Book Review: 鹿男あをによし(The Fantastic Deer-Man) by 万城目学 (Makime Manabu)

Fantastic Deer-Man book cover
Fantastic Deer-Man book cover

Read the Chinese-translated Taiwanese edition of this book some time back. 鹿男あをによし(The Fantastic Deer-Man) by 万城目学 (Makime Manabu) tells the story of a young, eccentric chemist, Ogawa Takanobu, who took up a one semester teaching post in an all-female high school in rural Nara (奈良).

He ends up getting embroiled in a mission to save the world, when deers and rats started talking to him in this small town where there seems to be as many deers as people.

One day, Ogawa wakes up and found his head transformed into a deer’s head in the mirror. Slowly, the mystery of a defiant rude female student in his class; talking deers and his appearance transformation began to unravel into an intriguing plot steeped in Japan’s mythology on Zodiac signs and earthquakes.

I was drawn to this book by the multiple claims on the cover regarding the astonishing volume of book sales achieved in Japan and the glowing praises from many reviewers.

It did not disappoint in capturing my attention from start till end, although it is more of a pulp fiction novel than a serious literary piece I expected it to be.

Drama serial starring Tamaki Hiroshi
Drama serial starring Tamaki Hiroshi

In fact, I bought the DVD of the same name Japanese drama serial, Shikaotoko Aoniyoshi, to watch after reading the book. The serial, starring Tamaki Hiroshi (玉木 宏) as Ogawa, generally followed the book very closely in storyline. However, they added a love interest in the form of a female teacher for Ogawa in the serial, probably as a plot device to move the story along. I prefer the book version whereby Ogawa and one of his female student had a suspicious attraction for each other.

If you do not have time to read through a 346 pages Chinese novel, you can consider watching the drama serial if you are interested in the story of Ogawa and the talking deers in Nara. 🙂

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