4. 督促OL修行日記 (Collections Office Lady Training Diary)
Japanese Level: ☆☆☆
When you are graduating university, sometimes it can be a relief just to have a proper job lined up. Nakamoto thought she’d be okay. She got a position at a credit card company.
Her excitement died on the first day of work when she was brought to a giant open room of a few hundred people. It was a call center. A collection call center. For people who used their credit cards for cash and were late on their payments. As one of only 3 women in the entire center, she figured she had no choice but to make best of it. She was employed. And that’s what mattered. Right?
Then the barrage of “I’m going to kill you!” and “Die!” calls started to pour in. These were angry customers, who were being pestered constantly to pay their debt. Getting screamed at was part of the job. Her required hours jumped from 9am-6pm to 7am-9pm. And those were only the “official” hours. After getting home from work past midnight everyday, working 6 days a week, having no standard holidays, she had arrived in hell.
This is her diary. The struggles she faced and the obstacles she overcame. Humor, sadness, and the power to move forward await in her powerful story. You may even learn something about dealing with extremely difficult people.
Japanese Level: ☆☆☆☆
Monomi is a struggling author. Despite having just finished his fourth published book, he still considers himself amateur, and dreams of one day publishing the most interesting novel in the world.
His life drastically changes when he receives his first fan letter from a young woman named Murasaki. Filled with excitement, he responds to the letter by e-mail. Shortly after he gets a strange request from her: she has an idea for the most interesting novel in the world, and needs him to teach her how to write it. Unable to pass up this intriguing request, Monomi meets with Murasaki, and decides to take the task of making her his pupil (beats his part time job at the convenience store), and teach her how to write.
To start off, Monomi asks her how many novels she’s read.
“50,000. I read fast,” she answers.
Murasaki is full of mystery, taking unnecessarily long pauses to talk, lacking common life experiences like having eaten ice cream, and is impossible to figure out. As Monomi helps her work towards her first attempt at writing, a shocking discovery is made.
This book is intriguing on so many levels. Despite its title, despite actually revealing a few tips on how to write a novel, it is not a self help book. What starts as a simple story about teaching someone how to write turns into something so different, so unexpected.
2. 陽気なギャングが地球を回す (A Cheerful Gang Turns The Earth)
Japanese Level: ☆☆☆
4 friends with one common interest: robbing banks. They are smart, witty, and know what they are doing.
They’ve planned out everything perfectly with their unique skills. Yukiko has an internal timer that allows her to “feel” the timing of everything down to the second. Naruse is a human lie detector. Kyouno lies a lot but is sharp and picks up on the minor details. And Kuon is there to keep everyone cheerful.
Their initial bank robbery is a success. Until in their perfectly planned getaway, another team of bank robbers, robbing a separate bank, coincidentally smashes their stolen armored car into their getaway car. How did these 4 come together to become the cheerful bank robber gang, and will this strange new development that is getting in the way of their plans going to mess everything up?
This is a smartly written novel and reads incredibly fast. If you like a lot of fun and clever dialogue, a great action pace, and twists around every corner, you are in for a great adventure.
1. 死なない生徒殺人事件 (The Undying Student Murder Incident)
Japanese Level: ☆☆☆
Itou-Sensei, high school science teacher, was laid off from his school due to cut backs. He was never sure he even wanted to be a teacher in the first place, but he doesn’t want to give up just yet.
After arriving at his new school, which has a combined elementary, middle, and high school class body of 2500 students, things begin to change for the better. Until he hears a rumor about “the eternal student.” A school urban legend about an undying student who has lived forever. Pushing it off as just a rumor, one day Kumiko comes up to him to let him know she is the eternal student. Full of obvious doubt, he tries to get a story out of her to no avail. No big deal, as he thinks this is just some prank.
Until the next day when Kumiko is found dead, with her head separated from her body. Things begin to take a strange direction at the school. Who was Kumiko? Why was she killed right after telling Itou-Sensei she was immortal? And if she’s immortal how could she die?
One puzzle after another, the mystery of human immortality is unraveled one thread at a time.