Title: 『告白』 (こくはく) Author: Kanae MINATO (湊かなえ) Published by 双葉文庫 (ふたばぶんこ) 317 pages
『告白』 is Kanae Minato’s debut novel and her most famous work. It has been translated into English by Stephen Snyder. There is a film adaptation directed by Tetsuya Nakashima (中島哲也) with Takako Matsu (松たか子) in the role of Yuko Moriguchi.
Wow, this book is so good, definitely one of my favourite mystery novels so far! Why on earth did I not read this book sooner? 😅 And how can this be a debut novel? 😮
To be honest, I did not love all Kanae Minato’s books that I have read, so I was not in a hurry to read 『告白』 even though I had it sitting on my shelf for years, and I knew that it was universally praised.
Reading this book has been quite a shock. It is so good! You are instantaneously dragged into the story by the first-person narrator’s voice and you just cannot stop reading. When the first chapter is over and you feel that you are already emotionally drained, you realise that things are only just starting and the rest will be much more disturbing.
Fantastic characters sudies
All the characters of the story are extremely complex, with very interesting personalities and emotional patterns. The mystery at the centre of the novel seems very simple at first, but once you hear several characters telling their version of the event, you start seeing the complex and subtle accumulations of triggers that have led to it. It was fascinating to see how the characters’ weaknesses influenced their behaviour.
I have rarely read a book that had me change my mind so many times. Kanae Minato really tricks the reader into forming preconceived and harsh opinions about characters to completely blow up your judgements in the next chapter.
What is disturbing is that this novel makes you understand the motivations that led to abominable acts, and even sympathise with their perpetrators. Reading this book really made me go through a lot of different emotional states, while being engrossing all along.
This is my latest book haul: 13 books / genre fiction only!
『逃げるな新人外科医』 and 『走れ外科医』 by Yujiro Nakayama (中山裕次郎) – 泣くな研修医シリーズ 2 and 3
I loved the first book of this series 『なくな研修医』, and when I heard that there was a second volume, I knew I had to read it as well. When I ordered it, I saw that a third book had just came out, so I had to get it too 🥰 I don’t know if there will be other books in this series or if it is just going to be a trilogy.
A drama adaptation is just coming out, I’ll try to watch it when I finish the books!
『空飛ぶタイヤ』 by Jun Ikeido (池井戸潤)
This will be my second book by Jun Ikeido, and similarly to the first one, I feel a little apprehensive. First because it is very long (900 pages!) and also because there will be a lot of economics in this novel. I hope that it will not be too difficult for me to read in Japanese, but even if it is, I will not give up!
『空飛ぶタイヤ』 has been recommended to me on Twitter, and it is one of Jun Ikeido’s most famous novels as well. It has excellent reviews on Amazon, and I am sure that I will love it.
You can buy either the whole novel in one book or two separate books (上 and 下), which I did because I don’t like holding thick or heavy books.
Mystery fiction / Detective novels
Stand alone novels
『犯罪者』 by Ai Ota (太田愛)
This book is 974 pages long 😱, and thankfully it comes in two separate books (上 and 下). To be honest, I don’t really feel like reading such a long book, but the problem is that I bought another novel by this author during my previous book haul: 『幻夏』 . I did not realise that 『幻夏』 had to be read after 『犯罪者』. I don’t know exactly how the two stories are connected (it does not seem to be a series), but apparently, you need to read 『犯罪者』 first.
Thankfully, someone pointed this crucial information to me on Twitter, when I was talking about my last book haul. I put 『幻夏』 aside and was waiting for my next order to get 『犯罪者』.
『犯罪者』 has very good reviews, so I hope I will like it. I haven’t read the summary because I find that they tend to reveal too much, and I like diving into a story with zero previous knowledge of it.
『聖母』 by Rikako Akiyoshi (秋吉理香子)
I have never read this author before, but 『聖母』 has been recommended to me on Twitter some time ago, and I finally added it to my order! It looks like it is going to be a thriller, and it also looks like the kind of stories that I love reading.
I am also interested by other books by Rikako Akiyoshi. Her earlier books seem particularly interesting. If I like 『聖母』 , I will certainly add other titles to my list.
『完全犯罪に猫は何匹必要か？』 by Tokuya Higashigawa (東川篤哉) – 烏賊川市シリーズ 3
That’s the kind of title that I cannot resist. And the cover is so cute (illustration by Keiichi Arawi)!
『完全犯罪に猫は何匹必要か？』 is the third book in the Ikagawa city series, and I have set my heart on reading the whole series. I must admit that I was particularly excited about this one because it seems so intriguing and funny!
I loved the first book of the series, but the second one not so much. Hopefully, I will love this one!
『名もなき毒』 by Miyuki Miyabe (宮部みゆき) – 杉村三郎シリーズ 2
This is the second book in the Saburo Sugimura series, and I have read the first one so long ago that I don’t remember much about the story. I do remember loving the protagonist, Saburo Sugimura, and the author’s style, though I also found that the book was quite slow and lacked a bit of tension and suspense.
This book is quite long (600 pages), so I hope that it will not be as slow as the first one! I will decide whether I continue the series or not after reading 『名もなき毒』 .
The publisher 文春 (Bunshun) has made a guide to the series that includes a list of characters that is very useful to me. It is worth noting that they added the furigana for each name, which I feel very thankful for as well.
『メゾン・ド・ポリス』 by Miaki Kato (加藤実秋) – メゾン・ド・ポリスシリーズ 2
The first book of the Maison de Police series was published in 2018, and the 6th book has just been released (March 2021)! This means that Miaki Kato has written more than one book per year for the series, which seems a lot to me.
The first book was a collection of several cases, and the second book seems to be the same. This is perfect to me because I can read one story from time to time when I need to take a break from longer books.
『真夏の方程式』 by Keigo Higashino (東野圭吾) – ガリレオシリーズ 6
First of all, the cover? 😳 It looks like a computer program randomly chose a picture from a free image website based on the word “Summer” from the title. Not only does this cover looks like a cheap commercial for a travel agency, but it also departs from the other books of the series which all have a similar vibe to their cover 🤔
Anyway, the only thing I want from this book is a nice role for detective Kusanagi. If you follow my blog, you know that I don’t like how this character was portrayed in the previous books. He used to be my favourite character of the series (I am not a fan of professor Yukawa), so it is a bit sad to see him turning into a stubborn and not so good police officer.
I am slowly catching up with the Galileo series, I might even be able to finish it this year. I think it would be fun to read the last book around the same time when its English translation gets released (announced for December 14th by Macmillan).
『 真夏の方程式 』 has been translated into English by Alexander O. Smith under the title A Midsummer’s Equation.
『プレゼント』 and 『依頼人は死んだ』 by Nanami Wakatake (若竹七海) – 葉村晶シリーズ 1 and 2
I have been wanting to start the Akira Hamura series for a long time but never got around to doing it. I am almost certain that I will love this series so I decided to buy the first and the second book together.
I haven’t read the summary on the back covers and the only thing I know about this series is that detective Akira Hamura is extremely unlucky, though good at her work. I don’t know if the books will be humoristic or not, but they look intriguing.
『最後の証人』 by Yuko Yuzuki (柚月裕子) – 佐方貞人シリーズ 1
This is the first book of the Sadato Sakata series. I have read the second book of the series and loved it. It was a collection of short stories, whereas 『最後の証人』 is a novel.
It looks like the first book is the only novel of the series. If I understood correctly, Sadato Sakata is a lawyer in this book, but he used to be a prosecutor. The other 3 books of the series all seem to be collections of short stories taking place when Sakata was still a prosecutor. This looks like a strange format where the first book would be the present time and the other ones would all be set in the past.
『占星術殺人事件』 by Soji Shimada (島田荘司) – 御手洗潔シリーズ 1
This is the first book in the Kiyoshi Mitarai series, and it has been translated into English by Ross and Shika Mackenzie under the title The Tokyo Zodiac Murders.
Soji Shimada has written a lot of mystery novels and this series is very popular, so it’s not clear why I haven’t read it yet. I don’t know much about the series, and I haven’t read the summary of this book, so I really don’t know what to expect.
The edition I have says its a revised complete version (改訂完全版), but I don’t know what it means concretely. It also looks like they are not going to reprint all the books of the series with this revised edition. I have searched through Kodansha’s website and it looks like only the first, second and sixth books of the series have been re-published for now. The fact that they are not reprinting the books in order makes me think that only some titles will get a revised edition.
I know it’s not the end of the world, but if I am to read the whole series, I would be happier if all the books where the same edition – revised or not – just all the same 😩
And that’s it! I have enough books to keep me occupied for the next months 🙂
Title: 『満願』 (まんがん) Author: Honobu Yonezawa (米澤穂信) Published by 新潮文庫 422 pages
This is a collection of short stories that got the first place in three different rankings for mystery novels: 週刊文春ミステリーベスト10, このミステリーがすごい！and ミステリが読みたい
The short stories in this book are really great, and they all have a surprising ending.
When it comes to mystery fiction, I prefer when there is a tension building up throughout the story, and I don’t mind that much if the end is not that great, as long as the whole story was suspenseful.
The short stories in 『満願』 are the opposite. Some are rather slow-paced and focus more on the characters involved in the case than the case itself. And while the end is always good and surprising, some stories felt a bit long to me.
This is true for the first short story, 夜警 (やけい) for example. I did not love it at first because it did not feel like reading a mystery novel, but the end really caught me by surprise. 万灯 (まんとう), which might be the best short story of the book, was similarly quite slow and not really the kind of stories I wanted to read, event though the end was very good.
Not easy to identify with the protagonists
What all these short stories have in common is that they are told by a first-person narrator. I found that I had a hard time identifying with the protagonist-narrator or the other characters of the stories. Sometimes, I just could not understand why characters would make certain choices or act like they do. This is especially true for 柘榴 (ざくろ), which puzzled me a little. Similarly, I had difficulties feeling involved in the characters of 満願 (まんがん), the last short story of the book.
I find that the capacity for the reader to identify with protagonists of mystery novels is part of the thrill. You end up thinking “this could have happened to me” or “I would have done the same in this situation and end up in the same mess”. So not being able to feel close to the characters somewhat affected my experience with the stories.
Favourite short stories
While I overall liked all the stories, there are some that I truly loved. I found 死人宿 to be very engrossing because it feels like reading a detective story. And my favourite story is by far 関守. I found it so good, I would be happy to read this kind of stories every day. It is only based on one long dialogue and is overall an engrossing investigation. It also has a kind of tension building up and an excellent end as well.
I think that the short stories of 『満願』 are all excellent, but because I could not feel close to most of the characters, I did not enjoy the book as much as most people. The short story 関守 however, is one my favourite reads of the year.
Illustration inspired by 万灯: 「ボイシャク村の様相は、バングラデシュの他の村に比べて特に変わっているわけではなかった。屋根は茅のような植物を束ねたもので葺かれており、壁材には竹が目立つ。葉の大きい木々が村のすぐ近くまで迫り、風に揺られている。」 (p.200)
I thought it could be fun to list the longest and shortest books I have read in Japanese so far and see which ones were the easiest. I list novels only, so no non-fiction and no short stories or essays.
5 Longest novels I have read in Japanese (over 500 pages)
727 pages:『アキラとあきら』 by Jun Ikeido 池井戸潤 – Business novel
This is one of my favourite books! It was not difficult to read overall, but there is a lot of economic stuff in it, so some passages ended up being quite a challenge to me. If you are familiar with anything related to bank loans and investments – and know the vocabulary in Japanese – this book should be quite an easy read. If not, there are a lot of recurring words, so the book becomes easier as you get used to the specialised vocabulary.
617 pages: 『流星の絆』 by Keigo Higashino 東野圭吾 – Mystery novel
I read this one a long time ago, and I don’t remember the story well. I feel like this is not my favourite Higashino overall, but it is hard to remember what I disliked in the novel. In any case, Higashino’s writing style is so fluid that this book did not feel like a 600 pages book at all. I did not have difficulty reading this book, even though it belongs to one of my earlier readings.
595 pages: 『ノルウェイの森』 by Haruki Murakami 村上春樹 – Coming of age novel
This book was a big surprise in terms of Japanese level. I was shocked at how easy it was to read. The Japanese level is not high at all (I would say you can read it with a good N3 level?), and Murakami’s style is so easy to read, so smooth and agreeable. I really enjoyed the writing style, but the story not so much. Overall, I was not a fan of this novel, but I learned that Murakami is very easy to read in Japanese, something I wish I had known sooner…
562 pages: 『パラドックス13』 by Keigo Higashino 東野圭吾 – SF
I remember loving this book, and similarly to the previous one, it did not feel like reading a long book at all. After an inexplicable phenomenon, everyone seems to have disappeared from the surface of the earth except for a bunch of people who will have to survive together. The SF elements are just there to set up the story, but the novel is more about how people will manage (or not) to get along with each other. I don’t usually read SF, but I really loved this book, and I found it easy to read (I was studying for the JLPT N2 at the time).
535 pages: 『罪の声』 by Takeshi Shiota 塩田武士 – Mysterynovel
This one is the most difficult book of the “long books”, and it did feel like a long book! The story is about an extorsion case and is inspired by a true event. I found that some passages felt quite long, there are a lot of characters to remember and the case is rather complex. Overall, I loved this story, but this one did feel like reading a long book!
5 Shortest books I have read in Japanese (under 200 pages)
For a work of literary fiction (and a winner of the Akutagawa Prize), this book was not as difficult to read as I expected, but it is still more difficult than the “long” books listed above. It is a great novel that I heartily recommend. If you think that it might be too difficult to read in Japanese, you could read it in parallel with its English translation by Ginny Tapley Takemori.
This short novel is by far the most difficult book of the list! I read it in parallel with the excellent translation by Morgan Giles, and I am pretty sure that I would have given up if I had read the Japanese alone. Some passages were quite difficult with long explanatory or descriptive passages, and overall I think that I just don’t like Miri Yu’s writing style.
This is the only DNF of the list. I did not make it very far in this novel, it was difficult to read, I did not like the author’s style and the story did not interest me much either. That was quite some time ago, so I guess that I would be able to enjoy it more now that my Japanese is better, but I don’t really feel like picking it again.
Also a Akutagawa Prize winner, this book might not be very difficult, but it is not easy either. Its length, its topic and the fact that Risa Wataya was very young when she wrote it made me think that this book would be easier than it really is. When I tried to read it the first time, I gave up because I could not go pass the first pages – it was much too difficult for my level at the time. I came back to it not long ago, and I found the beginning a bit challenging, so no wonder that I gave up the first time.
189 pages: 『僕たちはみんな大人たちになれなかった』 by Moegara 燃え殻 – Literary Fiction
This might not be the most difficult book I have read in Japanese, but it is one that felt difficult to read. I read it quite a long time ago, and my level was not very high at the time. Maybe I should re-read it today, but this novel struck me as being difficult to get into if you didn’t share the author’s references. Overall, I was not able to really enjoy this book.
If we were to compare the hours I spent reading all these books, I am pretty sure that it took me more time to read the 5 short books than the 5 longer ones.
It seems obvious that a short book is not necessarily an easy one and that longer books are not necessarily difficult, but when you are a language learner looking for easy books to read, it is tempting to go for shorter ones. If I could go back in time and give myself some advice, I would recommend to avoid picking books just because they “look” easy. Don’t pick a book just because it is super short, the title inspires you and the cover looks cool (I’m looking at you 僕たちはみんな大人たちになれなかった).
If everybody is talking about a book because it just got translated or won a literary prize, I will be tempted to read it, but these books are often not the easiest to read. I bought 火花 during one of my trips to Japan, it had won the Akutagawa prize and just got its bunko version, and there were piles of it in every single bookshop I went to. If I had made some research about the book instead of letting myself be lured by its beautiful cover, I would have realised that it was above my level and that the story was not for me anyway.
On the contrary, I should not be intimidated by longer books if they belong to a genre I am truly passionate about. Even now that I am used to reading genre fiction in Japanese, I still tend to avoid books over 500 pages. Seeing how quickly I devoured the 700 pages of アキラとあきら, I feel more confident in buying longer novels now.
Anyway, I find this list very interesting. I did not try to put easier books in the long books list and difficult ones in the short books list. I simply went over all the books I have read, and the longer ones happened to be the easier ones, while the shorter ones were all challenging works of literary fiction, including books I found very difficult and a DNF.
Title: 『アキラとあきら』 Author: Jun Ikeido 池井戸潤 Published by 集英社文庫 720 pages
Jun Ikeido is a popular author of business novels, most of which have been adapted into drama. Published in 2017, 『アキラとあきら』 it one of his most recent novels.
There is a one volume edition and a two-volume edition. I bought the two-books edition and found that the summary of the second book reveals too much. I heartily recommend to not read it!
There is a drama adaptation featuring Osamu Mukai 向井理 and Takumi Saito 斎藤工.
Akira Yamazaki and Akira Kaido could not have more opposite background: Yamazaki has grown up near his father’s small factory in a rural area, while Kaido’s father is the director of one of Japan’s biggest steamship companies. We follow them over several years, as they navigate the dramatic changes that have shaped Japan’s economy from the 70s to the 90s.
Easy to understand and suspenseful
This is the first business novel I read, and I was very surprised by how engrossing all this bank stuff can be! I know nothing about finance, and I was afraid I would have a hard time following the story, but the book turned out to be quite easy to follow, even for newbies like me. Jun Ikeido really makes a great job at making all the financial intrigues and conversations very accessible even if you are not familiar to these kinds of topics.
It is also super engrossing! I would have thought that bank loans and investments would be boring topics for a novel, but the truth is that I could not put down the book. I am not sure that you can classify 『アキラとあきら』 as a financial thriller – as there is no real financial crime in it, but it does have a good dose of suspense in it.
Not as much about friendship than business
The reason why I bought this book even though I am not particularly interested in finance, is because I thought it would be more about friendship and rivalry between the two protagonists.
Actually, and contrary to the drama, Kaido and Yamazaki are very rarely together, and they meet for business only. This book is mostly about business and apart from passages dedicated to the two Akira’s youth, there is not much going on in terms of private life.
Long but too short!
This book is the longest book I have read in Japanese, but it almost felt too short! It is so good that I wanted it to last longer and tell me more about the main characters. The end, especially, while quite good, felt a little abrupt. I was thinking: “what, is that it? But what happens next? Is there a second volume?”. I could not help but wanting more business adventures with the two Akiras.
Good guys and bad guys
The only thing that I did not like that much in the novel is that characters can be quite stereotyped. The characters’ actions and intentions lack some depth in my opinion. Good characters do good things because they are kind and smart, and bad characters do bad things because they are greedy and/or stupid.
As such, reading this novel often felt like watching a drama with characters falling into predefined roles, which annoyed me a little.
I said that all the business-related passages were easy to follow, but obviously, reading them in Japanese makes everything much more complicated. I recognised a lot of words that I learned when I was preparing for the JLPT N1, but still, I had to look up a bunch of other new words. I also had to re-read some passages several times and make an effort to understand them.
The non-business related passages are not particularly difficult, but there are a lot of conversations around investments, loans and management, so you have to be prepared for some dictionary work if you are not already familiar with tackling these topics in Japanese.
『アキラとあきら』 is definitely one of my favourite books read in Japanese so far, and I heartily recommend it! If you are new to business novels like me, this one is a really good place to start as we learn everything together with Kaido and Yamazaki as they grow up.
This is my first Jun Ikeido but certainly not my last, I cannot wait to read more by this author 🙂
(I made the drawing of this post using a scene from the drama.)
I have only read two novels in March, so it’s time for me to refocus on reading more books. Here are my plans for April:
Kogoro Akechi 4 🕵️♂️🔎
Of course, I will continue with my reading challenge and read the fourth volume of the Kogoro Akechi. It is a novel of 292 pages, so hopefully I will not spend too much time reading it.
Book Haul 📚💸
Best thing to do to get back into reading is to buy tons of books! I have ordered 15 books, all novels! Some titles belongs to series I want to continue, and some were recommended to me on Twitter.
2 books from my TBR pile 📕💤
And while I wait for my order to arrive, my goal is to read some books I have on my TBR pile. This includes 『満願』 by Honobu Yonezawa (米澤穂信) and 『告白』 by Kanae Minato (湊かなえ), which I bought years ago and still haven’t read 😅
Bookshelves Cleaning 🕸🧹
My bookshelves are a real mess right now, with too little room for too many books and no particular order. I will have to re-arrange everything to accommodate the new books.
New site design 💻🌄
I have been writing my blog for 4 years now, and I start being a little tired of how it looks.
I am trying out different themes (the former one was Zuki by Elma Studio), so things might look a little chaotic on my blog right now.
I also want to try a new drawing style and give my blog a more mature look. I am also working on the tags, which is something I have always neglected.
I had a bit of a reading slump in February, so I decided to try something new in March and read something I don’t usually read: manga!
It worked well at first, but I only bought digital copies, and I found that reading manga on screen was extremely tiring to the eyes. I often ended up with a headache if I read for too long, and as a result, I did not read as much as I wanted and went back to reading novels towards the end of the month.
死役所 by あずみきし
When people die, they go to the 市役所 where they go through administrative formalities in order to pursue their journey toward death, either going to heaven or to hell. No matter if people died in an accident, were killed or committed suicide, they all have their story to tell.
This is my favourite manga read this month. It is about death of course, but also about life, regrets, love, and the touching story of ordinary people. We only stay with each character for a couple of episodes, but their stories are extremely impactful, the kind of stories that you remember for a long time after closing the book. Some are heart-wrenching, some deal with difficult topics like suicide or the death of young children, but there is also hope and warmth there as well. Overall, the manga is incredibly emotional, and reflects our society very well.
クイズ！ 正義の選択 by 杉野アキユキ
Imagine a TV quiz program with two candidates. Each candidate can choose a reward that will be granted if they win. The TV program chooses a sanction that the candidates has to pay if they loose. The quiz is so designed that only one person can win, and the other will lose, and both candidates have to reach an agreement on how they will answer…
I loved this manga so much! The idea behind the quiz is very good, and I find this kind of situation fascinating: what will people choose when they are faced with their interest on one side, and the interest of their loved one on the other side? how far do they trust each other? What is stronger, fear of retribution? greed? trust? or selfishness? This manga was really addictive to me, highly entertaining, each episode having its own surprising ending. Highly recommended if you like this genre!
テセウスの船 by Toshiya Higashimoto (東元俊哉)
Life has not been easy for Shin Tamura: growing up as the son of a mass murderer meant constant bullying and house moving. When Shin becomes a father himself, he decides to visit his father in prison but finds himself back in 1989, the year of the murders…
This story is extremely engrossing, it contains both an excellent crime mystery, a good setting, and characters that the reader will easily care about. Mixing a murder mystery with time travel makes for a really suspenseful story. Prevent incidents, change the past, find the murderer… our protagonist has a lot to do! This manga is not only a suspenseful mystery, it also shows how difficult life can be for family members of a convict. All the characters of the manga have a lot of depth, and there are some emotional moments there as well. Highly recommended!
モンキーピーク by Koji Shinasaka (志名坂高次) and 粂田晃宏
After suffering a serious draw back, a pharmaceutical company sends all its employee to go hiking at Mount Tanigawa, the deadliest mountain in Japan, to strengthen the team and mark a new beginning. The group is soon attacked by a giant monkey holding a machete…
I love horror stories, but it has been a while since I read one. I found this one very addictive, though I did not find it very scary. I was particularly unimpressed by the monkey, which is supposed to be the spooky character of the manga. What I loved the most is the survival aspect of the story: how to manage being lost, lacking water, suffering from the cold, etc. To me, Mont Tanigawa was more scary than the monkey. I also loved to see how the team evolved, how each character’s true nature is revealed in a situation of crisis, and how people start to turn against each other. Great manga, if you don’t mind a little bit of gore!
ブラックジャックによろしく by Shuho Sato (佐藤秀峰)
Eijiro is starting his training as an intern and learns the hard way that a hospital is not merely a place to save people’s life: it is also a place ruled by money, complex administrative procedures and even some unscrupulous doctors. Decisions made are not always for the patient’s best, and Eijiro will have to choose what kind of doctor he wants to be.
This manga was first published by Kodansha in 2002. In 2012, Shuho Sato broke his contract with Kodansha and digitally released his manga royalty-free, meaning that anyone can read, translate, adapt or use the series freely. As a result, you can easily find the manga online for free if you are interested in reading it.
I am really enjoying this manga so far (I haven’t finished it yet). It is easy to identify with the protagonist and we learn a lot about Japan medical system along the way, and some revelations are horrifying. The manga was published 20 years ago, so things may have changed, but apparently some haven’t.
I recently read a novel on a similar topic, 『泣くな研修医』 by Yujiro Nakayama (中山裕次郎) , and this novel was published in 2019. Both the manga and the novel have a similar episode about the reticence to use public money to provide life-prolonging treatment to patients that are going to die, especially elderly patients. This is something that is described in very similar ways both in the manga (2002) and in Yujiro Nakayama’s novel (2019). In both stories the protagonists are asked to let a patient die when providing treatment or performing an operation could give the patient more months or years to live. The reason given is money. To say it plainly, the hospital doesn’t want to waste public money on elderly patients near death.
In Yujiro Nakayama’s novel, our protagonist is told じゃあ、入院費と手術代、何十万円も税金で負担して治療する？ This is echoing what Eijiro hears from his senior:
This is just an example of the numerous shocking truths that Eijiro is confronted to during his internship.
Overall, I really enjoy this manga, even though I find the drawings sometimes a bit too dramatic.
There is a follow-up to the series called 新ブラックジャックによろしく (9 volumes) and published in 2010.
蜘蛛男 by Edogawa Rampo (江戸川乱歩)
This is the third book of the Kogoro Akechi series and I start getting used to Edogawa Rampo’s style. The story is excellent and I found that I could read it quite easily. As usual, the most difficult parts were actions scenes, but overall, I didn’t struggle too much.
I find that reading the books of the series always take me more time that other novels. If I read for the same amount of time, I will end up reading less pages when reading Akechi than a Keigo Higashino for example.
It certainly comes from the font being quite small in the edition I have, and because, overall, the books have longer blocks of text than contemporary crime fiction. There are long narrative or descriptive passages. Sometimes a character’s explanation will take several pages, whereas contemporary books tend to have more dialogues and shorter paragraphs. I even read books that had a line break after almost every sentence (!) which made the book extremely quick and easy to read. The Akechi series is the contrary, with blocks and blocks of text 😅
So while the book was only 350 pages long, it felt like reading a much longer book!
アキラとあきら by Jun Ikeido (池井戸潤)
And talking about long books, I have read my longest book in Japanese so far with アキラとあきら.
The novel is more than 700 pages long, and you can buy either the whole novel in one book or the split edition (two books of around 350 pages each).
I knew that this author writes business novels and I was afraid that reading about financial and economic topics in Japanese would be too ambitious (and maybe boring).
アキラとあきら certainly was the most difficult book I read this month, but it was not that difficult either, and most important thing: it was extremely engrossing (more about this in my book review!)
I know nothing about banks and company management, but I had no difficulty following the discussions and explanations in the book. Jun Ikeido managed to make everything accessible for people like who are complete newbies in this area, while still delivering a suspenseful, complex and engrossing story.
Some chapters were more difficult than others, but overall I always managed to follow the discussions. Of course, I had to look up words, but there is a lot of recurring vocabulary so things became easier very rapidly.
One thing that I found funny was to see a lot of words that I had learned for the JLPT N1, but that did not really made sense to me at the time. Learning economy-related vocabulary out of context for the JLPT was the most boring thing ever, but meeting these words again in context and seeing how they are used and what they really mean is rewarding and fun.
Overall, アキラとあきら is a fantastic novel that I heartily recommend.
Title: 『蜘蛛男』 (くもおとこ) Author: Edogawa Rampo (江戸川乱歩) Published by 集英社文庫 362 pages
『蜘蛛男』 is the third book and first novel in the Kogoro Akechi series as classified by this publisher.
I loved 『蜘蛛男』, it is a great detective story than fans of the genre will enjoy for sure. I really loved the atmosphere of the whole story, with its gruesome murder, a general feeling of fear, and a murderer who seems impossible to catch. It is full of machinations, and it was a delight to read. I must say that it is not very difficult to find out the key to the mystery, but this did not prevent me from enjoying the story.
Mysterious Kogoro Akechi
Kogoro Akechi appears very late in the novel. Overall, we don’t learn much about Akechi in this one, and I personally preferred the first short stories where the reader was much closer to Kogoro Akechi than we are now. It looks like the more famous Akechi becomes, the more difficult it is to follow him. For example, we know that he often goes abroad, but we don’t know for what purpose exactly. We’ll see how this develops in the next books.
The worst man in Tokyo
I find that contrary to contemporary detective novels that tend to be more realistic, the Akechi series mostly wants to impress and shock. We have here a villain who commits murder because he is inherently evil. I personally preferred the previous stories where people committed murders for various personal or contextual reasons.
A novel maybe a bit too long?
I found that the last third of the novel was not as intriguing and exciting as the rest. To be honest, I think that it would have been much better if the novel were shorter. As some point in the novel, when it seems that we come to a resolution, something happens that is not very credible, and we start all over again. I found this last part a little repetitive and was a bit disappointed in the end.
When it comes to evaluating the series, I would say that I preferred the short stories over the novella 『一寸法師』 and 『蜘蛛男』 which is the first and only novel I have read so far. It was still a great read though, and I am excited for the rest of the series!