Sunday, August 9, 2009

Recycled Youth Part 2: Loop-de-Loop

I got kind of blindsided by this one; I knew Viz was launching a new prose imprint, but the minimal buzz since the initial announcement meant I just randomly bumped into this one day in the bookstore. Interestingly, Viz's own branding is nowhere to be seen on the covers; perhaps this is to keep it out of the manga section and racked in the science fiction where I found it.

Anyway, KILL is a pretty good read, and an interesting contrast to Sky Crawlers' version of expendable soldiery. Whereas Oshii's Kannami only seems to be repeating the same day, Sakurazaka's Kiriya is in a more literal rerun.

I hesitate to say too much about the plot, because frankly, it's not that original. It wears its influences on its sleeve, and if you have even a passing interest in SF lit you'll probably share a bit of Kiriya's deja vu (in fact, this book's power-armored infantry and Western-named, green-eyed ethnic Japanese made me realize how much the generic anime future owes to Heinlein).

Where it shines is in the execution. This book is meticulously well-crafted, in an Alan Moore kinda way-- Sakurazaka has a knack for introducing an idea, wringing just the right amount of juice out of it, then kicking it loose and changing the game with another one. Kiriya is also a very easy guy to like, which is much appreciated if I'm going to be reading almost 200 pages of his internal monologue. Of course, part of the credit must go to the translator, the mighty Alexander O. Smith (and an apparently uncredited Joseph Reeder), once again showing why he's one of the best in the biz.

Bottom line, it's good breezy pulp, vividly written and engrossing. I had a great time.


  1. I've had this sitting unread for years. Got talked up in the initial light novel guide I bought, so it was one of the ones I grabbed.
    Author then followed it up with Yoku Wakaru Gendai Mahou, which I've never been able to get a real read on; is it a moefluff cash in, or is there real substance hidden beneath the trappings?

  2. I actually watched the first episode of the anime version last week; let's just say it didn't make a good impression.

  3. I just picked up All You Need is Kill the other day, and I haven't even finished the first chapter yet, but it's pretty fucking great. The translation is spectacular, and the writing style is just all kinds of great. Plus, while it's sitting around, I can stare at teh ABe cover, which is alwayss a plus.

  4. When was this label announced? Somehow missed all of this news.

  5. Ages back. They're also doing Zoo, which I spent the first month of this blog reading.

  6. wait, this guy wrote yokuwakaru gendai mahou? oh wow.

    oh wow. I am interested.