June 2012, the time when the first volume of the Mahou Shoujo Ikusei Keikaku series came out wasn’t the first time Endou Asari had the attention of light novel readers in Japan. In September 2011, his debut novel was released. Titled Bishoujo wo Kirai na Kore Dake no Riyuu, or My Slight Reason For Hating Pretty Girls, it was one of the winners of KonoRano Bunko’s yearly newcomer prize. One of the judges was Kuriyama Chiaki and the novel received a prize named after her. I learned about it at Maijar Suishin Iinkai while googling for MahoIku-related trivia and since Endou Asari’s series of novels about deathgames with magical girls are some of the most memorable stories out of what I’ve been reading in recent memory, I decided to give it a go not long ago to see what it’s like. Especially since I haven’t read any books in Japanese for a while.
What is Bishoujo? In the world of the novel, they’re more than just pretty girls. They’re Pretty Girls, or maybe even Prettygirls. They’re a mysterious race (sic) of beautiful and able beings who coexist with humans. They can be categorised into types as well, as if they’re Pokemon. The story even presents the reader a “creation of the world” myth explaining how Bishoujo came to be. Contrarily to their name, they don’t need to be female – there are male Bishoujo as well. No outward differences between genders is a feature of their species, apparently. Prettygirls have had an important place in the history of civilization, but recently, they have completely overrun the world and made the inferior humans surrender before their greatness. They’re the world’s celebrities and rulers now. Cut to a town in the boondocks where a highschooler, Amano Yuusuke, an “honorary Bishoujo” is visited by two Prettygirls and reluctantly lets his home become a local branch of The Bishoujo Organization, a vaguely sinister powerful entity which decided to increase its influence over the Japanese province. From now on, he’ll be their manager…
While reading, I couldn’t help but compare this book to MahoIku. Aren’t Bishoujo like magical girls? I’ll jump the gun here, but I can’t deny that it’s worse. The story hardly has a spine – things just happen one after another without a clear and relatable goal to reach. Unless opening a maid cafe, which eventually happens in the epilogue, counts. One could say that the author readied a sturdy skeleton for the story to shine, by which I mean the unique, strange world the story is happening in. Bishoujo resembles MahoIku, but it’s also a bit similar to one other unexpected story: Boku no Imouto wa Kanji ga Yomeru, also known as SisKan – the famous meme novel about the world overrun by moe culture. Except, Bishoujo doesn’t really squeeze that world off all its potential – it might make you laugh once or twice with a bizarre gag and that’s it.
Together with the protag (who’s absolutely devoid of any personality, by the way), live two Prettygirls. The first one, Sabrina, isn’t a teenage witch, but close – she’s a vampire. In contrast to her cute name, she’s actually a dude. A male Bishoujo – everybody calls her Sabu-san. The novel never quite explains if she’s a middle-aged man named Saburou who one day turned into a moeblob or if she somehow always was like this, but she speaks and behaves like a jovial uncle, only sometimes letting the world know that he hides a maidenly heart inside. Balancing out her carefreeness is the class president type, Yamada Iroha… except her name is written with runes you’d usually read as “Gorouhachi” and she’s addressed as “Grandpa”. Because she’s a dude too.
If there is any meat on that narrative skeleton, it’s the characters. In this novel, Endou Asari invests his all into character building, by the means of the characters’ deeds, things they talk about, the interactions between them, and their voices (idiolects). The plot, with its logicality and the need to compel, be damned. Whatever you say about Bishoujo, you can’t deny it some juicy characters, radiating personality. Another common point with MahoIku. And, just like in his later works, Endou-sensei made sure to make a high percentage of the cast into silly but cute incomprehensible dunces. Kuriyama Chiaki’s quote on the book’s obi belt states this exact feature as the reason why Bishoujo won her prize.
So, what actually happens in “Bishoujo wo Kirai na Kore Dake no Riyuu”? Amano Yuusuke goes to school. Talks to his mates from the manga club. Its unofficial leader, obsessed with maids, wants to create a maid cafe and asks for cooperation. An official inspector, a Bishoujo herself, comes to the Amano house to check how their conquest of the countryside is going. The local branch is sent to help hold a camp for some children. Later, they’re asked to retrieve a ninja-type Bishoujo from the forest. Then, as the final test before they’re allowed to open a maid cafe, they’re supposed to undergo an “interview”. Turns out they’re going to be conversing with their fists – a WMD-class Bishoujo is sent by the Bishoujo Organization to fight them. They’re not that different from the Magical Kingdom – people in high positions just love making you jump through flaming hoops, in all possible worlds. After a long and outrageous battle involving lightsabers, an artificial sun launched into the sky, and using ten guns at once (one for each finger), Sabu-san wins using her Alucard-style powers. And they lived happily ever after. Out of all that, I wouldn’t mind seeing that last battle in animated form. Oh boy. Other than that, nothing super interesting ever happens. So, it’s a rather typical light novel. It’s all an excuse for the Prettygirls to talk and show off their personalities anyway.
Bishoujo wo Kirai na Kore Dake no Riyuu is an easily skippable novel. Curiosity about its possible similarity to MahoIku was what compelled me to give it a spin, and that curiosity was satisfied. I read this so you don’t have to. Therefore, I would not recommend reading it to anyone. And if you do anyway, mind that Endou Asari likes to throw the reader a curveball once in a while by using rare and difficult Japanese for its own sake. I hope you know a lot of obscure literary-sounding phrases…