Of the several things I have been slowly making my way through, the Yuri-ish Light Novel Adachi to Shimamura (安達としまむら) is the first I’ve finished. While reading it (slowly, so very very slowly) I ran a little contest with myself to create similes with which I could describe this book . Here’s the winner:
Adachi to Shimamura is like a trifle made from chocolate, limes and mayonnaise, with a red bean filling. What might have otherwise been a pleasant, if sugary, Yuri narrative is made unpalatable by combining infinite inconsequentials with utterly meaningless distractions.
Shimamura and Adachi are two second-years in high school. They blow off class and meet nearly daily to play ping pong in the rec room on the second floor above the gym. That fact is well-established in the first third of the book, then dropped and only briefly referred to again.
Shimamura and Adachi spend hours together every day and know nothing at all about one another. They have no conversations about their likes, dislikes, dreams, thoughts…or anything. When they are not playing ping pong, they sit in mostly silence. One of Shimamura’s friends points out that that is strange – then it is never mentioned again.
That same friend, Hino, likes to go fishing. Hino takes Shimamura fishing and introduces her to the alien.
Adachi has a dream in which she kisses Shimamura. After an uncomfortable encounter with the alien (who appears to be a child, but insists she is an alien from the future) Adachi tells Shimamura she likes her. This is about oh, 190 pages into the 240 page novel. She’s shown no sign of liking her, except randomly thinking that Shimamura’s hair looks soft 90 pages previously, so its like jellybeans on the top of the chocolate, lime and mayo trifle – random, and it doesn’t make it better.
Having established that Adachi likes Shimamura, the fact is trotted out periodically. The only tension in the entire book is when Adachi visits Shimamura’s house and finds herself wanting to kiss Shimamura, so she runs away. This is naturally followed by an extended scene with the alien, in which they take her around a mall, get her donuts and go bowling. And then the book ends.
The entire book had the feel of something written about an emotion by someone who was wholly, vastly unfamiliar with it. At no point did Adachi or Shimamura give the slightest sense of connection. In fact, the only way to make the book work was to presume the point was that neither Adachi nor Shimamura (but Adachi more) had any comfort level making connections with people. If we read it as if Adachi is disaffected and relatively emotionless, the book can sort of be seen as being about her shifting to care for Shimamura and learning to be friends with Hino and Nagafuji. But it’s not worth it. And it doesn’t explain the alien, the fishing, the ping pong, the Chinese restaurant or the bowling.
Overall – 4
I’m sticking with the simile. The individual parts are bland if used badly, yummy if used well, but merely perplexing in this combination.
Did I not explain the point of the alien? Oh well, the book doesn’t either.