Sunday, July 26, 2009

Faust 7

Or, the problem with Faust. Japanese edition.
This sucker is 1800 yen, and well over 1200 pages.
I read two stories in it.
Nisioisin's Risuka finally resolved a cliffhanger set up three fucking years ago, when Faust 6 came out. It did so in characteristically disturbing fashion, and was well worth the wait.
Kadono Kouhei's short story is a beautiful piece of fan service, spinning of a minor character from Jagdtiger into a thin story of her own that mostly exists as an excuse to include a series of flashbacks - an encounter with Eugene, who has pretty much only shown up in Boogiepop in the Mirror: Pandora, but who I have long wanted to see reappear; a bit involving the origins of Spooky Electric; the moment Pearl first left the Towa Organization; and concludes with an appearance by Asukai Jin, now apparently working with the Towa Organization. The end title reveals that this story is VS Imaginator Part V. While I appreciated the fanservice immensely, the fucking thing is utterly incomprehensible without having read all of Boogiepop, and the actual story involved is largely opaque - hell, I didn't even cotton on that Katyusha was from Jagdtiger until the last fucking sentence. There's pretty much no meaningful resolution of anything contained here, and it winds up demonstrating both the weaknesses and strengths of Kadano's penchant for interlocking narratives through all his books. Which is probably why his strongest books are the ones that have the least to do with the others.

But two stories is uh, a very small percentage of this book. While I've spoken glowingly of the five really great writers involved with Faust, three of them are missing in action (seriously, they couldn't get Maijo Otaro to do anything?) and beyond those five, Faust's line up is pretty thin. I initially started reading Faust to find more writers like those five, and instead I've mostly found writers who wannabe like those five, but fucking suck. There's actually several new writers in this volume, some of whom might well be reasonably readable, but I've been burned enough by Faust that at this point I'm probably not going to actually take the time to read a bit of their stories and see. I'm just reading the bits I know to be good, and bunging the rest on the shelf. Which suggests Faust has failed it's function as an anthology; perhaps it's time to lay the thing to rest and let Risuka finish up in a reasonable god damn time frame.
Which might be my real point. With Faust unable to maintain even an annual schedule, Risuka's gradually building tension just becomes a stutter.

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