So, were Kobato-kun and Osanai-san able to remain as petit bourgeois? …Well, let’s leave such details for another time.
Read. Just read.
Greetings, and nice to meet you for most of you readers. I, Gokuraku Tonbo1, the administrator of “Maijar2 Promotion Committee!”, a website mainly for promoting light novels, has taken on the role of writing this commentary after being requested to by some strange coincidence. I am an amateur who has absolutely no connection to the writing industry and publishing industry. Because of that, I believe that there may be some unsightly points in the following text, so please bear with me.
Moreover, this essay was written mainly in consideration for the light novel readership, so it might be lacking for mystery readers, so I would be greatly obliged if you can consider that there is such a way to enjoy it too.
Well then, since I will talk about the unique charm of Honobu Yonezawa’s works, let us start with my encounters with those works.
Since I usually spend the day reading light novels, I don’t keep a lookout for mysteries, so naturally, I didn’t know of Honobu Yonezawa-san’s existence. But there was one occasion near the end of February 2004 that I will never forget. The administrator of a website that deals in mysteries, “Tasogare Spring Point”, Metsu Kooru-san, introduced me to a “novel that should be read by light novel readers3”, letting me come into contact with a masterpiece of a youth mystery novel, Goodbye Fairy4.
As someone who is preoccupied with introducing good works buried in and unearthed from the web day and night, I had no choice but to accept that recommendation. It would be a disgrace to my name as a light novel reader if I didn’t accept it! With that, I obtained a copy of Goodbye Fairy and began reading.
………This is really interesting!
I will abstain from commenting on the mystery aspects of the book, but as a light novel, or rather, a youth novel, it was a masterpiece that is hard to come by. I had an especially strong impression of Maya, the heroine, asking, “Is there a philosophical reason for this?” when coming into contact with bits of Japanese culture that she is not familiar with.
Anyway, now that I was attracted by the charm of Goodbye Fairy, I hurriedly dug out the remaining two works, Hyouka and The Credit Roll of the Fool from a gigantic mountain of stockpiled books. I did properly buy those two books, you know? It’s just that… I couldn’t match Yonezawa-san’s name to the books he wrote (´Д｀;)5, but I finished reading them in one swift attack.
Seriously, why did I only read them now! What an idiot I was! I was instantly filled with the feeling of wanting to bash my head against the corner of a block of tofu6. It’s youth, youth! Those three works perfectly captured the subtle, states of mind that adolescent boys and girls have, which are difficult to describe.
Before I noticed it, I had already become a fan. When the request for me to write a commentary for his new work came fluttering in, I readily accepted it while taking the method as my goal, knowing that I would be able to read Yonezawa-san’s work before everyone else! (^o^)
Now, I would like to finally start telling you the unique characteristics of this book, Case of the Spring-Exclusive Strawberry Tart, as well as Yonezawa-san’s other books that I’ve previously mentioned, Hyouka, The Credit Roll of the Fool and Goodbye Fairy.
Firstly, when all is said and done, no one gets murdered!
This is important. The first thing you think of in a mystery is the murder. Then, there is the usual pattern of the second, third murders, as if the culprit is making fun of the police investigation. Of course, I do think that one of the charms of a mystery is the tension borne from the life and death situation that the characters have to face, but in any case, mysteries are often bloody and gruesome.
However, Yonezawa-san’s works take a clear step back from this bloody, brutal nature of mysteries.
The mysteries that occur are minor ones that could totally happen in everyday life. They’re all in the same vein as “○○-chan’s indoor shoes were stolen. Who could have stolen it and why?”
Even so, they are treated as relatively serious matters by the characters in these stories.
Thus, the young boys and girls jump into the minor, everyday mysteries. This is the very definition of youth. They stumble and worry over trivial things, and slowly but surely move forward. There are no characters who yell at the top of their lungs with hot blood pumping through their veins like there would be in a light novel, but that is the exactly why I also strongly recommend Yonezawa-san’s works to the numerous light novel readers who have not encountered them yet.
Personally, I think it would be interesting if Yonezawa-san completely did away with the mystery elements and wholeheartedly sprinted down the path of pure youth stories, but… ah, hang on, why am I running my mouth in a commentary for Tokyo Sogensha? ∵ゞ(≧ε≦ｏ)ぶ!
Anyway, that is how highly I view the youth aspects of his books.
Everyone, do you know of a manga called Q.E.D. Shōmei Shūryō7, published in Kodansha’s Magazine GREAT? It’s a masterpiece of a detective manga, but it contains many stories in which people don’t die, and there are sometimes trivial mysteries which occur in the school that the protagonist goes to. It is probably quite easy to understand Yonezawa-san’s works if you imagine that. Even though they all belong to the mystery genre, the mysteries in each book differ in direction and are diverse, just like in “Q.E.D”.
Another big characteristic of Yonezawa-san’s works is the strong impression that he is restrained in his writing of the characters, as if he is conscious of their inner thoughts and feelings. Some people might think, “If only he wrote them in a more detailed manner!” They might have a point there, but on the other hand, this writing style could better stir up your imagination. You could call this an extreme form of chirarism8. For example, in this very book, you are unsure about how strong the relationship between Kobato-kun and Osanai-san is. “Seriously, what exactly is your relationship with each other?” you might ask. Rather than having things depicted in too much detail, this method draws you in.
Oh right, these works remind me of those written by Teru Arai-san, who wrote books like the Dear series, which was published by Fujimi Mystery Bunko. They are works that are supposed to have a strong romantic element, but they take a step back from that, and are written in a restrained way, such that you can read three lines of feelings in one line of text. I certainly hope you all enjoy this comfortable frustration.
I thought I would try to simply tell you all the charm of Yonezawa-san’s works, but what do you think? Was I able to communicate that to you?
If you’re not convinced, that is just a result of my lack of writing ability, and that doesn’t change the fact that these works have an incredible charm to them…
(P.S. I’m really curious about Osanai-san’s past… Ah, I really want to know!)
Editors (Tier 2) : Joshua Fisher, Slush56, _Maki
Assistants (Tier 1) : Karen Kronenberg, Definitelynotme, Rolando Sanchez, Yazmin Arostegui
Thank you very much for all your support!
- The name means “happy-go-lucky fellow”.
- Supposed to be a combination of “major” and “minor”.
- Light novels are shorter and easier to read than novels. They also contain illustrations. All of Honobu Yonezawa’s works are novels, and I can attest that they do take quite a while to get through.
- Goodbye Fairy is absolutely brilliant. You can read it here. Unfortunately, it’s currently incomplete.
- Since the writer of this commentary is the administrator of a website, I thought some kaomoji was in order in place of the internet slang he uses.
- There’s actually a phrase in Japanese, “bash your head against the corner of tofu and die”. It’s just a funny way of saying “go to hell” and it’s from a rakugo story called Shinigami (The god of death).
- Shōmei Shūryō just means QED, or Quod Erat Demonstrandum.
- A combination of chirari (meaning glance or glimpse) and -ism, chirarism means “the thrill of an unexpected glimpse of something erotically suggestive that is normally hidden”.