Monday, June 28, 2010

『赤か、青か』

「えー、人間最後に頼れるのは運だけ」
『古畑任三郎: 赤か、青か』

"In the end, you can only rely on luck",

"Furuhata Ninzaburou: Red? Blue?"

For some reason, people here think I really, really like Higashino Keigo. Which is not true. I love his Meitantei Tenkaichi series, but setting that aside, it really depends on the book whether I like it or not. I like his easy writing and his characters, but at times he really doesn't feel like a detective writer.

Which does explain why he is one of the more prominent and better known detective writers.

But as I had to read a book for my Modern Japanese Literature course anyway, I chose a book by Higashino I had on my to-read list. A list tucked away in the depths of my memories, which I happened to remember while playing association games in my mind. But anyho~w.

Kaga Kyouichirou series
Sotsugyou ("Graduation") (1986)
Nemuri no Mori ("Forest of Sleep") (1989)
Dochiraka ga Kanojo wo Koroshita ("One of the Two Killed Her") (1996)
Akui ("Malice") (1996)
Watashi ga Kare wo Koroshita ("I Killed Him") (1999)
Uso wo Mou Hitotsu Dake ("One More Lie") (2000)
Akai Yubi ("Red Fingers")  (2006)
Shinzanmono ("Newcomer") (2009)
Kirin no Tsubasa ("The Wings of the Kirin") (2011)
Inori no Maku ga Oriru Toki ("When the Curtains of Hope Come Down") (2013)

The only reason Dochira ka ga kanojo wo koroshita ("One of the two killed her") stuck in my mind was that it's actually a detective novel without a clear ending. The author doesn't tell you who the murderer is. Which is interesting.

The story revolves around the investigation regarding the death of police officer Izumi's sister. While it seems like it was a suicide, Izumi has reason to think his sister was actually murdered. And he sets off to hunt down the murderer himself. He manages to find two suspects. His sister's ex-boyfriend. And his sister's best friend, who stole Izumi's sister's boyfriend away from her. Either of them killed Izumi's sister, but which of them?

There is of course a conclusion to this book, but it doesn't use names, so you're left to deduce the murderer yourself. There is a sealed afterword in the pocket version, a transcript of a meeting held after the hardcover release discussing the solution it seems, but that only serves as an extra hint to the solution, I gather from the web (I, with my strange love for books, don't really want to cut open the sealed part).

The solution is hidden nicely. (it seems a significant hint had been deleted in the pocket version. It's still deducible though) and while in hindsight, it's a very boring solution, Higashino at least uses it in an interesting way. Still, while you certainly have to deduce the solution,

And heck, until halfway in the book I really thought Izumi was the main character, but thenl I noticed this book was the fourth in the Kaga Kyouichirou series. Not the Izumi series. Which explained why that detective Kaga was bothering Izumi with questions all the time.

Kaga is sorta like a Furuhata Ninzaburou, a police detective who picks up on the little things and once zeroed in on a suspect, doesn't let them be. I'm reading a short story collection of the Kaga series at the moment, and there it really feels like Furuhata Ninzaburou. You don't get to read about the crime itself, but in every story you're following the suspect as he/she's getting bothered by Kaga. A lot.

In any case, the Kaga Kyouichirou series seems like a fun Higashino series. It's at least fair, unlike Galileo. 

Original Japanese title(s): 東野圭吾 『どちらかが彼女を殺した』

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

『ラスト・ダンス』

「事件は会議室で起きてるんじゃない、現場で起きてるんだ!」、青島俊作、『踊る大走査線 THE MOVIE』

"It's not happening in your conference rooms, it's happening here at the scene of the crime!", Aoshima Shunsaku, "Odoru Daisousasen THE MOVIE"

For some reason, I always manage to do absolutely nothing when I have an abundance of time and to do everything when I'm very busy. Maybe I'm someone who needs stimuli to actually work or something. And as I'm doing my research on detective fiction, I actually don't have time to read said detective fiction. It's mostly secondary literature.

Anyways, I somehow squeezed in an anthology which I had been wanting to read for some time now. Y no Higeki ("The Tragedy of Y") is of course inspired by the same-titled classic novel by Ellery Queen and features four authors with their own take on the theme of Y. The Tragedy of Y is immensely popular among the orthodox detective writers (for excellent reasons!), so I was very interested in how the homages to this classic would turn out. And while I'm not 100% sure there wasn't, I can't really remember a dying message being in The Tragedy of Y, so it's kinda strange that all four authors wrote stories featuring a dying message, but I guess that's part of the Queen legacy.

Arisugawa Arisu's Aru Y no Higeki ("A Certain Tragedy of Y") and Norizuki Rintarou's Equal Y no Higeki ("Equal Tragedy of Y") are the most classic stories within this anthology. Both writers are also well known Queen fans, so it shouldn't surprise their stories feel the most as a Queen story. Both stories deal with a dying message involving an Y and both stories spend a lot of time going through different interpretations of the message until the solution. Of the two, Arisugawa's story has a simple, yet effective solution, while Norizuki's story has more layers, but ends up somewhat convoluted. Yet both stories are entertaining takes on the Y theme.

Stranger were Shimoda Mayumi's "Dying Message Y" and Nikaidou Reito's "The Tragedy of Y - Increasing Y". Both stories feature meta-fiction detecting, making for some fantasy-like detective stories. While Shimoda's main story, concerning the suicide (?) of the girlfriend of the protagonist's classmate and the message "Y kills" is not very interesting and does not involve real detecting as far as I see it, the one-man theater play "The Alice in the Mirror" within the story is a cute meta-fiction detective story which might've been a fun story on it's own. But of course, having an Alice in Wonderland reference is quite Queenish. Nikaidou Reito's story is pure meta-fiction though, with the protagonists all introducing themselves to the reader, telling the reader why the stories is being written and even saying beforehand who will die in what way. Snarky remarks about how Nikaidou is actually more of a Dickson Carr fan or how Nikaidou doesn't really care about thinking about motives make it an amusing work. To continue the Carr-Queen mixture, Nikaidou makes this story a locked room murder, which has one of the more unbelievable solutions I've seen till now, but it really works within the context of a meta-fiction story. In any other setting, it would just be ridiculous. And the inclusion of a Dr. Zouka is hilarious for the Carr fan, especially as I didn't get the reference till it was explained (Dr. Fell in Japanese would be written as Dr. Fueru (フェル->フエル), which means increasing. And a synonyme for fueru (増える) is zouka (増加). Q.E.D.).

While the anthology is quite short with just 4 stories, none of them dissappointed, which is rare in an anthology. Long live (the) Queen. 

Original Japanese title(s): 『Yの悲劇』/有栖川有栖 「あるYの悲劇」/篠田真由美 「ダイイングメッセージ《Y》」/二階堂黎人 「Yの悲劇─「Y」がふえる」/法月綸太郎 「イコールYの悲劇」 

Today's song: 松本晃彦 (Matsumoto Akihiko) - Rhythm and Police (From: 踊る大走査線 ("Odoru Daisousasen"))

Murder is Easy

"Abridged (uh-brid'd) v. 1. To shorten by omissions while retaining the basic contents.
2. To reduce or lessen in duration.


Yu-Gi-Oh! (yŭgiô) n. 1. Japanese phrase meaning "Game King". 2. Popular children's card game played by adults. 3. Animé series based on a children's card game played by adults.",

"Yu-Gi-Oh: The Abridged Version"

Instead of a full account of the JLCC trip to Hita in the Oita prefecture, an abridged version. Without the funny voices though. Or America jokes.

Ontayakimura is a village famous for pottery. And it would be perfect for a Trick episode, being a totally isolated mountain village where you can't use mobile phones. And just two busses a day.

And having doors on the second floor for no reason (I doubt it'll snow there...).

After Ontayakimura , we went to Mamedamachi. The townscape of Mamedamachi is still a lot like in how it was in the Edo-period, but that's not what's interesting.

What's interesting, is the unagi.

Which is delicious. Even fried bones of unagi are great.

Afterwards, we finished by visiting the Sapporo Beer Factory. And yes. Free beer is available.

And now something completely different, playing Super Smash Bros. for the first time in maybe 5 years was awesome. Japanese people are good though. Way too good.