Book Review: In/Spectre Volume 1

February 17, 2017

In/Spectre Volume 1 cover

I hope that everybody is had a good week, as freedom from the monotony will soon arrive.

Things have been going fairly well, and I was planning to take a break, since the final of the preorders from Amazon would arrive soon, but around the time I found out that I had a request from a Patreon donor, I had my eye on a few books, and I decided to get those eight or so titles, one of which comes out the same day that my other preorders are expected to arrive, and should come with them, since they were ordered through the same exact means.

Today, I will be reviewing one of those titles, which is called In/Spectre Volume 1 by Chashiba Katase.

There are many things that happen in the world that cannot be explained in a world of science, where things can be learned through observation and experimentation, and many do not want to acknowledge such events.

However, Kotoko Iwanaga, who was just an ordinary girl until something happened when she was 11, can see and communicate with entities thought to be myth and is on the trail of an apparition that is wreaking havoc, and to deal with it, she decides to pull in an innocent bystander, who seems to frighten the very being she promised to serve, and others are forced to consider that the recent events might just be something that cannot be explained beyond the superstitious.

After having had to deal with the uneventful experience that was The Whistler, I feel like I could use a good break, and, while this is not necessarily a break, I can say that this was a breath of fresh air.

From the moment that I first opened this book, I did not want to stop reading for any reason, even though I have to satisfy the same needs that every human must satisfy.

Seeing as this is an adaptation of a novel called Invented Inference: Steel Lady Nanase, as brought up by the original author, Kyo Shirodaira, and a few other sites mention, this does seem to be kind of surprising, considering how there are a ton of adaptations produced where I live that just fails to live up to the hype of the original, at least if it is any good beyond the praises that publishers have on or in the book and the online retailers have listed on the product pages.

Then again, I guess it goes to show that Chashiba Katase is a pretty competent writer, because Kyo Shirodaira states in this book that he or she technically let Chashiba have as much free reign over the manga adaptation as movie studios have over movie adaptations of books published where I live, according to a blog post written by Jane Friedman, which I linked to back in my review of Yu Yu Hakusho Volume 10, and is the reason why I am only giving Chashiba the credit of being the author, even if Chashiba is not the original author, and adaptations themselves are not all that bad, with some being better than the original.

Of course, what impresses me the most is that this series is the only work attributed to Chashiba Katase that I can dig up from quick online searches, and he or she is already doing something that I expect from experienced mangaka, like Jun Mochizuki and Hiromu Arakawa, and big name authors, such as Stephen King and John Grisham, though I have not read anything from the former and the latter has disappointed me beyond redemption, in spite of the fact that I only read two of his books, and that deserves quite a bit of praise.

Hopefully, Chashiba Katase can maintain my interest in future works, since I did buy the first two volumes of this series to test the waters, because John Grisham was definitely not able to even do that much, and he has been writing long enough to know how to get and keep readers interested.

If I do get disappointed, it would mean that this work was just a fluke, but, for now, I am only hoping to see the kind of improvement that Weston Kincade made up until now, as readers want to see writers improve over the course of their careers.

I also liked how I am already getting mystery vibe.

While the original work was only one book, according a series page on Baka Updates manga, and this series will have seven volumes out around November of this year, according to Barnes & Noble, I expect nothing less than I have I gotten here because a mystery element is necessary to make any work of fiction hold the interest of the reader, and it makes want to read the next volume right now.

It kind of funny that manga gets a lot of things right that prose fiction published in my country cannot, but that is probably because manga is serialized as chapters on a regular basis, with releases being anywhere from weekly to quarterly, from what I know about, and the books that are popular in the mainstream here are written as a complete story, as opposed to being serialized like manga and the original publications of some of Arthur Conan Doyle's works, so it is much more important for chapters to have some kind of hook.

Honestly, fiction would be a whole lot if writers learn why the mystery element is so vital, but, unfortunately, many works of fiction do not have that important piece of a good story, and end up being predictable and poorly executed.

After all, Chashiba is doing great work so far, even if I am not too sure that I can call this a mystery series quite yet, though Kyo Shirodaira promises that the series will become much more of a mystery, due to how faithful the manga has been to the novel, which I cannot verify because the novel was never published where I live and I cannot find a place where I could buy the novel, if I were a person that could read the various systems Japan uses to write things down, nor are there any fan translations of the novel, which makes me want to give Chashiba a big round of applause.

I also liked how there was quite a bit to laugh about in this series.

While I cannot say that it is much different from the usual kind of humor found in manga, it was at least refreshing because of the boring moments in the everyday lives of the characters in John Grisham's latest book and helped to make the average lives of the characters in this work that much more enjoyable.

Now, I do not expect somebody like John Grisham to start putting in all of the same old humorous and over-the-top antics found in anime and manga, such as Kuroko Shirai making advances on Mikoto Misaka in A Certain Scientific Railgun, which are hilarious in the manga, yet borders annoying in the anime, mainly due to the fact that it happens way too much in the anime, but the lives of people in general are rather boring and having some kind of humor present makes those moments a lot more enjoyable, though it also helps if the characters themselves are interesting.

This is why I find manga and anime to be a whole more enjoyable than the bulk of what gets published or broadcasted here, even if there are some those grating moments for me, because most mangaka make the lives of their characters much more interesting, other than the fact that many of them at least feature a story, whereas only prose fiction and a few television series found here have a story of any kind, let alone an interesting story, and Chashiba seems to know the importance of this aspect quite well. Nice job, Chashiba.

The thing that I liked the most though was how the main enemy has already shown their face.

Now, the official summary for this series that can be found on the series page on Kodansha's website does suggest that this might not be the only thing that gives Kuro and Kotoko troubles, and I do not know in what direction Chashiba will take this series, but the name of the original novel suggests that everything that the two main characters are going through has something to do with the apparition that first appears at the end of this volume and the possible secrets behind her, which means that she is either the antagonist of the series or a primary antagonist, and people like that do not show up and make themselves known early on, otherwise the Detective Conan community would have already known the identity of the boss of Black Org, and supposedly its true name, at this point in time.

Because of things happening like this, I am extremely interested in finding out what happens next to the point where I want to stop writing this review and read the next volume already, though that would then make it harder for me to remember what issues existed and determine if the author has improved, as well as give me other difficulties with things I do not necessarily want to become more difficult at this moment in time.

Keep this up, Chashiba, and you might be able to stand in the same spotlight as Jun Mochizuki.

Outside of those things, I cannot think of anything else that I particularly liked, at least that could stand on its own.

Because the book held my interest from beginning to end, in spite of being an adaptation of a foreign novel, had a mystery vibe and a good bit of humor, albeit not the most original, and that a main enemy from the original novel showed up, this book was a fairly decent book.

Although I liked the book, there are some issues.

However, aside from issues too minor to talk about, only one thing really bothered me.

The pilot chaptered seemed to be a bit too long.

Yes, the pilot chapter of a manga series is long, when compared to the rest of the series, since it has to introduce the characters and let us get to know them a bit, as well as set up the story, which it certainly does, but the first chapter of most manga I have read all feel like everything I am getting really is a single chapter, and many times leaves me stunned that I have reached the end of the chapter.

Here, however, I do not get that feeling at all.

While I read the pilot chapter, I felt like I was reading two chapters instead of one complete chapter.

What the heck? This volume was supposed to have only two chapters and a bonus, according to the Table of Contents, and there are definitely only those three thing and translation notes, but it feels like there is more to the actual content than what Kodansha include.

As much as I want to harp on Kodansha though, I cannot because the online scans appear to have the same problem, which means that the problem lies with Chashiba Katase.

Now, I will admit that I do not know too much about Chashiba Katase, and from what I could find, this seems to be that individual's work, but I really think that Chashiba should have taken a long at other manga and saw how the pilot chapters of those works flowed seamlessly front beginning to end, because I do not want to feel like I am in a new chapter when I am not.

In fact, how did this even get the okay of the editors over in Japan? Kodansha has many publications over in Japan with different target audiences, and they should have people fully aware of what makes a good manga, but they really slipped the ball here.

If I were to try and fix this, I would have actually had the chapter end right when Kotoko is shown looking towards the window and then list there being more two chapters in the Table of Content, because that feels like a better pointing.

Unfortunately, the people over in Japan that compile manga chapters into volumes are the only ones that get any say if things are change from how they were found in the various magazine publications, such as Weekly Shonen Jump, so I guess I will just have to deal with it, especially because I have been away from manga for a few days longer than I originally planned to be, so I am probably still in a mode where I am looking for issues in prose fiction.

On the other hand, I do not feel like letting anybody off the hook here for making me think that there was more than what is actually present, so I am willing to downgrade this to just a minor issue.

Fortunately, this was the only issue, and I am not give reason to abandon this as quickly as Not Lives and A Certain Scientific Accelerator.

While there was only one issue, which may have been because of the time I spent away from manga, the issue was bad enough to take the quality of this series down a peg or two.

Despite the fact that there was an issue that made me think that Kodansha USA messed things, when they did not, the good balanced things out enough to make this worth reading.

I recommend this to fans of Kyo Shirodaira and anybody who wants to check out something new, though I cannot guarantee that it will be completely unique.

As for everyone else, this might be worth giving a try, as it has a lot going for it, and any Japanese honorifics present so far are not anything more formal than a mister, miss, and misses kind of thing.

If you have read this book, what are your thoughts on In/Spectre Volume 1? Please leave a comment letting everyone know why you liked or hated it, especially if your reasons differ from mine, and, if you were lucky enough to have read the original novel, if Kyo Shirodaira, the original author, was correct about this being a faithful adaptation or not.

Also, if you liked this review and would like to see more, please consider supporting me on Patreon, so that I can continue finding good manga and other books to read.

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