Bond and Book: The Devotion of “The Surgery Room”

By Mizuki Nomura and Miho Takeoka. Released in Japan as “Musubu to Hon: “Gekashitsu” no Ichizu” by Famitsu Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Nicole Wilder.

It’s good to be reading Mizuki Nomura again. Book Girl came out before the light novel boom, and as such I don’t think it ever got the attention that it deserved. This new series is not quite a sequel, and does not require having read Book Girl to enjoy it, but fans of that series will figure out fairly quickly that it’s set at the same school a generation later, and that some of the main characters are related to some of the people from Book Girl. This should not particularly be a surprise given that the premise is that a teenage boy names Musubu can “hear” the voices of books, which is not very far away from eating books. That said, while this does have serious moments, Bond and Book is a lighter series, an anthology-style tale where we see Musubu interact with someone and learn about their relationship with a book. Because trust me, books are the lovers here.

As we go through Musubu’s everyday school live, he a) tries to unite a battered copy of Pippi Longstocking with its former owner; b) helps a light novel author whose books are, um, not very good find a wider audience; c) tries to figure out which book has possessed an orchestra club member and caused him to lash out at others; d) goes with his friends to a deserted island to mimic the story of Fifteen Boys by Jules Verne (known everywhere outside Japan as Two Years’ Vacation); and e) try to help a college boy confess his love to the older librarian he adores… before she gets married and he regrets it forever. As he does this, we also hear from the books in question, who are very much characters of their own, particularly Musubu’s girlfriend, the petulant, prickly, and jealous Princess Yonoga.

This was a fun read, though I will admit that I liked some stories better than others. The light novel chapter, while an amusing look at the cliches that come from the genre these days, was not all that great; and the twist of the Fifteen Boys chapter also left a bad taste in my mouth, as it revolved around idols being despised and hated whenever they’re no longer ‘pure’. The fact that these are the two funny stories did not escape my notice – I think that Nomura is simply better at writing drama. The Pippi Longstocking chapter was an excellent look at what happens to books when you grow up or your world changes so much you can’t read what you love anymore. The story with “The Surgery Room” short story (by Kyōka Izumi, from 1895) revolves around a relationship that I suspect is not going to work out, but the whole point of the story is about passion winning out over sense, so hey.

So overall I am pretty pleased, and I would definitely recommend this to Book Girl lovers and book lovers.

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