Amnesia Labyrinth 2

July 14, 2013

Nagaru Tanigawa / Natsumi Kohane – Seven Seas Entertainment – 2011 – 2+ volumes

Okay! I was surprised by how much I liked volume one of this, but unfortunately the second one got buried under my significant to-read pile and was forgotten. I thought I’d clear it out of my backlog while I had some time off this weekend.

Now, I was a little more excited about this than I should have been, because I thought volume two was the last one. Apparently this is an ongoing series, but it looks as if no new volumes have come out since 2009 in Japan, so we may never know. I did the research just now to make sure, but I actually finished this volume thinking that was how the series ended. I’m so glad that wasn’t the case, because there was absolutely no conclusion.

There’s some exposition here, to be sure. The family situation doesn’t get any less crude or creepy, and in fact we only meet Souji’s “twin brother,” locked up in the basement of the family compound. While it’s not stated explicitly, and I’d like to give Tanigawa more credit than to be this obvious, I fear that there’s a rather obvious plot device rearing its head right here as well.

Other than that… things get messed up for Yukako. Very messed up. I’m not entirely sure how that will work out, because I haven’t decided how or what level of crazy the family is working on. Some characters seem crazy in one scene, and normal in others, so it’s hard to tell.

Randomly, towards the end of the book, there’s a flashback to what appears to be an ancient Japanese band of vaguely supernatural-flavored assassins. This doesn’t tie into the plot nearly at all right now, so I was especially mad when that was thrown in as an unrelated thread at the end of the volume, then the story ended. But! Supposedly, there’s more coming at some point. I suspect Tanigawa’s output has been rather slow since the Haruhi Suzumiya series hit it big, but I so do want to see more of his work, and I’d love to read more of this one.

Amnesia Labyrinth 1

February 27, 2011

Nagaru Tanigawa / Natsumi Kohane – Seven Seas Entertainment – 2011 – 2+ volumes

I wasn’t sure what to think of this volume. I was creeped out and intrigued in turns, and ultimately, I wanted hooked enough to wish for the second volume and some answers for the mystery. I gotta say, I liked it a whole lot more than I thought I would within the first couple pages.

Granted, the book starts with a murder. A kid gets pushed in front of an oncoming train. There are few hooks better than that in the first few pages. Then, the action switches over to Souji, a rather stoic and soulless boy, and his homecoming. He’s greeted by three very enthusiastic sisters, and as the volume goes on, we learn that these sisters are not only overbearing, but creepy as well, and several make passes at Souji that he simply ignores. He has agreed to come back to his family’s home for personal reasons, though officially he is taking his place as heir after the unexplained absence of his older brother.

The other side of the story is a murder investigation going on at Souji’s new school. Three unrelated students have died, and Souji is drafted to help find out who the killer is by an outgoing girl named Yukako. This part of the story reminds me a lot of Spiral, a series I’m quite fond of. The whole book did, to some extent, with the murder investigations that the main character helps out with due to his intelligence and connections, the messed-up family situation, and the male main character and spunky female character tied into intelligence activity.

Throughout the course of the volume, we are shown the increasingly more sordid family life Souji leads, information and background of all the murder victims at his school, and a relationship that seems to be forming between Souji and Yukako. The elements of the story are a little chaotic and don’t seem to have much to do with each other, but by the end of the volume, the reader is given just enough information to be hungry for more. We don’t know anything about the killer or the root of the complicated and messed-up situation at Souji’s house, and it seems confusing throughout, but a few revelations by the end of the volume means that enough makes sense that… well, we need an explanation.

I like the hints of the supernatural we get at the end of the volume. The entire story was rooted firmly in reality and most of the problems seemed psychological in nature, but the last few pages imply that some of the problems might be supernatural in nature. Maybe not, but I’m curious either way.

The series shares a writer in common with the Haruhi Suzumiya novels, and while I’m 50/50 on him at this point, I do like the way his stories come together in the end. I’m not sure if Amnesia Labyrinth is more than two volumes, but if it is, I’ll be very curious how he puts everything together next time. The parts with Souji’s sisters really put me off due to their implied (sometimes very heavily implied) sexual undertones, but the overarching mystery is interesting enough that I was willing to overlook those parts. It also helps that later, the story reveals that one or more of the sisters might not be related, despite the titles he uses for them throughout.

This was a review copy provided by Seven Seas Entertainment.