- ã‚¤ãƒ³ãƒ†ãƒªãƒ“ãƒ¬ãƒƒã‚¸ã®åº§æ•·ç«¥ — “Interibirejji no Zashiki Warashi” — The Zashiki Warashi of Intellectual Village
- The novel: Amazon.jp — Books Kinokuniya — YesAsia
- The fan translation (by Js06): Baka-Tsuki
- MAL Entry — Forum
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At times I pick out novels to read based on their titles, and this was an instance in which my eye was caught by multiple elements of a title. I was familiar with the yokai spirit known as the Zashiki Warashi (e.g. there is one in xxxHolic) and was curious to see how that would be handled here. I also wanted to find out what an Intellectual Village was, precisely. I didn’t realize it when I started reading the story, but this series is written by Kamachi Kazuma, who is best known for the Certain Magical Index (and Specific Railgun) franchise. If you are familiar with those, then you probably already know whether you would like this book or not, Â because it’s extremely similar.
One thing the first volume ofÂ Intellectual Village does well is its near-future setting, which has a couple nice twists for the author to work with. One is the premise of yokai being an everyday part of modern society, and how their presence can be scientifically used by (generally corrupt) organizations to achieve magical results. The other interesting twist involvesÂ the intellectual villages themselves, which are essentially a very rural but just as technologically advanced counterpart to the Index/Railgun cities.
Another thing that works in the bookâ€™s favor is its use of multiple protagonists. If you do not care for the â€œeverydayâ€ lead boy (who certainly gives off Â Touma vibes, but manages to solve problems with just his analytic skills), thereâ€™s also his begrudging police officer uncle and a woman vigilante whoâ€™s trained herself to deal with yokai-related predicaments. Similar to Index/Railgun, the characters are hit or miss. And though the character number is manageable for one book,Â it seems likelyÂ there will beÂ manyÂ more to deal with in time (half of whom will join lead boyâ€™s â€œharem,â€ as was the case with several yokai over the course of this novel).
The situations presented in the book are generally more complex than they probably needed to be, and the solutions can come off as far-fetched at timesâ€“but thereâ€™s a method to Kazumaâ€™s madness, and it will either appeal to you or it wonâ€™t. I believe the authorâ€™s style overall works a bit better in Intellectual VillageÂ than I expected though, because instead of having all the jargon-filled theorizing and in-depth explanations thrown at you in the middle of what is supposed to be a wild magical duel, the characters are instead generally just trying to figure out how a curse (or â€œPackage,â€ as itâ€™s termed) operates, what yokai are involved (typically without their knowledge), and how to break the curse (or amend the curse to work in their favor) before it gets them killed.
The fan translation managed to relay the story well enough, so if youâ€™re into Kazumaâ€™s brand of storytelling or have a big interest in yokai, feel free to give Intellectual Village a read-through.
Cho’s Rating: Maybe Recommended