Title: 『あの日の君に恋をした、そして』and 『そして、その日まで君を愛する』
Author: Koichi Nitori (似鳥航一)
285 pages + 285 pages
These two books are the two facets of the same story and tell the same events from two different points of view. The story is about a father and a son exchanging body when they both are 12 years-old, with a lap of 30 years in time. Natsuki wakes up in his father’s body, 30 years earlier, and Shu wakes up in Natsuki’s body 30 years later.
You can read the two books in any order, but obviously, your reading experience will be different depending on which book you read first.
The two books
I find the idea of the two books really excellent, and I would be happy to read more books like this in the future.
The stories are about time travelling and body exchange, but I find that these two topics were not really used to their full potential by the author. First of all, the fact that Natsuki and Shu wake up in each other’s body should give rise to comical or weird situations. The books are not really going in this direction though, everything happens smoothly for the two characters, with people barely noticing that they are not their usual self.
Additionally, the theme of time travelling in fiction raises tons of difficulties, and I think that writing this kind of stories is extremely difficult. I find that these two novels avoided the difficulties by simply ignoring them. For example, when it was convenient, what happened in the past would change the future, but other times, things would happen a certain way in the past because they had already happened like this in the future. I understand that these are relatively short books that have their story to tell, and the goal was not to develop on time travel. Nevertheless, it is easy to spot big plot holes and other things that simply do not work.
This being said, the focus of the two books is the story, not the time travel mechanism, so let’s have a look at each book:
Natsuki Saga, 12 years old, is knocked over by a truck when crossing a bridge and is thrown in the river. As he is about to drown, he wakes up in his father’s body when this one was 12. Now stuck 30 years earlier, Natsuki wonders if he can stop a serial killing that took place at the time and was never solved.
Based on the cover and the title, I was not excepting the story to tackle a serial killing. I was agreeably surprised and found the novel extremely entertaining.
This story has a good pace with things starting off very quickly. The mystery is good enough to make you want to continue reading, and I found overall that the story was very engaging. The time travel theme also adds interest to the story with a good twist in the middle.
I must say that some scenes felt like reading a book for children, and this book is certainly not the best mystery I have read so far, but overall, I had a lot of fun reading it. 『あの日の君に恋をした、そして』 makes for a quick and entertaining read, and I heartily recommend it if you are looking for an easy book in Japanese. I think it could be a good first novel to tackle for Japanese learners at a N3 level.
Shu Saga, 12 years-old, wakes up in his yet to be born son’s body, 30 years later. We follow him over the years as he gets closer to Natsuki’s cousin. An unexpected revelation will make things more complicated (or simpler?).
Contrary to あの日, this novel was rather uneventful… To be honest, I found it a bit boring and had a hard time finishing it, but I don’t think that it is less good than the other, it is just a matter of personal taste.
This story is told from Shu’s point of view, and it is a love story with a lot of everyday life scenes. I was constantly waiting for something to happen or for a big revelation that would give a complete new meaning to this book and the other… but apart from one interesting twist, nothing really happens…
There are some starts of plots, but they all end up leading to nothing, and we are left with what I found was quite a dull everyday life. This book only became exciting when it related to scenes that happened in the other book. Every time the novel connected with what happened in あの日, my interest was triggered, but the rest felt like filler to me.
While the two books are connected and should be read together, I loved one and did not like the other. I found that あの日の君に恋をした、そして overall makes more sense because what triggers the time travel happens in this novel. Reading it made me want to read the other one, but if I had started with そして、その日まで君を愛する, I probably would have given up halfway and never read the other one.
If you want to read only one of the two books, I recommend あの日の君に恋をした、そして because it can be read on its own, whereas I find that そして、その日まで君を愛する would not make much sense if read alone.
Both books were very easy to read, and I think that あの日の君に恋をした、そして can make for a very good first novel to read in Japanese.