The end of August marked the beginning of my 4th semester in grad school and the start of a new semester at work. It also came with the news that I didn’t pass the JLPT N1. I knew passing the N1 in July would be a long shot, but I’m surprised that I’m not as far off as I thought I would be. One of the sections I need improvement in is reading, so I have been diligently trying to read more, which brings me to 時給三○○円死神 by Maru Fuji. The English title on the book reads “The wage of Angel of Death is 300 yen per hour.”
The Technical Stuff:
As mentioned above, 時給三○○円死神 (Jikyuu San-Byaku En Shinigami) was written by Maru Fuji. The book was published by Futabasha Publishers Ltd (双葉社) on December 13, 2017.
The ISBN for 時給三○○円死神 is ISBN-10: 4575520624 and ISBN-13: 978-4575520620. You can find it on Amazon.co.jp for 690 yen here.
Shinji Sakura is minding his business, doing the usual loner high school kid thing, when his classmate, Yuki Hanamori, invites him to do an unusual part-time job as shinigami. For six months, all he has to do is help uncover the lingering regrets of people who haven’t passed on to the other side yet and instead live in this state of limbo called “lost time.” The pay is 300 yen per hour with no overtime pay or paid transportation fees, but if he makes it through the six months, he can have any wish in the world that he wants to come true.
(Note: I will be calling the characters by their last names as they are called throughout the book)
Sakura is the one narrating the book. He’s a high school student who needs some extra money to fulfill one of his wishes. He’s not a particularly flashy boy, more like the quiet type who keeps to himself. On the other hand, Hanamori is usually the center of attention in class. She’s beautiful, funny, and, to Sakura, a little annoying. However, as they go through these assignments together, you can see that feeling change.
For their age, I found their interactions with each other to be very realistic. They seem to end up being excellent friends, though Sakura will deny it or insist that it is STRICTLY platonic (denial).
They take on four main assignments during his time as a shinigami. The first one threw Sakura (and me) for a loop because he was still learning what his job entailed and what lost time was. Hanamori didn’t give him any of that information beforehand; he had to experience it. His second assignment, helping an old man with an impossible task, didn’t go so well either. However, by the third, he got into the swing of things and even took the lead on his own.
Over the span of the six months in the book, you could see him grow as a character. While at first, he was a little bit of a sourpuss, I was able to see that he was he just needed to come out of his shell. Even Hanamori experienced a little bit of growth. However, since Sakura is telling the story and not her, that was a little harder to see.
This book gets a stamp of approval from me. 4 out of 5.
Overall, I liked this book and the storyline. I do think the plot twist was a little predictable from early on in the book, but it wasn’t enough to stop me from reading. I think my favorite assignment when Sakura and Hanamori helped a mother who died during childbirth admit her greatest regret. I remember feeling as though I could honestly see why she would feel that way and feeling a little sorry for her.
If you’re studying Japanese and are looking to read more, I think this story is interesting enough to recommend. If you are at least an N1/N2, it should be pretty easy, save for a few words here and there. I also noticed that there were quite a few N1 grammar points scattered about, which is great if you’re studying for the JLPT and want actually to see your grammar in action.
Also published on Medium.