Review copy provided by Haikasoru Books. Haikasoru is also listed on the cover as the editor, but Mamatas and Washington are listed as the editors on the title page, so since that information is available I’m using it.
“Hanzai,” for those who are not aware, is basically “crime”: this is a Japanese speculative crime fiction anthology. Rather than choosing to focus on one niche of crime fiction, one niche of speculative fiction, or one way of involving Japan/Japanese-ness, it aims at being a broad-spectrum collection. It succeeds admirably at that–for those who are fond of the “hookers and meth” end of one genre or the vampire end of another, that stuff is in there. For those who are me, there’s still a lot to like. Here are some of the stories I really felt stood out.
Genevieve Valentine, “dis.” Creepy and atmospheric exploration of its crumbling setting. Vivid post-industrial details. Made my skin crawl in the best way.
Yumeaki Hirayama, “Monologue of a Universal Transverse Mercator Projection.” Translated by Nathan A. Collins. Probably my favorite story of the collection, it is, in fact, what it says on the tin: the map’s perspective. And what crimes the map is privy to–party to–the map’s desires and motivations and fears–the map’s unique voice–all of these things sum to make “Monologue of a Universal Transverse Mercator Projection” a truly unique construction. Delightful.
Brian Evenson, “Best Interest.” PowerPoint. Using a famous Japanese entity to one’s own ends. Highly entertaining.
Carrie Vaughn, “The Girl Who Loved Shonen Knife.” The voice on this story was just note-perfect. If you know the Very! Enthusiastic! Teenage! Girl! Voice! from a lot of anime, it’s that. And she’s got a cover band! And the end of the world will not stop her cover band! It is hilarious good fun with tropes and characterization.
Violet LeVoit, “The Electric Palace.” A complete 180 from the above story, this is very vivid and atmospheric, full of sensory detail in chiaroscuro.
Please consider using our link to buy Hanzai Japan from Amazon.