Tuesday, June 1, 2010


「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"))

1 comment :

  1. Secondary literature can be neat, depends on how I interest myself in the topic. I'll dance a jig once I can really start reading my secondary literature for my bachelor thesis instead of working on assignments from my annoying subsidiary subject. Which I won't have anything to do with anymore once I enter next semester...

    Those are also responsible for me being kind of stuck in the second half of 吸血の家... Seriously, Nikaidou's central works are already referenciating enough, but Dr. Zouka is the cherry on the cake. Meta-fiction by Nikaidou feels kind of unexpected though. Ah, there's so many stuff I'll have to pick up once I'm over there...