Monday, October 10, 2011

Japanese FICTION Bestsellers of 2011 (So Far), Part 2

Our coverage of Japan's bestseller list continues in our penultimate post with a look at bunkobon, or mass market paperbacks. And if you haven't, be sure to check out the list of overall bestsellers and bestsellers for tankoubon fiction.

Tohan doesn't divide the bunkobon sales by genre like it does for tankoubon, so it's theoretically possible to see a non-fiction title on this list, but it's all fiction here, baby. Also, because these are mass market paperbacks, these books aren't new in the sense that trade paperbacks in the US don't often come out for a year or more after the hardcover, depending on sales. I don't think there's anything else I need to introduce so let's dive right to it! Tohan says:


1) 八日目の蝉 (The Eighth Day)
by Kakuta Mitsuyo
2) ダイイング・アイ ("Dying Eye")
by Higashino Keigo
3) プリンセス・トヨトミ ("Princess Toyotomi")
by Makime Manabu
4) 流星の絆 ("The Bonds of the Meteor")
by Higashino Keigo
5) ゴールデンスランバー  ("Golden Slumbers," translated into English as Remote Control)
by Isaka Kotaro
6) あの頃の誰か ("Someone From Those Days")
by Higashino Keigo
7) 涼宮ハルヒの驚愕 初回限定版 ("The Astonishment of Haruhi Suzumiya" First Print Limited Edition)
by Tanigawa Nagaru
8) 阪急電車 ("The Hankyuu Train")
Arikawa Hiro
9) 図書館戦争/ 図書館内乱 ("Library Wars"/"Library Revolution")
by Arikawa Hiro
10) いっちばん  ("Numbah One”...?)
畠中恵 by Hatakenaka Megumi

1) The Eighth Day, as you can see if you click on the link above or here, has already been translated into English by Kodansha. It's got an interesting premise too: A woman suddenly kidnaps her married lover's six-month old baby and raises it as her own in an all female-religious commune. The novel is also told from the perspective of the kidnapper and the kidnapped which is an interesting choice. It sounds like this novel might have some interesting things about the nature of motherhood and family. I might check it out sometime.

There is a movie version too.

2) The first of Higashino's THREE works on the bestseller list is about a man who loses a portion of his memory after a traffic accident. BUT IS EVERYTHING AS IT SEEMS???

3) Princess Toyotomi took a lot of research for me to figure out the plot since it was kind of nonsensical (at the very least, I had a hard time understanding what I was reading). Luckily there's a movie version, and trailers on Youtube. As it turns out, it's kind of like a Japanese version of the movie National Treasure . It's about three accountants who discover some sort of hundreds of years old secret that basically amounts to Osaka having the right to declare itself an independent nation. I think. Conspiracies!!

(As a side note, I want to point out the cover of the book clearly depicts one of the main three to be a fatty but he got totally sexified in the movie.)

4) In Higashino's second novel, three siblings seek revenge (they vow it on a meteor flying in the sky) for their murdered parents. BUT IS EVERYTHING AS IT SEEMS? NO! For the biggest miscalculation of their scheme is that the sister falls in love with the murderer's son!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This was turned into a disconcertingly happy looking TV drama.

I also like that Higashino points out that "It was not me who wrote this novel. It is a work of the characters." YAWN. Isn't that, like, every novel ever? Mind NOT blown, sir.

5) "Golden Slumbers" was also translated into English as Remote Control. In fact, I reviewed it for Three Percent! It's another thriller (though I will admit I enjoyed it). This one was also turned into a movie.

6) In Higashino's final work in the bestseller list, main character's boyfriend dies in his home. He spells out the letter A...in BLOOD. IS EVERYTHING AS IT SEEMS? (OK I'm all done I swear. No more.)

Almost unbelievably there's no film or TV version...yet.

7) is the latest in the Haruhi Suzumiya light novel series. If you're into anime even a little you've probably heard of it. If not, the series, the parts that I've read and seen in anime form, is a lot of fun, and is self-aware enough to poke fun at the conventions and cliches of anime culture. The novels have slowly been coming out in English translations too, if you want to check it out yourself, though the translations of course are not nearly as far as the series proper.

8 and 9) We talked a bit about Arikawa Hiro yesterday. In fact, we talked about how she's famous in anime circles as the creator of the Library Wars series.  "The Hankyuu Train" however sounds very generic. A collection of love stories that sort of uses a train line as a nexus point. Of course, there is a movie version.

10) And bringing up the rear is the latest in the Shabake series, a historical fantasy and mystery series that follows a boy who is protected by some sort of spirit or ghost pal. It has a TV version, but I can't find a particularly useful clip for it.


And there you have it. I think the lesson to be learned is that if you are a novel that is popular for long enough, you will someday get a movie/TV show/anime adaptation. There is literally one thing on this list that hasn't been adapted yet, and I almost guarantee you that it will get one in the next year or so.

My apologies for the extreme levels of snark in this blog post. I don't know what happened.


In our final look at bestsellers, we're going to look at what is selling like hotcakes now. Yes! Right now! See you soon!





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