Asian Beat

January 31, 2008

Here’s a short story collection from Hakase Mizuki.  I had to read something else of hers after I liked Demon Ororon so much, so I got both this and Baku.

This volume has four short stories.  The first one… it wasn’t entirely clear what was going on.  There’s a main male and female character who appear to have a relationship of convenience.  They seem to comfort each other since the boy is in a relationship with a married woman and the girl doesn’t get along with her stepmother.  Eventually I think the two work out their problems, or at least one does, but I was pretty confused the whole way through.

The next three stories are all about the same three characters. I remember their names, too.  There’s a brother and sister named Mushi and Jam, and their friend who lives with them named Yuki.  Mushi and Jam live by themselves in their apartment because their mom is dead and their father is an abusive alcoholic painter who doesn’t show up very often, and Yuki stays with them because his father is a Yakuza boss and he’s got problems at home with his brothers.  Most of the three stories are about how hard the three have it, how they contemplate suicide at various times, why they go on living, and what events can make them snap.  All sorts of goth things go on.

Much like Ororon, you kind of get beat over the head with a Very Sad message and you have to sit and watch the characters work out their problems, or not work out their problems, for themselves.  A lot of the characters are hard to keep apart, though Mushi and Yuki have different hair color, so that’s a little easier.  Despite all this though, everything seems really genuine and passionate.  The passion is not directed at romance here, so you’re always sort of afraid the characters are finally going to snap, but it makes for compelling reading.

It’s not the best or most compelling short story collection you’re going to read, and it’s actually pretty depressing, but I liked it well enough.