四畳半神話大系 ~ A Compendium of Myths from a Crappy Room

Tomorrow starts the second noitamina series of this season and just in time for it I was able to finish the novel this anime is going to be based on. Morimi Tomihiko’s Yojouhan Shinwa Taikei is his second novel and is highly influenced by the style of magical realism, meaning that elements of fantasy and weirdness are inserted into everyday situations.
I’m pretty excited how the anime might turn out, after the book left me a bit indecisive in the end, it was a good book but it had certain flaws that are a bit harder to ignore for me.

This review is going to contain slight spoilers, so if you want to approach either the novel or the anime without any knowledge about what to expect, it’s better to stop now.

We follow the life of a nameless student in his third year at a certain university in Kyôto. His life is manipulated by his demonic best friend, a god living next door and his choice of a club in his first year. His only aim was to lead a quiet life and get a girlfriend with pretty black hair, but a quiet life seems blocked for him and the girls around him are a drunk dentist, a insectophobic tomboy and a lovedoll.
Those are not his only problems on his quest for the rose-coloured campus-life, gods, moths and a proxy-proxy-proxy-… war all seem to get in his way.

The book is divided into 4 chapters, each about 100 pages long. The structure should already be easy to guess for people who have read anything by VN author 竜騎士07 known for his most famous works Higurashi and Umineko no naku koro ni. Each chapter shows the events of the narrator’s student-life developing differently as he chooses another club at the start of his first year. But even those this is an important part of the plot and his message it is also what kept me from reading through it in one go. While the stories do depict different events, the limited cast and not that much different events make the first 3 chapters a bit harder to read, after a while you get the feeling of ‘been there, done that’ and the only thing that actually keeps you going is the really witty style that Morimi’s got.

The writing is the strongest part of the novel, because it really makes you feel with the nameless protagonist as he becomes a toy to the higher powers(?) around him. Morimi also makes the characters so likable even though they act like total nutjobs. If you’re a student (like me) it really feels a bit like events taken right out of your own life…well, except for the fantastic elements.
Another really positive point is the 4th chapter. I really didn’t expect a different event like that after the first 3 chapters and was a bit tired of actually going on. In the end it develops into a completely different direction, gives answers to some questions I thought were already answered and fuses a lot more ‘magic’ into the plot.

The characters are well-chosen and different enough. Even though he was characterized as a bastard I grew to like Ozu the most, maybe just because he was such a nutjob. Hanuki was also quite a cool character, who doesn’t know a student who likes to drink a bit too much and ends up doing rather embarrassing things. Aijima and Jougasaki stayed rather bland, I don’t know if it really bothered me as it didn’t really matter to the plot, but I would have liked to know a little bit more about them.

I’m still not sure whether I should read 夜は短し歩けよ乙女 (Take a short walk in the night, girl). It is set in the same world as 四畳半 but I’m rather busy right now. Maybe the characters who stayed rather shallow this time will be developed a step further…well, someday I will take the time.

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~ by seizonsha on 2010/04/21.

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