Sunday, November 21, 2021

Real World by Natsuo Kirino


REAL WORLD is a very strange Japanese noir thriller. Apparently I read it years and years ago, but I didn't really remember it at all. The premise revolves around a murder: a boy named "Worm" (I believe his real name is Ryo) who has killed his mother and run away. He ends up drawing several high school girls into his web: Toshi, his neighbor; Yuzan, a closeted lesbian; Kirarin, a bubbly girly-girl with a dark side, and Terauchi, the depressed pragmatist.

As the story rolls on, we get to read from the POVs of each of these characters. Most of them sound pretty similar, but Yuzan and Toshi were my personal favorites. I think the title comes from the dissociation that comes from depression and having a psychotic break. These characters, because of their actions, feel like they're living in a sort of heightened reality from their peers. Murder has peeled back the skin of society to reveal a festering underside they can't escape from.

I think this book is pretty depressing. It has trigger warnings for murder, suicide, violence, sexism, bigotry, and a couple other things. Also, as with a lot of Japanese fiction, there are trans characters who are misgendered. Natsuo Kirino's books often have one or multiple of these themes, so I think it's pretty important to equip yourself before going in, because the result is usually bleak.

2.5 out of 5 stars

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