“文学少女”と慟哭の巡礼者 // Bungaku Shoujo to Doukoku no Palmier
^A scene inspired more from the film than the book I think, but that doesn’t make it any less fitting… I’ve been able to find a couple of gems, but I really wish there was more fan art for this series on Pixiv.
Note on the Title: “Palmier” is used in the title on top of the word for Pilgrim, apparently Italian for “one who does something with palm branches”. This makes since if you link it to the Christian tale of palm branches being laid upon the road to “welcome the king” – Palm Sunday in other words. I don’t know any more than that, so I’ll just let it be. Also, I translated Doukoku as “wailing” but I understand the word to take on more of a “howling” meaning. In the end I thought wailing conveyed the idea better, and it’s what my dictionary was saying so I stuck with it.
Bungaku Shoujo to Doukoku no Palmier
Literature Girl and the Wailing Pilgrim (Off-Hand TL)
… (No Official English Title Released)
著：野村美月 (Author: Nomura Mizuki)
画：竹岡美穂 (Illustrator: Takeoka Miho)
ファミ通文庫 (Famitsu Bunko)
English Translation by Yen Press: [link] (Not Yet Released at Time of Posting)
[Release Date: August, 2012]
I encourage all of you to find and watch the anime adaptation of 銀河鉄道の夜 (Ginga Tetsudou no Yoru) “Night on the Galactic Railroad” (1985) You should be able to find it on YouTube actually, like most old hard to find films. The character roles are played by cats.
There’s a translation of the short story into English, though I’ve heard it’s terrible. I have the original, and it’s copyright free… if I’m starving and out of work I might publish a translation in a year or so, eh?
I found that 胎児の夢 (Taiji no Yume) goes well with the reading, I also listened to ERP (Emotional Romantic Pianoforte), and a few other tracks. I regret that I wasn’t able to actually sit down and read it in a sitting or two – but as you can see from my general lack of posting, I’ve been busy and reading became more of an intermittent break from stress than anything else. That may be part of the reason I’m going to give Konoha a lot more flak than I usually do…
Anyway, whenever you get the chance to read this, August 2012 is Yen Press’s planned release date, I’d encourage you to read it around dusk. When you run across passages from Miyazawa Kenji’s original works, you’ll want to look up at the sky; at the disappearing sun, the stars popping up here and there. Maybe I’m just weak for such things, but it’s such an emotional outlet.
Most of you, and I mean most people that are interested in reading a review like this about a yet-to-be-as-popular-as-it-should-be-in-the-English-speaking-world series like Bungaku Shoujo/Book Girl, have seen the film, and/or the shorts accompanying it. The film is, for the most part, an adaptation of this book, so I’ll be making a lot of comparisons. As always I try to restrict myself from making too many spoilers, so I’ll try to be ambiguous when it comes down to it. Also, just so you know – I won’t be making much comment about the all too conclusive end of the movie, because “Palmier” is the fifth of an eight book series. I don’t know if that’s what really happens in the novels or not, I’ve got three more volumes ahead of me before I find out for sure.
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
朝倉美羽 Asakura Miu
・Konoha’s Childhood Friend and Former Writer, “Doukoku no Palmier”
琴吹ななせ Kotobuki Nanase
・Konoha’s Girlfriend, Library Assistant and Tsundere
芥川一誌 Akutagawa Kazushi
・Konoha’s Sincere, Upstanding Friend, “Tsunagareta Fool”
竹田千愛 Takeda Chia
・Bright and Cheerful, Masked “Shinitagari no Pierrot”
櫻井流人 Sakurai Ryuuto
・Tooko’s “Little Brother”, Womanizer, Likes Dangerous Women
姫倉麻貴 Himekura Maki
・Artist, Princess, Head of the Orchestra Club, Superintendent’s Granddaughter
Unfortunately Chia only appears in the movie to fix up some plot inconveniences. Her role is much more important in the book. At one of the critical points in the movie, Konoha is saved by Tooko. But in the book, Konoha is made to hesitate because of Nanase, is really saved by Chia, and then is helped later by Tooko. For those who have read the first book, you should know how much more significant it is for Chia to save Konoha than it is for Tooko. To be fair, Chia’s involvement in the book is probably too complicated (and dark) for the movie adaptation, so I understand why she was cut, but… I almost cried when Konoha acted like he didn’t know who she was in the movie.
The movie made a lot of cuts, but the overall plot is pretty much the same as it is in the book. Bungaku Shoujo to Doukoku no Palmier is a story where Konoha must finally confront Miu, an existence that has haunted him ever since their parting. The earlier novels had hinted at her death, but the fourth and even the third novels confirm that she is alive. We hear it from Konoha himself, so it is inevitable that for Konoha to truly heal, he must meet her again.
Before his Shrine visit/date with Nanase, Konoha receives a strange New Years card in the mail, of a weird drawing: a round bird-like creature with horns, a face like a cat and a long dangling tongue. After a number of bad luck omens and before Konoha and Nanase’s second date, Nanase calls it off with no explanation. He learns later from Chia that Nanase has been hospitalized.
Nanase tries to keep Konoha from coming, and the first time he visits he can’t get in to see her, but trying again he hears Nanase shouting in the hospital halls.
“You’re terrible! Stay away from Inoue! You have no right-!”
Turning the corner Konoha finds Nanase and another girl, her back turned. Nanase freezes and the girl turns around.
Evaluation / Rating:
Konoha frustrates me to no end in “Palmier”. It’s kind of part of the plot, but Konoha emotionally reverts to square one, making almost all of his growth absolutely worthless. He is absolutely terrible to Nanase, and he knows it, and does nothing about it! I was really rooting for Konoha and Nanase’s relationship last volume, but now I’m not sure I can see how Nanase should be able to put up with him. I personally would still rather see Konoha and Nanase get together than Konoha and Tooko, (even if I have a feeling it’ll never happen ._.) but he’s really stretching it. *Sigh*
I actually connected more with Chia than any other character this time around, she gets a lot of good development, and while I wouldn’t claim I’m like her, I’ve felt similar things and had periods of rejection-shock, so I connect with her most. Miu also is a great character, and very believable.
The plot progression is good, but I really think it could have been better if Konoha wasn’t such a sap. I’m okay with him being useless, and I understand how the past can be paralyzing, and I keep on telling myself he’s only a high schooler and perhaps I shouldn’t expect that much out of him, but for the first time I think the author just took it a degree too far. Really, that’s the only problem I think with this volume. Konoha was just a little too useless. He has some cool scenes and points, but they would have been a lot more believable if he had shown a more strength of character throughout. I’m not asking for much, just a little.
The integration with Miyazawa Kenji’s stories was excellent. Absolutely wonderful. There was a section on changes through multiple revisions of a story which really stood out in the “Super-Girl-Tooko Literary Explanation” part. I love learning about the authors too… and there’s something strangely romantic I think about a children’s story actually being absurdly depressing when you really look at it again.
I fell apart when you find the true meaning of Miu’s question: “What is Campanella’s wish?”
It’s those things that should be so obvious but takes you by surprise, that makes this series so wonderful. (Unfortunately, that’s not completely conveyed in the movie). The barrier between two people in a relationship is stressed more as well.
I’ll admit I was crying when Konoha read out the true ending of his book (which they also didn’t put in the movie щ(ﾟДﾟщ)).
Everything in the movie about Konoha quitting the literature club and running after Tooko and everything like that does not happen in the book; Konoha is still with Nanase. I think it’s a lot better that way. We’ll see if the movie ending reflects something in later volumes (three left to go) or it was just a way to tie things together.
Subjective Ranking: 1st,3rd=2nd,5th,4th
Objective Ranking: 2nd,3rd=5th,4th=1st
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.
Paced well, but I feel that some parts of the plot are slowed down by Konoha’s lack of initiative and wavering; there’s just a little too much focus on him, but nothing to knock it lower than 9.
The plot is well pieced together even if there’s a few problems with the flow, and Chia’s involvement really made a difference. If the plot was the same as the movie, I would have put it at around 8.8.
Miu and Chia make up for Konoha’s awful moments. Ryuuji and Konoha (despite his faults) have a lot of good development and Nanase’s perseverance is strong enough for me to count it as development as well. So, 9.8. I don’t think anyone’s going to beat Hotaru from vol.2 though.
Writing Style/Flavor: 9.4
This volume suffers a little bit from great, great parts written fantastically, and parts that leave me wanting, so I’ve let it drop down to 9.4 (still high as ever though…)
The Surstrommings picture… the figure below portrays it. I’m not sure I’d laughed that hard in a long, long time. But seriously, the illustrations as a whole were if anything lovelier than usual.