This time we continue our look at Fuyumi Ono’s horror novel, The Bloody Labyrinth (小野不由美の“鲜血の迷宮”). I went back and looked at a few episodes of the anime covering this story arc, and it goes very fast and cuts out a lot of what I reviewed last post. It doesn’t show as much of Madoka Mori and the ghost hunting staff at the very beginning of the novel, and it skips their travel out to the house and the detailed description of its setting. I didn’t even notice a wide angle view of the house’s exterior at all in the anime. As we’ll see with the portion we cover today, there’s also a longer time spent in the novel on the team getting settled in with their monitoring equipment, the huge teams of parapsychologists that the client has brought in, and some background on the problems with the house and its history.
As I mentioned last time, the house is definitely described as Western in its architectural style in the novel. I find this interesting because in her vampire novels for Shiki, the center of activity for the undead is also the newly built Western-style house on the hill. Some of this does have to do with taking Western understandings of ghosts and monsters into a Japanese setting, which is not always easy to do, so she has imported more cultural aspects into the story to meet the expectations of readers used to traditional Western trappings. The emphasis in the novel is on how rundown the house is since it has been abandoned a long time. It has two stories with three stories in several places and lots of windows, distortions and gaps. It looks quite extraordinary.
When they arrive at the house, they find a few older men waiting for them, and Yasuhara, one of the teenage members of Shibuya Psychic Research, pretends to be Naru at his request, while Naru takes on a fake name, Narumi Kazuo. We learn that the main representative for the client this time is a man named Oohashi. He leads them into the house, which already looks kind of strange and dark, sort of like an underground passage, until they come to a large room where Masako is waiting for them. I guess last time when they were talking in the office, I got the meaning of a few sentences mixed up by thinking she and Naru weren’t coming, but this is a good illustration of the limitations of the extensive reading method.
Let me interrupt the story a moment here to mention that extensive reading is really necessary to do at an advanced level, but there are pitfalls, and it needs to be paired with selective intensive reading techniques. Anyone unfamiliar with these terms can check out the archive linked on my blogroll to the studies on reading in a foreign language. It’s very difficult to get reading material with the 95% vocabulary coverage they recommend, especially for native English speakers learning other languages, and you’re probably better off anyway just moving on to real-world publications since that’s what you really want to read anyway, right? The big problem with extensive reading is that you are supposed to guess meanings of words and not worry about knowing every single word you encounter as you read, but in some sentences , it’s the single word you miss or assume you know that can change the meaning drastically. So these problems with details are to be expected when using this method.
In the room with Masako is yet another old man in Japanese clothes who is introduced as Mitsuhashi Houmei, and he’s involved in some sort of religious-sounding organization I found nothing on. We’re introduced to a whole team of people affiliated with him as well as told some details of his background with the National Defense Academy of Japan and some connection to the chief priest at the Houzen Buddhist Temple. I don’t think that this team was mentioned in the anime, but this part of the novel spends a fair amount of time on him. We meet a whole bunch of other research teams that are in the anime, such as the Minami group and the British parapsychologist Oliver Davis. Mai knows Oliver Davis from the SPR Research Center, which is an actual place. You can take a look at the link here for details:
I’m going to give a spoiler here for sure, but since it isn’t mentioned in the anime and I don’t think the books have been translated into English, I think it is a fairly interesting detail to point out. It turns out Oliver Davis is actually Naru’s real name, which is probably why he asked Yasuhara to take over and pretend to be him for this case. Oliver Davis in this story proves to be a fraud, which we will see later. I guess this whole backstory about Naru really being a twin who was adopted with his brother by someone in England and taking this very English name was revealed in the manga version of the books.
Five more men come in, and I think at one point there is something like 20 researchers there gathered in the dining room with their luggage, and they talk about how the client has asked for the help of the most famous psychics because it was a particularly bad case. Here is the insert from the novel that shows some of the extra researchers present – if you click on the image, you can read the details.
There also is a mention of the famous psychics, Ed and Lorraine Warren of the movie “The Conjuring” fame, and their haunted house cases. Here is their profile:
A lot of the subchapters are just introductions and chit-chat as they get settled in to begin their research. Masako tells Mai and Ayako she smells blood in the house. Oohashi talks a bit about the previous generation of owners and how kids from the suburbs like to come to the house as a test of courage. Two months earlier, one of these kids disappeared in the house, and one member of the search party for them also went missing. Searches turned up nothing because of the house’s complicated construction, and the search party also got lost in it. Unlike in the anime, the house is mentioned here as being built in Meiji 33, which is around 1901. The anime has it built a few decades earlier. It was continually under construction with new additions and alterations every year. Naru is surprised since no one lived there. This part of the story strongly resembles the Winchester house in California that was also built around that time and kept under construction in similar ways:
So our team moves on to unload the monitoring equipment and start recording temperatures. Most of chapter two is about these temperature readings and setting up the cameras. Three members of the team, Bousan, Yasuhara and Mai, go room to room measuring the temperatures and exploring the house’s strange construction, and this is where the Winchester house is explicitly mentioned. They’re trying to make a map of the house. There is speculation that they never found the body of the youth that disappeared in the house because the rats and cockroaches ate it, and there were sightings of a spirit and the sound of ghostly footsteps after the disappearances. One of the room’s they enter has a temperature of 48 degrees F. They record them and continue to look around the house, running into Minami and his crew in one of the other rooms. After getting measurements on the temperature in ten rooms, they return to their base room where Rin is working at his computer. They talk more about Oliver Davis and SPR in the next subsection, and they put cameras near the bedrooms in the hallway, around the dining room and in the vicinity of their base room. Microphones are also discussed. They perform an exorcism in each bedroom the team will sleep in, and Naru stops the investigation for the night.
Chapter 3 covers the next day from early morning to Lin getting his computer set up in their base room by lunchtime, tea time at 3PM, and dinner. They start out with Lin looking at temperature recordings, and Naru sends Mai, Yasuhara, Bousan and John to complete a floor plan of the house. A lot of this chapter talks about the progress they make on the floor plan, with longer descriptions of the house’s complicated construction. The Winchester House is mentioned again. There’s some small talk among the characters around lunchtime, and tea time interrupts more of their work taking measurements on the third floor. They run into a few of the other psychic teams, such as the old man Imura whom Yasuhara talks with about their ancestry and teases by pretending to be 236 years old. At dinner, they talk with Minami’s crew and Miwa Fukuda about shrines, ancient ruins, ley lines and earth’s magnetic fields. The chapter wraps up with more discussion between Naru and his crew about the house’s construction. So far, we’re just getting deeper characterizations, establishing the setting and seeing more of the technical side of psychic research. Nothing dramatic has really happened yet, but that is about to change with chapter 4, which we will begin with next time.
Part two of a four part series.