All this talk about the difficulties of book importation makes me hungry for news about what IS new on the shelves. It’s always a good day when a local bookstore gets a copy of a book I’ve been raring to read, and on the chance that some of you might be looking for the book as well–that’s what the Book Radar segment is for.
The morning of the Pacquiao-Hatton demolition (sidenote: in a surreal experience, while we were having lunch the word was spreading that Pac had lost by knockout. The security guards were all morose @_@) I was able to drop by Powerbooks at Shangri-la Plaza for a while–not long enough to do a book raid, but just long enough to do some browsing in order to see about spending that Powerbooks gift certificate burning a hole in my wallet. I didn’t find what I was looking for (the Coyote Road anthology, which I’d seen at the Greenbelt 3 branch) but I found something just as good:
For anime fans, “The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya” is a familiar name and a hallowed one–for good reason–but non-anime savy Filipinos might remember it from the fact that our Dancing Inmates did a rendition of the “Hare Hare Yukai” dance shown in the ending credits of the anime iteration of the franchise: a testament to the global impact of a light novel series which, for people in the West, came out of nowhere to capture the hearts and minds of even the casual anime fan. Professor Wikipedia states that”[t]he anime series became somewhat of an Internet phenomenon in both Japan, Asia, and English-speaking countries. Over 2000 clips of the series and user-created parodies and homages were posted to video sharing websites such as YouTube.”
While it was the anime adaptation that launched the craze, excellently rendered by Kyoto Animation, the series began as a highly acclaimed light novel series in Japan, written by Nagaru Tanigawa and illustrated by Noizi Ito. According to Wikipedia, the first novel of the series, (the official English translation of which I’m holding in my grubby little hands above) was awarded the Grand Prize in the eighth annual Sneaker Awards—only the third Grand Prize given out in the Award’s history. The series went on to be a huge success in Japan, selling over 4,300,000 copies collectively.
While I’m always a fan of reading a story at it’s most pure–i.e. in its original form–what makes the light novel version of Haruhi all the more appealing is that for myself and many other fans, one of the key appeals to the anime was the snarky, down-to-earth narration of protagonist Kyon. Kyon is an opinionated, strong-willed and eminently sympathetic young man whose color commentary draws us very well into his frequently exasperated frame of mind as he gets way, way over his head because of his association with the VERY opinionated and EXTRA strong-willed Haruhi. Since the light novel is told in 1st person, from Kyon’s POV, it is basically an entire book of Kyon snark and sarcasm. Who could ask for more?
Now a quick google search will reveal that there are fan translations available on the interwebs, but this is the first official release and I’m quite pleased to see it. Light novels as a genre/type intruige me and it saddens me that so much in the way of great Spec Fic from Japan in the Light Novel format remains untranslated, possibly because Western publishers aren’t all that sure how to market the relatively short, sparsely illustrated novels.
I’ll have a review out once I’m done reading it, but for fans looking to get as close to the original Haruhi as they can without knowing Japanese, or for anyone who is simply interested in great characters and innovative twists, go grab a copy.: Haruhi-sama commands it.