Zaregoto 2: The Kubishime Romanticist

 

The narrator is someone capable of mostly ignoring her

 

by dm00

The second volume of NisiOisiN’s Zaregoto series arrived last week, and I read it over the weekend. It follows a couple of months after the incidents of the first book — the book opens with the narrator drowning his tastebuds in kimchi to burn them out, resetting them so he can enjoy mundane food once again, now that he’s no longer trapped on an isolated island with the world’s greatest cook. As he is doing this, he is confronted by Mikoko Aoii, who invites him to a friend’s birthday party. The narrator finds himself drifting along with events (that include murders, an encounter with a serial-killer, and the return of humanity’s strongest consultant, Aikawa Jun.

I’m not sure — these books remind me of Bret Easton Ellis substituting otaku references for designer-brand name-dropping. For this volume it seems to be Japanese mystery writers or characters more than anime and manga (save for Aoii referring to the strength of the narrator’s AT-field). There’s a curious void at the heart of the characters — particularly the central narrator — and Isin spends more time telling than showing as the narrator talks about his own emptiness. At one point the narrator seems to have a refreshingly human reaction. However, it’s very normality should tip the reader off that something is up.

The blue-haired moeblob hacker is nearly reduced to a footnote.

I’d forgotten from the first book that these are mystery novels with an unreliable narrator. If we are to solve the mystery we have to realize that the narrator may be hiding vital information from us. Indeed, the narrator comes close to being so misleading as to hide necessary clues. He comes close, but doesn’t quite cross that line — when Jun Aikawa does figure things out, she uses evidence that we are also privy to.

And yet, something about the books makes them more compelling for me than, say Haruki Murakami. After finishing this novel, I think the leap to the supernatural that happens in Bakemonogatari is a good strategy for NisiOisiN — it might, ironically, make the characters more human by giving them a reason to be less human.

I’m more-or-less hooked. Del Rey, why not bring the next volume out a little sooner than late 2011?

7 Responses to “Zaregoto 2: The Kubishime Romanticist”


  1. 1 Wooga July 30, 2010 at 12:47 pm

    Wow, someone besides me read this! I too cant wait for the third volume, but I know I’ll have to.

  2. 2 ETERNAL August 6, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    Just finished reading this. Honestly, it’s been a year since I read the first book and I didn’t know what to expect at the time, so I can’t even remember what happened other than that it got really confusing. Needless to say, the whole unreliable narrator thing surprised me, but I’m glad that it made sense in the end. I’m not big on the whodunnit stuff; I like to enjoy the twists as they’re revealed. I’m probably the only Umineko fan not actively trying to “solve” it because there’s no way of knowing if it’s even solvable.

    As for Ii-chan’s “emptiness”, I’m very much interested in seeing what happens to him, but I don’t want to pry too far for fear of spoilers. I wouldn’t be surprised if his own past eventually becomes more central to the plot than the standard mystery novel structure, but who knows. The series is 9 volumes long as we’ve only read two.

  3. 3 raeylokami January 6, 2011 at 6:22 am

    I was so excited to read this book, waiting two years for it’s release. I reread the first one before I got this one in the mail (the wonders of pre-order). This book was so unlike the first one, and adds more clues to Ii-chan’s past in Houston. I am on my tippy toes waiting for the next one! I only got the first one because of the cover, but now I’m reading them for not only the story but for the way it makes me think about life. If I was smarter, I would be able to say what I want to be saying about this book — the words are there but if I said them I’d only confuse you.

    The only downfall for this book is that I cringed every time Ii-chan broke a bone. Cringe! The ending was a bit annoying, but the author did write this book in three days so it makes sense that it seemed rushed.

  4. 4 Sean (Otakurotica) January 8, 2011 at 2:42 am

    Nisioisin has become my most favorite author alongside Murakami Haruki who kind of has a similar air to his story. I read Kubikiri Cycle and Kubishime Romanticist in less than a week’s time because I was so hooked.

    I find myself being able to relate to Ii-kun though I doubt I would ever be able to reach that level of apathy and lack of human empathy. At the same time, I found him to be such an incredibly detestable character. Mikoko turned out to be the instigator of everything (sadly enough because I found to be so adorable for the most part) and though she is in the wrong for her crime, the way Ii-kun knowingly drove her to suicide really hit me hard.

    That said, I cannot wait for the third volume. I simply must find out how things continue as well see how it veers from the whole mystery angle.

    • 5 ARQ January 19, 2011 at 9:27 pm

      unfortunately since Del Rey has gone out of business and been absorbed into a new company, im afraid we may be in for a long wait…

      • 6 raeylokami January 19, 2011 at 9:59 pm

        WHAT!! Darn!! They better still publish what hasn’t finished yet!! Not just Zaregoto, but this manga series Yozakura Quartet (and other things) I’m waiting on the new volumes!! Aww hell no!!

      • 7 dm00 January 20, 2011 at 11:41 am

        I think Del Rey has been a subsidiary of Random House for a long time. What’s happened is that Kodansha has decided to have their own US distribution (apparently also through Random House). Most of the staff of the Del Rey Manga division have moved to the new speakers-to-Kodansha group.

        Del Rey Manga has said that they’ll be finishing titles like xxxHoLic, but that the new Kodansha imprint will be taking responsibility for most of the other titles (“taking responsibility” does not necessarily mean “continue publishing”, however).

        I don’t know what will happen with the third and subsequent volumes. I hope they keep coming out, but I’m not sure they’ve sold well-enough to justify it. I hope they have.


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