Let's Talk about Your Story -- Kimi no Hanashi, part 1
I try limiting the words by just telling just a part of the book in this post. If there’s need, I would add more to it, but there’s no guarantee.
What is it
Your Story is a novel written by Sugaru Miaki, published last July. If you read Three Days of Happiness, that is one of his first works as a online writer.
He mainly writes boy-meets-girl story – there are a lot of counterparts in MediaWorks Bunko, where his previous works are published. If you’ve read Kimi ga Tsukiyo ni Hikari Kagayaku(lit. you shine in a night with moon) by Tetsuya Sano, the grand prize winner of Dengeki Novel Prize, it’s one of those stories with the same topic.
By the way, I feel a little better about Kimitsuki than Sano’s next novel Kono Sekai ni “i” wo Komete(lit. Fill this World with “i”). It’s not that the “i” pun makes it sound like a joke. It really means something, so I guess it’s OK. It’s just, the writer supplied with his own experiences: one of his acquaintance, a wanna-be writer, committed suicide. He probably tried to find the answer to a question, that for whom am I writing? And the worries is projected right onto the protagonist, who stopped writing upon his childhood friend, and his earnest reader’s death.
The main take here is that lightnovels from MediaWorks Bunko are different from the Dengeki ones – they are more literature and less lightnovel. In detail, they are easier to read than literature, with more aesthetic value than lightnovels. They dubbed it light literature, and it fits well.
Though it’s a different publisher this time, Your Story shares the same features with other novels with that label. So if you keep a little more attention when reading, rather than just treat it as another lightnovel, you will enjoy this book a little more.
What it tells
As I said before, it is boy-meets-girl. But to be more precise, it is probably boy-misses-girl.
There are a young man and a woman having nothing. They meet each other. And then they lose each other. A little tragedy like this.
A writer had some talk about tragedies:
Why makes a tragedy a tragedy? Because it is inevitable. And that lays the aesthetic foundation of tragedies. Why is Ancient Greek tragedies often related to fate? That’s because they – unlike us Easterners – had much trust in the personalities of human, and of deities – which are of humans in essence. So they in turn believed it is fate, rather than the evil in human personalities, that is the true, inevitable cause behind all tragedies. That’s what makes them loveable.
I am not trying to argue about determining factors in Greek tragedies. But it helps us to categorize the reasons, and we can see both characteristic flaws, and fate take a part in it. She has a incurable and fatal disease, which is determined by nothing but fate. Both she and he have nothing in their past, but they have different attitudes towards it: she loves falsity, as it fills the blank in her heart; while he disgusts falsity, because it deprived him of his life. This decisive difference, makes them missing each other in the first part.
However, like in his previous books, Miaki sometimes likes to attribute one’s personality hugely to their background, family for instance. Like in Koisuru Kiseichuu(lit. parasites in love), the main charater grows mysophobia because of his mother. And the result is, it somehow brings a determinism tint to the story.
A Peek into it
The story starts itself with a poetic excerpt from Cyrano de Bergerac. But we can save it for now. Though the excerpt sheds light on the motif, or more probably, the motivation of the story, it itself doesn’t tell anything. One can proclaim, “caffe latte is great, and that’s it”, but that’s not why caffe latte tastes great. An explanation is meaningful only if there is something to explain.
I have a childhood friend who I’ve never met.
So from the first sentence, we know that the story unfolds between “I” and the “childhood friend”, and the main twist is that I’ve never met this friend.
And this weird phenomenon is, as it turns out, due to the use of mimories, which is the word coined for artificial, false memories. And no operations are needed to apply it, infusing some nanobots will do the job. So it’s as easy as having a cup of cocktail – go to the place, give an order, and drink it. The only difference would be how we call them – a bartender for one making cocktail, while a mimory engineer for one weaving mimories.
Chihiro Amagai suffers from parents since his childhood, who indulge themselves in mimories, and weasel reality at their best. As said in the following:
When they need to take a trip, they would buy mimories of a trip instead. When they need to throw a party, they would buy mimories of a party instead. When they need to have a wedding ceremony, they would buy mimories of a wedding ceremony instead. By such kind of parents, I was brought up.
That makes Chihiro’s childhood a rather miserable one. And as he dislikes his parents, he disgusts at the use of mimories.
He wants to forget this past of nothing, so he decided to erase his memories. However, by mistake, instead of forgetting his past full of nothing, he is filled with happy memories with Touka Natsunagi, a nonexistent childhood friend. And he inevitably falls in love with this girl, to the extent he actually sees her, and can’t help recalling mimories with her. He wishes that she is real so much, that he mistakes another one for her.
But another self in Chihiro denies all of this. “Isn’t it so pathetic, that the most beautiful memories I have are just another one’s made-up stories?” “Love is for those who do exist.” And she does not exist, it is just “a illusion of the summer”.
He is offered to choice to remove this fictional memory, which is easy as drinking the powder. But he hesitates to take the step. He tells himself, “it’s not the right place”, when he gets to the shrine to perform this ritual, he finds out that “I definitely can’t drink it in such bad weather”.
And the last strike comes. When he returns to his apartment from the shrine, he surprisedly find Touka, who doesn’t exist and shouldn’t exist, is opening the door next to him.
The illusion of the summer still continues.
Japanese publishers often use labels to categorize their books. For example, Shogakukan has labels like Gagaga Bunko and Lululu Bunko , the former is used for books targetting boys, and the latter for girls. Dengeki Bunko and MediaWorks Bunko are both labels of the publisher ASCII Media Works. Bunko only indicates the book is smaller in size(A6, to be exact), and there are labels without this suffix. ↩
From a translation of the novel. There is some kanji play in the word gioku. It has two kanji: gi, and oku. There are two kanji pronunced gi in Japanese, but have different meanings: one for “false, untrue”, and another for “artificial”. Gioku originally uses the former kanji, which is somewhat negative, so there is a movement to replace with the latter, which is more neutral. On the other hand, oku directly comes from kioku, which means memory in Japanese. ↩