Socrates in Love (Sekai no Chushin de Ai o Sakebu) by Katayama Kyoichi

So I found out while browsing for things to ask for Christmas that Viz, in their infinite wisdom, licensed the Socrates in Love novel a while ago. I never actually got it for Christmas, so I ordered it from the bookstore and devoured it this week (It’s such a short novel, it could easily have been devoured in a matter of three-four hours of casual reading).

It was really good. I think I felt tears starting to well up around page 3. I never actually cried, but I probably would have if I had started reading the book outside of my break at work and finished it all in one swallow. What struck me about the book was how beautifully it was written, even in translation. I spent the rest of the evening obsessing over the 20 or so pages I’d read, and then went home and…waited until school on Wednesday to read more.

The story, as it is, is fairly simple–boy meets girl, boy falls for girl, boy gets girl, girl gets leukemia. The book minces no meat about what happens to Aki at the end–the very first scene is Sakutaro bringing her ashes to Cairns with her family in tow. So it’s not like anything on that end is a massive spoiler for the ending. As in all things, the Japanese value the getting there more than the ending itself (or maybe that’s just me), and the getting there is a beautiful and tragic love story. The emotions of a young couple in love are captured here, for all those without hearts made of solid, frigid iron to enjoy. Like Voices of a Distant Star and Mikako, almost, the novel isn’t about the plot so much as the captured essence of the emotions of Sakutaro. It certainly has the power to affect the reader in much the same way.

I’ve only read a couple books out by Viz so far (this and Brave Story), but they’re doing a mighty fine job of licensing quality novels. And this one even has SHOUJO BEAT FICTION on the spine! How cool is that?!

2 Responses to “Socrates in Love (Sekai no Chushin de Ai o Sakebu) by Katayama Kyoichi”

  1. 1 Allie 30 March 2008 at 1:15 pm

    I think the company is called Shojo Beat, not Shoujo Beat. *looking at magazine, then at book*

    Other than that, I also think the book is amazing. I read it two years ago but I still remember every detail and I tried to advertise it to all my friends. I didn’t cry while reading it, but that’s because my cousins were with me the whole summer *can’t cry in front of a 3-year-old and a 5-year-old*

  2. 2 OGT 30 March 2008 at 1:28 pm

    “Shoujo” is more accurate than “Shojo” because that first “sho” has a long “o”, which is formed by adding a “u”. Same deal with Shonen/Shounen–it’s Viz being bizarrely inaccurate.

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January 2008

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