Saturday, March 13, 2010

Maijo Otaro cubes meta

When 九十九十九 (Tsukumo Juku) came out in bunko, the covers happily described it as meta squared.
Tsukumo Juku himself is a character from Seiryoin Ryusui's meta/deconstructionist mystery novels (which are fascinating in theory but rather boring to actually read, sadly) and Maijo Otaro took the character and sprawled him into a horrifically long series of contradicting slices of his life, at one point declaring him so beautiful all who saw him fell in love, while also informing us that he has two heads and is disgusting. The character is regularly killed off throughout the stories, and at one point escapes into the real world and murders the editor working on the novel.
Maijo has been quiet for a few years; his last big project, The Disco Detective, has yet to come out in bunko (along with his second novel) but everything else kinda has. He did a thing on his website where he pitched a movie idea every week for a year, and each was more bizarre than the last. He seemed to be making a serious effort to move into film.
Apparently, he has. There's a movie out this summer called Neck (trailers appear to not be online yet), and he has a story credit. Plot appears to be standard boy meets girl, girl turns out to have a terrifying disembodied head in a tank in her laboratory. Never one to be satisfied with simplicity, he has also written a stage play on a similar theme.
Both productions feature a character who is a popular novelist name Echizen Mataro.
Echizen Mataro is launching a new series of books from BOTH Dengeki Bunko AND Kodansha Novels this April. One Pluto 0 novel from each in April, two each in June, and there's already one more scheduled for after that.
Echizen Mataro is giving interviews vehemently denying that he is from Fukui (Maijo Otaro is -- the fact that Maijo notoriously refuses to make public appearances is a small part of this whole stunt), declaring that Jojo's Bizarre Adventure is the greatest manga ever, that he is also an actor appearing in the movie Neck, and that he has the mysterious supernatural ability to divide himself into two people and write two novels simultaneously in his sleep.
Words fail me.
Edit: Apparently this awful thing is the Dengeki Bunko cover. I remember seeing that and thinking it was unspeakable. I trust Maijo enough to think he could make the wheelchair girl not the pandering moe cliche I assumed it was, but anyone wearing one pant leg pulled up like that is begging to have it chopped off.
Edit 2: Movie website. How could it not have Kuriyama Chiaki in it? Joe said much the same thing about Nicolas Cage when I sent around the trailer for Kick Ass, so I guess I've just proven that Kuriyama Chiaki is the Nicolas Cage of Japan.


  1. This is the kind of man I want to be when I grow up.

  2. I've seen quite a lot of speculation as to who is actually writing the Echizen books. Most people think it's multiple authors, as a kind of Maijo Tribute maybe, but no one seems to agree on who. Also the interview had a couple of things added to it after it was first put up, probably just to confuse people more. To be honest I got lost in the meta somewhere and ended up wondering if the world is actually just a novel being written by Maijo.

    Have you read either of his last two books? I have Bitch Magnet sitting on my shelf but haven't got around to it. I thought it was fun how it obviously went from magazine to book so quickly to coincide with the Akutagawa, and then lost out for equally stupid reasons as last time.

  3. The interview really made it sound like Maijo. It isn't an outrageous amount of output, especially if he's had a decent lead time; but it would also make sense for his studio to be producing the project with several hands in the pot. We'll see when the first books come out, I guess.

    I read Maijo in bunko format, since that's where I started. This means I haven't read Disco Detective yet, and hadn't even registered Bitch Magnet (GREAT title) -- and still haven't read The Childish Darkness. Why they've never repackaged that one, I dunno; sophomore slump?

    At least one of his previous prize winning books only got the prize after one of the judges angrily resigned in protest when it became clear that he was going to win. I doubt he'll get one of the two big awards until old people stop sitting on the panels.

  4. Yeah, when I first read the interview I just though the point was just to say "This is a brand new mysterious author, not at all Maijo (wink wink)"but later some of the stuff made me wonder - the mention of JoJo and "my favorite is Part 4"could definitely be taken as a reference to Otsu Ichi, and since he's involved in Real Coffee there's a realistic link between the two of them.

    I read just the first chapter of Bitch Magnet when I got it and it already seemed it's leaning in a more mainstream "straight" literature direction (or more 純文学), but the reviews I've read make out that he's done that in a good way. Just a shame that using a big font at one point lacks literary polish... I wonder if Ishihara Shintarou is just angry about being a character in Ashura Girl. To be honest I think I enjoy Maijo annoying judges and missing out on awards more than I would him actually winning them.

  5. He's attempted to do more junbungaku before, and usually wound up subverting it or losing his mind completely. See Kuma no Basho.
    The 2ch thread I found seems to think the dengeki covers will provide a code to tell us who is actually writing the book, which apparently means the first one is maybe 入間人間, someone who appears interestingly fucked on the surface but who I haven't tried because that also describes Sato Yuuya, and I hate that guy. But he was only on my radar because this same guy did the cover illustrations for his books with the heroines in some sort of bizarre bondage theme.
    Like this one:
    Everyone agrees that it will be immediately obvious if Maijo wrote them once the books come out since nobody can write like Maijo but Maijo.

  6. I think the difference may be that he doesn't lose his mind completely and it stays a bit more conventionally about family and growing up and suchlike. Of course it's still totally meta. I should really read it.

    I read Iruma's first book because I liked his pen name. It wasn't that bad it wasn't that great either. Judging by that alone he's worthy of his reputation as the poor man's Nishio Ishin, but he may have improved.

  7. We're going to need to see some of Kuriyama's pachinko ads before I can verify your thesis.

  8. Kuriyama Chiaki is now reviewing the books in the series.
    The first one is out and apparently quite dull, and obviously not Maijo. They actually put a sample up online, and I couldn't get through more than two pages; suddenly overcome with an overwhelming conviction that Sato Yuuya wrote it. Ugh.

  9. While people are making a case that Otsu Ichi wrote the Kodansha volume (or at least, he was checking the text of a recently completed novel in February) Maijo apparently has a full length book of his own out in June, which means he's almost certainly not writing any of these.