Popular Hits of the Showa Era (昭和歌謡大全集 / Shōwa Kayō Daizenshū) is the first book that I’ve read by Ryu Murakami (村上 龍 / Murakami Ryū). It’s quite interesting how I discovered this book. I was originally looking for additional novels to read by my #1 favourite Japanese author, Haruki Murakami, and I grabbed this book by mistake because it was beside Haruki Murakami’s books on the shelf. It was only later that I realized the book was written by another Murakami. No wonder it’s so short! But being the voracious reader that I am, I just shrugged my shoulders and read the book, even if it wasn’t written by Haruki Murakami but by Ryu Murakami.
Popular Hits of the Showa Era by Ryu Murakami
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Rating: 😀 😀 😀 🙂 (3 & 1/2 grins)
Blurb at Goodreads:
In his most irreverent novel yet, Ryu Murakami creates a rivalry of epic proportions between six aimless youths and six tough-as-nails women who battle for control of a Tokyo neighborhood. At the outset, the young men seem louche but harmless, their activities limited to drinking, snacking, peering at a naked neighbor through a window, and performing karaoke. The six “aunties” are fiercely independent career women. When one of the boys executes a lethal ambush of one of the women, chaos ensues. The women band together to find the killer and exact revenge. In turn, the boys buckle down, study physics, and plot to take out their nemeses in a single blast. Who knew that a deadly “gang war” could be such fun? Murakami builds the conflict into a hilarious, spot-on satire of modern culture and the tensions between the sexes and generations.
As you just read from the blurb above, it has an intriguing premise. Popular Hits of the Showa Era is translated in English by Ralph F. McCarthy and he did an excellent job at that.
Teenage Guys VS. Oba-sans
What I like the most in this book is the thrill of reading how the two warring groups retaliate against each other. I think that the choice of characters is excellent. You won’t normally think that a story about a group of below-average, nerdy group of male teens and a group of accomplished “oba-sans” will be interesting, but I must say that Ryu Murakami weaved a superbly entertaining story using these unlikely group of characters.
These two groups in themselves are very “normal”, but Murakami thrusts them into unbelievable situations and makes them act in ways that distorts common sense. Long story short, they start murdering each other, plotting their crimes with over-the-top details that’ll make James Bond look like a greenhorn (okay, I’m exaggerating. . .but only a little).
Extremely Bloody, Violent & Gory. . .and Did I Say VIOLENT?
Now this book is definitely not for everyone. Although I highly recommend it, don’t take my word for it especially if you’re weak against gore and violence. But let me just say that it’s an extremely, extremely, EXTREMELY funny novel. Like I Am a Cat by Sōseki Natsume, you’ll feel guilty for enjoying this book.
I may sound like a total psychopath to you for declaring that I’m entertained by such a violent and bloody book as Popular Hits of the Showa Era, but I promise that I’m a decent and kind and gentle (I like to believe) human being. I just love reading books and I tend to be open-minded with what I read. I had to, especially since one of my life’s purpose is to discover the greatest stories in the universe.
Although Popular Hits of the Showa Era is not the “greatest” story I’ve read so far, it’s one of the most entertaining, albeit an extremely violent and gory one. Also take comfort in the fact that I felt a twinge of guilt for liking it. Just a twinge, though. After all, I’m first and foremost a curious reader.
Not a Big Time Investment
l don’t know whether this is a good or bad thing, but this is a very short book with only 192 pages. I personally prefer loooooooooooooooong books like the ones written by the other Murakami, Haruki Murakami, but I’m not complaining that much because Popular Hits of the Showa Era ended well.
So if you haven’t read any of Ryu Murakami’s books yet and don’t want to invest a lot of time reading a book by someone you’re not familiar with, then this is a good book to try because it’s so short. It won’t be a big time investment. I literally read through the whole thing during lunch time.
Read This If You Want Something Dark Yet Funny
I can’t guarantee that you’ll like it as much as I did. Its dark humour may not appeal to you, but you won’t know unless you try, right?
Have you read Popular Hits of the Showa Era by Ryu Murakami yet? What did you think of it? If not yet, is it something you’d like to try?
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