LN Reading Program 2 — August 7

(Pictured: Our Journey to the End of the Ceasing World)

(Pictured: Our Journey to the End of the Ceasing World)

For the first week of August’s reading program, we will discuss the first third of Re:Zero (volume 1) and Our Journey to the End of the Ceasing World. For Re:Zero, you need to have read up to chapter 2: “A Struggle Too Late” (page 68). Meanwhile for Our Journey, you need to have read up to the asterisk page break in the chapter titled “Wings.”

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.)

Re:Zero

Subaru has found himself flung into a fantasy world! He meets a magical girl and her talking cat sprite, but the fun and games is cut short when someone kills him at the local thief den.

I’m sure he’ll be fine though, don’t worry.

Discussion Points

I have not seen the anime adaptation everyone’s been talking about, so this is my first time experiencing the story of Re:Zero. Unfortunately I’m not sure what about it has enthralled everyone so much, or at least I haven’t noticed anything special from the beginning of this volume. Is there a particular aspect of the story’s premise that hooked you? In what ways might Re:Zero stand out amidst the sea of “trapped in another world” novels?

Regarding Subaru and his genre-savvy narration, I have mixed feelings. One might call the story a parody, in that the protagonist (or the author) is very much self-aware about all the tropes of the sub-genre, but overall it feels like the story is still playing things straight. It’s the sort of joke where the characters note “isn’t it funny how these stories always have this thing happen?” and then that thing happens. Maybe this humor works for most readers, but I feel like I need something more.

I’m going to go ahead and say I don’t care for Satella (who I always read as Stella). The story keeps emphasizing how she is such a gentle and kind soul, but she has such a harsh tongue it’s difficult for me to buy it. Did the story really need to spend all those pages having her struggle to come up with an excuse for NOT leaving Subaru to die in the alley? (Because that was apparently an extraordinarily noble thing to do?) Why is it so bad for people to just be nice to each other? The whole scene is particularly bizarre when later on we get an extensive “save the cat” tangent in which the two leads help out a lost little girl.

Perhaps my biggest issue with the story though is its pacing. I recall making this complaint for Log Horizon, but I feel that it’s an even more prevalent problem in Re:Zero. The author has this tendancy to have something happen, and then tell us what happened, and then tell us again, and again, and again, and again. And then a little while later, tell us about it another time, just for good measure. I heard that this was a web novel that had enough material to last over 40 volumes, and now I can see why!

For those of you who haven’t seen the anime, what do you think will happen next? How do you think this story will handle tone? Do you think there is a reason behind Subaru’s sudden and unexplained appearance in this fantasy world?

TnD_C0006

Our Journey to the End of the Ceasing World

Everyone is vanishing, losing their memories and identities. In a desolate part of Japan, a boy and girl ride a motorscooter around aimlessly, making the most of their remaining days of life.

Discussion Points

In some ways this story is pretty different from the norm, but at the same time there’s a rather familiar feel to it all. Perhaps it’s the two main characters, whose interactions are reminding me a lot of the dynamics from many other stories (including Re:Zero, actually). To be honest, I kind of don’t care about the boy and girl?

That said, I think this is more of a concept-driven story. What do you think? What would you say this story is actually about so far?

What would you do if you were in the situation of the boy and girl? Do you think they had nobody left but each other, wherever it was they came from? What is it exactly that they hope to get out of their journey?

In what ways do you feel Our Journey differs from other works of post-apocalyptic fiction? Would you place Our Journey in that sort of subgenre in the first place?

Any thoughts on the first vignette, featuring the farmer and secretary? Any predictions for how things will go for the second vignette, featuring the aspiring pilot?

Random aside: I do find it a little odd that the characters have had to struggle (slightly) to find supplies. I mean, unless they’re in the middle of an uninhabited part of Hokkaido, I don’t feel like they would have to go so far to find a few dozen abandoned convenience stores. Perhaps the cities have all been looted already? I suppose we have to just roll with things, given the lack of details.

———

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.

10 responses to “LN Reading Program 2 — August 7

  1. Kinda hard to answer most of those questions when I have watched all of the anime up to this point.

    What I love about it, hasn’t happened yet. Though you wrote in the series notes that if you like this you would like All You Need is Kill. And I love stories like All You Need is Kill and the less-deadly American movie Groundhog Day. Given a second chance to try the same difficult situations over again, and to make the main character a better person over that time.

    I do agree the pacing is kinda slow. And the humor doesn’t match up to how much I laughed out loud watching the first episode of the anime. I think the voice acting helps a lot. I’m not sure how my fondness for the story would be if I read it first.

    In fairness to Satella, she is really focused on her stolen item, and that’s all I’ll say for now.

    • Thanks for commenting! Re:Zero did win the poll for what to read this month by a landslide, but I do wonder how much all the fans of the anime will want to discuss the book, if they already know what will happen. I’m all for hearing how the two forms compare though.
      The time loop is a popular concept. Even just from the summer reading this year, HakoMari worked with it as well. I’ll be curious to see how Re:Zero handles it in the chapters to come.
      I feel like some of my issues with the writing would not appear as strongly in the anime. But in part that would depend on how much of the conversations are getting edited at all.
      Interestingly, we are never told what Satella’s badge is or why it’s such a big deal–even after so many pages of Subaru and Satella talking about various things. This perhaps adds to my frustration regarding the first chapter, to be honest.

  2. “That said, I think this is more of a concept-driven story. What do you think? What would you say this story is actually about so far?”
    And it’s a pretty nice concept! I think the story is all about carving their own identities in the journey, and finding the meaning of their existences in the world — because after all, they are living in a world where their names and identities are lost, and barely a soul even remembers them.

    “I’m going to go ahead and say I don’t care for Satella”
    …I’m sure you are not alone :p

    • Yes, I think that’s one of the main things Tabi ni Deyou is going for. If you don’t even know who you are, what is it that you would want to do with your life? The issue is further exacerbated when considering there has also been a societal collapse and an extensive loss of life in general. The remaining people have their dreams still though, and perhaps the author is saying that’s enough.

      I have not followed Re:Zero over the past few months too closely, but I have noticed most people have taken a liking for one of the maid characters much more than all the other girls. I’ll have to wait for the introduction of the remaining characters before I can chime in on that front. =P

  3. Reading the first volume of the Re:ZERO light novel after watching the anime has been interesting. There’s a lot of foreshadowing evident here, which I obviously can’t point out because that would be spoiler-ific. I also noticed that Subaru’s social awkwardness, while annoying, is convincingly portrayed. He’s simultaneously too gregarious and prone to bouts of physical anxiety.

    The beginning is definitely still the weakest part of the story, though. I agree that much of the dialogue is repetitive.

    • Good to hear. There’s actually a good opportunity for the author to include a lot more foreshadowing, considering the light novel is a second version of the story (following the web novel).

      Subaru is an odd case of a character who likes to act cool, but then immediately comments about how lame he is (his whole self-awareness shtick is non-stop in this story). In most anime, LNs, etc, it would be a side character (often the lead girl) who would provide the steady “you’re so lame” commentary. Of course, we get that here too with Satella, making the running gag all the more repetitive. (Subaru acts cool -> Subaru: “I’m so dumb (wink)” -> Satella: “You’re so dumb” -> Puck, the thugs, and everyone else in the whole city: “This guy’s so dumb” -> Satella: “Yes, incredibly dumb” -> Subaru: “Hey, I know I said I’m dumb, but that doesn’t mean you all have to say it too…”) Perhaps there’s some accurate commentary being made here on the self-deprecation of social nerds/losers in general though. (I mean, am I any different? OTL)

    • Probably not! There wasn’t nearly as much discussion as I had hoped for the summer reading. I am considering other options for the future, in regard to eliciting discussion for individual volumes.

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