The Book of Sawce, Chapter 13 – A Book Set in a Different Country

13) Kizumonogatari

The iron-blooded, hot-blooded, cold-blooded vampire of everyone’s dreams.

Kinda seems like whenever it takes me months to get around to reading another book, I wind up reading a few in quick succession.  Well, let’s hope that tradition continues here.  This time I read a book set in a different country.  Now then, guys and gals, I can’t begin to tell you how much I’ve been wanting to read this book.  So, let’s move on to the prequel of Nisioisin’s Monogatari series, Kizumonogatari.

This is the story of Koyomi Araragi’s last spring break as a high school student.  Being our narrator, he informs us that he’s spent his high school life all by his lonesome, but he doesn’t mind it one bit.  That’s why the last thing to happen to him at school is such a surprise:  He meets the class president among class presidents, Tsubasa Hanekawa, and they hit it off quite well.  Despite him accidentally getting a full look under her skirt.  Or it might be because of that.  Anyway, the two talk about a number of odd things for a while, but they eventually land on the topic of vampires.  As it turns out, a number of girls at their school are claiming to have seen a beautiful golden-haired vampire around town.  Although Tsubasa would love if this were true, Koyomi is a firm realist and finds it ridiculous.  Later that night, Koyomi sneaks out to the bookstore to purchase adult reading materials.  On his way back, he finds a beautiful golden-haired woman under a streetlight.  To make this sight even stranger in a small Japanese town, the woman is missing her arms and legs and seems only mildly annoyed with that fact.  In this world, rumors find a way to come true, as this is the first meeting between Koyomi Araragi and the iron-blooded, hot-blooded, cold-blooded vampire and aberration slayer Kissshot Acerolaorion Heartunderblade.  The prologue tells us this story doesn’t have a happy ending, but it’s one hell of a story.

I’ve been a fan of Nisioisin since I read the first Zaregoto book many years ago when Del Rey published it over here.  Since then, I’ve looked forward to everything that has his fingers on it.  So, when his magnum opus, the Monogatari franchise, started getting anime adaptations, I was in there like swimwear.  And I’m glad to say, I love those anime.  The series is filled with all the wordplay, weird names, and modern takes on old classics that Nisioisin is famous for.  It’s a huge hit in Japan, and the series is only now finding its way over here in the States.  Sure, we’ve had the ridiculously overpriced anime boxsets for a while, but now we’re getting the books.  I’m so glad they started with Kizumonogatari since it’s not only the prequel, but it also hasn’t been adapted into an anime yet.  Most of what happens in this book was unfamiliar to me.  And that’s the way (uh-huh, uh-huh) I like it.

I’m afraid this is going to mostly just be me gushing over this book.  I love the characters of this series.  The justice-driven outcast Koyomi; the seemingly too perfect Tsubasa; the haughty, yet broken Kissshot; and the neutral grifter Meme Oshino all meet for the first time in this book.  It’s odd since I’ve seen so much of these characters in later stories, so they feel like old friends to me here.  I love the story that brings them together, and I’m glad we’re finally getting these books here.

I will say, though, that a lot of the jokes fall flat.  The painful truth of it is any translated work is going to lose something in the final product.  There are just some things that only work in the original language.  Which unfortunately means a lot of Nisioisin’s humorous wordplay loses a bit of its punch in English.  When it hits, though, it really hits.  Quite a few of the lines come off really well translated, and I’m eternally thankful for that.

So yeah, that’s about my only complaint about this book.  It’s really hard for me to judge it on its own since I’ve been a fan of the author and his works for over seven years now.  Like, I know what it will be and what it’s meant to be.  You know?

It’s not my most favorite book I’ve read for the reading challenge so far (Watership Down still holds that honor), but it’s definitely in the top three.  Up next, I’ll be venturing way out of my comfort zone with a nonfiction book.  What will it be?  Stay tuned to find out.

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