Finished reading it and the first response that comes to my head: what. Seriously, just that. No exclamations or strong intonations. Just a single ‘what’. No, it is not a sign of lack of understanding. It is just that my expectations did not quite reach the true extent of the story. Which is good. Great job there.
[Spoilers inbound. Please stop reading if you have not read the entire Volume 2. In fact, why have you not read it yet? Go read it now.]
So, we finally get the last spoiler from metamonogatari.
But to be honest, the choice is not that unexpected. I mean, there are only 4 characters to get hit with that, and only one seems to be a valid target. Lots of death flags throughout the entire volume, so it was coming loud ad clear. Okay, it was 5, but Ayaka seems rather unlikely.
Now, the circumstances that lead to that incident: Never crossed my mind. Which made it good, because I am then infinitely more interested to see how the story goes. Suspected the Shugoshin to be involved, but it got involved in other ways. So, yeah, awesome read I received.
And off to the questions listed in the Afterward, and my speculations on them.
1) Kouma knew everything. Either she is a super stalker hence her nearly getting killed the first time round because insane Shugoshin/person is not a good target to stalk or she lied that it is the second timeline and have been through too many loops. The latter is more likely, considering that there is practically no way she knew how her Shugoshin works with just one timeline. Too derivative of a person to be sure.
2) As for Koukishin Shinzou, no idea there. The clan seems to be important enough on the global scale. And with the various hints/red herrings scattered around, the clan seems to have heavy ties with the supernatural or criminal world. The more speculative question is if this Koukishin Shinzou is really Koukishin Shinzou the actual person.
3) My guess, Kouma Yon is practically on her own side with strong ties to Ryo. Whether she is on Shin-tsu is a large doubt, considering that it is more than likely the two are playing mind games.
4) As for Ayaka, no idea there as well. Wild Mass Guess says that she is going to be linked to the backup plan somehow.
5) Skipping this, I am no good at analyzing human relationships. There is no chance in deducing what happened here.
6) About Shin-tsu’s past, my stand here is that it is the truth filtered through the perspective of a liar. So, take it with a pinch of salt or three, but don’t expect them to be flat-out lies.
7) Standard plot hook dictates that Ryo’s mother disappearance be an important detail in the future. Speculation says it will be related to the Shugoshin somehow, but other things can happen.
8) What Shin-tsu did to Lang Shou is most likely similar to what Shin-tsu was doing with Rin. Some people just can’t deal with such complications.
9) Rin is not perfect. She only is because Shin-tsu is such a liar that his perspective and narrative made her such a perfect person.
10) Ryo, Death-drive and Shin-tsu: Their story has been briefly mentioned.Girl provoked death-defying murderer. Murderer tries to kill Girl. Boy uses super advice to help Girl. Girl managed to beat/trick Murderer. Murderer gets caught. Story ends. More details would be interesting but the analysis there would not be pretty.
11) The sensei being down is probably a good thing. She seems like a blood knight and that is bad when all three of the MCs have Shugoshin tied to them. Standard plot dictates that she have left info somewhere in case shit hits the fan, so Shin-tsu may not be left stranded. And most likely, he will not take her place. He has been saying for ages that he is no hero, but then again, he likes to meddle in others’ businesses.
12) The backup plan. It is going to have the potential of a freaking nuke or something similar. The plan is to stop Shugoshin dead in the tracks so anything less is unlikely. The question here is that how on earth did the Shugoshin happen? Shin-tsu is here only a while and he got one already. How this happens may perhaps be linked to the backup plan, though probably a lot more violent than necessary.
Yeah, those are my speculations there. It is getting long, ain’t it? And yeah, standard plot is just being standard. It may be subverted or inverted or just played straight. But it is good to use as a base for speculation.
There are also a few hooks dropped here and there, noodle incidents that may never get explained. Well, it’s cool. It drives up anticipation. Here’s hoping that the next book would be interesting!
No, I am not good. I am just very bad at reading since I tend to strive to understand why a person is doing something because I am the type of person to not do things. And I am not expecting any confirmations/denials. This is just to fuel discussion, and list my thoughts before they go poof!
And on a random note, I never really like time loops/time travel. It is so hard to pull it off without it being too silly. Not showing the other timelines make this better for now, since we are seeing this through the eyes of Shin-tsu. But the potential for it would probably make Shin-tsu second-guess the actions of Kouma from now on. Especially when he starts examining everything that had happened with hindsight. This might just be glorious.
Of course, Shin-tsu might just lie to us about how much he suspected or knew about what was or might be happening. Such a problem when trying to read a character who is more than capable of lies if necessary.
More random info/plot hooks/red herrings may be forthcoming once I decide to reread the two volumes. Regardless of how much Shin-tsu lies, an indepth analysis is likely to prove quite useful here.
That is my definition of “good”, at least in that sense.
Me neither, Chaos Theory renders the Science Fiction’s kind of Time Travel impossible. And you are correct, from that point on it would be hard trusting Kouma at least for me because as she told Death Drive, she basically can do anything she wants.
I’ve been thinking of working on some analytic papers for the supplementary book I intend to release with the third novel, current title “Bonus Disc”. Other than omniscient point-of-view data on the timelines, what really happened without biases and filters, short stories by me and other authors (it’s not fanfic if it’s legalized, so I still want to read Nisio’s take on JJBA) involving the characters and general rambling, I have no idea of what to put in it. If you have any ideas or want to collaborate when the time comes, that would be great.
Greate work, dude! I was looking forward to read volume 2 more eagerly than waiting for translation of fate/zero… or something like that, level of eagerness is not an easy thing to measure. I hope I expressed my emotional state right.
Thank you very much for your kind words, it is an honor to even have my work mentioned in a sentence along to F/Z. I really look after Butch. I’m really glad you enjoyed it and I hope volume 3 gives you at least the same feeling.
I read only fragments of the volume so far (because I wanted to rush through it in one sitting) so this is a godsend to me right now. Especially considering that Uni Exams are in a few day. Now I got a good excuse to not study!
I am grateful. The fact my editor isn’t the only person reading this surprises me every day and I feel thoroughly blessed.
And Shugoshin already seem to be a hell lot like STANDs, so now we just need vampires and cool poses. More stuff to throw into volume 3! Your Medicos Entertainment Myu-chan figurine comes with blue and white classic shimapan and…
…eh? What do you mean, you don’t want the figurine anymore?
I read all the way to the end, and enjoyed it. I’m going to give some feedback that could be interpreted as negative criticism. and I want to stress that the only reason I’m taking the time to do this is because I think you have the talent and the drive to succeed on a larger stage, and deserve to hear honest feedback.
I didn’t like the 2nd novel nearly as much as the first. The first novel gave me 3 characters that I became interested in and emotionally invested in. I am curious about them: you succeed in evoking feelings of unease when they are in danger, and feelings of contentment when they succeed. I enjoy much of their wordplay (though seldom the really long passages). In short, you nailed the single most important thing that a novelist needs to do: you made me care about the characters. You can get away with a lot once you do that. But that’s what you hooked me on: the real, flawed, vulnerable, sometimes super-human characters.
But here’s the thing: the plot points that I suspect you think of as being cool and interesting and thought provoking are only of secondary importance to me. I’m mildly interested, but I don’t want them to get in the way of what I really, truly am reading for: getting to know the interesting and likeable characters that you’ve created. And in the 2nd novel, those plot twists come so fast, and are so dominating, that any focus on the characters is lost. Particularly in the 2nd half of the book, it feels like a series of events being related, rather than a story unfolding.
That brings me to the plot itself. I saw a video of the creators of South Park talking at a writing class. They said that the one thing they had discovered over the years is that any plot where the transition from one scene to the next has an implied “and then…” is bad; for any shift of scene, the viewer should mentally be able to fill in “and therefore…” or “but…”. The 2nd novel feels like a lot of “and then…” moments, where plot twists and revelations are just being thrown at me one after the other in chronological order.
I suspect that ultimately, I’m going to wish that there was a whole lot less “mystery” and supernatural content than there is, but I think that’s just a matter of taste. But it’s distressing to me that I’m learning huge, important things about the main characters as almost incidental byproducts of the plot moving forward. It’s distressing that I find out that all three main characters are or have been posessed/inhabited by supernatural entities, and that this has led us to action scenes and flashy combat, rather than changes in the inter-personal dynamics or revelations about character. In the intermezzo chapter, there is no action, but the impact of the supernatural aspects of the story come into play and exert their influence; for example, Kouma’s enigmatec “Or fall in love with you”, clearly implying that she knows way more about him than would normally be possible. Contrast that with “I suddenly discovered the ability to travel back in time, and we’re going to use that to rescue Sensei.” I’m way more interested in the former scene than the latter.
I’m eagerly anticipating the 3rd installment, so get busy. 🙂
Negative criticism is excellent as long as it is constructive and I accept every word of what you said because that is the case. Thank you very much, I really appreciate it.
However, it might please you to know the story of that day doesn’t die with novel two. The motivations of the characters to act and react like they did during the festival will be expanded on and with that their hidden depths will be more visible. What the second novel lacked in comparison to the first was, indeed, the fleshed-out characterization that was replaced by lots of occurrences happening very fast being observed from a viewpoint almost distant enough to be considered the one of an outsider… and with reasons both in-world and literary. To put it in terms that border on oversimplification, the in-world justification is that Shin-tsu became desensitized by not being around Ryo and the “denied longing” brought him a lot closer to his former self. Literary excuse is that this “prequel” in three parts is meant to mirror the cycle of fiction in post-modern culture: creation, deconstruction and reconstruction. The first story established a sweet and optimistic setting, the second played with it and subverted some things to the point of showing how dark they were once looked too close and the third is going to be a combination of both, accepting both their flaws and good points in a realistic way. Regarding that progression, read the post from January 26, “it won’t die”; rambling it might be, but I think it gives off a better idea of the relationship between those three books.
Third novel is pretty much half narrated by Kouma because I really, really enjoyed writing her. And while this can be a spoiler, if I were a reader I’d hardly think Kouma was trying to save Reikoku-sensei. If anything, the one she presumably prevented from being harmed was Shin-tsu, considering that if in a previous timeline the conversation would really have happened in the exact same way it implies the teacher was already hurt, so nothing really changed for her here. But why? Why would Kouma do more than just prioritize him, but rather choose not to do a thing about the teacher’s capture and injury? There’s more to it than the eye can see and the third novel’s first chapter already starts by hitting that nail in the head.
Sometimes I forget it’s easy to get caught in a first-person protagonist point-of-view’s biases and blind spots, so I’ll try to have that in mind when writing the following volume because if there’s no way to reach the same conclusions by speculating, it’s not good mystery material. Hope you enjoy the third novel better and that the way it wraps up the whole thing will give the second one more sense.
I’m relieved you took my post in the spirit with which it was intended.
I would like to comment on your last paragraph. One problem that you’re facing is that there are so many egregious plot holes in anime, manga, and light novels, that I think almost all readers will think to themselves exactly what I did: “Wait, if she can go back to the time she woke up this morning, she can prevent all of this. Oh well, it’s just a light novel, they never make sense, and time-travel stories are even worse than usual. Just accept it and move on.” In order for me to think to myself “Hmmmm, what motiviation could she have had for behaving this way?”, I need to trust that the author has carefully constructed an internally-consistent, fully fleshed out scenario; and by default, I’m not going to give any light novel author that credit, because it’s almost never true.
I don’t think relying on readers to spot incongruities and think of them as mysteries to be solved is going to work very well. Planting subtle clues will work: it’s a mystery, I’m looking for them, if I miss some of them that just makes me respect the author that much more. But just “This use of time-travel doesn’t make sense because I can think of an obvious way to make use of that ability more effectively” is never going to trigger me to think there’s a mystery to be solved; I’m going to assume that the author is just failing at thinking through all the implications of the time-travel possibillities– and I’m almost always going to be right.
So, I think you’re going to pay for the sins of your chosen genre.
And you are correct in not trusting authors to think ahead especially if you are used to serialized fiction: when I was writing for a Japanese manga magazine, I was told the authors were supposed to write the chapter of this month but be ready to get cancelled any day, given two or three chapters to wrap up the story at best regardless of how long the original had been planned to go for or had been running; with that kind of mentality, planning far ahead only means a bigger disappointment for the readers, as it was with the Double Arts incident.
Still mad about that, by the way. Goddamn it, JUMP.
It is perfectly understandable to be wary when approaching a work not so far in category from that, even commendable. I have no intention to change your opinion on that matter because I, too, love fiction enough to know there’s only so much you can expect from it. Rather, I will do my best to improve my skills and become a name you know you should expect several layers of story from; after all, sometimes it’s not the genre but the band.