Warning: If you haven’t read “Moshi Moshi” by Banana Yoshimoto, don’t read this review unless you’re fine with spoilers!
I’m back with another book review, and this time it’s “Moshi Moshi” by Banana Yoshimoto! I’ve reviewed a past book of hers called “Lizard” before, and I’m glad to pick up another book by her!
I couldn’t exactly find a good summary of this book online, so here’s the gist of what it’s about:
Yoshie and her mother are putting their lives back together, after Yoshie’s father died in a murder-suicide with an unknown woman. Yoshi previously lived at home her whole life, and now has moved into a studio in a neighboring small town, across the street from the bistro where she works as a sous chef. As the book opens, about a year after her father’s death, her mother asks Yoshie if she can move in, just for a little while, so she can get out of the house that is haunted with memories of her late husband. With some reluctance, Yoshie lets her, and the book proceeds from there.
Plotwise, this book is pretty darn slow. It also doesn’t help that this book has no chapters. There are the occasional line cuts, which indicate that you’re going through a moderate skip in time before the next scene, but these don’t help the pacing much.
I also noted that the book is quite dialogue-heavy at times, filled with lots of exposition to fill in the gaps (particularly about how the murder-suicide happened and all). Though I usually don’t mind it because it often lends to character development and what the characters end up doing next, I also felt like it was a bit repetitive at times to understand the gist of the current situations going on, which wasn’t helpful.
Yoshie has the most character development going on out of all the characters, but unfortunately with even just her, it falls flat. She often reflects on how she feels stifled or smothered by loss and grief, but it got a bit overloaded with her every action or observation provoking nostalgia or a stray reflection on life. Sometimes these observations were interesting and made me think a bit, but it just felt a bit gratuitous later on in the book.
What I found really weird was the romance plotline going on. First, Shintani and Yoshie seem like they’ll get together romantically, with the two of them having a sex scene and all, but then we have Yamazaki, who was initially introduced and progressively refined as a sort of comforting father stand-in for Yoshie, becomes a romantic interest. I’m very confused as of whether Yoshie’s romantic get-together of sorts with Yamazaki was supposed to be genuinely romantic, or if it’s Yoshie trying to get through her grief in some way. Same goes for how Yoshie’s relationship with Shintani is depicted—it seems normal at first, but then it gets to this weird area of whether she genuinely loves him or if she’s just using him as a way to distract herself from her grief over her dead father. The way both relationships are depicted here feels ultimately unclear and really confusing to read overall.