Wow, not only did we finish this translation today, we also finished a first draft of My Monster Secret, and we have time to write a review! Woohoo!
...But of course, sandwiching My Monster Secret in there means I have to think for a second about what happened. Oh, yes, the Hell of Mirrors. Incidentally, that was apparently the title of a short story by a famous Japanese author, which has been translated into English, so we went with the matching translations, but if you read the book, you'll see all the references in the translated dialogue are to Alice in Wonderland. This is for the simple reason that we are not familiar with the work referenced by the title. I think we might have glanced at a synopsis...but since the English Wikipedia article only had the story mentioned in a list of works by the author (was it Shinichi Kudo? I don't remember), that seems unlikely. So this is me hoping that there aren't too many similarities. I'm guessing most English-speaking readers will NOT be all, "What gives? What happened to all the Kudo (or whichever author it is) references?" ...Okay I got annoyed at my laziness enough to look it up. The author is Rampo Edogawa (right, Shinichi Kudo is Detective Conan...oops...), but when we checked the Amazon listing for a translation of the story, there was no synopsis, so I'm done. The annoying thing, though, is that if you Google "Hell of Mirrors," the first thing you get is an essay by a middle/high school student from 2004. Does that mean middle/high school students are familiar with the story!? ...Well, darn.
That got me interested enough to look up a synopsis, and it looks like the Edogawa story has very little to do with what happens in Hanako-kun, so we're safe! Whew!
Anyway, this volume features the return of Mitsuba, who continues to be a charming mixture of adorable and punchably annoying. It was also pretty action-packed, so I feel like the story developments were minimal, but they were intense. So Mitsuba had the hands go get someone to help him, and that someone was Nene, so he pins all his hopes on her, and together they wander the Boundary of School Mystery Number Three: The Hell of Mirrors. It doesn't take long before Nene stumbles on where the Mystery's name comes from, and now everyone she knows is appearing in mirrors and calling her an ugly horseradish!
I don't know if we discussed the horseradish thing in reviews before. I think there was a note in volume one about it, but for those of you who haven't been following along, "horseradish" is what they call fat ankles in Japan. It's Nene's biggest insecurity, and that's why the mirrors are tormenting her about it. And Mitsuba's helping, of course, because he's a punk. Anyway, long story short, Mystery Number Three shows up and is about to destroy the two of them when who should appear but! Tsukasa! Did you think it would be Hanako? I mean, I did. But in retrospect, that would be no way to move the plot forward.
This is where things get preeeetty horrifying. Now, some of you may remember that the whole gimmick of this series is that it's horror that's not scary. Well, when Tsukasa shows up, he makes it feel like a real horror series. Oh my goodness, it was awful. I mean, obviously he's still taking some ownership of Mitsuba, since he took his mind and all that, which of course raises the question, "How is Mitsuba not insane?" And didn't Hanako, like, double kill Mitsuba? Anyway, it doesn't matter, because Tsukasa kills Mystery Number Three. I don't think that's right. I mean, they're supposed to be the pillars of the school, so we should get to know them and stuff, right? You can't just go around killing them; they're supposed to make friends with Hanako.
But it gets worse. After killing the Mystery, Tsukasa takes his heart. And then he says to Mitsuba, "I told you, you have to get stronger, and you have to eat this to do it." And then he force-feeds Mitsuba a supernatural heart! It's just so gross on so many levels. And that's not even the worst part. When Hanako and Kou finally manage to make it to them, Mitsuba's kind of turning into a bird thing. So Tsukasa has force-fed Mitsuba a thing that basically changed his whole physical makeup, and that is just, like...ugh.
But then Tsukasa reveals the truth! And somehow it gets to be a lot less horrifying after that. Why? Because it's not the Mitsuba we thought it was! Tsukasa took Mitsuba's soul and implanted it into an artificial supernatural body that he made. And because it wasn't Mitsuba's actual body that got changed, it wasn't so bad anymore. What made it even less horrifying was that...well, Tsukasa keeps talking to Mitsuba like he's some kind of brainwashed puppet, and convinces him to take over as School Mystery Number Three, and all of that is still creepy as all heck, but then! The fight breaks out, because Hanako's all, "I can't let this happen!" and Tsukasa's like, "Try and stop us! Mitsuba's gonna scrunch you!" And Mitsuba's like, "Uh...he has a knife. I'm just gonna go over...there..." And he was pretty much the same old Mitsuba from then on, so I felt a lot better about it. I don't like the idea of altering people's personalities. It also helped that Kou had a discussion with Yako, where she explains that when her rumors got messed with, she was still the same person, just with her dark side showing, but the point is, they're all still them. It does kind of make me want to be wary of what temptations to give into, though. I mean, obviously we should do that all the time, but it's a good reminder.
Anyway. There's a fight, and it's back to the zany humor that we like in Hanako-kun, and then Nene almost dies, so Mitsuba's like, "Okay, time for you to go." And that was pretty much the end. He hints that he cares more about Nene than doing what Tsukasa wants, so I think we can count on him to be pretty helpful in the future, but that might end up going the same way as Sakura for all we know.
But there's something more important to be brought up. There was still a ton of recap in this volume (is the series that slow?), and one of the things it recapped was the yorishiro. This is the important part: it says specifically that to remove its power, you remove the black seal. We never really noticed that before about the yorishiro, that they had black seals...just like the one on Tsukasa's cheek. So does that mean that Tsukasa is Hanako's yorishiro? ...That seems fitting and kind of wrong at the same time, since I think of the yorishiro as objects, but maybe that's just a problem with my own personal perspective. But anyway, recall in volume one that Hanako tried to grant Nene's wish without using any powers. Is it possible that, since Nene came along, Hanako has been forced to use his powers more, and that's what's been helping Tsukasa break out of whatever seal he's been under? Well, well, well.
I think that about covers it for this volume. Except for Mitsuba calling Kou by the same name he did when he was a normal ghost. I mean seriously, guys, it's the same spirit, so it's gotta be the same person, right? I'm not sure if this series is going to want to go the happy ending route or the bittersweet route, though. They seem to be giving Kou an awful lot of hope for the latter, but on the other hand, Old Yeller does that, too. Stupid Old Yeller. Well I guess we'll find out.
I'm not entirely sure that review was very coherent. But I'm pretty sure it will all make sense if you've read the book! I don't think it will be too long before volume nine of that comes out in Japan... But I think we haven't quite recovered from all our overwork, because on the one hand, that thought makes me go, "Yay! More Hanako!" and on the other hand, it makes me go, "Not more work..." But I don't think the rejection is as vehement as it would have been a couple of weeks ago, so the break is definitely helping! I think what I want right now is to just consume all the stories...but not have to work on them.
Anyway! We actually have new releases this week! Can you believe it!? ...Now what were they again? Oh right! Fire Force 12! Woohoo! And The Voynich Hotel 2!
And tune in next week for our review of Nekogahara 4! Wow, talk about a blast from the past (on multiple levels)!
Today I'm thankful for work being fun today, all the neat stories we get to read because of our job, managing to finish the chocolate chip pancakes before they got too gross (Ghirardelli chocolate chips are so rich it's hard to eat all of the pancakes at once, but these particular pancakes don't keep very well), having all our plans worked out to go to the Relief Society activity tonight, and Page resuming her hobby of staring out the window. Oh! And seeing Eren Yeager (the kitten) again!