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Light Novels: Doublebrid v01

doublebrid 01Full title: Doublebrid
Author: Nakamura Erika
Illustrator: Fujikura Kazune
Label: Dengeki Bunko
Year of publication: 2000
Pages: 288

I have been deceived! The internet told me this was a great series, so I took the plunge and purchased four whole volumes in one go, so I could enjoy a long stretch of splendid literature, allowing the marvellous story to grip my heart, and the fabulous characters to captivate me. But no, not this time. They all lied. I have slogged through the first book, and now I am here to warn you. Don’t repeat my mistake; let me be the last victim.

It all started some ten years ago, when Nakamura Erika submitted her work for the Dengeki Novel Prize, and managed to steal the Gold Award, resulting in Doublebrid being published and eventually turned into a series of ten novels, which was concluded with a final novel just last year, after a strange five year break. The illustration was initially done by Fujikura Kazune, whose not too exciting art suddenly got replaced in volumes 3+, hopefully for the better. I feel a bit guilty typing this, since Fujikura died in a traffic accident on Valentine’s Day of 2001, but I’m hardly to blame for the truck that rammed her car.

The setting takes us to an alternate version of earth, where strange creatures were found around the world in the 1950s, possessing abnormal shapes and powers, and carrying DNA completely different from other lifeforms on the planet. In Japan, these became known as the ayakashi, and further split into classes A and B depending on whether they were human-shaped or not. With Japan’s reputation for loving outsiders, it comes as no surprise that they were the only nation to give A class ayakashi official status as citizens with human rights, and as such they’ve now managed to integrate with society to some degree. The main character is one of them: Katakura Yuuki, a young lady of 25 years, who as a sergeant at the Sixth Investigation Division — a section consisting solely of ayakashi members — works closely with the Emergency Arrest Team (EAT) to capture (or kill) more hostile ayakashi.

One of EAT’s newer recruits is the cocky, young Yamazaki Taichirou, who thinks it’s an insult that they should need the help of monsters to accomplish their tasks, but his intrepid attitude toward ayakashi is also what makes his boss decide he’s the right guy to transfer temporarily into the 6th to really get to know Yuuki and bring him around to how nice they can be, and perhaps create a better working connection between the units. Thus assigned to support Yuuki, the two eventually work together to track down a dangerous escaped mass murderer named Takahashi Kouji. Kouji is a rare doublebrid, the mixed child of a human and an ayakashi, and carrier of double DNA sets (double + hybrid!), giving him incredible survival abilities. After years of torture as a test subject, he’s now out with vengeance in mind for the woman who caught him — white-haired Yuuki.

Sounds decent enough, doesn’t it? Superpowered mutant investigations and xenophobic political machinations in a troubled society! And the characters aren’t too bad, with Yuuki conveniently stuck with a 16-year-old’s visage due to her genetic peculiarities. The trouble is, it’s not enough. While the writing is generally quite pleasant, the narration is appalling. In order to convey to the reader how the characters think and feel, the author uses an omniscient point of view that simply explains their emotions and reactions, straight and clear. Where other works of literature will go through the trouble of expertly using dialogue and descriptions of behaviour, in Doublebrid we just peel off the skull and reach into their brains to list exactly what’s going on. It’s cheap, to be honest.

With the way I’m told straight out how the guy changes his mind upon hearing her say something, I’m struck by how artificial everything is, and it becomes impossible to feel any kind of bond with these people. This novel clearly wants to focus on the emotional development and growing mutual understanding between Yuuki and Taichirou, but the manner in which it’s told is so forced it feels like I’m reading a cheat sheet. When the narrator has no restrictions on how deep into every single mind it can go, “plot” becomes meaningless. Either we see it all plain as day, or the author has to exclude important details in a stupid fashion that becomes offensive. Nothing is left for interpretation, and it ends up a dull recounting of event after event, with an inevitable conclusion seen from miles away. I won’t say this book is bad, but at the same time it has a very long way to go before it arrives at good.

Amazon link: Japanese

Note: After finishing Doublebrid, I started reading a book called Nishi no Majo ga Shinda (The Witch of the West is Dead) by Nashiki Kaho. It’s a proper novel without illustrations and manga faces that was turned into a live-action film last year, boosting the book’s popularity even more, and it’s now sold in excess of a million copies. However, since it’s not a light novel, it doesn’t fit into the scope of this section, so I won’t bore you with a review! Expect my next entry to be delayed while I finish reading this, and try to figure out what to pick up afterwards.

June 3, 2009 at 1:48 pm
18 comments »
  • June 3, 2009 at 2:08 pmImperator Romanus

    well… don’t believe everything the internet says… with the exception of random curiosity… lolol (sorry, it was stronger than me… lol)
    Just because it won a award doesn’t mean it’s any good, trust me, if it that was the case, then everything that won something should be great and as you just experienced, that’s not the case…
    Better luck next time…

  • June 3, 2009 at 2:34 pmgeneva

    yeah, feel for ya. I just bought an english translated novel, ballad of a shinigami, after reading some of your blogs (I thought I’d try it out) because I heard from other sources on the internet that it was a “masterpiece” >_<.

    Too be honest, I’m finding out that english translated novels are very irratating to read. I bought melancholy of suzumiya and read a little, but the translator sucked bad. I tried baka tsuki too, and theirs was a bit better, but their grammar and flow is off too. Not to mention that it’s harder for me to enjoy all the slap stick comedy and funny facial expressions that you can get with anime and manga.

  • June 3, 2009 at 7:26 pmFayt

    Never heard of this, but wow… it actually sounds pretty bad ~_~

    Then again, i usually just get Light Novels based on their covers, and this one for sure… does not interest me XD.

    Thanks for the review as always~
    and hopefully the next book would be better~

  • June 3, 2009 at 7:57 pmConfusedGirl29

    Wow did you write this during midnight?

    It sucks when the internet convinces you that something is really good and you just end up wasting your time on it (and in your case money too).

    I don’t know what kind of light novels you like but I’ll recommend one I’ve gotten obsessed about, it’s called 1/2 Ouji. In case you’re not sure about reading it you can find some chapters of it in english here :
    http://halfprince.wordpress.com/novel-translated/

  • June 3, 2009 at 8:25 pmKimnu04

    (゜Д゜)

  • June 3, 2009 at 8:35 pmMark

    Have you read any of the Boogiepop books? They’re really awesome and rank highly among all the books I’ve read. I also put off reading Crest of the Stars / Seikai no Monshō for a long time (due to the sci-fi space plot) but they were amazing reads with great characters, some romance and an interesting plot. Seriously wish Tokyopop translated Banner of the stars too.

  • June 3, 2009 at 8:44 pmnapen

    @Patrick
    I think it’s time u do a review on what you liked as well.. lol

  • June 3, 2009 at 10:24 pmRoDaVis

    havent read the novels, but i kinda liked the manga “Double Brid Over The Insanity” [NAKAMURA Erika - Shiro] http://www.mangaupdates.com/series.html?id=7351

  • June 4, 2009 at 12:10 amXanathos

    The problem is the perspective, and the public who has it.
    For some people, something will be great, and for others no.

    I don’t think internet lied… i think that maybe, the novel is great for a certain public, and not for others… and these liking can be classified in many levels, from those who aren’t just good to others that are really interesting…

    My advice would be… pick a genre, check the background story of the book, check if the genre and the background fit your likes, and then… if you know what kind of level of your genre want, and it fits… go ahead, and buy.

    Well, thanks for the warning… i’ll stay alert.

  • June 4, 2009 at 1:33 amelodie

    your a jack — ass… lol >.< pure idiot… haha

  • June 4, 2009 at 3:30 amsquirrel

    learn grammar elodie

  • June 4, 2009 at 7:47 amGrant

    I’ll admit that I may be experiencing xenophobia myself, but this reminds me of a strange parallel in Japan. Their anime, manga, games, and light novels often espouse acceptance of others and friendship; and yet for a liberal democracy their immigration laws and attitude towards foreigners seem to be less than pleasant. I also admit that I have little knowledge of Korean, Chinese, Thai, or Vietnamese culture and media; is it the same?

  • June 4, 2009 at 11:32 amFumika

    I’m a bit lost. What is the purpose for these light novel reviews? Chances are the light novels are never going to be translated, seeing as how manga already has a spotty record. In that case, most of your audience is never going to be able to read what you just reviewed.

  • June 4, 2009 at 12:42 pmOmni

    Fumika: Did you not read the introduction post? Patrik said, “The idea is to bring light novels into public knowledge and promote discussion, since it’s quite a pleasant form of entertainment. Every year dozens of titles are transformed into anime series, and chances are I’ll be mentioning something that eventually shows up on your TV screens. Some upcoming animation productions are Bungaku Shoujo, Bakemonogatari and Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu. No doubt these will be interesting and fun to watch, but I bet the original work is deeper and more satisfying. “

  • June 4, 2009 at 5:51 pmminikui

    >However, since it’s not a light novel, it doesn’t fit into the scope of this section, so >I won’t bore you with a review!

    Oh no, please don’t keep the “non light” novels from us (the difference not always being all that clear to me anyway, f.ex. 12 Kingdoms, Guin Saga, Guardian of the Spirit … they are pretty light and at the same time not, I can recommend all of them by the way xD ). I’ve been interested in the dead witch of the west for quite a while …

  • June 5, 2009 at 9:30 amminikui

    I just read that Guin Saga is the “progenitor of the “light novel” form”. That’s a “must review” for you, isn’t it? Plus, these books are pretty awesome =)

  • June 7, 2009 at 3:40 amCc

    LAWL, there’s a group called ‘EAT’. Bahah, I know, talk about immature.

  • June 22, 2009 at 1:35 amKairx

    Well, I sure this book has some thing that appeals to some readers if it managed to win something.Everyone has different likes and dislikes though so its not wise to buy many/all volumes in 1 go be it manga or novels.

    I would recommend you to try “扉の外” if you had not read it before. I would give it 9/10 and thats just because of the ending that do not really feels like an ending. Of course.. don’t get all books as it might not be your type :D