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Hanzai Japan: Fantastical, Futuristic Stories of Crime From and About Japan Paperback – October 20, 2015
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About the Author
Contributors include New York Times best-seller Carrie Vaughn, All You Need Is KILL/Edge of Tomorrow's Hiroshi Sakurazaka, Catwoman's Genevieve Valentine, mystery genre stalwarts S. J. Rozan and Naomi Hirahara, cross-genre author Jeff Somers, and many more.
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Those four alone are worth the price of admission but there's some really great stuff in here.
I thought (.dis) by Genevieve Valentine kicked things off in style. It's a crime story that had the haunting and atmospheric inflections of Japanese writer Yasunari Kawabata. I got a kick out of Ray Banks' sumo story too and Violet LeVoit's sneaky-good Electric Palace, which was a creative way of discussing the hierarchies of traditional Japanese society in a manner that reminded me of Satoshi Kon.
My two favorite stories though were JIGOKU by Naomi Hirahara and THE SAITAMA CHAIN SAW MASSACRE by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, which are so good I'm not even going to spoil but if you, like me, are an early-period Takashi Miike fan, you're not going to be disappointed. Very enjoyable collection over all. Not all the stories worked for me, but I had a blast with the ones that did.
Hanzai Japan, like The Future is Japanese and Phantasm Japan before it, manages to dial in on anthology excellence with a strong selection of stories that are both diverse and focused, and consistently above-average. Combining Japanese work in translation with pieces from English-language authors who have the chops to treat Japan as a real setting and not just a cyberpunk wonderland has worked out beautifully for this series. This third entry focuses on crime stories with a fantastic element, the peanut butter and chocolate of crossed genres. The stories you will find here range all the way from fun romps to haunting meditations on human frailty and perversity.
Stand-out stories included "Run!" by Kaori Fujino, the first fresh take on 'inside the mind of a serial killer' that I have seen in many a long day; Carrie Vaughn's "The Girl Who Loved Shonen Knife", an entertaining nod to teenage fandom that is both knowing and energetic; the dream-like "Sky Spider" by Yusuke Miyauchi; and not one but two stories in which maps play an important role - "[dis.]" by the always-excellent Genevieve Valentine and "Monologue of a Universal Transverse Mercator Projection" by Yumeaki Hirayama, a striking story that reads as though Hans Christian Anderson and Edgar Allan Poe had a baby who was brought forward in time and reared on the work of James Cain.
If you have any love at all for crime, the fantastic, or Japan, you should definitely check this out.