Review: Bug, Eyeball, and a Teddy Bear

(art by Mitsuki Mausu)
(art by Mitsuki Mausu)
  •  蟲と眼球とテディベア — Mushi to Medama to Teddy Bear — “Bug, Eyeball, and a Teddy Bear”
  • The novel: Amazon.jpBooks Kinokuniya — YesAsia
  • The fan translation (by Brynhilde): Baka-Tsuki
  • MAL EntryForum

(Note: This site's central focus is on light novels officially translated and published in English, but at times I will post reviews for stories that have only been translated by fans. Please support the Japanese books that don't get English releases.)

Mushi to Medama
Mushi to Medama

The Mushi to Medama series began in June 2005, written by Akira and illustrated by Mitsuki Mausu. Akira was also responsible for the Sasami-san@Ganbaranai series, and recently wrote the novel adaptation for Yume Nikki (a favorite game of mine). The first volume of Mushi to Medama adds to Teddy Bear to its title, and following installments each feature a different third item related to the plot of its particular book.

At first Mushi to Medama to Teddy Bear appears to be a romance story between a teacher and student. I'll go ahead and note that the teacher (Sakaki Guryuu) is a 20-year-old intellectual prodigy, and he is waiting for the girl in question (Usagawa Rinne) to graduate before their relationship turns serious (you know… with hand-holding…). But the plot soon takes a turn for the macabre when a wild-looking girl named Gankyuu Eguriko shows up and gouges Rinne's eyes with a spoon. Don't worry though… Rinne gets better? Yes, she is immortal it seems, and as it turns out… it's thanks to the Forbidden Fruit. This is a Class-A “Japan Plays with Random Elements from the Bible” story, and Mushi to Medama goes all-out with creating its take on what really went down with the Garden of Eden, God, and Satan.

Overall I found the bizarre premise of the story enjoyable, and I thought the little romance for Sakaki and Rinne was handled in an endearing manner. That's about where my compliments end though, as the plot in general isn't particularly engaging, nor is the prose itself well-written. I won’t be too harsh on fan translations, but even disregarding random shifts between past and present tense and other grammatical pitfalls, it really felt like the original author was dead-set on “tell, don't show.” There were also random scenes with an entirely unnecessary narrator who would jump in to tell the equivalent of Aesop’s “moral of the story,” and the way major events played out in general simply felt either uninspired or needlessly convoluted.

Perhaps my biggest issue is with the character Gankyuu, who is a dangerous immortal girl who has lived a thousand years. This seems like a gold mine for a fascinating character study and a springboard for unique interactions with the other characters, but in the end she just felt like a means for moving the plot from one chapter to the next. Perhaps subsequent volumes delve deeper into her character and expand on her back-story, but for the first volume at least I simply didn't feel attached to her character arc.

All that said, I did finish reading the whole book, which always means I was at least okay with it. It may be worth checking out if you’re in the mood for a more unusual kind of story.

Cho’s Rating: Maybe Recommended

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