Hi there. Remember Seikai Suru Kado, that sci-fi anime that wasn’t sure whether its for or against progress? This time, I’m gonna write about a different work by Nozaki Mado, a comedic story collection from 2012 titled Nozaki Mado Gekijou. The stories were being serialized in Dengeki Bunko Magazine – that was my first contact with Mado. An issue I’ve once bought contained Mori no Ongakudan. The book consists of 24 stories out of which 17 were old content from the magazine, while the remaining 7 are never-before published content, and some of them are stated explicitly as having been rejected. Later, in 2015, a second volume of stories by Mado was published under the title 野崎まど劇場(笑). By the way, the picture on the cover’s flaps shows Mado as a woman, but a picture from his entry on MAL shows a dude, so… the question of Nozaki Mado’s gender remains a mystery. In this post, I’m not going to write about all of the stories in this volume, but only a certain few of them…
#1 Gunfight at the Deadman City
Wild West, where people talk in Japanese occasionally throwing in an English word or two. An armed villain has come to town, but thankfully, the local sheriff is around to defend its population. Then, time slows down and their gunfight is presented step after step, together with ASCII art showing the current state of the showdown… I think I’ve seen pages from it on Yaraon once, with obligatory “can you believe this shit?” kind of comments.
#4 Mori no Ongakudan
Written in a very simple, children-friendly style, with hardly any kanji, Mori no Ongakudan is the story of three animals: Rabbit, Lion and Pig (who’s a naked dude making pig noises, as it turns out). They’re supposed to give a concert soon, but being as good at making music as animals usually are, they ask the forest’s witch to be their producer. However, the witch kills a mouse that had the gall to criticize them and, having commited murder, the animal orchestra has to escape from the forest. But, a blessing in disguise, that enables the trio to finally make it big. That isn’t the only terrible thing that happens in the story, though.
#7 Bus Jack
Stories whose author came up with the title first are the best, are they not? No, they’re not. This one isn’t about hijacking a bus, but a serial killer in 19th century London who kills by carrying a *bus* in hand and crushing women with it… Before his next victim dies, however, she’ll engage in a long dialogue with Jack about how ridiculous his existence is and how it could possibly be made more believable and comprehensible…
The Demon Lord, together with his second-in-command is designing a dungeon while waiting for The Chosen One to challenge him. The Maou proves to be a very bad architect, however, as the pictures accompanying the story show. So bad that the maze where the Big Bad is supposed to be waiting for the Hero and his party might kill him much earlier than any Warriors of Light could. A pretty good bit, I must say.
#11 Design Baby
Far future. The protagonist is an excellent baby designer, able to fiddle with genes to amazing results. The story is all about him bending backwards to meet the increasingly stupid requests from his customers and putting together genomes that adhere to what they want their babies to be… and always delivering, no matter how illogical their demands are. Ingenious!
My absolute favorite story in this collection. A new craze sweeps the Japanese elementary schools – it’s called TKGR. It’s supposed to be a cool-sounding shortened form of “takagari”, which is hunting with falcons. And that’s exactly what this hip new pastime is about. But, as protagonist Sorao is enthusiastically doing his falconry, a smug rival, full
of disdain for hunting for rodents in the fields, appears with a challenge! And so, TKGR shows its true face: it’s a competetive sport revolving around having falcons fight. Sorao loses the fight, but a scientist he meets soon after reveals before him a secret which gives him hope for having his revenge on the other schoolkid… Let’s just say the story ends in a bloody way. TKGR is a parody of shounen manga of the toy-peddling kind, complete with calling your attacks and using dumb English nomenclature for things. It’s dreadful and I absolutely love it.
#17 Yousei Dengeki Sakusen
A rejected story proposal which never found its way to the magazine. For several reasons. A Dengeki fairy comes out from an issue of Dengeki Bunko Magazine and tries to convince a blase schoolkid who threw out the extras attached to his magazine to reconsider.
This is my personal selection of stories I liked. Does the book cast any light on what kind of writer Nozaki Mado is? Not really. They hardly have anything in common with his/her other works. Is this volume worth reading? Not really. Most of the stories make an impression of having been quickly slapped together before a sinisterly approaching deadline. They’re mildly funny at most, usually. Mado does show he/she likes surreal, silly setups, which frankly don’t require much effort. And very weird character names, but every Mado work has that. The best stories in the book are the ones that make you dumbfounded with how badly they treat their characters – the reviews (and the stories themselves!) often feature the exclamation: 酷い！ Or ひどっ！ If you get the kind of situations when the Japanese say that, you know the kind of impression I’m talking about. Do I want to read the second volume? Nah. The first one wasn’t even half as interesting enough to justify that. Sorry, Mado. I might read some of your other novels, though.