Saturday, December 25, 2010

無貌伝 ~人形姫の産声~

"I'll show you a doll."
With this words Haruka invites Akitsu to her home. An island where strangeness gathers, which is inhabited by dolls that look like Harukas younger self and their owners. After Akitsu arrives Haruka and the memories of a whole day vanish. When one life extuingishes, one doll comes to life. The dolls' birth opens the curtain for a tragedy. Will Akitsu be able to discover the sad truth hidden on the island?

A story from Akitsu's and Haruka's olden days before they got into the constitution the reader might know from the previous two books in this series. Might know, because you could actually just as well start the series with this novel, according to Mochizuki Yamori. I would not be that sure concerning that aspect but it definitely makes more sense than starting with the second novel since that one more or less makes up a direct sequel and relies on already laid out character structures. The third novel certainly is easily accessible due to its point in time in the context of the whole plot frame. However I thought the theme of the Hitodenashi was touched on and described more in Mochizuki's debut work and it's definitely more fun reading about Akitsu and Haruka when you actually know what a tragic destiny it will turn out to be. Fortunately even if you know about the state in the first two novels it does not spoil the content of the third one since the story does not even lead to those tragic developments and there still seems to be a lot waiting for the readers of this series.

Waiting indeed, after what was almost comparable to a cliffhanger at the end of the second novel... which is why I have to admit that I was also a bit disappointed not to be told what's happening in the present time of the series' plot, but on the other hand it also was about time that Mochizuki told the readers more about Akitsu and Haruka after those two preceeding novels before actually delving into the meat of the 'main' plot. I just hope the next novel will depict the events that were slighty touched on before so the readers know how Akitsu and Haruka of the present came to be so we can go in with the story in... the fifth book... which will hopefully be published earlier than in 3 years...

Other than that I definitely enjoyed the setting, the characterizations and how Mochizuki again elaborated on her series' theme of shapelessness in life and interpersonal relationships with the characters struggling to find a definite essence in their existence. Somehow she really succeeds in celebrating this minimalistic narrative approach without granting the reader insufficient information which in the end turns out to be a work that can only get across via the medium book.

The third novel due to its setting and narration had a more classical mystery feeling to it than the preceeding work which relied more on storytelling and suspense than anything else (which was also awesome in its own way). Still not as classical as the first novel but then again without any derivations and enhancements Mochizuki could have just written a totally orthodox series which would have been unable to convey what her actual series is doing. Mubouden uses the mystery genre like a flexible framework and integrates fantasy aspects to tell its plot and depict its characters and it's fantastic in doing so and I would not want it to be different. If I wanted that same old Yokomizo-/Ranpo-inspired setting from her first work over and over again, there are plenty of novels out there, much more than I'll ever be able to read in my whole lifetime...

That said, the solution to the incident was not particularly shocking or hard to guess after you got the last missing piece near the finale of the book but the mystery was constructed well enough to keep me interested parallel to the story itself. Mochizuki is so good in fleshing out her setting and characters that I don't really care that much about whether any fancy tricks are included in her murder cases or not. Overall I'd say that concerning the mystery part of Mubouden, this novel scales somewhere between the two preceeding ones.

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