Light Novel Review: Book Girl and the Wayfarer’s Lamentation [Volume 5]

It’s the beginning of a new year, and while the day that Tohko will leave to go to college is approaching soon, Konoha’s relationship with Kotobuki is developing with their New Year’s date. But when Kotobuki suddenly gets hospitalized, Konoha reunites with the girl he fell in love with long ago, the same girl that gave him a warm smile as she threw herself off the roof.

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As foreshadowed volumes ago, the time when Konoha would meet Miu would come up soon. Book Girl and the Wayfarer’s Lamentation finally tells the full story behind Konoha and Miu’s history and how their current relationship affects the other characters involved with them.

When Konoha meets Miu, he’s astonished by the mere sight of seeing her again. As the both of them try to run to each other, Miu collapses on the ground and Konoha catches her in his hands, all in front of Kotobuki. Miu tells Konoha that Kotobuki was saying awful stuff to her while Kotobuki defends herself from the claim. Confused by the sudden reunion, Konoha rushes to Miu’s side, but is still apprehensive about his actions and Kotobuki’s feelings.

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This volume specializes on the drama between Konoha’s previous love interest Miu and Konoha’s current friends. The novel pits Miu and his friends, and Konoha has to decide who to align himself with. While you can argue that Konoha is at fault for being blinded by  his love for Miu, but as we’ve seen in the past volumes by his constant traumas, Konoha is bound by Miu emotionally. Konoha knows that his friends don’t have malicious intent, but if something bad happened to Miu, he wouldn’t be able to take the burden. Either way, picking one option over the other has its own consequences and the novel takes us into Konoha’s inner thoughts about this conflict.

Miu is a mixed bag of explosive emotions. She has missed Konoha since their parting and appears to have an obsession with him. However, within the first few chapters, we can immediately figure out that the one writing the monologues is Miu expressing her raw hateful emotions about Konoha. With her contrasting personalities and unpredictable behavior, we are left wondering what is her true feelings about him and why she feels that way. The novel uses Kenji Miyazawa’s Night of the Milky Way Railroad as inspiration for this volume as Konoha takes us along as he gathers more information about Miu.

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The other previously known characters also get wrapped up into this dilemma involving Konoha and Miu. Konoha’s relationships with Kotobuki and Akutagawa were going well until Miu came into the mix. Chia and Ryuto also serve an important part in helping Konoha figure out Miu’s feelings. And last but not least, Tohko yet again serves as a haven of solace for our characters, most especially Konoha. It’s the friendship between Konoha and his friends that give a strong measure of how their bonds have grown, resulting in a shocking moment close to the end of the book.

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In the past volume, Nomura’s writing was vocal and descriptive with how Konoha thinks about Miu. It accentuates how much Konoha is preoccupied with Miu. Now that Miu is actually in front of Konoha, there’s even more emphasis through Konoha’s perspective. There is a certain scene that sticks out in my mind, where Konoha clips the toenails of Miu, and Nomura details every aspect of that behavior in very alluring, almost seductive, manner through the eyes of Konoha.

With the series reaching the climax of the overall plot, Miho Takeoka has taken the opportunity to capitalize on the tone of the story with her color illustrations. The choice of color palette consists of cool tints of blue and varying shades of gray, illustrating the winter setting and the melancholy atmosphere. Building on this is the excellent manga panel framing of the cast. Each character has a distinct accent color or feature that sets them apart but the shared expressions of sadness shows much everyone is affected by Konoha and Miu’s conflict. Finally, the third color illustration shows off Konoha meeting Miu, and by the straightforward text, the alluring character expression of Miu, and the foreboding maroon color, creates a very haunting illustration.

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And so the tale of Konoha’s somber history with Miu comes to a warm, uplifting, and resolute ending. It’s an ending that displays the series’ central theme of learning to understand each other, even if it causes pain and suffering. Because as we go through difficulties in life, we are able to heal and grow as human beings and move forward towards the future. Most of the characters have grown at this point and this volume shows us how far they’ve grown. And like our characters, we will continue to the next volumes in Book Girl, as we still have a side story and the final act to look forward to.

Rating: Highly Recommended

Afterword:

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Author: Mizuki Nomura

Illustrator: Miho Takeoka

Translator: Karen McGillicuddy

English Publisher: Yen Press

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