Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Dream's End

「夢みたあとで」 (Garnet Crow)

After a long dream that made me feel like I was breaking apart...
"After the Dream" (Garnet Crow)

It's been years since I was so disappointed by a book...

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 
5) λ Ni Ha Ga Nai - λ Has No Teeth
6) η Na No Ni Yume No You - Dreamily in Spite of η.

At first, the dead man hanging from a high tree on the grounds of a shinto shrine appeared to be nothing more than a case of suicide. A strange case of suicide, sure, but still suicide. What was so peculiar about the victim's death was that he was hanging from a tree more then ten meters high. Which meant he must've climbed all the way up there to hang himself. But as there were no clues of a third party being involved, it appears it must be a suicide. The discovery of an ema plaque with the message "Dreamily in spite of η" changes everything though, as the students belonging to Assistant-Professor Kunieda's architecture research lab have been running into several mysterious murder cases that involve Greek letters. With more of these highly suspicious suicides happening one after another, the group tries to figure out why these deaths are happening in Mori Hiroshi's η Na No Ni Yume No You (2007), which also carries the English title Dreamily in Spite of η.

η Na No Ni Yume No You is the sixth novel in Mori's G series, which is named after the G in "Greek" letters that play a big role in each of the books. The series is written as one continous, ongoing storyline: each of the books feature a mystery that is solved over the course of that volume, but many questions, for example involving motives, are left unanswered at the end of each book, as they carry over to the next book. By now, we've learned that some sort of sect that is active on the internet forms the connection to the various books in this series, and that they use Greek letters, but that's basically all we know at this point, and each book provides more questions than answers. That means each individual volume feels incomplete and unsatisfying, I'm afraid, as crucial plot points are left untouched each time, and it's also not adviced to start in the middle of the series, as there are many references to previous cases and characters. η Na No Ni Yume No You is no exception to this.

In fact, I'd say η Na No Ni Yume No You is by far the worst book up until now. For while the previous books at least had fairly interesting core mystery plots that do get solved within the book (even if a lot of the why is left unexplained), this book's core plot can hardly be called a detective story! In the first chapter we're told about the seemingly odd suicide, which still has some alluring points, but this gets pushed back to the background for most of the book, only to be dragged up again for a split second near the end of the book. The proposed truth behind the case is absolutely ridiculous for a detective story, completely devoid of any hinting or build up. Given that previous books at least had a decent, if barren, mystery plot ( λ Ni Ha Ga Nai for example had a good mystery plot), it's inexplicable why η Na No Ni Yume No You's plot is so.... I can't even call it simple, because it's *simple* per se. The problem that this is in no way a plot that could be considered a fair tale of mystery, even if it purports to be so. The so-called mystery plot is nothing more than a device for the characters to have a conversation, and basically forgotten until a "solution" is proposed (not proven) that is basically an insult to the reader's time.

About eighty percent of the book is dedicated to a lot of talking between the various characters, of which there are a lot. Mori writes a lot of different series, but they are all connected, and the G series features characters from all those series. Saikawa and Moe from the S&M/The Perfect Insider series for example are basically still protagonists in the G series, with as much page-time as the three students that are supposed to be the main characters of this series. But we also get several guest characters from the V series. In fact, these cameos have never been as bad as in this novel, with not only references to earlier books in the G series, but also to the S&M and V series, making it very hard to follow for those not familiar with those Mori series. To be honest, I'm not that well-versed in the Mori-world myself, having only read a few of the books or seen some of the TV drama adaptations, and η Na No Ni Yume No You was a pretty vexing reading experience. Instead of focusing on the (meager) mystery plot, η Na No Ni Yume No You was (probably) trying to move the story forward, by connecting all those various series together, but the result was 1) a meager story that can't even be called a mystery story, 2) the protagonists of the G series basically pushed off-screen in favor of the characters from the previous series, 3) a confusing mid-section where the characters are busy talking about various events from other series that may or may not have any connection to the main storyline of the G series. Example: we are told in-depth about the airplane accident that killed Moe's parents again, even though it is an event that is connected to the S&M/The Perfect Insider series (the first book in the S&M series basically starts with a mention of the acccident), with no direct connection to the main case of η Na No Ni Yume No You.

There's actually little I can add to the above. η Na No Ni Yume No You is simply not a genuine mystery novel, and the whole narrative is convoluted because of the many characters from various of Mori's series talking about events that aren't even part of the G series. The result is a book that, in theory, is probably about tying all the series firmly together, but in practice is just a disappointing mess.

Original Japanese title(s): 森博嗣 『ηなのに夢のよう』


  1. After your recent comment on my blog, I was wondering what had disappointed you and can see where your coming from. Judging by what you wrote, this could have been the point in the series where I would have tapped out.

    1. Had this series been a TV series, this book might've worked as the one slower episode near the midway point that explores the story a bit more (and even then it'd be bad), but as a standalone mystery novel, it's horrible.