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Popular Hits of the Showa Era: A Novel
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Popular Hits of the Showa Era: A Novel

3.51 of 5 stars 3.51  ·  rating details  ·  643 ratings  ·  96 reviews
In his most irreverent novel yet, Ryu Murakami creates a rivalry of epic proportions between six aimless youths and six tough-as-nails women who battle for control of a Tokyo neighborhood. At the outset, the young men seem louche but harmless, their activities limited to drinking, snacking, peering at a naked neighbor through a window, and performing karaoke. The six "aunt ...more
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Published January 31st 2011 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 1994)
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K. A. O'Neil
I never would have thought so just by looking at it, but I believe this is what I've been looking for.

It's offbeat and familiar and hideous and alluring in perfect balance.

It's the literary love of my life.

When I showed Scott Fitzgerald the divorce papers, he was like "Really, Katie? For a 200-page Japanese novel from 1994?"

"It was just translated to English last year," I told him, a single tear sliding down my cheek.

Ruby  Tombstone [Uncensored or Else]
This is a really fun read, yet very different to the other Ryu Murakami book I have read, Piercing. PHotSE sits further toward the "light entertainment" end of the spectrum, but I enjoyed it very much all the same. The storyline centres around two groups of very dysfunctional people: a group of young men who are socially...... retarded, and a group of catty, self-absorbed 30-40ish women (oba-sans). In both cases, the members are disconnected from each other as well as society. When war erupts be ...more
Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
The Book Report: Six dreadfully bored, dreadfully sociopathic young twentysomething men find each other, and for want of anything better to do, start hanging out. They drink, they eat, they talk at but not to each other, and no one bothers to listen because no one has anything to say that means any-damn-thing in the others' solipsistic brainiverses.
Six dreadfully bored, dreadfully ugly and unloving, unloved thirtysomething women find each other, and for want of anything better to do, start hangi
...more
christa
I think that I have read enough Ryu Murakami at this point to safely consider myself a connoisseur without sounding like too much of an asshole. This Japanese horror writer always manages to tickle my gag reflex or give me school bus giggles. He is lurid. He is inventive. He is hilarious.

However, if I wasn't a Murakami-sseur, I'm not sure his most-recently translated to English novella "Popular Hits of the Showa Era" would inspire the sort of supple roots, oaky after taste-style of fandom I've
...more
Leo Robertson
This book is awesome!

I picked it up expecting a daft switch-off read, and that's exactly what I was provided with, and a whole lot more :-)

Best way to describe it:
Best way to define this book.

The only other Ryū Murakami book I read was Piercing, which is more of an intimate psychological study, whereas this book is clearly overblown fun and contrasting the two books really shows his versatility as an author.

Funny, crazy, and better yet, probably some parable for modern Japanese society that I don't really care to investigat
...more
Razvan Zamfirescu
”Numai criminalii mai au sens în zilele noastre” - spune un personaj care tocmai ce și-a înfipt cuțitul într-o mătușică de treizeci și ceva de ani.
Această crimă pornește conflictul dintre tinerii iubitori de karaoke în aer liber care râd din senin și a proasta și mătușicile de 30 și ceva de ani, divorțate, cu pielea fleoșcăită, cu viețile în pioneze și cu apetitul sexual uitat prin vreo plasă la un supermarket.
Aceasta este intepretarea lui Ryu Murakami la războiul dintre generații. Adică război
...more
Caroline
"They always say that when human beings are extinct, the only living thing left will be the cockroach, but that's bullshit. It's the Oba-san" (Oba-san refers to middled aged women in Japan)

This totally irreverent, violent and somewhat bizarre novel has some incredibly funny moments. A group of young males, misfits in their own right, gather weekly for a party in Nobue's apartment to drink, giggle hysterically, munch on snacks, lust after a woman in an apartment across the street and put on costu
...more
Carlos
Aug 10, 2011 Carlos rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of transgressive fiction
Shelves: read-2010
Popular Hits of the Showa Era is the story of surreal conflict between two groups of the marginalized in the Japan of the late '80s. It starts as the tale of a group of dissolute young men, who have taken to gathering together once a week for what might charitably called parties, at which they interact very little yet still feel some sense of camaraderie. A chance encounter on the streets leads to a conflict with another group of outcasts. These are six women in the thirties, all divorcees, who ...more
Philippe Malzieu
A true novel of Murakami Ryu, full with noise and fury. The history is completely improbable. 6 thirty year old women make the war with 6 post-teenagers. That finishes with blow of bazooka in a quasi destruction of Tokyo.
It is a kind of exercise of style, a literary manga often (involuntarily) funny.
Murakami is able to write in a classical way with success as in Raffles hotel. But it is in excess and baroque disproportion he takes all his scale.
This novel is one of his best.
Josh
Honestly: Just sort of a stupid, seemingly pointless little novel-- and crass to boot. The prose is clumsy, and the story-- about a group of terminally bored Japanese who turn to shocking acts of violence and terrorism as their one source of real engagement with the world-- fails to make any substantive point or even be entertaining, feeling instead like a sort of "exploitation" story, only devoid of any style or humor. To give you an idea of how dumb this book is: There are multiple scenes that ...more
Megan
Frankly, I'm not quite sure how I feel about this one. On one hand the lurid absurdity of the entire epic battle between 6 male 20-somethings and 6 female mid to late 30 y/os does appeal to my love of over the top shock fiction. However, it is almost too ridiculous in its unbelievablity that its comment on social groups leaves nothing to be analyzed. Granted that very well be the point. It certainly pushes stereotypes to the limits and beyond.

I'd be hard pressed to say I didn't enjoy it and hon
...more
Joe
Translated by Ralph McCarthy in an arrestingly stilted, surreal way (with an almost fansub-like reliance upon, and reference to, Japanese honorifics, pet names and the occasional bit of leftover vocabulary that I managed to take in stride but I could imagine being a little off-putting to someone unfamiliar with the language) this might be the strangest Ryū Murakami book I've yet read. The back of the American edition, at least, holds rather massive spoilers, considering the book is fairly short, ...more
Andrew
LOVED this book. The writing is really well done, from the character buildup, to the noticeable changes in style to go along with each character's personality (especially the crazed Ishihara), to the vivid descriptions, to just the overall concept of an escalating blood feud between a group of thirty-somethings Japanese housewives and a group of twenty-somethings apparently deranged and lunatic deadbeat guys. Oh and it's a feud that ends with an entire city being burned. What's not to love about ...more
Darryl
This is an absurd comic novel and cultural satire set just after the completion of the Showa Era, which refers to the reign of Emperor Hirohito from 1926-1989. The first set of main characters are six young men, who are each nihilistic misfits that have been largely abandoned by their families and the larger society, but find common ground in each other and a shared interest in mindless violence and an elaborate and somewhat disturbing karaoke ritual. If you can visualize a group of Beavis & ...more
R.
D'habitude je suis client des romans de Ryū Murakami. Ils se déroulent souvent dans un japon désenchanté en proie à la violence gratuite. Il ose choquer et raconter des histoires sordides qui font réagir. Ce roman n'échappe pas à la règle puisque la violence est à peu près le seul thème du livre. Le vide laissé volontairement à côté de celle-ci met en exergue le non sens de l'existence, du nihilisme pur. Pour en revenir à l'histoire, il s'agit pour schématiser d'un gros règlement de compte entre ...more
Layne
Ridiculous plot, not as scary or suspenseful as his other works.
Auggy
4.5 stars.
This book is random and almost ridiculous but the tone and overall feel of the book really makes it work. The themes of disconnectedness and self-centeredness help make the ridiculousness really work, too, because the characters aren't really seeing things in a "normal" way, but through their very skewed personal lens. Basically, these folks are all sorts of messed up and we get to read all about the train wreck.

Anyway, really random and odd book that I greatly enjoyed reading. I'm goi
...more
Bogdan-Alexandru
A story about six young friends in conflict with other six slightly older women.

The six friends are more acquaintances getting together to hang out and share their loneliness as they do not interact much but rather each has its own bizarre trips and behaviors. They have little desires and wished and are at the outskirts of regular society. They dress up and go to karaoke singing sessions in strange deserted places; they fantasize about a girl they see from the window of their apartment.

The serie
...more
Matthew
Like, I assume, many others, I came across this book at the local library when I was looking for stuff by the other (better) Murakami. I read this Murakami's Almost Transparent Blue years ago and don't remember much about it except that I kind of hated it, but I decided maybe it was time to give Ryu here another chance. I'm glad I did, because this one was pretty enjoyable!

A random murder sparks an increasingly ridiculous sequence of revenge between two factions; a group of aimless, incredibly d
...more
Chris
read this in one sitting. it's just that kind of book.

ok - so at first i thought this would be just some more ryu murakami trash like 'in the miso soup' and 'piercing', but i was pleasantly surprised. sure, it's just as sensationalist and ridiculous, but there's something cool and less off-putting about it. the book grows on you as you read it. by the end, i found myself wanting to get drunk and bomb some old bitch after singing some karaoke in drag. i was obviously on the guys' team's side.

ok
...more
Tom
I can't imagine what it must be like to always be in the shadow of your namesake. Haruki Murakami, famous novelist, has indeed somewhat eclipsed the literary career of Ryu Murakami, although this is in no means a statement of quality. Apart from the fact that they are both Japanese people named Murakami, they actually have little in common.

As usual, Ryu Murakami writes a novel that is based around sensational events and Tarantino-esque characters that balance on the edge of good reason. You real
...more
Andrew
“I mean, just because I came up behind that Oba-san and poked her in the ass with my tent pole, she starts screaming like a banshee. I’m not about to put up with that kind of shit. Anybody would’ve lost it, right? I mean, what about my dignity? So I broke through the imagination barrier and took out my knife in the real world and slit her throat, guerrilla-style, and that was it. It was the right thing to do too.”


***


A little bit West Side Story, a little bit American Psycho, a whole lotta karaok
...more
Sam Reader






Okay, the rundown is as follows: This is a wonderful satire of two groups of disaffected people who somehow find their way in the world through karaoke and murdering each other. While this is well-written, it's more about the relationships between the two groups, whose dwindling members are experiencing life and bringing each other closer by slowly picking off the other side. The murders are a very small part of it. The characters areoverly-cartoonish and sociopathic, but if you ca
...more
Tyler
This was my 4th experience with Japanese literature and I'm starting to see a trend. Perhaps we can blame it on the complexities of translation and cultural differences, but for a country so ultra-conservative (I've spent much time there, so please don't think i'm just blindly judging), especially when it comes to sex and gender relations, their novels would have you think that the country is a sexually liberated paradise, where crass subjects like blue balls, cumshots and handjobs are a normal ...more
Matt
I really enjoyed this, even though it's a strange book and not quite what I was prepared for.

The basic conceit is that a gang of six aimless twentysomething men essentially go to war against a group of six thirty something women-- they literally murder each other, and the stakes escalate till the quite vicious, catastrophic ending. If you couldn't tell from that description, this isn't a serious undertaking, but some sort of satire-- the aimlessness and essential idiocy of the boys is a key comp
...more
Mkeirsbi
I decided to read Ryu Murakami because his books are to be found next to Haruki Murakami's novels in the bookstore. Of course, no surprise there. That's the alphabet for you... But it's been a while since Haruki published a new novel, though I always go and check to see if there's something new. My last visit to the bookstore was no different. And because there was nothing new from Haruki, I decided to give Ryu a go.
I didn't know what to expect, but it's certainly something completely different
...more
Yogarshi
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Anita
Despite a couple of false starts, wherein reading this book literally put me to sleep after 10 pages, I liked it.
Ryu Murakami writes about human nature and its inherent ugliness, while at the same time making his readers realize that even the most monstrous human beings are driven by the same needs and desires as the rest of humanity.
The interactions between the two antagonistic groups that are at the centre of this story read like the history of any conflict, no matter the scale, with increasin
...more
Djordje Nagulov
This is supposed to read as violent satire about alienation in modern Japanese culture. I guess it was also supposed to be funny. Instead it came across as shallow and reliant on shock value to supplant meaning.

I'm sorry to say I often find works by contemporary Japanese writers lacking in depth and nuance. This book reinforces that notion. It reads like a bad anime. It is loud, but says nothing.
S.
a weak spot from an otherwise consistently good author, Popular Hits seems to draw from a weak conception/premise, "what if 5 socially geeky boys fought 5 middle-aged used-up women." although containing steady escalation of firepower, no real urgency/connection to social problems and/or sympathy invited with any character.

unlike Ryuu Murakami's other work, there is no 'dramatic necessity' to the writing. in classic RM, everything proceeds gruesomely by necessity in a conflict of claims resulting
...more
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Ryū Murakami is a Japanese novelist and filmmaker. He is not related to Haruki Murakami or Takashi Murakami.

Murakami's first work, the short novel Almost Transparent Blue, written while he was still a student, deals with promiscuity and drug use among disaffected Japanese youth. Critically acclaimed as a new style of literature, it won the newcomer's literature prize in 1976 despite some observers
...more
More about Ryū Murakami...
In the Miso Soup Coin Locker Babies Almost Transparent Blue Piercing Audition

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“Words themselves aren't that important. Even if somebody says words that shock you, or make you want to kill them, or make you tremble with emotion, the words themselves you tend to forget in time. Words are just tools we use to express or communicate something.” 17 likes
“Oba-sans, to put it in somewhat difficult terms, are life-forms that have stopped evolving. And anyone can turn into an Oba-san. Young women, of course, but even young men, even middle-aged men —even children. You turn into an Oba-san the instant you lose the will to evolve.” 4 likes
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