Wednesday, June 15, 2011


「僕は宇宙から吊革のようにぶら下がる真理を常に鼻先に見ている。こいつを右手で掴んで立っているから、このぎゅうぎゅうの満員電車が右に左にいくら揺れ ても、一向に平気なんだよ。君たちにはこの吊革が永久に目にいらないんだ。ほら、ここにあるのにね」

"I always see the truth in front of me, like one of those straps hanging in the train. Because I am holding it in my right hand, I'm always alright, no matter how much this jam-packed train moves left or right. But you never see the strap. Even though it's just there."
"A Story of A Knight"

Once again a book I'm sure I have read partially, because some parts are very familiar, but I never finished any of the stories here for some reason or another. All well, the last Mitarai Kiyoshi book I have here and as I don't plan to buy more books in the nearby future, the last Mitarai Kiyoshi review for the time being.

Mitarai Kiyoshi no Dance (Mitarai Kiyoshi's Dance) is the second short story collection in the series, after Mitarai Kiyoshi no Aisatsu.The stories are still written in the same formula: Ishioka Kazumi tells us about the strange cases he encounters with his roommate Mitarai Kiyoshi, a fortune-teller turned private detective. Like Holmes, Mitarai is a rather eccentric young man (and Ishioka suffers a lot) with a brilliant mind. In recent years, Mitarai has become quite famous, thanks to the books Ishioka publishes about their adventures. Mitarai fanclubs exist and in fact, the last story in this shory story collection, Kinkyou Houkoku ("Report of Recent Affairs") is not a mystery story, but a short essay where Ishioka gives in to the fans' demand and tells about what Mitarai has been doing lately, what he reads, how their apartment looks like etc. Cute for the fans of Mitarai as a person, but I'd rather have a mystery...

But there are of course crimes to be solved in this collection. It starts with Yamatakabou no Ikaros ("Icarus with a Bowler Hat"), a fun story about a question I had asked myself too: what are those doors in buildings for that lead to nothing but air? You know, on the outside of the buildings, you sometimes see doors that aren't connected to emergency stairways or anything at all. One artist thinks it's for a select group of people who can fly. All the pictures he draws contain a man dressed in a suit and bowler hat, flying. He says his wife can fly. And he thinks he himself can fly too. And the police is inclined to think he's right, when one day they find his dead body lying on electric lines hanging high above his apartment. A not too difficult crime, but just very amusing to read because of the developments and because Shimada's grand tricks are always fun to read.

The second story, Aru Kishi no Monogatari ("A Story of a Knight") is the best of the bunch. Ishioka tells Mitarai a story he picked up at a wedding, about the murder of a man many years ago who had betrayed his employees/friends and his own girlfriend for money. The four friends and the girlfriend had the motive. They had a gun in their possession. In fact, the girlfriend was all ready to shoot him. But it was impossible for any of them to have commited the murder: they were miles away and with the heaviest snowfall in times, they just couldn't have made it to the murder scene, even though they wanted to. Mitarai of course solves this crime of the past just by listening to the story. Another of Shimada's grand tricks, a bit unbelievable in the practical sense of things, but oh-so-much fun.

The final story Butoubyou ("Dance Fever") is the weakest story of the three and sadly enough the longest too. Mitarai is asked by an restaurant owner in Asakusa to investigate a tenant, an old man who seems to have the strange habit of suddenly dancing at night. Add in a bunch of other mysterious events (the tenant's son paying a fortune for the room, a murder of an old dentist the same day, and Mitarai becoming friends with some homeless people) and you have a big mystery for Ishioka, but anyone slightly familiar with the classics instantly knows what is going on. But the story keeps dragging on and on and on... The only thing nice about the story is the setting in old Asakusa (also in the opening story Yamatakabou no Ikaros), which recalled old Edogawa Rampo stories.

Two good stories, one boring story and a non-mystery. Not sure what to think about the collection. Buy it cheap and only read the first half of the book? 

Original Japanese title(s): 島田荘司 『御手洗潔のダンス』/「山高帽のイカロス」/「ある騎士の物語」/「舞踏病」/「近況報告」


  1. Don't you think it's about time you translate another short story? Preferable an impossible crime story! :)

  2. Oh, that's funny, I have been working on a translation this morning actually. Not an impossible crime story though. Actually, I think the main reason I chose the story in question was because it's short :P

  3. Owh nice! A forthcoming translation! Bundle them together with your other works into a nice .pdf =)