Japanese reading report

I started the week with 無能なナナ vol. 4, and like, what the heck. The cliffhangers keep on coming I guess. The anime apparently ended exactly with the last chapter in this volume and I bet it would feel pretty bad to be an anime-only for this series. Really good, gonna be continuing it next week.

I was bullied into reading 呪術廻戦 vol. 1, so I did that too. (along with vol. 2 at the end of the week). I’ve been getting a lot of new words here for some reason, not just made-up curse stuff but also normal, very slightly sciency words. I’ve already seen the show so I’ll be in review mode for a while but my sister is hassling me to catch up so she can talk about it with me, so I’ll probably be prioritizing it for the next few weeks.

I surprised myself by finishing バニーガール先輩 on Friday, one week and one day ahead of schedule. I had originally set a more leisurely pace since the page count was higher than what I’d been reading previously, but apparently I didn’t need to worry. The second half of the book was as good as the first and there were a bunch of little details that got lost in the adaptation. Once again glad I decided to reread the whole series instead of skipping to book five or whatever.

I think I played a bit more of monhun stories 2 this week? It might have been last week and I forgot to mention it. In any case I’m probably getting close to the end of the demo now, hoping to get my full copy sooner than the estimate. I haven’t clicked with the series in the past but I’m enjoying this one quite a lot.

Last up, I rewatched all of 衛宮さんちの今日のごはん. Each episode is only 10 minutes so it doesn’t really count as a full series but I’ve been thinking a lot about that LDK setup they have and missing the days when I would have people over to cook for. I already know all the food terms and I think that’s probably the most difficult part so, so nothing really to report here. I should probably grab the game now that it’s finally out.

Oh, I totally forgot: the wanikani absolute beginners book club is reading 大海原と大海原 (wadanohara and the great blue sea). Coincidentally vol. 1 was free on cmoa so I read the whole thing in one day thinking I could help out with some grammar questions and whatnot. Honestly I’m not sure if it’s a great beginner manga? there’s a lot of grammar that I expect people to have trouble with (it uses ぬ in the very first sentence and people were talking about whether they could afford to just…not learn what ぬ meant). In terms of the story and subject matter though it’s basically a manga for babies so I don’t see myself continuing it even though there’s only one more book in the series. I did learn the word 大海原 though so hey, I guess it works out.

Book review: 京都寺町三条のホームズ 3 (Holmes of Kyoto)

Three books in, and I’m starting to feel like writing individual reviews for each entry in a long series might not be all that sustainable, especially considering 1) the consistent quality of each entry and 2) the fact that as my reading speed continues to improve, the number of books I can read in a short amount of time will also continue to increase. Perhaps the main factor is that I’m still in review mode, and even though I thought I would be in uncharted waters with the end of this book, apparently I actually need to finish the first four books in order to completely catch up with the anime. (It seems I did know this at one point but must have forgotten).

For now, I’ll at least say that this volume was as good as ever; the parts that were adapted for the anime were even better in the source material, and of course the parts that didn’t make the cut were were a welcome surprise whenever they appeared.

Japanese reading report

This week I read 無能なナナ vol. 3 and had to immediately buy vol. 4 as well (which I started but only read a tiny bit of). Some of the questions I’ve had were answered in vol. 3 but then surprise! that was actually a misdirection too. The resolution of the cliffhanger from vol. 2 was great and this current one seems like it’s getting pretty serious.

I read up to the halfway point in バニーガール先輩 (99pg on ereader, ~180 physical). I’ve heard people say this would be a good novel for beginners and I’m not really sure I agree with that, but for me at least it’s nice and smooth and I’ve been able to easily read ahead of my quota each day so far. 咲太 is a really great protagonist and I very much enjoy reading from his perspective. He has a good dynamic with all the characters and the conversations have a nice back-and-forth rhythm. The LN also has a bunch of extra stuff that wasn’t adapted to the anime; nothing major, but some good character moments and jokes that were trimmed. I can already tell I’m going to want to keep reading the series once I finish this book.

Japanese reading report

This week I finished 京都寺町三条のホームズ vol. 3 two days ahead of schedule, and imagine my surprise when I realized the anime actually covers the first four books, not three. Oh well. The ending felt like a bit of a tease but the ongoing character development is still good.

I started reading 青春ブタ野郎 vol. 1 (バニーガール先輩) the day after, with the goal of finishing it by September 18, a nice leisurely 8(16) pages per day. I finished rewatching the anime this week and would like to read ahead eventually. Haven’t read enough of it so far to make much of a report but I’m mentioning it for posterity.

Since I’m finally caught up on my novels goal for the year (again), my manga ban is lifted, so I read 無能なナナ vol. 2 yesterday. It’s just introduced a new character who’s just a complete cinnamon roll and I’m wondering how exactly that’ll be handled. It occurred to me that this is kind of a battle royale series? I’m not too familiar with the genre but I imagine they typically involve some kind of team being formed — which seems antithetical here. The last chapter pulled an amazing twist and I’m itching to read the next volume.

Today I also read 古見さん. 22. The whole thing was full of great moments, but when I got to the end I kind of felt like nothing really happened? The teaser seems to indicate that something really will go down in the next volume, so I guess I just have to wait two more months. Oh well.

Japanese reading report

This week I pretty much just read 京都寺町三条のホームズ vol. 3. I’m 60% through it now, quite happy with my pace and feeling good about finishing it by the end of next week. So far this volume has been almost entirely material that was cut from the anime, including some really good stuff! Holmes comes over to Aoi’s house and they get into deep talks in her room, and somehow they simply didn’t see fit to adapt it. I’m also realizing that Rikyu was either invented for the anime or introduced much later and backported in, which is wild. I’m getting the feeling that the goal of the anime was to cover as much of the master forger stuff as possible, but it’s crazy to me that they skipped over so much character development. Oh well.

I also (re)watched ep. 1 of 青春ブタ野郎 and found it much easier than I expected. It’s been a while since I watched it for the first time and I was definitely anticipating some trouble from the 中2 pseudoscience stuff, but it’s not that bad so far. Will be continuing the series next week.

Japanese reading report

This week I finished 京都寺町三条のホームズ vol. 2 a couple of days ahead of schedule and started on vol. 3 right away. When I logged it on Bookmeter I was surprised to see my read pages go up by 301 rather than the 153 pages that my ereader reports, but I guess that’s how long the print version actually is. Pretty nice.

This week’s reading only included one chapter that wasn’t in the anime (well technically it was, but in a very stripped-down sense) where the cast spends some time at a “haunted house” to prank 秋人, which was fun. The master forger 円生 (aka 森阿[ーティ]) has been solidly set up as an antagonist now and his dynamic with ホームズ is very tense and interesting.

Since I finished early I decided to get ahead of schedule and start vol. 3 right away, and I’ve just finished the prologue. I really feel for the English translator…I thought she had her work cut out for her with all the 関西弁, but the series has recently started to feature poetry written in old japanese (which is then “translated” into modern japanese), so I’m very curious how she handles that.

I also finally got around to finishing シャーロット. Overall very good, but I feel like the last two episodes were pretty rushed and I didn’t completely love the ending. There were a few things throughout that I didn’t quite get at first, but I passed the “talk shop with my sister” test at the end and even pointed out a few things that she missed, which is a pretty good benchmark I feel.

Book review: 京都寺町三条のホームズ vol. 2 (Holmes of Kyoto)

What can I say that I didn’t say in my review of the previous book? It’s all just as true, if not more so, of this one. The extra scenes (that didn’t make it into the anime) are great, the pacing is comfortable and engaging, and the character development is more intimate. I really like this series and I’ve already started reading volume 3, which, once I finish it, will put me into uncharted territory.

One interesting thing about this one compared to the anime, and something that actually surprised me, is that it’s Akihito, not Aoi, who accompanies Holmes to the temple where they have their first run-in with the master forget Enshou (aka Moria[rty]). While I understand why the change would be made, focusing on Akihito for this chapter gave us an opportunity to peek inside his head and also to see some one-on-one with Holmes, which is always entertaining.

Considering how long it took me to read 335 pages of 異世界食堂, I was blown away to find that the 153 pages my ereader reported for this book actually translate to 301 pages in the print version, which means my pace of 10 “pages” per day was actually more like 20. I’m not sure if this is my fastest pace to date (the latest volume of 本好きの下剋上 was also a pretty hefty daily quota) but learning that I finished a 300-page book in just over two weeks was a big surprise. I’m planning to read the next book in a similar amount of time so I can finally get caught up with my novel goal by the end of the month (but also because I’m genuinely excited to continue).

Book review: 異世界食堂 vol. 1 (Restaurant to Another World)

Back in 2020, when I first planned to read 氷菓 as my first-ever Japanese novel, I decided to add one more book to the order so I could justify the shipping cost from Japan (this being before I had figured out how to buy ebooks), and so ended up with a new copy of 異世界食堂. I’d seen the anime quite some time ago and been interested in reading the source material for quite some time, so I was excited to get my hands on it.

One year and six months later, I’ve finally gotten around to reading it!

Part of the reason I put it off for so long was the fact that the page count was pretty high. Aside from 雷の季節の終わりに, this was definitely the longest book I’ve read so far, and the language used is complex enough that I can imagine it giving me a lot of trouble when I originally started reading novels. At this point it was pretty approachable though; I rarely had trouble and even did a bit of speedreading practice where I tried to avoid subvocalizing as much as possible.

In any case, finishing this book feels like somewhat of a milestone. It’s good to have it on my “completed” shelf.

The basic premise of the series is that there’s this one restaurant whose front door becomes mysteriously connected to another world every Saturday. The owner closes to his regular Tokyo clientele and serves western food to the various fantasy creatures who find their way in. Each chapter focuses on a different dish and (so far) a different guest to order it, which provides ample opportunity to describe each meal in excruciating detail. It’s a bit of a running gag for a character to use their “native word” for onions, but besides this it’s also interesting to see how the author goes about describing certain modern delicacies, like ice cream or fresh unsalted fish, from the perspective of someone from a comparatively primitive fantasy world. Every chapter made me hungry and I was always smacking myself for reading it before bed.

If I have one major complaint about the book, it’s that there was a severe lack of Aletta, the homeless demon-blood girl who ends up working at the restaurant as a waitress. Her presence in the anime is a delight so I was looking forward to her in the book, but whereas the show introduces her in episode one, she only appears in the second-to-last chapter (a very good chapter to be sure, but I was hoping for more of her). I guess I’ll have to wait until vol. 2 to get my fix.

I do plan to read more of the series, but will probably hold off until I make a bit of a dent in my existing novel backlog (and have a bit more breathing room in my yearly pace). There are five volumes out right now and all of them have been translated to English, so (if you like reading about food) I would definitely recommend picking them up!

Japanese reading report

This week all I did was read 京都寺町三条のホームズ vol. 2, and I made pretty good progress. I started the week at about 20% by reading a little bit here and there while finishing 異世界食堂, and I’m now at 62%, so if I keep it up I should be able to finish by the end of next week. My pace was actually a bit slow for the first few days due to some time management mistakes so I feel pretty good about my prospects…I might even consider reading vol. 3 right away once I finish this one.

Anyway, on to the actual substance: The three chapters I read this week covered the birthday party for the owner of 蔵, the forger-turned-artist, and the introduction of the master forger. Since the anime covers the first three books, I expected to be totally in review mode here, but as I’ve pointed out before, the anime and the novels are actually pretty different at certain points. A notable departure is that it’s actually 秋人, not 葵, who accompanies 清貴 to the temple to investigate the letter from the forger. The difference between narration styles, and the fact that 秋人 is much less perceptive than 葵 in certain ways, is pretty interesting to see.

Since it’s been a while since I saw the anime, I actually had to double check to make sure I hadn’t just forgotten, but apparently the middle chapter here was actually not in the show at all. While I’ve been enjoying myself regardless, it’s nice to get some totally new content that I would have missed if I had skipped right to vol. 4.

Book review: わたしの幸せな結婚 (My Happy Marriage)

Well this explains that nagging feeling that I had forgotten something important. Despite finishing up わたしの幸せな結婚 as my fifth book of the year almost two months ago, I never ended up writing up my thoughts on it.

I picked this book up on a whim based on little more than the beautiful cover art and the fact that it rose suddenly to #1 on Bookmeter without me ever having heard of it beforehand. I’m very glad I took the chance; this is definitely my favorite novel of the year so far.

If I were to describe the story in one line, I might go with “Meiji-era Cinderella”, but that would definitely be selling it short. The main story beats are similar enough — our heroine is raised as little more than a servant by her abusive stepmother and ends up escaping her fate by marrying a handsome nobleman — but the details make all the difference. For one, whereas Cinderella often comes across as somewhat well-adjusted despite her ill treatment, Miyo is a profoundly damaged girl. Her years of mistreatment have led to her believing herself unworthy of being basic dignity, let alone love.

On the other hand is Kiyoka, a man who has no interest in living in the luxury that someone of his station would typically enjoy, which is a direct clash with the expectations of the high-class families who have tried to court him as a husband for their daughters. A string of bad experiences has left him cold and distant, convinced that there’s no such thing as love.

Both characters are ultimately wrong, of course, and it’s very heartwarming seeing them open up to each other as they grow over the course of the story.

I wish I had written this sooner because I might have been able to articulate just what it was about the writing style that clicked with me so well. I found it easy to sit down and get totally engrossed in the story, and the prose had a nice rhythm or flow to it that I just really enjoyed. While they aren’t really that similar, I was somehow reminded of ねねね, one of my favorite manga. Something about it gave me the same happy contented feeling I’ve been chasing since finishing ねねね over a year ago.

Between finishing the book and writing this post, an English translation has actually been announced. It’ll be available in December this year, so I highly recommend checking it out.