Story: Mizuki Nomura
Illustration: Miho Takeoka
Translation/Adaptation: Karen McGillicuddy
What They Say
While Konoha is aware that he will soon be losing his book-eating club president when she ventures off to college, a new relationship blossoms between him and the once standoffish Kotobuki. The two even manage to spend New Year’s Day together! However, the dawn of the new year also ushers in the return of a familiar face — a girl whose every line Konoha has memorized and one the heartbroken boy thought he would never see again. Just as she reenters his life, though, Konoha feels the ties he has established with the people around him begin to sever… Can a simple book girl shed some much-needed insight on the situation before it’s too late?
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
When the Book Girl series began, it wasn’t even clear that Miu was a real person, and not a metaphor for an aspect of Konoha’s personality. Slowly, we discovered that the girl who jumped off the roof didn’t kill herself in the process. She still lived, and behind the scenes, plotted her reunion with the unsuspecting Konoha. After volumes of lead up, we finally meet the real Miu.
Konoha’s relationship with reticent Nanase has finally taken a step forward, and both are opening up to each other more after the sad events of the previous volume. Suddenly, the new couple hit the breaks with force as Nanase ends up in the hospital (and in rehab, presumably for a sprain judging from the recovery time.) What should have driven the two closer together drives them apart when Konoha discovers the long lost Miu in the same rehab wing.
What follows is a long, drawn out spiral of guilt and soul searching as Miu takes possession of her former boyfriend with all of the jealousy of a woman scorned. The guilt locks Konoha into pushing away his current friends, all of whom have their own issues to deal with. It quickly becomes apparent that this sweet injured girl is not right in the head, as we catch glimpses of her writings about her childhood and the venom contained within. It’s not surprising that a girl who tried to kill herself would have deeper seated issues, but the further into this novel we climb the more I grew to hate Miu. It’s hard not to, and it’s hard to look away from the train wreck she drags Konoha in to. The reader is kept prisoner watching Konoha, who can’t reconcile his Miu with the real Miu, break into panic attacks at several points whenever something reminds him of when Miu jumped.
Book Girl and the Wayfarer’s Lamentation takes it’s framing story from the children’s story “Night of the Milky Way Railroad,” or as many readers may heard it called, “Night on the Galactic Railroad.” As with previous volumes of the series, it’s not necessary for the audience to be familiar with the work. In this instance it’s probably better if the reader goes in not knowing the end of that story, as it makes the impact of the cast’s actions more powerful. Mixed into the ongoing conflict is a riddle that Miu posses to Konoha about that book, and he spends much of the volume seeking an answer to it.
Eventually Miu’s house of cards falls, and it draws almost the entire cast of the series up till now down with her. Alone above it all is Tohko, who manages to salvage the lives of her friends and brother, with the help of Konoha’s own novel. The secret of his past is out now, as are the unique disorders afflicting all of Konoha’s friends. Everyone is amazingly broken in their own way, from Chia’s lack of empathy to Ryuto’s manipulations. We’ve seen the outward ramifications of Tohko’s problem, whatever it might be, in her personal mythology of being a book eating goblin. Konoha takes her story at face value, but after discovering just how far his naiveté ranges in this volume it’s easy to see how we as readers are just along for a ride with our unreliable narrator.
While the meat of the story is gripping, the finale is a bit long winded and the conclusion a stretch. I don’t know how all these characters can accept the whole ugly affair and move amicably onward. I would certainly never speak to Miu again, and possibly several other characters, if I was in Konoha, or Nanase’s, shoes. Especially Nanase, who deserves none of the pain she goes through during this. The implied paring off of couples is a cliche I could have done without, and it also gives this volume an air of finality which simply isn’t true. Tohko’s story has yet to be told, and as the author notes, that’s where the story is headed.
Many readers of the Book Girl series have probably been eagerly awaiting the reveal of Miu, and it doesn’t disappoint. Tempers will rage as Konoha is forced to confront his past and watch helplessly as his friendships start to shatter. It’s a gripping addition to the series, and probably the most important chapter of Konoha and Tohko’s story yet. Despite the overly cosy ending, it would be a satisfying conclusion to the series as a whole, except for the teaser that we’ve yet to see Tohko’s story yet and that fans of the series should stay tuned for that.
Content Grade: A –
Packaging Grade: B +
Text/Translation Grade: A
Age Rating: N/A
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: July 24th, 2012