Japanese reading report

Nearly all of my reading this week was 京都寺町三条のホームズ vol. 6, which I finished today a week ahead of schedule. As usual I was reading along to the audiobook (8:04) and I have to admit there were several points where I just didn’t bother trying to follow along (for example, going through long lists of famous 掛け軸 and their respective authors).

This volume was pretty unique in that the entire book was about one case. Despite the name, there haven’t been too many “detective” elements to the series so far, with the closest one being the 相笠くりす case a couple of books ago. This one revolves around tracking down a missing girl, unravelling a shady organization, and getting to the bottom of a series of art thefts, all of which are woven together. The resolution was pretty satisfying and on top of everything there was some nice relationship development. A very solid entry in the series indeed.

I’ll be trying to read the next volume through this upcoming week. I had a possibly crazy idea to try to read one book every week for the rest of the month to get ahead of schedule, and then focus entirely on manga for a while. We’ll see how it goes.

I watched seven episodes of anime this week, all today. The standout was 文豪ストレイドッグス (7-10). This season is going some very interesting places and I really liked the exploration of how 与謝野’s ability was abused during the war. The way the message shifted from “saving lives” to “these soldiers will lose their minds before they have a chance to die” was chilling. Also 君死給勿(きみしにたまふことなかれ) is an extremely cool phrase.

I also listened to 無職転生 vol. 1 (7:23, med-high focus) and 2 (7:21, low-med focus). I’ve heard that this is “one of the good isekai series” and I honestly don’t get it. It’s a standard fantasy setting and the main character happens to make references to nerd culture from time to time. However, the first volume led me to a realization about my perspective on isekai in general that I thought was pretty interesting.

Essentially, there’s no reason that the protagonist of 無職転生 couldn’t have taken matters into his own hands to turn his life around without being reincarnated. He even says at the beginning “if only I could turn back time one year, that would be enough”. He gets his wish of a total do-over despite the fact that it was by no means too late for him to change tack in his previous life.

Contrast this with 本好きの下剋上. マイン has a promising career as a librarian (her lifelong dream) right in front of her eyes before she’s killed in a tragic bookshelf accident. Unlike ルディー, she’s reincarnated into poverty; far from being gifted with magic, her body is afflicted by a terminal illness; even her ability to read (an ability which ルディー puts to use immediately to learn magic) does her no good because the world is seemingly bereft of books.

For ルディー, his reincarnation is nothing but a benefit; for マイン it brings her nothing but hardship. One story is about taking advantage of extreme good fortune to have the life you’ve always wanted; the other is about losing everything and then fighting through adversity to get it back.

Finally, I just finished up another 2.5 hours of FFX. I think we’re basically past the intro now and have been largely set free in terms of game mechanics. The worldbuilding is still the standout here. I’m also curious about how the timeline will play out, and the theme of how being the child of a famous hero can be a sort of curse.