Japanese reading report

Whoops, almost let the day go by without posting my report.

Had some tough days this week between my new job and some overall fatigue and let a couple of days go by without reading 雷の季節の終わりに at all, but I managed to hit a flow state for the past few days and got caught up again. The two storylines have started to converge I think? There’s been some good development lately both in terms of characters and also the setting itself. I might try and read at a faster pace and finish it up this week. As much as I’ve been perpetually having trouble sitting down with this book, it does go pretty smoothly once I’ve started.

The only manga I’ve read this week was シャドーハウス vol. 1 and about half of vol. 2 (will be finishing it as I fall asleep). I actually grabbed this a while ago but had let it sit on the backlog until a friend of mine mentioned that it was getting an anime adaptation this season. It’s swinging crazily between cute and creepy and I can see some interesting potential in some of the ideas they’ve hinted at. Really enjoying myself with it so far.

Watched ep. 22-26 and (moving on to part 3) 1-4 of ジョジョの奇妙な冒険. Still not much to say about it. I’m understanding it pretty well (much better than I’ve always anticipated) but it’s always hard to say how much of that is based on my memory of the subbed version.

Japanese reading report

At the beginning of the week, I kept making headway through my backlog with 大きくなったら、結婚する! vol. 1 and からかい上手の高木さん vol. 4 back to back. I actually picked the former up almost exactly a year ago and shelved it because it doesn’t have much furigana, but this time it was nice and easy (always a nice feeling). I’ll probably keep reading it pretty soon; it’s cute and there aren’t too many volumes out yet.

Right after this, I started reading うちの師匠はしっぽがない vol. 1, which I’ve been curious about for a long time now but was always too intimidated by. All in all it went pretty smoothly aside from a few 落語 sections. 大阪弁 is pretty neat and not too different from what I’ve heard spoken in Kyoto, so that was fun. Definitely planning to continue it in the future. I read this one over the rest of the week, about a chapter per night as I was falling asleep.

I had a terrible time staying on schedule with 雷の季節の終わりに again, despite really enjoying it by this point…I missed two days and had to make up the difference today. A little behind schedule now but I’m past the halfway point which always feels good.

Watched ep. 15-21 of ジョジョの奇妙な冒険. Not a ton to say, just truckin’ along.

Finally, today I read からかい上手の(元)高木さん vol. 3. I’m surprised I don’t see it recommended more often as a beginner manga. It’s super easy and quite adorable and barely has any surprise N1 西片 monologues at all.

Japanese reading report

Stayed current on 雷の季節の終わりに again, slowly slowly reading ahead of my goal (probably not enough to change the projected end date, but enough to give me a bit of margin). It’s turned into quite a different book than I expected and I’m quite enjoying it. The last two chapters have actually followed two different characters which is something I hadn’t expected. In addition to the supernatural horror stuff that has been introduced, there’s also a decent amount of more mundane or psychological horror happening. I’ve been looking up a lot of words but a lot of them have just been in order to verify pronunciation since the meaning is evident in context, which is nice.

I also read two volumes of manga; 見える子ちゃん vol. 5 and トニカクカワイイ vol. 5. Both were quite good. Regarding トニカクカワイイ, they rearranged some stuff for the anime adaptation but the last chapter was also the last scene in the anime, so I’m all caught up now. One interesting thing that stuck out to me: my first-ever (that I can remember) encounter with 勝手に that had a positive connotation. I’ve always seen it used in a disapproving way, at least when applied to humans.

I had planned to watch four episodes of ジョジョの奇妙な冒険 per day this week, but I started late and then had a bunch of work to do so I couldn’t dedicate as much time as I wanted. I did still manage to watch 14 episodes though. I was definitely expecting it to be harder to follow but I was surprised at how much I was able to keep up with without any effort. The fact that it’s entirely review likely helps with that, but I feel like having latent memories of the English translation has helped me make some connections I might not have made otherwise.

Japanese Reading Report

This week I just read one volume of manga, 怪物事変 vol. 2. Kon is great. I love every scene with her. Shiki and Akari have gotten less annoying too.

Most of my reading was from 雷の季節の終わりに, which I managed to stay on track with this time. The story has picked up and I’m quite enjoying it now; I’ve been feeling compelled to pick it up more often so I’m feeling a lot better than last week. Compared to the other two books I’ve read by this author, it definitely took its sweet time building up the setting and laying the foundation, though I guess that just comes with the territory of long-form fiction rather than the short story format I was used to.

Japanese reading report

This week I read three* volumes of manga and started a new novel.

First up was 古見さん vol. 20, which I really enjoyed (they need to release these faster! seriously there are like six months of chapters that haven’t been collected yet). I think I picked up a bit of skiing-related vocab and that’s about it. I liked how they subverted the typical ski trip disaster and came up with something a bit fresher. Also Hitomi needs to be nerfed.

Next was ヨコハマ買い出し紀行 vol. 5. Still really good. It’s surprising how understated the “post-apocalyptic” elements are; it’s a real slow burn and I have a lot of respect for the way the storytelling and worldbuilding is done.

My last manga of the week was 罠ガール vol. 1 (I’ll actually finish it as I fall asleep tonight). It’s pretty interesting; set in a seemingly realistic 田舎町 and written by an actual farmer apparently. Each chapter has to do with trapping animals in various ways, and then (more often than not) actually killing and eating said animals. It’s definitely not the standard fare for a cute-girls-doing-cute-things manga so the incongruity was a little odd at first, but I’ll probably keep reading it at some point.

My next novel is 雷の季節の終わりに, which I’ve been wanting to read for a while. For some reason I had a really hard time getting started with it though…not sure if it’s just more difficult than I’m used to or if I’m still in a bit of a slump. I was planning to read it at a pace where I would finish it by the second week of April but I decided to slow down and take the whole month. Reducing my daily goal down to 8 pages helped me feel a little less overwhelmed and I actually ended up reading a little over, so hopefully that fixes things. I’m only about 55 pages in, but so far the worldbuilding is interesting and that’s the main appeal of a 恒川光太郎 book to me, so I’m looking forward to the rest of it.

Book review: 京都寺町三条のホームズ vol. 1 (Holmes of Kyoto)

About halfway through my watchthrough of Holmes of Kyoto’s anime adaptation a few weeks ago, I found myself checking Amazon Japan on a regular basis to see if the first book in the series would happen to be listed for free (as occasionally happens for promotional purposes). It got to the point where I literally decided to buy it instead of waiting just because I was getting tired of checking. And so, once I finished 風の道しるべ, I jumped right into this series and finished book 1 in just over two weeks, finally catching up to my novel goal with three books down.

As much as I enjoyed the Holmes of Kyoto anime, the main thing running through my mind as I read the book was “the show did not do this justice”. Between the mysteries and character moments that make up the majority of the screentime, we also get tidbits of local history, descriptions of various locations visited throughout the story, and small vignettes with characters who, despite having no major importance, help deepen the overall experience. The author mentions in the afterword that she started writing this series out of a desire to share the beauty of Kyoto, and it shows.

The anime covers material from the first three books, so naturally there was a lot of review here, but there were also a fair few scenes which I don’t remember from the anime at all; my favorite involved a confession of love, and then a rejection of that confession, both performed through the medium of tanka from the One Hundred Poets where both parties relied on the subtext of each poem, rather than the literal words, to send the desired message.

Before I had finished reading the last chapter, I’d already gone back and bought the next five books, so it goes without saying that I’ll certainly be continuing with this series. There’s also an official English release, which I’m sure is also good; if I’m not mistaken, the translator was chosen during the Manga Translation Battle contest, and the samples I saw looked quite well-done. Heartily recommended.

Japanese reading report

Had a really hard time focusing this week. Theoretically I had a lot of opportunities to read but there were lots of times where I sat down with my book and barely made any headway at all. Fortunately this weekend I was able to do some catchup this weekend and finish 京都寺町三条のホームズ vol. 1 on time. Chapter four gave me a good thrashing since it dug pretty deep into the history behind three historic wall scrolls and their artists, but I persevered. I’ve been enjoying all the 関西弁 quite a bit; thinking I might make a point of reading more of it (I have 極主夫道 and うちの師匠はしっぽがない in my backlog but have been hesitant to start on them since they’re very dialect-heavy). Anyway, I’m glad I stocked up on the next few books because I’m definitely planning on continuing the series in the near future.

Also watched four more episodes of 五等分の花嫁 (9-12) but I don’t really have anything to say about it besides that it’s cool to revisit the series with full knowledge of what’s to come.

Japanese reading report

This week I decided to majorly up my pace through 京都寺町三条のホームズ vol. 1, reading 10 pages per day minimum and bringing me up to 52%. It’s become very obvious throughout that the anime (which I already quite enjoyed) doesn’t really do the book justice. I’m enjoying myself very much and will definitely be continuing the series once this book is finished. Being set in Kyoto there’s quite a lot of 関西弁 at times, but so far it’s been pretty easy to pick up based on just being familiar with similar patterns in standard Japanese.

Right after my last report I read 片腕のエイミー, a really sweet little oneshot that was free on jump+. Don’t really have anything to say about it other than it was great.

Watched five more episodes of 五等分の花嫁 (3-8), which puts me past the point where I initially quit watching the show with subtitles and started reading the manga way back when.

For manga this week I read 僕の心のヤバイやつ vol. 2, which is still weird. It’s less weird than the first volume though. I also read ホクサイと飯さえあれば vol. 1, which captivated me pretty early in the first chapter. I’ve been looking for a good cooking manga and this one seems to fit the bill perfectly.

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.