View Single Post
Old 2012-02-03, 21:59   Link #6842
Sol Falling
Senior Member
Join Date: Oct 2007
Age: 33
Nishio likes to write about two things: geniuses, and failure. His very first book/series, Zaregoto, is about a main character who is both of these things. Similarly, with slight spoilers for Kizumonogatari, the Bakemonogatari series is also a story about failure. As a matter of fact, you could call Shichika (from Katanagatari) a failure too. In Medaka Box, we have two characters who seem to be embodiments of "genius" and "failure". However, I'm sure that if anyone were to genuinely accuse Medaka of being a "genius", the one most offended would be Nishio himself.

Nishio likes to write about geniuses because he has often been called a genius. On the other hand, Nishio often writes about failure because he has a deep personal understanding of failure. I think that the contrast between supposed "potential" or "ability" and reality is at the core of at lot of Nishio's works.

I've got a copy of Nishio's first book (Zaregoto Book 1: the Kubikiri Cycle) in my hands right here, and I'm looking at the afterword. The whole thing is something of an essay on the concept of genius, but there are references to characters and personalities within the actual novel which people who haven't read it wouldn't get. I can't really be arsed to parse it and try to extract the references though, so I might as well just post the whole thing; here you go, straight from the mouth of Nishio Ishin, a full decade ago now in 2002:

Let's imagine for a moment that what you hold in your hand is an extraordinarily enthralling work of fiction of the highest order. As you know, that's not truly the case, but let's pretend. Now let's say you finish reading it, and in that very instant, you scream: "This writer is a genius!" I don't know if you would really scream that sort of thing, but let's say the writer of this book is oft the subject of such praise. But such expressions sound not unlike excuses of the common man, as if claiming, "That person is a genius; in other words he's of a superior race totally separate from you and me, so of course he can do things we can't do" or something to that unseemly effect. "We're not to be looked down upon, we're simply looking up." And indeed that statement is correct, but I can't shake the feeling that something is off there. When it comes down to it, I don't think it's a very good thing to rely too much on this word genius. Moreover, not all geniuses are so evaluated. Or rather, most genius goes unnoticed. Meanwhile, those who achieve some sort of result are arbitrarily given the label and people forget that it's really a complex issue based on factors such as effort and environment, none of which should be written off as "genius" if you ask me. Now, it really is a complex issue, so I won't get into the nitty-gritty of it, but when a person sets out to do something, you've got to consider natural-born talent, skill, and effort, not to mention luck and fate as well, so it seems to me that the term genius is putting it all too simply.

That said, you may find yourself a bit surprised by the number of times that word comes up in this book. You've got Ibuki Kanami, Sashirono Yayoi, Sonoyama Akane, Himena Maki, Kunagaisa Tomo, and Aikawa Jun.

The narrator uses every possible opportunity to utter things like "because she was a genius" or "that's just what you'd expect from a genius." But as to whether any of these women are really true geniuses, well, that's a sketchy matter. From their personal standpoint, it's probably more like "if you just do whatever you want all the time, you'll be labeled a genius." Or no, I'm sure they'd have more to say about themselves, but if you asked Ibuki Kanami about it, she'd probably just say, "What do you mean 'genius'? You're just extra dumb." Kubikiri Cycle is an installment in the Zaregoto series that depicts geniuses gathered on an island, and yet there isn't a single genius there.

In having this book published, there were so many people looking after me that this author almost doesn't know whom to thank. If this book can be called anything good, it's thanks to the efforts of these people as well as the bookstores. Incidentally, this puts me in the nerve-racked mindset that if this book turned out to be bad, it's my fault alone, but at any rate I would like to extend my utmost special thanks to the editor-in-chief Katsushi Ota for his goodwill and guidance, illustrator take-san, and Ryusui Seiryoin for decorating this book with undeserved endorsement.

Nishio Ishin writes about genius because genius is misunderstood. He also writes about true genius to illustrate the envy of those who're falsely labelled geniuses. Nishio writes about failure because everyone, even geniuses, often fail--and as a matter of fact, it is often even the geniuses whom can fail most spectacularly. Those are the feelings behind Nishio's works--as someone who is not a genius.

Last edited by Sol Falling; 2012-02-03 at 23:38.
Sol Falling is offline   Reply With Quote