Review: Zaregoto series vol 1-5

Kubikiri Cycle (The Beheading Cycle: The Blue Savant and the Nonsense Bearer / クビキリサイクル 青色サヴァンと戯言遣い)
Author: Nisioisin
Illustrator: Take
Publisher: Kodansha

It’s been years since I read the first volume of Zaregoto and I barely remember anything about it now, so let’s use this space as a general introduction to the series. Kubikiri Cycle is Nisioisin’s debut work, published in 2002 at the age of 20. A mere nine months later the series had five books out, although the final ninth volume wasn’t released until 2005. It’s widely regarded as Nisio’s best work, his crowning achievement, to this day. And what is it about? Nonsense. Pure nonsense. Our unnamed narrator (commonly referred to by fans as Ii-chan) is unwillingly thrown into a new absurd situation every volume, usually involving some sort of murder or conspiracy or scheming and whatnot, but in the end it always boils down to nonsense. Our Ii-chan just can’t give less of a damn. He’s all too familiar with murderers and geniuses and strange people and would rather just not be bothered. In fact, the series is essentially a character study on Ii-chan – take someone with his purely apathetic personality, throw him into an abnormal situation with outlandish characters, and see what happens. Combine that with Nisioisin’s distinct writing style and you’re in for a fun ride.

Del Rey translated this and volume 2 before they went under, but unfortunately this volume is long out of print and sold out everywhere. Good luck finding a copy for under $50.

Review: Boku no Imouto wa Kanji ga Yomeru vol 1

Boku no Imouto wa Kanji ga Yomeru (My Little Sister Can Read Kanji, 僕の妹は漢字が読める)
Author: Kajii Takashi
Illustrator: Minamura Hallki
Publisher: HJ Bunko

It’s the 23rd century and moe has taken over the world – little sister moe, to be exact. Cute 2D girls are hailed as gods. One of them is the Prime Minister of Japan. Bishoujo figures from hundreds of years ago are placed in museums as treasures of the past. There’s no such thing as a novel without moe artwork, a cute little sister character, panty shots, and hot springs scenes – because why would there be? Anything that doesn’t contain the spirit of moe is just blasphemy. What’s more, kanji has been completely obliterated from the Japanese language. Who needs those complicated characters when hiragana and katakana are more than enough to convey the grandeur that is moe?

But the protagonist’s little sister can read kanji. And that’s something amazing.

Welcome to Nonsense Translations

Am I going to bail out of this before delivering anything worthwhile?