Book Girl and the Scribe Who Faced God, Part 2

By Mizuki Nomura. Released in Japan by Enterbrain. Released in North America by Yen Press.

And so we finally get to the book that wraps everything up, and it’s appropriate that it also dips back into the previous seven books so much. Everything here has been interconnecting far more than we expected at the time, and, as Chie herself noted, people did not get magically healed after the tragic events that happened to them. Still, most everyone seems to be working things out to a certain degree as they graduate. Even Konoha, who has finally come to terms with the fact that once he removes writing from all of the triggers it presents to him, he actually loves doing it.


Konoha has been a very frustrating character to read through this series, and can be that way here as well, at least for the first half. His relationship0 with Nanase is sweet and innocent and pure poison to absolutely everyone involved, even if Ryuto’s attempts to break them up through threats and violence are even more dumb. I actually feel bad for Nanase – not only does she lose out on Konoha in the end, but she also ended up being the least developed character, really. The tragedy in her focused book happened to her best friend, leaving her to be the prime example of the pure tsundere shonen heroine that pines away even as she knows deep in her heart that something is wrong. I hope one of the side-story sequels in Japan features her and gives her more depth.

Ryuto and Tohko tie together, of course, and while I still think he makes every wrong decision imaginable in this series, I can now sympathize with Ryuto’s intentions and see why he tries to torture himself so much. He and Chie still make a weirdly twisted couple, and her actions towards the end were not surprising but still managed to pack a punch. As for Maki, she finally gets what she wants out of life. Her painting of Tohko included. She’s an excellent positive example of how to beat overwhelming odds through sheer determination, and probably still my most favorite character in the series.

Finally, Tohko and Konoha, and the backstory with Tohko’s parents. This is where most of the plot twists come in, some of them mere lines after the last. I have not read Andre Gide’s Strait Is the Gate, the book that features so heavily, but it ties into Tohko’s life heavily. Tohko in the end is simply an incredibly nice girl who wants to see people happy and doing what they do best. She also knows that Konoha needs to write, and his rejection of her basically hits all if her emotional trauma buttons. I’m still not sure I like the idea of them as a romantic couple – I think they’d be excellent best friends and a writer/editor team. But they’re the best part of this book, and I liked that it was Konoha who got the big dramatic speech tying the tragedy into the book this time around.

Book Girl has been a roller coaster of teen trauma, and really didn’t have *too* much supernatural content – Tohko’s nature really isn’t examined all that much. It’s the perfect novel series for someone who wants a book for teenagers but wants to avoid all the cliches that plague most Japanese light noels that are translated into English. Character you care about, twisty plots, and an overwhelming love of books. I want to read it all over again. Luckily, I don’t eat books, so I can do so fairly easily. (Tohko must hate e-readers.)

Book Girl and the Scribe Who Faced God, Part 1

By Mizuki Nomura. Released in Japan by Enterbrain. Released in North America by Yen Press.

It is not uncommon in the world of fiction – and indeed in the world of manga – for the main character to be the most difficult, the most problematic, and sometimes the least satisfying. This is particularly true when the goal of your book or series of books is to have that character achieve catharsis, to rise above mental and emotional blocks and become a better person who can move past the past that may be causing them suffering. There’s a fine line here, particularly in a series. Their faults and trauma drive the plot, but at the same time the goal is to heal them. This can lead to an unfortunate tendency to ‘forget’ past lessons learned in time for the new book to roll around, so the character always starts two steps backward from where he was before.


As you can guess, I’m talking about Konoha Inoue, the first-persona narrator and hero of these books. The last events in this series chronologically, Book Girl And The Wayfarer’s Lamentation, showed Konoha finally confronting directly the girl most associated with his past trauma – Asakura Miu – and dealing with exactly what led to that point, both his actions and those of Miu. At the end, both have moved to a point where they can start to repair their psyches. So you can imagine my frustration where, at several times during this new volumes, Konoha is still consumed by the same demons that haunted him before, particularly in regards to his writing.

It’s especially frustrating because we even see Miu, who is brought in in a short scene to attempt to smack some sense into Konoha, and we can see for ourselves that the same thing has not happened to her. Miu is changing, has grown and started to mature, even though we see that it’s hard for her, and she may still be regretting a few things. We thought this is what Konoha was doing as well. He was moving in the right direction, had started to opemn up to others, and had (we thought) made peace with Tohko, his mentor/friend, moving on to college. Of course, the main problem with this is that the series didn’t end with Book 5, and there’s one more backstory we haven’t really focused on, and that’s Tohko’s.

Konoha and Tohko have what amounts to a very codependent relationship in this book, far more than what we appeared to see in the prior books in the series. There had been small hints in the past, but nothing that quite led us to expect what was going on with Tohko and Ryuto here. It thus feels overwrought and emotionally draining, and worse, it feels like those emotions haven’t really been earned yet. This is in contrast with the scenes with Miu, and also Nanase, where you can buy into the tension and dissonance that flows between their characters and Konoha. Tohko seems to have made a leap here I wasn’t prepared for.

Speaking of Nanase, she really needs to move to another series ASAP. K-On!, or Sunshine Sketch, or something cute and fluffy that is absolutely not filled with broken people who think nothing of throwing each other to the wolves. While Ryuto’s frustration with Konoha is absolutely understandable – we feel the same way, honestly – his handling of Konoha is brutal and horrible, and made me lose all sympathy for him, mostly as he’s risking Konoha having a complete mental breakdown. Given the cliffhanger shows that he’s determined to ‘break’ Nanase, I can only look forward to that part of Vol. 8 with dread. I never had any illusions that Konoha and Nanase were going to remain a couple – his affection for her has never quite seemed like genuine romantic love – but this isn’t how I want to see them break up.

Lastly, there’s the question of what Book Girl as a series thinks of writing and authors in general. Ryuto’s mother points out that Konoha shouldn’t be an author, and Konoha through this book seems to regard writing as suffering. Except, of course, that he’s been writing short stories for Tohko the entire time. He just doesn’t think of that as coming from the same place. What he fears more than writing is notoriety – someone reading his work, holding it up to others, and judging it. Tohko notably never does that – his snacks are pretty much immediately eaten by her, and never see anyone else’s eyes. But given how screwed up Kohona is at this point, and the fact that Tohko’s mask may have been in place more than any of the other masked characters in this series, can we really resolve this in just one volume?

Well, no, that’s why there’s a Part 1 up there. This came out in Japan in 2 parts, and unlike the Haruhi 2-parter coming out in November, Yen has chosen to release it separately as two volumes. This means we have to wait till January to find out how this will all end. And despite all my complaints, I still want very much to see the resolution. After all, any series that can make me go on at this length about its faults is one that’s worthy enough to read. Even if Konoha does make me grind my teeth. A lot.

Book Girl and the Undine Who Bore a Moonflower

By Mizuki Nomura. Released in Japan by Enterbrain. Released in North America by Yen Press.

One of the main themes of the Book Girl series has been elements of the past seemingly overlaying with elements of the present, and our heroes and other protagonists finding themselves trapped in a seeming reimagining of past crimes. Konoha, our hero, is especially notorious for seeing his relationship with Miu mirrored and kaleidoscoped in virtually everything he interacts with, but it also plays out with Takada, Akutagawa, and the other members of the cast. Including a girl from the 2nd novel named Hotaru Amemiya, whose presence is felt in this 6th book of the Book Girl series.


This novel takes place chronologically between books 2 and 3 (Famished Spirit and Captive Fool), during Tohko and Konoha’s summer break. That said, it reads better having come after the others, and has significant foreshadowing for the last two books, so it’s well-placed here. It also delves into the story of Maki Himekura, which isn’t too surprising, given she’s the one remaining main cast member who didn’t get a book of their own. I had worried that Famished Spirit would be all we saw of her, but that was Amemiya’s book, and its consequences play out a bit here, as we see Maki unchained, to a degree. Or rather, that’s what she wants to be.

Each Book Girl novel focuses on a specific work, and this one is no exception. I admit I’ve never read Kyoya Izumi’s play Demon Pond (I’m not even certain if it’s available in English), but its plot it helpfully laid out by Tohko along the way, so there’s no real need to. This book is also heavily imbued with demons and the supernatural, just like Famished Spirit, and even though most all of the ghostly elements are eventually explained as being all too human, the book has an atmosphere of tension, sort of like the old haunted castle romances of the turn of the 20th century.

This book takes place at the Himekura summer estate, so Takeda, Akutagawa and Kotobuki are absent. We do get to see Ryuto, however, Tohko’s cousin, and it becomes clear that Maki isn’t the only one deeply affected by the events in Famished Spirit. He and Maki clash immediately, with physical as well as verbal abuse. Not a surprise given how they’re both extroverted, flamboyant characters. As for Maki herself, she’s trapped in a situation that fans of Japanese manga with rich girls will know all too well – her life is already laid out for her and she can’t escape the thumb of her all-controlling grandfather. This helps explain (though not excuse) some of the rather unpleasant things she does in this book.

As for Konoha and Tohko, things are seemingly the same as ever. We get a classic Konoha panic attack here (though he’s just been kidnapped and is lost in a forest during a downpour, so I’ll grant him this one), and Tohko once again has a long speech at the end where she lays everything out for the cast, something that always seems a bit affected in these books, but fits the character perfectly. However, we also get a few hints of the final two books. Ryuto gives Konoha some prompts that, when eaten, given Tohko an altogether different attitude, and the final few pages of the book show Tohko in a highly melancholic state over the fact that soon she won’t be able to be with Konoha anymore. (The answer being ‘she’s graduating’, but given who Tohko is and the way this scene is written, it makes it *sound* as if she may have some wasting disease or something. I doubt the series is that downbeat, however.)

All five previous books of this series have bold type showing the inner monologue of the volume’s protagonist or antagonist, be that Takeda, Akutagawa, or whoever. Interestingly, the epilogue to this book’s bold type not only gives us a hint of Maki’s eventual fate (not sure how I feel about it, but that’s just the shipper in me talking), but reveals who the actual author of these pieces may be. If you’ve been reading along, it’s not much of a surprise, but the fact that we’re seeing it shows that we’re definitely getting all the cards laid out now. All that’s left is the final Book Girl story, which is so epic it will take two books to cover.