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.

Japanese reading report

This report will be a short one (because it’s late at night and I would like to go to bed) but I’m also putting it in now because I don’t want to wait until tomorrow — I’ve just finally finished 異世界食堂 vol. 1, one day before the end of the month and squeezing in just in time to avoid the shame of letting a whole month go by on Bookmeter with no apparent reading having been achieved.

This book was fun, though there were sections that really just dragged. The last chapter in particular was pretty bad honestly…the key guest is a samurai and uses 拙者 and でござる constantly. The chapter before last finally introduced Aletta, who I’ve been waiting for this entire time. Her chapter was nice and easy and I was able to get through it quickly despite it being a good ten pages longer than normal.

I’ll probably continue this series soon but will be holding off on long books at least until I get caught up with my yearly goal.

I also watched two episodes of 入間くん and one episode of Charlotte. Was hoping to do more but it’s been one of those weeks. Charlotte is fun (the little sister is a whole trip though) and my sister has been hounding me to watch it so that’ll probably end up taking priority.

I also read a bit more of 京都寺町三条のホームズ vol. 2, which has just become my main book. I’m hoping to finish it in two weeks; we’ll see how that actually ends up happening. I think I’ve mentioned it before but I really like the way the characters interact; they both speak very politely to each other all the time, but it’s friendly and natural, not stiff or textbooky. Considering all the dialect and antiques-related vocab it’s not a series I can recommend to just anyone, but I think it would be a great resource for learning natural speech.

Japanese reading report

Couldn’t stay on track with 異世界食堂 this week, thanks to getting sick Thursday night and just ごろごろ-ing round for the next few days. I did read chapters 14-16, so I could theoretically finish it next week without too much trouble, but I’m disappointed that I wasn’t able to wrap it up. Oh well.

I did manage to watch a lot of anime though; seasons 2 and 3 of 文豪ストレイドッグス, which were great despite there being lots of points that I didn’t quite track with, but when I was discussing the series as a whole with my sister after the fact I realized there wasn’t too much that I was actually in the dark about. I think I’d like to read the manga at some point anyway, so I’ll have plenty of time for review later.

I also watched seasons 1, 2, and 3 of 八十亀ちゃんかんさつにっき, though with each episode being just three minutes that’s barely two hours so it’s not as much as it seems. This one was fun; it’s basically a tourism anime but somehow seems less blatant than most. The various 名古屋-area dialects were pretty easy to understand and the little tidbits of local culture are always fun to learn about.

Last up I watched three episodes of 魔入りました!入間くん, which I’ve been curious about for a while now. It’s a pretty fun show. The first time I heard Clara I immediately assumed that I didn’t understand anything she said, and then was surprised when I realized I somehow did after all. Will likely continue watching it soon but I might be strongarmed into watching Charlotte instead so we’ll see what next week brings.

Japanese reading report

This week I stayed largely on track with 異世界食堂, reading chapters 9-13. Was planning on reading one chapter per day but didn’t end up being able to stick to it, so my volume is a bit lower than last week, but I should still be able to finish it by my next report. A few of these chapters featured scenarios that weren’t adapted for the first season of the anime as far as I remember, so it was a challenge speedreading them though I did pretty well I think. One of the chapters gave me particular trouble because the guests ended up being vampires, but the only clue was the word 冥府 and the fact that they couldn’t eat ガレオ, which turned out to be one of those silly “fantasy language” words for garlic. I figured I had missed something so I reread the first chunk of the chapter but no, I guess you’re just supposed to be left in the dark for a while.

I also picked away at 京都寺町三条のホームズ vol. 2 here and there, mostly just when I couldn’t read my paperback book for whatever reason. Only made it through the first three parts of chapter 1 (last week was the prologue) so far. Just mentioning this for posterity really; I’ll be focusing on it in earnest once I finish 異世界食堂.

Finished watching ジョジョの奇妙な冒険 part 4, and enjoyed it all. In my opinion this is the strongest final arc in any of the series that have been animated so far.

Also started and finished season one of 文豪ストレイドッグス, which I’ve often heard about but never gotten around to. I really like it and will be continuing with it right away. There’s a decent amount of it that goes over my head but I’m also planning to start using subs2srs cards to get caught up so I can talk shop with my sister. In the meantime, I’ve still learned a bunch of new words — some standouts are やつがれ (definitely the most extra pronoun I’ve run into so far) and 夜叉, neither of which I anticipate being very useful but hey, it’s fun to learn new things.

Japanese reading report

This week I mostly read 異世界食堂 chapters 3-8, just over 100 pages in total. I’m behind on my yearly novel goal again so I’ve imposed another ban on manga until I get caught up. This is a pretty long book and I’d like to hurry up and get through it, so I’m also making a concerted effort to read the way I do in English; scanning lines without subvocalizing at all. It’s going pretty well I think. At this point in the book each chapter is pretty standalone, with a new character and dish every time. Based on the anime I think it’ll branch out a little soon? looking forward to that (and wondering when Aletta will show up).

I also read about 10% of 京都寺町三条のホームズ vol. 2, which will be my main book when I finish 異世界食堂 (using this one to replace my bedtime manga). Whereas the anime introduced the Master Forger right in episode one, the book has only just now dropped its first hint. I think the anime covers the first three books and I’ll probably read 2 and 3 back to back, so I’m looking forward to catching up. It’s been a while since I read vol. 1 so I’m a little rusty with the antique vocabulary but it’s not too bad. Compared to 異世界食堂 I have a much harder time speedreading this one…I wonder if that’ll continue to be the case.

Also got back to my ジョジョの奇妙な冒険 rewatch; part 4 ep. 20-33. I totally forgot how weird the pacing is. I guess it makes sense for there to be time between Yoshikage’s escape and the point where they find him again, but the goofy hijinks seem a bit strangely placed.