Review: ‘Memories of Emanon’ by Shinji Kajio

A short story in manga format, about a smoking wench who goes around breaking people’s hearts, and who also retains the memories of her entire evolutionary line. So she says, anyways.

The tale is set in the late sixties. As the protagonist we have an alter ego of the author, a curious young guy who reads plenty of sci-fi.

He has boarded a big ship that will presumably end up in some Japanese port, and inside he comes across a mysterious, hippyish, beautiful young woman. He’s eager to get to know her, but as his opening he admonishes her for smoking, which annoys her. However, faced with the closeness of drunk old guys who are eager to ply her with liquor, she prods our protagonist to leave with her to get some fresh air, which will allow our hapless protagonist to get to know this girl.

Most of this story is about unveiling the concept: as far as Emanon (‘NONAME’ backwards) knows, she’s been reincarnated hundreds of millions of times, ever since she was a multicellular organism floating in the primordial soup. We still don’t know how that transfer works; when she dies, does her consciousness jump to another body? Is she reborn in her own offspring?

The protagonist has read enough sci-fi that he can come up with a few suggestions for why Emanon exists. The guy believes, assuming this beautiful gal isn’t lying, that her purpose must be to exist as a witness to human evolution, and possibly become the trigger for the next step once our species outgrows its brutal instincts.

The protagonist, being a young, red-blooded guy in the presence of a fascinating, beautiful girl who can carry a conversation about any obscure topic, is on the fast path towards falling in love. Will that lead to happiness, or to ending up haunted for the rest of his life?

This manga is short enough that you, whoever the hell you are supposed to be, should just grab a copy and read it. It’s good.

In the afterword, the author comments that he came up with Emanon back in the sixties, when he himself was travelling around for work in the big ship featured in the story. He daydreamed that one day he’d end up meeting another passenger who would turn out to be that kind of beautiful, mysterious girl, wearing the kind of fashion he was into, with whom he’d spend a few hours that he would remember forever.

Reality rarely blesses us in such ways; fortunately some people’s minds are strong enough to conjure up daydreams that allow their owners to forget for a while about life’s eternal disappointment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s