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Kid the Rabbit: Night of the Hopping Dead

 by Akira Higashiyama (Futabasha, 2014)

Yoshio Kobayashi

This is the sequel to Johnny the Rabbit (2008), his earlier picaresque animal fable in the vein of Roger Rabbit. Now the dead Johnny is a legendary hero to a young rabbit gangster, Kid, his son. But because of Johnny's bad reputation, Kid is an outcast, and beaten by Lemmy, a bully, and his cohorts, three Flemish Giant rabbit brothers. Kid awakens in a hospital room and finds it is full of the dead. No, they are half dead, zombies. He doesn't understand why herbivore rabbits can devour their own kind, but successfully escapes them, with a help of his fan, Eddy, a virgin gentle uncle, who also worships Johnny. They try very hard to find the truth and lift the zombie curse from their kin. It all leads to the past deed of Johnny and his human friend, Lucky Boy, an ex-cop. With odd characters like erudite Doctor, a mother Peppermint Bear, sexy rabbitch sisters, Tatiana and Eleonola, and Baron Someday who knows how to lift the zombie curse, the story moves onto mythological adventures.

Yes, it's a zombie novel, as the title suggests. You could call it a zombie Watership Down, but it's more in the vein of Loony Tunes with a touch of Richard Price/Barry Hannah/Tom Robbins wisdom. Yes, it's full of machismo, as they always fuck the rabbitch without any thought and fight without any reason, yet scurry away to eat roadside weeds during a profound discussion. They act very much like rabbits. They speak like street gangs, but there's a lot of Fortean knowledge behind the plot. So it also reads like Joe Lansdale/Howard Waldrop gonzo weird fiction. But it feels definitively like an American novel, as it's actually set in the American West. It is promoted as a hard-boiled parody, but it's really a slapstick metafictional fable. The author, a Taiwan-born Japanese, is a translator of American fiction, too.

I love this kind of weird fiction, but come to think of it, it also reflects our image of America. A violent, anarchy, superstitious, illogical, arrogant, but brave, dreaming, wild, naive, and mythological land. Recent tragedy in Ferguson and Torture exposure enhance that image. Greedy, gun-loving Americans with innocent faith in almighty god. One ring to rule all. Ah, after all, we do love America, land of dreams.

I also recommend his previous novel, Black Rider (Shinchosha, 2013), a post-apocalypse epic war novel, in the style of Charles Portis and Dennis Johnson, with a touch of Hayao Miyazaki sensibility of nature?s great rebirth capacity, typically presented in Nausicaa. This author is great. Should be translated.


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(C) Copyright by Yoshio Kobayashi

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