I’ve always been a reader all my life (although I’m finding increasingly that anime is coming to dominate as my hobby), and I read Brave Story recently, so I thought I’d jot my thoughts down.
For those who aren’t aware, Brave Story is about a young child named Wataru whose father has an affair with another woman, and leaves his mother and bim in favor of this new, younger woman. When his mother tries to kill herself (and Wataru with her) by letting gas from the stove into their apartment, Wataru escapes and finds himself in the magical land of Vision, where he is now a Traveller on a quest for five gemstones that will grant him the wish he desires to change his destiny.
Brave Story was absolutely incredible for Part One. It was high drama with a touch of fantasy elements. All seventeen chapters were immensely powerful, and really made you feel incredibly empathetic with Wataru. There are so many powerful scenes in these 200 pages that I was solidly impressed with the book just from that.
The unfortunate thing is, when Wataru goes to Vision, things take a sharp turn downhill–kind of. Vision starts off as a bland, generic kind of fantasy land, but after having finished the book, I think Miyabe made it “bland” on purpose. I kind of soured on the book for a while, but it does improve remarkably after Wataru finds the first gemstone. That’s probably because of the introduction of the Plot Device called Halnera, where one person from Vision and one person from the real world (i.e. Wataru or Mitsuru) will be sacrificed to give another thousand years of protection from destruction. It was an interesting Plot Device, and it served to further complicate matters in Vision.
On Vision being generic–Wataru plays a lot of RPGs, most prominently the winner of the Not-Dragon-Quest award, Eldritch Saga. Since Vision is unique to every Traveller who enters it (the world is altered depending on who is viewing it, an interesting Heisenberg phenomenon that further serves to make Vision more interesting), Wataru’s Vision is based on his own experiences playing…generic fantasy RPG games. So, I won’t fault the book on the dullness of the book, although, as someone more used to fantasy authors such as Steven Erikson, the initial blandness came as quite a shock.
The ending was also quite well-done, and I won’t go into the details, but it brings a satisfying (if somewhat predictable, but I never let predictability bother me too much in things) and well-executed finish. It’s not, perhaps, as moving as the opening 200 pages, but it’s a solid conclusion.
Having not seen the movie, I have no idea how it compares, but for anyone who likes to read and likes anime, Brave Story is a must-read. It’s like anime in a book! Kind of.