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Japanese Books Inspired by Lewis Carroll: Review

Fushigi no Kuni no Hanzaisha-tachi (Criminals in Wonderland)

by Masaki Yamdada (1980) Bunshun Bunko
Containing Four Stories:
Shugeki (The Assault)
Yukai (The Kidnap)
Bakuchi (The Bet)
Gyakuten (The Changeover)

The stoies tell crimes that involved three friends. Criminals in this title represents these friends who are called Uno-san (Hare), Boshiya-san (Hatter) and Nemuri-kun (Dormouse). They had often visited the bar Cheshire Cat and became friends.
The first story Shugeki (The Assault) is narrated by Uno-san in which the three friends robbed armed car from money. But the crime was known by gangs in Yukai (The Kidnap). So they worked together to get rid of the gangs. The narrator of this story is Nemuri-kun. The third narrator, Boshiya-san was involved in his old friend's trouble in Bakuchi (The Bet) and asked Uno-san and Nemuri-kun to help him. The last story, Gyakuten (The Changeover), Uno-san plays a role of the narrator again and mysteries lying on the stories were exposed.
The author was inspired by Alice books. But he merely used Alice books to his characters' names.

Arisu no Kuni no Satsujin (Murder in Alice's Land)

by Masaki Tshuji (1981) Futaba-sha, Tokuma Bunko

The story began with the bridal of Alice and Katsuji Watabatake, an editor of books for chiledren. Before they got married, Katsuji knew himself wanted for murdering Chrshire Cat which he had not comitted. He woke up and found that he had dreamt a nightmare. But he, in his real life, had to face the real murder case. He had to solve two murder cases --one in his dream and one in his real life.
In this story, two episodes are pararelly told and the protagonist moves two worlds like 'Mr. Sir' in Sylvie and Bruno. The author writes screenplays of animation movies. So in this book many characters in Japanese comics and animations enter as well as Alice and other characters in fairy tales. On the structure of Sylvie and Bruno the author laid well-made detective story using characters in Alice books. And, moreover, in the top of this book is double-acrosstic rhyme, and in the climax, the author uses interior monologue used in Ulysses. Entertainment and experiment in literature are well harmonised in Arisu no Kuni no Satsujin.
It is pity that even this story is well-made, you find the author's trivial mistake. The Queen of Hearts plays cricket in this book, not croquet.

Ikeru Shikabane no Shi (Death of the Living Dead)

by Masaya Yamaguchi (1989) Sogen Suiri Bunko

One day America was in panic; every dead people regained his life again after his death -- he lived as living dead. In such situation the family of undertakers had a financial crisis. And, furthermore, murder case occured. The grandson of undertakers faimily were looking for the murderer but one day he found himself murdered. He continued his investigation hiding his death.
The main mystery of this book is a murderer's motivation: why the murderer kill people that soon regain his life. The logic of solution are acrobatic and also logical like Ellery Queen's early works. The author entertains readers with slapstick as John Dickson Carr usually did to readers. The author once confessed that he is a Carrollian in his essay. In this book inspiration from Lewis Carroll are not so much, you find it only in the nicknames of detective role Grin and his girlfriend Cheshire.

Kuroneko-kan no Satsujin (Murder at the Black Cat)

by Yukito Ayatsuji (1990) Kodan-sha Bunko

Kadomi Shishiya, famous detective and novelist, had a visitor asking him to find his identity. The visitor had a trouble of amnesia but he has a diary with him. The diary told the murder case which occured at Kuroneko-kan (the Black Cat) in the previous year. Kuroneko-kan had once been owned by a mathematitian who was missing. In 1989, the present owner's son and his friends came to the estate and two people lost their lives. The case had been resolved oficially but the diary told it had not been solved yet. Shishiya had to face three mysteries -- the murder case, the identity of his visitor and the secret of Kuroneko-kan.
In this book Through the Looking-glass plays an important role to solve mysteries, especially the secret of Kuroneko-kan. Most of Carrollians may grin (like Cheshire Cat?) when they read a character saying 'He is an dodgson.' to express the missing mathematitian. They may also know what the enigma meant and with luck they may be able to solve mysteries completely.
But not few of Carrollians may irritate the author's stance for Lewis Carroll, for he does not seem to love Carrol's works.

Fuzai no Ocha-kai (The Tea-Party without a Host)

by Masaya Yamaguchi (1994)
contained in Mysteries Kodan-sha Novels

In a room, three people were having a tea-party. They, a botanist in a hat, a writer born in March, and a psycheartist who seemed sleepy, felt the host was not present. And they did not know what bring them to the tea-party. They discussed who the host was and why they are brought. Their discussion reminded each of them of a girl named 'Alice' whom they had met with different appearances.
The story is a process of discussion looking for 'Myself'. The psycheartist analyses the situation with psychology, as she majors. The botanist analyses with fundamental mind which plants and other cratures have in common. And the writer tells about dream and its dreamer like Red King in Through the Looking-glass.
The conclusion they found is disappointing. If you read it as mystery story, the solution is not logical. If you think it a literature, the experiment the author made is neither original nor new. This story is an adaptation of meta-fiction on a mystery story but in vain. To write this story the auther applied technical terminology which he did not understand well. Apart from Alice, you find nothing more than snobbish pseudo-literature.

Nenuwenra no Serudabu (Nenuwenrah's Serdab)

by Kentaro Komori (1996) Kodansha Novels

A Japanese research party discovered new grave of the Pharaoh, Nekuwenrar. They had to wait for the official permission to research. One night a girl was missing and thought to have clept into the Pharaoh's grave. The party decided to go into the grave without official permission and look for the missing girl. The party ware in panic, for the members were murdered by someone serially.
To solve the mystery of the Pharaoh's grave, Through the Looking-glass plays an important role. But when you read it as a mystery novel, you may be disapponted because the plot and tricks are not made so well.


by Arisu Arisugawa
contained in Eikoku Teien no Nazo (English Garden Mystery) Kodan-sha Novels

Hideo Himura, crime psychologist and famous detective, got a phone call. The call was from a man Himura had once counceled as criminal. The caller, whose name was Yamaoki, often used his words in enigma so he was called Jabberwocky. Jabberwocky challenged Himura, in his words of enigma, to prevent the crime he was planned. Himura decided to solve the enigma and stop Jabbewocky.
This story is a kind of the armchir-detecyive type. Eigma by Jabberwocky is not a kind of coded cipher but a kind of riddle. The author is no doubt Carrollian, for his pen name was tought from Alice in wonderland (In Japanese rule to put kana into alphabet, Alice in kana is written as Arisu). This story is the first in his story inspired by Alice.

Kagami Meikyu (Looking-glass Labyrinth)

by Naohiko Kitahara

Alicia Mackintosh, an actress, was on the stage of the first performance of Through the Looking-glass, the musical. When the musical began, she felt something odd. As the stage going on she found herself running into Wonderland....
Of cource the theme of the story is Lewis Carroll. The auther added a theme of machines built and imagined by Charles Babbage. This story is a well-made mathematical Science Fiction.

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