Monday, November 12, 2012


「こういう普通でない性格を、精神病というようですわね。だから、わたしは精神病なのでしょう。しかし、わたし自身は病気だなんて考えていません。人間の大 多数の性格や習慣が正しくて、それとちがったごく少数のものの性格は病気だときめてしまうことが、わたしにはまだよくわからないのです。正しいって、いっ たい、どういうことなのでしょうか。多数決なのでしょうか」

"My irregular nature, I think they call it a psychological disorder. So I am suffering from a psychological disorder. But I don't think I am mad at all. To say that the customs and minds of the majority of human kind is right and that the minority is mad, that is something I don't understand. What is right? Is it just majority rule?"

Oh wait, so I hadn't posted yet this month?

For some reason, I really thought I had posted one or two reviews already since entering November. Hmm. Anyway, today is just a Short Short, because these two books really don't offer enough for a longer review, but I do want to mention them. Assuming I won't forget it again, I have some more reviews coming up the following days. Of some fairly famous Japanese titles too. And I know that one of them, or at least an adaptation, is available in French too, so there, I occassionally do discuss stuff available outside of Japan!

The title of Onda Riku's Maze refers to a mysterious gigantic white structure is standing in the middle of a dried up riverbed in a mountainous area somewhere in Asia. It has gone by several names since ancient times: a sacred place, a place that can not be, a place that should not be. Nobody even knows whether the structure is a natural structure, or man-made. Inside the structure, winding walls make up a maze-like interior. Records exist of mysterious disappearances of people who dare to enter the structure, though there are also people who come back out of it alive. Why do some people disappear, whilst others seem to have no problem? A group of four people are sent to the structure, nicknamed toufu because of its form, to investigate it. But not to investigate what makes people disappear or why, only what the rules are for the disappearances.

What starts out as a story with a great, spooky atmosphere, suggesting a logical rule-deducing story in a science-fiction horror setting, sadly enough ends up as a very, very disappointing story where the solution to the mystery behind the toufu block manages to destroy every that was fun to the story up to that point. This story would have worked so much better as a real science-fiction horror mystery, rather than attempting to force a 'realistic' solution to it. The first part of the story is reminiscent of the town of Kurouzuchou in Itou Junji's famous manga Uzumaki (which is recommended reading!), both featuring a seemingly sentient location with (evil) designs on those who dare to enter it. This part is really good, and the parts where Mitsuru, the detective in Maze, tries to deduce the rules/conditions behind those who vanish from the toufu block are where the story shines.

But the ending is really horrible. And that's all I have on Maze's latter half.

Mari Yukiko's Futarigurui ("Folie à deux") on the other hand was awesome, even though it is very different from the books I normally read. It is a short story collection, all centered around disorders, delusions and the like, for example erotomania, mass hysteria and the titular Folie à deux. The first story introduces us to a succesful female writer who is being stalked by a man whose name happens to be the same as the protagonist of the writer's story, but the great thing about Futarigurui is that all the stories are interconnected.  The second story is for example about a little restaurant in a department store, which happens to be the place where the stalker from the first story works. At first, these stories seem only loosely connected, but as you progress in Futarigurui, you'll uncover more and more connections between the stories, and yes, the seperate stories actually make up one coherent whole story in the end.

It is somewhat reminiscent of the videogame 428 ~ Fuusa sareta Shibuya de, where seperate storylines make up one coherent story, though the interconnectivity in Futarigurui is not as complex. Though I have to say, the book can be quite confusing because there is a lot of jumping in time, and it does help to write down all the events that happen chronologically as you go.

But like I said, Futarigurui is very different from what I normally read. This is not a classic mystery novel in any sense: the stories are all structured around some mysterious / creepy event (the titular delusions and disorders), that are meant to captivate the reader by the use of surprise endings. But like I said, I liked Futarigurui quite a lot, not only because of the well-constructed overall story, but also because the individual stories are really fun. They're all about disorders and stuff, but the people suffering from them usually start out very normal. As the story progresses, they slowly start to change, but these changes are very natural and it wasn't rare for me to suddenly realize that I was totally sympathizing with the madness painted on these pages. Folie à deux it is!

Sorry for the short reviews, but like I said, interesting stuff coming up the following days (of course, by actually saying this, something is bound to pop up to prevent me from actually posting said interesting stuff in the following days).

Original Japanese title(s): 恩田陸 『Maze』, 真梨幸子 『ふたり狂い』

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