Japanese reading report

This week I finished 人間失格 and I’m somewhat at a loss. I don’t understand why people like this story at all. If the writing style, then maybe his long, run-on sentences that frequently flow into rabbit trails of definitions and footnotes. If as a character study, then maybe it can be worthwhile to get an intimate look at the mind of someone so thoroughly troubled. All I can say for myself is that I never once felt sympathy for the protagonist, nor, by extension, the author.

The one portion of the book that I felt was compelling and worthwhile was when the protagonist, feeling guilt for his actions (not least of which is his involvement in the death of a woman with whom he attempted double suicide) is trying to determine a “true antonym” for 罪, only to fail over and over again as he finds that each word he considers can be seen as a synonym as well — but the moment is cheapened considering that the author would go on to carry out the same exact crime he allegedly regrets so deeply mere months after the novel was finished. To wax poetic about guilt with no intention to reform is nothing but masturbatory self-pity.

At the very least, I’m glad to have read this with the aid of the audiobook to keep me on pace because I’m quite sure I would have dropped it out of frustration otherwise. I’m not sure that this was the best 太宰治 work to start with because I find myself left with absolutely zero motivation to read any of his other works.

18 episodes of anime this week; ep. 1-12 of イジらないで、長瀞さん (horrible). 7-8 of 俺好き (a criminal lack of 津軽弁 girl). Buddy Daddies ep. 2 and and Sugar Apple ep. 2 are still the highlights of the new season. 虚構推理 ep. 1 was decent if somewhat recappy. 僕のヒーローアカデミア ep. 15 was basically on in the background while I did other things.

I did read a lot of good manga this week, so fortunately it wasn’t a total wash.

First up was さよなら絵梨, the last major 藤本タツキ work that I hadn’t read yet. I didn’t like it quite as much as Lookback but it was still nice. I liked how the “true” events of the story were revealed incrementally, and I never felt like I had the whole picture. It’s very much about how movies are made in the editing room, and how that applies to the way people remember us as well.

ナナとカオル doesn’t seem like something I would read just based on the premise, but I gave vol. 1 a shot and I actually really enjoyed it. It’s funnier than I expected and very sweet. The two main characters have nice chemistry and I like how even when they get into character it’s not a perfect persona switch; they’re still awkward and real with each other. Cute first impression, will probably read more.

ダンダダン vol. 8 was great. Fortunately the musician “arc” didn’t overstay its welcome and the way they’re handling 邪視 is pretty funny. Next arc seems fun.

よつばと vol. 10 and 11 were both great as ever. My favorite part in 10 was how her dad spent the whole day helping her make her first perfect pancake. It was a nice slow chapter that could have been at home in 甘々と稲妻 and I liked it a lot. 11’s obvious standout was the ジュラルミン tragedy, though bubbles in the park with Yanda was pretty cute too.

Finally, あせとせっけん vol. 4 was the best one yet. I really liked the part at the bar when 名取’s friend is talking about how he lost his longtime girlfriend because he got so focused on his career (out of a desire to support her!) that he lost sight of what mattered in their relationship. It’s a kind of thought process that I could easily see myself getting lost in and I appreciate how many directions the series approaches the importance of communication in a relationship.