Recipe for Gertrude 5

February 10, 2012

Nari Kusakawa – CMX – 2007 – 5 volumes

Such a good book! I doubted the fact that a volume of short stories post-ending would be very engaging. I forgot how much I like Yuki Midorikawa and her characters. I think I may have liked these short stories better than I liked the end of the series last time. And I liked that ending quite a bit. Also, it’s worth mentioning that none of these stories are really romantic, and I still loved all of them. That’s really saying something.

The stories are in a wide range of genres and even time periods and places, which was completely unexpected and a welcome surprise. The first one is the most “mundane” in the context of the series, and is simply a demon that appears and wants her hand back, so Gertrude and Sahara have to drive her away. The second story takes place in Canada in the 1960s and is, bizarrely, about Gertrude trying to track down a Bigfoot. The third is actually about Curtis, one of the side characters, and is set in Victorian England. He teams up with another demon and takes an assignment to kill a human fortune-teller, but winds up striking the bargain that costs him his eye. Another is about Puppen and Mariotte and their extra-curricular activities at Sahara’s school. Yet another features Puppen and Mariotte on a weight loss campaign, along with an explanation at the end about why that’s a bad idea. The final one is a strange one, again featuring Puppen and Mariotte, and is told from the perspective of a little boy who has just lost his grandfather.

I would be hard-pressed to say which of these stories was my favorite. I loved the Curtis one, which was probably the most well-developed in the book, and was a little romantic. I also liked the first, which was the least exciting in terms of something “different,” but was in the spirit of the series, and I liked that anyway, right? I also loved the Puppen and Mariotte story that showed them participating in club activities. I didn’t even like the characters that much, and I still loved that story. And the weight loss story. There’s just something about watching those two enjoy themselves that’s quite compelling, and that “something” is one of the things that makes this series so special. They’re just a blast to read about.

The whole series is good in an understated way, but don’t shy away from this final volume because the storyline ended last time. It’s worth picking up with the rest, and I have to say, this is the most fun I’ve had with this series since the early volume. And again, I liked the series an awful lot, so getting a volume like this to go out on is a rare treat indeed. I hope to see more of Nari Kusakawa’s work in the future, but I doubt any publisher aside from CMX would take a risk like this anymore. She’s charming and compelling, but not nearly as ostentatious or attention-getting as a best-selling series. A shame, because she’s still very, very good in her way.

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