Bungaku Shoujo ~ Vol. 1

I absolutely refuse to use Yen Press’s cover. xP

I usually don’t do book reviews but since there are only a few currently two light novels that I’m quite obsessed over, don’t think it will hurt to skim over some thoughts about them.

Will try to make this a quick post but as always, it might get a little wordy along the way. Hehe. ^^;

Highly suggested that you read the novel first if you haven’t, cuz this post contains spoilers.

Starting with three little pet peeves about this first book, “Book Girl and the Suicidal Mime”…let’s talk about this title. Frankly, I don’t have a problem with it too much since it can be an appropriate translation of the original, “Bungaku Shōjo to Shinitagari no Piero”, if you wanted to think that way. It was still slightly off-putting to read “suicidal”, though, since I translate it differently in my head. But that is probably because I speak a different language myself so I always try to translate a word exactly into what it means. Taking this for example, “shinitagari” sounds more like “wanting to die” rather than “suicidal” (correct my Japanese if I’m wrong), which do not necessarily mean the same thing. Yet if you put that all out, it would be one long title so it makes sense to use “suicidal”, I guess. Still doesn’t feel all that right, though.
As for the “mime” deal, it was originally supposed to be “pierrot” or “douke“, both of whose definition are closer to “clown”. And a “mime” is not a clown. Just wanted to specify that.
Finally, “Book Girl” when it the accurate name should be “Literature Girl” but perhaps the word “literature” would be an immediate turn-off. I can see why they changed these terms around since it is being marketing to an English audience and it does catch your eye, making you want to go “huh, this looks interesting” but I’m still for “Literature Girl and the Clown who wishes to die” since it’s closer to the actual meaning. That’s all. :/

Next, is the that one letter-alteration of the spelling of Touko’s name and the omission of Japanese suffixes. Touko’s “Tohko” isn’t particularly bothering but it just doesn’t look good compared to “Touko”. In actual romanization, it would be “Tōko“, and the “o” with the macron above it is pronounced in a long way. Like the “o” in “row” or “ou“. Look who knows her Latin. *smug* So either “Tōko” or “Touko” is better. “Tohko” sounds too short. Ironic, given the meaning of her name which means “far/distant child” more or less.

Then there’s the complete lack of suffixes which left me more baffled than anything within the whole book. Yea, it’s a novel, I know that, but it’s still a Japanese one so why isn’t it getting the same foot notes at the back treatment like your manga does, Yen Press?! D8
Honestly, those who watch anime (raw and/or subtitled), listen to drama CDs, read manga, etc, should know. It’s not the same without them. I can’t tell you how many times I frowned when Konoha or any other random high school kid with a line in there addressed a much older adult’s surname without putting a “Mr.” or a “Ms.” in front of it. It’s just not right. I don’t address my boss as “Good morning, *insert last name here*!” -_-;
And the more pressing issue is…it’s “Touko-sempai“, not…just “Tohko”. D/ Of course, we don’t do that here in the states and “Upperclassman Touko” sounds downright awkward but it’s nothing a small note at the back can’t explain for all 179 pages, right? Maybe it’s just me being me, but without the “sempai”, the context doesn’t make the relationship between Touko and Konoha as specific and special enough unless you pointed out that she’s a year his senior. Moreover, it’s kinda necessary cuz it’s exactly what defines a large part of that sempai-kouhai relationship. Touko is Konoha’s closest confidant after all and spoiler or not, she chose to be the one who he can open his heart to (go watch the first OVA in subs if you haven’t).

Finally…what’s up with the “super-” being attached to the front of all these adjectives? It is not superalright, Yen Press. It might work in hiragana but it won’t work in English. It’s superannoying and will make a superGrammar-Nazi like me rage if you make the same mistakes in the next book. Got it?! SUPAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!! )8<

Other than that, there wasn’t anything else that I found out a place. The story translation stayed really close to the original and I don’t need the book in front of me since I’ve listened to the drama CD that was based off of the same volume enough times to recognize this scene from that scene. So now that that’s settled, onto the actual review…

As I stated many times already in whatever Bungaku Shoujo-related stuff I mentioned in past posts, I simply adore the daylights out of Touko, her eccentric personality, her endless appetite for good books, simply everything about her. <3 'Course, I wouldn't want to say that this series mostly runs on Touko's character cuz it certainly doesn't. Even with the light-hearted banter and funny moments, this series is like Mizuki Nomura-sensei says, "a serious one". And Chia's big issues is just a sample of what more angst there is to come. Still, Touko's presence itself is quite enormous that there would not be any "Bungaku Shoujo" without her. For me, it's just been a while since I've encountered something that felt so refreshing in the sense of heroine. It's definitely not new or nostalgic or anything. It's just…Touko. <333

Then there's Konoha, whom I love very much as well. Especially since he's voiced by MiyuMiyu, who excels in those troubled Woobie-like guy roles but eh, that's not the point here. Haha xD;
I've heard there were some who found Konoha really hard to deal with as the story goes on and that might be true if you’re impatiently judgmental but I think that’s what makes him an interesting male lead. Already, we know that he isn’t just a kid who happened to write a book and became famous, the end, there’s your start of a story. He’s very ordinary, yes, but he’s also got quite the dark past which he can’t seem to let go of, even after he claimed he won’t write anymore. He’s lost his first love because of his novel’s fame which sent him into deeper recluse but he still struggles to live on after that, even when her death and the humiliation he felt as “Inoue Miu” constantly come back to haunt him. In that sense, it’s hard not to sympathize him and cheer him on at the same time. He’s just very conflicted inside and that makes you want to hug and comfort him. *huggles Konoha* <3

Then there is the remainder of the cast but I won't go into them too much yet since other than Chia, none of them have been given significant parts except introductions.

I also won't go too much into Touko and Konoha's relationship yet even though I really want to (cuz they're my OTP~) but you can clearly tell that they've got something special between them which they don't have with other people. Even Konoha's ex, Miu, because he still doesn't understand why she jumped off the roof. *makes a face to the side* So far, it's platonic, sort of sibling-like at best, which is just how I like it cuz eventually that trust Konoha has towards Touko might blossom into something more. And that's all I'm saying for now.

Oh, and uh, there was hand-holding. I can't really cheer about that since Konoha was suffering during that moment but it was still a solemn but comforting "Aww…" moment nonetheless. Which is why that’s my OTP. *goes off to euphoric shipping daydreams* xD;

On the story, it’s an engaging start. Like I said earlier, this won’t even compare to all the drama and craziness of the later novels but that didn’t keep the author from laying out some suspense and mystery anyway. I was nearly scared out of my wits when I was listening to the drama CD while waiting for this to be released. God, who would’ve thought that my sweet Aki Toyosaki (Chia), voice of lovable Suu and moeblob Yui, could make such a scary scream. o.O;

Which leads me to the central conflict of the book. To be blunt, I can’t relate to her at all when she confessed that she, like Kataoka Shuji, could not understand human emotions and I doubt many people who read this can either. However, I think that the pressure of being so different from others and the intense shame she had for indirectly causing the death of her best friend and not feeling anything at all about it is reasonable enough for her to want to commit suicide. It’s tough living a life like that, especially if there is no one who can understand you. I’ve considered death a couple of times when I was younger and looking back on it, it was very painful and difficult to overcome without some help.

Still, I’m glad it didn’t end tragically for Chia, even though I feel no pity or compassion for her because the current me will never see suicide as an answer, no matter how reasonable it is for one to choose it. Unless you’re mentally ill, which Chia is not.
Her issues are far from over so there’s an indication she will come back later on and make things possibly an even bigger mess but at least there’s some hope that she’ll get better. Since there are people like Touko and Konoha who’d save her. Which is reassuring to know.

At the same time, Soeda and Rihoko are going to have one messed up family, alright o.O; reading this really made me want to check out Osamu Dazai’s “Ningen Shikkaku” now. That’s one of the many reasons why I love Bungaku Shoujo so much. I haven’t read any good books in a looonnngg time and this, or rather, Touko~ (<3), is my best reference. I don't know if it's translated (doubt it) but it's going on my list anyways. And I'm going to make damn sure I don't read it when I'm feeling down, too, since I'm so emotional, urgh. -_-; I have this feeling that it will take me a quite a while to finish this book. Maybe I should have "Run, Melos!" right next to it just in case.

Closing it off, it was a nice start. Next volume is coming out in January and it's titled "Book Girl and the Famished Spirit" which is better than volume 1's title since it makes more sense with "Bungaku Shoujo to Uekawaku no Ghost" ("Literature Girl and the Hungry/Starving Ghost"). Maki takes more of an important role than she does in this book (I love Maki, btw) and Ryuuto, Touko's cousin, will be introduced for the first time if you haven’t watched the first Memoire OVA yet which you should~ *annoying* and he also plays a significant part so that should be interesting.

And yay~, a third drama CD will be released next month before that so I’m going to try my best to get my hands on it to see what volume 3 will be like if it corresponds exactly with it. Hehe. ^^

Yep, that should be all. I loved this book and I think I’m going to continue to love the rest even more. It just saddens me to know that it will take another 3/4 years before all the novels are published in English. By then, I would have finished the whole thing in Japanese anyway. lol xD;


2 thoughts on “Bungaku Shoujo ~ Vol. 1

  1. Touko is all kinds of awesome. And you’re right she is sort of refreshing. She doesn’t really fit into heroine molds which is good.

    Konoha, is alright too. He doesn’t annoy me at the very least unlike some other male protaginst involved with crazy girls.

    “Still, I’m glad it didn’t end tragically for Chia, even though I feel no pity or compassion for her because the current me will never see suicide as an answer, no matter how reasonable it is for one to choose it.”

    Yeah me too. It is kind of hinted that she does have some kind of mental problem though.

    I enjoyed the talking about books aspect. It made me want to read the mentioned books, although I know I never will (laziness).

    • She’s practically made one for herself. “Literature Girl”…it’s a one-of-its-kind breed. hehe x3

      I like that shy modesty trait of his but at the same time, he’s quite the considerate guy as well.

      After all those years of trying to conceal her secret, I think calling it a mental problem is correct. It didn’t have to be one, though, if she sought help earlier on. *shrug* :/

      I know what you mean. lol xD;

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