Perhaps you might not recognize the title of the book that we see at the start of this episode of Biblia Koshodou no Jiken Techou (ビブリア古書堂の事件手帖 – Biblia Rare Books Case Files) . . .

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. . . but I hope that this image is familiar, since it’s one of the most iconic in film history:

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The book is A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess – made even more famous (and controversial) by the Stanley Kubrick movie. The opening narration notes that children reading books are thought to imitate deviant and violent acts within “dangerous” books, but asks if that assumption is really true.

The owner of Biblia Rare Books, Shinokawa Shioriko (Gouriki Ayame) arrives at a school to donate some books. She’s met by Tanabe of the library committee, who helps her bring the books in.

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However, the librarian decides to reject some of the books Shinokawa wants to give on the grounds that they are not appropriate for middle schoolers. When Shinokawa objects that they’re all classics . . .

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. . . the librarian singles out one that she says caused trouble when a student read it. Of course, it was A Clockwork Orange.

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The librarian says that a student did a report on it that “caused trouble for the school.” As translated by ersby at d-addicts (thank you ersby!), the librarian says the report claimed that “if you force people to behave, they’ll never become decent people. In fact, that’s how people turn bad.” I’m not sure what Anthony Burgess would have thought of that thesis, but I know Confucius would have supported it – the philosopher maintained that people could only be led to do right by example, and being compelled by force would only ruin their morals. So, I’m not sure where this librarian is coming from.

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Back at the bookshop, we have the return of Kosuga Nao (Mizuno Erina), who has been borrowing books from Shida (Takahashi Katsumi).

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Nao isn’t there just to get new books, though. Her sister, Yui, has been acting strangely – she was caught shoplifting and suspended – and Nao wants some advice.

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You see, Yui wrote a book report (you know the one) and even though Nao was proud of her – the report got good reviews – everything seemed to go wrong after that. Well, it looks like the ‘trouble’ that librarian was talking about was the apparent connection between Yui reading A Clockwork Orange and then suddenly deciding to shoplift.

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Just as Fumiya (Jesse) tells Nao that his sister Shioriko went to Yui’s school to deliver some books . . .

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. . . Shioriko returns.

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So, the mystery this time is simple – what’s up with Yui?

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The team has a more formal consultation in the café.

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There, they talk about Beethoven and how the novel ends (a more complicated matter than it first appears).

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As we hear more about what was in the actual report, we begin to understand why someone might be concerned about the young person who wrote it. Except for Shioriko, the others seem quick to make judgments about what kind of person Yui will grow up to be. From my point of view, anyone who writes a compelling book report can’t be on the wrong track. After all, reading and writing takes an amount of discipline contrary to what is shown by the characters in A Clockwork Orange.

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Shioriko heads back to the school to investigate, hoping to talk to Yui about the report. She sees a bunch of girls talking about Yui disparagingly, but also notices that library helper Tanabe defends Yui.

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Speaking to Shioriko, Tanabe says she loves books and often visits second-hand bookshops with Yui. She even reads to elementary school students – a project for which Shioriko offers books.

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Yui, though, is a lot less forthcoming. When Shioriko brings up the book report, Tanabe steps in and hauls Yui away from Shioriko, saying something about leaving that issue in the past.

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In the meantime, the guys reflect that a second-hand store would never accept CDs in their original wrapper, precisely because there was a high probability the stuff was stolen. That leads them to think that something about the story about Yui seems fishy, so they decide to go to the stores to investigate.

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The store that supposedly bought the stolen goods said they surely wouldn’t have, but the store they were stolen from maintains that the CDs were stolen, and that they called the school about it (recognizing the uniform of the perpetrator).

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The inconsistencies in this case keep mounting with no clarity in sight.

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For instance, what about the fact that Yui is strongly OCD and hates coming into contact with dirt and stuff like that?

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In a side note that might have significance in later episodes, Daisuke (AKIRA) finds a photo, which Fumiya says is of his (and Shioriko’s) mother. Fumiya asks Daisuke not to mention it to Shioriko, but we get little by way of explanation because that’s right when Shioriko returns.

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The team talks over what they know, and Shioriko looks close to cracking everything.

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She just needs to finally have that chat with Yui.

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There is a very definite fact about the ending of A Clockwork Orange that comes into play here.

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But other than that, I’m not going to give anything further away. You’ll have to watch to find out how Shioriko resolves the case of Yui and A Clockwork Orange.

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Actually, as Shioriko reveals near the end, she sort of cheated on this one. Or reverse cheated. All’s fair in cracking a mystery, though.

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The episode ends on an ominous note, with a strong setup for what’s going to happen next.

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This was an episode with some strong pluses and minuses. To take the negatives first before concluding on a positive note, this was a really weak case, primarily because we weren’t really led to care much about Yui – who was a distant figure throughout most of the episode. The result was also hardly surprising. There was also the matter of the bizarre way they used the song “Singing in the Rain” both in the middle and at the end of the episode. It happens to be a favorite song of mine, and while I appreciate the ironic use of cheerful music to contrast scenes of despair (especially apocalyptic scenes), it didn’t work very well at all here. The song was completely jarring. It’s just one of many odd musical choices in this drama. Perhaps, given the subject, they should have just stuck with Beethoven’s Ninth – there’s certainly plenty of material there for any scene or ironic contrast they would like to paint.

Fortunately, there’s plenty going right in this episode. First of all, as an English-speaking viewer, it’s nice to have a familiar book featured, and their discussion of it sure gives me hope that we’re getting a good read on the Japanese books at the center of the other episodes. The main theme of the episode – about how susceptible children really are to influence from the books they read – is certainly universally pertinent. It was nice to see Mizuno Erina-san back in the mix, and also to have all the main characters clearly working together as a detective team (though Jesse-kun is still totally marginalized and barely rises above the level of an extra).

The ending offers substantial hope that we’re going to get more compelling mysteries in the future, and I’ll be interested to see whether that really pans out. I’m still longing for a murder case.

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