Book Girl as a Movie Girl!

So one of the light novel series that I’m following at the moment is Book Girl, which is a comedy/mystery collection that recently ended publication earlier this year in Japan. It’s one of the few light novels that is actually still getting ongoing releases, much to my surprise. I really don’t think its targeted demographic is all that prevalent here in the US. Plus, what’s up with the title? I would’ve preferred a less literal translation or just a different title altogether. Literature Girl sounds okay, but when I picture people reading covers or spines at their local bookstore, I highly doubt that something so mundane would draw an audience. Just another strike at the whole targeted demographic and my utter confusion as to how Yen Press can still publish the series. Though at this point I’m about halfway down the throat of that gift horse.

The story revolves around the young boy Inoue Konoha, who once wrote an extremely popular novel under a female pen name. Some unfortunate circumstances made him put down his pen until he enters high school and meets Amano Tohko, a girl one year his senior that also happens to be the president of the school’s literature club. How did he end up meeting Tohko? Well, Konoha happened to catch a glimpse of the girl tearing pages out of a book and eating them, because she’s a youkai that eats stories. Konoha soon finds himself forced to join the club and write stories for Tohko every day while solving mysteries occurring around the city.

I’ve read the first two novels (three have currently been officially translated and published in English) and they’re interesting enough to keep reading. The mysteries themselves aren’t all that mind-blowing (so far) and the author frequently tries to spoon feed the reader some ‘culture’ by having Tohko go off on long tangents about other books. I’m not sure how I feel about that part. Considering that Book Girl is originally in Japanese, there are a few pieces of Japanese literature that are referenced that I’m just not sure are common reads in the west, making me feel really uncultured. But many western works are also referenced. It makes me wonder how diligently English literature is translated and read in other countries. Props to Book Girl for making me think outside the box on that one. For the uncultured like myself, perhaps Tohko‘s long tangents on other books is a boon, but the inner netizen inside me just wants to grab and shake the author from side to side and complain about the lack of appropriate spoiler tags. I’ve never read Wuthering Heights and thanks to Tohko I probably never will.

That aside, the main characters are all pretty interesting. For once, I don’t feel that the story is weighed down by the male protagonist’s presence — most of the light novels I’ve gone through sport the meek male protagonist, so this was a welcome change.

I’ll continue to read the series, but I recently finished the film adaption. The movie runs nearly 2 hours and seems to be a pretty faithful take on the series’ universe. It focuses primarily on Miu, who is a childhood friend of Konoha and, as far as I can tell, a character shrouded in mystery in the novels — there’s a chance I may have spoiled the ‘ending’ to the overall plot of the novel series. So there’s a heads up for anyone wondering about what the film covers … if the movie really is based on the novels, then it covers the ending.

It’s a good watch for fans of the series. It might try to cover a little too much for those who aren’t already familiar with the characters or the back story (though I believe that 3 OVA shorts were released as a prequel to the film in order to cover some essential narrative for the uninitiated). The animation is as sleek as can be expected for a theatrical release, and it’s got a nice voice acting cast (Toyosaki Aki, Hirano Aya). About the only gripe I have with the film is that the character designs aren’t very faithful to the original art. It just seems a bit different from the novel illustrations. And Tohko‘s hair just is a little too dark. It’s much brighter in the novel illustrations.

I’ll probably end up writing more about Book Girl in the future, since I’ve only read two of the novels. I don’t expect any other anime adaptions, but I’ll hold off on a character ranking until I’ve gone through a few more of the books in order to give some characters a chance at the spotlight.

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