Thursday, June 2, 2011

きみにしか聞こえない(Kimi ni shika Kikoenai) CALLING YOU by 乙一 Otsuichi 

Title: 君にしか聞こえない CALLING YOU
Author: Otsuichi
Illustrator: Miyako Hasumi
Publication Year: 2001
Publisher: 角川書店
Pages: 201

I loved this book! I think Otsuichi has become one of my favorite authors after reading this, despite the fact that most of his works are horror, his short stories for young adults are well written. There's something almost magical about the way his clear prose flows.

This book is a collection of short stories by Otsuichi which were originally published in The Sneaker light novel magazine. It contains three stories:

Calling You:
The titular story is about a girl who really wants a cell phone, but has no friends to call. One day she finds she suddenly has a cell phone that only she can see, and it starts ringing...

This story is about an 11-year old boy who is places in a special class for misbehaving children.
Once there, he befriends a shy child who has an interesting ability to heal others' wounds, but does it come at a price?

A patient finds himself in a hospital after a train accident, comes upon a flower with the face of a girl, whose singing brightens the lives of his and the other hospital patients.


Plot & Characters: All the stories are told in first person, which makes it easy to "get inside a character's head", and fairly easy to read. I didn't think I would get into this book, but by the end of the first and second stories I was in tears, and I don't cry easily. The third story, particularly the ending, seemed a bit rushed, and I ultimately didn't enjoy it as much as the others. It was still good, but not great like the others. Still, the first two stories were such page-turners near the end it more than made up for the third story.

Prose & Readability: The prose flowed well and was easy to read. The author has a way of really making one connect with the characters. All the stories were in first person, which any person who has read a few manga volumes should be able to follow without much trouble. I wouldn't recommend this as a first book, but maybe a second or third.

Who would I recommend this to: People starting out reading Japanese books, people who want an easy read that leaves a lasting effect.

First Paragraph:

The first paragraph provided for readers to help judge for themselves whether a book is a good fit for their current level, and is presented with all furigana shown in the actual book.


  1. Hey, bokusenou!
    I read the 君にしか聞こえない as a manga and I must say.. I hated it. I didn't hate the prose or the story line, which was quite jerky in the beginning (I mean an isolated high school girl without a mobile? how can somebody invent such a story??), but drew my interest. Due the "manga" style I stopped reading it. I was surprised that there was a book of it, too!
    Just read the first paragraph to make sure I didn't stop reading it because it was entirely too difficult for me. (How many vocabs do you actually know? What kind of grammar did you go through?)

    Keep it up!!

  2. Hey Tori-kun, thanking for commenting!

    Really? Hmm, well I haven't read the manga, so I'm not sure how cleanly they adapted it (There's also a movie version of of Calling You, and one of 傷 -KIZ/KIDS- called just "KIDS")

    As I look at more Japanese YA fiction, I'm starting to think that the "Lonely schoolgirl/boy without any friends" character is common throughout the genre. ^-^; Like I said, I didn't expect to like the book as much as I did, but by the end of the first two books it had turned into a real page turner which I highly recommend checking out.

    As for vocab and grammar, The only structured path I took was this:

    Grammar: Tae Kim -> DBJG -> Kanzen Master 2kyuu and now Kanzen Master 1kyuu with 500 Essential Japanese Expressions

    Vocab: Core2k/6k -> Anki 2kyuu vocabulary list,
    and now I'm going through my N1 vocabulary book, although I've been sentence mining anything that looks interesting or useful from the media/books I like, so it's not like I just used structured tools, although after I passed N2 I needed to focus on college for a while so I didn't get as much reading/media watching done, but now I just put txt files of novels on my Blackberry so I can get some reading done in between classes and such.

    Thanks for commenting again! Your encouragement makes me want to keep going with this blog!

  3. Hey bokusenou,

    recently I tried to do some grammar and I recognised that I'm a "skipper". With "skipper" I mean, I'm a person who skips the lines while reading. I'm really not into reading, I just skip the lines, the paragraphs to get the hang of what a story is about (in English class for example). Reading many many boring books, classical one's, for German class, I really started hating reading anything. But somehow people like you could motivate me times and times starting to read something interesting, curious and special, like Otsuichi's works.
    (I wonder if you'd send me the txt of his works. I'm tired getting the segments from you know :x)

    Concerning the "skipping" and grammar I must say that I only learnt very basic grammar from Tae Kim. At times I find his writing style very easy to understand, but sometimes also very difficult and almost contradictive to explanations from books like DBJG. (f.e. conditionals. I still don't get the hang of which one to use WHEN. Encountering them in plain text is no trouble, but rather when I write letters in Japanese i do not know which one to use properly.)

    If you like grotesque, obscure stuff, perhaps 夏と花見と私の死体 is something for you. The title at least is already promising.

    It's a pity my smartphone, running on symbian^3, has neither Japanese support (display/input), nor any other application in order to learn Japanese or review. Guess it's time to get some smart notebook instead in order to write a few reviews for beginners like myself.


  4. LOL I skip around when it comes grammar too. Mainly I just go straight to the example sentences to see how it's used, and then read the explanation on any parts that aren't obvious from reading the term in context Right now I'm reading a grammar reference meant for Japanese teachers called 中上級を教える人のための日本語文法ハンドブック, and I must say, it's more detailed than anything I've found in English. Mostly I just try to get a "feel" for grammar, and if that doesn't work, ask a Japanese person.

    On Otsuichi, here is a link to the file I found: http://www.megaupload.com/?d=6E5VKAMD
    Yeah, I've been looking at 夏と花見と私の死体 and 暗黒童話 for a while.^^ Maybe I'll start one of them after I finish his short story collection, 失はれる物語.

    If your phone supports Java this might work: http://suiteki.sourceforge.net/index.php
    I've been using its radical search a lot with my Blackberry.

  5. Well. (added you on my blog ^^) It seems completely like this mobile is just a disappointment. It is entirely coded in Java, but seemingly has problems, huge troubles, supporting older versions, like the one suiteki is obviously using. Kso.

    Anyway, I wonder how you found that megaupload link o0 Most txt are just available through share/pd and since there is no way I can open my ports here, I will never be able to use these handy tools. I just cannot await the day finishing off CORE, puh. Reviews are really piling up.

    With grammar I will give Kanzen Master a shot for JLPT2, which is descently written and UNICOM for JLPT3 :D

    Jaaa, mata ne~

  6. Hey, unfortunately just garbage code appears when I open the txt file :( What did you do to get the correct display?

  7. (Thanks, I added you too^^) Well, you don't *need* a smartphone that displays Japanese, it just helps with immersion. (I got a Blackberry and didn't sign it up for a phone plan or anything because I hardly use my regular cellphone, but just having a txt reader app, and an EPWING reader app installed means I can immerse myself in Japanese anywhere, not to mention I can also add music to it ^^, so it helps, but you can always do other things for immersion.)

    I found it through Googling, and put it on megaupload myself since I forgot the original link. Most of the time you can find novels by Googling ' "(一般小説)" [author/ title] zip OR rar" and find it on a Japanese site.

    As for the 文字化け, have have my "Language for Non-unicode programs" setting set to Japanese, and my whole OS is in Japanese thanks to the free Vistalizator software. But if you don't want to do that, you can try fiddling with your word processor's encoding settings. If nothing else works try opening it in Firefox, its usually pretty good with encodings.

    Yeah, finishing CORE gives you a huge advantage, I could understand most of the TV news after I finished it, though I was also sentence mining from novels at the time as well.

    Yeah, Kanzen Master is OK. I learned more from the example sentences than the explanations, but it gets the job done. Are you going to take the JLPT? Or have you taken one already?

  8. Well. Actually this smartphone was a x-mas present and since I *got* it I can't change it for some smarter HTC device or something. But anyway~

    I must say I'm quite often online in the IRC chat on Rizon Network.. Thanks for the googling tip also!!

    I will try something out now^^ I really like light novels more than these debile, sentence chopped mangas. I just don't understand these slangy words and the ツッー in between almost anything annoys me kind of.

    It's crazy.. I just have written japanese but never spoken so far and barely listened to it. Sometimes I mix up some compounds, but so far so good, since my girlfriend/wife is correcting me sincerely (and brutally with a red highlighting pen *duh*).

    I can't heavily concentrate on more thing than one at the same time, so i though I complete CORE first and then get myself more into listening than adding vocabulary to my SRS I do BACKUP every night lol (after my last computer crash. I'd also advise you getting a DropBox account, Bokusenou!)

    Concerning the mojibake I found cb4960's useful Gaiji Replacer tool on koohii.com. Check out my blog for a collection of links, ok?

    Can't tell if I lack in grammar or not, but I'm really lazy concerning example sentences, grammar and so on. It's just odd. I have not taken a JLPT so far. And you? I want to reach at least (the old) JLPT2, but why not N2 as well?

    The listening sounds - see my blog - all like "porridge" at times. When I have japanese subtitles reading along and understanding is just like magic. Effectively "learning" Japanese - since 14. January 2010 (started with core6k and reached 3500 cards today!!). I do also have other decks, having some duplicate cards but all in all I'm somewhere about 4000 vocabs :D Still not enough I find!!!

  9. cool, this will be next on my reading list after i finish the little prince (i have a different version than the easy & shortened internet one), and Kino no tabi!!!

    unless you review anything better in the meantime lol :D

  10. Icecream!!! I also have the book edition of the little prince and the title is also different, nee! (don't remember it though!)

  11. @Tori

    Well, you can always leave hints on what you want for your next x-mas present. XD

    I've heard of IRC and what a great place it is for downloads, but Google usually works for me, so I haven't checked it out.

    Really? I like both manga and light novels, though they both have their pros and cons.

    Well, even if you don't "study" it, leaving audio (news streams, podcasts, music, etc. Ripped audio from media you've watched is good too) on i the background while doing things is a great way to pick up words, and get used to listening. It'll probably get easier once you finish CORE though.

    BTW, I backup my dropbox almost religiously. XD

    Did you get it to work? Thanks, I haven't had any problems, but the Gaiji Replacer is good to know about.

    Hmm, sentences from memorable scenes in media/books seem to work well for me. (especially violent, or shocking scenes)
    Maybe you just need to make the grammar matter to you. I used to be a slow reader, and thought I would always be like that, until I found books that kept me on the edge of my seat, wanting to know what happens next. Then I whooshed through pages, and now my reading speed is the same as in English, minus lookups.
    If you can find a sentence with a word or grammar point from something you like, that might work better, or you can try making a few sentences of your own with the grammar point for practice.

    I passed N2, but I think I'll just rest and wait until next year for N1. I'm studying the vocabulary and grammar now to get it over with though. A lot of the stuff rarely shows up in speech, but pops up now and then in literature. XD It's a shame they don't have the July test in the US though...

    Awesome! Listening will get easier as you do it more, even more so after finish CORE.
    I looked up the average amount of vocabulary a college educated English speaker knows (couldn't find it for Japanese speakers) and the answers I found where around 12k-15k. The N1 vocabulary list will put me a little over 12k, not counting my sentence mining deck,

    Cool, what version do you have?

  12. Ok, that one was cool.

    I finally got through CALLING YOU (manga edition) and must say it's the best thing to happen for every religions anki-core6k srser outta there! \o
    Just read it, skip it, whatsoever. With minimal grammar knowledge (I'm like Kanzen Master 3.. perhaps below it) it's comprehendible and fun.
    That's my review, so far. The next one will be the sligthly more difficult HOLIDAY 失踪 by 乙一. I really like his writing style.


  13. LOL, yeah I don't know about the manga version, but I've found Otsuichi's prose to be easy, yet interesting, so I like his non-horror stories. When I'm done with those I'll try his horror stuff, even though I'm not much of one for horror.

    Tell me how 失踪HOLIDAY goes! You'll probably finish it before me, since I have some other things I want to read first.

  14. Yeah, it's called 星の王子さま, the translation by 池澤夏樹. Except i've given it up for the moment as i'm reading キノの旅 and ハリー・ポッター, and my book for reading outside is going to 吉本ばなな's キチン next now... i've had it since last summer, and thought it would be too difficult for me, but it's really not bad at all, it seems :D

  15. Hmm, It's pretty cheap. I'll add it to my "to buy" list.

    Good luck! I gave up on キッチン after the first story...It's not that it was hard (on the contrary, it was maybe too easy), but more like I found the prose somewhat...lacking. I don't think I'm a book snob or anything, as I've enjoyed some books despite their literary style (see Tengoku no Honya) but I find it more difficult to enjoy a work if I get distracted by the prose. I see why some people like it though. Yoshimoto is good at describing raw emotion, she just wasn't good enough to keep my interest. Tell me what you thought of it once you've finished though. XD