“When I made up my mind that leaving the home I had been born and raised in was inevitable, I was very sad and unhappy. But when I thought about what everyone there truly felt, it gave me pause. If I had been eliminated and disposed of by the village then, after much grief and tears, my parents would’ve eventually forgotten about me. Just as your parents eventually accepted the fate of your sister.”
-Maria Akizuki to Saki Watanabe, Shin Sekai Yori Episode 16
Tag Archives: literature
“With his new, heightened feelings, he was overwhelmed by sadness at the way the others had laughed and shouted, playing at war. But he knew that they could not understand why, without the memories. He felt such love for Asher and for Fiona. But they could not feel it back, without the memories. And he could not give them those.”
-The Giver, Lois Lowry
ajthefourth: One cannot go through life, as much as it may pain one’s perfectionist heart to admit, without being inferior to others in various ways. The inverse is also the case and, when comparing one’s self to others, one will always find something that they can best another in. Cliché though it may be, it is our differences that allow us to function as a society. It is the conflicts that arise from these differences that allow growth and eventual prosperity. Dystopian fiction is nothing new, and often aims to depict a state of humanity that has failed to navigate the treacherous balance between prosperity and self-indulgence through the presentation of a controlled, formulaic society. Shin Sekai Yori adds its own spice through the introduction of psychokinetic powers as the next step granted humans in their evolutionary process. Of course, this brings about its own bloody consequences, where select “PK users” abuse their powers, eventually resulting in the destruction and inevitable reconstruction of the current society that the series introduces its audience to.
“The suspects number over a thousand. To deduce the culprit from amongst them all isn’t humanly possible. Thus the only way to catch them is to catch them in the act. This case isn’t up Houtarou’s alley, so I’ll solve it myself.”
Let’s play a little game, shall we?
Hyouka is not concerned as much about solving its own mysteries, or presenting said mysteries to the audience, as much as it wants to explore the genres of mystery and detective fiction and what makes them so well-loved. As it grows and develops its characters, nurturing their love of mystery, it too pushes us, the viewers, along a similar path.
Acting as detectives for a moment, let’s delve a bit deeper into this theory.
Hyouka follows Oreki Houtarou as he enters high school wishing to expend as little energy as possible despite his intelligence and deductive capacity. Of course if he were successful, we wouldn’t have much of a story; so we follow along as curiosity incarnate Chitanda Eru enlists his aid in helping her remember why an old story from her uncle left her in tears. To solve this becomes one the Classics Club’s raisons d’être, as we have Fukube Satoshi and Ibara Mayaka round out their quartet.
The answer lies in the name of the club’s anthology itself, the Hyouka, and why asking her uncle what the name meant left Chitanda in tears.
“Come to think of it, I was on my way to deliver the contents to Kunagisa. But this lady really figured that out just from this bag? She was like . . . like one of those famous books of yore. Like . . .
Like a detective.”
-”I,” The Kubikiri Cycle (the first novel in the Zaregoto series by Nisio Isin)
In storytelling there are three basic beings responsible for the dispensation of the story: the author, the audience, and the narrator, with the latter often serving to bridge the gap between the author and the audience. When this occurs with a first-person narrator, they become our window or entry point into the story. This means that, especially in mysteries, the narrator is someone easily identifiable; someone who one can see themselves as in order to insert themselves into the thick of solving the mystery; a viewpoint character.
At first blush, our narrator for Nisio Isin’s Zaregoto series, who refers to himself only as “ぼく” or “I,” appears to be the perfect viewpoint narrator. Surrounded by geniuses of all types, he constantly reaffirms the fact that (although intelligent) he is not a genius like his peers, especially his best friend Tomo Kunagisa. He is not a detective. He is not a genius. He is not a complex or complicated man.
Or at least, that’s what he says.
“A world could be made in five pages, and one that was more pleasing than a model farm. The childhood of a spoiled prince could be framed within half a page, a moonlit dash through sleepy villages was one rhythmically emphatic sentence, falling in love could be achieved in a single word–a glance. The pages of a recently finished story seemed to vibrate in her hand with all the life they contained.”
-a narration regarding Briony Tallis, Atonement, Ian McEwan
“Renton, people shouldn’t use up any more energy than what the sun shines down upon us. When you try to use up more than that, you end up having to dig for scubs to drain energy from, or having to build towers. You don’t have to do that. People can survive on what little land they are given to them.”
~Will Baxter, Eureka Seven
The announcement of Eureka Seven Ao last December sparked my dormant interest in its parent story, a story I began several months earlier and neglected six episodes later. Fueled by Twitter’s enthusiasm, I revisited Eureka Seven, swiftly engrossed in its universe. And as I huddled over the flicker of the 3.5” screen of my iPod Touch during the morning’s wee hours, Renton’s convalescence and education at the hands of William B. Baxter awoke memories of another tale. A tale of a young man on a journey not unlike Renton’s, encountering influential individuals not unlike Will Baxter. That tale was Lloyd Alexander’s juvenile epic, The Prydain Chronicles, and as a youth its perspective on everyday life influenced my own outlook on the world.