Ben's Reviews > Brave Story

Brave Story by Miyuki Miyabe
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Sep 05, 2007

liked it
bookshelves: fantasy_and_sci-fi
Recommended for: Japanese animation fans, or fans of the Neverending Story

This was a fun, if lengthy story. According to the book jacket, Ms. Miyabe is quite an accomplished author, with several accolades and awards to her name in her native Japan. I'm always interested in the manner in which Japanese books are translated to English.
One of my observations is that the books I've read in Japanese tend to play a little more loosely with the point of view. In other words, the authors don't have a problem leaping from one character's head to another, and then back, within the space of a few paragraphs.
While this can at first be off-putting (telling rather than showing), it soon becomes an interesting vehicle to explore the motivations of different characters without the build-up and background that would be expected in a western-style narrative.
The book itself, upon conclusion, does very much remind me of the Neverending Story. Simply put, the hero is a ten-year old boy who does not stand out at school and tends to whine a lot. His family life rapidly deteriorates, until he is given a chance to enter a magical fantasy realm (called Vision, rather than Fantastica) with the hopes of making everything better.
What struck me about this book was that it observes some of the conventions I've come to recognize in both anime and manga, and in Japanese video games (particularly RPG's). This is a fact that is openly acknolwedged by the author in the story. What was interesting, though, was that many of the silly sight gags and the frantic pace often maintained by said anime or games (in an attempt to keep the attention span of their ADHD-afflicted 13-18 year old target audience) were thankfully absent here. While the lesson of Final Fantasy VII may be that the greatest challenge of all is to conquer your own fears and insecurities, while Lunar: the Silver Star may tell us that anything is possible with determination, it simply feels more legitimate to read that in a book than upon the TV screen.
All in all, this book was very Japanese in its sensibilities, but that doesn't make it inaccessible to the reader. In fact, it makes it easier to accept some of the nastier things that people in the "real" world do to one another, since the book for English speakers is set in a sort of doubly unfamiliar territory, making suspension of disbelief that much easier.
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