魍魎の匣 ~ Box of Goblins

A man is sitting in a train, where he meets a stranger with a box. From within that box he hears a soft whispering, more like a sigh. The stranger is more than ready to show him the secret of his box, which is the upper body of a young girl. Like a doll she is fitted inside, forever beautiful.
It would change his life forever…

Kusumoto Yoriko is a gloomy teenager who is shunned by her classmates and is ashamed of her mother’s lascivious behaviour. The mere smell of the strange men leaving and entering her home drives her mad and her mother does not seem to care at all.
The only bright spot in her life is Yuzuki Kanako, the most popular girl in her school, who decided to be Yoriko’s friend out of the blue. Together they read poetry, bathe in the moonlight and change the life of the other forever…

On the outskirts of the city the legend of demons dismembering people is going around, after the severed limbs of young girls are found scattered across the area.
Sekiguchi Tatsumi, Enokizu Reijirô and Chûzenji Akihiko are drawn into those strange events and their lifes will be changed forever…

Only the second book in his hyakkiyagyô series and it already reached the infamous brick-format for which Kyôgoku is famous for. Nonetheless the book is an engaging read and continues the adventures of the characters introduced in Ubume no Natsu and thrusts them into a new spiral of grotesque murders. The cast this time is much bigger and there are several more threads that are being developed parallel to each other. Beside that we also have a sort of meta-narrative encompassing the ordeals depicted in the plot which creates a theme for the arcs which all lead together in the end.

What I found interesting is that this novel deals much less with the actual murder case but much more with problems that appear to be of contemporary nature. Thinking more about it it becomes apparent how Kyôgoku wove in his thoughts about his own time and clad them in a nostalgic costume. The feeling of a world on the brink of death, the question of believe and salvation, life support, the moral limitations of medical science and many other questions are raised within the plot. It is very similar to how the first novel was also about other questions than just murder, but the focus is shifted more to the characters thoughts and actions, which makes it slightly less of a classical detective novel than Ubume was.
There is still a murder going on and to be fair it is much more solvable than the Ubume case. While the story is told in a slightly disjointed way and that might throw you off more about the aspect of the order of events, there are many more hints because the story is told from more perspectives and one is especially helpful to make sense of the situation.

The only thing that made it a bit harder for me to push through was, that I had actually seen the anime and movie adaptions. While the movie actually made up it’s own story and only used the basic structure of the novel, the anime version simply cut down to the chase and focused on the central events, which is the murder case. This lead to a bit of impatience on my side, because while it was highly interesting to see the characters developing further and knowing some things that were only hinted at in the adaptions, it was pretty hard to bear knowing how long it would actually take for the tension to rise and for the story to leave it’s introductory passages. For instance, while I loved the plot about the cult and found it pretty interesting to learn more about it, it felt like I was reading the novel only for it’s additional information. I have to say that I find it unfair of myself to treat the novel in that way, but if anyone is interested in reading it and has not yet seen the anime adaption, read it before watching it.

I’m already thrilled to learn how it will develop in Kyôkotsu no Yume.

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~ by seizonsha on 2010/12/17.

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