“文学少女”と穢名の天使 // Bungaku Shoujo to Kegarena no Angel

^I would have put a picture of Nanase up at the top, but there aren’t that many pictures of non-anime-hair-Nanase out there (there are few, period…), so I put one maid-service one at the bottom, and a more relevant picture at the top.

The number of my reviews has reached 10, maybe I’ll make a page to organize them when I hit 15… My site’s more popular for mahjong than it is for reviews… but I guess more for reviews than for learning Japanese… which was one of the first purposes I tacked on after I started translating lyrics… XD

文学少女と穢名の天使
 Bungaku Shoujo to Kegarena no Angel
 Literature Girl and the Disgraced Angel (Off-Hand TL)
 Book Girl and the Corrupted Angel (Official Title)

著:野村美月 (Author: Nomura Mizuki)
画:竹岡美穂 (Illustrator: Takeoka Miho)
ファミ通文庫 (Famitsu Bunko)
ISBN-13: 978-4757735064
発売日: 2007/5/10

English Translation by Yen Press: [link] (Not Yet Released at Time of Posting)
[Release Date: January, 2012]

Introduction:

I’m starting to ache writing these non-spoiler reviews, especially this series, because there are enough twists for me to have to watch my every word.. Maybe I’ll remedy by setting up a discussion board. What I really need to do is start a reading group so I can discuss what I’ve felt reading and to hear others’ opinions. I miss arguing back and forth with people… I can’t really start a reading group when I’m just about to finish college and go off to who knows where though.

Maybe that has something to do with why I like this series so much; the narrator/main character suffers from the “no one would be that dense or stupid” syndrome but he kind of doesn’t at the same time. Konoha is a character that you can’t judge on surface level; you really can’t take any of the characters that way. I think I’ve learned a bit of something myself along with him.

When you get to the point along a character’s development to where his confession his revelation is actually false, no matter how true it feels – no matter how true it feels to him… What I’m trying to say here is that you reach a strange paradox, where everything is so much more complex and yet so much simpler than it seems.

Now I read this book faster than I’d ever read anything in Japanese before. I’m not quite ready to say whether it’s a jump in my skill level in general, with this particular author, or this volume really grabbed me more than any other. Maybe it’s a little bit of everything; this series has yet to disappoint me.

This time around the story’s involved with “The Phantom of the Opera” which I have not read, admittedly, but I have seen the silent film, which was excellent. (Perhaps it is blaspheme to experience an opera only through silent film, but I have also heard some of the vocal music, which is of course also excellent.) So far that means every other volume has been on Japanese literature, and the others on foreign literature. Why is it that when we read through “world literature” in high school we only get “European literature”, most of it British? I guess there are language barriers, but I’ve not ever seen a single assigned reading of anything Japanese on any curriculum. That needs to change.. at least lets have some “Kokoro”! I’ve encountered few that are very long (let’s exclude things of epic chronicle length like the Tale of Genji…) – I would have loved to read something like Musha no Kouji Saneatsu’s “Friendship” in high school! Akutagawa would have made my head spin!

Enough of my rant, let’s get on with the story.

Prominent Characters:

天野遠子  Amano Tooko
・The Literature Girl, Head of the Literature Club
井上心葉  Inoue Konoha [Narrator]
・Former (Female) Author “Inoue Miu” and Tooko’s Writer
琴吹ななせ Kotobuki Nanase
・Library Assistant and Tsundere
水戸夕歌  Mito Yuuka
・Nanase’s Close Friend / Whereabouts Unknown
毬谷敬一  Mariya Keiichi
・Music Teacher / Retired Opera Singer
臣志朗   Omi Shirou
・Mysterious Student who Hates Konoha
鏡粧子   Kagami Shouko
・Vocal Teacher at Yuuka’s School

Story:

Like most of the volumes up until now, the story has been rolling for a long time before Konoha has the chance to find it. School life continues: Konoha is better friends with Akutagawa and maybe even with Nanase, as he spends more time with her while Tooko “works hard” at studying for college entrance exams. Konoha is half-coerced by situation to help Nanase do filing work for the school music teacher, Mariya Keiichi. Nanase’s school friends have started to see past Nanase’s tsundere facade and are dropping large hints on Konoha, but he lightly shrugs them off as usual. Now Konoha’s days are pleasantly accompanied by a cup of chai, watching over Nanase’s cuteness as Mariya teases her.

But then one day Konoha finds Nanase very upset; her close friend has suddenly stopped returning her calls and they find out she has actually been missing, even while they had been keeping correspondence.

Konoha offers to help and with Nanase starts investigating, but there is another factor; a mysterious student makes contact with Konoha, shows his disdain, appears to be concerned for Nanase, and warns him to stay away from Mariya.

“It’s not that you don’t notice, you just don’t want to acknowledge the fact.”
“You’re chasing her to her death, a murderer with a pretty face.”

Evaluation / Rating:

I know that Konoha will probably end up with Tooko in the end, but all the same, after this book I think that he’s a better fit for Nanase; they both have areas where they can depend on each other. Tooko is someone Konoha is almost fully dependent on… (ok Konoha “feeds” her, but I don’t think that really counts). I think they would work well in a very close friends sort of relationship. Maybe I have a different idea of what makes a good relationship, but don’t trust me, I’m not in one.

One reason this volume falls last on my subjective ranking (we’re really talking about differences in degrees of zero though) is that is uses the “emotional catapult”/”hot topic issue” of school girl prostitution. To the volume’s credit, it handles it very well, it doesn’t overstate the situation to sort of suck that weird sort of emotional mess of either sadness, hate, a strange warped jealousy which serves as the basis of such hate, et cetera out of the reader, and it does not form the core of the meaning in the title “Disgraced Angel” or “Angel of a corrupted, dirtied name”. In the end it is only a catalyst. So I can’t say it shouldn’t be there, I can only say how great and excellent a work it would have been if it pulled it off without it, or if it had explored the emotion more in depth, enough to surprise me.

Overall: 9.4
Subjective Ranking: 1st,3rd=2nd,4th
Objective Ranking: 2nd,3rd,4th,1st

Concept: 9.8
This rating probably will stay the same for each volume in the series unless something absolutely amazing happens to bump it up a little further.
Pacing: 9.7
Paced very well, it’s still just a little slower in the beginning.
Plot: 9.0
The majority of the plot was a lot more predictable than usual but, though this might sound ironic, there were many more twists and quite a few elements I just could not see at all, maybe that’s why the pacing is higher than usual.
Characters: 9.71
Konoha, Mariya, and Omi were all developed very well; none of them come close to Hotaru from volume two, and I thought Shouko was rather bland… but even Nanase had some development I thought I’d never see. The combined Konoha/Mariya/Omi depth of character slightly beats out the development of Konoha/Akutagawa in volume three, hence the extra .01 I’ve tacked on.
Writing Style/Flavor: 9.7
Very good, it was a very enjoyable read, the environments were produced clearly and with flavor; I was very easily drawn into emotional reactions at critical moments and there was nothing really jerky.
Illustrations: 9.5
Refined and beautiful as I’ve come to expect.

    • Diane Erdahl
    • January 17th, 2015

    Please let me know how I can contact the artist for the image of Christine and the Phantom. I would like to purchase a larger size print. Thank you. Diane Erdahl

    • It appears that the artist’s last activity on Pixiv was a year ago and the two contacts given are outdated, so I have no idea ^^;

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