Monday, November 28, 2011

『密室る(とじる)』

"The White Rabbit put on his spectacles. "Where shall I begin, please your Majesty?" he asked.
'Begin at the beginning,' the King said gravely, 'and go on till you come to the end: then stop.'"

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

The only reason I'm posting this review, is because I think four posts a month should be the minimum amount of posts here. About once a week on average. That's totally normal, right? All well, in two weeks I'll have time to read again, which will probably have some influence on the posting schedule. Oh, I'll think I write something about Kasai's critical work in the near future, as I actually am writing about him anyway for an end-of-term paper. Yes, totally going to re-hash material written for university.

Aaaaaaanyway. With the audio-drama of Swiss-dokei no Nazo turning out to be a pleasant surprise, my expectations for Momogore's audio drama adaption of Arisugawa Alice's 46 Banme no Misshitsu ("The 46th Locked Room") were pretty high. I have actually read the original work (and reviewed it) and found it be a very enjoyable novel. 46 Banme no Misshitsu has some novelty value because it is the first work in the writer Alice series, but it was also highly entertaining because it featured A) a villa-setting with a couple of detective novel writers and editors B) on Christmas. Experienced readers / listeners are naturally aware that adding factors A and B always ends in C) murder. Murders actually. In locked rooms. To be precise, two bodies are found shoved with their heads in the fireplace. Yes, there are less nasty ways to die than that. Anyway, like with The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword, I felt no objections to backtracking a bit to revisit this first adventure of Himura and Arisugawa.

I already mentioned it in my review of Swiss-dokei no Nazo, but some stories are better suited for an audio drama adaption than others. Despite being a (sorta mechanical) locked room mystery (in comparison to the pure reasoning-style in Swiss-dokei no Nazo), 46 Banme no Misshitsu is actually quite suitable for an audio adaption, I thought, so I was quite interested in this. Sadly enough, I don't think Momogre's adaption 46 Banme no Misshitsu works out that great. The voice-actors certainly performed their roles well and the foundation of the original story survives the conversion from the written text to the audio-play, but I feel that a lot of the 'fluff' that was cut (in order to keep the length of the drama in check) was actually very important to the atmosphere of the novel. With a group of detective writers and editors in one confined space, you simply need discussions on a meta-level on detective fiction, with a villa-in-the-snow setting you need a feeling of pressure, with a The Finishing Stroke-esque (Ellery Queen) storyline with mysterious 'pranks' being pulled on the guests, you need a certain feeling of madness, you need the fluff to really work out the story. Momogre's audio adaption, while not short, could have been improved a lot (when compared to the original story) with (at least) an extra half hour of play-length, I think. As it is now, you get the main points of the story and it's enjoyable nonetheless, but you miss out on a lot too.

This seems to lean towards old 'adaption = inferior' ideas (or "the film is never as good as the book!"), but I have listened to plenty of great audio drama adaptions of detectives (I really like BBC's adaption of the Poirot stories). A lot of those dramas are actually somewhere between two and two-and-a-half hours, which really makes me think that 46 Banme no Misshitsu could have been improved a lot with more running-time, allowing the story to develop on more levels (especially the first part should have been done more carefully).

On the other hand, I have the feeling that the main audience for Momogre's audio dramas doesn't consist out of mystery readers per se, which might explain the cutting of some of the meta-related discussions in the original story.

Oh, and now for something completely different. I think this is the first time I noticed background music being used in an audio-drama. I'll admit that I usually only listen to English-language audio dramas and have only listened to a handful of Japanese audio dramas, but all of these usually only featured theme-music at the beginning and ending; background music during the play itself is pretty rare. 46 Banme no Misshitsu featured relatively quite a lot of background music, which felt really weird. It suddenly felt much closer to something like a TV-series. But I'm probably the only one who found the inclusion of background music distracting... It's not a matter of good or bad, just unexpected.

I do understand I sound very negative about Momogre's 46 Banme no Misshitsu, which am I not actually. It's just easier to write reviews when you have something to complain about. While it's a bit skinnier than the original story, this is still an enjoyable locked room mystery by Arisugawa and the voice actors did a great job brining the story to life (once again narrator Arisugawa's voice actor steals the show IMHO).

And now to look for Momogre's adapation of Christie's The ABC Murders. Though I have to admit that I'm absolutely freaked out by the Poirot on the cover art for that.

Original Japanese title(s): モモグレ (原作:有栖川有栖) 『46番目の密室』

5 comments :

  1. You should use the upcoming holidays to finally read Lewis Carroll, unless you were serious when you said that you want to reconstruct both novels from the snippets of information that are scattered all over the mystery genre. Nah... you merely spoke in jest!

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  2. I still think it would be a very interesting experiment though. Like piecing Star Wars together solely from pop-culture references.

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  3. I'm well on my way when it comes to the second, so it is definitely possible.

    Hmmm, so you miss out on a lot of the atmosphere of the story huh. I'm sure they did it to keep the length in check, but it is till a pity.

    As for bgm in audio drama's, I'm quite used to it. Actually, I think most of the ones that I've listened to have it.

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  4. Considering my interests, a lot of the atmosphere of the story for me naturally came from the clear meta-references to other detective fiction. For other readers, these references might feel less important for the atmosphere though.

    And I just checked, but the Japanese audio dramas I have indeed have a lot more BGMs than I remembered they had ^_~ Wonder why this time the music felt so distinctly... present?

    Anyway, more directions to Japanese mystery audio dramas are always welcome ;P

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  5. Sadly, I don't know that many. I came across the モモグレ ones because they did a few other interesting adaptions of well known stories. But if I come across any others I'll definitely let you know.

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