Kanoe-san no Hidari Te (鹿乃江さんの左手) “Kanoe-san’s Left Hand”, is author Aoya Mami’s debut novel and a winner of the Poplar Book’s Newcomer Prize…and a truly wonderful read.
You may remember from my recent trip to Japan, that I mentioned that the Toranoana in Akihabara had a truly “Yuri” section, with comics and novels from multiple publishers. I picked up a number of books there that I either had never heard of or might not have otherwise bought, just because they were there. I grabbed this up, saw that it had won an award and thought, okay, why not. This book has no illustrations, although I wish it had. There were at least two scenes that would have been spectacular to see illustrations for.
If you want a really, really good book on which to practice reading Japanese, this is the book. It was compelling, I kept staying up too late to read 2 pages more, well, 5…okay 10, heck I’ll just go to the next break. That kind of good. ^_^
At Daishima girl’s school, there is a rumor that a witch will appear if a girl has a sincere enough wish. Once you’ve sealed the contract with a kiss (which does not have to be on the lips) your wish will be granted. And, as we learn in three unrelated scenarios, this rumor is absolutely true.
In the first story, a transfer student who draws pictures to pass the time, finds herself captivated by a member of the Kyudo club, Kanoe-san. When she asks the witch to be able to draw realistic pictures, she finds that she isn’t just drawing pictures that are true to life, but that reality appears to following her pictures!
The second scenario follows the events when a class decides to do a ballet as their culture festival performance. A girl who had previously studied ballet ends up directing, while a former karate competitor ends up starring in the production.
The final story follows the school doctor whose entire life has effectively come to a complete stop after the girl she liked in high school, so many years ago, left her.
In each story, the atmosphere was so thick with tension, so ripe with possibility, that I wasn’t actually sure if the story would be a horror story or not until the very end. The ballet scenario, particularly, could have been a bloodbath – and I’m not being symbolic when I say that. It easily could have been a really bloody, violent story. But it wasn’t. It was – they all were – absolutely delightful to read.
In terms of Yuri, the first story really sets up the book being “Yuri-ish,” with constant mentions of two girls acting “Yuri-ish” (“Yuri’ppoi”) and that intensely thick, anticipatory atmosphere. The second story had some breathtakingly sexy/intense scenes, without any actual Yuri. The third story – the least intense of the three, but still pretty full of tension, was the most Yuri of all.
I am absolutely going to check out Aoya’s other book, although it looks like a Yokai/mystery comedy. But hey, that falls comfortably into my wheelhouse too. ^_^
Overall – 10
A real, honest-to-goodness page turner.