LN Reading Program — June 14

(pictured: Mimizuku and the King of Night -- art source)

(pictured: Mimizuku and the King of Night — art source)

For the first week of this summer reading program, we will discuss the first third of Kagerou Daze (volume 1) and Mimizuku and the King of Night. For Kagerou Daze, you need to have read the chapters titled “Kagerou Daze I” and “Jinzou Enemy” (ending at page 51). Meanwhile for Mimizuku, you need to have read the prologue and first three chapters.

If you have read further ahead, please refrain from spoiling anything past the points in the stories mentioned above. (Also, obviously, if you’ve experienced a manga or anime adaptation in the past, don’t reveal what happens next.)

Kagerou Daze

“Jinzou Enemy” is a self-contained story about a shut-in boy named Shintaro and a computer A.I. girl named Ene, who incredulously end up in a hostage situation the one day they leave their home. All in all I found the whole thing rather entertaining. The story had a strong “voice” (SEE: the melodramatic vending machine soda scene), and Shintaro made for an amusing first-person viewpoint throughout the strange series of events. I enjoyed all the banter between him and Ene.

Discussion Points

There have been quite a few light novels (and anime, manga, etc) dealing with hikikomori in recent years. How does Shintaro’s situation compare to those you’re familiar with in other series? Generally it seems the shut-in situation is portrayed through a comedic lens, sometimes outright mocking the character in question. Is Shintaro a pitiable character? Is his particular lifestyle (i.e. sitting at his computer station 24/7) actually viable? And since Shintaro has proven capable of leaving his home, navigating a giant shopping mall, and even dealing with a hostage situation–how does this affect your interpretation of his decision to live as a shut-in?

Ene is an artificial intelligence that resides in Shintaro’s computer and cell phone, and her sudden arrival via a mysterious email was apparently unexpected for the both of them. Whether or not this advanced level of computer programming is unheard of in this story’s world is unclear (Shintaro at least doesn’t appear to have made a huge deal out of it), but it seems at the very least Ene is special in some fashion. Would you consider her a legitimate friend of Shinatro, despite not being a living being? Interestingly the main conflict regarding their relationship stems more from their respective personalities, which I think says a lot about both characters. For Ene, it implies a lot about how unrestricted and individualistic (or self-aware) she is as an A.I. And for Shintaro, I believe it shows how much more he is “in tune” with cyberspace as opposed to the real world. To some degree it conjures up the whole discussion that has existed the last decade or so, in regard to whether or not “online friends” and online interactions hold the same value as “real-life friends” and outside social interactions.

Just a random aside, but the whole sequence with Shintaro and the pretty electronics store lady reminded me a lot of a chapter from the manga Watamote, in which the protagonist Tomoko considers it a pinnacle achievement in her life to mutter a few words to a cute guy at the convenience store. Introverts have to relish these small victories in life, I suppose? Will go ahead and say I can relate and empathize with characters like Shintaro, ha ha.

(art source)

(art source)

Mimizuku and the King of Night

And now for something completely different? The prologue and first three chapters detail how a young girl enters a monster-filled forest in hopes of being eaten. From what I gather Mimizuku is an escaped slave who has been battered her whole life physically, mentally, and emotionally. Her effort to die in the dangerous forest however does not go as planned, as the King of Night (Fukurou) refuses to devour her. To say the very least, this is an unusual story both in tone and in subject matter. I’ve certainly found it interesting however, and am curious to see what direction the story takes in its subsequent chapters.

Discussion Points

“My only happiness would come from being eaten by the King of Night,” said Mimizuku, chuckling happily.

Mimizuku has a unique perspective on life, particularly for a protagonist. Considering all she has apparently suffered through however, it is understandable she has a negative viewpoint of humanity and the world in general. Her hope to die is also thus supported, though I find it intriguing that she has latched on to specifically wanting to be eaten–and eaten specifically by the king of the monsters, no less. Why is that?

So far the monsters of the story (Kuro and Fukurou) have each been portrayed in a sympathetic light. Why is Kuro helping Mimizuku out so much, do you imagine? And why does Fukurou refuse to kill Mimizuku? She has trespassed into the forest and in general appears to be deemed a nuisance, considering the improper manner she interacts with him. At the moment it appears to me that the two monsters simply consider Mimizuku a curious entity they haven’t decided on how to deal with, but I can imagine there could be more to it all that simply hasn’t been revealed yet. Fukurou in particular seems like he could have some connection to the human world, considering the way he is described.

In a roundabout way Mimizuku has found something to live for (at least temporarily) when she decides to acquire the magical red paint ingredient for Fukurou. By the end of chapter three this has already led to the two characters having full conversations, and Fukurou replacing Mimizuku’s forehead number with a pattern she finds beautiful. In other words, she has managed to abandon the human world not through suicide, but by joining the monster world. I imagine this will lead into a significant confrontation once the human prince (curiously named Ann) enters the forest in an effort to “save” her from that world she has found some form of happiness in for the first time in her life.

———

As mentioned before, feel free to discuss any point you would like to bring up about either (or both) of these two books. General impressions, predictions for how the stories will play out, some compare/contrast between the two books, or any random observations and things you’d like to analyze are all fair game.

18 responses to “LN Reading Program — June 14

  1. As someone who is in some ways like Shintaro, I do find it hard to believe that someone can do that 24/7. I do sit in front of my computer/TV for hours a day but I do feel obligated to help my family out with things, try to find full time work, and get out of the house at least once in awhile especially if the weather is good. I guess i’m not as hikikomori as Shintaro. I don’t think just because he was able to leave the house and deal with a hostage situation meant he didn’t think it was wrong to live as a shut-in. Once you’re in that mental state it is hard to get out of it. Maybe now he will realize he doesn’t have to live that way. I have watched No Game No Life, which deal with hikikomori differently, giving the hikikomori a world they would rather live in, and just started watching Welcome to the N.H.K. so I can’t comment on that yet.

    Yes the sequence with Shintaro and the pretty electronics store lady reminded me of myself. Though I go through it a little differently. I will have the perfect thought in my head and then stumble when I actually say it. But, I do actually realize that I screwed up what I said…most of the time.

    Random aside, I have read the first volume of the manga and watched the anime, and I have listened to the songs, though haven’t been able to find many translations for the songs. It seems that the manga and anime were adapted from the LN since I don’t know how you can get such similar stories just from a bunch of songs. If anyone can explain how the adaptations of this LN works without spoiling it for everyone else, that would be great.

    • I don’t think just because he was able to leave the house and deal with a hostage situation meant he didn’t think it was wrong to live as a shut-in. Once you’re in that mental state it is hard to get out of it. Maybe now he will realize he doesn’t have to live that way.

      I’d imagine Shintaro is probably even more adverse to going outside at this point, given how dangerous his brief foray turned out. But will he have a choice in the matter? He’s already being rounded up to go to the amusement park, ha ha. And it appears his sister is going to be involved in whatever is to happen next, so he’s already tied to the ensemble cast in more ways than one. No man is an island, even for a hikikomori it seems.

      If anyone can explain how the adaptations of this LN works without spoiling it for everyone else, that would be great.

      It appears the light novels are written by the same person who created the Vocaloid songs: Jin (or “Shizen no Teki-P”). I have not listened to the songs, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the LNs mainly serve to expound on the material in the songs.

  2. Random Kagedaze observations:

    – “Jinzou Enemy” means “Artificial Enemy”, which on first glance seems to refer to Ene the A.I., but I think it also refers to the hikkikomori persecution complex in general. Extreme introverts tend to think everyone else as out to get them and that their slightest mistakes are causes for great shame. At the same time, loners long for friendship and acceptance, so they don’t see the outside world as the real enemy. Rather, they reserve a special loathing for themselves.

    – Shintaro and Ene might become friends, but they have an antagonistic relationship at first. I think it’s telling that their friendship only begins to deepen after Shintaro is forced to leave his house and venture into the outside world.

    – I remember thinking this from reading the manga as well, but I don’t know what to make of Shintaro being able to leave his house so easily. And I also find it hard to believe that he would be on his computer literally 24/7.

    – One detail I liked from the LN is how it says that Shintaro spends all this time commenting on the internet and considers himself an artist, but hasn’t actually made anything of worth. I’ve been there, Shintaro. Commenting on the internet is a huge time sink. I mean, look what I’m doing right now *cries*

    Will comment on Mimizuku when I get ’round to reading it.

    • Shintaro and Ene might become friends, but they have an antagonistic relationship at first. I think it’s telling that their friendship only begins to deepen after Shintaro is forced to leave his house and venture into the outside world.

      I feel like they more or less already are friends, but Shintaro just doesn’t realize it or (perhaps more likely) doesn’t want to admit it. It’s an interesting setup though, in that he eschews the real world in favor of the web, yet can’t get along with a real-life Hatsune Miku. All part of that self-defeating cycle, I take it?

      One detail I liked from the LN is how it says that Shintaro spends all this time commenting on the internet and considers himself an artist, but hasn’t actually made anything of worth.

      I imagine the author (Jin) was poking fun at himself a bit there, what with Shintaro claiming to be a music artist. Fortunately Jin was able to stick with his Kagerou Project and find success with that, but sadly I think Shintaro’s situation is much more the norm when it comes to online creatives. How many times have you heard friends and acquaintances say they’re going to write a book? (Or make a game, or film a movie, or get a good painting done, etc.) It’s much easier to critique a work of art, than it is to create one.

  3. At the moment, Kuro looks like your resident osananajimi who is with you the longest and also supports you while Fukurou is like your dangerous senpai where Mimizuku could literally go “Please notice me senpai!”

    …I better stop. I do find the choice of the characters’ names and their meaning interesting.

    • Ha ha, you’ll have to write the high school AU fanfic. ;P

      I was curious about the character names as well, and find it an interesting point of discussion from a translation perspective. The setting leaves a fantasy medieval Europe impression, but the names Mimizuku, Fukurou, and Kuro are left in Japanese. Of course, the characters end up discussing the meaning behind these names, which perhaps necessitates leaving them as-is. Mimizuku went from “earthworm” to “horned owl,” presumably in light of her escape and flying free from the toils of the village. This is followed by her naming Fukurou as another type of owl, as she sees him as a kindred spirit in some way. Perhaps a bit of foreshadowing there as well?

  4. Just a random aside, but the whole sequence with Shintaro and the pretty electronics store lady reminded me a lot of a chapter from the manga Watamote, in which the protagonist Tomoko considers it a pinnacle achievement in her life to mutter a few words to a cute guy at the convenience store. Introverts have to relish these small victories in life, I suppose? Will go ahead and say I can relate and empathize with characters like Shintaro, ha ha.

    I’m not reading Kagerou right now (I probably will in the future when I have more time) but haha I can totally empathize with that too. XDD Small victories in life, yess!

    As for Mimizuku… I haven’t read it in a while, but I distinctly remember being reminded of the children’s picture book “Where the Wild Things Are” (which I don’t even remember the plot to). I wonder why? Perhaps because of the innocence of premise of being gobbled up by monsters? Because monsters come out of the closet?

    I don’t have a strong enough memory of things to comment on things particularly vividly, but I’m glad Cho started this LN reading program and I’ll definitely be following it in the future!

    • Ahh, right. I do remember someone (forgot who, I think it’s not the author herself), describing it as a children’s picture book in the afterword, and I can certainly see it as that since the novel really gives off that vibe.

    • I can see the fairy tale vibe to Mimizuku, especially when considering the original tales were often very dark. Monsters turn up in folklore all around the world, and it’s interesting to examine the roles they tend to serve. I’ll be curious to see what direction the plot of this one takes.

  5. Mimizuku and The Prince of Night sounds very interesting to me. I also like the style of the illustrations!I was wondering where I could buy/download it tough.
    I might have made a typo while searching or something, but I can’t seem to find it on Amazon? Do you happen to have a link for me?

    Thank you for always informing us all about every new update! I appreciate it!

  6. Well, I have only read Mimizuku.
    Indeed I keep wondering about why she wants to be eaten. It’s understandable she wants die, but it not relieved why exactly this way, however I think somewhere in discussions in which that “Holy Knight” participated is a hint about.
    Other thing, Mimizuku hates people, but still she helped that old man who get lost in the woods, so I guess her hate is not only thing she feels towards humans.
    Also I think Kuro known something about Fukurou, and also thing that girl can help him or is needed, for example when he told her to go to the mansion, or about that flower.

    I’m pretty sure Holy Knight knows Mimizuku, the question is, if he a good or bad character, maybe he was involved and so he was thinking she is already dead? I guess I like hidden plots too much, so I’m anticipating one here ^^”.

    • Other thing, Mimizuku hates people, but still she helped that old man who get lost in the woods, so I guess her hate is not only thing she feels towards humans.

      Yes, this part surprised me a bit. Despite her disdain for human society, she was still quick to assist an individual in need. We do know that she has always considered herself lower than everyone else (given how she has always been treated), so it may have been a straightforward reaction rather than an act of empathy. It certainly could be a combination of such factors as well, however.

      I’m pretty sure Holy Knight knows Mimizuku, the question is, if he a good or bad character, maybe he was involved and so he was thinking she is already dead?

      So far the story has presented the prince in a seemingly positive light, considering how he makes such an effort to spend his time among the everyday folk and be an approachable fellowman rather than an imposing figurehead. Whether or not there’s any connection between him and Mimizuku remains to be seen, but I imagine there will still be a conflict that arises in the form of misunderstanding between the human and monster worlds.

      • Prince indeed is shown as a good person, it doesn’t mean he don’t do bad things, especially in order to protect those folks and other people.
        Anyway, idea of misunderstanding happening seems to be well-aimed, especially if he consider what Kuro said – he (it?) have read a lot of books, but still he doesn’t understand people, that’s why he joined Mimizuku. Indeed it could be a hint what can happen next.

        Anyway, book succeeded in hooking me, even if usually I don’t read such kind of them.

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