"I have to go over everything that's happened. I have to remember"
Another Code R: Journey into Lost Memories
Because there is a rule that blogs need lists at the end of the year, my annual lists of stuff as the final update this year! Read quite a lot this year. More than this blog can handle, actually! I think I've mentioned a couple of times that I've been working a bit ahead since early this year (around March), but would you believe that at a one review per week schedule (which is the usual pace here), I already have enough reviews lined up to last me into the second half of next year? I probably need to do something about that, maybe post twice a week (even if it doesn't really attract more viewers on the whole), or something else, but at this rate, I'll have two years worth of reviews standing by by the time I'll make my end-of-year-list next year! For this post, I'll only choose titles that have actually appeared on this blog already.
Anyway, onwards to the lists! As always, it's a mish-mash of categories I just feel like writing about.
Best Project Outside The Blog!
The Lure of the Green Door
Well, the best project outside the blog is obviously getting my translation of Norizuki Rintaro's The Lure of the Green Door published in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine. A rough version of it had been posted on this blog a long while ago, but now it's been officially published. More of these projects in the future hopefully. And a special mention of a short essay I wrote for Kyoto University Mystery Club's Whodunit Volume 5, which is a best-of collection of guess-the-criminal stories written by members between 2000~2014 (and some of the contributors have become professional writers in the meantime).
Best Detective Conan Film Seen in 2014!
Detective Conan: Dimensional Sniper
Hey, I usually see only one Detective Conan movie this year, but this year (or technically, late last year), there was also the Lupin the Third VS Detective Conan crossover film. At the best moments, Lupin the Third VS Detective Conan is the more enjoyable film perhaps (read: whenever Conan and Jigen are pretending to be father and son), but overall Dimensional Sniper is the better film hands down.
Best Courtroom Mystery Read/Played in 2014!
Kawaramachi Revoir (Van Madoy)
Always an interesting subgenre, and this year, I got through four of them. Berkeley's Trial and Error, Henry Cecil's Settled Out of Court, Van Madoy's Kawaramachi Revoir and the videogame Yuuzai X Muzai (Guilty X Innocent). Trial and Error and Settled out of Court were both great parodies on normal court mysteries and especially Settled out of Court was unexpectedly great, but I still choose Kawaramachi Revoir, because of the more complex deduction battles between prosecution and defense, the way it forms a finale to the Revoir series and the daring trick performed in the last trial.
Most Interesting Game. Played In 2014! But Probably Older!
Tantei Jinguuji Saburou: Tomoshibi ga Kienu Ma ni (Detective Jinguuji Saburou: Before The Light Fades) (PSX)
This year's detective games I played were a bit uneven. Games like Tantei Gakuen Q (GBA) and Web Mystery (Dreamcast) were just bad, while a game like Detective Conan: Phantom Rhapsody just didn't quite do what it should've done. For me, the final choice lay between Sherlock Holmes - Crimes and Punishments, which was a very enjoyable Holmes game with lots of potential with its deduction system and Tantei Jinguuji Saburou: Tomoshibi ga Kienu Ma ni, which was the accumulation of all the games in the series before it. In the end, I think I enjoyed Tomoshibi ga Kienu Ma ni the best: Crimes and Punishments aimed very high, but some missteps led to a gap between the ideas behind the game and the final product. Tomoshibi ga Kienu Ma ni on the other hand does everything it had set out to do in a fantastic way and makes a better impression as a whole package.
Oh, as for other non-detective games this year: Gakkou de Atta Kowai Hanashi S (Scary Stories That Happened at School S, PSX), Kurohyou 2 (Black Panther 2, PSP), E.X. Troopers (3DS) and Xenoblade Chronicles (Wii) were all great.
Most Interesting Never-Before Read Author! Of 2014
Kim Nae-song (with Main)
Okay, within any given year, I actually seldom read new writers, so the list of candidates isn't very long anyway. Authors I had never read before until this year include Yamaguchi Masaya, Henry Cecil, Jan Apon (of whom I read no less than four novels this year!), Amagi Hajime and Hayasaka Yabusaka (and some others). But the one I had the most fun with, and whom I want to read more is the author considered the father of the Korean detective story, Kim Nae-song. Main was a great detective-adventure, which might have been not extremely strong in the puzzle department, but I just loved the energy that went into it. The fact that Kim wrote both in Japanese and Korean, is also interesting and I'm pretty sure we'll see more of him on the blog.
The Best 'Trick'! Of 2014!
Trick TV Special 3
I love the ending of Trick - Final Stage, the last film in the long-lived comedy-mystery series, but overall, from the comedy to the mystery plot, Trick TV Special 3 was the better Trick production and one of the best episodes in the series ever.
The Best Trick! Of 2014!
Anraku Isu Tantei ON AIR (The Armchair Detective ON AIR) (Arisugawa Alice, Ayatsuji Yukito)
I love what is usually called a 'trick' in Japanese, though the meaning is a bit wider than the usual English meaning. From the actual mechanical trick to a locked room murder to simply the trap set by the author on the reader, it's all a trick. When I try to write my thoughts of a book, I often tend to write about the originality of a trick and how it was used in the story. Anyway, I read stories with some great tricks this years. From an original locked room in Abiko Takemaru's Ningyou wa Tent de Suiri Suru to the excellent usage of the format of the story (in this case; a voiced reading) in Norizuki Rintarou's Satsujin Pantomine, from the famous The House in Goblin Wood by Carr to the also infamous impossible Diecide in Amagi Hajime's Takamagara no Hanzai. Or what about the inverse mystery about something as trivial as stolen cakes in Yonezawa Honobu's Charlotte Dake wa Boku no Mono, or the absolutely shocking trick that almost seems to come out of nowhere in Hayasaka Yabusaka's Marumarumarumarumarumarumarumaru Satsujin Jiken. But I chose a TV production this time because it made so good use of its visual format. The thing pulled off in Anraku Isu Tantei ON AIR is one of the reasons I do reviews about detective fiction in any medium, rather than just focusing on books.
The Most Difficult Book Read. Ever!
Kokushikan Satsujin Jiken (The Black Death Mansion Murder Case) (Oguri Mushitarou)
Books you want to have read, but don't want to read? That's this. It might be hailed as one of the Three Occult Books of Japanese mystery fiction, it might be an example for a lot of modern Japanese detective novels, but oh, it's almost unreadable. The evil offspring of a detective novel and an occult encyclopedia. I read a comic version of the same book last month by the way and that was almost normal, but that in turn kinda went against the crazy atmosphere of this book.
The Just-Ten-In-No-Particular-Order-No-Comments List
- Youi Kinpeibai (The Bewitched Plum in the Golden Vase) (Yamada Fuutarou)
- Kawaramachi Revoir (Van Madoy)
- Egami Jirou no Dousatsu (The Insight of Egami Jirou) (Arisugawa Alice)
- Main (The Demon) (Kim Nae-song)
- Ikeru Shikabane no Shi (Death of the Living Dead) (Yamaguchi Masaya)
- Settled Out of Court (Henry Cecil)
- Handoutai Tantei Machina no Miteigina Bouken (The Undefined Adventures of Semiconductor Detective Machina) (Morikawa Tomoki)
- A Aiichirou no Tentou (The Fall of A Aiichirou) (Awasaka Tsumao)
- Trial and Error (Anthony Berkeley)
- Sweden Kan no Nazo (The Swedish Mansion Mystery) (Arisugawa Alice)