Review: Gekkou

(art by Shiromiso)

(art by Shiromiso)

(Note: This site’s central focus is on light novels officially translated and published in English, but at times I will post reviews for stories that have only been translated by fans. Please support the Japanese books that don’t get English releases.)

Volume 1

Volume 1

Gekkou (AKA Moonlight) is a story told in one light novel, written by Natsuki Mamiya (with some nice artwork by Shiromiso). It’s a bit of a tricky book to blog about, in that it offers a good deal to mull over and discuss–but in doing so I would spoil the reading experience for those who would like to go into the book without a full knowledge of what plot twists await them. So suffice to say, I recommend Gekkou to anyone looking for an unusual sort of high school murder mystery that gives you a lot to consider in regards to who the killer is, why the killer did it, and–here’s the kicker–just how much that actually affects your opinion and understanding of the killer.

There are some interesting characters in Gekkou, and it is here where the story shines brightest–but also where it stumbles a bit, in my opinion. The viewpoint character (Nonomiya) and the main heroine (Tsukimori) felt very familiar to me at first. Having recently read Oregairu, I couldn’t help but compare these two to Hachiman and Yukino–a bored and cynical “everyman” for the male lead, and then the mysterious beauty who is “perfect in every way” for the girl. For me, I did not feel Nonomiya was an interesting protagonist, as his intelligence seemed overstated in most instances (i.e. he seemed led along for the vast majority of the mystery). Tsukimori, on the other hand, was an extremely pleasant surprise. To be honest, I’m a bit tired at this point of the character archetype she works with–but Gekkou uses the trope in ways that are not only unanticipated, but also thought-provoking and entertaining.

While Tsukimori is a fully-realized character for this story, the same can’t be said for most of the side characters. A classmate named Usami and a coffee shop co-worker named Mirai are introduced and hold a lot of promise, but nothing much becomes of their subplots. To some degree it makes me hope for a sequel novel to be written one day, but on the other hand the main plot of the story did resolve in a manner that left me very satisfied.

All in all Gekkou succeeds at its primary aims, and for that I suggest giving it a read. The unconventional murder mystery is well-supported by an arguably even more unconventional romance, both of which leave the reader with some food for thought. The translator did an excellent job with it (likely one of the very best I’ve read from the fan translation community), so the novel should be a smooth, quick read for most.

Cho’s Rating: Recommended

6 responses to “Review: Gekkou

  1. Thanks so much for pointing out good fan translations! There are so many amazing light novels out there that don’t have official translations, and it’s always nice to find people dedicated enough to make unofficial ones available.

    • Yes, translation quality can make all the difference in a reading experience.
      The translator for this one also worked on Zeroth Maria and the Empty Box, as well as Tsukumodo Antique Shop (a favorite of mine). They are also worth checking out.

  2. Review is encouraging to read it, so it’s good that is going to be the first Light Novels officially released in my country (Poland) :)

    • Gekkou will be the first light novel for Poland, you say? That’s a very interesting choice! I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing an English release for this too.

      • Heh, my English is still bad… I mean it’s one of the first titles, not the first. First one was “All you need is a kill”, but it was thanks to Hollywood film. Then SAO, announcements for Gekkou and Toradora! were made this year.
        Well, that one indeed was surprising, people were expecting a something, what have a popular anime.

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