Friday, December 4, 2009

Shizuru-san, and Kadono's baffling failure

Kouhei Kadono is the man behind no less than five series, and a number of one off novels. The Boogiepop series is his action horror meal ticket; the Jiken series are a fascinating mix of fantasy and mystery, the Night Watch series is far future virtual reality sci-fi, the Soul Drop series are laid back modern mysteries, and the Shizuru-san series is completely boring shit.
I can't work out why this series exists at all. It feels like someone at Fujimi Mystery bunko called him up and hired him specifically to write a moe mystery series (which is all the published before going belly up when no one liked any of them except Gosick (which had the grace to actually be good as well)) and he and an editor basically brainstormed things until something turned the guy on.
Shizuru-san is very sick. She is in a hospital...and not just any hospital, the crazy hospital from the Boogiepop novels, the same one that made the robot detective in the Soul Drop novels. A place no normal human should ever be. You'd think this would be a mystery or something, but it isn't. It's just there, like someone thought a bedridden detective would be moe, and Kadono dutifully wrote it in and forgot about it.
Her one friend is Yo-chan, who has no personality at all. Not that Shizuru-san does, but at least she has an illness to define her. Yo-chan has fuck all. I read the first book years ago and hated it, so I read the first story in the second book today to confirm that he wasn't going to figure out a way to make me give a fuck between volumes, and then pitched it and the third book (pictured above) on my garbage pile. I will not be buying the reboot attempt he did a few months ago, telling the story of how these boring fuckers met.
So, since Kadono is not the least bit interested in his moe hook, or in the two characters, exactly what is he interested in? Some sort of meta-anti-mystery. Each chapter starts with something that sounds quite intriguing -- the story I read today had a mummified body found under a thick tangle of white Sweet William Catchflies...six hours after being seen alive. Then each of these intriguing set ups turns out to have such an incredibly prosaic and bland explanation that you're left actively annoyed with him for having briefly captured your imagination. Obviously, the rational explanation for this is that the dude sold his identity to a foreign gangster and randomly starved to death, and his body just wound up like that in time, but that is no fun at all.
Even with the inherent anti-climax of this structure, the Shizuru-san stories are singularly dull affairs, with meandering conversations that tell us nothing about the characters, and provide no momentum to the mystery solving itself. I couldn't bring myself to read another word.

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