Light Novels: Kemono no Souja vol 3, Narcissu, 鳳神醫September 24, 2010 at 10:56 pm | Posted in Kino, Novels | 1 Comment
No, I have not been dead. I know there hasn’t been much updates this my blog recently, and I confess to being addicted to Recettear, the mindless item-selling and dungeon-raiding game. On the other hand, I have also been consuming a lot more light novels in the past week than I probably did in the 2~3 weeks before then. A few random words on some of the books I have read.
Kemono no Souja, written by Uehashi Nahoko, the next light novel author I love apart from Ono Fuyumi. I have loved her works ever since I first got into Seirei no Moribito from the Guardian series, and her next series Kemono no Souja doesn’t disappoint. For anyone who has watched the anime, it would be worth noting that all 52 episodes only cover the first 2 novels, and follows Erin as she attempts to learn more about the enigmas known as the Touda and the Ohju, aka the two strongest beasts in the world, and how she gets tangled in the country’s political feuds due to her bond with one of the Ohju in particular.
Volume 3, however, takes the story further when Erin was summoned to investigate the mysterious cause behind the mass deaths of Kiba in unrelated Touda-breeding villages. From there, she starts to question the past as she knows it and embarks on a journey to unravel the truth behind the war behind the Touda and Ohju during the time of the Founding King Je. The political feuds persist as long as Erin is able to command Lilan, and even her family is now caught up in the web as well.
Similar to Ono Fuyumi, Uehashi Nahoko is able to create a totally brilliant and fascinating world without engaging in lengthy monologues in her stories. It’s also not very often that we get to observe a protagonist’s growth from a 10-year-old kid witnessing her mother’s death to becoming a strong independent young adult and finally a mother who is still deeply involved in the country’s fate. Highly recommended for anyone who appreciates a good story.
Recommended to me by @karloring, Narcissu reminds me of Hanbun no Tsuki ga Noboru Sora with its hospital setting. However, while the latter narrates the tale of how a boy falls in love with a hospitalised girl who has given up all hope, and how throughout their pure innocent romance, the boy seeks to convince the girl to live on and find a meaning to life, Narcissu takes the other approach.
A young man and a young woman have both been diagnosed with terminal illnesses without having the chance to truly live much of their lives yet. Confined to their wards and slowly forgotten by their friends, the two meet each other on the seventh floor and run away on a journey across Japan, unwilling to die either at home or in the hospital, and without a specific destination… until the girl mentions that she would like to see the narcissus fields of southern Awaji Island.
I wasn’t particularly drawn to the story, but two aspects did left a deep impression on me – the characters’ attitude towards life, the world, and everything around them, and the ending. Knowing that there is no future ahead of them, the two of them have a rather nonchalant view of everything that they do – such as the times when the guy doesn’t hesitate to resort to not-exactly-legal means to obtain the money and fuel needed for the journey. While the ending is unexpected for me, I applaud the author for the daring approach and I won’t have accepted any other ending apart from this.
Narcissu is not usually the genre that I read (considering I love fantasy), but still a good read nonetheless.
Past experience has taught me not to be fooled by the fact that the third light novel I read, 鳳神醫 (Feng Shen Yi), was awarded the Bronze Award in the 2nd Taiwan Kadokawa Light Novel Contest, as such awards doesn’t always guarantee that I would like the book. However, the synopsis preyed on my weaknesses by hinting of a story taking place in ancient times akin to past China, with a fantasy setting in which the girl, aiming to be a Heavenly Doctor, has to communicate and work with the spirits of various forms of Chinese medicine to save the patients.
Like a kid discovering something new and amazing, I thoroughly enjoyed the entire story, even the parts in which Classical Chinese (文言文) is used instead of the usual Vernacular Chinese (白話文) these days, since it provides a more genuine reading experience. The author chooses to concentrate on developing the characters, and the background of the world that the girl has traveled to is gradually revealed throughout the span of the book.
If you are a Chinese reader interested in fantasy and are not deterred by the usage of Classical Chinese, this book will prove to be an excellent read. Hopefully there are going to be more books released by this author. If so, I can foresee the girl encountering a different member of the 5 families in each book, like how Shuurei is meeting the Eight Sages in Saiunkoku Monogatari.
More possible updates to come when I’m done with the other several untouched Kinokuniya bags. Whee~