Sunday, May 29, 2016

Over Drive

熱く燃やせ 奇跡を起こせ
誓いあった 遥かな銀河 

Embracing the Cosmos of your heart
Burn it high and make a miracle happen
We won't just stay wounded
This we swear to each other in this faraway galaxy
"Pegasus Fantasy" (Make-Up)
I do have to say though, the cover art for the pockets of the G series look very nice. I have no idea what is going on, but I really love the style.

G series
1) φ wa Kowareta ne - Path Connected φ Broke
2) θ wa Asonde Kureta yo - Another Playmate θ
3) τ ni Naru Made Matte - Please Stay Until τ
4) ε Ni Chikatte - Swearing on Solemn ε

To the outside world, the fact that Yamabuki Satsuki and Kabeya Megumi travel back together from Tokyo to Nagoya in the same night-bus might seem a bit suspicious. Especially as Megumi already told her friends she went to Disneyland. But both of them being in Tokyo was really just a coincidence, and there's nothing strange about two friends taking the same bus back home, right? But the two of them regret having stepped on the bus when a man hijacks the bus, threatening the passengers (in an awfully polite manner actually) with a pistol and bombs. The police is also aware of the hijack and an investigation into the passenger list of the bus leads to the discovery that most of the passengers were all members of a religious sect called Swearing on Solemn ε, which is also the English subtitle to Mori Hiroshi's ε Ni Chikatte (2006).

ε Ni Chikatte is the fourth volume in Mori Hiroshi's G series, which is starting to become my go-to series whenever I want something short and easy to read (the G series itself being a spin-off of the S&M series) Sometimes it's just good to have a back-up series like this. That said though, the G series is far from a perfect series, though luckily, this fourth volume manages to bring something fresh.

The biggest problem as of now with the series is that is conceived as a series. While each novel features a mystery to be solved, the motives for each of the murders is left in obscurity. Over the course of the first three novels, you slowly find out that some sort of religious sect is active on the internet, that the sect is using Greek letters (hence the name G series) and that somehow, this sect is connected to all the cases that happen in this series. But that means that each novel you're left with a lot of questions (as they work as hooks for the next volume), and while I can appreciate minimalistic detective stories, the G series isn't one; it is a 'normal' mystery storyline stretched out over a series of novels, resulting in a very slow pace of uncovering the main mystery. It also means that each individual volume feels incomplete, as if you're missing a crucial part of the story (because you do!).

ε Ni Chikatte does little to really further the main storyline, but at least it acknowledges the fact that something is going on and this volume also brings a completely type of mystery to the series. Up until now, the series was rather 'old-fashioned', featuring locked room murders and serial murders, but this time, we have a hijacking case. Even more, there is no obvious 'mystery' to solve in this story: while the reader is obviously aware that this is a detective novel and that something needs to be detected, the puzzle is not made immediately clear to the reader and part of the fun is finding out what is going on. The idea of a terrorist hostage situation reminds of the many, many hostage situations in Detective Conan and I must say that I thought the situation of ε Ni Chikatte was much more exciting than the closed circle serial murder case of the previous book.

When ε Ni Chikatte finally does show its cards, you're left with a mystery novel that actually manages to give the reader a surprise, despite the somewhat straightforward start. It is certainly a book that deserves a reread, as you'll see that it is actually an ingeniously plotted story. It does have some issues: by the time the whole business around the hijack case is unveiled, you will very probably think: why go through all that trouble? It sorta works in the context of the series, as previous novels have already set a precedent for doing things the hard way, but still, the question will cross your mind. And of course, questions surrounding the motive are left unanswered once again, leaving you with another unfinished story. The main, core set-up of the novel is good though and perhaps the most amusing in the series up until now.

I was a bit tired of the series after the last volume, but I have to admit that ε Ni Chikatte has made me a bit more enthusiastic. Sure, like all the volumes up until now it still refuses to answer some questions raised by the plot, but there are hints of finally moving forward with the main storyline. And the hijack case itself is surprisingly fun, even if it takes a while before the reader realizes what is going on. And that is what makes it so entertaining.

Original Japanese title(s): 森博嗣 『ε(イプシロン)に誓って SWEARING ON SOLEMN ε』

No comments :

Post a Comment