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The 2nd Golden Elephant Award 2011, Status of Jury Process.

The 2nd Golden Elephant Award 2011, Status of Jury Process.

Selected for final Qualification not in particular order

Selected for final Qualification not in particular order
  • “Thanks Night” Tatsuo Nemoto
  • “gray to men” Tomotake Ishikawa
  • “At the Café of Owls” Mikito Chinen
  • “Meet Your Suicide Undertaker” Ban Ohki
  • “The Power to Dream” Yasunari Aizu

"Thanks Night" Tatsuo Nemoto

Synopsis

Hidemi Namikawa, an expecting mother, participates an all-you-can-eat buffet called "Thanks Night" at Hisamitsu Department Store where her husband works. Thanks Night is annual invitation-only premiere night when highly selected 12 employees and families can consume anything they crave in the department store. Then the event begins, and all participants satisfy their hunger. As a sudden announcement kicks in and says "inside the food you just consumed there is deadly venom", people panic to get out but soon find themselves locked-in. One by one, they die of severe food poisoning. Hidemi later learns that the plot was initiated by her husband's colleague Ms.Odamaru. Hidemi escapes the scene through exhaust air duct so she can ask Odamaru where the antidote is, but Odamaru had already committed suicide. Hidemi manages to win the gruesome quarrel with others and seize the antidote to survive. Later she learns the true mastermind was Satoru, her husband. She tells him that he is already poisoned by the same virus. She leaves the scene without confirming his life, to meet actual father of soon-to-be-child of hers.

2nd Screening / Critique

Quality of writing is already at publishable level. It reminds of American suspense/ thriller TV series. The set-up, all-you-can-eat secret insider event held at department store, is superb and persuasive. Making the food market area into closed-door solid situation is also convincing, and it is simply a golden concept for mystery. Description of participants consuming food is deliciously done as well.

On top of breathless, roller-coaster genocidal panic thriller story, the author's ability to insert game-esque plot is highly evaluated. Also the author nicely picked contemporary issues of safety of food and diet as topic. However, a lot of settings such as persona and maxim of main female characters and prescriptions of medicine are expedient and so typical that it is hard to imagine readers being attracted to those characters.

Also, it is doubtful if this novel would be adequate in this "present time" situation, for our mission is to publish entertainment genre novel world wide. It is pitiful to read through and experience the sour ending without any hopes.

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"gray to men" Tomotake Ishikawa

Synopsis

Ryotaro Sakuma, a sales person at jewelry dealer, is determined to take his own life away due to harsh bullying by a colleague and the shop owner. One day he encounters a mysterious "gray" costumed man who soon becomes his mentor. The gray man had saved many lives from comitting suicide and formed a gang under his true "objectives" and robs banks and fancy jewelry stores. Gray's real name is Toshihiko Yuzuki whose wife and children had been raped and murdered by underage criminals who were released after only 10 years of jail time. Yuzuki had to come to terms with incapable justice system, but he hated the society and the nation. The nation where only the few enjoy the power of money and control the society, and where the malice to commit a crime is lightly punished…. Therefore, gray had gathered wealth by series of robberies to make an action. Destroy Bank of Japan and Japan Mint so that the nation as system will no longer be effective. The date is set on Christmas Eve.

2nd Screening / Critique

A good story of a heroic bandit. Throughout the novel, story develops in far-fetched manner and in composition of typical cases around vengeance and the character of antagonists. From his own revenge to saving suicide victims, and from solving sex crimes to the grand scheme of distribution of wealth, the large scale of the story surely is attractive. However, because the scene with three ex-convicts of the rape is slow and too stretched out, it seems to require editing and re-composition. As soon as the plot to rob Bank of Japan unfolds, whole action scenes from then on are rhythmically written so that one would not want to finish the book.

On the background, author inserts an episode called "Ikebukuro Case", whose depiction is exceptionally realistic.The plot, simply a girl who is deceived by a pimp named Chu leaks video clips of the prostitution scene and is determined to take vengeance could be a good inspiration for a revenge story. One concern is that although the taste of the story is light, author's message could be read as destructive drive against the stagnant society, which is very much pre-3.11 era. Ultimately one can expect to see more novels from this author for his skills to compose perfect crime mystery with detailed knowledge about prostitution and dark side of the society.

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"At the Café of Owls" Mikito Chinen

Synopsis

One day of summer, Keiichi Jinno a freshman at a college steps into the Owl's Café, a nest where only people with supernatural talent called "the gift" are called into. A gifted talent Mie Yuuki, younger sister of the store owner sees a dream of herself being murdered. To avoid her dream come real, Keiichi gathers talents of the café and begins searching for the antagonist. However, Mie, knowing all her dreams come true in the past, is determined to believe she's doomed. So she decides to walk right into her destiny on the night of fireworks as it appears in her dream. Keiichi follows her and holds tight to his belief of saving her. Finally he encounters the antagonist. Can the doom be shifted away?

2nd Screening / Critique

So-called "supernatural" fiction. But its comedy-orientation reads fresh. Author's skills to depict characters, composition, and broadly entertaining motifs are highly evaluated. The supernatural power or "the gift" is kept reasonable and minor, so each individual needs to work together to achieve a bigger objective, which leads to a good tension of story-telling.

Characters are very colorful, and their rhythmical easy-going chats are such eye soother. Of course the whole plot of solving mysterious serial murder cases is also a page-turner, and action scenes are written in such a pace to elevate hasty tension. This kind of story is also good for a movie or TV series. As a matter of fact, author's style of writing may even be best suited for screenwriting.

Nonetheless the well balanced supernatural settings, to avoid, change, or re-write the destiny can be seen as typical capper of a fantasy genre.

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"Meet Your Suicide Undertaker" Ban Ohki

Synopsis

Toru Kakizaki decides to commit suicide and in search of advice visits Mr.Tsukumo, a comical suicide undertaker after seeing him on suicide portal site "R". Tsukumo's primary profession is private detective, but as a secret gig, he'd help commit suicide if one pays him 1,000,000 yen fee. Toru pays that money, but Tsukumo asks him to fill out a pile of documents one after another until his desire to kill himself turns into a curiosity to know the man better. One day, Toru finds himself living in the detective office and working for Tsukumo. Many clients repeatedly visit Tsukumo even after Toru starts his job there. A young female who claims to be abandoned by a wannabe actor desires to commit suicide by what would hurt him the most. There is also a young male, who wants to be a legend by killing himself by never-been-done-before method.

Although the story develops on dark theme of suicidal tendencies, the tone of writing is light and comedy-esque with some great surprises. Colorful and attractive characters such as condescending "suicide undertaker", suicide-candidate-turned-manager main character, and half-shrink-half-editor lady are providing refreshing reading experience. Acting contrary to the requests, Tsukumo somehow persuades them to hold back from taking their own lives away. However, one day a visit by a guy named Kyoichi Watabe changes the whole attitude of Tsukumo. Story rolls forward, and even Toru is entangled in the past incidents…

2nd Screening / Critique

It's already at the publishable level. The novel takes readers to think of the meaning of life through facing issues around suicide. Funny, light-footed but condescending "suicide undertaker" Tsukumo is such an eye catch, and readers would enjoy unfolding his character and past episodes via the eye of Toru Kakizaki. One can easily see a series of episodes under this franchise, and with this good rhythm and vivid characters, making it a movie adaptation is not a far-fetched idea. Juries hope that author would cherish this character and continue writing.

Foreshadowing is nicely planned and very reasonable too. There is a great surprise towards the end, around the episode of Watanabe. One can expect more episodes one after another since the author is able to give birth to unique characters from this world.

Upon publishing (if awarded), editors have to double-check the counseling method and process are in compliance with that of realistic psychiatry.

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"The Power to Dream" Yasunari Aizu

Synopsis

Living aimlessly, lost in the heat of moments. There is nothing to seize the day. In the past Kenichi Uchida was a nowhere kid, after being severely bullied in school. This 19-year-old introvert from Fukushima who left everything behind to move to Tokyo desires to change himself, so he steps right in Shinjuku Kabukicho, the center of "Host Clubs." Who would pick a naïve, shy guy from suburbia to sit next to you? He wants to brush up his body, so he decides to go to a kick-boxing gym. However, he was reluctant to be open about his real job as a host to friends, which left an empty hole in his heart. Banal, generic days go by, but one day something changes his mind drastically. It is a striking encounter to a former Muay-Thai kick-boxing champion of 2 ranks, Mr.Nunyasiam. Through many training sessions with him, Kenichi learns more than just kick-boxing. Not to give up a dream, courage to believe, and to smile…. Kenichi's sales at the club also start to skyrocket. But another hardship awaits him. At Kenichi's professional match, very last one before Nunyasiam's departure back to Thailand, Kenichi loses in spite of his desire to show gratitude to him. Kenichi, completely devastated and unable to face himself, leaves behind the gym and memories with his trainer. After getting back to his host job, Kenichi becomes a money-monger and starts to blandish his female clients without any regrets. Five years later, Kenichi became No.1 host, fortifying himself with fancy condo, sports car, and women…. He had acquired all one can buy with money. Even though his heart feels empty, he whips himself to work restlessly so he could forget the memories with Nunyasiam. However when he goes out with a client girl, at a restaurant, his destiny starts to take a new path.

2nd Screening / Critique

Impression after reading feels great. The story is superb as a portrait of youth culture. Under the simulacra life of Shinjuku Kabukicho, the resonation between the psyche of the main character and his physical experience of martial arts would be an attracter to same generation readers. It reads as a universal bildungsroman, in which narratives are well focused on the progressive experience and the mindset of the main character.

Settings could feel a bit outdated, but the story could attract empathy from readers of 20's, and for Asian territories the novel could be read as an intercultural drama. There is no big, spectacular incident such as murder case or bank robbery, but this novel is armed with unquestionably realistic depiction of the life of "Kabukicho" and "Muay-Thai," including such locations as boxing gym and host clubs. It's simply thanks to the thorough fieldwork done by the author. This is going to become a profound piece if the author elaborates more on the final part of walking into a "new dream."

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