[LIGHT NOVEL SERIES] BUNGAKU SHOUJO – NOMURA MIZUKI

Summary: Bungaku Shoujo series centers around Konoha Inoue, one of two members of his high school’s literature club, which he joined shortly after entering school, though the story begins when Konoha is already in his second year. The other member and president of the club is Tohko Amano, a third-year girl who loves literature. Tohko eats stories by consuming the paper they are printed on, and Tohko often asks Konoha to write her short stories as “snacks”.

“Why are you eating the parts that I balled up and threw away?”

This series of light novels got so popular that they have manga and anime adaptation, and art book. But the very first time I read them, I thought they were a little too much. The language was a little exaggerated, and the characters were unreal. Don’t get me wrong: I don’t expect everything to be real. In fact, I love unreal. I love mangas and books with mind games, strategy games, fighting scenes, exaggerated love story, etc. However, I wouldn’t expect such dramatic adventures from a series that starts with a two-member high school literature club. What makes Bungaku Shoujo worth reading, rather than real, is the ability to create to characters that any reader can resonate with.

Hinosaka.Nano.full.1238261Troubled characters

The characters portrayed in Bungaku Shoujo are deeply troubled in their own ways. And the author knows how to push them to the limits as the stories gradually unfold. A girl who hurts others because she wants to feel something. Another girl who starve herself because she wants to be loved. A boy who couldn’t write because the past trauma would choke him to death. They are all deeply yearning for something. Yet they are all held back by the ghost of the past. From the happy, cute and innocent high school students they started to reveal themselves as hurt, or crazy, or cold. And the best thing about Bungaku Shoujo, I believe, is that you can always find yourself somewhere in the book, find yourself somewhere in that wide range of emotions and characters. It is actually not the stunning art, but the ability to create characters that you can resonate with, regardless of how crazy they are, is what makes this series so popular.

I wanted to hurt you, make you suffer, and make sure that you’d never forget me.

But in the end, they are all high school students. Konoha and Tohko are the curious little detectives who solve mysteries by their love for literature. I can see the puppy love side stories, the light hearted conversations, and all the pure, refreshing emotions of a high schooler. Those are the stories that make you go “ah, I used to be this silly, curious and a little reckless.”

Classics and Twists

The author develops interesting storylines that are based on classic novels; she then offers new and fascinating perspectives to look at the old novels. Some of the classic novels used are No longer human by Osamu Dazai, The Phantom in the Opera by Gaston Leroux, Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte… (And I was introduced to many other Japanese classic novels too!) While the first few books focus on adding unexpected twists to the classics, the later novels focus more on revealing the characters and their life stories. If you enjoy looking at the world-renown novels through a different lens – a little teenage-ish, dramatic yet also light-hearted, Bungaku Shoujo is definitely the one.

Readers betray their authors.

Towards the end of the series, Nomura also gives us how she views writers and readers through her characters. But let’s not spoil the ending here!

I believe being an author is a lonely line of work that asks you to pass through a narrow gate alone.

I find it hard to describe Bungaku Shoujo in one or two adjectives: light-hearted yet also dark, simple yet dramatic. I find my Kabuki professor’s words especially true here: “Japanese (or Asian) theater is not separated by genres like comedy, tragedy or romance. You can find everything in one play.” And you can find the same thing in Bungaku Shoujo.

Plus the art is amazing!

Bungaku.Shoujo.full.1239580Volume list

  • Book Girl and the Suicidal Mime
  • Book Girl and the Famished Spirit
  • Book Girl and the Captive Fool
  • Book Girl and the Corrupted Angel
  • Book Girl and the Wayfarer’s Lamentation
  • Book Girl and the Undie Who Bore a Moonflower
  • Book Girl and the Scribe Who Faced God (part 1 & 2)

Hope you enjoy ! xD

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