Before I go off on Star Wars again, let’s take a short trip back to Isaka World, shall we?
I read his novel, SOSの猿 (The SOS Monkey).
Like the cover implies, yes, it is a bit chaotic.
To be honest, it wasn’t my most favorite of his works. It’s still low key mystery/suspense but has a half-comical, half-serious kind of atmosphere that is really hard to describe. With a catholic exorcist, the monkey king, guerrilla acapella singers, a software engineer, and a huge problem with stocks, it’s hard to imagine what kind of story it is just from the synopsis.
Written during his “Don’t give a rat’s ass” period, it is one of those books where he just wrote whatever he wanted to write, so it’s not written to please the audience, in a good way.
It’s a bit similar (and written right after) Aru King, where he connected the story to Shakespeare’s Macbeth, except this time, he’s completely referencing Journey to the West. Yes, Journey to the West. Chinese literature that I haven’t read yet.
If you’re not familiar with Journey to the west, remember that the Manga/Anime Dragonball (the original, where Goku is still small) is also loosely based off of it.
Unfortunately, any references I further make in this post will be using the Japanese names of the Chinese characters.
From information I’ve gathered online, Journey to the west is the story of the Buddhist priest Sanzo Houshi, who has three disciples:
Son Goku (The Monkey King),
Cho Hakkai (the pig/boar), and
Sa Gojo (the water sprite).
They all have some kind of issue (too violent, too gluttonous, etc) that needs to be fixed, and have shenanigans together on their journey to the west. That’s all I know.
Also, Goku has a long stick, a cloud to fly on that only those pure of heart are able to ride, and is able to create copies of himself by taking a piece of his fur and blowing on it.
I was about half confused throughout the first 60% of the story, which takes place in modern day Japan and follows about three different narrators talking about two different people who haven’t met yet. It jumps around from character to character, narrator to narrator until you’re not sure who’s actually telling what story anymore.
Then, little by little, things begin to piece together (as most of Isaka’s books do) and by the end, you get to enjoy looking at everything fit nicely like a jigsaw puzzle in retrospect.
It really is too bad that I’m not familiar with Journey to the West, because I’m sure there were things I missed because of it. I was able to read it through, especially near the end, when things got really exciting and the huge twist was revealed.
My favorite quotes this time were:
“In a story, when the narrator says something, it becomes the truth. If he says there is a demon, there is a demon, and if he says that the chief of general affairs of a stock trading company is the Ox-King, that chief must be the Ox-King.” pg 88
“Stars exist on their own, but can look like a lion or a crane from far away, right? Just like that, some things that seem to be coincidences, when looked at from a wider viewpoint, have a much bigger meaning.” pg304
“That’s the power of a story. Sometimes, they save people.” pg 212
That last quote is, in a sense, the moral of the story.
Current Isaka Novel Count: