Book Reviews · Books

Recent Japanese Reads

thekeyThe Key by Jun’ichiro Tanizaki


This was my first time reading Tanizaki, it is a short novel written out as journal entries between a husband and wife. It is mostly focused on the sex life between the two, the husband being significantly older than his wife who seemingly is unsatisfied with their sexual relations. Both start writing in secret diaries about the other in hopes of the other person reading it, the story explores the unconventional ways they find that in turn helps to spice up their sex life until the husband becomes sick. This book explores intimate relationships, desires, fetishes, adultery and grief. It was an interesting read that I found myself invested in and ultimately gave 3/5 stars. I plan on reading The Makioka Sisters by this author in the future.


battleroyaleangelsborderBattle Royale: Angel’s Border by Koushun Takami


This side-story manga about the ‘Light House Girls’ in the Battle Royale novel was a must-read for me as Battle Royale is one of my favourite books/movies of all time. This manga is also written by the author of the original novel/manga series and specifically explores and focuses more on the girls that decided to group up and hide out inside the Light House on the island during the ‘game’. As expected, this was heart wrenching to read and made me tear up a few times, I really hope that Takami writes more side-storys like this in the future. He is supposedly working on his second novel. I gave this manga 5/5 stars. A must read for any Battle Royale fan.


lifeforsaleLife for Sale by Yukio Mishima


The latest of Mishima’s works to have an English translated release, this may now be my favourite book of his that I have read so far. After a failed suicide attempt, Hanio decides to place an ad in his local paper offering his ‘life for sale’ which leads him on a wild ride with many interesting characters wanting him to do some bizarre and crazy things. The journey that this takes Hanio on ultimately gives him back some value to his life. I very much enjoyed this short novel after not reading any Mishima for a good few months, it reminded me just why I love his work. 5/5 stars.


ibitsuIbitsu by Haruto Ryo


Ibitsu is a decent sized manga collection (think Junji Ito) and it is bloody terrifying. I will be making comparisons to Junji Ito’s manga as that is the only other horror manga I have read, where as I generally find Ito’s artwork the most disturbing thing about his works, Ibitsu was terrifying in art and story, it literally felt like I was watching a really creepy Japanese horror movie (there is even some parts with the wall climbing). Of course I chose to mostly read this at night before bed which was not the best of ideas. This manga had just about every awful thing you could think of and something I was not expecting was the sexual peverseness and inclusion of sexual artwork. There is also a lot of self harm imagery in this manga. It set out to scare and disturb, which it certainly accomplished with me, does that make it a good book? I’m giving it a 3.5/5 stars.


So that’s what I’ve been reading lately, I tend to find that reading Japanese authors help me to get out of reading slumps, I am currently reading Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi and really enjoying it, I will post a review of that once I’m finished. Do you read much Japanese fiction? Feel free to leave me some recommendations!


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