Book Review - Real World by Natsuo Kirino
''In a crowded Tokyo suburb, four teenage girls indifferently wade their way through a hot, smoggy summer. When one of them, Toshi, discovers that her next-door neighbor has been brutally murdered, the girls suspect the killer is the neighbor's son. But when he flees, taking Toshi's bike and cell phone with him, the four girls get caught up in a tempest of dangers that arise from within them as well as from the world around them. Psychologically intricate and astute, Real World is a searing, eye-opening portrait of teenage life in Japan unlike any we have seen before.''
''When I was young there were times I wanted to kill my old man and some of my teachers - but I never thought of killing my mum'' p29.
''Whenever I ran across her at the station, she'd nod a hello, but for some reason, I couldn't nod back. I know you might think that's no big deal, but I started to feel inferior to her'' p77
'' The women who gave birth to me, raised me, ordered me around, yelled at me, turned me into a sex maniac, who complained all the time, was dead'' p85.
''Early on the morning of August tenth, our home phone rang. It had to be either a salesman or a relative. Other people would just call each of our cellphones, which made a phone call coming in the morning all the more ominous'' p188
Natsuo Kirino captures the heartbeat of real urban Japan the fear, anxiety, paranoia and deep cultural mindset that sets the scene for all actions. In this novel, she fully exposes the different worlds of men and women that is molded by different values, beliefs, and customs. In fact, they are so far apart it seems crazy how they could ever connect.
The pressure of trying to be perfect, associating with brand names, showing off, competing with your neighbours, putting up with crazy rules that make no sense and the boredom of life as a teenager with no money, living with your parents and having to follow all their weird practices explodes in violence during the stifling high humidity of a Japanese summer. Mole the teenage nickname of Toshi's neighbor gets pushed by his Mum just one step too far, he reacts with his metal baseball bat and the outcome is tragic.
He then runs and Toshi and her three girlfriends help him out while he is on the run. Natsuo Kirino digs deep into the culture to reveal the fears, insecurities and broken thought processes that fill teenagers heads when they have to deal with something serious and important like death and murder. They avoid it and focus on the fun like kids do.
Raw, gritty and edgy, a story that one can imagine is straight out of the newspaper but filled in with a background that you never get, as it only runs for a few days and disappears into oblivion with all the other crazy crimes.