Angst and Anomie (Zaregoto)

This is Day 10 of the 12 Days of Aniblogging holiday rumpus. Today I am going to talk about the second volume of the light novel series Zaregoto. The English translation was released by Del Rey back in 2010, but I only got around to reading it this year.

art by Hii101

art by Hii101

I’ll start this off with a couple quick definitions:

angst — a feeling of dread, anxiety, or anguish.

anomie — lack of social or moral standards in an individual or society.

The back cover of Zaregoto volume 2 describes the protagonist Ikkun with these two words, though it felt like the focus of the novel was much more on the second aspect of his character. But perhaps the angst referred to is what is beneath all those layers of anomie? Whatever the case may be, I found Ikkun to be a fascinating character. The second volume starts off with him encountering a serial killer, whom he describes as his mirror image. Which is interesting, because the two look and act completely differently. What ties them together is simply their apathy toward the rest of humanity, it seems.

I don’t think I relate to Ikkun’s anomie — but I felt like I could at least understand his feelings toward life and living. I don’t feel Zaregoto volume 2 is an “edgy” book, because it never really tries to make Ikkun look cool or better than everyone else. He’s not even all that negative of a person, I don’t think? (Just extremely pragmatic?) But he’s definitely an outsider… and the sad (or not sad?) thing is he doesn’t seem to mind this at all.

I guess there are some aspects to his character I can relate to. In real life I’m not particularly passionate about anything, for example. I try to keep to myself and never offend anyone (which is much easier said than done, BTW). To be honest, at this stage in my life, I feel like I’m just drifting along, and I don’t particularly care when things don’t turn out so well. But maybe that’s okay?

At any rate, Zaregoto volume 2 is definitely a novel that’s going to stick with me for a long time. It’s completely different from any other light novel I’ve read, and I think it’s worth a look for anyone who likes mulling over things of this sort. It’s also easily one of the best translations I’ve read of a work, and it probably connected with me more than any other light novel has, save for the Book Girl series. I really hope Vertical will be able to release the rest of Zaregoto, just in case there’s another entry as thought-provoking as volume 2.

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