Thursday, December 16, 2010


Hiryuu Souichi moves into the mansion his father left behind after his suicide. The several mannequins standing around there count to the lesser mysteries Souchi encounters in his new environment. Strange sounds at night, threatening letters and the staring gazes from the neighbourhood and eventually a murder incident drive Souchi into calling Shimada Kiyoshi, an old friend of his to make sense of the strange happenings that begin to entangle him.

I don't know how my reading experience would have been different if I did not know from any related source how peculiar this work can be considered as in the context of Ayatsuji's yakata-series. I certainly was prepared for a different twist and outcome but it wasn't that hard to guess anyway, predisposed or not, at least for today's standards. Nevertheless I failed at actually pinpointing the culprit with evidence instead through mere hunches due to a very simple but mean narrative trick by Ayatsuji... again.

Apart from that Ayatsuji's gothic suspense narration definitely really shines through for the first time in the series. The plot is creeping a bit in the first half but the way Ayatsuji constructs and depicts the setting and atmosphere and how he narrates the characters actions, backgrounds and feelings is top-notch and almost comparable to a movie's lushness. Therefore in terms of plot this volume might actually be my favorite in the series so far. The others were definitely more entertaining and fun to read, but in the end they always stayed 'mere' entertainment, even if suishakan no satsujin is pretty awesome in almost any aspect, but while meirokan was the pure rollercoaster entertainment extreme, ningyoukan instead focussed on plot and atmosphere, which is perfectly fine since I don't want to read the same thing over and over again, as much as I love series with recurrent themes.

Actually, even considering the thematic context, this is a work that should not be looked down upon even if it's not an excellent orthodox mystery. Especially taking into account how the mansion plays a totally different role this time, you can see how the author's writing process itself over the course of his series is already a very self-reflexive one. Here the mansion only makes up one piece of the whole complex instead of being an engulfing framework that causes chaos for its inhabitants. Its position in the context of the series is what makes this novel an interesting read especially because it is part of Ayatsuji Yukito's yakata-series.

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