美鶴木夜石は怖がらない (フェノメノ, #1) by Ninomae HajimeThis one went far above my expectations. I was in the mood for some ghost stories and decided I would have a shot at this, figuring that it would be at least an okay kind of read. But it was more than okay, it was downright gripping and I read through it extremely quickly.
Surprisingly, however, few people seem to be aware of Ninomae Hajimes Phenomeno. What I actually read was not even the full Volume 1; or rather, it was the majority of it. Phenomeno is composed of short stories told in first-person style by Yamada Nagito, with one exception. I read the unofficial English translation done by Seki, aka Suiminchuudoku, of the first three stories, and there is one more story included in this volume of which only a fragment was translated.
Other than that, the translation has come to a halt, and yet, considering how interesting these stories were, that is surprising. Some publisher should have jumped on this thing and made official translations, and if not that, then there should have been a frenzy of fan translations (because its way better than a lot of other stuff Ive seen fan translated).
Anyway, Suiminchuudokus translation was very good in regards to style and flow; the only issues were occasional typos and punctuation errors. Because barely anyone has been talking about this series, Ill make a quick overview of the stories in this book, which usually referred to as cases:
Case 01: The house that grants wishes: This is a story about a creepy old cottage that the narrator Nagito lives in. Hes a university student in Tokyo and rented it because it was cheap, but it makes noises at night and numbers counting down are appearing in various places. Nagito is interested in the occult and has joined an online group of occult maniacs. He decides to set up an offline meeting with them to address his problem, but the meeting goes off-topic and they were more interested in a mysterious member named Yoishi (who didnt show up) anyway. Things start getting more messed up after that.
Case 02: Self-responsibility-type: In this one Nagito visits an abandoned, haunted hospital accompanied by Yoishi because hes curious about events that took place there over time. Groups of friends would visit there to have fun or out of curiosity, and temporarily a member of the group would disappear and they have conflicting memories of what happened. Yoishi was actually involved in such an incident previously and couldnt figure the place out, hence the visit. What follows is a convoluted story of possession that Nagito experiences.
Raven Notes: This is a special bonus story told by Karasu, a fortune-teller woman who knows Nagito through the occult group theyre part of. Karasu is lonely and is going through online dating sites, but at some point a strange person contacts her through one site shes using. He turns out to be the blue-clothed man that she had completely forgotten about from her high school and college days. When this blue-clothed man asks people three questions and they answer, they then die (that sounds like such a stupid story at first, but it gets more interesting and complex as you read on). This apparently had led to the death of a classmate, Karasus mother, and her boyfriend, and she had somehow escaped death herself - and thats the question of the story as her memories get revived.
Case 03: On the other side of the fusuma: This is the last one in this volume, which is untranslated, so I cant say much more about it.
I strongly recommend taking a look at Phenomeno if you like light novels and ghost stories, and try to encourage translations (preferably official ones).
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