Wednesday, July 04, 2007
The Crimson Labyrinth (Yusuke Kishi)
Mr. Kishi actually tells you how his The Crimson Labyrinth will end. I had time to listen to him while I waited to board my flight from Kalibo, and kept on reading 26,000 feet in the air. Given the circumstances, I can't pinpoint why I couldn't put the book down: either it was really good or I just didn't want to spend two good hours doing nothing.
Or better yet, it was fairly decent and reading it was far from a waste of my time. Yeah. That must be it.
The Crimson Labyrinth, translated by Masami Isetani and Camellia Nieh, benefits from Mr. Kishi's almost instructional and extremely expository manner, which clearly depicts the unforgiving setting of this Battle Royale-meets-Lord of the Flies thriller. It's a psychological study peppered with an idiot's guide to the Australian outback. Very informative--even fun.
I didn't care much for the protagonist, though. Fujiki Yoshihiko is a forty-year old ex-broker down on his luck, but I feel that his is the type of personality that can be easily replaced by a thirty-year old schoolteacher or a mid-twenties recovering heroin addict and the story would still move. The story, after all, does not invest in him as much as it does on the whole plot, which is exciting enough if you try not to guess what comes next. Granted, that last twist was something I didn't completely predict, and I give Mr. Kishi major points for that.
The story is tight and well-paced, awarding the reader a glimpse of the fear and paranoia that would beset any unexpected contestant in a grisly reality show. Mr. Kishi has certainly gone to great lengths laying out how this weird game will play out, from the Pocket Game Kids to the checkpoints and the strange tandem of Platy and Lucifer. I suppose if I were in Fujiki's shoes, I really wouldn't last more than five hours in a game like this, so it was an education, in a way.
So Labyrinth was a bit predictable, yes, but in the end, it was still satisfying. Kept me turning the page. Convinced me that I was seeing all this unfold before my eyes. RPG was never this nightmarishly fun.