At last, after months of disappearing from the forums, I finished reading the first chapter of Higanbana!
Alright where do I start… I guess I’ll start off with stuff that I didn’t particularly like.
First of all I wasn’t very much impressed with this story. Mostly because I’ve seen this sort of story be executed better before. Plus I kinda predicted what would happen even before reaching the half way point, so because of that I actually felt that the story dragged on for much longer than needed. This is mostly my fault rather than the chapter’s, because I generally tend to overthink things and thus spoiling myself to what’s gonna happen, without even looking things up.
Second, Kanamori. No no, I know, we’re supposed to dislike him. He’s the “bad guy”. He’s an irredeemable scum. But in truth, I didn’t really find him believable at all. But before I go on, I’m gonna say this now, I’m aware that people like him exist, that there are people who justify themselves the way he does and that not everyone who commits a crime does so for any explainable reason. Having said that, I just don’t like how he was presented. He was half the reason why the story dragged on for me since most of the story was from his perspective and he was most of the focus. I kind of know his character archetype and how he generally should play out and what sort of things he would say. Plus with Ryukishi’s way of writing, most of his thought process became redundant over time. Like, most of what Kanamori thought you could’ve have left it at one to three phrases, instead of 2 pages or something. For me, at least.
I think this is because we were only told that school kids and teachers found him normal instead of being shown that fact, y’know? But then again, the way that the story was being written, it wouldn’t have had allowed it to show what was happening, since most of the story was either focusing on a character, or was describing their thought process.
I guess I just didn’t like how he was a huge focus. I would have tolerated most of it if he had a little more to him. Because for me right now, he’s just one thing: “The teacher who raped Marie because anger issues I guess.” Notice the “I guess” there, it’s because I just didn’t feel anything in particular towards him. No anger, disgust, pity, fear, nothing. Because it was natural for him to do these things as a scum, I didn’t expect anything else out of him. I can go on and point out some little interesting details about him. How he feared of losing control, being looked down upon, how he feared that he was the one doing Marie’s bidding and how he thought that maybe Marie was smarter than what she seemed, the way he justified his actions, how he thought about himself, how he wanted to have become something more. But fact is, I just found him boring and not worth my time or attention.
Also on another jokey side note, can we all agree that Kanamori was an idiot on how he disposed the button? He flushed it down the toilet. A toilet that hasn’t been used in probably ages. I’m pretty sure somebody would have noticed that and found it suspicious. Then again, the button might not have been real anyway, so whatever. And the food-murder analogy was kinda bad, to be honest.
…However, I’ll give you this. Look at Kanamori once more. Now, let’s imagine that he used something else as an outlet to his anger instead of raping Marie. Something similar but not as serious like… drugs, for example. Because that’s what Marie essentially was to him in the end. An addiction. Now, ignoring the part of murder, he was pretty nonchalant about it, he didn’t care about the addiction, he didn’t care that a drug could ruin his life, because it made him feel relieved, rewarded, nice. That’s all he cared about in the end. He became obsessed with finding relief to his normal day to day hardships. Which would eventually ruin his life anyway in the end. Despite what he claimed to himself, he could not live without this “drug”.
Why am I suddenly saying this? Because by making his crime less severe, removing my “all rapists are scum” bias, you can see that he also had many options available to him aside from murder. He could have talked about it to someone. A friend maybe. But from the sound of the narration, he had nobody that close to rely on. And let’s not mention the fact that he didn’t care at all about what he did. Looking from the actual situation itself, the rape, he still had these options, but they didn’t cross his mind for… rather obvious reasons.
What I concluded here was that Kanamori and Marie were very similar in their troubles, as others have as well. They both had nobody to rely on, both were closed off from society, albeit for different reasons.
The main difference here is that Kanamori didn’t care, he was apathetic towards his situation, or maybe even angry, so he didn’t bother to ask for help, it didn’t even cross his mind. So I guess on that aspect, Kanamori is interesting. I guess.
Marie on her end was afraid, sad, depressed. She couldn’t ask for help because she was afraid of being bullied again.
Which gets me to the part of what I actually liked.
Marie. I loved her, and I felt upset of what she went through. I found it interesting the way she justified getting raped over and over again. Usually it’s because the victim “loves” the abuser, or it’s because they’re afraid of them, or because they think this is the best life they can have, or they don’t even realize they’re getting abused. But in this case, it’s because she didn’t want to get bullied by her classmates. She wanted a calmer life, and if having a calmer life meant to just be abused by one individual instead of many, she accepted it. It was not about love, it was about trying to show gratitude to make sure nobody else ever hurts her ever again.
Her bits of the chapter were the ones I loved the most, and I’m sad that there weren’t more, buuut I understand the decision on why she wasn’t as much of a focus in this particular story in comparison to Kanamori. Most of the stories of this type usually over-focus on the victim and turn them into sob stories, unfortunately.
Plus, I feel like this isn’t the last time we’re gonna hear from Marie, so there’s that.
I also enjoyed Higanbana herself as a character. To me the impression she gave was of a weird mix between Bernkastel and Lambdadelta. So far at least. Dunno what to expect from her tho’, but she’s sounding like a neat character. Also, * giggle* giggle* giggle* giggle* is the new * cackle* cackle* cackle* cackle*.
Did I mention I love different takes on urban legends for story purposes? Now I did. This is something that I’m gonna be looking at very closely throughout the rest of the Higanbana reading.
And despite what I said about redundancy and the story dragging on for me, I still adored the writing in this. Especially the beginning bit about what’s strange and not. It gave off a feel of innocence despite the cruel thing that happened in that moment. This is the stuff that I love about Ryukishi’s writing, how he can make the most horrible crimes sound whimsical, as if we’re looking through a child’s eyes.
And as most everyone mentioned, the music is great! It kept holding me to the mood that was going on in each page I was reading and I loved it. It’s a shame that the friend I was reading with couldn’t listen to it, since he’s a huge music enthusiast and a composer himself.
So I liked this, despite the negative things I mentioned above, (which are at the moment rendered null to be fair, since this is only the first chapter, and I seem to tend to get impatient about every first part of any of Ryukishi’s stories.) and I can’t wait what’s in store for the next chapter!
Also sorry if I went on a lot of tangents and didn’t finish my points, I seem to have a really hard time focusing on one thing ahaha…