Lesbian Light Novel: Vertigo

September 2nd, 2010

Vertigo by Fukami Makoto, is a story of a cop and her ex-army partner as they track down and defeat a criminal operation that has been killing people all around Tokyo.

On the one hand, Vertigo (ヴァーティゴ) is an incredibly crappy science fiction novel, with “cybernetic’ everything and “nanotubes” used in the stupidest, least convincing way possible. All the women are clothed in form-fitting bodysuits (with the occasional tactical vest thrown in for good measure) or otherwise scantily clad, yet somehow fully protected. For instance, Reo’s halter top there on the cover is “armored mesh.” Uh-huh.

On the other, Vertigo stars two strong female leads, neither of which back down in a pinch, neither of which flinch from a fight, whether hand-to-hand or projectile.

On the one hand, the art for the book portrays women with such exceptionally large breasts, hips and contoured nipples and crotches that it pretty much ruins your ability to see them as anything but human-shaped milk cows. You can get a sense of that from the cover image. To drive my point home, here is a picture of Nako, a side character, one of Reo’s ex-lovers. The picture is Not Safe For Work or Brain. Don’t come screaming to me if you click it.

On the other, one of the characters, ex-army, now police detective in training, Hashibe Reo, is an out lesbian in a long-term relationship that is not broken up or even threatened by anything in the plot and there’s a discussion of when same-sex marriage became legal in Japan and how it was a good thing all around for everyone. Reo loves her lover Rina and Rina loves her back – they are considering marriage. And we end the book pretty sure that Reo and Rina will get married, after all.

On the one hand, dedicated police detective Natsume Shizuka kills her own neglectful mother who she thought had been dead for years.

On the other, Shizuka ends the story with a nice girlfriend, a new job and a happy ending.

One the one hand, the plot combines Chinese terrorists, an illegal fight club, (a scene in which Reo and Shizuka are inexplicably required to kiss each other by a passing stranger, but otherwise has nothing to do with the plot,) a possible Christian cult, and an evil pharmaceutical company.

On the other, the actual plot had just about *nothing* to do with any of the above. Except the evil pharmaceutical company.

On the one hand, gang rape as a form of torture was used as a main plot point, and on top of that, the book included childhood flashbacks of threats of rape and a brother that was forced to do child porn and subsequently killed himself.

On the other, the after-trauma situation was handled with grace, sensitivity and honesty.

Reading Vertigo has been a challenge on several levels for me. The kanji, sci-fi/military/police procedural as it is, was *way* above my level of comprehension. I was dedicated and experienced enough to grasp a lot from the context and lucky enough to know more than the average otaku about hand-to-hand combat, so I actually understood (and enjoyed) the bit about Capoeira and could figure out a lot of the rest. But man, do I so not know the words for a lot of normal business things. ^_^

It’s pretty apparent from the predictability of the plot, that this was written to become a movie – and if it does, I’m sure it will be successful. It has pretty much something for everyone (well, everyone likely to go see a scifi-action-suspense-movie like this.)

I can’t say I liked it, but I also can’t say I didn’t. It was both really awful and really good at the same time – sometimes in the very same sentence. In conclusion, I have to say, Vertigo was an aptly named novel.


Story – 2 and 9 all at once
Characters – 9
Lesbian – 9
Service – 10 Googolplexes

Overall – I’m feeling dizzy. Pick a number. That’s what it was.

Today review marks a wonderful day – the addition of yet another new Okazu Superhero! I want to welcome and thank with all my heart and the parts of my brain that don’t hurt, Mari Kurisato, for sponsoring today’s review!

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4 Responses

  1. miritsu says:

    First of all, those pictures are hilarious. I have a few friends to show them to. :)

  2. Sapphire says:

    Hahaha your review of the “Art” cracked me up!

    I want to read that.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I wanna read this in English translation! And mostly ignore the pics! Good thing it’s a regular novel with some illustrations instead of a graphic novel.

    Lots of novels even change covers when they change languages :)

    Seems like gladiator doilies made it all the way from fantasy to science fiction

    Is there a sequel? Is there a wedding-comedy Rio and Rina subplot? Do they have a destination wedding in sunny Argentina? :)


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