Thursday, October 13, 2011

Courtneybelle Asks: Maybe Japan Just Needs Central Air Conditioning?

(Warning: spoilers)

So, I had noticed the near constant whining about the heat and sweating in Real World.But after hearing a recent NPR story, I finally decided that heat is a character in this book. The NPR story was about how baseball pitchers hit batters more frequently in stifling heat. The researchers have several theories, as do players, about the relationship between the temperature and this behavior, but the numbers were undeniable. So, while reading Real World, was anyone else reminded of Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing?

I admit that this book could be an account of the way self centered adolescents become self indulgent adults. Kirino might indeed have something to say about the bone crushing pressure Japanese youth are stranded under. She clearly has something to say about the sexualization of young people in Japan. And she might even want the reader to think that Japan still doesn’t have this giggling, subservient female archetype neurosis thing sorted out yet. But, I want to suggest that maybe the author just sees an opportunity for better climate control. Moving room to room turning on air conditioners and what appears to be a complete lack of box-fans, might be enough to drive Japan’s super-industrialized posterity into a buck-wild manga murder sex fiasco.

As an American who only studied one semester of Japanese, I couldn’t help feeling I lacked cultural knowledge and perspective to fully appreciate this book. Her real message seemed continuously just out of grasp. If Kirino wants me to have a strong feeling about the changing gender roles in modern Japanese society, I’m going to need more than 200 pages of sexually repressed teenagers kvetching about how brain-fucked their parents are. I grew up in the Midwest, I already know that story. If she wants the Japanese art of subtlety to inadvertently drown her message in subway sweat, then sure, I love it. Message received.

On a lighter note, it was generous of Kirino not to let the afflicted and simpering “Worm” die a virgin. At least there is some justice in the Real World.


  1. If there's an American film version, Sam Jackson (in his Do the Right Thing voice) will play the voice on the loudspeakers announcing the smog alerts.

  2. The heat in this book reminds me a little of 'The Stranger'