Wednesday, January 14, 2015

No.6

No.6 by Atsuko Asano (Volumes 1-9 + Side Stories)


This work was never officially translated in to English, I was only able to read it thanks to the amazing translator at 9th-ave.blogspot.com. Much thanks to her for her time and diligence!
I originally found out about these light novels via the anime that was made for the series back in 2011, so I thought I knew the story already and had been looking forward to reading the novels. I thought that I understood it to the best extent that I possibly could since I'd watched the anime multiple times and read all I could find translated of the manga.
I could not have been more wrong.  


Synopsis:
(I've included two since the first is only the synopsis for the first volume.)


The year is 2013, in the city of No. 6 - the city that embodies the highest ideals of humankind. Shion has been raised here as a high-ranking elite since the age of two, but on the night of his twelfth birthday, his fate is turned upside-down when he meets a boy who calls himself Nezumi. Why did I open the window that night? I would never have needed to know what it was like to fight, starve, or suffer in anguish.... 
(Source:9thave.blogspot.com)

 Shion is a bright boy living in the controlled utopia No.6. One day during a typhoon, he harbors a wounded boy, Nezumi, who is on the run from the law. The authorities find out and banish Shion to the lower sector of the city. Years later, Shion discovers a disease running rampant through the city – a disease that instantly ages the host and births a wasp. Shion is too be executed for this knowledge but he is rescued by Nezumi and together the two grow closer and wage battle against the city. 
(Source:Nihonreview.com)

Personal Opinion:
I have quite a few opinions on this one, and for multiple reasons. I only hope I am able to capture all of them.
The first is that I've adored this story and these characters for a very long time, almost 4 years in fact.
Nezumi had my heart from the very beginning with his elegant grey eyes and beauty and Shion, too, with his unique way of seeing the world, always seeing the good rather than the bad. I've loved them for a long time. So when I finally started to read the light novels, I felt like I was visiting with an old friend that I hadn't seen in a while and we were simply catching up.
See... I thought I knew the story. I thought I knew, but I should have known that anything on screen adapted from a book would never be able to fit all of it's true glory.
The rawness of the story didn't get to hit me until after I read the words for myself. 
This story is so relevant that it took my breath away. Why isn't it translated officially? I asked myself, the story did well enough to get an anime in Japan, which is a pretty big deal. So why, why on earth is it not being mass marketed? Well, let me tell you why I think it isn't.
The main characters are heavily hinted at being gay.
I also feel that this is why the series got so popular in the first place, and this upsets me, but not for the reason you'll probably think.
This story has so much more to offer than gay protagonists. SO. MUCH. MORE.
Don't get me wrong, I adore Nezumi and Shion's relationship. I ship it so hard that for a very long time Nezumi and Shion were my desktop wallpaper and I'm contemplating putting it back.
However, in a story about “utopian” city that thrives on the destruction of everything around it, I wish that the moral of the story would have been in the limelight rather than the characters sexualities, but alas, I can not control what people take from a story.
I took a lot of valuable things from this story. I learned and realized things about human nature and people. I learned things about government and complacency. I learned that even the most purest of intentions can morph in to something else completely. Greed can take over a person and they might not even realize it.
Yet, all it seems like anyone else saw was the adorable gay boys.
(heavy sigh)
In the novel it was flat out stated that the feelings the boys felt for each other weren't always romantic, just extremely protective.
In the beginning the boys meet when Nezumi has escaped from a hellish prison inside of the heart of the walled in city-state called No.6, Shion, an Elite child who had grown up without knowing pain, hunger or strife, harbors Nezumi, who has grown up with nothing but without so much as a second thought. Shion treats Nezumi's wounds and gives him a place to sleep, all while knowing that all of his privileges as and Elite will be stripped from him if it is ever found out.
Shion's privileges get stripped after Nezumi is gone, which is only the beginning. 

Nezumi learned from Shion that people can be kind and warm.
Shion learned from Nezumi that not everything is as it appears. 

The boys were protective of each other, at first that was it.
Through the course of the story, the two of them, after meeting again at a point where it's Nezumi's turn to protect Shion, uncover the disturbing truth that lurks under the peaceful facade of No.6 and together they work to bring it down.
It's so much more than just gay boys. I want to scream that from the rooftops. In fact, more often than not, Nezumi is trying to beat some sense into Shion. 

I suppose I have such a deep attachment to the other parts of this story because they mirror my fears of the future. The things that happen in this novel; The murder to avoid conflict, the loyalty that the citizens are forced to swear to the city lest they lose their jobs, the search for a way to have absolute control over the citizens. It's really not that far of a stretch. I can see it happening already and it's terrifying.
Like I said, this story is about so much more than what it seems like.
I hope that someday I can read an official translation.

Favorite Quotes:


Break it.

Destroy it.

Destroy what?

Everything.

Everything?




Earnest words were heavy things.  


“We're going to hell together.” The arm around his waist grew tighter. “But we're coming back alive. Don't forget that, Shion.”  





 Overall Rating


5/5 

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