Book review: 『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』by Koichi Nitori


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)
Publisher: メディアワークス文庫
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.

Book review: 『アンフィニシュトの書』 by Shinya Asashiro


Title: 『アンフィニシュトの書』 (The Unfinished Book)
Author: Shinya ASASHIRO (浅白深也)
Published by 電撃文庫

I could not find much information about this book or the author…


I bought this book to get into light novels (this is the first Dengeki book I read), and I was very surprised by how entertaining it was. When I chose this book, I thought it would be some kind of love story, and I was delighted when I realised that it was in fact a very nice mystery.

This being said, the story is very predictable and the mystery extremely easy to crack (in my opinion). At around one third of the book I was able to predict how the story would unfold and what would happen. Apart from some details and minor twists that I had not foreseen, the story did not have much to offer that I hadn’t already guessed. It felt like reading a detective book for children at times.

However, this did not prevent me from enjoying the story. Even if I think that the book could have challenged the reader a little more, following the protagonist in his adventure was extremely enjoyable and the story engrossing. I liked the characters and the settings, I liked the mechanism behind the story and overall, had a very pleasant time reading this book.

If you want to read a light novel with an interesting plot mechanism and a whodunnit flavour, this book is perfect. If you want to read a murder mystery that challenges you to find the culprit, you will certainly find 『アンフィニシュトの書』 too easy. Finally, if you are looking for easy books, I found this one quite easy to read. There is a repetitive pattern too, which makes it easier and easier to read as you get used to the vocabulary, characters and places.

Overall, this book was perfect to me because it was a mix of things that I love in novels: crime, mystery and books. If the author decides to makes a series around this theme, I will definitely be there for the other titles!

Note: you can read the first 47 pages on the publisher’s website.

Book review:『ノッキンオン・ロックドドア』by Yugo AOSAKI

About the book:

English title: Knockin’on Locked Door
Author: Yugo AOSAKI 青崎有吾
Published by 徳間文庫

『ノッキンオン・ロックドドア』is a collection of 7 short stories. A second season is announced.

The publisher made a mini site for this novel that presents the story and the characters. There is also a special comic by Aco ARISAKA 有坂あこ.


Hisame KATANASHI and Tori GOTENBA are two detectives who work in the same agency: Knockin’on Locked Door. Hisame is specialised on the “why” the crime was committed (what is the motive?) while Tori is specialised in solving “how” the crime was committed (what trick was used?). While they both excel in their speciality, they are lost when it comes to the other one’s area.


There are several things that I loved in this book and it was a refreshing, light and entertaining read!

First of all, I love the idea of having two detectives, each specialised in one aspect of what it takes to solve a murder. It feels so new! It is also interesting to see how Hisame and Tori complement each other: asking suspects, inspecting the crime scenes, looking for out of place details… each detective focuses on his speciality and leave the rest to the other.

I also liked the structure of the book. There are 7 stories (7 cases) and each is around 40 pages. I like the consistency of this structure. For each story, we jump in the case right from the beginning (either a client comes to the agency or the police asks for the detectives’ help), and they were all engrossing.

Another touch that I liked very much is how the narrator changes. Some stories are told from the point of view of Tori and some from the point of view of Hisame. It is interesting to see what each detective thinks of the other! And again, it feels refreshing and new.

Finally, I liked the humour and the general tone of the book.

If you like mystery novels, solving puzzle, and are looking for a light, entertaining read, you will certainly like 『ノッキンオン・ロックドドア』 !

Book review: 『図書館の殺人』by Yugo AOSAKI

About the book

Title: 『図書館の殺人』(としょかんのさつじん)
English Title: The Red Letter Mystery
Author: Yugo AOSAKI 青崎有吾
Published by 創元推理文庫 (Tokyo Sogensha)

Yugo AOSAKI is an author of mystery novels. His debut novel is 『体育館の殺人』which is also the first novel of the series Tenma URAZOME (裏染天馬シリーズ). After that, he published 『水族館の殺人』and 『風ヶ丘五十円玉祭りの謎』in the same series.

The book I am reviewing here is the fourth and most recent book of the same series: 『図書館の殺人』.

Note: the publisher has added a list of characters (their name with furigana and who they are) in the inside cover and at the beginning of the book. This is a brilliant idea that makes things much easier for us language learners!


When a body is found on the second floor of the local library, police officers ask Tenma URAZOME, a highschool student with remarquable observation and deduction skills, to help them with the case.


When it comes to detective novels, I prefer a serious and realistic investigation by police officers than an unconventional one conducted by a highschool prodigy. I would not mind seeing highschool students trying to solve the case by their own means, but when I saw that the police officers themselves asked for Tenma’s help, and that they discussed details of the case freely with the students, I was a little taken aback.

But although 『図書館の殺人』 is not quite the genre of detective novel that I like, I was engrossed in it from beginning to end. Behind the light tone of the novel, Tenma’s investigation and deductions are very solid. All the details of the case are explained at the end, everything makes sense, and if you are able to put all the pieces together you should be able to reach the same conclusion as Tenma. The author even challenges the reader to do so in a short chapter called 読者への挑戦 just before the solution is revealed. As for me, I was not even close…

I love reading whodunnits, but it is rare to find one where the reader can actually find the culprit by themselves. Even though I am not quite satisfied with『図書館の殺人』(I feel that it lacks a deeper insight into the characters’ psychology, to better grasp their intentions and motives), I enjoyed reading it, and I will certainly read the other books of the series too.

If you are interested in reading 『図書館の殺人』, I highly recommend you to start with 『体育館の殺人』instead and read the books of the series in order.

『図書館の殺人』does have an independant case not connected to the previous books of the series, so it is not such a big problem to start with『図書館の殺人』like I did. However, I think that all the books of the series feature the same characters (a group of highschool students), and if you don’t read the books in order, it will be difficult to fully appreciate how their personality or common past affect their relationship.

『図書館の殺人』being the fourth book of the series, the reader is supposed to know who is who. Even though the author introduces each character, I always felt that I had missed something (and indeed, I have!) and it was hard to feel involved in their discussions when they were not related to the case.

Book review: 『推理作家(僕)が探偵と暮らすわけ』by Shiki KUZUMI

This is my review of the light novel『推理作家(僕)が探偵と暮らすわけ』by Shiki KUZUMI (久住四季).

This novel tells the story of Jun TSUKISE, a young author of detective novels, and his new flatmate Seishiro RINDO, a private detective. By the setting only, it is impossible not to think of John Watson and Sherlock Holmes, and the story soon confirms that it is indeed inspired by the BBC series.

If you have watched Sherlock, you will find numerous allusions and hints to it in Kuzumi’s novel. From the personality of both protagonists to the details of their first meeting, the novel keeps echoing the British series.

To be honest, it bothered me a little at first; I had preferred something more original. But soon it became obvious that despite many similitudes, Jun and Seishiro are unique characters, not just copies of Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss’ depiction of John and Sherlock. Moreover, the cases they solve are fresh and new.

I found the book very entertaining and almost impossible to put down once I started it. It is easy to feel sympathy for the narrator Jun, and I liked the insights into a writer’s life and work. I also liked the humour in the book and while I was not entirely convinced by the cases, they were intriguing enough to keep me engrossed until the end.

If you like reading light novels and detective stories, or/and if you like the BBC series Sherlock and would like to read something similar but with a Japanese touch, you will certainly like this novel. I found it easy to read in Japanese too, though the second story (there are two chapters and two cases) was a little more difficult than the first one.

This book looks very much like the beginning of a series, and I will definitely read the following volume if, or hopefully when, it comes out!

Book review: 『ビブリア古書堂の事件手帖』by En MIKAMI

(I don’t usually post book reviews on Friday, but I will certainly take some holidays at the end of the month, so if I want to publish all my book reviews before the end of the year, I will have to post twice a week!)

I have finished 『ビブリア古書堂の事件手帖』by En MIKAMI (三上延) and I loved it! It is a light novel published by メディアワークス文庫 (Kadokawa) and as such, it is easy to read, even for Japanese learners.

The Book and the Story

『ビブリア古書堂の事件手帖』is a novel, but it is divided into 4 chapters that each contains an independent story. I like this structure very much because the book, while being a novel, allows you to take a break between two chapters without feeling lost when you return to it.

The story is simple enough: the young Daisuke meets the owner of a used bookstore, the beautiful and mysterious Shioriko. Together, they will solve mysteries brought by the clients of the bookstore. Hence the subtitle of the book: “栞子(Shioriko)さんと奇妙な客人たち”.

To be honest, I was a little afraid that the story would evolve into an obvious romantic relationship between the two protagonists, but it does not: the novel is a mystery novel, not a romance.

And the mysteries are quite good, too. I was unable to put down the book once I started a chapter, and I have usually read a whole chapter in only one or two reading sessions. Once you start, you want to know what happened, and you cannot stop reading!

As I said, each chapter is devoted to a mystery, and this mystery is always linked to a book. You absolutely don’t need to have read these books to enjoy the story, you don’t even need to know who the authors are. Daisuke, the protagonist, has a physical condition that makes him unable to read. As a consequence, he has read none of the books that appear in the story, and if the contents of the book is important, Shioriko will explain it to him. So no need to have studied Japanese literature! 

A light novel

I still don’t know how to define a “light novel”. All I know is that I have read three this year, and they were all easy to read. If we take the definition that author Emi KITAGAWA gives of a “light novel” 「とにかく楽しいもの」, then I can say that 『ビブリア古書堂の事件手帖』is a perfect light novel: this book was highly entertaining, enjoyable and pleasant to read.

I highly recommend this book to Japanese learners. The Japanese level is not high, there is enough suspense to keep you reading even if you stumble across a difficult part, the plot progresses quickly, no long descriptions or narrative passages, a lot of dialogues, a limited number of characters, and so on. 


As a Japanese learner trying to read novels in Japanese, this book was one of the most pleasant experiences of the year. Of course, I feel rewarded if I can read my way through a challenging book, but being able to forget that I am reading in a foreign language and simply enjoy the story is also extremely rewarding.

I am tempted to read the other books of the series, but there are so many interesting titles on the メディアワークス文庫 site, that I might pick another one next time!

Book review: 『ちょっと今から仕事やめてくる』by 北川恵海

To get back on track after a small break, I picked a book I expected to be easy: 『ちょっと今から仕事やめてくる』by 北川恵海 (きたがわ・えみ).

I have already read another book by Emi KITAGAWA, which I liked very much, but I liked 『ちょっと今から仕事やめてくる』even better. I have only positive things to say about this novel, and I can only heartily recommend it to any Japanese learner (because it is easy to read) and anyone struggling with his work.

The story

As the title suggests, the novel is about quitting one’s work. The protagonist, Takashi AOYAMA is a young salaryman, who has been working for his company for 6 months. He spends most of his time at work, comes home only to sleep, has no friends, no girlfriend, no free time and only waits for the week to be over.

Now it is time to write something like “Then he meets a guy named Yamamoto and his life changes”, but it would give the impression that the novel is a kind of candid pursuit of happiness when it is much more than that. To put the record straight, one should say that the novel, instead of showing how you can change your life, shows instead how hard it is to do it.

Takashi AOYAMA is trapped in his situation and cannot find a way out. While his feelings are perfectly described, his personality and appearance remain loose so that it is easy for the reader to identify with him. I am sure that many people read their own story in this novel. After all, who never struggled with his work?

Personally, the beginning of the novel brought me back to the time when I was coming home from work at 10p.m every day and had a 20 minutes pause at lunch to eat something from a convenience store. I started having skin problems from stress, I suppose, and not getting enough sunlight. I felt that my work was taking my time and my health out of me, that it was in fact, taking my life away from me. I find that the novel captures and describes this feeling very well and I immediately felt involved in the story and the protagonist’s fate.

The very beginning of the novel gives a good idea of how this is achieved, and it will also show that the novel is not difficult to read in Japanese:


Light novel?

I still don’t know how to define light novels, but I think that 『ちょっと今から仕事やめてくる』is one of these. All the elements at the periphery of the story have been reduced, and the novel focuses entirely on the protagonist and the plot. There are no descriptions or long narrative passages, the story turns around a few familiar places and situations. There are a handful of characters, with a lot of scenes involving only Takashi AOYAMA and Yamamoto. The working environment of Takashi is reduced to two main characters, and the reader is spared any complicated description of Takashi’s work. There are a lot of dialogues and frequent line breaks so that you never find yourself with a page stuffed with text.

It looks like if all the elements of context have been simplified to create a short novel (232 pages), easy to read while commuting or after a long day’s work. It naturally makes things easier for Japanese learners too.


I loved this novel very much because it really spoke to my heart. If you don’t have literary expectations and take this novel for the story and message it conveys, it really is worth putting in the hands of anyone who has a hard time at work, who needs courage and feel depressed. More generally, it is a nice story that will speak to a lot of people I think.

Book Review: 「ヒーローズ(株)!!!」by 北川恵海

「ヒーローズ(株)!!!」(read: かぶしきがいしゃ) is a novel by 北川恵海(きたがわ・えみ). It is the second book by Emi KITAGAWA, the first one being 「ちょっと今から仕事やめてくる」. It was this last title that drew my attention when I saw it in a bookshop. But I chose 「ヒーローズ(株)!!!」because the wrapper band said: 読んだ後はきっと元気になれます… haha, I let myself be influenced by a commercial catchphrase!

Even if it the novel is not explicitly categorised as “light novel”, I think that it can be defined as such, given that the author herself uses this word in her afterword.

Light Novels

I have never read light novels before because their cover is generally very manga-like, or at least this is the impression I have. As I am not really interested in reading mangas, I naturally never have been particularly interested in reading light novels. I don’t even know what “ライトノベル” actually means and I have seen on Wikipedia that there is no strict definition of the genre. (I should maybe just add that there is no illustration in our book).

In fact, I didn’t know that 「ヒーローズ(株)!!!」 could be defined as a light novel until I read the author’s afterword. I was just puzzled by its style because it was so obviously entertaining and easy to read. Later, I learnt that the publisher メディアワークス文庫 is specialised in light novels.

In the afterword, Emi KITAGAWA has reflected upon the question: what is a ライトノベル? After having read her book, I think that I can relate to her definition (p.326, あとがき):


It looks like the author wrote her book with this definition in mind and gave her reader a novel that was essentially enjoyable to read.


I was afraid that this book would be a little surrealistic (this is not my favourite genre), but the book was surprisingly anchored in reality, even if some aspects of the story are eccentric.

Our protagonist is a young man working in a convenience store. His life is about to change, and he is about to change the life of others, but he still does not know it when the novel begins. I think that it is easy to identify with the protagonist. He is an ordinary man who goes on with his life, while it seems obvious that things haven’t gone his way in the past.

The story that unfolds itself is about work, life, family, self-doubt and how to gain confidence, how to overcome a haunting past and haunting fears, how to keep moving even though it is dreadful. We learn that people all come with their particular personal story and that “talented” people are only the result of a good amount of trial and errors and overcome doubts.

But for all the serious theme encompassed in it, the novel never loses its good-humoured and light-hearted tone. It is funny too, several scenes made me laugh. I think that this is the greatest quality of this novel: while it conveys reflexions about life and its ups and downs, the novel never takes itself too seriously.

It is definitely a feel-good read that encourages and motivates.

Reading 「ヒーローズ(株)!!!」

This book is so easy to read!

The author purposely made a book that one can read fast without having to struggle with difficult kanji and so on.

What makes the book easy to read is certainly his dialogue-based structure. It really is like a manga put into words only. There are of course some narrative passages, but the book mostly consists of dialogues.

The vocabulary is also not challenging. For example, I am always on the watch out for onomatopoeia, and I can say that the same 4 or 5 onomatopoeia kept returning again and again.

To give you a rough approximation, if I compare with other books I am reading at the moment, I feel that while I am reading 1 page of 「朝鮮の開国と日清戦争」, I can read 10 pages of 「光」and 30 or 40 pages of 「ヒーローズ(株)!!!」.


To conclude, I would say that this book was written for the sake of being “楽しい” as the author said, so it would be unfair to expect too much from it, regarding literary value. But within the bounds of the genre, 「ヒーローズ(株)!!!」achieved its goal: it is easy to read, relaxing, funny, the story is interesting and can lead to deeper reflexions.

I really enjoyed dropping literary expectations and read a novel only for the sake of the story.

Note: I see that the author has written a second tome called 「続・ヒーローズ(株)!!!」.

Note2: I didn’t know before but her first novel, 「ちょっと今から仕事やめてくる」, was adapted into a film! Here is the trailer: