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The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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10/24/2006 Archived Entry: "Book review: Cold Sleep"

Cold Sleep
By Narise Konohara
Translated by Douglas W. Dlin and Iroi
Published by the Juné Imprint of Digital Manga, Inc.

Review by Ginger Mayerson

"If there was a spring in his heart filling up with feelings of love, he wanted to see it. He wanted to see what couldn't be seen.", page 119, "Cold Sleep"

First let me say "Cold Sleep" is superbly translated, edited and has the excellent production values of Digital Manga titles. I don't know Japanese so I've no idea how the translation stacks up against the original, but the book I read is a beautiful story beautifully told. I have had issues with other translations of yaoi manga, but this translation is so well done, I was completely swept away by the deceptively simple story.

The plot is your standard amnesia romance melodrama, except Tohru Takihasha (the amnesiac) and Keishi Fujishimi (his protector) are both young men. After a serious car accident, the only person to visit Tohru in the hospital is Fujishimi. When Tohru leaves the hospital, Fujishimi moves him into his apartment. Of course Tohru has no memory, but he seems to have no past. Fujishimi behaves like a friend, but won't tell Tohru anything about his life before the accident. Because he has no one else (he knows about) to depend on, Tohru doesn't press Fujishimi for fear of being thrown out on his own.

Tohru gets a dead-end part-time job on the graveyard shift in a nearby convenience store. He seems like a nice guy, he's efficient at his job, polite to customers, kind of makes friends with his co-works, Kusuda, in particular. Due to Tohru's weird hours, he seldom sees Fujishimi, who is distant when he does see him, except for one night when they have a fight about Tohru wanting to know about his past and Fujishimi gets drunk and kisses Tohru, who likes it more than he thought he would. Unfortunately, Fujishimi doesn't remember any of it the next morning, and Tohru can't forget. Damn memory.

Burning to know something of his past, Tohru tracks down his old address and goes to visit it. He runs into some of his neighbors, who run from him because he was such an asshole to live near! The rest of the book is devoted to Tohru accepting his amnesia and developing and maturing his life (including his feelings for Fujishimi) from where he is right now because his past turns out not to be so wonderful.

Not to damp down anyone's desire to read this book, but I think there must be a sequel to this book, and if so, I really really really want to read it. "Cold Sleep" is a beautiful novella and although I personally wanted a more resolution in the ending, the ending it has does not diminish the quality and beauty of this book one whit. Unless I missed it, I never really learned why Fujishimi feels strongly enough about Tohru to take care of him and take him in. And, meh, that's okay. You readers probably don't know this because I'm such a classy dame, but I read yaoi for the smut factor. So for me to give this mild, unresolved romance my highest recommendation as a novel-loving book freak means this book has a lot of soul. And it's well written/translated/whatever; it's a good book, go read it.

No, wait, not done yet! "Class Reunion" and its conclusion in "The One I Love" is the lovely story of High School students meeting again as adults. It has a happy ending, which is nice, because in another genre it could have all ended in tears.

Oh, and there are some very nice illustrations by Nanao Saikawa scattered throughout the book. And all this for $8.95. Who could ask for anything more?

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