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#26
Yeah military speech is always pretty hard but I was expecting Full metal Panic to focus much more on the day to day stuff of the characters' school lives so I was a little caught off guard. It's not unlikely the focus shifts that way as the story progresses though since at this point the main character has pretty much only just arrived there.

I'm about 2/3 of the way through ダンマチ now and I have to say I'm enjoying it quite a lot. It's certainly not anything deep but I do find the setting to be far more interesting than expected. There's a clear sense that the gods (both genders) are something greater than everyone else but just play at being normal people. There's a lot of room to explore how this society encompasses a group of immortals capable of doing (we're told) literally anything they want whenever they want, but don't because of rules they've agreed amongst themselves.

So far though the book has mostly focused on Bell, a young boy who recently became an adventurer, and his struggles to become stronger and reach the same level as the target of his infatuation, the "sword princess". The supporting cast is pretty much exclusively female and though that's a negative point for me it didn't feel too excessively haremy. I.e. It doesn't keep setting up echi accidents, but do expect to be constantly reminded that all women are beautiful (feminist propaganda lololol) and you may just want to skip over all the descriptions of their hair.

Difficulty wise it's pretty easy, but I'm still quite a way behind where I watched in the anime and it's my first time reading a Japanese book I already know the plot of so I'm not really sure how useful that impression is.

Aikynaro Wrote:I'm starting 雨ふる本屋 by 日向理恵子. Or restarting, rather - I attempted it quite a long time ago and found it too difficult. Now it's trivially easy, so obviously something is going right.
Awesome! I love it when this happens. Big Grin
Edited: 2015-05-30, 9:25 am
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#27
Finished 雨ふる本屋. It was good, but mostly didn't excite me. The setting was interesting but the plot dragged all through the middle. It's only at the end that something important to the protagonist is at stake - it would have been a lot better if that had been introduced earlier.
The writing style was also kind of 'heavy' feeling and piled on the similes for description, which is okay, but reading in Japanese I'd much rather deal with more clear and direct writing styles.

--

Started 天山の巫女ソニン by 菅野雪虫. Actually about a quarter of the way through it.

blurb:
生後まもなく、巫女に見こまれた天山につれていかれたソニンは、十二年間の修行の後、素質がないと里に帰される。家族との温かい生活に戻ったのもつかのま、今度は思いがけない役割をになってお城に召されるが…。三つの国を舞台に、運命に翻弄されつつも明るく誠実に生きる、落ちこぼれの巫女ソニンの物語、第一部。新しいファンタジーの誕生!講談社児童文学新人賞受賞。

I'm liking it so far, although I'm a bit wary of country-girl-gets-taken-to-the-castle kinds of plots. Hoping it will have an interesting take on that though. I quite like this 'Japanese style' of fantasy novel though - it's quite different from other fantasy I've read.
The writing style is very clear and easy to read. There are quite a few words I don't know revolving around country life in a medievalish setting, but they tend to cluster together and overall it's very easy going. Furigana is a bit sparser than would perhaps be nice, but not sparse enough to be a problem.

Hoping to channel my uselessness into reading this week, and at this rate should finish it next weekend or so.
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#28
Aikynaro Wrote:Finished 雨ふる本屋. It was good, but mostly didn't excite me. The setting was interesting but the plot dragged all through the middle. It's only at the end that something important to the protagonist is at stake - it would have been a lot better if that had been introduced earlier.
The writing style was also kind of 'heavy' feeling and piled on the similes for description, which is okay, but reading in Japanese I'd much rather deal with more clear and direct writing styles.
Does the title mean "The Bookstore Where It Is Raining"?
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#29
Yeah - The setting is a bookshop where books are grown from seeds and it constantly rains inside.
Of course, it's also a pun on 古本屋.
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#30
This is somewhat late due to tadoku but I finished the first volume of ダンマチ a while ago and have just started the second. The ending felt a little contrived and slightly overstretched my suspension of disbelief but in this type of book that's not too great a sin. Overall it's basically what I'd hoped Zero no tsukaima would be and I enjoyed it a lot more than expected.

For the most part it was a very easy read so perhaps it would even be a good choice for anyone looking to graduate to light novels, but don't underestimate the difficulty of breaking in to the historical fantasy genre if you don't already have some basis for it.

I also started ノーゲーム・ノーライフ (Amazon) and am now on the 3rd volume, so expect an update on that soon as well.

P.s. I also finally realised why Japanese authors make such a big deal out of different hair and eye colours and am now feeling slightly stupid. XD
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#31
Finished 天山の巫女ソニン. I liked it - it was a very easy read, reasonably well told story.
Unfortunately, it's very generic. Let me know if you've heard this one before: so a poor, but well educated girl with a special skill is taken by a prince to the castle and gets caught up in political intrigue.

Now, I'm not sure that I have seen this plot a thousand times, but I sure feel like I've seen it a thousand times. From the Japanese books I've read even at least two have similar things going, but they had quirkier settings and there was more going on. This book was playing it straight and there's no a lot of surprises.

For all that, I liked it enough that I plan to read the next book in the series. It wasn't dull to read, but I wish it had gone in a different direction.

--

Now on to 歌う樹の星 by 風野潮.
Blurb:
少女と少年と樹。歌の力が奇跡を起こす…。地球に似た星、ランタナ星を舞台に描く感動のSFファンタジー。

Alright, not the most inspiring or informative blurb out there, but I really wanted to read something science fiction and everything else I have is too difficult. Also, the cover art is nice.

Progress is a bit slow - mostly because video games but also because it's a bit dense.
Furigana placement feels pretty random. 終了 has furigana but technical titles and science words don't.

Anyway, don't want to judge it too much yet, but ... the ability to talk to plants is the dumbest thing ever. I really hope it gets stuck into the investigation of the planet and doesn't revolve too much around chatting to flowers...

Would be nice to finish in a week but at this rate, probably not possible.
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#32
After what feels like a very long time, I have finished 歌う樹の星.
Final verdict would have to be that it's not very good.
It's hard to get over the dumb premise. Okay, I get that it's not meant to be hard science fiction. But it would have taken only a very little bit of effort to give it a veneer of believability. I could accept being able to talk to alien space plants. I can't accept being able to talk to the flowers in your garden. Even in a purely fantasy story that would be dumb (come on - what are flowers actually going to have to say to you?), but in something where the setting is mostly science fiction oriented, it's particularly painful.
That said, I was enjoying thing up until about two thirds of the way through. Sure, the premise was dumb, but the characters weren't bad and things were going along at a nice pace. Laser gun shootouts are always fun. But when that bit was resolved it kept going and did the same stuff over again and I just stopped caring.

It could have been good, but the dumb premise and dumb plot killed it. If it had have just been a story about a brother and sister team investigating alien plant life that would have been cool, but it's like the author decided to merge lazy science fiction with lazy fantasy and see how it turned out. Very disappointing.

--

Next up: スターシップ・オペレーターズ by 水野良.
Blurb:
西暦二三〇〇年、地球をはるか一五〇〇光年離れたヘンリエッタ星域は、惑星国家間で戦闘状態にあった。強大な軍事国家“王国”を打倒するため、惑星国家キビの防衛大学士官候補生たちは、降伏した政府に代わって、就航直前の宇宙戦闘艦を購入し、宇宙の大海へと乗り出してゆく。その購入代金と運用費用を捻出するため、彼らは、宇宙規模のTVネットワークと契約するのであった。かくして、宇宙空間での戦闘を全世界にライブ放送するという専門チャンネルが誕生する。前代未聞の出来事に、全世界の世論は大きく揺れはじめる…水野良が挑むスペースファンタジーの新境地、待望の新シリーズここに開幕。

I haven't had much luck with light novels. Mostly because I'm too lazy to study kanji. But this time will hopefully be different.
I've seen the anime for this, so know basically how it goes and I won't be too upset if I'm missing detail. But from the first few pages it seems pretty readable. Though the amount of furigana is much too sparse for me broadly speaking, I can infer what most of the words are and get pretty much all the meaning. The main problem really is looking them up later so I can put them into my wordlist and eventually Anki.
But I'm hopeful that it's a bit like 歌う樹の星 in that once the technical words are dealt with and learnt, things start flowing smoothly. I don't think there's going to be much fancy purple prose or anything and the setting should be mostly constrained to inside the ship, so once all the words related to starships and space warfare are out of the way, should be good.

(no one seems to have liked the anime of this at all, but I really liked it. No one seems to like the book much either so hopefully things stay consistent there...)
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#33
I have to wonder - is no one else reading novels, or are you just not interested in posting about them?

Not that I mind talking to myself here, just - y'know - it's a bit lonely.

Anyway, finished Starship Operators.
And yeah, it wasn't very good. Just really poorly written, with the exception of the space battles it felt like a summary. Now, I was in it for the space battles, and while they were interesting enough, the characters were just so bland that it's hard to care if they get blown up or not. The anime was better because it didn't matter so much and there was lots of spectacle.
Every character could be summed up with a couple of words: 'husky voice', 'protagonist's friend', 'dickhead captain', 'rich bitch', 'the manager' and there's really nothing to them besides that. Not sure that I've seen a book with such flat characters before. The world is fleshed out mostly by infodumping - it never really explores anything, just tells you about it.
Despite all the technical terms, it was pretty easy to get through though. Helps that a lot of the technical terms have English furigana. The same words also get used again and again, so if you look something up you can be pretty sure it will come in handy later too. I reckon that that after I've anki'd the words I mined from here I'd be able to read the next book with not much trouble - though whether I can be bothered in another matter. But I do like space battles...

--

Next up: 雨の日のアイリス by 松山剛
ここにロボットの残骸がある。『彼女』の名は、アイリス。正式登録名称:アイリス・レイン・アンヴレラ。ロボット研究者・アンヴレラ博士のもとにいた家政婦ロボットであった。主人から家族同然に愛され、不自由なく暮らしていたはずの彼女が、何故このような姿になってしまったのか。これは彼女の精神回路から取り出したデータを再構築した情報―彼女が見、聴き、感じたことの…そして願っていたことの、全てである。第17回電撃小説大賞4次選考作。心に響く機械仕掛けの物語。

So far, really liking it. It has a really personal-feeling writing style - quite the opposite from Starship Operators, which had almost no 'voice' to it. The setup is intriguing - the first page is a description of the protagonist and viewpoint character's 'corpse' (not sure what the right word is for a robot...?) and then jumps back in time. It paints a really good picture of a society where sentient robots are common but there's lots of tension surrounding them.

It's also easy reading - there's lots of furigana, and the word choice seems to be mostly common stuff (or, well, stuff that I already know).
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#34
Aikynaro Wrote:I have to wonder - is no one else reading novels, or are you just not interested in posting about them?

Not that I mind talking to myself here, just - y'know - it's a bit lonely.
I'm still reading, but I have been to busy to post much recently. Also, the pace at which I have been reading has slowed a little for similar reasons. I'll summarise the last few things I have read below:

容疑者Xの献身 (by 東野 圭吾)

I think I have mentioned this previously, but I loved this book. It wasn't too difficult, but hard enough to learn plenty of new stuff. Interesting characters, and a plot twist I did not see coming. Actually I read this book twice - Which is a first for me, I read it once innocently with dictionary lookups and once the dead tree version (paid for) straight through without any assistance.

It is basically a murder mystery detective story. I have a mathematics background, so the inclusion of maths and physics in the plot was an added bonus for me. However it was not such a major part of the plot that if you have no interest in maths or physics it would spoil the book.

Another bonus is that it is very famous and it will impress any Japanese person you mention you read it to. There is also at least 2 movie adaptations to watch afterwards for extra learning opportunities.

初対面の3分で誰とでも仲良くなれる本 (non-fiction)
Somewhat engaging, and includes some useful life tips (it does what it says on the tin). Not a must-read or anything. Not too difficult.

オレたちバブル入行組 (by 池井戸 潤)
It seems like a really good book, but it is just too hard for my current level of Japanese. I would only recommend it to post-N1 people who have an interest in this kind of thing (it is set in the investment banking world in the bubble era Japan). Like 容疑者X、it is super famous and will impress anyone you mention it to (the drama was called 半沢直樹 Hanzawa Naomi and may be better known). To be honest, I gave up about 25% of the way in, but I will attempt it again sometime when I feel more ready.

GOTH 夜の章 (book 1) by 乙一
Nice easy read. Typical 乙一 horror story, somewhat grotesque in places. I've only read book 1 but I expect book 2 to be just more of the same. Since it is loosely interconnected short stories, I probably wouldn't miss anything if I skipped book 2, but anyway it looks short and easy so I intend to read it.

Another (by 綾辻 行人)
Quite easy but also quite long. I am halfway through book 2 right now, and it has taken me a while to get to this point. It's kind of a horror-ish supernatural mystery. It is set in a school, and follows the cursed 3年3組, which seems to have a 死者 in its midst. The mystery is who that might be, and how to break the curse. Quite good, but I can't help feeling that I could have read 2 or 3 other shorter books in the same amount of time and probably gotten more out of it.
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#35
Aikynaro Wrote:Don't know about you, but I don't know what a 'nematode' or 'echinoderm' are in English. Did I miss something in biology class? Is the Japanese education system far more hardcore than I had thought? Or do these words actually have no job being thrown into a children's science fiction book with no explanation whatsoever?
I find scientific words are much easier to understand in Chinese and Japanese than in English. It's because they use the same language. In English a lot of scientific words come from Latin or Greek and so are hard to understand if you haven't learned either language.
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#36
English scientific words are perfectly fine if you know most of the stems. The only thing that makes Japanese easier is that the same characters happen to also be used for native words, except for a relatively minor set of exceptions.
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#37
Finished 雨の日のアイリス. Go and read this book now it's really good.

It's a 300 page standalone novel that's easy to read - furigana is plentiful.
It's science fiction ... ish. A lot of people in reviews describe it as being 'fairytale-like', and I kind-of agree (although I don't recall any other fairytales with slave labour camps and shootouts between police and robots...)). In any case, it's not typical science fiction, though the focus is on how humans would treat intelligent, emotional robots. The only real complaint I have about it is that the robots do sometimes feel a bit too human to the point where the author forgets what he's doing and a robot ends up exhaling when it's clearly established that it doesn't have a mouth...
But that's really trivial. The characters are very real feeling, the plot and themes are well thought out and well executed.

It's also incredibly depressing and upsetting (but the ending is incredibly cathartic. An unhappy ending felt possible/likely all the way through, but I was relieved when Ralf pulled through at the end. I guess it could be argued that it's a bit cheap for him to swoop in and save the day after all the shit the protagonists had struggled through and failed to achieve, but it was foreshadowed well (foreshadowing is generally really well done throughout) and it was just such a relief for everyone not to be dead that I don't care anyway. The ultra-depressing ending of Iris being tossed in a bin and Lilith being left in the bushes wouldn't have made a better story - from everything else that happened that humans are arseholes is already well established.)

So yes, if a good story about what happens when you treat a sapient being like an old computer sounds like a good idea to you, read this.

--

Next up: らくだい魔女と冥界の指輪, which is book 10 of the らくだい魔女 series. It's a kid's book, all adventure and magic. Quite enjoyable - very good as a circuit-breaker between more 'serious' books.

I might also start something else because as much as I tell myself I don't care what people think of what I'm reading, it would look a bit lame to take it to work. So probably either アリソン by the guy who wrote キノの旅 or Accel World.

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@NickT
I thought the anime of Another felt rushed, and I guess that's why. It's probably better that it's taking its time - the anime was a montage of silly death scenes, basically. Kind-of fun, but rubbish.

@Wurstmann
Oh definitely. 線虫 gives a pretty good hint of what's going on. 'Nematode' says nothing to me.
I'm actually srsing the words from that book at the moment, so soon I shall know the word for 'nematode' in Japanese forever! Just in case it should ever become useful one day in the future...
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#38
I just finished reading an amazing book called The Last Umbra by M.R Chavez. He has a unique take on the Japanese culture by bringing a samurai warrior to early California. The book is full of action that kept me entertained from beginning to end.

A Historical Adventure, Action-thriller. It is focused on the admiration for the Japanese warrior class. This book tells of not a pride filled Samurai, but instead, a ninja assassin on a quest in gold-rush era California.

If anyone want to check it out you can find it here.

http://www.amazon.com/Last-Umbra-M-R-Cha...B00W01KUD4
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#39
I'm reading Higashino Keigo's 卒業 right now and it's filled with descriptions of tea ceremony and kendo lol. Well, except for those parts, it's really readable and enjoyable. Maybe crime fiction could be an interesting vein for those of us wanting to read extensively Tongue

Oh and I'm trying to revive the Japanese Literature book club on goodreads. Featuring a Japanese book of the month (actually 2-months Tongue) In case anyone's interested! https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/716...literature
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#40
I recently finished reading そして誰もいなくなった, a Japanese translation of Agatha Christie's masterpiece "And then there were none".

The blurb (in this case I don't think it's really necessary as this is a well-known English mystery novel, but anyway):
その孤島に招き寄せられたのは、たがいに面識もない、職業や年齢もさまざまな十人の男女だった。だが、招待主の姿は島にはなく、やがて夕食の席上、彼らの 過去の犯罪を暴き立てる謎の声が……そして無気味な童謡の歌詞通りに、彼らが一人ずつ殺されてゆく! 強烈なサスペンスに彩られた最高傑作! 新訳決定版!

I like reading mystery novels and I read this years ago both in my native language and in English, so I had an idea about what to expect in terms of development of the story and complexity of the language. It didn't disappointed me.

I find the book suitable for the N3-N2 level (my level), as long as you are willing to use a dictionary. Probably after N2, the frequency of needing to use that dictionary will drastically decrease.
The grammar is basic, the phrases are not too long, nor too elaborate. There are some descriptive passages, but they easy to read. The vocabulary is quite repetitive and the end of the book will bring you to a good recap of the main vocabulary used. Of course, once in a while you will bump into some not so frequently used words and you're going to ask yourself "Am I going to use this word in this life?", but nothing too serious. In my copy, the furigana appeared only accidentally.

As for the story, I think it will captivate you – you can find more about it on Goodreads.

I suggest getting an electronic copy and I read it with Jade Reader which will simplify your work, especially if your level of Japanese is similar to mine. I amused myself and I read it in parallel with the English original, as it was interesting to see how the translator brought his own influence into the text.
Edited: 2016-01-12, 1:53 pm
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#41
(2015-07-09, 6:52 am)NickT Wrote: オレたちバブル入行組 (by 池井戸 潤)
It seems like a really good book, but it is just too hard for my current level of Japanese. I would only recommend it to post-N1 people who have an interest in this kind of thing (it is set in the investment banking world in the bubble era Japan). Like 容疑者X、it is super famous and will impress anyone you mention it to (the drama was called 半沢直樹 Hanzawa Naomi and may be better known). To be honest, I gave up about 25% of the way in, but I will attempt it again sometime when I feel more ready.

Ha! Of course, this was the book I downloaded from Febe, having greatly enjoyed the drama adaptation of ようこそ、我が家へ. The audiobook is pretty challenging so far, but not impossible without the accompanying book. I think post-N2/near-N1 folks wouldn't find it overwhelming, and it actually makes for great N1-level listening practice.
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#42
I also just finished 夜明けの街 by 東野圭吾. Very readable for N2 and above.

It's a mystery, but a very unique one, with a man who's having an affair suddenly finding himself entwined in a murder that occurred 15 years ago. It's less of a "whodunit", and more of a "who did what, and what the hell are they doing now". Recommended.

I started tackling both the 池井戸潤 story mentioned above, and am also reading オレンジの壺 by 宮本輝, which came highly recommended to me by several of my friends. Slightly harder than the 東野圭吾 book, but again, not impossible if you're past N2.
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