This week I started my first ever nonfiction book in Japanese, 3652―伊坂幸太郎エッセイ集. Despite what the title says there are only 106 essays in this book, and each one is a few pages long at most. I’ve read just over 1/3 of it at this point and I’m on track to finish it in the next two weeks.
I’ve heard a lot about this author but never read any of his work, and I’m not sure what exactly it was that drew me to this collection but I’m glad I went with it as my first of his books. A few of my favorites so far:
- アメリカンコーヒーゲーム: in which the author observes that everyone at the cafe is ordering “american coffee”, feels very satisfied with himself for following suit, and then is immediately crushed as the woman behind him in line displays her ignorance of the culture by ordering hot cocoa instead.
- 映画館は平和だ: in which the author bemoans the struggle of sharing a movie theater with people who simply don’t get it.
- 自由な席: in which the author watches a station employee try to remember the english word for 自由席, before finally having a lightbulb moment and proudly declaring “FREEDOM”.
- 一〇六人の作家に聞きました: in which the author answers that his choice of items to bring to a desert island consist only of food he dislikes (so he can grow to like them) and pet food (in case there are pets, but no people, on the island — and also so he might be forced to try pet food and find out how it tastes).
Each essay is snappy and focused and he has a great sense of humor. I’m enjoying myself a lot.
I also watched four episodes of anime; この爆 2-3 and Trigun Stampede 6-7. The former is hilarious, just as good as the main anime (and the ED is simply fine art); the latter is enjoyable but I’m starting to find it a bit flat. The main thing is that Vash’s signature pacifism kind of only works because the people he’s fighting end up dying by some other means after the fact. The same pattern has repeated three times now and it’s getting a bit old.
For audiobooks, I listened to コンビニ人間 (3:42, med-high focus), which was pretty nice in some ways. I can see why it gets recommended as a beginner novel; the language is fairly simple and it feels like a look behind the curtain at “real” Japanese culture. At times it reminded me of 今、出来る、精一杯, which is definitely a good thing. I don’t think I would have personally liked to read this as my first novel though, and honestly I probably only liked it as much as I did now because I was able to breeze through it as an audiobook. I also finished 幼女戦記 1 (8:48, low focus). Even setting aside the obnoxious difficulty this was easily the worst experience of my whole life and that’s all I care to say about it.
Finally, three volumes of manga: 黒猫と魔女の教室 vol. 1 feels a bit undercooked but it’s very funny. It feels like it’s bordering on parody sometimes but I think that’s the point. I also finally got around to 幼稚園WARS vol. 1 and laughed out loud practically every page. It strikes a nice balance between dark and goofy and I had to stop myself from screenshotting something pretty much every page. Lastly, 5分後の世界 vol. 3 — I’d come so close to writing this one off last volume and I’m still not convinced, but there is a possibility that they might be going for a pretty smart twist which would actually fix one of my earliest complaints. I’m not convinced the author is capable of such a thing to be completely honest but if the mood takes me at some point I might give it another try.