more until the end of the series. There was some nice character development towards the middle that kind of challenges the whole initial premise (she wants to be more girly and he wants to be more manly) and seems like it’s leading to a nice conclusion.

Back to 舞妓さんちのまかないさん (vol. 4) for the first time in a while, also at the prompting of a Tandem partner. I think I can safely say that 京都弁 (the geisha flavor with どす) is my least favorite of the 関西弁 family. Not enough to diminish my enjoyment of the series at all though, it’s still great.

大蛇に嫁いだ娘 vol. 2 was pretty yabai. The cliffhanger from the last volume turned out to be a false alarm (thank goodness) but it went in a weird direction after that.

Finally, I read 大蛇に嫁いだ娘 vol. 2 and got a strangely different experience than from vol. 1. The stories this time around are much more open-ended and often don’t even have a “punchline” per se. Maybe the idea is to leave you with a lingering sense of uncomfortableness, in which case I guess I can say it works.